One of the ways prospective buyers will size up your business is by touring your site. In this article, we’ll help you prepare your business for these tours and ensure your buyers see your business in its best light.
What will buyers want to see?
Most buyers want to tour your site to verify some key pieces of information. They'll likely want some answers to these questions:
Is this business what I think it is?
Can it be as successful as it claims in its listing?
Are site, equipment, or other improvements needed right away?
Does the business have everything it needs to be successful?
Are there apparent flaws or red flags that might cause me to run away from this deal?
Put simply, buyers are looking for peace of mind that what they think is up for sale really is up for sale.
A tour can help you alleviate their fears and show off the viability of your business.
What should I do to prepare for a tour?
First, make sure you provide the prospective buyer with a confidentiality agreement. In the course of your tour, your buyer may witness processes, observe procedures, or learn about parts of your business you typically don’t disclose to the public. A confidentiality agreement can help you safeguard your business secrets and ensure the buyer won’t share what they learn with others or use their new knowledge to compete with your business.
You can download a boilerplate confidentiality agreement from LawDepot or another legal services site. You can also have an attorney draft a confidentiality agreement that helps you protect specific elements of your business.
Once the agreement is signed and returned, take the following steps to prepare for your tour:
Find a time outside your normal business hours to meet and tour the site.
After-hours is often the best time for tours for two reasons: It minimizes disruption to your team, and it prevents word about your impending sale from getting out before you’re ready to share it. This timing is also most likely to work within your buyer’s schedule, especially if that person is employed in a day job.
Pull together your procedures, policies, business plans, org charts, and any other documents the buyer may want to see during the tour.
Most buyers will ask for copies of this information after making an offer, but many will want to discuss key parts of your business during the walk-through. By having this information on hand, you can demonstrate your organization and meticulous recordkeeping, which are often highly appreciated (and valued!) by prospective buyers.
Brush up on your knowledge of the business, its market, and its competitors.
Be prepared to talk about how your business operates, the roles of your key personnel, the investments you’ve made, and the challenges you’re currently facing.
You should also be ready to speak on these points:
- Changing customer demands
- New entrants to your market
- Impending regulations
- Other factors that could affect your business’ future path to success
Make sure awards, certificates, permits, and other important documents are on display.
Prospective buyers aren’t likely to ask to see these documents during their visit. Still, their visibility can give buyers confidence in your business. You might also consider displaying safety records, maintenance records for all equipment, and any other documents that show how you care for the business and the people within it.
Deeply clean your facility and equipment.
Make sure every part of your business looks its best. Scrub your equipment, stock and tidy your storeroom, vacuum your carpets, and clean your walls and windows to help your company give a great first impression.
Make the outside look appealing.
Take some time to clean up your parking lot and sidewalks. Ensure that the paint on the exterior of your building (and door!) looks fresh. Neaten up your landscaping, and make sure your signs are clear and unobstructed.
Turn on all the lights.
Arrive before your prospective buyers and turn on all the lights in the facility. Great lighting will help your buyer see the investments you’ve made into your facility. Plus, the brightness may bolster your buyers’ mood.
Dress to instill confidence.
You don’t need to wear a suit or flashy clothes to meet with prospective buyers. Still, you should dress the part of a successful business owner.
This move is more important than it may seem. How you dress tells the buyer about the life you live—and the life they could live if they were in your shoes. Buyers want to see a success story and believe that story can become their own. But keep in mind: Overdressing or underdressing can undermine that story and confuse your prospective buyers.
Dressing the part might include wearing a crisply ironed shirt with your business logo on it, jeans or slacks that have been freshly pressed, and shoes that are sensible for your line of work. Make an effort to remove any signs of frazzle or hurriedness that imply your role is stressful.
These simple steps can go a long way in making your tour a success, and you’ll likely learn other best practices along the way. Make notes of your successes and stumbling blocks. Then, find ways to improve the presentation of your business for future tours.
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