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[…]

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[…]

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. […]

Collision Industry Consolidation Trends 2015

According to some, 2015 has been a slow year for collision industry consolidation. Of course, 2014 was a landmark year for consolidation. So far in 2015 consolidation has continued, but at a slightly slower pace. With only 12 full weeks left until the end of the year, […]

Private Equity in the Automotive Aftermarket

Private equity firms are very active in the collision repair market, and the automotive aftermarket in general. The rapid growth of the large consolidators has resulted in very attractive investment returns for these groups, further increasing the interest of other private equity investors hoping to invest in the industry. Of the “Big Four” consolidators, ABRA, Caliber, and Service King are all majority owned by global private equity groups. Boyd is publicly traded and not private equity backed, but the President of a Canadian private equity firm sits on Boyd’s board of trustees. CARSTAR also is backed by private equity, as is MAACO. Fix Auto recently received debt funding from a large Canadian investment fund that is active in private company investments. Kadel’s, the Pacific Northwest MSO recently acquired by ABRA, was backed by a smaller private equity group. Joe Hudson’s in the Southeast recently brought on a private equity partner as well. Yet for as active as private equity groups are in the industry, these groups are not well understood. […]

Consolidation in the Paint Distribution (Jobber) Industry

Editor’s Note: Brad is at NACE this week. This is an excerpt of his article originally published in Aftermarket Business World. Next week Brad will return to discuss the role of private equity in the collision industry.

The paint jobber industry is undergoing significant change. Increasing customer concentration in the collision industry is putting pricing pressure on the entire refinish materials supply chain.

A second round of jobber consolidation is now underway adding competitive pressure within the industry. Adding to these pressures, paint manufacturers are placing ever more start up, technical and back office requirements on jobbers in an attempt to drive efficiency and lower costs. Combined, the result is a jobber industry that is undergoing and will continue to undergo significant change.

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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. […]

What is Driving the Consolidation Wave

Writing about finance in the collision repair industry, naturally we speak quite a lot about business valuation and maximizing the value of your business. Buying or selling businesses are currently very prevalent activities in the industry. In financial terms, buying is often called an “acquisition” while selling your business may be referred to as a “liquidity event”.

There is a lot of industry chatter around these events. It seems that every week there is a new breaking story where one of the large consolidators acquires another group of repair facilities. By the end of 2015 it is a near certainty that at least one if not two companies will reach $1 billion in revenues with even more growth coming.

I often focus on the tactical, i.e. how to best position yourself to buy, sell or hold. But it is also important to take a step back from time to time to look at the overall picture. What is driving this change in the industry? Often we hear that the increasing technological complexity of repairing a vehicle drives consolidation. We also hear a lot about the benefits of scale, or how having a large nationwide footprint results in a competitive advantage in the result of increased revenue opportunities, a decreased cost structure, or perhaps improved operations. These are all valid reasons for growth but not necessarily the primary drivers of consolidation. […]

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 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? […]

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: […]