Increasing attractiveness for sale of business

Situation

One of the largest independent management consultancies in the UK, OEE Consulting was established in 1997 to help clients deliver a better customer experience and improve business results. While the firm continued to grow, however, it had outgrown its original value proposition. In addition, its leadership needed to ensure that valued employees were appropriately rewarded.

To address both issues, a share incentive scheme was set up and a five-year business plan developed, with the ultimate aim of selling the company to enable further growth. OEE’s corporate advisers Equiteq recommended an overhaul of the firm’s value proposition prior to any sale. Based on research and recommendation, Futurecurve was engaged.

Activity

There were several phases to Futurecurve’s work. A series of value proposition workshops examined OEE’s competitive position, how the firm went to market, its business ambitions and the changes necessary to achieve them.

A large cross-section of OEE clients was interviewed to gauge perceptions of the firm and its services. While overwhelmingly positive, recognising OEE’s strong customer focus, areas for improvement were identified. Futurecurve analysed the findings in the context of the rapidly changing Financial Service market and made a number of key recommendations.

OEE’s consultants needed to cultivate a better understanding of their client’s needs. Too much reliance was placed on product or technical solutions to address client problems. An improved process of engagement was required, drawing on sector knowledge and using appropriate language and terminology. Only then would the firm be able to truly comprehend what lay behind its clients’ needs, and develop effective solutions. During the engagement, Futurecurve would also help OEE transform its solution-selling capabilities.

Strategic workstreams were established to look at marketing, organisation, infrastructure, training and recruitment. In the strong belief that people will accept change if they design and become part of it, nearly two thirds of OEE’s permanent team, from consultants to directors, were engaged in the entire process.

Every aspect of the firm’s communications was changed, from the website and marketing material to the way people introduced themselves. Workshops, team meetings and pre-pitch briefings ensured that everyone understood what was happening, why it was important, and the part they had to play.

There was a better collective understanding of who we were. We were a bit of a technical company with a product mind-set . . . But very genuinely it was the springboard for us to revolutionise who we were and how we were seen by the market

Questions arose around the firm’s approach to talent management. What capabilities did OEE need to transform its business? Which ones did they have and which did they need to acquire or access through strategic partnerships? Through this process, OEE found the robotics and user experience (UX), digital, behavioural and economics partners needed to make its customer journey proposition a reality and lay the groundwork for the subsequent winning of substantial new business.

Futurecurve research had confirmed that clients expected consultants to have deep industry knowledge. OEE developed industry sector-specific practices supported by sales, research and other associated resources. This proved invaluable in encouraging credible c-suite conversations with current and prospective clients.

Outcome

Transforming its value proposition transformed OEE itself. Between 2015 and 2018, the business grew and so did its attractiveness to potential buyers. Five-year revenue targets were met within three years. Client numbers grew from 40 to 70 while headcount rose from 60 to 130 full-time equivalent. And finally, the plan to sell the business in five years was actually achieved within three.

In 2018, after receiving nine offers, OEE was bought by French customer management multinational Webhelp and merged with its subsidiary gobeyond to form Gobeyond Partners.

OEE-GoBeyond Results.jpg
It helped us deliver the transformation of the business, it helped us grow the business, and it increased our attractiveness when we went through a trade sale process. We had nine offers and the EBITDA multiple that we achieved was at the top end of expectations.
— Mark Palmer, CEO of Gobeyond Partners

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suzi.mcghee @ futurecurve.com