Selling your company is not a spur-of-the-moment decision. It usually requires two to three to five years to prepare your company for sale so you can achieve the highest possible valuation. When the process is done properly, it can increase the value of your company significantly, and your investment in the clean up should return 5 times your investment. However the final price is subject to market conditions at the time of sale. Here are the general areas that need to be addressed. Not all may apply to you, depending on the market areas you operate in, but it is a good starting point.

Train your managers well

Managers at some well-run franchise corporations receive up to 500 hours of training during their first four years of employment. Well-trained managers can be a substantial advantage when you sell, and the purchasers may even release you from remaining to manage the operation after the sale. Start grooming the next generation of managers. Make sure their roles are defined, recorded, and filed, and that all employees understands how they contribute to the health of company.

Clean up your financials

Ensure your financial records are clean, that you have good reporting systems, and that your statements are audited. Buyers will want to see full records for at least three to five years.
It’s equally important to know your costs as accurately as possible. Track them and your profitability by customer and by job.

Stabilize your operations

Showing a consistent pattern of growth is very attractive to buyers. But it’s equally important that you stabilize your business before focusing on growth. Based on your cost analysis, develop on ongoing cost-reduction plan, and eliminate your unprofitable customers and jobs. Pay down as much debt as you can, so buyers can more easily secure financing against your assets.
Remember too that some buyers might prefer to see investments instead of simply cost-cutting. Show a history of focusing on ROI, not costs, while making investments. You can justify spending more for the best location, equipment, or systems if they lead to a stronger bottom line.

Collect data and then more data

Document your processes and collect as much data about your business as you can. Data is king for decision makers. A good MIS system, for example, will track detailed data about order intake, job costing, sales, inventory management, and a host of other useful information that will appeal to buyers. Buyers won’t have to take your word for the state of your business – they can see it.

Know your customers

Similarly, a good CRM system will track and record relevant information about your customers, including their order history, and all your interactions with them. You should also assess whether your clients are financially healthy. If your business depends heavily on one large customer, diversify your base. Try to secure contracts with profitable customers.

Define your story

Define your story and ensure everyone on your staff tells the same version. Clearly articulate your focus, your position in the market, and the benefits you bring to your customers. Look at industry benchmarks and assess clearly how you measure against them. Do the same with your competitors.
Decide what makes you different as a company and outline your competitive strengths. Are you technologically at the leading edge? Do you have a reputation as a great place to work? Are you a leader in sustainability efforts? Are you a community leader?

Market your company

Start a public relations program to spread the word about your story. Look at social media platforms, which can be very cost effective, start a newsletter for new and potential clients, create resources that educate your clients. Use venues where your clients will find you, raise your profile, and establish yourself as an authority in your sector. Consider creating a professional presentation laying out all this information for potential buyers.