Stephen “Steve” Mariani, owner of Diamond Financial Services and a board member of the International Business Brokers Association (IBBA), spoke to business brokers this week about compiling a listing or offering memorandum.
In a lively talk, which you can hear online, Mariani talked about the top things that buyers look for in a business-for-sale listing, and what lenders look for in an offering memorandum, a detailed description of a business for sale.Buyers are also interested in the location of a business as well as whether there is growth potential in the industry, Mariani said. Financing options, especially owner financing, are very important.
After the price of the business, most buyers will want to know about its cash flow and seller’s discretionary earnings. While it may be common to have family members on the payroll, claiming a personal home mortgage as a business expense is likely to attract unwanted scrutiny from lenders. And lenders are required by law to report instances of flagrant tax fraud, he said.
Listings that go through the effort to be pre-qualified by lenders, or eligible for SBA loans, are automatically more attractive to buyers, Mariani said. That means an objective professional has examined the business’s financials and brings “immediate confidence in the numbers presented.”
“If the listing can service the debt at the asking price, then cash flow after debt service becomes apparent to a potential buyer,” Mariani told the brokers. “Most buyers understand this and calculate it for themselves.”
Today’s borrowers are learning that they can purchase much more cash flow than they once thought, he said. Most high net worth borrowers are looking to maximize their ROI by using financing options. In Mr. Mariani’s PowerPoint Presentation: Compiling Offering Memoranda, he covered items every lender will look for, including purchase price, working capital, SBA fees and closing costs, etc. The GABB, an IBBA affiliate, is the state’s premier organization dedicated to professionals who buy and sell businesses in Georgia.
What three things should be left OUT of your offering document? Avoid listing specific qualifications a potential buyer must have to purchase the business, because this could scuttle a sale, Steve said. Although most lenders like to see three years of direct or one year of related experience in a field, this varies greatly.
Avoid listing personal add backs. If more than 20 percent of the seller’s discretionary earnings comes from personal add backs, the lender will be concerned.
Designating anyone at the business as a “key” employee, i.e., one that is critical to the operation and success of the business, raises a lot of red flags, may necessitate a form 1919 or a “required” personal guarantee of the employee, Mr. Mariani said.
Mr. Mariani’s company has helped small business owners realize their dreams by funding more than $1 billion in acquisition loans during the past 24 years. Diamond has become the nation’s largest privately owned non-bank SBA acquisition loan generator that serves only the broker markets. Steve has also been producing and presenting broker training webinars and workshops for the last 11 years at various conference events.
After witnessing the difficulty and challenges some business buyers experienced securing business loans to acquire a business, Mr. Mariani learned the intricate, complicated world of the Small Business Administration (SBA) loan process. He mastered the SBA SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) rules and regulations and has become a major source for many national lenders. Business Brokers, lenders and owners nationwide seek Steve’s advice and he has become the “expert” in SBA loans. His understanding of SBA rules also allows for providing the most aggressive financing available nationwide.
The GABB is the state’s largest and oldest association of professionals who specialize in brokering the purchase and sale of businesses and franchises. Broker members help owners determine the asking price of their business, create marketing plans and strategies for selling their business, identify and qualify buyers, and have the knowledge, experience and skills needed to help maintain the confidential nature of the process. The professionals of GABB relentlessly pursue professional development so they can provide superior, ethical services for all customers and clients. Affiliate members include bankers, lawyers, appraisers, insurers and other professionals who work closely with brokers to help owners and buyers get to the closing table.
For more information about GABB, please contact GABB President Dean Burnette at 912-247-3209 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or GABB Executive Director Diane Loupe at email@example.com or 404-374-3990.Read More
Business owners who are preparing to sell their businesses always want to know how much their company will bring on the market. Often they have an idea of what they think the business is worth, but that price is often high.
There is the old anecdote about the immigrant who opened his own business in the United States. Like many small business owners, he had his own bookkeeping system. He kept his accounts payable in a cigar box on the left side of his cash register, his daily receipts – cash and credit card receipts – in the cash register, and his invoices and paid bills in a cigar box on the right side of his cash register.
When his youngest son graduated as a CPA, he was appalled by his father’s primitive bookkeeping system. “I don’t know how you can run a business that way,” his son said. “How do you know what your profits are?”
“Well, son,” the father replied, “when I came to this country, I had nothing but the clothes I was wearing. Today, your brother is a doctor, your sister is a lawyer, and you are an accountant. Your mother and I have a nice car, a city house and a place at the beach. We have a good business and everything is paid for. Add that all together, subtract the clothes, and there’s your profit.”
That accounting method won’t help you to sell your business, however,
A commonly accepted method to price a small business is to use Seller’s Discretionary Earnings (SDE). The International Business Brokers Association (IBBA) defines SDE as follows:
Discretionary Earnings – The earnings of a business enterprise prior to the following items:
nonrecurring income and expenses
non-operating income and expenses
depreciation and amortization
interest expense or income
owner’s total compensation for one owner/operator, after adjusting the total compensation of all other owners to market value
Here are some terms as defined by the IBBA:
Owner’s salary – The salary or wages paid to the owner, including related payroll tax burden.
Owner’s total compensation – Total of owner’s salary and perquisites.
Perquisites – Expenses incurred at the discretion of the owner which are unnecessary to the continued operation of the business.
Developing a Multiplier
Once the SDE has been calculated, a multiplier has to be developed. The following (just as a guideline) should be rated from 0 to 5 with 5 being the highest. For example, if the business is a highly desirable business in the current market, “desirability” would be rated a 4 or 5. If the business is in an industry that is quickly declining or nearly obsolete, “industry” would be given a 0 or 1 rating.
Age: Number of years the seller has owned and operated the business.
- Terms: Is the seller willing to offer terms? For example, will the seller accept 40 percent as a down payment with the seller carrying back 60 percent at terms the business can afford while still providing a living for the buyer?
- Competition: Consider the local market.
- Risk: Is the business itself risky?
- Growth trend of the business: Is it up or down?
- Desirability: How popular is the business in the current market?
- Industry: Is the industry itself declining or growing?
- Type of business: Is the business type easily duplicated?
The average business sells for about 1.8 to 2.5. Obviously, if the SDE is solid and the multiple is above average, the price will be higher. Keep in mind that the price outlined includes all of the assets including fixtures and equipment, goodwill, etc. It does not include real estate or saleable inventory. The price determined above assumes that the business will be delivered to the buyer free and clear of any debt.
When all else fails, the words of a veteran business broker will work.
Asking Price is what the seller wants.
Selling Price is what the seller gets.
Fair Market Value is the highest price the buyer is willing to pay and the lowest price the seller is willing to accept.
Sellers should keep in mind that the actual price of a small business is usually about 80 percent of the seller’s asking price. A professional business broker will be familiar with the best way to price your business so that it sells.Read More