Merger and Acquisition Tips

The time could be ripe to look at joining forces

This might sound harsh, but keep your eye out for company owners who seem miserable right now. They are typically under-capitalized and struggling with cash flow. The economy has been hammering away at their company and it's likely not to change anytime soon.

A lot of mid-level companies in particular are stuck right now. It's impossible to pinpoint exactly (due to many variables), but often it's contractors in the $1 to $2 million range. They need to grow in order to recover overhead and make some money, but they simply don't have what it takes. Lack of financing might even make it impossible.

Identify who some of these contractors might be. Verify that they are still quality service providers with strong reputations and happy customers. Do they offer a service you currently don't? Do they cater to a customer group you currently don't? Do they currently cater to a similar customer base, so acquiring them will help you quickly increase market share? These are all valid reasons for acquiring another company—but you need to identify what your goals are.

"I'd then send them a personalized letter," says consultant Dickran Babigian of Navix. "Let them know that you're interested in talking about how your two companies can work together—and take it from there."

Don't forget about the subs you work with either. Whether they do pesticide applications or crack sealing, acquiring them might make sense for your company.