“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
Acquiring an insurance agency requires significant due diligence. Verifying revenue, analyzing books of business, reviewing documents, evaluating employees and expenses, as well as negotiating terms of the purchase can take a tremendous amount of time. The process can be stressful and exhausting, but it’s all worth it when you acquire an agency that truly suits your business.
Once the celebratory champagne bottles are empty and the parades are over, the real work begins in successfully transitioning the new agency into your organization. The time immediately following closing is critical to ensuring you, at a minimum, maintain the value of the asset you purchased and you capitalize on its strengths. Having a detailed post-acquisition plan can be the difference between a successful acquisition and a costly failure.
Start your transition planning during the due diligence process. Identify the critical stakeholders who will be impacted by the sale of the agency and develop a communication strategy for each. This plan should include: A list of who should be notified, what message needs to go that specific stakeholder, when to communicate the message, who will deliver the message and who will address any questions should they arise.
Having a clear message that articulates the reasons for the sale and the benefits to stakeholders should be developed and ready to go well before closing. The timing and content of the message will likely differ depending on the stakeholder. For example, carriers will likely be notified later in the process than key employees and producers. Each acquisition is different and requires a deep understanding of the parties involved to create the best delivery plan.
It may be considered an overused cliché, but “insurance is a people business.” Employees are critical to the success of an insurance agency. Retaining essential personnel after the purchase needs to be a priority. To determine who is vital to the agency, know each employee’s role, understand their relationships with customers and track the revenue associated with their professional competencies. The current agency owner can help identify these individuals, and he or she can assist you in communicating the change to them.
Carrier contracts and regulatory agencies are vital stakeholders. Making sure you are paving the way early with these entities will be essential to a smooth transition. Identifying potential issues early on can save you headaches after closing. For example, making sure that the most crucial carrier relationships will continue after the sale will eliminate the need for remarketing books of business to retain revenue.
Before you get to the closing table, you should have a complete post-acquisition plan. The plan should include all items that need to be addressed, the timeline to complete them and who is responsible for carrying out each task. Typically, this list is long, so ask for help from your management team, the former owner and other leaders of the agency you acquired.
To support you in developing a post-acquisition plan to assist you after closing, we’ve created a post-acquisition checklist for insurance agencies. You can download it here.
To discover how Live Oak Bank can help you achieve your business goals through financing, please contact Mike Strakhov, CPCU, executive director of insurance lending at Live Oak Bank. You can reach Mike by phone at (614) 361-9482 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.