Selling your car wash is a complex and stressful process. However, there are some steps you can take to make the process easier and ensure that potential buyers are valuing your business properly.
FINANCIALS IN ORDER
Car wash owners who are serious about selling their business will always have their books in order. Records should consist of clean and accurate profits and loss statements, balance sheets, and corresponding tax returns. Having these basic financials is essential and extremely helpful to all parties involved.
If you charge monthly memberships make sure your accounts are set up to be billed on the first of the month and before services are provided.
A car wash with up-to-date books will receive a more accurate evaluation and ultimately lead to better offers when it comes time to sell the business.
If you are selling your car wash it is important that you have an operation with staff in place that allows the new owner to manage the business, not operate it. Buyers do not want to be out doing day-to-day tasks.
Maintain the staff necessary to allow the new owner to successfully grow the business. Simultaneously keeping the current clientele happy is a key consideration when selling the car wash.
MAINTAIN YOUR EQUIPMENT
No one wants to purchase a business that is lacking in operational equipment. Maintaining a high-quality business while you position a sale is key to getting the proper value for your business.
Make sure all equipment is in working order. Buyers will decrease their offer if they know they are going to have to inject thousands of dollars in repairs on day one.
If something is broken, make sure it is fixed before you show your business. You don’t need to invest money in expensive upgrades; you just need to ensure that you are conducting basic maintenance.
KEEP YOUR CUSTOMERS HAPPY
A car wash with a happy clientele is more likely to be sold. While you are positioning your business make sure your current clients are still happy with your work. It is important to have a plethora of good online reviews on Google or Yelp.
A potential buyer can easily gauge the consumer perception of your business. A business with negative reviews is not going to be appealing.
If you are dealing with negative online reviews, make an effort to fix the problem. Improve on your customer service and encourage happy customers to leave a review online.
In my experience, many car wash owners overvalue their business, which leads to some pretty hard lessons about the realities of selling. Manage your expectations during the selling process by understanding that no two car washes are the same. If you know another owner who sold their business for a certain amount it does not automatically mean you will get the same value.
A great way to manage expectations is to speak with your business broker and set up a plan that factors in an honest evaluation of your business. Set up a range of offers you would be willing to accept that match that evaluation.
Managing your expectations with your broker will make it easier for you to navigate through the difficult process of selling your business.
KNOW THE NEXT STEP
Why are you selling your business? What do you plan to do with the money? You should know the answers to these questions before you sell a piece of your livelihood.
What is your exit strategy? Are you going to take the money and start a new venture or set off into the sunset and retire?
I would recommend speaking with your financial advisor and creating a plan that maps out what you plan to do after you sell your business.
Selling your car wash can be a difficult process, but following these steps will allow you to move forward with a better understanding of what to expect.
Brian Bond is the principal of Strategic Business Brokers Group a brokerage firm in Scottsdale, AZ. They have helped car wash owners sell their businesses across Arizona.