So Your Agency Just Got Acquired. Now What?

Part Four in a Series: The First Few Months

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Darryl Ohrt
Darryl Ohrt
I sold my agency. What follows is the fourth (and last) in a series of posts devoted to sharing our experience of the Source Marketing/ Humongo acquisition. (Part Three; Part Two; Part One.)

We're about eight weeks into the integration of our agency into our new parent company, Source Marketing. While much has taken place, there is still plenty more to do, and I'm far from an expert on integrating two companies together. I have learned many things, and we're off to a fantastic start. What follows are some of the things that we've done to help make for a super-smooth transition into new parents.

We started before the deal was done.
The moment that we began discussions with our acquirer, we were setting the tone for what was to come. Things like agency location, workplace policies and even naming were an important part of our agency's culture, and they needed to be protected. We discussed them early in the process, and found ourselves in sync with our new parent company on these issues. Everyone realized the importance of an indie culture, even if wholly owned by a larger entity. They were buying us because of who we were, what we had built and the potential that could be realized. They weren't about to throw it all away and start over. This attitude made the deal, and has us happily working the word "synergy" into conversations regularly now.

Culture is everything.
For us, nothing was more important than our agency's culture. This is what drives me to work every morning, what separates the good from the bad, and why our employees are smiling today. I believe you need to stand up and fight for two things at all costs: great ideas and company culture. To that end, there were policies and procedures with our new parent that wouldn't work at our place. We talked through them, and were able to avoid implementing things that would have been damaging to our culture. As each day progresses, we're learning more and more about each other. We're incorporating best practices and industry knowledge that works daily, but we're also quick to say "We don't work like that" when something isn't appropriate, or for something that we know won't work from experience.

Meetings, meetings, meetings. And calls.
Avoiding unnecessary meetings is a part of the Humongo DNA. I've even written a post about the productivity of meetings, and the great majority of our meetings take place in 30 minutes or less. But merging our agency with another has created a challenge: There are very real, necessary meetings and calls that need to take place. Multiple offices across the nation, with multiple teams working on projects means there are lots of meetings to keep everyone in sync. We're doing everything that we can to keep them short, and to keep them to the team members that absolutely need to be there. And we are thankful that Source isn't one of those agencies plagued with those "calls about the call about the meeting."

Ask "Why?"
It's easy to look at someone else's process and denounce it. We've learned that it's better to ask "Why is it done like this?" Employees on both sides of the fence are careful not to criticize something that doesn't seem right, and instead ask questions. In the process, we're learning a lot about our parents, and they're learning about Humongo. Part of what we were seeking in a relationship was shared knowledge -- and in this case, knowledge has been a busy two way street.

Communicate constantly.
I started this series of posts talking about how we brought employees into the process early and often. The more they knew about what was going on, the more they could contribute and the less they'd be concerned about. We're doing everything we can to keep these lines open on a continual basis. As we grow and evolve, not everything will work perfectly. And when a misstep occurs, I'm confident that we've got a stellar team of talent that will see something, say something, and offer up a solution.

So here we go. We're already realizing more new business than ever before, and seeing a synergistic (there, I said it) relationship working for real. We're set up for the most ginormous year of our company's history. We've got more resources at our disposal than ever before. And all because we were willing to say "yes" when the opportunity came knocking.

Darryl Ohrt is a former punk rocker and chief contributor to the greatest blog in all of the land, BrandFlakesForBreakfast. While his official title is president, his business card says he's "Prime Minister of Awesome" at Humongo (formerly known as Plaid). Darryl knows just enough to be dangerous. He's on the internet right now, playing, investigating and exploring. Watch out.
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