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One of the most critical elements in purchasing a practice is the effective transfer of clients from seller to buyer. For most, this is a once in a lifetime event so we must make it count the first time around! The key is to make the purchase look more like a merger than acquisition. In the beginning stages of the transition, it is very important to keep things as stable as possible. The buyer does not want to come in and change the way things have been done for years. Over a period of time as the buyer becomes more comfortable with the business and the clients become more comfortable with the new owner then change can begin to occur. To achieve that desired result, we must do our probing and fact finding before the deal is closed and at that point the plan out transition process. Normal expectations consist of a 30-day full-time effort on the seller’s behalf to aid in the transition. After that point, consultation either by phone or email is often necessary. Should the buyer wish to employ the seller for a period of time the two would need to negotiate a fair rate. Again, this usually takes place after the 30-day grace period.
Much of the discussion prior to closing the sale should revolve around personality, level of service, and special client requirements. To make the transition a success we need cooperation from both parties participating. One cannot work without the cooperation of the other. Try and look past the numbers and really get a feel for whether this particular situation would make for a good accounting practice marriage. One of the main reasons for client drop off is lack of communication. Whenever possible introduce the new accountant to clients as a partner coming to the firm with a background consisting of. Let them know that they will be seeing little to no change in their current service. In fact, they will receive superior service greater than what was provided before. A visit by both seller and buyer should be made to the client. The purpose of this visit is to introduce the buyer to accounting, audit, and review clients. A letter should be sent to tax clients advising the client of the changes taking place. In special instances a visit should be made to tax clients as well.
Make sure phone calls are returned, emails are answered, etc. It is very easy to overlook the issue of consistent communication. Remember this is also an opportunity to ask for referrals. Whenever possible introduce the new accountant to clients as a partner coming to the firm with a background consisting of . Let them know that they will be seeing little to no change in their current service. In fact, they will receive superior service greater than what was provided before.
To ensure minimal attrition one can take these recommendations and cast them aside until it is your turn to cash in your chips. For this issue will surely find you at some point in the future.