Have you thought about what happens after the keys change hands and the buyer and seller walk away from the closing table?
The transaction process isn’t over yet – now the training period begins.
When a business is sold, part of the purchase contract will typically cover a training period of some sort where the seller will stay on with the business until the buyer can be sufficiently trained to take over the helm. This is an all-to-important part of the business transaction process, so it is in everyone’s best interest to keep the training period productive and amicable.
The best way to start the training period off right is to keep the negotiations during the sale process as friendly as possible. Both parties can do this by always using the business brokers involved as intermediaries. It might seem inefficient to always send questions or comments through a third party, but what starts as an innocent phone call to the other side can quickly devolve into a deal-killing fight. Keeping things friendly for the time period before your are stuck working together will make the start of training much easier.
If you are the buyer in the situation, it may be tempting to walk in on day one and completely change everything to your liking. This is a huge mistake for two reasons.
One, you shouldn’t make any changes to a functioning and profitable business until you know everything there is to know about the business. Then, and only then, will you know what parts of the business are making it profitable and successful and what aspects can be changed without causing any unforeseen damage down the line.
The second reason your should hold off on any changes is for the seller’s sake. The seller has a wealth of practical knowledge about the business you just bought, and it is absolutely in your best interest to get absolutely all of that knowledge before the training period is over. By coming in and changing everything, you are essentially telling the seller you don’t think anything they’ve done is worth learning about – a move so insulting that you will probably have an incredibly hard time getting any of that precious practical knowledge. Try to remember that this business was a huge part of the seller’s life, so treat them with a bit of compassion and wait until they are officially gone before you implement any big changes.
If you are the seller in the transaction, the training period can be difficult for a number of reasons. First, once you’ve left the closing table and the keys have changed hands, it can be very tempting to mentally check-out. This is a very bad idea, especially if your deal has seller financing involved (which many deals do). If you check-out and can’t properly train the new owner, the their chances of success (and you seeing the rest of your money) are probably not very good.
Another training pitfall for sellers is getting offended when the new owner wants to make changes. It can be extremely difficult to keep your emotions in check, but you must remember that this business no longer belongs to you, so the new owner can do what they please. Do your best to complete the training period amicably so that your business can carry on successfully without you.
Whether you are the buyer or the seller, it is critically important for the survival of the business in the long term that the training period happens – so do your best to work together.
Have you bought a business and the training period wasn’t what it needed to be for you to successfully take over? Are you selling your business and you have questions about what the typical training period will be like? Please feel free to share your experiences or leave us questions here.
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