By Michael Marks CBI, Fellow Of The IBBA

Building strong business relationships with customers and suppliers is always an important goal for a business owner. Customers become more loyal and suppliers become more responsive.

When you work with a good customer, not only do you get more business, but it can be more enjoyable as well. Sometimes the relationship even gets to be more social – going to lunch, playing golf or attending industry events together. Many business owners have their own special accounts and work with them for years.

The same strong relationships can also develop with suppliers – buying from them over long periods of time and building their trust and loyalty. They can give you special service, lower prices or deals they don’t extend to their other customers.

But then what happens when it comes time to sell the company? Clearly, those great relationships become a red flag for potential buyers of the company. Buyers are afraid they won’t be able to have those same relationships. Will those good customers leave and go to the competition? Will the suppliers’ contracts transfer to the new owner? Will the revenues and profits of the business go down as a result of the change of ownership?

Business owners have to plan for the time they will sell their business. They have to start delegating these special relationships to key employees. Buyers for the business have to feel that the relationships with those customers and suppliers will continue long after the sale.