“Lee Gregory, owner of Sir Lines-A-Lot, did many things correctly when he went to sell his business,” states Sam Thompson a Minneapolis business broker and the president of M&A firm Transitions In Business. “One was he brought in a general manager to run his business. Unfortunately, he could have done a better job in pre-due diligence. This is when you prepare in advance the documents you expect the buyers to request. This oversight causes much work once the selling process begins.”
Lee Gregory built Sir Lines-A-Lot, a company that paints lines on highways, to 40 employees. It was blue-collar work, so when Gregory learned his company could be worth north of eight figures, he decided it was time to sell. During this interview, Gregory drops dozens of knowledge bombs for aspiring value builders including:
Hang On To Your Equity: Painting highway lines requires trucks that can cost upwards of $700,000. Instead of borrowing money to buy a new one or soliciting outside investment to fund his equipment needs, Gregory bought used trucks for as little as $60,000. Bootstrapping allowed Gregory to hang on to 100% of his business and avoid significant debt.
Do Your Pre-diligence: Pre-diligence is answering the questions you’re likely to get during diligence before you go to the market. If Gregory had one thing he would have done differently, it would have been getting all of his books in order before soliciting bids.
You-proof Your Company: Once Gregory decided to prepare his business to sell, he brought in a general manager to oversee the business’s day-to-day operations. This hire ensured his business wasn’t dependent on him.
You’ll get lots of other nuggets in this interview including:
- How to calculate “add-backs” (they could add serious money to your take from a sale).
- Why writing a list of opportunities you haven’t pursued could be as valuable as the ones you have.
- How to get hundreds of private equity buyers interested in your business.
- How job costing can come back to bite you.
- the value of the strategic walk away (and how to muster the courage to employ this negotiating tactic).