There is a reason that most M&A deals are not public knowledge until after the final papers are signed. Without the right dose of public relations and customer retention strategies, many businesses run the risk of losing customers and staff members to a merger or acquisition.
While it is likely that the new owner will lose at least some clients as a result of the M&A process, there are a number of steps that the buyer can take in order to establish better brand loyalty in the post-merger or acquisition process.
Get Rid of Personal Goodwill
If the company has a lot of personal goodwill tied in with the business owner, then this not only causes the business to be less valuable to the buyer, but could also mean the loss of more customers after the sale. Customers that have developed a personal relationship with the owner or associate branding with just one person are more likely to leave after the original owner moves on. Work to slowly disconnect the brand from the business owner in order to conduct a smoother transition.
Think Like a Customer
Hiring someone that can act as a sort of “consumer advocate” may be beneficial to the post-merger or acquisition process. All steps towards integration should be analyzed through the perspective of the consumer. Decisions should be made not only based on what is best for the company, but what is best for the customers as well.
Any choices made that may not be in the best interest of the consumers should be addressed on some level so that the company is not giving the semblance of trying to hide something. Sometimes simply explaining the reasoning behind a decision can be enough to sway a customer away from abandoning their allegiance. This can be done through face-to-face interaction with customer representatives (make sure that they all have proper training on the way to address questions that may arise) or through press releases and public relations campaigns.
Up the Branding and Promotions
While it may feel like after a brand new merger or acquisition is when the company is at its strongest, in fact, this is a weak time when competitors are likely to swoop in and steal customers. The best way to deter them from leaving is to remind clients why they did chose to business with the company in the first place. A new campaign to display the reasons why the merger or acquisition is a positive one will be helpful in retaining customers.
Speak with an Expert
An M&A intermediary will have extensive knowledge of post-merger integration, including tactics for retaining customers after a sale. They will be able to give advice on how retaining customers for your specific acquisition may be best completed. If you would like to speak with an M&A advisor, please contact us at George & Company today. We would be happy to help you through the entire M&A process, from start to finish.