How transparency and systems can help make you sale-ready (preparing for an acquisition)
By David Eason August 13, 2018 Reading time:
GOING ONCE, GOING TWICE, SOLD! The key to a profitable sale for bus companies.
Mergers and acquisitions are often complex, lengthy and require the use of valuable time.
Whether your company is looking to purchase another operator or you are on the other side of the deal, a widely-used Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system that is tailor-made for buses can help get your company ‘sale ready’ and be a major asset in facilitating the process.
LOOKING TO SELL?
Selling your company can be an emotional time. While you might be ready to sell, it can be hard to view the process as a business deal rather than the handing over of a company that has been a part of your life or even your family for years.
A potential buyer will be appraising your business’s worth based on the financials, and you want to be sure that these accurately reflect your company’s value.
Other organisations tend to use their own methods to come up with company valuations that may take you by surprise.
However, by using an integrated ERP system across your business to track, store, monitor and analyse your operational data, you can equip yourself with the information you need to back up your own estimate of what your business is worth. This knowledge of the details puts the negotiating power back in your hands – knowledge that is proven and confirmed by reliable data and facts.
This element of trustworthiness, enhanced by the use of an ERP system, also increases the buying appeal of your company.
Purchasing companies are more likely to trust the information you supply if it comes from data recorded in a digital system on a consistent basis. Utilising an ERP solution to manage your operation will reduce the amount of risk your buyers perceive and as a result increase your company’s dollar value.
Having an ERP system also ensures you have all operational information at your fingertips.
This helps you identify actual or potential problems and either prevent or solve them before the sale, giving you an opportunity to increase your efficiency, profitability and sale price. Furthermore, it allows you to generate answers to questions more effectively when potential buyers request extensive operational reports, company data and financials during negotiations.
You as the owner have built the company from the ground up over many years. You have extensive knowledge of your business and know your company like the back of your hand.
However, information that is not maintained in a solution is more susceptible to negotiation. It is important that you protect this information in a format that is easily accessible and transferable. Technology will enable you to communicate operational details in a format that is very difficult to argue, ensuring you can realise the most value when selling your business.
LOOKING TO BUY?
If you are looking to expand and acquire additional bus operations as part of your portfolio, having an ERP solution that you are familiar with can be of benefit as well. Part of what has made you successful thus far is the operational measures you put in place and how you have executed them, so having a system that captures all of this is valuable.
Taking over a new operation is a huge undertaking requiring a lot of your attention as you handle the human element of the change on both sides.
Working with an ERP technology provider that is bus-minded and can support your move is also incredibly powerful as they can provide experts when you need them the most. With an ERP solution that is tailored to the bus market and your current operation, the transfer of best practices will be more seamless. For example:
From a planning and scheduling perspective, your runcutting and rostering experts can build on the current schedules and perfect them prior to the transition using a system they are familiar with, allowing you to benefit from more efficient schedules and duty rosters.
Every operation and even depot has its own nuances when it comes to managing drivers and buses, but the fundamentals are always the same. Having a tool that allows you to implement your best practice principles at the same time as capturing local knowledge will ensure any new operation will be up and running at its optimal level quickly with the least amount of risk to the business.
From a fleet management and inventory perspective, you are aware to the most granular level of the health and productivity of the largest physical asset your business owns: the buses you operate. Having an accurate account of your inventory will also allow you to best manage cash flow and concentrate on the areas of the business that need the most attention.
From a finance point of view, if you have an integrated finance solution already set up that can reach into every part of the new bus operation, you will identify very quickly what areas need the most improvement in order to bring it up to standard and you can compare and consolidate across your group.
Being able to quickly automate the complicated task of payroll eliminates risk from your business. You will not be reliant upon a few key individuals within each operation who hold all of the knowledge.
Utilising a single solution across your operations that your staff are intimate with allows technology to smoothen the change management process when taking on new ventures. Your people are already familiar with the solution and can educate others on its use.
Ultimately, for both buyer and seller, it is evident that having a bus-specific ERP solution in use can be a significant advantage. Such a system is extensive in the benefits it can provide in allowing each party to come to the table better prepared for any sales negotiations.