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5 Things Every Buyer Wants To Know When Selling a Manufacturing Business

Things Every Buyer Wants
⏱ Reading Time: 4 minutes

Selling a manufacturing business presents challenges unique to the industry, most of which can be overcome with proper planning

In this series, we will examine how BUYER’S view your manufacturing company for sale.  To obtain the best possible price for your business, you have to think like a buyer and have the ability to address all of their concerns.   In this article, we will examine the top five things every buyer wants to know about a manufacturing company that they are considering the purchase of.   In the coming months, we will delve into each in more detail.  For now, start thinking about the following:

Five Things Every Buyer Wants To Know:

1. What Are the Numbers?

To sell ANY business, you must be able to prove your numbers for the last 3-5 years.  Things every buyer wants to see are tax returns and financials.   Some small manufacturers divert money out of the company by having vendors pay them, their wife or their “dog.”  You MIGHT be saving on taxes (if you don’t get caught), but you’re going to lose big time when it comes time to sell.  Many qualified buyers need to finance part of the purchase price.  They can’t get financed for what they can’t prove.  By not having all the income on the books, you’ve severely limited your buying pool.   Another aspect of this is to have everything computerized!  It amazes me that in this day and age folks are still doing accounting manually.  This too will impact price.  Buyers view manual records as not being as reliable as computerized.

2. How Big Is Your Customer Base?

Do you have all or a majority of your eggs in one basket?  If one customer is responsible for over 50% of your income, you will be in trouble when it’s time to sell.   It doesn’t matter how rock solid you tell a buyer the relationship is between you and this customer.   Unless there’s a contract in place, there’s no guarantee that the customer will stay with a purchasing entity.  The lack of certainty will be factored into a buyer’s offer to purchase.  Buyers prefer a diverse customer base in both numbers and industries serviced.

3. Will You Assist With Transition?

How do you, the Seller, help your company transition to a new owner in a manner that ensures customer retention when selling a manufacturing business?  If you’re a manufacturer that only wants to provide a few weeks of training or transition assistance, you’re shooting yourself in the foot!   Buyers view the lack of willingness to assist as a huge red flag.   They view your limited assistance in transition as you wanting to “take the money and run.”  That being said, sellers don’t have to be married to a buying entity.  It’s entirely appropriate to provide help as part of the purchase price for a reasonable period of time.  Then if the company needs more assistance, it can be done on a consulting basis for a predetermined fee.

4. Does This Business Have a Unique Product or Service?

Manufacturing companies that have a unique product or service will sell higher and faster than a job shop.   Small manufacturing company owners are notorious for thinking that THEY can build a widget BETTER than anyone.  News flash folks, there are a lot of competing companies for sale which are headed by someone just as smart as you.  A buyer with cash to spend will gravitate to an acquisition that has something truly unique, that perhaps no one else has been able to duplicate.  Selling a manufacturing business while having a unique product line to pass to a buying entity is GOLDEN! And that’s certainly one of the 5 things every buyer wants.

5. Will The Primary Business Survive?

Of all the things every buyer wants to know, this one, in my opinion, is the MOST important: “Will the primary business survive.”  It can trump all the others.  Here’s why:   Your numbers might be incredible and provable.  You might have a hundred different customers.  You might be willing to assist with a transition that is acceptable to the buyer and have the best in class of a product on the market.   If the product was a typewriter in the early 1980s, guess what, you’re out of business!

New technology changes things and sometimes wipes out entire industries.   How can you help this?  You can’t, but you CAN be prepared for change.  Pay attention to what is happening around you!  Stay on top of new inventions and products coming to market.  Constantly ask yourself, “How will this affect my business?”   Don’t’ stick your head in the sand and say that it can’t happen in your industry.   Tell that to the manufacturers of printing machines right now, or the post office and its relationship with email, or travel agents.

Conclusion

We will look at each of these Top Five Things That Every Buyer Wants To Know when buying a manufacturing company in more detail each month.   If you are thinking about selling your manufacturing business, check out your competition.  What do they do?  Where are they priced?  What are they offering for the money?  Start planning an exit strategy a decade in advance.  Yes, I said 10 years.  This may be the biggest financial transaction of your entire life and necessary to fund your retirement.  Early preparation in business will produce a result that you’ll be happy with!

Don’t hesitate to contact us for answers to your questions.  We’re specialists at selling a manufacturing business.  Give us a call at 908-387-1000 or fill out our Seller Registration Form here.

About Frances Brunelle

Frances Brunelle is the founder of Accelerated Manufacturing Brokers, Inc., which specializes in the sale of lower middle-market manufacturing companies nationally. Fran and her team help to ensure the continuity of U.S. Manufacturing by transitioning ownership to the next generation of entrepreneurs. Recently Fran was named to 2020 Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A (Mergers & Acquisitions). Fran is also the host of the WAM (Women and Manufacturing) podcast, a Jacket Media production. Fran writes on topics that help manufacturing business owners prepare their companies for sale and navigate the sale process to ensure a positive financial result in support of their retirement.

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