You’ve spent your entire working life building your own business; don’t you owe it to yourself to maximize its value before selling it?
Too many companies, it turns out, fail to do so, and as a result some leave millions of dollars on the table when it comes time to cash out.
That was the take-away from a recent interview I did with Mike McCarron, who having sold MSM Transportation within the past couple years and then overseeing M&A for Wheels Group before launching Left Lane Associates, a firm dedicated to the monetization of transportation companies, knows a thing or two about this topic.
McCarron told me too many trucking company owners wait until they have to sell – often due to circumstances beyond their control – before developing a plan to do so.
By waiting until you’re in a situation where you’re forced to sell the business, you lose leverage and could potentially have to settle for an unfavourable deal.
McCarron’s advice is to set your business up so it’s a desirable target, even if you have no imminent plans to sell.
“Great companies aren’t sold, they’re bought,” he told me.
That way, when a suitor comes along, you don’t have to spend nine months getting the books in order and the housecleaning done before initiating discussions.
“By that time, they’re long gone,” McCarron warned.
So what can you do now, to ensure you’re at least in a good position to entertain offers or quickly transition into selling mode? Here are a few tips:
• Make the business less dependent on you: Buyers don’t want a company that can’t function without the owner or his/her relationships;
• Get customers on contracts: A contract may be worth only the paper it’s written on these days, but it’s still better than no contract at all;
• Diversify your business: Having too much of your business reliant on one or few customers is a red flag for prospective buyers;
• Get organized: Have a CRM (customer relationship management) system and documented procedures in place;
• Demonstrate growth: Buyers are most interested in companies that are growing, so when it comes time to sell, accelerate – don’t decelerate – sales efforts. For more information on selling your trucking company, see pg. 23 of this issue.
If you’re on the other side of the table, however, and looking to grow your company through acquisition, then you won’t want to miss this year’s Surface Transportation Summit Oct. 14.
McCarron will moderate a discussion at the event that will include some of this industry’s top M&A experts. For more information about the event, visit www.SurfaceTransportationSummit.com.