Retail Observer

April 2018

The Retail Observer is an industry leading magazine for INDEPENDENT RETAILERS in Major Appliances, Consumer Electronics and Home Furnishings

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Page 43 of 67

RETAILOBSERVER.COM APRIL 2018 44 W hen I visit my local salon, they always have those DIY home makeover shows playing on the television. Good thing I'm not addicted to these shows because when I'm there, I can't keep my eyes off of the screen! It's hard to resist seeing a total run-down shack transformed into a beautiful, welcoming home. Or what about the 'flip' shows where they purposely buy something that's on the market for a good price so they can completely transform it to make a profit? Just about anyone can get ideas from these shows, especially if you are interested in renovating or updating your own home, whether you plan to sell it or enjoy it. When business owners decide that they want to sell a business, sometimes they might work with a broker, as a homeowner might. These professionals are like matchmakers for businesses and business buyers. (My friend John Martinka is a good one, and can be reached at One thing real estate experts often say is that a home needs to have good 'curb appeal' so that the first impression of the home gets your attention, sets the tone, and invites you in. For some, this might be a fresh coat of paint, some flowers or new light fixtures, or maybe even a new roof is needed. Sometimes, I feel like when someone wants to sell a business, they work really hard to make sure their financials are all in order, as they should, and that they can show their profitability and bottom line. Perhaps, they feel like if they can show strong financials and potential, they will attract a buyer who will see the value and pay the price. Unless you're buying a fixer- upper, you'd want the new business to have the curb appeal of good, strong numbers. But often, there is so much emphasis placed on this portion of a business sale that no one is looking at the 'good bones' or 'copper pipes' of the business to see that, once the new owner takes over, the business will be set up for long-term success. In my experience, good bones and copper pipes are about the systems and processes in the business, as well as, the culture and people of the business. Both will make a business more valuable and better able to be successful. You might ask these questions about the good bones and copper pipes, whether you're a buyer or a seller of a business: 1. Where are the effective and ineffective processes? Sales & marketing, finance and accounting, performance management, operations, facilities or product/service development may be different functions of the organization. How do they operate? Where are the smooth handoffs and the places where things fall apart? 2. What is the leadership philosophy of the organization? How are decisions made? 3. What are the formal and informal ways of communication? How is information shared? How can truth be spoken to the top? How is conflict and misunderstanding managed? 4. What is the role of creativity, artistry and innovation? How are leaders and team members encouraged to bring their best selves, and best ideas, to work? 5. What's in place for planning and measurement for success? How are metrics devised, whether for productivity or profitability? 6. How is employee engagement assessed and discussed? Where are the conversations that matter? Sometimes, a business looks really good from the outside, and often, we think that the financials will tell us the whole picture. But the problem with focusing on the bottom line is that it's at the bottom... it is the consequence and outcome of many other things. It's more than just curb appeal that you're after in a solid business. You want to know you can move in and that you'll be safe in a rainstorm or power outage. You want to know that the people who've helped to create those numbers on a P&L have the good bones and copper pipes to sustain a big change like a business sale. CURB APPEAL, GOOD BONES, AND COPPER PIPES Libby Wagner Culture Coach RO Libby Wagner, author of The Influencing Option: The Art of Building a Profit Culture in Business, works with clients to help them create and sustain Profit Cultures

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