We’ve looked at benefits of pursuing a strategy of answering service growth through acquisition along with the possible risks. Armed with this knowledge, we’ll now consider the steps to follow once you’ve signed the deal. Assure Staff: Regardless of how you’ll structure your acquisition, you will have staff to deal with. Your goal might be to retain them all, keep some of them long-term, retain them during the acquisition, or let them go. Whatever strategy you pursue you need to communicate with them honestly and candidly. A failure to do so, could result in staff abandoning you, having incorrect expectations, or sowing discord among clients. One thing certain is that in the absence of information, staff will make up their own conclusions, which most likely will be wrong and damaging. Also, this communication is not a once-and-done task but should be ongoing. Communicate with Clients: Likewise, you need to communicate with your new clients. Start with a letter announcing the good news. Let them know how this will benefit them. Let them know how to reach your staff with questions. Also, let them know what to expect during the transition and when to expect it. Follow up as needed. Map Out the Logistics: Next plan what will need to happen to make a successful transition, when it will happen, and who will spearhead each stage. This roadmap is critical for success. Also, build a buffer for the unexpected, because problems will occur. Hire in Anticipation: Bring on additional staff to help in the early days of integrating the acquired service in with your own. Although a likely long-term goal is staff reductions, don’t implement them right away. Your new clients will scrutinize everything you do, looking for problems and an excuse to leave. Although you might worry that hiring will balloon your payroll, answering services are seldom overstaffed for long. Excessive staffing levels tend to work themselves out quickly. Make the Transition: Now that your staff is assured, the clients are aware of what will happen, and additional staff is in place, now you’re ready to make the transition. You likely anticipated the basics of this prior to making the acquisition, but now it’s time to implement it. Do so with great care. This step is critical for success. Stabilize the Results: Once the transition is complete, or at least phase one is finished, stabilize the results. You might need to address customer service issues, staffing levels, supervision, technical issues, or other problems that could arise. The main thing is to bring your acquisition into a smooth-running operation as fast as possible. Analyze Billing: Next is where you begin to see the benefits of the acquisition. Analyze the billing of each new client. Implement a strategy to make each one profitable within a short time. This is where many acquisitions fail. The buyer pursued the deal, made the transition, and jumped to the next project without maximizing the value of what they just bought. The details of each of these steps will vary for every acquisition depending on your goals for the purchase and your strategy to get there. However, each of these steps is adaptable to any type of answering service acquisition. Answering service acquisitions can offer a good challenge and provide many financial benefits. But to realize them, you need to follow through with what you just bought and give attention to these critical steps. Then you can go and buy another answering service. Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier sales and marketing service provider and consultancy for the call center and telephone answering service industry. Contact Janet at email@example.com or 800-901-7706 to arrange a private consultation about buying or selling an answering service.Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan.