How to lead your next acquisition

Your business is established, with a strong financial foundation and a healthy culture. Things are good, and you have decided to acquire another business to diversify and grow.

But before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you understand that the cultural transaction far outweighs the financial one. Preparing well in advance of the announcement will help you successfully navigate the change.
Over the past 10 years, Safelite has acquired numerous companies. Along the way, I have found the following four areas to be instrumental in effectively managing the transition in a healthy and rewarding way.

1. Strong communication lays the groundwork for a successful integration.

Communication — it sounds simple, right? It’s anything but. The initial messages you share with your existing and new associates are the ones they will remember. Clear, thorough and easy-to-understand messaging is vital. It sets the stage for a smooth execution of your overall strategy and for your new associates, it’s their introduction to you as their leader.

Communicate in a way that shares your vision, answers the personal question of, “What’s in it for me?” and makes the right lasting impression.

2. Visibility out of the gate will pay long-term dividends.

It’s important to be approachable and visible. You are a new and unknown leader to many as they digest the news of change. That means that everything about you is on display. The more visible you are, and the more you show and tell them what they can expect, the better your chances of building immediate and sustainable relationships.

3. Your best bet is the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

There are obviously details about the acquisition that you aren’t able to share transparently. But what you can share should be handled in an open and truthful manner.

The very people you rely on to further build your business and seamlessly align with your business model need to be confident that what you are telling them is the truth. Most likely, their biggest concern is what the change means for them. So, tell them to the best of your ability and then continue with strong communication to keep them informed along the way.

4. Demonstrate the level of respect you want to be known for.

If you want to be respected, you have to earn it. Make promises you can keep and find immediate wins during the acquisition announcement that benefit new associates. That way, they see that you can be trusted to keep their best interests top of mind.

One of the biggest ways to earn respect is to demonstrate sincere interest. Learn about their current culture and don’t assume they must immediately transition to yours. Getting into the details and the “why” of their culture just might surprise you. Remember, there will be things the company already does very well. Identify and acknowledge them rather than immediately try to change who they are.

Keep these tips in mind for a positive and rewarding acquisition experience. Here’s to your growth.


Tom Feeney is the president and CEO of Safelite Group Inc., a multifaceted auto glass and claims management service organization founded in 1947.