acquisitions are good for business

This Is Why Acquisitions Are Good for Business

Acquisitions get a bad rap. Acquisitions are described as risky. Acquiring companies are portrayed as evil raiders and titans. Tales of high stake chest thumping negotiations between power brokers fill our conversations. Stories of lay-offs, firings, law suits and forced relocations ensue. But even with all of the negative, I know that acquisitions are good for business.

capex

EBITDA – What’s missing? (EBITDA Multiples Are BS – Part 2)

A common retort to the question of EBITDA multiples is often “multiple of what”. Sometimes people interpret that to infer “multiple of sales, multiple of net, multiple of EBITDA, etc.” But what the question really driving at is “How was EBITDA calculated?” or “What is and is not included in these EBITDA multiples?” Here are a few items that are often missing from EBITDA multiples.

buy-side M&A strategy

Buy the Firm! – Buy-Side M&A Strategy Success

If your business does something better than most of its competitors, perhaps it is time to “Buy the Firm!” and implement a buy-side M&A strategy.  When I was in business school I had a professor that was fond of exclaiming “Buy the Firm!”. In fact, his solution to many business problems or questions that arose[…]

Collision M&A Consolidation Trends Update

I’m writing this on my way back from Vancouver, Canada. I spent the past few days on site with a client focused on developing administrative SOPs to drive consistency in financial reporting. Then a quick meeting with an investment bank involved in the industry. I even took a sea plane over the harbor and got[…]

Collision Industry Consolidation Trends: Q1 2016

Consolidation in the collision industry continues to march forward at an astounding pace. The largest companies in the industry continue to aggressively grow through acquisitions, or by buying existing collision repair operators. And as these companies continue to aggressively expand we see continued consolidation in adjacent segments that sell into the industry, especially in paint[…]

Are You a Victim of Probability Neglect?

There is common phrase thrown around in business: If you aren’t growing you’re dying. In business there are two types of growth, organic and inorganic. Organic growth refers to increasing sales internally, generating more revenues with your existing business assets. Inorganic growth refers to growing sales by expanding to new locations, acquiring other businesses in the industry, and sometimes even expanding outside of your industry.

A common misconception is that organic growth is less risky and less costly than inorganic growth. But as humans we are actually inherently bad at assessing risk. Referred to as probability neglect, we assume that common activities we engage in are inherently safer and less risky than less uncommon activities. […]

Revenue Synergies, Cost Synergies and Consolidation

Last week we spoke about the impact of interest rates on consolidation. While a low rate environment certainly provides incentive to companies to grow through mergers and acquisitions, good deals are good deals in both high and low interest rate environments. There is a financial component that drives consolidation but there is a strategic component[…]

SEMA AAPEX 2015 Show

SEMA AAPEX 2015 [VIDEO]

I’m at SEMA AAPEX this week. I have had the fantastic opportunity to meet with a huge diversity of businesses, ranging from the single location operator to multi billion dollar international organizations. Throughout the course of the entire week a common question I receive is “Brad, how can you you help increase the value of[…]

Avoid These Four Common Business Acquisition Mistakes

Pursuing acquisitions to fuel growth is an attractive way to grow a company.  But business acquisitions can appear risky, especially if you have never completed one before. Acquisitions often require a business owner to take on substantial debt. An acquisition-based business strategy also requires a higher level of financial discipline. For unaccustomed businesses this can[…]

5 Strategies for Successful Acquisitions

You want to grow your company. Often the best way to grow is by acquiring another business in your industry. This is often referred to as inorganic growth or an acquisition strategy. An acquisition based growth strategy is an effective way to significantly grow your business. It also is a generally low risk strategy because you are investing in an industry that you have intimate knowledge. It also presents opportunities to build economies of scale leverage cost synergies. Here are five strategies for successful acquisitions. […]

Consolidation in the Collision Industry

The Consolidation Curve

The industry is consolidating. That statement probably comes as little surprise. The entire automotive aftermarket is consolidating. Dealers, tire vendors, parts distributors, paint distributors, software providers are all consolidating. But were you aware that industries tend to follow a predictable path of consolidation, referred to as the consolidation curve?

Big companies are acquiring smaller companies using affordable capital to grow. This growth creates economies of scale. And economies of scale allow larger companies to provide goods and services relatively more efficiently and at a lower cost than their smaller competitors.

Consolidation will continue because it is a virtuous cycle where success attracts additional investment that generates further business advantage. A growing consolidator will continue to acquire for two main reasons. […]

Four Reasons Acquisitions Make Good Business Sense

Consolidation is significantly changing the landscape of the collision industry. But it is not just the collision industry that is consolidating rapidly. Throughout the entire automotive aftermarket there are examples of consolidating industries. Paint distribution, first consolidated in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s is undergoing a second round of consolidation. LKQ and aftermarket parts distribution, consolidated once already by LKQ is in the very early stages of a second round of significant consolidation. Aftermarket mechanical parts distribution already dominated by behemoths such as NAPA (Genuine Parts Co.), O’Reilly and AutoZone, and are seeing continued consolidation activity. Even automotive retail and new car dealership industry, once a paragon of the family-held small business, is undergoing consolidation at the hands of AutoNation, Sonic, and Warrant Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Automotive Group. It begs the question, why is consolidation such a popular business strategy? […]

The Boyd Group: Understanding the Cash Flow Statement

Last week we discussed the Boyd Group Income Fund (“Boyd”), specifically the Fiscal Year 2014 Income Statement, and how it is both similar and different to the income statements of other operators in the industry. In 2014 Boyd generated an impressive $844 million in sales but reported a net loss of over $15 million. Many in the industry mistakenly assume that because the company operates at a net loss it is only able to remain in business through the benevolence of Wall Street banks. The reality is that Boyd, while operating at a net loss, generates substantial cash for shareholders. And when adjusting for certain accounting idiosyncrasies unique to the legal structure and location of the firm, the company generates a respectable profit. To understand how this is possible is to understand the difference between cash and accrual accounting*, and more generally, how to use corporate finance to drive systemic growth.

*See the footnote at the end of this article for a further explanation of cash vs. accrual accounting.

While Boyd generated a significant net loss on an annual basis, it also generated substantial cash from collision and glass operations. […]

Understanding Real Estate as a Financial Asset

Real estate plays an important role in any business. As a significant long term asset, real estate represents a major financial investment. Whether it is owned or leased, real estate is one of the largest fixed expenses for many businesses.

Unfortunately many owners do not give enough thought to the role that real estate plays in their business strategy. Whether your plan is to stand pat, buy, or sell, the financial management of real estate plays a significant part in that strategy.

But many owners do not understand how outside parties view real estate and the implications that may have financially and strategically. […]

The Golden Age of Collision

I am going to start off with a bold statement: There has never been a better time to own a collision repair business.

I’ll follow that up with another statement that may catch many readers off guard: There has never been a more profitable time to own a collision repair business.

The industry is changing rapidly due to the influx of massive amounts of Wall Street investment in the industry. There is no doubt that consolidation in the industry has put substantial pressures on margins, increased the administrative workload repair facilities are expected to administer, and generally increased competition across the board.

Now I’m not one to get up here and blithely parrot the oft repeated phrase “competition is good”. Competition is painful and difficult. It creates some winners and often many losers and is not always fair. For the unprepared increased competition can be disastrous.

Yet the result of this increasing level of competition is that there has never been a more profitable time to be in the collision repair industry. […]

The State of the Industry: How Consolidation Impacts Your Business

Recently I decided to take a closer look at consolidation in the industry since late 2012. It goes without saying that consolidation is a hot topic in the industry. We talk about it almost every week here. It also seems that every week a new mega deal is announced where one company buys another company.

Whenever rapid change hits an industry it often causes an emotional reaction. Some argue passionately against consolidation. Others strongly believe consolidation brings much needed improvement. Still others shrug it off with ambivalence.

My opinion of the consolidation trend is agnostic. […]

Buy, Sell, or Hold: The Risks

Last week we spoke about the conundrum that collision repair operators currently face. Because of the influx of Wall Street money and rapid consolidation, owners have essentially three choices when looking towards the future. They can:

  • Stay small and continue to compete on a standalone basis, or with the help of a franchise (more on the franchise approach in future articles);
  • Build scale, acquire competitors, open brownfields and compete with large MSO’s by becoming a small MSO;
  • Sell to a regional or Big 4 consolidator.

Each of these three strategies carries inherent risk, as well as potential rewards. This article will break down each of these three key strategies to help better explain the specific risks and rewards implicit in each. […]

How Financially Fit is Your Business: Understanding Working Capital  

Working Capital is something that is scrutinized by almost every company but rarely talked about in the collision industry.

But I guarantee every large MSO in your marketplace is actively managing Working Capital.

It is also something that major vendors will consider if you are negotiating for a pre-bate or other consideration for purchasing their product.

Banks look at it too. If you want to borrow money to grow, they will scrutinize Working Capital to ensure that you can afford the loan.

If you ever sell your business, it will be a hotly negotiated topic as well.

Most business owners do not look at working capital until one of the above situations forces a working capital negotiation. But that is the wrong time to start managing working capital. It is like going on a diet the week before your annual doctor checkup. […]

6 Ways to Maximize the Value of Your Business

Previously we talked about valuation methods. Valuation is great, but like any tool, only as good as the person using it.

Anyone can tell you that your business is worth $10 million. But if you can’t find a buyer at that price, is it really worth that much? An investment banker once told me that a business is only worth what a buyer is willing to pay for it…PERIOD.

In order to maximize what a potential investor or buyer is willing to pay for your business you must be able to demonstrate the value of your business to them.

Understanding valuation methods is important (common valuation models are discussed in this article).

You also need to pay attention to recent comps. Know what other businesses in your industry sell for. If possible, know the profitability and size of those businesses so you can compare them to your own business.

But in addition to the above, here are six more ways to maximize the value of your business: […]

3 Reasons MSO’s Know Exactly What Your Business is Worth

A colleague of mine was recently approached by one of the Big 4 inquiring about his business. After a few brief conversations around his financials they came back to him and offered him a very specific number to buy his business.

He remarked to me, “They knew more about my business and what it was worth than I did. I had no idea.”

Ask 5 business brokers what your business is worth and you’ll get 5 responses. Ask 5 investment bankers and you will get 25 responses.

How do the MSO’s know exactly what your business is worth? How do you value a business?

There are three common ways I see collision businesses valued: by discounted cash flow (DCF), the multiple method, or by asset value.

Let’s break each one down. […]

You won’t believe how much money Caliber made last year.

Previously we spoke a bit about maximizing enterprise value vs. maximizing profit margins.

Many people in business fail to realize the distinction between the two concepts. If you maximize profitability, you maximize the value of your business, right?

Not always. In business everything is always a trade off. […]