In November 2016 we* held our ninth annual Getting the Deal Done Breakfast Conference at the Bellevue Club. Our special guest speaker was Robbie Bach, author of Xbox Revisited: A Guide for Corporate and Civic Renewal, and the title of this talk was Thinking Outside the Xbox.
Robbie’s talk focused on the “Three Ps,” Purpose, Principles, and Priorities (for more on this please see his website, www.robbiebach.com). He headings for each of the Ps are:
- So what is Purpose and why is it so important?
- If purpose is the foundation for a strategy, principles are the frame of the house that create the shape and scope of the endeavor.
- With a solid foundation and support structure provided by purpose and principles, an organization or leader can establish a set of priorities that define the layout of the rest of the strategy building.
For our case study we deviated from our pattern of analyzing a deal and discussed the behind the scenes things that make or break deals. We did no analysis of the financial statements, instead concentrating on important non-financial factors, with focus on how we address them using the purpose, principles, and priorities framework. Our discussion topics were:
- Culture – Kit, Marc and I gave insights and examples about how culture affects a buy-sell deal. Marc, having bought/merged a couple CPA practices into his firm, had some real-life examples about how important culture is.
- Financial statements (not the numbers but how to best use them) – Marc discussed the importance of consistency and accuracy in financial statements. He also covered how he uses them, what he looks for, etc.
- Due diligence – John O’Dore’s comments had to do with the ethical considerations of diligence and how the 3 P framework can be a great guide, for both buyers and sellers.
- Deal terms and structure – the focus here, from Kit and Marc, was how the deal has to make long-term sense, for both sides. Short term success is great, but over the long haul that success can’t be a spike, it has to be a trend.
- Non-financial factors (mainly customers and employees) – while customers were mentioned the concentration of Kit and Greg’s comments were on employees. Not just how important they are to any business (as I like to say, buyers aren’t buying a company they’re buying the people). The hiring of people, terms of employment, and pitfalls to avoid in this area were the highlights.
- Human Resources – Greg talked about the importance of retention agreements and how they affect the culture. Employees want their jobs and stability!
- Transition – the importance of having a plan (not just wing it starting the day after closing) was stressed by John O, Greg, and me. John’s comments dealt primarily with the role of the owner while Greg and I covered the overall need to do it right.
Judging from the verbal and written comments about the format it was a hit. Those in the room who know deals understand how important the above topics. The others got a lesson in deal practicality, and a free breakfast.
Plan to attend in 2017, it will be well worth your time.
* Event sponsors are John O’Dore, now with OneAccord Captial, Greg Russell, PRK Law, Marc Hutchinson, Bashey, Hutchinson & Walter CPAs, Kit Gerwels, Columbia Bank, and me.