The comfort and continuity of a transition begins and ends with one word - COMMUNICATION.
How you communicate the benefits and advantages of the merger or sales of your practice to staff and clients will produce a ripple effect that cannot be stopped. If the communication is done poorly or is incomplete the staff will become concerned and unsure of their job stability. Clients will detect this. If clients are sensing something is wrong or are not comfortable, retention and continuity of their relationship with you comes into question. Lack of retention produces a declining financial value for all involved in an affiliation.
Transition Advisors, LLC has created a transition document for use with staff and clients. The transition document identifies talking points that should be covered when announcing the change to your staff. Before making the announcement you should consider:
A botched transition strategy guarantees everyone will lose, which is not a good situation for anyone - you, the clients, staff or successor firm - at such an important time. The timeless phrase, "You only have one chance to make a good first impression" particularly holds true for a merger or succession announcement.
At a minimum the following retention points should be clearly planned and communicated:
So the key to introducing a transition from one firm to another firm is when key people, normally the partners, will be around during the transition to maximize the advantage of having that person involved. (Many clients are only seen once a year with a face-to-face interaction. If a key person is five years from slowing down, that's only five visits with these clients so start the transition quickly to guide and manage it properly.)
Consider any pending loss of key staff that has a deep relationship with clients and transition those clients with the staff members that will be their replacement.
If staff is being retained they need to be assured that their compensation, benefits and role will remain unchanged and their future prospects are brighter. If adjustments in compensation and benefits are needed, consider making that change over time. Be quick, honest and open in your communication with staff. Let them know the playing field - tell them how they fill an important role in the successor firm's goals.
For more information on client and staff issues in a transition:
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