Brian Muldoon had always wanted his own business. From time to time, the Ottawa resident would check out listings of businesses for sale online. As the years passed, the instability of working for large companies fueled his desire to venture out on his own.
Brian finally saw the opportunity he’d been waiting for: a listing for a “successful and profitable supplier of new and refurbished accessibility and mobility equipment in fast growing mode.”
Brian quickly contacted Chris Skowronski, the local Sunbelt listing broker. “I didn’t hesitate at all,” he recalls. “Although the business wasn’t identified as a Silver Cross franchise at that point, there was enough information for me to see it was a sound prospect that could work with my strengths.”
Work with your strengths
Sunbelt gets potential buyers to assess their skills, interests, financial resources and experience as well as their personal and financial goals. That information helps in pre-screening businesses to find the ideal fit.
Can you see yourself in the business, they want to know.
Brian Muldoon could. Although he’d built his 30 years of sales and account management experience in an unrelated industry, he knew his skills were transferable to medical sales and services. The more he found out about Silver Cross, a dominant national brand in the home accessibility field, the more he was convinced.
And so began the walk down the business aisle. I wasn’t nervous, Brian mentions. The company was profitable with an expanding marketplace. “I made an offer in mid-December, the night before leaving on holiday; I soon heard back that it had been accepted.”
The sale closed on Feb 11, 2011, and Brian was immediately booked for a week of intensive, hands-on training in London, Ontario, guided by a 15-year veteran of the franchise. Then it was back to Ottawa for his first week of business as new owner. Brian had support there, too, from the previous owner, John McGavin.
A training and transition agreement is usual in a Sunbelt-brokered purchase; the previous owner stays on for a period to provide training and transition coaching and help the new owner get acquainted with staff, clients and suppliers.
“My first day was a blur,” says Brian. First up was a sales call to assess a private home for two stair lifts. The quote was submitted and an order received the next day. Next was a visit to purchase a stair lift from a previous client; a service technician helped take the equipment out. The final stop was to brief a commercial client.
Back in the showroom, the phone never stopped ringing with people looking to buy or sell.
We repurchase a good portion of the equipment we sell, mentions Brian. Offering recycled as well as new makes the equipment more accessible to more people in need, enabling them to stay safe and independent in their home environment. It also makes us unique in the marketplace.
It’s not just stair lifts, he continues. We’re really a one-stop shop, working with occupational health specialists. Besides the various lifts–stair lifts, portable lifts, lifts for chairs and beds—we offer a full range of mobility products like scooters, power wheelchairs and walkers. He points to the shelves packed with binders on all the devices.
Brian gives full credit to Sunbelt for making his purchase of the franchise possible. “Chris was amazing. Everyone was quite helpful in all aspects of the transaction, right down to after the sale. They didn’t miss a beat.”
Most individuals who purchase a business are, like Brian, first-time buyers. He wants to forewarn them to look at different options for financing and keep them open. As he found out, banks are not receptive to financing small business acquisitions, no matter how profitable the business or the strength of your own personal accounts.
Looking for more information on buying a business?
Sunbelt represents some 50 franchisors (the parent company) in Canada and they represent one out of every 10 businesses we sell at Sunbelt Canada. Read more about buying a franchise at Franchises: a business in a box.
We have many free resources to help first-time buyers and even experienced entrepreneurs achieve success. Read about seven free resources here.
By Karen Runtz