Structure Your Merger Messages Wisely

In the wake of industry mergers, acquisitions, and affiliations, brokers and managers are faced with blending companies or incorporating new brand relationships.

August 1, 1998

How do you prepare your salespeople for a merger or an acquisition? Or, in the case of a franchise affiliation, what are the secrets to success when adding a new brand name?

The answer to both questions is clear and quick communication.

Share details with staff and the media. Don't assume you can keep a lid on the news until you're ready to share it.

When Bob Capes, REALTORS®, in Columbia, S.C., recently affiliated with Century 21, the local newspaper got wind of the story and was ready to break the news even though the brokers were halfway across the country.

They raced home and moved their press conference up to have control over how the announcement was made.

They were right to be concerned. Major change generates uncertainty, and if resulting questions aren't dealt with quickly, a company can be vulnerable to competitors' recruiting efforts or create consumer confusion.

When Arcadia, Calif.-based Dilbeck, REALTORS®, acquired another California company, James R. Gary and Co., and affiliated with the Better Homes and Gardens real estate network, Dilbeck's owners announced the plans with great hoopla.

The company then immediately scheduled one-on-one meetings with salespeople to answer questions and concerns about the franchise relationship and the merger. Activities were scheduled to allow staff to interact and visit one another's offices, and salespeople were given new marketing packages, business cards, and frequently asked questions.

If your company is too large for one-on-one meetings, hold group sessions, but be sure top management delivers the message. That ensures that your announcement is positioned clearly and reassures all that they’re important in the new venture.

Communicate with consumers as well. Both Dilbeck, REALTORS®--Better Homes and Gardens and Century 21-Bob Capes, REALTORS®, implemented major advertising programs. Dilbeck ran a monthlong campaign involving more than 1,000 cable television commercials, newspaper ads, and a direct mail campaign to salespeople and consumers. Capes' advertising blitz included billboards and media spots.

Both believe their transitions were successful because of their efforts to keep information flowing.

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