Step 2: It’s All about Them. Put yourself in the Airport’s Position.
Essentially, you need to be proactive in determining what the best course of action will be in order to receive approval from your Airport Authority for your business’ sale in the shortest amount of time. In the majority of cases I’ve dealt with over the years, one thing stands out; it is critically important to know what the members of your Airport’s management and governing board will expect to see from you, what they will want to hear from you and your buyer, how they plan to react, and how well you cover your bases with respect to acknowledging their role in the process.
Assuming that your Airport Board or management’s approval will be required, here are some guidelines for dealing with the process.
Venue: Determine what venue will be required for the approval process. Will it be as simple as obtaining a signature from the Airport Board Chairman or Airport Manager, or does the sale and transfer of your business require a more involved process that includes one or more Airport Board or City Council meetings in view of the public?
Timing: In any case, you must determine the time-line for the airport approval process. This may impact your plans for the date of closing. Whereas a simple signature may the only requirement; the process of approval associated with Airport Board or City Council meetings may stretch from a few weeks to several months. This timing and time-line can be tied to several things:
- Meeting Scheduling: In most cases, your Airport’s Board or City Council meetings are regularly scheduled events which occur on a given day and week each month. It is imperative to plan well in advance (1 to 2 months) for any action that will affect the approval process, and ultimately, the sale and closing.
- Agenda Scheduling: In most cases, your Airport’s Board or City Council meetings operate on an agenda. Therefore, it is important to know whether there is a deadline for agenda items, including the sale of your aviation business. I’ve witnessed circumstances in which the deadline for an approval meeting date was missed literally by hours and the result was a delay of 1 to 2 months.
- Holiday Scheduling: Are your Airport’s Board or City Council meetings subject to cancellation at certain times of the year when there are conflicts with holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas or July 4th? Do Board or Council members’ vacations affect meeting schedules during the summer? These may be a consideration to account for early in the process.
Presentation: Referring back to Step 1 in this process, sooner or later you’ll discover what, if any information will be required for submission and/or presentation to the Board. The level of complexity can range from a simple explanation of the circumstances, timing, and introduction of your Buyer, to a full-blown presentation that communicates the buyer’s background, experience, and business plan to members of the airport’s management, board members, and interested members of the airport’s aviation community.
If the latter scenario is likely the case; it is important to plan for this once a Purchase/Sale Agreement has been executed and the due diligence phase begins. It should be you and your Buyer’s collective goal to develop a tight, informative, and iron-clad presentation in a verbal, written, and/or audio visual format. Once again, timing can be an issue, depending upon the complexity of the presentation. In and of itself, this process can take from a few short weeks to months. (See Step 3, below).
When to Tell Them: Sooner or later, there is a critical point in the sale of the business when it becomes necessary for you inform your Airport’s management of the impending sale of your aviation business. At the point when you are relatively certain that there are no stumbling blocks or issues that will delay or derail the acquisition you should plan to inform the Airport Manager and/or a trusted Airport Board member, as soon as possible.