Selling a business is not just about finding a buyer and closing a deal. It’s about finding the right person to carry on the previous owner’s legacy. This was the goal of Ed and Mary Antonowicz when they sold their successful home care business in 2015. They didn’t want to just hand the company to any buyer that came along.
“When you’re an owner of a business—this is your baby. This is your child. It’s living and breathing 24/7,” said Ed as he explained why finding the right individual who had the “tool set, emotional set and commitment” to continue what they had started was important.
In 2003, Ed and Mary bought a ComForCare franchise in Scottsdale, Arizona. ComForCare is one of the leading home care franchise companies in the U.S. As an occupational therapist, Mary knew that the business was a perfect fit for her. She managed it on her own beginning 2003 until Ed joined her in running the company full time in 2009. In 2006, ComForCare Scottsdale won the 'Franchise of the Year’ award.
Although coming from the IT industry, Ed had a sales background. He led the company to new heights by building relationships. “I went out and I started doing community marketing and building strategic alliances.” With Ed on board and with the couple's shared passion for providing quality care, they received another ‘Franchise of the Year’ award in 2009.
Ed attributed their success to the company’s organic growth grounded on strong business ethics and values. Just like most owners of health care franchises, Ed and Mary’s personal experiences dealing with other home health agencies prompted them to venture into the home care industry and to make sure that their own franchise would be a success. And indeed, a few years after owning ComForCare, they reached that milestone as ‘Franchise of the Year.’ So, how did the couple do this?
Selling a business that Ed and Mary worked hard for and built for over a decade was more challenging than they initially thought it was. Through their journey, Ed realized that moving to another page in their life required teamwork, trust, persistence, and commitment.
Selling a business demands teamwork. Seeking help from professionals including an accountant and a business broker is essential. Ed advised, “You should sit down with them, do your homework and do your due diligence to make sure you make the right choice.” Ed also appreciated ComForCare corporate’s effort in giving him the right tools to succeed in selling their business.
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Selling a business requires trust and persistence. Because the couple treated their business as their “baby,” they wanted to seek advice only from the people they trusted. In spite of the lengthy process, Ed persisted with the sale as they received invaluable support strategic, Morgan & Westfield.
“You want to do business with people you like and people you trust, and selling a business is probably the most difficult thing you can do as for the stress level is concerned. Morgan & Westfield actually sat with us and said, ‘You know what—it is going to be stressful, but we have a template, we got a process, we have a system and what we will do by working together we can achieve that goal, which is transitioning our business to the right individual to carry on your legacy,’” recalled Ed.
Jacob Orosz, president and founder of Morgan & Westfield, remembered how Ed never gave up despite feeling a bit exhausted with the long process. “In the end, Ed’s persistence, which many sellers lack, helps close the deal.”
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Selling a business takes 110% commitment. Without full commitment, it is impossible to sell successfully. Ed emphasized, “It is not like, ‘I am going to do this,’ or ‘I am going to do it part time.’ It’s really got to be all in—mentally and emotionally.” Having their business sold was quite tough at the beginning, but when they finally found the buyer with whom they could entrust the business they built for years, “everything else moved very quickly.” And because they invested time and energy in passing the baton only to the most qualified person, they are assured that the legacy they left behind at ComForCare Scottsdale, Arizona, will continue to live. As for the couple, they are now living the good life with their family after a successful sale.
Listen to Deal Talk with Ed Antonowicz: 'Selling a Business After 12 Years: How to Leave a Legacy'