Minuteman Press International Regional Vice President Chris Jutt (Pacific Northwest) shares his professional experiences in connecting sellers of independent print shops with qualified buyers who are looking to buy a printing business.
Minuteman Press International, the world’s leading and #1 rated printing franchise, is continuing to expand its Minuteman Press Franchise Conversion Program to help independent printers sell their printing business. “This program is a way for independent printers to sell their business at no cost and no broker fees to them,” says Chris Jutt, Minuteman Press Regional Vice President for the Pacific Northwest Region.
Chris has been supporting Minuteman Press franchises in the Pacific Northwest (including Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana) while also helping independent print companies find qualified buyers who are looking for the additional training, support, and resources that come with being part of the Minuteman Press network.
Chris explains, “Everything is kept in strict confidence and we are simply there for sellers and will work with them at a pace they are comfortable with. We also help sellers by attracting a wide pool of buyers who don’t necessarily need to be in the printing industry because of the built-in training and ongoing support structure provided to them by Minuteman Press. After the sale of the business goes through, we work with the seller and buyer to help ensure a smooth, seamless transition that also best serves the client base.”
How high is the demand for a printing business and how can Minuteman Press help?
There is demand for buying a B2B business such as Minuteman Press because print is an essential business and Minuteman Press franchises are open and operating during the COVID-19 pandemic. Chris says, “We’ve seen high demand on our end from buyers because of what we can do for them. When selling your printing business as part of the Minuteman Press Franchise Conversion Program, we are able to expand products and services for buyers and provide benefits such as our proprietary pricing and business management software. Selling as a prospective Minuteman franchise opens up the book of buyers to anyone looking to own their own business. No experience is necessary, which boosts the demand from a whole new audience of buyers.”
What does an independent printer need to get ready to sell?
For sellers, Chris offers the following advice: “In order to sell, the owner needs to make sure their paperwork is in order. They will need at least three years of financials, employee information, and an asset list that shows all leases and owned equipment. With those items, we can at least begin the process together.”
When is it a good time to sell a printing business?
Selling a business at the right time is always important but sellers shouldn’t wait until it’s too late either. Chris states, “One thing I always try to stress is that you do not want to be selling your printing business when you absolutely have to. Instead, the best time to sell is when your sales are up, the company is doing well, and you are thinking about selling in the next few years. It is never too soon to reach out and see how we can help. It is important to keep running your business and continue to build it even while you are thinking of selling. Also, by having your financials in order and running them properly, that will only help you get a higher sale price for your business.”
How does Minuteman Press help evaluate and value a print business?
One of the benefits of the Minuteman Press Franchise Conversion Program is that sellers will get a free evaluation of their printing business. Chris explains, “We look at a few factors when evaluating independent printers. Earnings are very important of course, along with the assets in the business. We work with the sellers to make sure they are getting the best value for their business by reviewing their financials with them to make sure they don’t miss any add backs. The P&Ls never show the true picture or value of the printing business, and we get that. We work together with the seller to extract that, and once we have the agreed earnings together, coming up with a sale price is easy.”
How long does it take to sell a printing business?
Selling any business does take time and it’s not going to be an instant transaction. However, there are things that can be done to move the process along and make sure it goes smoothly. Chris says, “Like any business, selling a print shop takes time. If a seller is willing to assist with the financing for the buyer, it can potentially sell faster than if there is no seller financing. Based on my experience, I can say the most likely time frame is generally six to twelve months, but it’s not guaranteed. It can take less time when there is seller financing included in the campaign.”
He adds, “Also, the business has to be priced right. If it is priced right, the business will typically sell within a small percentage of the asking price, which is why it is so important to have the right agreed upon number. Another thing to consider is that the only businesses we work with are from the printing industry, and we at Minuteman Press have been industry leaders for over 45 years. We are experts in the field, and our team will work with sellers in any way we can to help with the sale and transition.”
What issues do independent printers run into when selling?
Selling a business is not an easy task. If business owners can get assistance from experienced industry professionals, those experts can help the sellers overcome issues they may not have considered on their own.
In his experience, Chris says, “One of the primary issues that independent owners run into is having the business correctly valued in order to sell it. Many times, we have sold a print shop after it was already listed with a business broker for well over a year. We only valuate printing, sign, and promotional businesses and we know how to price them right so that they sell for their true value. We are not about just getting the listing, and we only list a company if we feel very confident we can sell it. Once we approve an independent printing business for the Minuteman Press Franchise Conversion Program, we invest time and money into selling the business so it has to be a good fit for us and we need to be a good fit for them.”
He adds, “One example that comes to mind is a sale we did for an owner who was thinking of retiring in three years. She actually placed a lower value on her printing business than what it was worth. Together, we went through her P&Ls and also looked at all additional compensation as well as one-off non-recurring expenses. Based on our review and knowledge of the industry, we found the business was more valuable than the owner thought and it ended up selling (at the right price) for more than she expected. She was able to retire and the new owner was able to come in and hit the ground running.”
“We look at the Minuteman Press Franchise Conversion Program as a win-win situation that benefits the seller and the buyer, and we are glad to help.” –Chris Jutt, Minuteman Press International Regional Vice President, Pacific Northwest
What concerns do independent owners normally have about selling their printing business?
One of the biggest concerns that is always top of mind for business owners looking to sell is that they want to make sure these discussions are kept private until the right time. Chris says, “The biggest concern we see from independent printers is confidentiality. They want to make sure that everything will remain confidential so that employees and customers don’t find out prematurely about a possible sale, and we are happy to assure them of this. From day one, confidentiality is extremely important to all of us. The campaigns we run keep the independent printer anonymous until a qualified buyer is found. We have done this before, and we want to make sure the seller is completely comfortable with us when going through the entire process.”
Employee retention and customer service are also items that owners have inquired about when selling. Chris explains, “What will happen to the current employees and clients is something we proactively discuss with sellers. We want to make sure there is a smooth transition for all involved. When we have a qualified buyer and convert the company to a Minuteman Press franchise, we are putting people into business that usually do not have a background in the industry. Therefore, the current employees can be a major asset to them.”
He adds, “We go into each sale with the intention of retaining the current staff. Employees also know the client base and that helps with transition and customer retention. In most cases, the customers will get the same great quality and service from the staff they have always had, with additional services and pricing discounts they can now tap into because of the conversion into a full-service Minuteman Press franchise.”
How is financing obtained for the sale of the business?
For buyers, obtaining financing is one of the most vital parts of the process. It also helps sellers when buyers fully understand the importance of financing and how to best secure it. Chris states, “Financing is always a question that is asked early in the stages of research, and rightfully so. There are multiple ways for a buyer to purchase the business including but not limited to bank loans, personal loans, 401k rollovers, and seller financing. Seller financing is extremely common as it gives confidence to the buyer that the seller believes in his or her business.”
Chris concludes with this advice for sellers: “Ultimately, there are many eager buyers out there who are looking to own a viable business. If you are looking at selling or retirement in the next couple years, I highly recommend you start the discussions sooner than later and see how we can help you sell your printing business at no cost or broker fees to you.”
For more information on the Minuteman Press Franchise Conversion Program, visit https://bit.ly/minutemanpressconversions or call 1-800-645-3006.
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