I get this question a lot from owners getting ready to sell: what will happen to my company’s name? The short answer is – whatever the new owner wants to do with it. It’s one of the issues that a seller has to let go when working on a deal with a buyer.
And it may not be easy. As a successful owner, you’ve built a reputation for great quality and service into that brand. It may be a brand name you created yourself. It may even be your family name. But none of that matters when the new owner takes over.
Your company name is simply one of the assets they bought, along with your equipment, vehicles, and customer agreements. For you, it’s very personal; for the new owner, it’s simply part of the business.
If the buyer already has a larger company with a brand presence in the area, it would make sense for the new acquisition to become part of that brand. But if the acquiring company is new to the service area and your brand is well-established and respected, they may keep your current name for a while – even indefinitely. That might be even more likely if the brand is associated with a strong owner and you’re staying on for a while in a consulting or managerial role. They may also keep the name as they work on rebranding signage, vehicles, uniforms, and marketing, all of which takes time and money.
I’ve even seen hybrid names – Watson Heating and Air: an ABC Company. Or Watson Heating and Air, part of the ABC family of businesses. Any of these solutions might be part of the new owner’s strategy.
It can be difficult to let go of your company name; it symbolizes your years of hard work and success. It’s your history. It will feel awkward to say, “I used to own Watson Heating and Air, back when it was called that.” Now it’s ABC Company, which you never really owned. It’s all part of letting go of your identity as a business owner and executive.
Of course, there are risks to a new owner retaining the name. If quality and service start to decline, it’s your company name people will be unhappy with, and that will be getting bad online reviews. A clean break lets you keep your reputation forever, even if the new company can’t deliver what you did.
That’s one of the reasons we always recommend working with an experienced business broker. We can help you get some distance from issues that feel urgent and personal during the process of selling your company. We can be objective about things that matter to you and help keep you focused on the end goal: getting top value for your company and moving on to the life you’ve always dreamed of.