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We held our first Masterclass of the autumn season on Wednesday 5th Sept on the theme of Buying a Business. Our Panel was Jonathan Turner of Bayford, Rachel Kay of Green-tech and Gez Walsh of Innergy, they had all done multiple acquisitions big and small.

It was held at the beautiful Bowcliffe Hall courtesy of Jonathan and was attended by over 40 members, Partners and guests.

The Key Message

The key message was get out there and do it; you, the members of Connect Yorkshire, are all entrepreneurs, go and be enterprising and make an acquisition.

Why

To grow your business.

One point made by Gez Walsh was it can cost £40-50k for a new salesperson and take 6-12 months for him/her to get up to speed. If you make an acquisition you get customers immediately.

How to find them

Most are connected in some way to your own business, either competitors, customers, suppliers or friends in other businesses upstream or downstream from your own. Go and talk to them. Buy them lunch/a sandwich/a drink after work.

Do industry networking, and any networking likely to include people who know companies that are your target eg banks, accountants, corporate finance etc.

And of course join Connect Yorkshire which is full of business owners.

Be friendly and a good person to deal with, treat your acquisitions well. For example, increase the pay of all your new employees. And the targets will come to you.

Valuations

Ask them what they want. You MUST fully understand their position both in terms of what they are going to do after the sale, who their family are and what they do. Is the vendor going to set up a similar/competing with his son/daughter/brother etc.

And understand their financial and personal position. Can they afford to retire? Do they want to retire and get bored playing golf? How many children/wives/ex wives etc are they supporting?

Restrictive covenants on the vendor and especially on his family are tricky.

A rough rule of thumb multiplier of EBITDA:

<£1m – 3-5 times

£2m to £5m – 5-7 times

£10m+ – 8-10 times

Finance

Make sure you are in touch regularly with your bank person and with their competitors so they get your management accounts and understand you and your business.

Advisors

Get the best you can afford, as they can add a lot, especially solicitors and accountants – see the CY Partners.

Integration

Rachel said it usually takes about 2 years to fully integrate it. Sometimes you just need to let the business go if it is simply not working, and don’t be afraid to walk away. It can be v difficult with all the time and money spent.

 

Nick Butler

10/09/18