November 7, 2014

Are you spending too much for new signage during mergers and acquisitions?

Signage costs aren’t limited to physical signs. The opportunity cost of having employees focus on new signage instead of customers can truly hurt a business.

Most events that trigger a rebranding (mergers, acquisitions, or a new brand launch) mean big changes for company’s clients. One mistake I see companies make all the time is taking employees away from communicating with clients to handle unfamiliar rebranding activities, like new signage. Let’s face it – until the client agrees to trust the new brand, competitors can woo clients away with attractive introductory offers.

Signage Installation

We often see examples of internal teams spending too much time on portions of the rebranding outside their scope of expertise, like the new signage, and not enough time introducing and communicating the new brand’s message to the clients. For example, over the past few years, we worked on two post-acquisition rebranding projects for a client. During the first acquisition, the client had internal teams spend weeks on transition activities, such as systems, accounting, and signage. While I don’t know about the systems and accounting issues, the employees we worked with struggled with the signage project because they:

  • Had no experience simultaneously replacing all signage at multiple locations
  • Didn’t want to miss regulatory deadlines
  • Had customer-related duties they felt were higher priority
  • Wanted to impress upper management during the transition in case layoffs were on the horizon

To oversee the signage conversion, the client retained a full-time employee from the company it acquired for several months. While we jointly completed the first signage project on time and on budget, having someone in charge who was unfamiliar with the new brand and the signage process slowed everything down.

Given the lessons learned during the first project, the second acquisition project went much faster. In fact, employees only spent five hours on the signage rollout this time, which freed them up to transition clients to new systems and answer questions about the new brand. This “high touch” approach to new and existing clients was a much better use of the team’s time than fumbling through the details of the signage project.

By realizing the pitfalls of having employees get buried in the tactical details of mergers and acquisitions (even managing signage), companies can focus on the high-level strategic aspects of mergers and acquisitions. Outsourcing tactical implementation of M&A activities to experts saves time and money. After all, spending wisely is a sign of smart M&A activity.

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