Boyd Acquires Assured and Other Acquisitions in the Automotive Aftermarket

Last week was a busy week for acquisitions in the aftermarket. The Boyd Group acquired the largest collision repairer in Canada, Uni-Select (parent company of FinishMaster) expanded into the UK with the acquisition of The Parts Alliance, and Carl Icahn announced the acquisition of Precision Auto, adding 250 service, lube and carwash locations to his[…]

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[…]

An M&A Advisor Is Not for Everyone

As I’ve been preparing for my meetings this week, I have found myself contemplating my role in the process, and specifically the value-add an M&A advisor brings to a business. More specifically, for whom and when does it make sense to bring on an outside advisor. Because to be frank, an M&A advisor is not right for everyone.

I’ve never been more optimistic about business growth in the industry than now.

I’m on a plane back from Atlanta to Orange County, California as I write this. I spent the past few days in Atlanta with AkzoNobel talking to distributors, jobbers, shop owners, and senior execs across North America about business growth, strategy and finance. We talked about ways to grow your business in a consolidating industry.[…]

Nace 2016

I attended NACE 2016 and this is what I learned

I spent last week at NACE in Anaheim California. For those of you unfamiliar with NACE, it is the only US industry trade show dedicated to the collision repair industry. In the past I have done video updates from the floor during the week, but this year I was so busy that I just couldn’t find[…]

What is a Platform Acquisition?

Recently Caliber made a big acquisition in Philadelphia of a multi-store location.  Seven locations to be exact. It was described as a major platform acquisition. But what is a platform acquisition and how is it different from a regular acquisition? Note: Are you headed to NACE this year? It’s only a few weeks away and[…]

Consolidation Trends Update: Q2 2016 – What Happened?

An interesting thing happened in the North American collision repair market. While the four largest collision repairers have for some time stopped announcing even the largest recent acquisitions, the pace of consolidation has continued at a rabid pace.  Since the beginning of 2012, the four largest operators have more than tripled the number of locations[…]

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[…]

I’m Headed to Spain IBIS 2016

That is right, I am headed to Spain. I’ll be presenting at the IBIS 2016 conference May 23rd to the 25th in Barcelona, Spain. I will be talking about consolidation trends in the industry – not just collision, but the entire automotive aftermarket. Across the entire industry every segment is facing pressure from consolidation. Parts[…]

The Consolidation Curve in the Automotive Aftermarket in Paint, Parts, and Distribution Segments

The industry is consolidating. That statement probably comes as little surprise. The entire automotive aftermarket is consolidating. New car dealers, tire vendors, parts distributors, paint distributors, software providers, and collision repair shops are all consolidating. But were you aware that industries tend to follow a predictable path of consolidation, referred to as the consolidation curve?[…]

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[…]

Will the Fed Raising Interest Rates Stop Industry Consolidation?

It seems to be a forgone conclusion that the Federal Reserve will increase interest rates at their upcoming meeting. For years the Fed has repeatedly stated that they will likely raise rates in 2015. Now that December is upon us it appears the day of reckoning has arrived.

There is always a lot of consternation around rate changes, and this time around is no different. Effectively the Fed controls the price of money (interest rates) in an attempt to influence economic activity. The Fed lowers rates to spur economic activity and raises rates to slow it down. So a rate increase should be perceived as a generally positive event, an indication that economic activity is increasing. […]

2015 Acquisition Trends Update: The Floodgates Open

The last four full weeks of the year are upon us. Only 33 days full working days left this year (or less depending on your holiday schedule). I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you have not already started to set your business plans in place for 2016 you are behind[…]

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[…]

Stuck behind the consolidation curve? Discover why industry consolidation impacts the price of your business.

Consolidation has been going on in the industry in the U.S. since the 90s. There have been some major successes as well as some spectacular failures. The collision industry, and the entire automotive industry in general, is not the first industry to ever undergo consolidation. And it certainly will not be the last.

Consolidation has taken place for nearly two decades now. Nearly every current business owner in the collision industry “lived through” the first round of consolidation. Because of this “survivor bias” some feel that the current round of consolidation is destined to fail the way they believe the prior round did. […]

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. […]

Check for auto body business sale

Three Ways to Sell a Collision Repair Business

Talk of large consolidators buying collision repair businesses continues to dominate the press. But even as large consolidators continue to gobble up smaller regional MSOs many potential sellers face difficulties in completing a sale transaction. In fact, by some estimates, only 10%-20% of private companies that are listed for sale will successfully sell (and some experts predict even numbers as low as 5%).[i] To ensure that your business does not become one of these unsellable companies, […]

The State of the Industry: Understanding Consolidation Risks

In conversations I have with business owners throughout the industry I often notice a negative view expressed toward the large consolidators, specifically that the large consolidators could never produce the same quality of product or service as a smaller privately held business. While there may be some truth to this (studies looking at franchises have shown that owner operated franchises tend to perform at a higher level relative to corporate owned stores[1]), there is much to be learned from the success of these larger organizations.

In the past few years, these large MSOs have grown at a rate that have left even the most well-informed and well-connected individuals shocked at the pace of industry consolidation. […]

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. […]

Grow Like a Consolidator

For the past few weeks we have been speaking about the options that are available to a collision repair operator: stand pat, grow, or sell.

I spoke at some length about the risks involved in each strategy. Standing pat is a risky strategy due to the concentration of risk into a single business in a single city / region.

Growing is risky because it involves developing a new set of core competencies built around high level financial management as well as acquisition and integration competencies. Most collision repair businesses have not developed these competencies; and those that have developed those competencies now compete for deals against other large MSO’s with extensive experience sourcing, closing and integrating acquisitions. (Editor’s Note: Keep an eye out for an upcoming article about how the franchise model plays a role in growth.)

Selling is similarly risky as there is almost a certainty that a buyer will have vastly more experience in a business transaction, leaving you and your business vulnerable. Buyers will pay a premium for a well-documented, well-run business but most collision repair businesses have little experience presenting financial information in a usable format to a multi-million dollar institution.

Those are the risks. But I promised an article about opportunities!   […]

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. […]

Buy, Sell, or Hold: The State of the Industry Part II

Long time readers of my posts notice two main themes running through my writings. The first is a focus on corporate finance and how to apply those topics to a collision repair business to better manage a business. The second is a focus on M&A (Mergers and Acquisitions) and how to be prepared to buy or sell a business.

Many readers inherently see the logic of the first topic. Understanding the tools mid to large sized business use to manage their business allows the reader to better manage their business, and be more successful as a result.

The second topic is sometimes met with less clarity. It often begs the question: why so much talk about buying and selling a business? […]

Don’t Let Inexperience Get in the Way of Success

The collision industry is a $30 billion market in the U.S.  But not a single company accounts for even $1 billion in sales. There is a race to get to the $1 billion in sales mark. (Editor’s note: keep an eye out for our upcoming article on what is driving this race to $1 billion).

The quickest way to get to the $1 billion mark is to acquire other businesses that already generate a few million dollars in sales. So the consolidators need you – but they are also afraid of you.

They are afraid of you because you lack experience.

The large consolidators by their very nature are incredibly cautious. They are backed by some of the largest financial institutions in the world and are stewards for hundreds of millions of investment dollars. They unfortunately cannot just “take your word for it”.

Sure you have been in business for years. You have long term employees. You have long term referral accounts via DRP’s or dealer referrals and repeat business.

But you are inexperienced in their world. […]

Hire a Manager and Fire Yourself

Many owners I interact with still run their business the same as the day they started. They are the first one there in the morning and the last one to leave. They know what is going on with every file. They are the only ones allowed to make decisions.

This level of dedication is admirable. Unfortunately while it can feel profitable and even feed our own ego, it often gets in the way of maximizing the value of your business. You want your business to run better today and be better positioned for tomorrow – even if you are not planning on selling any time soon.

In order to maximize the value of your business you have to view your business from the outside in. Or, as a good friend of mine once told me, work on your business not in your business. […]

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. […]