Trish Higgins is a founding partner of Chenmark, a business that specializes in buying, owning, and operating small businesses. With a strong background in business administration out of college, Trish became a founder of Chenmark in 2013, taking a leap into the unknown and finding great success, something Chenmark represents. From there, Trish began to work with her partners to buy smaller businesses and operate them in the long-term. Starting off with snow removal, Chenmark quickly grew and expanded into many different industries, all the way from landscaping to boat tours. In this interview, Trish takes her years of experience and talks about advice for selling a business, entering new industries, and managing the emotions of a transaction.
Advice for Selling a Business
“It’s hard for somebody to know what your business is worth, because in a financial transaction you have to agree on a price.”
Chenmark focuses on buying businesses of all shapes and sizes. This has led Trish to many unique experiences when it comes to purchasing a business, and therefore, how to be successful in selling one. When a business is being acquired, transparency is key. Having a clean financial record is an easy way to increase the value of your business and ease the complicated process.
Additionally, these records and important aspects of your company’s history should be able to be looked at and understood by a third party. Trish states that this is one of the largest factors in buying a business. Not only does it assist the buyer, but this is something that also proves the price of your business, making negotiations a much smoother path to travel.
Entering New Industries
“It’s very natural for someone to be concerned when a new owner is coming in, so we try to show empathy for that.”
Trish doesn’t just buy a business and forget about it. Instead, Chenmark gets to come in and operate the business, which is something important to the community and the owner of the business. As a result, Trish has learned many lessons about entering new industries and having to learn on the fly in a setting where operations can be fast paced and stressful.
When Trish entered the attractions industry, the guest experience was one of the most unique challenges she faced. Having worked a guest-facing role before, she knew how to communicate with guests and improve their experience, but it was an even bigger hurdle to jump as an owner. Creating a balance for all guests and not overreacting emotionally to the negative proved successful for her, and these ideologies are implemented across all three boat touring companies Chenmark owns.
Managing the Emotions of a Transaction
“Often, I find that I’m playing more of a role of therapist in a financial transaction.”
For many people, selling their small business can be emotionally challenging. Many people refer to their operation as their ‘third child’ or ‘pride and joy,’ and Trish knows that it’s important to show empathy and understand their struggle. In addition, many owners can struggle to be transparent as to why they’re selling their business, so it’s crucial to be delicate when going about a financial transaction, especially when emotions are involved.
Trish shares that the easiest forms of transactions are when somebody else is there to help the owner understand. No matter who the person is, it can help ease them into understanding the future of the operation and create a less emotional way to turn over the keys. Not only this, but this method allows for transparency on both sides, which can make both Chenmark and the owner excited for their futures.
Another key aspect is the emotion of the employees. Trish knows from experience that owners can be hesitant to let their employees know they are selling the business, and therefore has created an ever-improving action plan to reduce the stress of the employees and the incoming owners. Things as simple as taking 90 days before making any financial changes to employee income can be incredibly important to create respect, as well as let the owner learn the ins and outs of the operation before any major changes are made.
This podcast wouldn’t be possible without the incredible work of our amazing team:
- Scheduling and correspondence by Kristen Karaliunas
- Summary by Mason Nichols
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