Are you nearing the age of retirement or planning to transition to another business venture? Some questions you may be asking yourself are how do I sell my printing business? What information do I need to provide? Will the sale be financed? How do I know my customers will get taken care of? How will I provide training to the new owner to help them continue running the printing business I built?
The fact is, many independent print shop owners have not thought about their exit strategy and do not have answers to these questions.
When it comes time to sell, you can choose one of several different options:
You could try to sell it on your own while continuing to run your business.
This can be an attractive option because there are no broker fees. However, it will take time away from running your business. Have you ever tried selling a house on your own? There is a lot that can come up and you may just want to leave it to professionals who do this kind of thing day in and day out.
You could contact a business broker who can assist you in many of these areas.
Business brokers typically represent many different types of businesses and should have knowledge of local laws and expertise on the type of information a potential buyer will want to review. They will place ads, market your business and meet with potential buyers to show your business. However, the new owner will rely solely on you to provide the training and support.
You could partner with a printing franchise to sell the business.
In many cases, a franchise that specializes in printing is likely to entertain a larger audience of buyers than a broker. Because a franchise would have the training and support systems already in place, a buyer would not need to have industry experience. Additionally, franchises are often able to provide financing options for the buyer, as well as help negotiate the sale. They also coordinate the transition of the business by providing training and support to the new owner.
In order to figure out which option is best for you, here are some questions to ask yourself.
- When is the right time to sell? Even if you may be thinking about selling a year or two down the road, now is a great time to entertain your options. The economy is doing well, there are many business financing options and businesses are being sold in record numbers. Also consider the amount of time it takes to sell your business, from putting together the proper information for a buyer evaluation, then advertising the business and finding the right buyer. It could take 6 to 12 months or longer in some cases to find the right person. Why not get the ball rolling, see what your options are and possibly retire early?
- What will it cost me? The cost involved in selling a business may vary, depending on whether you choose to sell it yourself or work through a professional. While most brokers will require a commission, they will also market the business for sale, find a qualified buyer and assist you with the closing transaction. Many printing franchises are also able to sell qualifying printing business for a nominal fee and typically in a short period of time. They have a continued vested interest in helping a new owner build a successful business for years to come. This helps ensure your customers get the proper treatment that they deserve.
- What information will a buyer want to see? Preparing solid and clear financial information will help show value and justify an asking price to a buyer. Are sales increasing or decreasing? Is your equipment owned or leased? What are the monthly expenses of the business, payroll etc.? Buyers will expect to see certain information to evaluate the business and to determine a fair price. Some of the information a buyer may expect to see includes:
- A detailed overview of the business
- Profit and loss statement for the last 2 or 3 years
- Tax returns for the last 2 or 3 years
- List of equipment
- List of employees and pay structure
- List of monthly business expenses
- What do I do once my business is up for sale? Here’s a question too few people ask. Just because your business is for sale and you’re retiring, this doesn’t mean it’s time to sit back. It is important to at least maintain the business. Maintain quality and service that you provide, run it like you normally would. Make sure it’s clean, presentable and attractive. Adding equipment or changing employees is not recommended. Adding to expense can be a red flag to a potential buyer and to the business valuation.
- How will the buyer be trained? As in any service business, relationship building is key. How will you help the new owner maintain and flourish these relationships? Many buyers as a condition of sale require the owner to stay on to train and assist with the transition of ownership. Also, some independent print shop owners stay on as an employee for a year or even more to do so.
Selling a printing business is not an easy thing to do alone. Finding the right buyer can take a lot of time and resources. As a business owner your time is certainly limited. By seeking guidance from an experienced professional you can put yourself in the right position to sell your business in a timely manner, gracefully, for a good price and ensure the continued legacy of the business you worked so hard to build.