How to Sell My Fire Protection Company AND Take Care of My Employees

Portrait of fire protection business team posing in office

When it comes time to sell your company, you may struggle with feeling like you are putting yourself above your team. And while it isn’t every seller’s top priority, those who want to leave their team in good hands when they exit can!

Prioritizing Your Employees During a Fire Protection Company Sale

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you begin this process if you are concerned about your team:

Ask if the Buyers Plan to Keep Your Team After the Sale

One of the best ways to take care of your employees during a sale is to work with a buyer who will keep them on staff.

Fire and Life Safety Skills are Hard to Replace!

In the fire and life safety space, this is easier to do than in other industries. Fire protection and security integration technicians have valuable skills and certifications that cannot be earned overnight. Fire suppression, fire sprinkler, alarm system, security integration, and other services are highly regulated, meaning you cannot easily replace skilled technicians who understand the code requirements or have the necessary authority to perform inspections or installations.

This means that most companies interested in buying your company will want to keep most, if not all, of your team in order to keep revenue flowing!

Stagger Your Transition if Possible to Help Your Team Feel Secure

If you are unsure if the buyer is serious about keeping your team on, ask if you can stay for the first few months to help them transition. This can provide continuity for your employees and help them feel secure during the change.

How to Ask for Your Team’s Job Security, Even When You Want to Exit Right Away

If you don’t want to stay after the sale, you can still ask for your employees’ jobs to be guaranteed initially. You can have your lawyer include a clause in the sale agreement that requires the buyer to maintain your employees for a certain period of time.

Take Advantage of the Competitive Fire Protection Market

While this may deter some buyers, the market is competitive enough right now to guarantee there will be others whose interest in your business is not affected by this request.

Make Your Employees’ Needs Part of Early Conversations with Buyers

One simple way to make sure your employees are taken care of by the new business owner is to make that part of the earliest conversations with potential alarm company buyers.

Make It Clear It’s About More Than Money

When you start conversations only interested in the numbers, buyers will be under the impression that is your only concern. This could lead you to take buyers off the table who would have been better fits for your team, even if their initial number was lower.

If your employees’ wellbeing is a priority for you, make that clear to your broker and potential buyers. This will help weed out the buyers who are only interested in the money.

Job Security Is Only Part of the Equation

You should also consider your employees’ interests when negotiating the terms. Terms should include the employee benefits and how they will differ from what your team has now, especially in regards to health insurance.

While in some cases there is little that can be done to change the benefits the new owner can offer, at least making it part of the conversation from the beginning can encourage brainstorming other ways to make up for any negative changes that will result from the sale.

How This Can Impact You, the Owner

Making the employees’ needs part of the conversation from the beginning can also help you, the owner, understand how much will be asked of you in the deal.

If your company is being purchased by a larger company in the same industry, they may be better set up to help your team transition. But if you’re coming into a portfolio of very different businesses, your help may be necessary if your vision for your employees after the sale is going to be realized.

If Your Needs Keep Clashing with the Company’s, a Broker Can Be Your Advocate

If your hopes for your team keep clashing with your hopes for yourself in the conversations with buyers, you may need to step back and decide if you are ready to make this change.

This is also where an experienced fire protection business broker can be a great resource. He can help you understand what is reasonable to expect, and help you consider other alternatives if selling your whole company proves to be the wrong choice for you.

Communicate about the Change with Tact and Transparency

Regardless of what the situation will be after the sale, communicating with your team carefully and honestly is the best way to take care of them during the change.

Control When and How the Announcement is Made

While you can’t share every detail as it emerges, there are ways to handle these conversations tactfully. You can also set clear expectations with the buyer about how you want the news to be shared.

If you are worried about how to handle this, a change management consultant can be a great resource to help you form your message. The new owner may even have a team who can help you with this.

Keep the Lines of Communication Open After the Sale is Announced

Communicate openly and honestly with your employees throughout the process once it begins. Let them know what’s happening and why you’ve decided to sell. Answer their questions honestly and keep them updated on the progress of the transition while you are still on board.

By being transparent and keeping your employees’ best interests in mind, you can sell your fire protection company AND take care of your team.

When Selling Your Fire Safety Company Feels Like Leaving a Family

Selling your fire protection company can be a tough decision. In an industry like fire protection, many companies are more than businesses – they are families. When selling your fire protection company feels like leaving a family behind, you can make it easier by taking care of them through the sale.

Work with a Broker who Will Fight for You AND Your Team

By following the tips above and working with the right partner when negotiating the sale, you can exit your business while setting up your team to reach even greater success.

Rory Russell has decades of experience helping fire safety and security companies find the right buyers for themselves and their teams. He can help you navigate the conversations while also looking out for the best interests of your technicians, office staff, and customers.

Don’t settle for a sale that makes you feel like you failed your team. Instead, let Rory help you take advantage of the current market and find a buyer that shares your values. Call him today to learn more: 800-354-3863.