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M&A the Right Way, Part 3: Onboarding Success Tips: Page 3 of 4

Once you’ve found the perfect acquisition target, negotiated a deal, and signed a contract, here are some tips for ensuring the onboarding process goes smoothly and provides the expected ROI. By Colleen Frye
Reader ROI: 
ONBOARDING an acquired firm requires a project plan that addresses how personnel, tools, and customers will be organized.
THE BUYER should assign a team to oversee the plan, decide how to communicate it to employees/customers, and track progress.
DESIGN INTEGRATIONS AND CONSOLIDATIONS to minimize staff disruptions and maintain customer service levels.

30 – 90 days

Technology platforms are typically tackled next. “We’re not going to necessarily onboard customers immediately, unless there's a compelling reason to,” Bickmore says. Instead, he’s focused on mapping out how email, ticketing, RMM tools, and documentation will be integrated.

Wiley says that even if the acquired company is using the same PSA they will migrate them onto Aldridge’s instance and run parallel systems for a short period. Aldridge follows that with the RMM migration, and then anti-virus and endpoint protection tools.

Fowler adds that it’s important during this period to work out how the two companies will communicate and share data “so we know what could get broken in the process and what gaps we might have.”

If you’re changing processes be sure to provide training too, Fowler stresses. “There's two things we're trying to avoid. We don't want to cause emotional stress to employees who have been doing things for a long time the same way. We don't want to do that to customers either.”

Other tasks include consolidating websites and making decisions about what the services portfolio will look like going forward.

France recommends that the buyer starts communicating with clients within the 60-day period. Actually consolidating customer-facing resources may not happen until 90 days, he adds, but you should be talking to clients and reassuring them that “we merged to deliver a better service to you. And that's a face to face, not an email.”

Patrick Wiley

90 days – 12 months

Aldridge starts onboarding clients around the six-month mark, but Wiley notes the process can take anywhere from three to nine months. That includes a pause to evaluate customer satisfaction and integration issues, and make any necessary course corrections.

Snap Tech IT’s priority during customer onboarding is not making waves. “Sometimes it's not the biggest, most complicated [clients] we go to first. We will take care of the easy ones first, see how it goes, and then learn and go to the next. Or sometimes the most critical customer is prioritized. That's a contextual decision.”

France says the buyer should also be identifying the top-tier A and B clients, and then raises prices on the C clients or helps them find another provider. “Obviously you want to invest more into your B and A clients.”

Documentation is usually done later, Bickmore says. “We'll find ourselves doing several cleanup projects for many quarters after the merge.”

Expect the whole process to take 12 months, concludes Fowler. “You want to condense it as much as you can, but generally, to get them selling the same thing you're selling and doing things the way you do them, that process takes a year.”

About the Author

Colleen Frye's picture

Colleen Frye is ChannelPro's managing editor.

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