The transition from being a family-owned business to selling into private equity comes with culture shock, says Amber Gaige, founder of Saber Marketing Group.
Her expertise is in lead generation for the trades, and she was in marketing when her parents made several moves to partner with private equity firms.
“In family business, we solve problems that are usually associated with personality, family dynamics, operational in nature,” Gaige says. “In private equity…it is a purely objective, metrics-driven KPI world.”
Hence, culture shock. There’s a money infusion, but also a learning curve. Processes may need to change. And in theory, now there’s a new boss in charge.
That’s why it’s utterly important to find the right partner, Gaige says. She’s a fan of both private-equity-backed businesses and family-owned businesses and sees upsides to both.
She stresses that those family-owned businesses considering a private equity play need to recognize there are optional paths you can take to achieve that goal.
“You hold the cards before you sell your company,” Gaige says. “You can choose who to partner with. And finding a private equity partner who will support your goals, align with your vision operationally, both now and in the future, is of paramount importance.”
With Saber Marketing Group, Gaige services enterprise-level contracting clients who are looking to sell. Her company helps systemize a business and position it to be able to ease into a private equity liquidity event.
A crucial part of that is putting clear metrics in place to see what is actually driving revenue for a business, she says.
“One of the biggest problems we see when we come into a scenario is that our contractors have not been granted ownership of their data or clear metrics to see what's working,” Gaige says.
Knowing your data is the only way a company can know its worth, she says. And getting that under control can go a long way in easing the culture shock of a transition to private equity.
Amber Gaige recently joined ServiceTitan’s Jackie Aubel as part of Season 8 of the “Toolbox for the Trades” podcast, which included Gaige’s thoughts on:
(9:24) The culture shock from partnering with private equity
(18:15) How to determine if you’re ready for a PE partnership
(20:49) Establishing goals for the transition
(25:03) Why marketing should be one of your critical systems
(29:21) How dealing with a marketing agency should be collaborative
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