When your business is facing or going through liquidation, there is a lot to think about. One thing which is usually forgotten is your online presence and how to deal with it during the course of the liquidation procedure.
Your website and social media presence are classed as assets by an insolvency practitioner (IP) and therefore it will be treat like any other business asset to be liquidated. It may be intangible to you but it may be worth a lot of money to the right person. The strength of the site, the connections you have through it (your network), the brand name attached to it, the volumes of traffic to your site and whether it is a sales/e-commerce site or not, all determine the overall value of your website.
But not all websites do have a value and many owners will want to remove any traces of their websites and social media from the internet. If the liquidator thinks that there is a value attached, here are some pointers and tips for dealing with the situation.
You should always make sure you follow the liquidator’s instructions and if your website is an asset, they will probably want you to do two things:
Leave your website open
Leaving your site to lay dormant, or continue updating it if agreed with your liquidator, can keep the value in your asset. You will have to confirm and/or wait for instruction from the liquidator but they have to do whatever is best for the asset to obtain the best return for creditors on sale.
Revoke access to the website and social media
As soon as you realise that you may need to enter into a liquidation procedure, you should revoke access to the online social media accounts from anyone bar directors and the liquidator. If you outsource your website and social media management, you should inform them of your current situation.
If you have an in-house team, it is a good idea to stop them from managing and performing updates. Unfortunately, at this point, you will probably be aware that their jobs are to be made redundant. They may be able to be saved but this is dependent on whether the business can be saved. Until this has been discussed, you should have control of your business’ online presence.
If the business will be continuing through a phoenix company or enters into a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) instead.
You may want to make announcements on your website/social media pages
Making announcements of updates surrounding your company and what is happening to you currently will be well appreciated by customers and clients. Inform people that it is business as usual because if they know you are open for business then orders can keep arriving to keep the business moving.
Even at this late stage in your business, your customers, current and potential, will thank you for the updates especially if you manage to save the company through CVA, pre-pack administration or pre-pack liquidation. However, you should check that making an announcement is ok with your liquidator before doing this.
Leaving your site to lay dormant could confuse visitors who will wonder what is going on. Plus, you may still receive incoming enquiries and business offers. By announcing your business closure, it will remove the burden of dealing with enquiries from yourself and your liquidator.
If you can keep your website live, it could be worth creating a simple landing page
A landing page is a static web page that people see when they click on to your website; it is like posting a sign on your shop window keeping everybody informed. To create this simple landing page, you can make use of any basic computer skills you have. Your current website can be hidden behind this landing page to lay dormant.
Landing pages are particularly useful for businesses that have just set up or are having their website redone to create or maintain a public face in the digital world and that is why it may be beneficial for you in this situation. Again check with your liquidator before doing this.
Keeping your network informed
As mentioned above, keeping clients and customers informed is very important and you should update social media and blogs, dependent on liquidator approval. However, your network does move past the people buying your products and services. Your employees, investors, suppliers and shareholders will be kept up to date with procedures and updates through announcements in the Gazette or via your liquidator.
If it is not worth any money, then you will need to take action to close down the website and stop any potential malicious postings by disgruntled staff/creditors.
Firstly, revoke access to your website by any employees before making them redundant so you know that you will have no problems on your hands with staff remaining in control of websites/social media accounts after losing their jobs.
Then you should close your accounts from your website to every social media account you own. Also check web history for any mentions of you or your company and if you want to or you are advised to have these removed, get in touch with the relevant person to deal with this.
Be aware that some employees may take the news badly and use their position to smear the company or directors online. These instances are rare and employers have tried to curb this by writing clauses covering the internet and social media in many contracts. However, it can be difficult to act on this unless you have the funds personally to fund the case.
Companies going through liquidation are in a tricky position as if they want to take an old employee to court for slanderous claims, it is difficult as there will be no money available to pay for court costs.
So there we have it, there is a lot to take into account on this subject and it can be difficult to understand. It is one of those areas that not many people in business seem to think about during liquidation proceedings. However, it is important that you, and your liquidator, come up with a plan of how to handle your online presence as soon as you can.
If you are going through or are facing liquidation and need some advice, then feel free to contact us on 0800 901 2475. We can advise you on this subject and point you in the direction of the best solution possible for your business.