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Whether you’re selling your company, retiring or going out of business, your staffers, clients and vendors need advance warning. Get the particulars in place before making your announcement so you can provide details about the final day of operation and how you’ll finalize all business and employee transactions.
Tell Employees First
Tell your employees about your closure before they hear it in public or through the corporate grapevine. Depending on the nature of the closure, you may want to start with managers or department heads first, then break the news to general staffers in a group meeting. Explain when the company will close, whether staffers will get severance pay, and what they need to know about continuing health insurance or transferring investment plans. Have a written statement prepared with the particulars outlined that you can give to staffers after the announcement. Be prepared for anger and fear and answer questions to the best of your ability.
Call Key Clients
Top-tier clients should be talked to in-person or by phone and informed about the closure. If the company is being sold and you’re transferring accounts, you’ll need to discuss the parameters and make introductions to new managers. If the business is closing for good, you’ll need to abide by contract terms and close out projects, orders and services already in the works. You may opt to maintain good will by referring clients to competitors.
Contact Customers, Vendors and Suppliers
Customers, vendors and suppliers you have ongoing relationships with should be contacted by phone, email or regular mail with the details of your closure. If you have existing contracts in place, you’ll need to provide notice per the terms of the agreement, or negotiate a closeout settlement. Once you reach final agreements, get the details in writing to ensure everyone is on the same page about when services will cease.
Issue a News Release
Send a news release to your local newspaper business editor that provides the details of your closure. You may wish to issue a statement describing why the business is closing, whether you’ll have a going-out-of-business or liquidation sale, or if the business will be under new ownership. You may also submit the news release to local business organizations like chambers of commerce or industry associations.
Use the Internet
Use the Internet to announce your closure. Post the details from your news release on your website, on social media and business networking sites. If you have a company newsletter or email newsletter, send an announcement via this medium. If you have a physical location, post a closure notice on the door.
Handling an Unanticipated Closing
Accidents, natural disasters and other events have the potential to prompt an unanticipated business closing. Owners still have a responsibility to notify employers, clients and vendors of the circumstances in a timely manner. If a business closes abruptly due to the death of the owner, the business will become the responsibility of heirs, estate, partners or co-owners, depending on how the business is structured. Notification of how the closure is to be handled will typically be spelled out in the company's articles of incorporation.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.