This is an excerpt from my book Liber8 your Business: The revolutionary business planning technique that will set every small business owner free. It’s such an important point when it comes to building a valuable, saleable business, I thought I’d share it in today’s blog:
How to command a premium price when selling your business:
Your reputation may get you noticed but by a potential buyer but it won’t get you that premium price. Business is business, at the end of the day. And once the buyer has made their approach, their focus will quickly switch from appearance to substance. They will have three words buzzing round their head from the minute they start looking at the inside of your business. Their focus is Return On Investment (ROI).
The sooner you demonstrate your company’s ability to make acceptable future profits, the closer you will come to sealing the deal you want. If you are serious about selling your business, your business plan should have clear goals for ‘locked in’ forward revenues – money committed to the business for a reasonable future period. A buyer will look at your turnover/profits from past years. They will probably find them interesting and give encouraging nods and praise how well you have done. But they really want to know what’s going to happen next. What profits can they expect when they own the business? You need to convince them their investment is as risk free as possible And the best way is to show them the amount of income that is ‘locked in’.
Planning for forward revenues
How do you lock in future income? You need clients who have committed to buy for an agreed period in advance.
Sign them for the future
When I sold my advertising agency, a primary attraction for the buyer was the knowledge my key clients had signed three-year contracts, agreeing to a set amount of spending with the agency for each of those years. The buyer could see the worth of the future business they were buying and not just on projections based on past performance. The contracts significantly lessened the risk of losing those customers and their revenue streams.
Most of us don’t want to sign contracts. We much prefer the freedom of taking our business where we want, and when we want. To convince your customers to sign contracts for future business, you’ll need to construct an attractive proposition that offers benefits in return for their commitment. For many businesses an effective way to do this is to create ‘packages’ whereby you offer a customer a pre-determined level of service for a set fee each month. You can also have a tiered approach to packages, so customers can choose from a range of different monthly fees depending on the level of servicing or type of products they want included in their plan. A tiered package plan could look something like this:
|List features included
|List additional features
|List additional features
|List additional features
|From $125 per month
|From $245 per month
|From $450 per month
|From $850 per month
The benefits of signing onto a monthly plan should be made very apparent to customers. Typically you would have a higher hourly rate for those not on plans and over time be able to demonstrate to a client how they are better off with a set fee than running up ad hoc charges.
A popular method of locking in projected income is the membership model. It’s a more subtle and often complicated approach to secure forward sales, but it can be done. Gyms have been doing it for years. A common tactic for them is holding annual fees at the level of foundation membership – in other words, as long as you don’t take away your patronage, you avoid price increases. Loyalty cards are a simpler version – think of the cafes that create a sense of membership by giving you a card that entitles you to a free coffee after so many visits. The smart café operators quickly learn the percentage of customers who return to use the cards.
Keeping customers loyal and restricting churn can be time-consuming but if you can show your potential buyer you have repeat customers, and can quantify it, they’ll see extra value in your business.
Remember! A buyer wants future earnings, not past performance.
Avoid one-off sales
A business based on one-off sales is destined for hard work, not only for its daily survival but also when it comes to finding a buyer. In my advertising days, I came across many design companies that worked mostly on a project basis, designing a brand identity for a client and then struggling to get exclusivity on future projects. As an advisor to such companies these days, I always ask them to think of ways to lock clients into contracts – whether it’s for services (such as providing web hosting) or through methods of payment (monthly retainers, for instance).
The traditional retail model accepts that future earnings will be based on past performance and projected growth modelling. Most shop owners still seem happy for a customer to buy an item and walk away. But a buyer will still pay more for guaranteed earnings or, at least, income that is based on more than random chance. Having a decent database of customers, with information on how much they spend and when, is better than telling a prospective buyer you know nothing about where you money comes from. Imaginative retailers come up with clever ways to encourage repeat business. If you’re in retail, put some effort into finding a concept that suits your business and it’ll pay dividends.
LIBER8ING EXERCISE: THINK ABOUT FUTURE EARNINGS
Whatever type of business you have, take a few minutes to think of its future earnings. Do you already have a way of securing future revenue? If not, what could it be? How could you build a base of guaranteed future earnings from your clients to increase the value of your business to a potential buyer? Could you re-design your offering into ‘packages’ so that customers sign up for a monthly fee?
Excerpt from Liber8 your Business: The revolutionary planning technique that will set every business owner free. Purchase the book here www.Amazon.com