One of the first steps a potential buyer will take when looking at an existing business is checking its presence and customer sentiment. This can be done through a simple online search – looking at Google search ranking and reviews, the quality of the website, the level of social media presence and engagement.
It’s the ultimate modern digital screening process, providing a no-fuss, no-strings-attached view of precisely what they are getting into before even reaching out to you.
Whether you’re looking at retirement, moving onto greener pastures, or letting go, implementing strategies ahead of time to ensure you’re set up for success is invaluable – and this should include your digital presence and shop front.
After working through this transformation, we’re using these digital marketing services to help other businesses with their succession plans and objectives – and businesses who don’t have a digital presence are being left behind. We’ve taken Australian businesses on that journey with us – including Damian Muscat and the Crane Logistics team in Mackay.
Here at Localsearch, we’ve worked through our own succession planning and future-proofing – from humble beginnings in print advertisements and business listings 28 years ago to becoming a major online directory platform and digital marketing service catered for SMBs.
The journey to sale for SMBs – why digital is key
The veteran business owner wanted to step back from his 20-year reign owning and managing the locally acclaimed machine hiring company, returning to work as a crane operator for the business rather than in the hot seat.
Founded in 2001, Crane Logistics has grown from local hiring services to providing crane operations to government bodies across Queensland. The single-owner business has 20 employees, 80 clients and Damian’s wife standing by his side. After strategically investing in digital marketing to increase customer conversion and brand awareness, Damian recently sold Crane Logistics to a group of fellow Mackay locals. This fulfilled his wish to “ensure the company remained true to its Australian roots rather than becoming an arm of a multinational.”
Damian first partnered with Localsearch in 2009 to create Crane Logistics print advertisements. Working exclusively on digital for the last 12 months, Crane Logistics generated over 41K impressions from organic SEO work and over 466K impressions from their social media advertisements. Keeping his employees as reasoning for continuous success, Damian was delighted that, “alongside fantastic physical and operation succession planning strategies, digital has been key to getting Crane Logistics prepared and ready for its next chapter”.
Improving this digital presence within your succession planning strategy relies on three key areas – online footprint, social and website content, and customer engagement.
Cleaning up your online footprint
Treat it as though your business is a potential employee you’re looking to hire when it comes to your holistic footprint. Is it professional, with all the boxes ticked? Do you have a Google My Business profile set up? Are you ranking highly in search results – as a marker that you’re already an established business? Does your business have LinkedIn and Facebook Business profiles? If not, these are key areas to invest in and work on to ensure a buyer feels like they’re getting into an operation that’s set up for success.
You should also work to push above your competitors – both for right-now benefits and in setting up for sale. Conduct an audit to understand how your competitors are portraying themselves and what they are and aren’t doing well to ensure you rank and do better than they are.
Getting your owned channels up to scratch
From a content perspective, are you highlighting your offering, case studies, successes and journey appropriately on your websites and social platforms? Would a potential buyer or investor be able to see how successful and viable your business is from just a glance, as well as in a deep dive through all available search results?
Showcasing a high level of engagement and positive customer interaction on your platforms also shows that your business has a strong market – hinting at a seamless transaction with an existing customer base to take over and continue serving.
A forever legacy of customer excellence
Customer engagement might just be the most important piece of the puzzle on all these channels and platforms. You want to create a legacy of great customer care and service. If you have two stars, a myriad of negative reviews left unanswered, and comments on social media pages recounting unfavourable customer experiences, you’re not showcasing the best version of your business.
Respond to negative reviews and assist your customers in finding a solution to their experience and ask customers to review your business on Google or Facebook following a positive interaction to capture the good alongside the ugly.
Businesses all have different lifespans – some are forever, some are just for a while, but all are built with an enormous amount of time, energy and soul. By setting yourself up with physical, operational, and digital succession planning strategies now, you’ll be doing a service to you, your employees and your customers when the time comes to move on.
Read more: Creating success in succession planning