Preparing your agency for sale

Preparing your agency for sale

Quarterly Agency Growth Breakfast Session – February 2016

Speakers Bryan Wilsher and Felix Velarde come from opposite ends of the M&A process. As CFO of Loewy Group, Bryan lead the acquisition of 15 agencies. Felix on the other hand has launched and sold 7 agencies. Both now work with agencies assisting them with sales and acquisitions, and ensuring their clients get the best deal possible.

Following the session, Bryan’s 3 tips for preparing your agency for sale were:

– Be committed – Be sure you want to aim for a sale as it will bring changes/challenges which need to be embraced and welcomed.
– Consult – Seek, take on board advice and plan ahead. Typically you need a 3 year plan and review progress quarterly.
– Be trustworthy – Be rigorous and honest in your self-assessment of your agency so that you meet your challenges head on.

Comparatively, with Felix’s perspective on the process, his 3 tips on making your agency appealing for purchase, and crucially at the right price, were:

– Be unique and be yourself – Acquirers look for companies who know what they stand for, and can fill a niche in the buyer’s ecosystem. Stand up for who you are and don’t be afraid to specialise!
– Succession plan – Ensure there’s an established second line of personnel. These are the people who will inherit the running of the company post-sale. It is therefore critical for buyers’ confidence that your staff turnover is low. To keep your team engaged, invest in their development and give real responsibility.
– Timing – Is everything! With a three-year earn-out and potential for the market to top out in 2020, that means get ready for sale now. You’ve got a couple of years to make hay before the sale then a couple more years to extract the maximum value from it!

In Bryan’s own words, “growing your agency consistently and with real drive should be fun as much as it is a challenge.”

“Getting your business ready for sale may be a focus, but even if not, developing it into a ‘best in class’ attractive agency is a worthy goal in its own right. So, much of the guidance holds good whatever your ambitions and it is well worth investing your time and some money into planning your agency’s growth and future.”

The Future Factory is running its next Quarterly Agency Growth Breakfast Session in May. The speaker and dates will be announced in April.