Many circumstances govern whether or not it is time to consider selling your business. This is often a very tough decision to make. Maybe you have poured your heart, soul, and resources into this venture for generations and want to see it succeed under new ownership. Perhaps you are experiencing burnout from long tedious years of keeping the business afloat. John Hockaday of New Horizons Insurance Marketing simplifies the decision making process in his blog post listing seven sure signs it’s time to sell. He has outlined them as follows:
Your book is going backwards.
It’s different for everyone, but it’s a sure sign when your book starts going backwards. When you lose more than you bring in, it tells you you’re losing the passion for it.You’re not giving it the attention you did a few years back.
A typical scenario is that your income is less this year than it was the year before, and when you look back, you actually see a couple years in a row where your income is going backwards. You’re just not growing anymore.
In the senior market – no matter how great you do with service and staying in front of your customers – we lose clients because they die. And the older you get, the worse it gets.
Because of that reality, you have to always be acquiring new customers. If you don’t, you’ll start losing them and your book will start taking a tumble in the wrong direction.
In a perfect world, you would’ve sold before your book started losing value.
You’d rather buy something that’s climbing and that’s performing well, and keep in mind that anyone will look at your last 3 years of income minimum.
Don’t wait until your book of business has dropped a third in value before you sell. When it’s on its way down, you just won’t get as much –sell it when it’s at its prime!
You stop servicing your clients.
In this scenario, you’re not seeing your clients like you used to, and you know it. You used to have appointments with them all the time, and now you only see them when they squeak. Most guys will just let this keep on going, but it’s really a disservice to your clients. Plus, you’re very vulnerable to new agents who are hungry to steal that business.
At least look at your options of what it means to sell. Get the best value, make sure your customers are taken care of, get a guarantee on your book, and you can look at all those people that live in your town and feel good about it.
You don’t have an enthusiasm for it anymore.
Guys and gals in this situation are grumbling. Everything is a complaint, and it’s really because they just don’t have the passion for it anymore.
Servicing your customers feels like a burden. Do us all a favor and get out of the business when you’re like that! (Just kidding.)
But seriously, you’ve essentially quit already when you stop having the desire to learn.
You get to this place where you don’t want to say you don’t care, but really that’s what it is. You just don’t have the heart for it anymore, and you’re not as happy as you once were.
You can’t keep up with the technology anymore – and don’t want to.
This is a big one, actually.
Technology in the insurance space has been advancing year over year, and it feels like it’s just too much. It’s way too much for me, even. If I didn’t have help, I don’t think I’d want to do it anymore.
The new software and platforms are getting jammed down your throat, and you have to keep up or you can’t play ball anymore.
I see a lot of father and son teams, and the dad is doing everything on paper and can’t stand all of the digital stuff, and the son is really interested in and excited about the new technology.
It’s the wave of the future, and if you’re not up-to-speed, it’s easy to just call it quits. Again, if I didn’t have all the great support from our staff to help me, I would want to get out a lot sooner. It can be overwhelming, and I can see a lot of guys my age feeling that way.
A life event changes your perspective.
This one isn’t as obvious, but I’ve seen it enough times to know that it happens. A major life event, like a loved one passing away, can set off this chain of reactions, and you just want to get out of the insurance business.
About a year ago, I asked a friend of mine who was nearly 70, “When are you gonna quit?” And his response was, “I don’t think I ever will.”
It wasn’t but 6 months later that his mom passed away, and that major life event went off in his head like a lightbulb. He wanted out. Once he made that decision, he really couldn’t make it happen fast enough. It was like the complete opposite of what he said the year before.
It could be anything. Maybe you lose a buddy, and you think, “Gosh, life is short. I’m 72 – why am I still doing this?”
Whatever it might be, a bell just goes off and you realize you’re ready to be done.
It’s just… time.
The last book of business we bought was from Steve Hughes, and we interviewed him about his experience with us. When we asked him how he knew it was time, he basically said that he just knew.
“You can’t do it all your life. It was just time,” he said. Plus, he had a little nudging from his wife who wanted him to retire.
He said that of course it was difficult, but it was also a relief. “You start thinking that no one can do this except for you,” he said, “But that’s not true at all.”
In all honesty, Steve said that it was nice to not worry about it all anymore – to get up in the morning and know he won’t be getting any phone calls. He said he should’ve done it a few years ago, but he just wasn’t ready yet.
And that’s totally valid. You just get a feeling, and you start exploring your options.
You’re hit with a major health condition.
This is an obvious one, but please don’t wait until this happens to make a plan! The time to sell is when you don’t have to sell, it’s when you want to sell.
When you have to sell – like when you sell your house ’cause you can’t make the payments – you have no leverage. You’re forced to sell.
When you wait for your health to hit a serious obstacle, then you’re going to be forced to sell. You don’t want that.
Plus, there are still things you have to clean up on your end before you can sell. For example, do you have all your corporate documents in order? Have you moved from one state to another?
Selling your business is a heavy decision to make with many factors to consider. Once the decision has been made to list and sell your business, let IMS guide you the rest of the way. Our knowledgeable staff can help you find a buyer and prepare for closing- insuring a smooth transition into retirement or perhaps a new venture! Let us help you realize your dreams and show you what the GOLD STANDARD is all about!