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View Full Version : Buying a competitor


Ground Master
03-08-2002, 10:46 AM
I know a local guy who has offered me his business.

It is one of the top companies in the area, focusing on high end homes.

$300,000 in sales in 2001, 50% mowing, 50% landscaping
he claims a net of 100,000.

he's asking $350,000 (50,000 equipment, 300,000 business, customers, etc.)

he will stay on for a year to assist in transition......says 4 to 5 employees will stay.

has no shop......is running biz from big garage at his house.....thats not included.

he will do anything customers need outside of lawn work, replace appliances, pick up newly purchased furniture, etc.

I think price is high. I don't think many people could duplicate his annual sales considering all the extra type work he does.

Any thoughts?

Kent Lawns
03-08-2002, 11:13 AM
Seems way too high compared to the business sales I've been involved with.

But making $100,000 net with only $50,000 in equipment sounds appealing. Seems he should be offering classes in how to do that!

LawnLad
03-08-2002, 12:21 PM
Needle him on his numbers. You have to do your due diligence to see if his numbers make sense. Have your accountant review them, and then audit/question some of the numbers.

33% profit is high (but great if real). This must include his own salary.

What you're not buying is his name/goodwill, systems, etc. The only thing of value are hard assets ($50 K ish) plus the value of his contracts - if they're guaranteed (which they aren't).

Employee and customer retention is never guaranteed. My recommendation would be to pay a percentage of gross sales from his clients for a period of time, one to three years. If he stays and assits, have a separate consulting agreement from which he will be paid that encourages him to help his customers with the transition. This agreement is very important. If he's convinced his business has value and you can buy that value since his customers will stay with you, he should be willing to wait for some of his money. As in, put your money where your mouth is.

Buy the equipment separetly if you want it. You may not need it, or only some of it. Buy this at market value since you may choose to buy new elsewhere or used elsewhere. Offer him a package deal to take it all as one package price that would be less than the sum of all put together. He has a selling cost if he sells the equipment on the open market - so let him give you a discount to keep him from having to waste his time.

Lastly, make sure you have a lawyer draft the purchase agreements, non compete etc. You don't want a deal this large to go south... and you get left holding the bag.

Good luck!

Commander
03-08-2002, 01:47 PM
Grounds Master, I am looking at a similar situation you are in now. However my situation will not be for almost another 2 years. Was talkin with a guy back in January who is 60 now and wants to sell his business in 2 years. Guy works at 52 houses which are each worth MILLIONS. $450,000 net? with only $100,000 coming from mowing. 5 employees including the guy himself. Not bad right? ;) Lookin forward to hearing his price though.

LAWNGODFATHER
03-08-2002, 09:34 PM
100% of a years revenue plus the equipment, are you nuts?

It will take close to 5 years for it to turn a profit.

Paying for landscape work he does even not have yet is insane.

Pay him 1 mowing a month after you recieved payment from the customer spead across 3 months.


You need to look at all his taxes also. Triple check those numbers.

Mowingman
03-08-2002, 09:42 PM
The customers are worth almost nothing. They may not stay with you when you take over. Pay for the equipment, then come up with some small amount for customers. Then, base that customer payment on the % of customers that stay with you for 3 or 4 months. If 30% leave you, you reduce his payment by 30%.:)

PAPS
03-08-2002, 10:39 PM
You'd be OUTTA your mind to buy his business for 350 large... !!!! Like LAWNGODFATHER said... at that INSANE price... it would take you a minimum of 5 years...to turn a profit on his end... Also, love to see specs. to prove that he turns 35% profit from gross... i question that.... Seriously... $350,000 is about $250,000 too much....

John Allin
03-09-2002, 08:37 PM
Most small business people (and this business you are looking at is a small business) have an incredibly inflated sense of what their business is worth. The posts here are all right on (although some are a bit more blunt than I would be). The fellow wants way too much. Wayyyy to much.

At the very least, you want to see 3 years Schedule C's to verify the dollars. And, I would also agree that his "profit" includes his salary, or draw, which must come out of the equation.

There is alot of work to be done in evaluating what you should pay for this business. And, in our industry, "fair market value" of mowing equipment is what it would go for at auction, not on a showroom floor. That lends me to believe that the equipment number put forth is also inflated.

I've bought numerous local small landscape and snow business, and for the volume you've put forth (including equipment), $50K would be a generous offer (with the limited information put forth here). And, make him finance it, with caveats for loss of customers down the road (like, next month).

LAWNGODFATHER
03-10-2002, 01:07 AM
Originally posted by John Allin
"fair market value" of mowing equipment is what it would go for at auction, not on a showroom floor

John, does that fall in where I keep saying, "Value is only in the eyes of the beholder"?

Only buy used equipment like this when you know you can turn it fast. Meaning if you had to buy it to make the deal, you need to beable to sell it fast if you don't need it.

I have bought a few LCO's and made up for buying the accounts off reselling the equipment.

Remember you are the buyer, you have more control over the sale. You tell him what "you" want to do and how to do it.

No bank will give a loan for this, so there is not much of a market to purchace Lawn Care Companies.

Like John and I said in a way, make him finace the deal.

OBRYANMAINT
03-10-2002, 08:39 AM
i alao see that net amount being skewed some way ....


I know i have over 50 k in equipment and i dont gross that much.......I know thats not a good comparison....but still



dont be in a rush !

Ground Master
03-11-2002, 04:28 PM
Update-----

I did not buy this business. I really never was, just wanted to put out the information to get feedback. I felt from the beginning that the asking price was way too high. I had met with the owner in an effort to get a feel for what lawn services may be worth and selling for in my area. I've looked at a few over the years, and they were all way too high.

It seems that the owners are just too "attached" and feel that there business is worth a fortune.........most likely because of the hard work that they put into it over the years.

I've come to the conclusion that the value of any lawn service I may buy is worth the market value of the equipment plus a percentage of sales from the first year of "takeover". That percentage is the hard part to determine.......perhaps 10 percent on the low end to 40 percent on the high end. By paying a percentage of sales you protect yourself from those customers that will jump ship.