When you buy an existing business it comes with the seller’s personality, whether you like it or not. Their choices are everywhere – from the paint color on the walls to the employees they keep. It can be tempting to want to make your mark and change it into the business you’ve always dreamed of right out of the gate – but that is a colossal mistake.
You bought an existing business because it’s existing. The doors are open and it makes money. It runs. Before you go gutting the interior, tossing the furnishings and replacing the staff you need to take a breath and instead start paying attention.
Why does this business work?
What parts of the decor, the current menu, the personalities of the staff, the operating procedures, the equipment, etc. add to the functionality and value of the business?
What is it about this business that keeps customers coming back for more?
If you rush in and change everything, you are missing the opportunity to learn what makes the place successful. Listening and learning should absolutely be your number one priority in the early days of owning your new business. Take every chance you have to learn from the seller, even if you aren’t a fan. While you negotiate ask lots of questions and pay attention to the answers. Be willing to take advice. Most business purchase contracts come with a two week training period – use that time to absorb everything you can.
When the reins are finally yours, slow down. Run the business as-is for as long as it takes for you to truly understand what works and what doesn’t. Talk to the staff – ask them to give you their thoughts about what is important and what they would change if they could. Talk to the customers and ask them the same thing. What would they like to see changed and what would they like to see stay the same?
Take all of this data that you collect and then make small, incremental changes that will benefit the business. Don’t make changes just because it’s something you would prefer.
Are you considering buying a business but hadn’t thought about when and why you should make changes? Do you have questions about the training period in a purchase contract? Ask us! Leave any questions or comments and we would be happy to assist.