A few weeks ago, I was talking with a very successful landscape business owner who, like most in his position, has been inundated with offers from brokers to sell his business, buyers wanting to buy, and lookers wanting to look. Recently, due to his thinking about selling more seriously and his being intrigued by this salesperson’s pitch, he was thinking of moving ahead with a particular buyer group by sending them some information they asked for. He is sophisticated enough to know they should sign an NDA/Confidentiality Agreement first. He told me he was thinking about sending them some info and asked what I thought about that. He is clear he will be engaging an advisor to represent his interests for this or other sellers soon.
This was our first conversation, and I didn’t know if he already had a recent valuation or if he had worked with anyone to summarize/present his company in its best light. He hadn’t. My response to him and anyone else in this situation is:
Think about this as making your all-important first impression. *
- Are you ready with the best possible set of facts about your company? to present to this buyer (or any other buyers)
- Do you know what your gross profit margins are for each of your service lines? How do you compare to industry standards?
- Do you have the correct financials?
- Do your financials reflect strengths in your ability to grow the revenues, optimize the cash flow, minimize waste, avoid liabilities, etc.?
- Do you have a company that can “run itself” (strong number two who will stick around)?
- Are your customer contracts in good order, properly priced, assignable, and reflecting your long-term relationships with customers?
- Do you have a strong set of employees and managers who are well-trained who have been with you and been promoted from within?
- Are you in a growing market with potential?
AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, if you can answer yes to most of these why would you share your information for speculation? You should be the equivalent of a real estate broker’s “pocket listing”. You may be tops in your league (you’re attracting attention in the first place) and you should expect to get the best price for your company. Do you know what that should be?
So no, unless you’ve been through this before (and we’ve worked with sellers who have—they generally prefer to work with knowledgeable advisors their second time around!) I would say please don’t share your information without the proper analysis and packaging.
Why would a seller consider doing this? Most of the time he/she is trying to get a sense of the price he/she might be able to get for the business. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee you will even get an estimate after sharing that information or that it would be close to what you could really expect to receive. There is a lot of distance between a thumbnail estimate and a final purchase price.
If you know your numbers well enough, you can use the same back-of-the-envelope estimates for the landscaping industry that everyone uses. That will give you a range. Then, you will need to figure what your net would be after taxes, selling expenses, working capital, paying off debt, etc.
Of course, you could also call us. If you are thinking about buying, selling, or exiting your business, let’s have a conversation. We can help you determine your readiness for sale or buying a company or help with an existing acquisition.
I can be reached anytime via email: [email protected] or phone at: 224-688-8838. We’re here to help you Harvest Your Potential!
*If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you read Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.