Congratulations on your working years in your law firm. Following all your hard work, you’ll want to reap the best retirement outcome so you can slow down and enjoy the fruits of your labour. But first, you need to sell your business to the right buyer, for the right price, and preplanning is required.
While it may sound daunting, preplanning is key to your retirement to really set yourself and the business up for the best acquisition outcome. If you were searching how to do this properly, you’d look no further than well-known Canberra senior practitioner Brian Tetlow of Tetlow Legal. His retirement process went smoothly after seeking advice regarding the best way forward.
“Taking on board marketing advice to prepare for retirement really allowed me to transition out of work, knowing I was receiving a fair price and also seeing my legacy continue with a great team under the new Managing Partner Emma Bragg”.
“Taking the time to implement a planned strategy meant I had all the data I needed to help a buyer make the decision to invest. I couldn’t be happier with the smooth transition away from my law firm into retirement all due to considered preparation and planning ahead of time and getting practical guidance on the right strategies.”
Below, we share our advice on how to transition out of your law firm and into retirement using marketing to position your business as an attractive investment. Let’s discuss how planning your law firm marketing before retirement can assist with achieving the best-selling price available for your business.
What is the recommended law firm retirement timeframe?
Practically, it takes years to ensure your law firm business is ready for sale to finalise your retirement. We recommend starting to prepare your law firm for sale at least three years before your retirement date. By giving yourself a three-year timeframe, you can review, prepare and improve your law firm’s marketing, revenue and performance benchmarks to enable the most financially rewarding transition to retirement. After all, your revenue and performance streams are what buyers will be looking at.
By doing a marketing plan for your law firm in the years prior to selling, you are more likely to attract a selling price that reflects what you believe your law firm is worth. If things have been slowing down in recent years, the three year timeframe will enable you to improve the bottom line and get some great data to show at sale time. If you’re showing low performance, improving your bottom line is key to promote the business as a worthwhile investment.
Preparing your law firm for your retirement
Use your pre-retirement time to prepare your law firm’s marketing to help it sell at the right value. At the three year out from retirement mark, we suggest you do a marketing stocktake of your law firm. What are you presenting to a buyer? Is the business showing growth, or the potential to? If you were seeing your law firm and all its marketing assets as an outsider, how would you rate it? Does your marketing show a clear and concise introduction to your business? Does your marketing represent the professionalism and expertise of your staff? Can you demonstrate client confidence? These are important questions to put aside sentimentality and think about how your law firm product will attract buyers.
Buyers will not be interested in paying top dollar for a low-performing law firm with dated branding, no marketing strategy and low client numbers. After your marketing stocktake is complete, consider what investments to make short term to assist in building up the stock of your law firm. Largely, you will need to think about what information you can show buyers, which leads to improving your data collection. Your law firm’s marketing performance can help show the firm is an attractive product for buyers. You want and need to demonstrate you have a growing and thriving business if you want to sell at a good price.
Prepare your marketing assets to promote your law firm for sale
Your law firm marketing prior to sale is integral to showing proof of the value of your business. Your law firm’s digital assets will need to be up to date, especially your website as your number one online marketing asset, and the door through which clients and buyers will first walk. What condition is your current website in? If it hasn’t been updated in the last 3 years, then put it on your to do list now, with enough budget to get a great product that will really sell the high standard of your law firm. At a minimum, your law firm website should be easy to use and search engine optimised. Refresh your website with updated copy and photography, keeping in mind that not only is your website for clients, it’s also for potential buyers to scope out and get a feel for your business.
A great website will leave no question in your clients or the buyers minds about the services you offer, and the best way to be contacted. Remember also not to neglect keeping your staff in the loop – your employees need to be aware of the transition strategy and to be given the opportunity to step up in their roles to build up the law firm for sale, retain client confidence and increase the sphere of influence. Perhaps one or more of your own employees will see the value and invest in your law firm – you want them to take the reins on a thriving business, for their benefit and yours.
Leaving a legacy for your law firm
We hope this information will help you think more about getting your law firm in the best position for sale. By using marketing strategies to prepare for retirement, you are guaranteed to get better value buyers to continue your legacy. Leaving a good law firm product behind will set you up for a very smooth transition to retirement.
About the author
Peter Heazlewood is a management and marketing consultant, he specialises in helping law firms develop their practices using business planning marketing and performance reporting techniques refined in his own successful law firm. Peter lives in Sydney with his wife and is the father of five adult children.