No two deals are the same because no two firms are the same. But there are standard stages and priorities of any deal that will help you succeed at CPA firm mergers and acquisitions (M&A). Every player at the M&A table should have their own playbook. Here are some important plays no matter what side you're on:
Nail your first impression. You have one chance to make the first impression, so know what you want to emphasize and not over-emphasize. Each player will have strengths – lay them out credibly and determine whether there are upsides to combining strengths or adding.
Manage your time. Many a game has a game clock. Know how long until you want to close and how long you need to go through all the stages, as well as the realistic time to turn around and communicate.
Size each other up. The goal of the M&A is to create a 1+1 = 3 capacity that will influence the outcome. Parties need to be clear and candid about their player conditioning, and how much more help they need or can make available. Generalities will not create a score; it has to specific and granular.
Test the premise. Credibility is vital to crossing the finish line. Each side needs to politely contest the premise and vision that is being shared. Trick plays are never appropriate in the M&A game, so ahead of due diligence the parties need to be comfortable that there are no inconsistencies.
Motivate. Staying focused is vital to succeeding. Motivation can secure focus. In CPA firm M&A, sharing a common vision and the benefits for the future are huge motivators. Clarify and collaborate around the vision, and the motivation will be easy to produce.
Like in any playbook, the more you practice, the better and more comfortable you will be with the plays. The spring -- after busy tax season -- is the time with the most opportune conditions for CPA firm M&A. Get in the right condition now and know how to play the game!