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The 8 Steps of Business Succession Planning

Jeff Denning Business Valuation Gilmore Jasion MahlerIt’s one of those issues that you may feel you don’t have time for because you’re too busy actually running your business. But it’s an important question you need to ask yourself. What are your plans for the business once you’re out of the picture? It’s surprising how few business owners actually know the answer. Statistics show that almost half of family businesses have absolutely no succession plan.

Gilmore Jasion Mahler and Croghan Colonial Bank recently teamed up to present a business succession planning workshop for area business owners. They offered some valuable takeaways including 8 steps to ensure a successful transition to new leadership.

First and foremost, be realistic about how long it will take to sell your business. Croghan’s Paul Wannemacher says the average time to sell a business once it’s listed for sale on the market is 6-11 months. He says one should also factor in 2-3 months to close once an agreement is reached.

“Make sure you’re ready when that prospective buyer does come along,” says Wannemacher. “Create a descriptive listing of the business as well as an overview. Just like when selling your house, you need to think about “curb appeal”. You may need to resurface the parking lot, freshen the landscape or painting to make it look more attractive to a potential buyer.”

Once you’ve tended to that first impression of your business and informed your key management, here are the 8 steps to succession planning:

  1. Get a handle on the marketplace. What’s the climate in your industry, the local economy and the national and international economies? Are there potential buyers out there?  Maybe your family members, managers within the company, maybe competitors?
  2. Pull together a team of advisors. This team should include your CPA, lawyer, wealth advisor and commercial banker.
  3. Get your business ready for transition
  • Review metrics
  • Make sure your records are accurate and up to date

It’s smart to anticipate some challenges along the way as you get your business ready for transition. Some of those challenges could include:

  • Normalizing your income statement
  • Cash flow/debt service history and capacity
  • The condition of your balance sheet
  • Collateral

Who is in the pool of potential buyers?

  1. Get a valuation

Gilmore Jasion Mahler CPA Jeff Denning is an expert in business valuation. He says the first question you need to ask yourself before getting a business valuation is: what are you offering to sell?

“Are you selling all of the transferable assets of your business or a fractional interest or equity share? What about your client and customer relationships? Your contracts? What about your workforce? We’re in the midst of a critical workforce shortage,” says Denning. “Many businesses are interested in acquiring other businesses right now to acquire their workers.”

Another challenge can be landing on an asking price for your business. Denning offers these questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you have a CFO or controller to assist in this process?
  • Do you have an outside CPA with valuation experience?
  • Do you need a business broker to help assess market potential or handle the entire sale process?
  • Do you need a real estate appraiser?
  • Grade your business against other comparable businesses
  • Is the business transferable? Owner-operated? How much risk of retaining customers?
  • Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes- your advisors should help with this perspective
  1. Create a personal financial plan: What amount of sale proceeds do you need to be satisfied? Look at your living expenses, vacations and spending you anticipate, family and charity goals. Don’t discount the emotional toll of finally leaving a business you’ve nurtured and built over the years.
  2. Prepare your family for the transition: The sooner you can let family members in the business know your plans the better. You may consider family wealth transfers through trusts or partnerships.
  3. Work with prospective buyers: Some things to keep in mind as you consider bids: how will loyal managers and employees be treated? Will the new owners continue with the company, improve it, or close it down?

“The buyer may want you to stay for a period of time after the sale. Just be very clear what that continuing role might be and how long will it last,” adds Croghan Bank’s Chris Kelly.Succession Planning Chris Kelly Paul Wannemacher Croghan

  1. Structure and close the sale

“Once you’ve identified a buyer, be aware that the final stretch can be as difficult as all the other steps that led you to this… and maybe more frustrating,” says Croghan’s Paul Wannemacher. “Will the business organization change? Will there be a reorganization? Are non-compete agreements needed?”

And, what type of financing is available?

  • Seller financing (you take on all the risk)
  • Conventional bank financing
  • SBA 7(a)
  • Collateral enhancement
  • Equity investors
  • ESOP

From assessing the marketplace to closing the sale, these eight steps are meant to be a guideline as you contemplate the future of the business you’ve worked so hard to build. While it may seem daunting, many financial experts agree that perhaps the worst thing you can do in regard to succession planning is to do nothing. If you and your financial team can come up with a strategy, you can rest assured that your exit will leave your business and your employees well positioned for future success.

Jeffrey S. Denning, CPA ABV, CFF is a partner with Gilmore Jasion Mahler, LTD. He has over 30 years of accounting experience, with a focus on providing services as an accredited business appraiser, forensic accountant, litigation consultant, and expert witness.

Chris Kelly is a Vice President and Commercial Loan Officer at Croghan Colonial Bank. He has over 20 years of experience in commercial banking, providing small to medium sized privately held businesses, nonprofits and professional firms with financial solutions.

Paul Wannemacher, CPA, PFS, CFP is a Vice President and Trust Officer at Croghan Trust & Investment Management. He has over 25 years of experience in trust administration, portfolio management, tax & financial planning and business consulting.

Established in 1996, Gilmore Jasion Mahler, LTD (GJM) is the largest public accounting firm in Northwest Ohio, with offices in Maumee and Findlay. Locally owned, GJM offers cloud-based accounting and provides comprehensive services including assurance, business advisory, tax, risk advisory, healthcare management and outsourced accounting. The Firm’s professionals specialize in industries including construction & real estate, healthcare, manufacturing & distribution and utilities

Business Valuation: What to Look for in an Expert

You know you need a business valuation, but who should do it and how in depth should it be? Gilmore Jasion Mahler Partner Jeff Denning specializes in business valuation and says be aware that the IRS or a court of law will have some requirements when it comes to the valuation, and who does the work. He offers some ideas on how to go about choosing the right person for the job.

Who does a valuation for your business is one of several important questions as you begin to research the process. For more information, see GJM's video blogs How Do You Figure Out the Value of Your Business, Business Valuation: Lengthy Report or Not, and What is the Business Valuation Process. Learn more about Jeff’s expertise in business valuation and forensic accounting, and don’t forget to sign up for GJM’s free quarterly newsletter The Expert with a focus on business valuation and litigation support. Just click here for quick and easy sign up.

Established in 1996, Gilmore Jasion Mahler, LTD (GJM) is the largest public accounting firm in Northwest Ohio, with offices in Maumee and Findlay. Locally owned, GJM offers cloud-based accounting services and provides comprehensive services including assurance, business advisory, tax, risk advisory, healthcare management and outsourced accounting. The Firm’s professionals specialize in industries including construction & real estate, healthcare, manufacturing & distribution and utilities

Business Valuation: In Depth Report or Not?

Do you need to figure out what your business is worth? If you’re looking into getting a business valuation, you have some decisions to make. Gilmore Jasion Mahler (GJM) Partner Jeff Denning specializes in business valuation and says you could pursue a detailed (possibly 100 page) report, or a less detailed report. Which one do you need? Jeff has some answers in our most recent video blog.

Learn more about Jeff’s expertise in business valuation and GJM's forensic services, and don’t forget to sign up for our free quarterly newsletter The Expert. It offers timely and helpful articles with a focus on business valuation and litigation support. Just click here for quick and easy sign up.

Established in 1996, Gilmore Jasion Mahler, LTD (GJM) is the largest public accounting firm in Northwest Ohio, with offices in Maumee and Findlay. Locally owned, GJM offers cloud-based accounting services and provides comprehensive services including assurance, business advisory, tax, risk advisory, healthcare management and outsourced accounting. The Firm's professionals specialize in industries including construction & real estate, healthcare, manufacturing & distribution and utilities

Is it Time to Outsource Your Business Accounting?

Running a business isn’t for sissies. You bring in good people to manage the office, handle human resources and oversee the financials for you, but in the end, you know you’re ultimately responsible.

Did you double check that last invoice that went out to your best customer? What’s the balance on your business loan? How much cash is available right now? 

What if you could stop fretting over questions like that and know someone’s got your back around the clock? That’s the basic concept behind Gilmore Jasion Mahler’s Outsourced Accounting Services. We’ll call it the best of both worlds: a team of specialists is on the job, and you get to see the numbers anytime you want right on your cell phone.

Your team is there to answer questions, advise you on business decisions, if desired, and yes, to handle the books.

Advances in technology are changing the way many businesses handle the business manager role at the office. That includes many healthcare entities, including physician and dental practices. Many are embracing the technology, letting a specialized team handle the work, and turning their attention to growth strategy and other priorities. Outsourced accounting can also be an excellent fit for nonprofit organizations struggling to fill positions with knowledgeable, capable individuals.

Picture this: real time financial key performance indicators you can see any time of the day or night on your cell phone or other device. More importantly, a team of professionals working with you who not only look at today’s numbers, but help you plan and strategize for the future.

Some key benefits to outsourced accounting with Gilmore Jasion Mahler:

  1. Stop struggling to fill that internal business manager role (seems like there’s always an opening, doesn’t it?).
  2. Real time data at your fingertips around the clock whether you’re in the office or the sidelines of your daughter’s soccer game.
  3. A team consisting of accounting specialists, including a GJM partner, to handle the business finances and also guide and advise on other important financial decisions as needed.
  4. Dashboard view of your financials via leading edge accounting software platform Sage/Intacct.

Interested in learning more about Gilmore Jasion Mahler’s Outsourced Accounting Services? Read up on our team's capabilities. You can also contact our Accounting Specialist Team to start the conversation.

Gilmore Jasion Mahler’s Judy Anderson, CPA contributed this blog. Judy leads the GJM Outsourced Accounting Specialist Team. With over 20 years of experience in public accounting and private industry, Judy works with clients across a number of industries, including healthcare, nonprofit, and professional services.

Established in 1996, Gilmore Jasion Mahler, LTD (GJM) is the largest public accounting firm in Northwest Ohio, with offices in Maumee and Findlay. Locally owned, GJM offers comprehensive services including assurance, business advisory, tax, risk advisory, healthcare management and outsourced accounting. The Firm’s professionals specialize in industries including construction & real estate, healthcare, manufacturing & distribution and utilities.  

GJM Staff Announcements

Gilmore Jasion Mahler, LTD (GJM) has announced some key promotions and new staff members that strengthen the Firm and its leadership team. The promotions are effective January 1, 2019.

Judy Anderson Gilmore Jasion MahlerJudy Anderson and Matt Cavanagh are promoted to partner. Anderson, a Toledo native and graduate of The University of Toledo has been with the firm for 11 years. She has over twenty years of experience in public accounting and in the healthcare industry. A member of Gilmore Jasion Mahler’s healthcare and outsourced accounting group, she works with many of the Firm’s healthcare clients providing practice management and consulting services.  

Matt Cavanagh Gilmore Jasion MahlerCavanagh, a Bowling Green native and BGSU graduate, joined Gilmore Jasion Mahler in November of 2005. Also a member of the Firm’s healthcare team, Matt’s focus is healthcare services. His expertise is in ambulatory surgery centers, outsourced accounting, practice management and modeling.

“Judy and Matt are already valued members of our leadership team,” says Gilmore Jasion Mahler Managing Partner Kevin Gilmore. ”Their hard work and dedication have strengthened our healthcare specialty and the Firm as a whole. I’m thrilled to see them both reach partner level.”

Nikki Clement Gilmore Jasion MahlerThe Firm also announced some other key promotions. Partner Nikki Clement has been named managing partner of Gilmore Jasion Mahler’s Findlay office. Partner Mike Brough will lead growth efforts for the Findlay office. Nikki Clement's focus is the utilities industry. She specializes in accounting for regulated utilities.

Mike Brough Gilmore Jasion MahlerMike Brough works across a number of industries including manufacturing & distribution, government, and nonprofit operations.

Steve Miller is being promoted to senior manager. Both Ryan Avery and Ryan Emerson are promoted to supervisor and Nick Jackson is promoted to senior associate.

Earlier in the year, Diane Stretten and Mary Jo Pitzen were promoted to senior manager. Andrea Jennex moved up to supervisor in the GJM Findlay office. Ben Lochbihler was promoted to manager and Corey Selhorst, Lauren Grana and Clay Barron were all promoted to senior associate.

The Firm also brought on well over a dozen new employees in 2018 to further strengthen GJM’s administrative team and client service. They include Elijah Blackburn, Alyssa Essert, Alexandria Frances, Courtney Haas, Nicole Hartranft, Jennifer Henning, Dana Herr, Thomas Keyser, Jessica Knepper, Dylon Lause, Wendy Long, Tim Merkel, Madeline Mielcarek, Caleb Neeper, Joe Osentoski, Tina Rochowiak and Logan Sager.

“I couldn’t be happier with the staff we have in place headed into 2019,” says Gilmore. “When you have great people, great things happen. I’m excited to see what we can accomplish at a team.”

Established in 1996, Gilmore Jasion Mahler, LTD (GJM) is the largest public accounting firm in Northwest Ohio, with offices in Maumee and Findlay. Locally owned, GJM offers cloud-based accounting services and provides comprehensive services including assurance, business advisory, tax, risk advisory, healthcare management and outsourced accounting. The Firm’s professionals specialize in industries including construction & real estate, healthcare, manufacturing & distribution and utilities.