How to Get a Big Company Multiple for Your Business

Big public companies trade at a significant premium over small businesses in the same industry because investors perceive big, sophisticated companies as a safer bet than small, owner-dependent companies.

Let’s take a look at the facility services industry.  Although most facility service companies are less than $1MM in annual revenue, there are many regional medium size firms and a handful of big publicly traded professional services firms. ABM Industries (NYSE:ABM) is a facility services company with a market capitalization of around $1.81 billion (stock price x number of shares = total value of ABM).  ABM’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) were about $190MM for 2014.  To calculate the multiple they used to buy the stock of ABM you simply divide their stock value (market capitalization) by their EBITDA.  $1.81B divided by $190MM is a multiple of about 9.53 x their annual EBITDA.

Smaller service businesses trade at much lower multiples. Typical smaller companies in the size range of $1-3 million in annual revenues will sell in the range of from 2-4 times their annual EBITDA.   When we look at the average value being offered for companies in this size range, we find the average multiple is approximately of 3 times is more than three times lower than ABM.

When we isolate facility services companies with at least $3 million in revenue, the multiple being offered goes up to 4.97 times pre-tax profit, but it is still just over half of ABM’s 9.53 times.

And in case you thought this phenomenon was unique to the facility services vertical, take a look at the IT services giant Accenture (NYSE:ACN).  Accenture reported pre-tax income of $5 billion in 2014 and currently has a market capitalization of more than $64 billion, meaning they are trading around 13 times pre-tax profit, which is more than double the price we see being offered to smaller facility services firms.

So how do you get a public company-like multiple for your business? One approach is to look for a strategic buyer. Unlike a financial buyer that is looking for a relatively safe return on their capital invested (which is the reason investors place a premium on big, stable companies trading on the stock market), a strategic buyer will value your company on how buying you will impact them.

Let’s imagine you have a grommet business predictably churning out $500,000 in pre-tax profit. These days, a financial buyer may pay you around 4 or 5 times earnings – in this case, roughly $2.5 million – if you can make the case your profits are likely to continue well into the future.

Now let’s imagine that a company that sells a billion dollars’ worth of widgets starts sniffing around your grommet business. They think that if they integrate your grommets into their widgets, they can sell 10 percent more widgets next year.

Therefore, your little grommet business could add 100 million dollars of revenue for the widget maker next year – and that’s just year one after the acquisition. Imagine what your business could be worth in their hands if they continued to sell more widgets each year because of the addition of your company.

The widget maker is not going to pay you $100 million for your business, but there is somewhere between the $2.5 million a financial buyer will pay and the $100 million in sales that the widget maker stands to gain next year that is both a good deal for you and for the widget maker.

Premium multiples get paid to big companies, and also to the little ones that can figure out how to make a big company even bigger. If you’d like to know how your company performs on The Sellability Score, simply complete the 13-minute questionnaire by clicking on the Sellability logo below.

To download a pdf of this article, click here:  How-Get-Big-Company-Multiple-July2015

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How To Improve Your Cash Flow

There are many ways to improve your cash flow – and therefore, the value of your business. One often overlooked tactic is to spend less on the machines your company needs to operate.

In the restaurant business, for example, there is an often repeated truism that it takes three bankruptcies at a single location before any restaurant can make money. The first owner of the restaurant walks in and – with all of the typical optimism of a new entrepreneur – pays cash for a brand new commercial kitchen complete with fancy stove, commercial grade walk-in coolers, etc., as well as all new dishware, pots and pans, thus depleting his cash reserves before opening night. Within a year, the restaurant owner runs out of cash and declares bankruptcy.

Then along comes a second entrepreneur who decides to set up her restaurant at the same location and buys all of the shiny new equipment from owner number one’s creditors for 70 cents on the dollar, figuring she has made a wonderful deal. But the outlay of cash is still too great and she too is out of business within a year.

It’s not until the third owner comes along that the location actually survives. He saves his cash by buying all of the equipment off the second owner for 10 cents on the dollar.

The moral of the story is: find a way to reduce the cash you spend on equipment, however you can. Can you buy your gear used on sites like eBay? Can you share a very expensive piece of machinery with another non-competitive business? Can you rent instead of buying? For Facility Service Companies renting  your large equipment and subcontracting some services are two methods for preserving your cash outlay with new accounts.

Profits are an important factor in your company’s value but so too is the cash your company generates.  We call this phenomenon The Valuation Teeter Totter and it is one of the eight key drivers of the value of your company. Curious to see how you’re performing on all eight drivers? Get your Sellability Score here by clicking on the Sellability Score logo on our home page.

To download a pdf copy of this article, click here: Hidden-Thing-Drives-Value-June2015

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A Blood Pressure Test For Your Business

When was the last time you had your blood pressure tested?

Taking your blood pressure is one of the first things most doctors do before treating you for just about anything. How much pressure your blood is under as it courses through your veins is a reliable indicator of your overall health; and it can be an early indicator of everything from heart disease to bad circulation.

Does it tell the doctor everything they need to know about your health? Of course not, but one powerful little ratio can give the doctor a pretty good sense of your overall wellbeing.

Likewise, your Sellability Score can be a handy indicator of your company’s wellbeing. Like your blood pressure reading, your company’s Sellability Score is an amalgam of a number of different factors and can help a professional quickly diagnose your company’s overall health.

Predicting Good Outcomes Too

When a doctor takes your blood pressure, they not only rule out possible nasty ailments; they can also use the pressure reading to forecast a healthy life ahead. Similarly, your Sellability Score can predict good things for the future. For example, based on more than 10,000 business owners who have completed their Sellability Score questionnaire, we know the average multiple of pre-tax profit they are offered for their business when it is time to sell is 3.7. By contrast, those companies that have achieved a Sellability Score of 80+ are getting offers of 6.6 times pre-tax profit.

In other words, if you have an average-performing business turning out $500,000 in pre-tax profit, it is likely worth around $1,850,000 ($500,000 x 3.7). If the same company improved its Sellability Score to 80+ while maintaining its profitability of $500,000, it would be worth closer to $3,300,000 ($500,000 x 6.6).

Are you guaranteed to fetch 6.6 times pre-tax profit if you improve your Sellability Score to 80? Of course not. But just like blood pressure, one little number can tell you and your advisor a whole lot about how well you are doing; and your advisor can then prescribe an action plan to start maximizing your company’s health – and its value down the road.

Heart disease is called “The Silent Killer” because most people have no idea what their blood pressure is. People can walk around for years with dangerously high blood pressure because they haven’t bothered to get it tested. The first step on the road to health is to get tested. If you have a great score, you can sleep well at night knowing you have one less thing to worry about. If your score is not where it should be, then at least knowing your performance can get you started down the road to better health.

To Download a PDF of this article click here:  Blood-Pressure-Test-Business-Oct2014

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How To Increase The Value Of Your Business By 71%

How much did your home increase in value last year?  Depending on where you live, it may have gone up by 5 – 10% or more.

How much did your stock portfolio increase over the last 12 months? By way of a benchmark, The Dow Jones Industrial Average has increased by around 13% in the last year. Did your portfolio do as well?

Now consider what portion of your wealth is tied to the stock or housing market, and compare that to the equity you have tied up in your business. If you’re like most owners, the majority of your wealth is tied up in your company. Increasing the value of your largest asset can have a much faster impact on your overall financial picture than a bump in the stock market or the value of your home.

Let us introduce you to a statistically proven way to increase the value of your company by as much as 71%.  Through an analysis of 6,955 businesses, we’ve discovered that companies that achieve a Sellability Score of 80+ out of a possible 100 receive offers to buy their business that are 71% higher than what the average company receives.

How long would it take your stock portfolio or home to go up by 71%? Years – maybe even decades. Get your Sellability Score now and you will be able to track your overall score along with your performance on the eight key drivers of Sellability. Like a pilot working his instrument panel, you can quickly zero in on which of the eight drivers is dragging down your value the most and then take corrective action.

Your overall Sellability Score is derived from your performance on the eight attributes that drive the value of your company:

  1. Financial Performance: your history of producing revenue and profit combined with the professionalism of your record keeping.
  2. Growth Potential: your likelihood to grow your business in the future and at what rate.
  3. The Switzerland Structure: how dependent your business is on any one employee, customer or supplier.
  4. The Valuation Teeter Totter: whether your business is a cash suck or a cash spigot.
  5. The Hierarchy of Recurring Revenue: the proportion and quality of automatic, annuity-based revenue you collect each month.
  6. The Monopoly Control: how well differentiated your business is from competitors in your industry.
  7. Customer Satisfaction: the likelihood that your customers will re-purchase and also refer you.
  8. Hub & Spoke: how your business would perform if you were unexpectedly unable to work for a period of three months.

To find out how you’re performing on the eight key drivers of Sellability and start your journey to increasing the value of your largest asset, get your Sellability Score now.  You can take the free questionnaire by clicking on the Sellability Icon below.  I will then send you a 26 page report that you can use to evaluate the strengths of your company and see how you may be able to increase its value.

To download a pdf of this article, click Increase-Your-Business-Value-Sept2014.

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