“I would like to share our journey with readers of T-UPDATE and hope that it can be useful for others who are considering acquisition as a means of growing their language business.
Rationale for acquisition
“Why did we consider acquiring another company in the first place? We have known that Bedford Translations had a very good reputation with no negative feedback from any freelance translator. After all, we did not want to inherit a reputation that would have damaged our existing good name.
“The next stage was looking into the accounts of the company after signing the non-disclosure agreement forms. Following examination of the accounts, we have set-up a meeting with the existing owners. The meeting which took place was pivotal in reaching our decision to follow up. The company’s turnover was a great deal less than our existing turnover, but we saw this as an advantage. This is because it had been over a decade since we had completed our last acquisition and we did not want to take a bigger risk.
“Following our meeting we have felt that we had a similar synergy with the owners in regards to how we run the projects, how we worked with the translators and clients. I believe this had helped us, as well as the existing owners. After all the meeting is for both parties to find out facts from each other. They also used the same CAT tool for majority of their work. This has meant that our project managers did not have to go through any major training to learn any proprietary tools.
“We also felt that Bedford Translations had a great deal of experience and best practise was in place, which we could learn from the owners and apply to our own customers too.
“Following the meeting, we informed the owners,James Valentine and Gerta Badde that we were interested in pursuing the purchase of their company. There were other parties, who were also interested and we knew that we were competing against them. We did not want to get into an auction, but instead wanted to offer the highest value for the company that was within our power. However, we did not want to jeopardise our existing operations for the sake of an acquisition.
“During the negotiations I believe we had inspired confidence in the owners and the fact that we shared some common contacts has also helped. After all, it is always harder for the selling party as they have to let go of something they loved and years to building. When we finalised our offer we tried to make sure that it suited all parties and not just our interest – especially as we were not buying a tangible product and, to make it work, we needed James and Gerta’s participation, particularly in the first year.
“Drawing up the sale contract took a lot longer and proved to be more expensive than we had expected. However, this was OK, as we wanted to make sure there were no holes in the agreement and it was water tight for all parties.”
Making a good contract agreement
Here are the key points Levent Yildizgoren’s advises are important to keep in mind if you want to an offer more attractive to the owners, even if you are not the highest bidder:
- Showing genuine interest in the owner’s journey is key
- Understanding what is important for them and whether your profile is a match
- Inspiring confidence in them that you will stick with your promise and look after their assets
What did we do after the acquisition?
- We have tried very hard to replicate the services provided by Bedford Translations to ensure that customers and translators felt comfortable. We have gradually introduced some improvements, which we knew would be welcomed by all parties.
- We have visited all key customers to introduce ourselves and assuring that the services for them will only get better
- Have made contact with all Bedford’s translator partners that we will continue working with them
Concluding Levent says, “Even though it has been more than two years since we acquired the UK's home county of Bedfordshire, we are still friends with James and Gerta and continue collaborating with them at some other levels.
“This has worked very well for our company but we have worked hard to make it happen.”
After the acquisition James Valentine, who is now the current Mayor of Kempston in Bedfordshire posted this message on his LinkedIn page, “After thirty-three years successfully managing Bedford Translations the time has come for Gerta and James to take a step back. To ensure continuity and to take the quality of service to the next level, we chose to join forces with TTC wetranslate of Chelmsford. They are an established, award winning agency, with a very similar structure to ours, just with a bigger range of services and network. We're working with Levent Yildizgoren and his team to ensure a smooth transition for our wonderful collection of clients and linguists.”