VIDEO & ARTICLE | What to Look for When Acquiring a Company

christian montes

Host
Christian Montes
Executive Director of Sales at NobelBIz

Gary has a very specific approach when acquiring a new company and we can learn a thing or two from his vast experience regarding this. What’s even more interesting is that sometimes, you have to work backwards as an entrepreneur. Let’s dive right into the matter and see why!

christian montes

Guest
Gary Pudles
CEO & founder of AnswerNET

What to Look for When Acquiring a Company

Christian: Let’s hop over to acquisitions, that’s in a lot of ways how you’ve grown. What is it that you’re even looking for when you want to make an acquisition? Any advice there?

Gary: Wow, that’s a huge question.

In making decisions about doing acquisitions, I’m always thinking about the goal. One of the things that I teach wherever I can is, you start with your economic and financial goal.

As an entrepreneur, you’ll work backwards from your personal goal.

I own my company 100%, so my goal isn’t my investors goal or my partner’s goal. In fact, my partners and I had a pretty public split back in 2011 to 2014, because our goals had become misaligned. Which is often a reason why most investors want in and out of the business in five years.

Set a clear goal

Once you decide the goal, then you have to look at how you want to grow. If you have money, growing in this business is very easy.

There are over 65,000 call centers in America alone, so there’s always somebody for sale.

I tend to like things that are broken, I like the things that are uglier than most people will buy. Because rather than throwing a lot of money at some owner, I’d rather put the money into the business and the people in the business to turn it around.

I also find that when you bring people into the process, they will do amazing things.

We have a report that’s done every month, called the cost of sales report, where we analyze the cost of sales and marketing department, the salary and commissions for sales executives.

And I compare that to what it would cost me to buy revenue. If I can buy revenue, at or a lower price that it would take me to build it, then I buy revenue, in order for me to reach my financial goal.

Some people will say it’s good to buy revenue. If I want to strategically move from one market to another, I might buy.

But the more interesting motivation is why do people sell? One of the things that I have had the pleasure of doing is helping people retire.

I often say some owners go from being offensive but not offensive, like saying bad things. Offensive like running a business with aggression and running a business for growth and intention to go away.

When you go from offensively running your business to defensively running your business, it’s time to find a new business. It’s also time to find a new business when you are tired of making those decisions.

A CEO Will Only Make Five or Six Important Decisions a Year

The interesting thing is a CEO will only make five or six decisions a year that really mean anything. The problem is, you have to keep making those decisions, because you never know which of the decisions you make day to day is one of those five.

My former partner used to talk about your decision making and your brain, like any other muscle in your body. The more you use it, the more you exercise, the more successful will be in terms of going after acquisitions.

Define the Value

I always think about: What is the value to the company? If I want to grow my company, I’m either going to spend on sales and marketing or I’m going to grow it at acquisition. And I’ve gone back and forth, because in the answering service world, the values have gone up, then gone down and it’s the same thing with call center space.

One of the reasons I like underperforming companies is because it generally takes less cash going in. I’m putting more money into the business to save it, which is why people call me and say: ‘Hey, this is something that I know you will like.’

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