The Acquisition Journey
The initial contact with prospects is always very discreet because we understand how important confidentiality is, especially in the funeral industry. We don’t want to cold call businesses, so we rely on you contacting us. We often visit after hours so we can truly understand what you want and we can look around your funeral branch. Our visit is confidential, and arranged a time to suit you.
I recognise what a big decision it is selling your business, not only financially, but also emotionally it’s a real roller coaster. There are many reasons for selling, it might be that you’re looking towards retirement or you want to spend more time with your family. Some people may want to come off your out of hours rota. One thing for sure is that a lot of the business administration that people end up doing, and really isn’t the reason they became a funeral director, can certainly be taken centrally. This will free up your time to help concentrate on the business and grow a business working with the communities you serve and live in.
I do think our light touch, flexible approach gives you real peace of mind. You want to make sure that the heritage and tradition that the business has built up is maintained by protecting it, not just now, but for the long term. We want you to be able to walk past the business, in a number of years time, and still be proud of the business that you built.
We do need some information off you to give us a valuation, one of these pieces of the jigsaw is knowing what you want to do going forward. We’re flexible. Some people want to continue working full-time, some people might want to reduce to a part-time basis, and some people might just want to work for transition for one or two years before then leaving the business.
We also need information on the staff, accounts and the funeral numbers as well as. You won’t be surprised to know, but on properties we’re flexible again, some people want to keep the property and rent it back to us and some people want to sell the property with the business. We don’t mind either way.
You are paid in cash, so that means you bear to extract any cash you have in the bank accounts as well at a more efficient, lower tax rate than if you’ve had to dividend it out to yourself. In terms of the future, if a business is growing, sometimes people say, now isn’t the right time to sell. But what we can do is offer an earn out and that means that if the revenue of the business grows, we’re happy to pay you for that growth. That way it’s mutually beneficial, but we want to help work with you and make the business grow as much as possible. That might be in terms of using our marketing department, or it might be just using some of our central office support function to do some of the business administration so you can concentrate on the communities you live in, work in serving them.
Once we agree a deal, we sign legal heads of terms. Now this just binds us for an exclusivity period, so we can continue the conversation and get the points of business to completion. I appreciate that you’re still in your day job as well, we want to make the process as easy as possible. In terms of solicitor of choice we have a number of good corporate solicitors we’ve worked with before. We sometimes find people choosing a smaller solicitor. They can kind of get overwhelmed and may not be as used to the terminology, so in recognition of this fact, we pay legal fees of up to 10,000 pounds if you use one of our corporate solicitors. Make no mistake, they’re acting in your interest, not mine. This process can take between three to six months to do, and that’s really driven by how fast you can get information to us.
We also want to protect the staff and recognise they’re a really important asset in the business, so when you’re ready to tell the staff, we can support with that. We want to reassure them that their jobs are safe. You’ll have an integration manager who will be with you from the first step of a new deal, right the way through to completion and beyond. The integration manager will sit down with you and go through all the different stages of how your business operates on a day-to-day basis.
The integration manager will be physically at your branch for one or two months after completion and the stay as long as it needs to make sure that the transition is as smooth as possible. What I would say is if anyone is considering selling the business, even now or at some point in the future, to give me a call. It’s a really confidential, no obligation conversation, and it could make all the difference.
I can put you in touch with former owners who sold their business to us, and then they can tell you what life is truly like working with Funeral Partners.