When we talk to potential clients about listing their businesses with us, we speak about value drivers early in the process. Often these value drivers are aspects of the business that have been developing over many years so they aren’t things that can be scrubbed or tweaked over a period of weeks or months to add some “curb appeal.” The more time that you spend developing these five basic value drivers for your business now, the more you will be able to ask for that business in the future.
1. Market Position
How much of the market share does your business own? The relevance of this number will, in part, depend on whether you are a local, regional, national, or international business. But it will also indicate the potential for growth.
You don’t have to be number one to be valuable. For years Avis took advantage of being #2 in the rental car industry to drive an advertising campaign: “We Try Harder.”
While business buyers like to see some potential to grow a market position, even if you are in the #1 spot, you’ll leave money on the table come sale time if you don’t develop some of those potential markets yourself.
2. Brand Name
As with market position, the quality of your brand name is related to the relationship of your brand to your market. A classic example in our home market of Kansas City was the iconic “Oklahoma Joe’s” restaurants. One of the locations was in a gas station and Anthony Bourdain famously listed it as one of the “places to eat before you die.”
Because of a business buyout between the original partners of Oklahoma Joe’s, a decision was made to change the names of the Kansas City locations to Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que. Because the brand had built a following based on the quality of their ingredients and because the new name wasn’t that different, the business continued on just as well under the new name, and for some years after people still called it “Oklahoma Joe’s” the way that people called the Willis Tower the Sears Tower.
Business buyers like to see strong, recognizable brand names with proper legal protections when necessary. Make sure that your brand does the quality of your products and services justice.
3. Customer Lists
When it comes to customer data, there’s no such thing as “too much information.” You should have a CRM (customer relationship manager) that collects as much information as you can about your customers. You should also be communicating with them in a regular manner so that they are used to receiving information from you (and forwarding it to potential customers).
Business buyers are always more interested in customer lists that are current and customers that are kept in contact with regularly. Take the time to communicate with your customers on a regular basis.
4. Barrier to Entry
Some businesses require extensive accreditation and others have high capital requirements. But many businesses just have the regular barrier to entry: a willingness to work hard.
If your business doesn’t have a high barrier to entry, you can deliver your service so desirable that you create a preference in the marketplace and erect a de facto barrier. Jimmy John’s did this years ago with their “freaky fast” delivery promise. Most people did not realize that Jimmy John’s had done this by carefully mapping their delivery areas, accounting for roads and traffic patterns, in order to be able to deliver this service. They then raised the bar in a cutthroat industry as satisfied customers began to turn to them more often than to the competition who did not offer “freaky fast” service.
What barrier to entry can you create by excelling in an aspect of your product/service delivery?
5. Proprietary Anything
Related to barriers to entry are proprietary methods. We are familiar with KFC’s special blend of herbs and spices and Coke’s “secret formula” but some businesses today use proprietary software or processes to catapult them into strong positions.
In addition to being popular with customers (when executed well), proprietary aspects of your business give employees a point of pride: it’s always great to work at a business that has that something extra.
Do you do something that none of your other competitors do? If you haven’t leaned into that and communicated that to your team and customers, you’re missing a chance to drive the value of your business.
Are you unhappy with your business’s position in any one of these categories and want to improve? We can offer advice and resources to help you do just that. Give us a call!