When you are buying or selling a business, you might very well end up making a deal with someone from another generation. Therefore, it only makes sense to take the time to understand that individual’s background and how that might cause behavioral differences. It is important to understand and reflect upon where many of them are coming from and the collective experiences and trends that shaped their identities and perspectives. At the same time, you can identify your own biases, strengths and weaknesses that may be caused by your own upbringing.
The strategies in this article originated from Chuck Underwood who is considered a leading expert in the diversity of communication styles between generations. He is the author of a major book on the subject as well as host of the long-running “America’s Generations with Chuck Underwood” on PBS.
Underwood’s perspective is that people of each generation were molded by their unique formative years. The decisions that buyers and sellers make will be impacted by their generation. Mostly likely, the buyers or sellers you will be coming into contact with will be either Baby Boomers, Generation Xers and Millennials.
Working with Baby Boomers
Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) are a major force in the business world. While they often possess a patriotic passion to improve the country, they were also witness to a time of great change via many movements including the civil rights and women’s movement.
When you’re dealing with Baby Boomers, it is important to remember that they will want to build relationships and get to know you. Common courtesy is very important to Baby Boomers. That means they’ll expect you to show up on time and turn your phone off during meetings.
You’ll want to keep in mind that older Baby Boomers may be experiencing hearing and eyesight loss. As a result, you’ll want to keep your type and font size larger, and make text easy to read.
When you’re working with your clients, it only makes sense to pay attention to the generation during which they were raised and adapt your approach accordingly. Understanding generational differences will help you get a leg up on the competition while at the same time helping your clients achieve their goals.
What is Generation X?
Generation X (or Gen X) had a wildly different formative experience than the Baby Boomers. Generation X is generally defined as being born from 1965 to 1980. This generation spent its formative years from the 1970’s through the 1990’s. In stark contrast the relatively more pleasant and optimistic childhoods of the Baby Boomers, Gen X had a rougher ride.
America became more mobile during the time period during which Generation Xers grew up. As a result, many children were uprooted and separated from their friends, family and hometown roots. Growing up, these individuals witnessed a variety of scandals ranging from political and religious figures to sports figures. Gen Xers witnessed the systematic dismantling of the American middle class and with it a general lowering of quality of life, opportunities and confidence in corporations. In the end, Gen X was quite literally left home alone and lived as “latch key kids.” It is no wonder that this neglected generation has some issues.
Individuals growing up during this time learned early on that they had to be ready to fend for themselves. Since Gen Xers have been met with consistent and systematic disappointment and even wide scale institutional betrayal, this generation, on average, is more distrustful of organizations.
Gen Xers are self-reliant and independent and one of their core values is survival of the fittest. In his view, Gen Xers are self-focused, individualistic and want everyone to skip the nonsense and get to the point. They have no real interest in getting to know you or playing a round of golf.
Working with Millennials
Millennials spent their formative years in the 1980s and early 90s. They are a very optimistic and tech savvy generation. They are also the most classroom educated generation in history.
It is also very important to note that Millennials are the most adult supervised generation in history. So-called “helicopter parents” who work to protect their children from setbacks are the norm. Employers find that Millennials are entering adulthood, but are still relying upon their parents to help them make decisions and even career choices.
Where Gen Xers are distrustful of the “wisdom of their elders,” Millennials actively seek out such advice. Likewise, Millennials tend to volunteer a good deal and look for ways to solve the world’s largest problems.
You will find that Millennials will enjoy building a relationship with you. Keep in mind these individuals tend to be quite socially conscious and they may very well expect you to agree with their views. Additionally, there is a chance that they will have their parents involved in their business dealings.
Keep in mind that the de facto tech addiction, or at the very least acute overreliance on technology, has led to issues with Millennials’ soft skills. They can often lack the ability to read another person’s body language and adjust accordingly.
In the end, regardless of what generation you are working with, it is important that you continually adapt. This will greatly increase the odds of cementing a successful deal.
The post Considering Generational Strategies appeared first on Deal Studio – Automate, accelerate and elevate your deal making.
The first face-to-face meeting between a buyer and seller is one of those “make or break” meetings. The best way to prepare for it is to think of this meeting like a first date. The dynamics are very similar. You’ve spoken on the phone and you’ve emailed. Now there is enough interest that you both want to meet. Like a first date, the goal here is to get to know each other but, I recommend you do the following three things to ensure this meeting goes as well as possible.
Preparation means three things. First, have a plan for the meeting. Where will you meet? When will you meet, during business hours or after hours? Who do you want to attend from your side? Do you want to have handouts or a formal presentation? Will you be serving refreshments or snacks? Do you know who the buyer is bringing to the meeting? Will you give the buyer a tour of your business? Does the business show well or do you need to do a little housekeeping before buyers visit? Does it make sense to give buyers samples of what you make or sell?
You should determine these things, not the buyer. Once you have a plan send your plan to your buyer. Buyers need to understand how your sales process works and what is expected of them during each step of the process.
Determine your Desired Outcomes Ahead of Time
The primary goal of this initial meeting is to show the buyer that everything you said about your business in the offering memorandum was accurate so they have enough confidence in you and your business to submit a purchase offer or Letter of Intent (LOI) to buy your business. However, you may also have several other goals as well. Below is a list of some typical secondary goals.
- Confirm the buyer’s financial qualifications by asking questions like how much money he had available to invest, what is the source of these funds, where is the buyer in discussions with potential lenders, what is the buyer’s credit score, etc.
- Confirm the buyer’s business experience by asking questions like, tell me about the other businesses you’ve owned, or tell me about your previous business management experience.
- Confirm the buyer’s interest in your business by asking them what they think about your business, how does it compare to other businesses they’ve looked at, does it fit what they were looking for?
- Assess the buyer’s character. It’s important that you sell your business to someone you like, respect, and admire. Chances are if you like the buyer, so will your employees and customers. Trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right about the buyer, it probably isn’t
- Determine the buyer’s timeline. Business brokers are fond of saying “Time Kills All Deals” and it’s true. Another important goal is to determine how quickly a buyer is prepared to move and to determine if their timeline and your timeline line up.
Have an Agenda
Preparing an agenda ahead of time will help ensure that you accomplish your goals for the meeting. A sample agenda for a successful buyer meeting might look like this.
- Introductions & Welcomes – 10 minutes
- Buyer Background. Ask Buyer to describe their background, experience and why they are looking to buy a business – 10-15 minutes
- Seller Background. The seller describes how the seller got into the business and why they are exiting – 10-15 minutes
- Business Update. The seller gives the buyer a summary of how the business has performed since the offering memorandum was prepared and provides the buyer with a current year-to-date P&L statement. 10 minutes.
- Q&A. Seller to answer any questions the buyer has. 15-30 minutes
- Tour. Give the buyer a tour of the business and continue to answer questions throughout the tour. 15-30 minutes.
- Buyer Feedback. Return to your office or conference room and ask the buyer what they think. Discuss what they like and what they didn’t like. Get a list of any additional information the buyer would like from you.10-15 minutes.
- Next Steps/Action Items. Tell the buyer what your timeline is and if they are interested, the next step is for them to submit an offer or Letter of Intent. Determine if they plan to submit an LOI and if so, when they plan to do it. 10-15 minutes.
Of course, this is just a suggestion. Feel free to modify it to suit your particular situation. However, please note that the entire meeting is designed to last between 1 1/2 and 2 1/2 hours. Try to keep the meeting to around 2-3 hours, max. Sometimes, the chemistry between a buyer and seller is great and the conversation can continue for four or five hours, but I don’t recommend it. If that’s the case, I recommend scheduling a second meeting rather then let the first meeting go for more than three hours.
Asking and Answering Questions
Now that you have an agenda, the next steps if to prepare a list of questions you want to ask the buyer. Keep this with you during the meeting as a reference so you don’t forget any of your questions.
When responding to a buyer’s questions, try to only answer the question asked. It’s best to keep your answers factual and not share long war stories or go off on tangents about things the buyer didn’t ask about. For example, if a buyer asks what are your Average Days Receivable is, just answer the question. Don’t tell a story about the one customer who refuses to pay within 30 days, and often stretches you out to 190 days, so you told him he now needs to pay in full when he places an order.
Building a Positive Relationship
It goes without saying that you should do everything possible to keep the meeting polite and respectful and to avoid any discussion about politics or religion, which often can be hot points.
Nothing builds a more positive relationship than truth, so make sure that all of your answers are truthful, accurate, and complete. While you are trying to sell your business, you don’t want to come across as a salesperson. Let y our business sell itself. The best way to do that is to as real and as honest as possible.
For example, if a buyer asks who your competitors are be truthful. Every business has some level of competition. So don’t pretend that your company has no competition. This will simply make the buyer skeptical and make him wonder what else you may be fibbing about.
One last word of advice. Be sure to do your homework on the buyer ahead of time by asking the buyer to send you a copy of the buyer’s resume before your meeting. That way, you can do a Google search on the buyer and the companies he’s owned or worked for so you can assess during your meeting how truthful the buyer is being with you.
If you follow this advice, you will greatly increase the odds that your first meeting with a buyer will accomplish all of your objectives.Read More
Sellers generally desire all-cash transactions; however, oftentimes partial seller financing is necessary in typical middle market company transactions. Furthermore, sellers who demand all-cash deals typically receive a lower purchase price than they would have if the deal were structured differently.
Although buyers may be able to pay all-cash at closing, they often want to structure a deal where the seller has left some portion of the price on the table, either in the form of a note or an earnout. Deferring some of the owner’s remuneration from the transaction will provide leverage in the event that the owner has misrepresented the business. An earnout is a mechanism to provide payment based on future performance. Acquirers like to suggest that, if the business is as it is represented, there should be no problem with this type of payout. The owner’s retort is that he or she knows the business is sound under his or her management but does not know whether the buyer will be as successful in operating the business.
Moreover, the owner has taken the business risk while owning the business; why would he or she continue to be at risk with someone else at the helm? Nevertheless, there are circumstances in which an earnout can be quite useful in recognizing full value and consummating a transaction. For example, suppose that a company had spent three years and vast sums developing a new product and had just launched the product at the time of a sale. A certain value could be arrived at for the current business, and an earnout could be structured to compensate the owner for the effort and expense of developing the new product if and when the sales of the new product materialize. Under this scenario, everyone wins.
The terms of the deal are extremely important to both parties involved in the transaction. Many times the buyers and sellers, and their advisors, are in agreement with all the terms of the transaction, except for the price. Although the variance on price may seem to be a “deal killer,” the price gap can often be resolved so that both parties can move forward to complete the transaction.
Listed below are some suggestions on how to bridge the price gap:
- If the real estate was originally included in the deal, the seller may choose to rent the premise to the acquirer rather than sell it outright. This will decrease the price of the transaction by the value of the real estate. The buyer might also choose to pay higher rent in order to decrease the “goodwill” portion of the sale. The seller may choose to retain the title to certain machinery and equipment and lease it back to the buyer.
- The purchaser can acquire less than 100% of the company initially and have the option to buy the remaining interest in the future. For example, a buyer could purchase 70% of the seller’s stock with an option to acquire an additional 10% a year for three years based on a predetermined formula. The seller will enjoy 30% of the profits plus a multiple of the earnings at the end of the period. The buyer will be able to complete the transaction in a two-step process, making the purchase easier to accomplish. The seller may also have a “put” which will force the buyer to purchase the remaining 30% at some future date.
- A subsidiary can be created for the fastest growing portion of the business being acquired. The buyer and seller can then share 50/50 in the part of the business that was “spun-off” until the original transaction is paid off.
- A royalty can be structured based on revenue, gross margins, EBIT, or EBITDA. This is usually easier to structure than an earnout.
- Certain assets, such as automobiles or non-business-related real estate, can be carved out of the sale to reduce the actual purchase price.
Although the above suggestions will not solve all of the pricing gap problems, they may lead the participants in the necessary direction to resolve them. The ability to structure successful transactions that satisfy both buyer and seller requires an immense amount of time, skill, experience, and most of all – imagination.
The post Negotiating the Price Gap Between Buyers and Sellers appeared first on Deal Studio – Automate, accelerate and elevate your deal making.
There can be no way around it, Inc. contributor Brian Hamilton’s April 2020 COVID-19 centered article, “6 Actions to Take in the Next 90 Days to Save Your Business,” isn’t pulling any punches. Hamilton, Founder of the Brian Hamilton Foundation, believes that the next 90-days could be make or break days for business owners looking to navigate the choppy waters of the COVID-19 pandemic. His latest Inc. article provides readers with 6 actions they should take now to survive the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tip #1 Vigorously Control What You Can
Hamilton’s first tip is to “Vigorously control what you can. Vigorously ignore what you can’t control.” As Hamilton points out, you can’t control the economy; instead, you need to focus on what you can control. His view is that there has never been a more important time to focus, “More than ever, you’ll need to go to war with things within your control.” Now is the time to exercise control.
Tip #2 Guard Morale
During tough economic times, employee morale can be a real issue. This brings us to Hamilton’s second point, “guard employee morale.” Significant drops in employee morale can lead to serious problems with your business, which is exactly what you don’t want to see right now. Hamilton notes that you have to be the general that helps his or her troops rise above potential panic.
Tip #3 Preserve Cash
Hamilton’s third tip is to “preserve cash where you can.” He states, “Right now, your motto should be: Live to fight another day.” The pandemic means that you need to keep expenses down and watch every dollar. No one knows what the next few months, or the next couple of years, could have in store.
Tip #4 Be First in Line
“Be first in line,” is Hamilton’s fourth point. Hamilton wisely pushes business owners to be the first in line for government assistance. This is very good advice, as SBA and other funds are likely to be limited.
Tip #5 Get Back to the Basics
Fifth, Hamilton recommends, “Get back to the basics…starting with monomaniacal customer service.” As always, customers, whether existing or new, are the lifeblood of your business. You can’t afford to lose customers now and for this reason, you need to have a laser-like focus on customer service.
Tip #6 Pivot your Product or Service
Hamilton’s sixth tip is to “Pivot your product or service to new conditions.” Small changes to your business can open up new streams of revenue. Even if these streams of revenue are comparatively small, they could mean the difference between sink or swim! Try to step back and look at your business with fresh eyes and strive to find ways to offer something new to your customers. Whatever you offer should be based on your existing goods and services and not require a new, large expenditure.
The COVID-19 pandemic is obviously disruptive, but it won’t last forever. Hamilton’s advice of focusing intensely on the next 90 days is sound advice. You won’t regret looking for ways to safeguard your business for the next 3 months.
The post 6 Tips and 90 Days to Protect Your Business appeared first on Deal Studio – Automate, accelerate and elevate your deal making.
As part of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, the SBA is now offering to make six months of payments on SBA loans, including both principal and interest.
This partial payment program is part of the SBA’s flagship 7a loan program and applies to both existing SBA loans as well as new SBA loans that are closed before September 27th, 2020. SBA lenders, the public stock market, and businesses of all sizes recognize that a significant disruption has occurred in their business activities. The SBA is paying six months of payments for current SBA borrowers to relieve stress on business owners and attempting to “keep our small businesses going.” It is important to note that this is not a payment deferment plan, instead, the SBA will actually make payments of principal and interest for buyers.
If you are a potential buyer of a fitness center or studio, it’s important to consider the following:
- This is a temporary economic incident. There is no fundamental economic weakness.
- There is lots of liquidity in the finance and banking sectors, this is not a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis.
- Interest rates are at an all-time low and are unlikely to go up soon. As of mid-April, the interest rate for a 10-year SBA 7a business acquisition loan was 6%.
- Many small businesses, including fitness centers and studios, may benefit from pent up demand.
- Fitness centers and studios that were overpriced at the end of 2019 will be repriced to reflect current market conditions.
- Many fitness studios may see a decrease in wage costs as the unemployment rate increase and workers look for new employment.
- Now is not the time for inexperienced entrepreneurs to be getting into the fitness industry.
- Lenders are willing to back buyers with strong operating track records, a solid personal balance sheet, and a clear vision about how they will be able to rebuild sales and pay down debt in a post-Coronavirus economy.
- Even though the SBA will be making the payments for the first six months on newly originated loans, lenders can not take that into the credit decision. To qualify for the program, the cash flow of the fitness center or studio must be able to support the loan payment without taking into account the SBA payments.
- Lenders are willing to take into account the impact the Coronavirus has had on the business when valuing a business, but buyers must demonstrate a clear and realistic plan to get cash flow back to pre-pandemic levels.
- Certain fitness centers and studios, especially those who were able to quickly transition to a virtual model, may be especially attractive candidates for this program right now because they were not as severely impacted by the pandemic as other businesses.
If you are interested in taking advantage of this program, keep in mind that deals must be closed by September 27, 2020, to qualify. So, working backward, you may want to keep the following timeline in mind:
- Sign letter of intent – May 15th
- Complete Buyer’s Due Diligence – June 1st
- Secure Lender’s Financing Proposal – June 15th
- Lender Submits Loan to Underwriting – June 30th
- Lender Underwriting Completed – July 31th
- Purchase Agreement Completed – August 28th
- Target Closing Date – September 1st
- Fall-back Closing Date – September 15th
- Drop Dead Closing Date – September 27th
For additional information about this unique SBA loan payment program, visit the BizBuySell Financing Resource Center or contact Richard Jackim at 224-513-5142 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.Read More
Small business owners are facing new challenges during this crisis. Communicating with customers requires more focus and depth than ever before. In Mat Zuker’s latest article for Forbes Magazine, he cites Jay Mandel who runs The Collective NYC, a marketing consulting team focusing on a customer’s experience, who underlines the importance of businesses to understand their mission statement and values in order to re-enforce marketing strategies.
Information is Crucial. Each customer purveying your business’s website needs to understand your hours of operation, any limitations to service and what is being done to ensure cleanliness. Providing this information establishes to your customer your seriousness of precautions which will be appreciated during this time.
If your financial situation allows, focus on your employees, donate to charities or offer discounted or free products. By marketing this information, your brand’s scope will bolster with the customer as well.
Utilizing the Customer’s Time. Most customers are adhering to social distancing guidelines put forth by their state and the federal government. Now, more than ever, it is important to exhibit to your customers how your brand can be utilized beyond your brick and mortar. Zuker cites how universities are beginning to offer free online classes and telecommunication companies are offering two months of free service to low-income families; King Arthur flour is promoting its library of comfort food recipes (yes, please!). Thinking beyond your storefront to put your service or product into your customer’s virtual hands is important.
Remember to entertain. By each passing day, customers are looking for new stimulation to help the time go by at home. Movie companies are making the best of the situation by sending theatrical releases to online streaming services. We don’t think it is necessary to always make your customers laugh, but it might be within your branding to aim for content geared towards warmth, humanity and empathy.
The metric for engaging your customers is changing; moving beyond views and shares to quality feedback or social impact on your community. Do not bite off more than you can chew. Cited in Zuker’s article, Social Media Today warns of virtue signaling; meaning declaring a set of values, but not following through on the actual deeds.
Also, this is a fantastic opportunity to consider your marketing strategies for when this crisis ends. What will your business look like once you are able to open the doors? How are you able to stay relevant with your competitors? These are all questions needing answers, but today we must do our best to accomplish what is in front of us.
Read Mat Zucker’s full article here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/matzucker/2020/04/01/content-in-a-crisiswhat-brands-can-deliver/
The post How to Connect During a Crisis appeared first on Deal Studio – Automate, accelerate and elevate your deal making.
Key Performance Indicators Essential for Fitness Club Success
At IHRSA 2016, Daniel Gonzalez, chief financial officer for Universal Athletic Club, shared his thoughts on how to use key performance indicators (KPI’s) to drive success for fitness clubs.
Gonzalez gave several reasons to define and monitor KPI’s as a club owner or operator:
- Define a clear path for your organization
- Clarify performance expectations
- Manage more objectively
- Focus your staff’s attention on what is really important
- Run more effective meetings
- Hold staff accountable
As a club owner, it’s important to keep two specific key traits in mind when understanding KPI’s. KPIs need to be actionable and results-focused
In order to develop the most effective KPI, Gonzalez stressed the need to identify the primary business goal or result you want your club to achieve. Every staff member should have an ongoing quantitative KPI or two and be able to answer the question, “Did I have a productive day or week that helped the club achieve this goal?”
Gonzalez offered five characteristics of key performance indicators.
Simple: Need to be both comprehended and measurable. KPI needs to prompt decision.
Aligned: KPIs need to be developed from overall strategic goals of the organization and translated into actionable daily operational tasks.
Relevant: Applicable to respective decision makers within various levels of the organization or department.
Measurable: To analyze positive and negative variations from a goal.
Achievable: The goal of each KPI should be reasonable and attainable or else it may negatively impact team morale.
Timely: Should be monitored and reported on a regular basis via a dashboard or other method.
Visible: Goals are achieved more readily if staff members are aware of KPI’s and progress towards goals.
Gonzalez suggests that a fitness club’s KPIs, should revolve around three goals:
Attract: Gain new prospects
Sign: Acquire a new member
Retain: Create loyal members
Sports Club Advisors knows that key performance inducators are an essential component of building the value of every fitness club. Contact us if you are interested in developing a value enhancement strategy for your sports and fitness facility.Read More
Finding a great sports and fitness club or business to buy is a lot hard work. Most buyers review dozens of deals each month, and many buyers will evaluate hundreds of deals before they find a club worth acquiring.
Part of the challenge is that there are far more buyers than sellers of quality clubs. Consider this: Sports Club Advisors has over 2,000 registered buyers who want to receive notices when we have a new opportunities for sale, but in most years we only bring 6-10 new clients to market each year.
The problem is not just limited to a lack of sports and fitness club businesses for sale. Buyers routinely complain about how hard it is to find a transaction that is worth pursuing. Common complaints we hear from buyers include:
- Unrealistic expectations of value on the part of sellers
- Inaccurate or incomplete financials or operating data
- Hidden liabilities like unresolved member complaints or improper payment of independent contractors
Given these challenges, how can you increase your chances of finding a great sports or fitness club to buy? Here are six tips to help you with your search.
Tip 1: Develop Clear Criteria
The best buyers act quickly. With so many buyers looking, and so few quality deals coming to market, you need to make decisions quickly. To speed up your ability to evaluate the deals, put together a clear list of your acquisition criteria. This list will act as your guide to help you determine which deals are worth pursuing and which deserve a quick pass.
Putting together a clear, well-thought out list of acquisition criteria will take some time and effort.
Your acquisition criteria should be your objective guide to evaluate opportunities, but you should always apply a subjective element to your evaluation as well. This should be your basic “gut check” about a business. If the business meets your objective criteria, do you like and trust the owners? Do you like and trust the staff? Do the members and clientele seem reasonable? If you decide you do not like a business for some reason, offer the seller or broker quick feedback and move on.
Tip 2: Register with Online Marketplaces and Brokers
There are many ways to find fitness clubs or businesses for sale, and club brokers represent only a portion of the fitness club or businesses that are for sale. Finding a good fitness club or business for sale is a numbers game. You need to look at as many deals as possible in order to find the perfect acquisition target. Registering with online marketplaces and brokers will provide alerts on any new listings. This will make your daily inspections relatively easy. To register with Sports Club Advisors, simply fill out our Buyer Registration form, and don’t forget to bookmark our Active Engagements page on our website.
Tip 3: Approach Fitness Club or Business Owners Directly
Many buyers limit their search for a sports club or gym to two places: marketplaces and brokerage firms.
However, why not write directly to fitness club or business owners to see if they would be willing to sell their fitness club or business? There are pros and cons to this approach. The pros are:
- You Get Better Deals. Writing directly to club or business owners allows you to reach club or business owners who never considered selling. It’s a numbers game so if you write enough people, you may find a club or business owner who is an absentee owner and no longer actively involved in their club or business. For these owners, selling their club has probably been on the back of their mind and your letter might just incent them to start a discussion with you.
- It Simplifies Things. When you approach an owner directly to buy their fitness club or business, it makes it simpler for the owner. He doesn’t have to hire a broker or try to sell it himself. He doesn’t have to worry about the club being “on the market” and having his employee find out. In addition, a direct transaction is often more relaxed and focused on creating a win/win transaction.
- Less competition. Sports Club Advisors has over 2,000 buyers actively looking for a fitness club or businesses to buy, but we only bring 6-10 clients to market each year. So when you do look at a good listing, from a broker you are likely competing with dozens of buyers. When you approach someone directly, you usually have the luxury of less competition.
However, contacting club or business owners to see if they would be interested in selling has it downsides too. Here are some of the cons:
- It is a numbers game. Many of the buyers we’ve worked with report several challenges, beginning with getting a good list. Buyer often say that it takes them weeks to put together a list of targets that they think will fit their acquisition criteria. Since a good response rate is between 1-3% depending on whether you call or write, that means you will need to call or write email 100 people just to get 1-3 responses. Then they need to find the time to call or send letters to 200-300 potential targets and then find the time to follow-up with each of them a month later.
- Rejection is Part of the Game. Because the response rate is between 1-3% that means that 97-99% of the owners you contact will simply ignore you. The polite ones might respond by telling you they are not interested. The less polite ones will yell at you and tell you not to bother them.
- Opportunistic Sellers are Poorly Prepared. When you find an opportunistic seller he or she will typically not be prepared. They may not have financial statements and operating data prepared, reviewed and ready to be shared. This can drag out the process and you may find yourself investing a lot of time and energy to collect the information to review only to discover months later that the opportunity does not meet your acquisition criteria.
- Sellers may be unrealistic. When you approach a seller unsolicited, it naturally puts them in the “driver’s seat”. As a result, a seller may have no idea what their club or gym is worth and as a result may pull a number out of the sky, or figure the club must be worth enough to allow them to retire. Either way, even if the club meets all of your other criteria the seller may have unrealistic expectations of value that you cannot change.
Tip 4: Network, Network, Network
Wouldn’t it be nice if deals just came to you? Well, they can if people know are seriously interested in buying a fitness club or businesses and you have the money to do so. The best way to get known as a serious buyer is to network within the industry.
Conferences and networking events are a good way to meet many people and get the word out, but it can be expensive, especially if you are traveling around the country. Instead, we recommend that you network by telephone and email with a targeted list of industry leaders. Send them your acquisition criteria. Tell them how much money you have to invest and the source of your capital. Then stay in touch with them on a monthly or quarterly basis to update them on your search.
Tip 5: Hire a Merger & Acquisitions Advisor to Help You Source and Evaluate Deals
As previously mentioned, finding the right deal is a volume game. You could easily spend most of your time reading through email notices, browsing online marketplaces, and networking. Rather than spend your time doing this, you might find it simpler to hire a club broker or mergers and acquisitions advisor to conduct a buy-side search for you. Follow the tip above and develop a criteria checklist. Then hand this list over to the club broker and have them find deals for you. They can either run a “passive” search or a “pro-active” search for you. In a passive search, they will screen their prospects and active clients, sort through notices and online marketplaces and contact you when they have something that they think might interest you. In a pro-active search, they will do the above, but also pro-actively reach out to club owners on your behalf using a combination of letters, emails and cold calls to find opportunities for you that meet your acquisition criteria.
Tip 6: Always Explain Why You Are “Passing”
Because buying a club or business requires evaluating lots and lots of deals, you’ll likely make a few mistakes along the way. One mistake many buyers make is to dismiss a deal based on a misunderstanding of the business. If you mistakenly pass on a good opportunity it could take months to find another good club or business. The best way to avoid this mistake is to always tell the broker or seller why you are passing or not pursuing a particular business. Not only will the seller or broker appreciate the feedback (brokers will often give preference to buyers who give regular feedback), but if you are mistaken, you’ve given them the ability to help correct any misconception and could save you a lot of time and aggravation.
Finding a great club or business to buy is a numbers game, but it is also about being smart and designing an intelligent search and using the right resources to help you identify and evaluate deals properly. Most importantly, be patient. It can take 6-24 months to find a quality club or fitness facility for sale, but when you do, you’ll be glad you did.Read More
When it’s time to grow your fitness business, how you grow is important. There are two ways to grow your business: organic growth and growth through acquisitions.
Organic growth basically means doing what you currently do, just doing more of it or doing it better. That means increasing the amount of the products or services you sell. You can do this by fine tuning your marketing and operations, or entering new marketing by introducing new products and services or opening new locations. This is how most businesses grow. It takes time and effort, but it is tried and true. The only risks are those that are inherent in operating your business.
Growth through acquisitions, on the other hand, is buying companies and consolidating them into your own. It can be a good way to rapidly expand your business. It sounds easy, but a famous study at Harvard Business School showed that almost 50% of acquisitions do not live up to the buyer’s original expectations. So what determines a good acquisition from a bad one? How to you decide if it makes more sense to buy another club or business, or just start one from scratch? Should you adopt an acquisition strategy just to get bigger, or are there other strategic objectives to consider?
These questions lie at the very heart of every CEO’s decision on how to grow his or her business in a way that creates value for the company’s stakeholders – its owners, its employees, and its customers or members. While buying companies may sound simple, ensuring that you buy the right company is still as much art as it is science. When you acquire and merge two companies together, the result must be greater than the sum of the parts or the acquisition does not make sense.
A study published in the Harvard Business Review years ago concluded that successful acquisitions must do at least one, but preferably two things.
Eliminate Redundant Expenses
The first factor is an elimination of redundant expenses. What this usually means is that the acquisition or merger allowed the combined company to reduce costs. The largest of these cost savings are usually in the form of reduced payroll or reduced headcount. When two companies are combined, they typically don’t need as many people doing the same jobs. The second biggest expense reduction comes from the fact that the combined companies don’t need the same number of offices, warehouses, factories or retail locations. So rule number one is be sure the proposed acquisition will reduce your overall cost structure and enhance your margins.
Gain New Know-How
The second factor is a transfer of knowledge. Each company has its own proprietary knowledge base or skill set. Some companies have a competitive advantage over other businesses in their industry because they have developed proprietary products, a unique service models, an excellent training program, superior marketing or purchasing program, or some other skill or knowledge. When a company acquires another company, this knowledge or skill is an “off balance sheet asset” that is a big part of the value of the acquisition. The transfer and integration of these skills, requires a lot of work and careful thought, but is a major factor in whether or not the acquisition is successful. So rule number two is to be sure the acquisition you are considering brings some unique knowledge or competitive advantage to your business.
In the world of mergers and acquisitions, these factors are referred to as “synergies.” In our experience, growing for growth’s sake alone does not make sense. Growing to capture synergies is the key to growing through acquisitions. That said, one of the biggest mistakes buyers make is to underestimate how long it will take to see the benefits of these synergies.
Consider Impact of Culture
The largest obstacle in the realization of these benefits comes from cultural differences between the two companies. The stronger a company’s culture, the harder it is to assimilate a new one. In our experience, when culture and strategy clash, culture always wins, so buyers need to invest a lot of time and effort to understand their culture and the culture of the company they are thinking of acquiring to see if the cultures are compatible. Understanding and quantifying the synergies of a possible acquisition and helping to determine if the cultures are a fit are the keys to making a successful acquisition.
So, in short, when deciding whether to pursue an acquisition growth strategy, be cautious and get good advice from knowledgeable experts. Acquiring another company can be a transformative event for your company when done well and with proper thought. However, without a careful and objective process in place, it can be a disaster.
Rich Jackim is a partner at Sports Club Advisors, Inc., a leading mergers and acquisitions firm that serves the sports, fitness and leisure industry.Read More
If you have never been through a due diligence you are likely in for a big surprise. For most sellers the due diligence process is stressful and demanding. Due diligence is often the most stressful part of any deal, for both buyer and seller. Knowing what to expect can greatly reduce that stress, make the process go more quickly, and also reduce the possibility of a renegotiation or cancellation from the buyer.
What is the Purpose of Due Diligence
Due diligence is the process a buyer goes through to verify the information that has been presented and ensure, as much as possible, that there have not been any significant omissions by the seller. Most of due diligence serves to verify the legal status, the financials, past history of the business, and your general ability to sell the business. In addition, a buyer may verify different aspects of the company to make sure it is in good health. In many ways, due diligence is akin to bringing a used car to a mechanic for a thorough inspection before you buy it.
A proper due diligence is important for both the buyer and the seller. With significant assets at stake for both parties, having a proper due diligence insures that the buyer is fully aware of what they are buying – including the risk – reduces the possibility of a dispute after the closing.
So while due diligence may be uncomfortable for the seller, a seller should take comfort knowing that a proper due diligence helps protect both the buyer and the seller after the sale.
You should always expect to verify your business with 3rd party documents. Bank statements, tax returns, merchant statements, corporate filings, etc. A buyer may request multiple forms of verification as well such as tax returns and bank statements.
Many sellers complain at the sheer volume of documents requested in due diligence. The fact is, document requests from buyers can lead to boxes full of information. If you are planning to sell your business in the near future (i.e., 3 months – 1 year) you should start preparing a due diligence package now. This will help reduce stress at the time of the sale. Most sellers are not prepared to provide all of the documentation a buyer will request and only start doing so when there is an offer on their business. By preparing ahead of time you can simply modify what you have already put together to match what your buyer is looking for. Sports Club Advisors can share with you a due diligence check list to help you begin to organize your due diligence files.
Expect Additional Requests
Due diligence usually starts with one list of requests and questions, but it almost never ends there. When a buyer starts to do due diligence on your business, they will likely do it in stages, focusing on the most important things first and then expanding their scope as they get comfortable with the most crucial items. As a result, sellers should always expect that due diligence will consist of multiple rounds.
One of the advantages of working with a broker like Sports Club Advisors is that we can help identify what are reasonable due diligence requests and when a buyer request is over reaching or becoming a stall tactic. Dealing with unreasonable buyer requests takes diplomacy and an independent,objective viewpoint which we provide.
In Conclusion, Have a Plan
As a seller, due diligence may seem like something you want to avoid, but for reasons covered above, due diligence actually benefits the seller as well as the buyer. As a seller, you should want your buyer to know exactly what they are buying so there are no surprises. Surprises after a closing often lead to arbitration or lawsuits, something that neither the buyer or the seller want.
Because of the detailed nature of due diligence, if you can prepare and gather your due diligence “data room” or file drawer in advance, before putting your company on the market, you will make your investment bankers job easier, create a favorable impression on prospective buyers, and eliminate one of the most stressful parts of the transaction for yourself.Read More