How to Pre-Qualify Prospective Buyers for Your CPA Practice

Selling a CPA practice can be a full-time job in and of itself. Once you have made the decision to exit your practice, you must spend several months preparing for the sale. This includes organizing your financials, ramping up client acquisition, and other activities that will maximize the value of your firm. Accounting Practice Sales

When the time comes to put the practice up for sale, you can expect to invest countless hours showing your firm to prospective buyers. The challenge is finding the time to spend with prospects while simultaneously running your business. To ensure you are not wasting your time with unqualified buyers for your CPA practice, it is important to set up a pre-qualification/screening process.

Some of the important elements of your pre-qualification plan include:

Maintaining confidentiality in the initial advertisement: When you place the initial ad for your CPA practice for sale, do not disclose specific information about the firm, such as your name or the name and address of the practice. Only provide the minimum amount of information needed to pique the interest of qualified buyers.

Asking for background information from respondents: One way to help weed out unqualified buyers from the get-go is to ask for the prospect for background information about their career, finances, and why they want to purchase a CPA firm. You also want to ask your prospects to sign confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements so any information revealed from this point forward will be kept private. At this stage, many unqualified buyers will not go to the trouble of providing such information. This will significantly reduce the amount of time you will waste with non-serious candidates.

Handling the initial applicant screening process: Before you spend any time with a prospective buyer, it is important to thoroughly review the applications of those that took the time to respond to your ad. At this point, it may be a good idea to create a buffer between you and your prospects. For example, if you know a trusted professional such as a business attorney, this person could be enlisted to screen applicants and decide which ones are worthy of further consideration.

Interviewing applicants that pass the initial screening: Those who pass the initial screening should be candidates that meet the general qualifications to purchase a CPA practice. Still, you need to find out if they are a good match to take over your firm. During the interview process, you want to answer the following questions:

  • Does this buyer have the financial resources to purchase my practice?
  • Does this buyer have the right background to run an accounting firm?
  • Do I feel comfortable recommending this person to my clients?
  • Do I feel comfortable working with this person during the transition stage?

Setting up a streamlined pre-qualification process will help you save time and find the right buyer for your practice. However, selling a practice on your own is still a lot of work and can yield unpredictable results. One way to automate this entire process is to enlist the services of a business broker with particular expertise in CPA practice sales.

A business intermediate has been through this process countless times and understands the common issues that often come up. By partnering with a business broker, you are able to turn over the screening process to a qualified professional, so you can focus on running your practice.

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