As an entrepreneur who won over 14 awards and helped over 500 companies by the age of 30, Christopher has built, bought, and sold various companies relating to marketing, e-commerce, real estate, retail, and investing. Wick’s businesses have been...
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Ronald Skelton 0:06
Hello and welcome to the how to exit podcast where we introduce you to a world of small to medium business acquisitions and mergers. We interview business owners, industry leaders, authors, mentors and other influencers with the sole intent to share with you what it looks like to buy or sell a business. Let's get rolling.
Hello, and welcome to the how to exit podcast today I'm here with Christopher wick. So Christopher is a heart centered entrepreneur with talent for numbers. And as an entrepreneur has won over 14 awards and helped 500 companies by the age of 30. Christopher's built, bought and sold various companies related to marketing, e commerce, real estate, retail and investing, which businesses have been featured in the Huffington Post, ABC, NBC and the Wall Street select, currently Christopher's chairman of Say Yes, enterprises LLC, a Texas based investment management company that acquires builds and sells companies. Chris has tremendous passion for helping people thrive in their companies grow their profits, thereby growing their team's families and impact in their communities. Welcome, Chris. And thank you for coming on the show.
Christopher Wick 1:22
Thanks. So glad to be here, man. And show this
Ronald Skelton 1:25
out to edit that other part out. That's cool. We are a raw and uncut version. So the first question I always like to ask is let's get people to kind of know you. How did you get into this space, and we'll start wherever you're comfortable, but just kind of tell us your origin story and how you got into mergers and acquisitions?
Christopher Wick 1:42
Sure. So you're gonna love my origin story with m&a and tier listeners. either. It's a wonderful hero's journey, or it's a cautionary tale. So all throughout my 20s, I built a marketing agency, which I later sold. So all throughout my 20s, I was a consultant and I had the gift of working with over 500 companies, and really getting to see behind the screens of what was happening with some of the most successful companies that we know and love. When I was 29 years old, I had an aha moment. And this aha moment, you've had these your listeners have had these. And my aha moment was this. I've helped over 500 businesses, what if I co owned or have equity in each of those businesses? What would I look like? Well, my career look like. And so at the age of 29, with no training, no experience, no how to manual, no m&a mentor, I went out and bought my first business because I thought, you know, if I've helped over half 1000 business owners do this all throughout my career as a consultant, I want to do it on my own business. Well, my first business I bought was a raging success. I bought a small e commerce company, which later became one of my platforms in m&a. And in 11 months, I sold the company to an investor, and I tripled my investment now. And real estate, I couldn't get those returns in the stock market, I couldn't get those returns. As a consultant, I couldn't get those returns. So I did what any good entrepreneur would do. I said, I want to do it again. And I had such a great success. And then my second deal, I did a partnership. And I thought, well, this is great, I'm going to be able to do even more. So I've got a partner and my second deal. I lost everything. Everything my entire investment, no success story. And that's when I realized that, okay, I can't do it on my own. I've got no idea what I'm doing. My first one was really successful. And I won't call luck. I'll just, you know, sometimes things work out. And sometimes things don't, but that my second deal of losing everything was truly my wake up call. I had a bad deal. I did bad due diligence. I had a bad situation with a business partner. And then I realized I need help. And so I googled like any good entrepreneur would do. And the only place teaching m&a was Harvard. And I had already gotten a business degree at university. I couldn't I couldn't go back. I couldn't go back to school. So I really searched I dedicated to finding a community and finding a mentor that I could really work under model after and I found that in an m&a community. And since then, I've done over half a dozen deals. I've got amazing business partners. And really the reason why I share this story is one and the entrepreneurial community we do a really good job of not talking about the hard stuff will show the fancy cars will show the well and I could talk about my luxury car, my beautiful big house, but I'd rather start off and talk about in the beginning. I had a really good deal for the first one and then my second one was a complete disaster which is the cost narrow tail have to work with someone who knows what they're doing to work with a business partner who's done this before. And now that's the person I get to be. Because I've done so many deals, I get to mentor people. And here's how to do a deal like the first one. Here's how to avoid failure, like the second one. So that's how I got started. And now I really base my entire career around mentoring others, I've got students m&a, I've got partners in m&a, and doing things like this to share these stories.
Ronald Skelton 5:29
That's awesome. I too, started off as an entrepreneur, young, like I was telling you before the show started, wanted to go work for my father in a painting business, he told me no, so I grabbed the lawn mower and pushed it five and a half miles into town started mowing lawns, right, you know, all the way up to when I was in the military. I even had side gigs, you know, I had a thing called Diamond gate network. So we installed networking equipment in the schools and fiber, and you know, you name it, we ran the wires and stuff. And everything was going great. And I went out and got a master's degree in marketing. And I thought I was hot stuff, right, I got my MBA and marketing, and created an online dating service and lost everything, I could not get that thing off the ground, pretty close to a million dollars worth of 401k money. And it was it was right at a million with other people's money. But a large lot just to say a large portion of that was everything I had in 401k or think I had in stocks. And I really thought I was gonna get it off the ground. And you're right, the lesson learned from that was, you know, not everything you learned in school applies directly to, you know, at the same scale. You know, my marketing MBA made me an awesome employee for Coca Cola, or Pepsi Co, where they have $50 million budgets for rebranding. But trying to brand off the day one off of a strew strain budget was not the right approach. Right. So I get that right now we're in this space where there's a lot of opportunity here in the United States, I just got off the phone or off the live podcast with a guy from the UK, it's the same there. A lot of business owners or what I refer to or they're aging out there, I'd say they're retiring. But you know, entrepreneurs rarely retire, they'll either, you know, work until they can't work anymore, some life event happens, or the boss at home tells them they need to go travel more, and then they sell, right. But there's this huge opportunity there in this space. What would you say to somebody who's just like, looking around right now thinking? Do I go create a business? I got this idea, or do I go buy one?
Christopher Wick 7:33
Oh, well, I really respect your story about online dating service and losing it all. Because I I can bet with total certainty you learn more in that deal versus your last successful and just like I did, and here's what I've got to say, with those who are out there questioning, what do I do next? One of the biggest problems with my second deal that I did is it was a startup disguised as a business. And startups are very attractive, people are always wanting to ride a bet on the horse that's gonna win. I don't invest in startups, as an investor, I invest in history, I invest in historical performance. So for someone who's trying to make a pivot, and you and I both know, there's lots of entrepreneurs out there thinking, Okay, I've got to start over. And maybe it's the economy, maybe it's a failed deal, like you and I both happen. I tell my students and my business partners, the best thing that you could ever do is go buy something that's already working. So if you want to create a fantastic dating service, go buy a service that's already working. If you want to create a great landscaping business, go buy that. And of course, a lot of people have the barrier to entry. How do I afford it? How do I get it, that's why they work with mentors like you and I. But truly, you're going to shortcut your success by having an existing less existing brand and existing network. Because one of the challenging things that people do is they want to go start something new, but they have to start all over in their connections versus already going and building on success that someone has had. The reason my first deal ever worked really well, is because I was able to capitalize on the momentum that it already had. The reason my second deal was such a disaster. It was a startup disguised as a business, there was no momentum. And that cost me a tremendous amount, just like you experience with your online dating service.
Ronald Skelton 9:25
It's interesting as I have the same, like criteria, I'm looking for something that's been around for more than 10 years, right? I want them to be past that was the USA statistics. Something like 90 something percent of businesses fail in the first five. I want them to have more than 10 employees and mainly is I don't want to buy myself another job. So I want enough people there that when the owner wants to leave. Surely there's somebody there that probably knows how to run that business better than I would. Right. And so I'm looking for well run businesses been around for 10 or more years. Have 10 or more employees. And then, you know, hopefully they've got some standard operating procedures, they know what they're doing. Often you'll find that, you know, if you find the right one, that business runs better when the CEO is gone, or if it's if it's set up right when the owner leaves, things that needed to be changed for a long time, but they're still doing them, because that's the way they've always done them, that those those employees will step up and go, Hey, man, we've been needing to change this for a long time. So I see that you actually have a specialty or a passion around helping businesses maximize their exit, right? So what does that look like? I've seen some stuff on your LinkedIn profile that caught my eye about helping people hit their What do you call it, their dream number, their
Christopher Wick 10:45
number? Yeah. And freedom is why we do any of this. And that's why an entrepreneur like you and I, were going to go push that lawnmower five miles so we can go get the opportunity to be an entrepreneur and get that chance to work with dad, depending company. And so when it comes to freedom entrepreneurs, we're willing to sacrifice relationships time how, in order to make our dream happen. The challenges is most entrepreneurs get stuck in what I call the hustle trap, which I think is one of the biggest lies ever sold to our society, which is work hard and produce, and you'll be valuable. When I work with entrepreneurs to maximize their exit plan. First, we identify what is their freedom number or their freedom scenario, there's a scenario I teach to my students called the sunset scenario, what would be the best thing, and I've got to tell you, just like you said, sometimes the best businesses do better when the CEO is gone. I remember when I sold my largest business to date, i Six months later, the company was running better without me because of the what the new guy was doing. And I thought, wow, I get this, it could have been so much easier. But we get in there and we get so consumed with how can we work more how we can we produce more. So one of the first things I do with entrepreneurs is have them step back. Because when you're in it, you cannot see the forest from the trees, you can't see the mark that could have worked, you can't see that person, you need to hire him. So it all begins with what I think is the most important question that everybody's walking around with, which is what do you want? Now there's a loving way to say that, like when I talk to people on conference calls, my first question is always, what would be the best thing that you can get of our time together? Today? I'm basically asking, What do you want, because I want to deliver that. And that's where a lot of entrepreneurs need clarity, and understanding how they can get that a lot of entrepreneurs I need who want to sell their businesses don't think they can get what they want. And one of my superpowers is creative deal structure, where I make it my life's mission to get my sellers or my partners exactly what they want.
Ronald Skelton 12:48
So we're both lined on that up. One of my favorite questions when people especially on the jump on the on the call on, they added they have a number in mind, like, well, you know, my goal in any transaction, even when it was in real estate, is to figure out what it is the other person wants and figure out and then work out a way to get them there. So when somebody says I want 1.5 million for my business before they even show me any numbers or anything else I might natural without a blinking, you know, or anything. Response is cool. Let's see how we can get you there. Yeah, right. And sometimes, like I was saying this on the previous hour, but uh, sometimes how we get you there is, quite simply, you're gonna have to grow a bit to get there. You know, they're not, it's not in, you know, the number they want is not in alignment with where they're at. But that's not for me to say that early in the game. And some of these guys are getting it wrong. They think they got to jump in and negotiate from day one. From day one. For me it's build report, figure out where the where the business owner wants to get to, and then how can I get on there? A lot of times, you'll find out if you really get in into these guys's lives and understand that they're business owners. This isn't their first gig, right? I'm talking to a company right now who this is his second company that I know of. He built a flooring company before this got it up to $6 million sold it bought this company that he's you know, he's bringing to me. And he built it up probably close to double the size of it is around $3 million a year in revenue. And now he's you know, going through some family issues and needing to sell it. And I think at the end of this is like I even said to during our calls like, look, I want to get to this entire process. Have you really happy with me because I know when we when you leave here, you're going to go create something else. Chances are five to 10 years from now that's gonna be boring or something to you. I like boring. I want you to call me back and go hey, Ron, I want to do something else. I built this $10 million roofing company, do you want to look at it? And you know, the answer is gonna be yes. Right. So that at the end of the day, whether I buy it or not, or whether I refer it to somebody else or not. I want to make sure that guy gets that I'm in it for them. Yes. And I see that you're the same way that's like what can we do to get this guy where he wants to be? So What is a good exit plan look like this? I think a lot of our listeners out there, they're either buying businesses to exit at some point. Or they're already owning a business and are looking like what would it look like to sell? And nobody, very few people truly have what I would refer to as a good exit plan. You know, they don't, you know, unless they like followed one of the other mentors that are out there, they don't have a data room with PowerPoints and all this stuff, they need to have to present well to buyers like URI. Right? So what is it? What would what would you look for in a good exit plan.
Christopher Wick 15:34
So there's two types of exits. One, there's accessing the business, which is selling and, you know, getting to achieve your freedom number, you get to move on to a new opportunity, like that entrepreneur that you're working with. The second type of exit is exiting the org chart. And so when I work with entrepreneurs, sometimes people get scared thinking about accident, because they've been a lawyer all their life, or they've been a landscaper, all their life, they've been, ah, back all their life. And so one of the first things I do is I help them understand how can you accept the org chart? So you still own the business? By really how can we create a lifestyle business to where you're not in the day to day and there's an evil plan behind that the evil plan behind that is, is if I can help you exit the org chart, something magical is about to happen, your valuation is going to skyrocket because guys like you and I, we are not going to buy jobs. And I can't tell you how many times I had to have that conversation of you don't have enough team in place, you're making lots of money. One of the reasons you're making lots of money is because you're not paying payroll. So if we can help entrepreneurs exit the org chart, and to imagine a business that runs without them, one we're going to help them accept no matter what a number two, we're going to help them achieve their freedom number because their business will actually be a business and not a professional job.
Ronald Skelton 16:56
It's that's a, that hits a point. There's a there was a business I looked at like this was last year. And I'm friends with I actually knew this guy previously, he approached me when I did my real estate business wanting to be a private lender. He's like, you know, we used to wear the shirts. It's like, you know, hoodies during the winter, we'd wear these giant hoodies, I figured about four and a half about 4x or 5x. On a good day. I'm a big boy. I might as well be a billboard too. So I used to have this, you know, hoodies to say I buy houses, I probably should make some notes. I buy businesses. Yeah, I'd be at Home Depot. And people approached me like, Hey, do you need an electrician? Well, this guy approached us at a Home Depot and said, Hey, I own a few businesses in town, do you need private lending? Do you need money? Like Sure. So we took him to lunch and stuff. And one of the businesses he owned, we circled back around when I got into mergers and acquisitions. And his wife really wants him to sell he's 70 something. It's a soap line. As far as I'll go into that line, organic soap, and they do decent revenue. They built a beautiful house up by one of the lights and his wife would like to spend some time at it. But they're stuck most of the time closer to the business because they have a family business. The kids don't want to run it. She's trying to you know, encourage the sale. When I really got down into the weeds with it. The guy's really afraid to sell. And I was like, Well, why are you why are you afraid to sell. She goes every one of his friends, he's 70 Something now every one of his friends sell their business and die within a few weeks. Like he could list off five or six people he knew that died after their life purpose was gone. And so your idea of getting them out of the org chart and still having them see that it's okay. And they could have other passions and other things to do. And work with them through that process might work with him. So that's that's a good approach there.
Christopher Wick 18:41
Yeah, absolutely. And then you benefit because you can help them create a viable business. You know, and there's always with guys like that there's a seller I'm working with right now that's retiring after 19 years, sometimes our offer is not divided up completely will maybe do 80 or 90%, they can stay involved. So they still have something they can wake up and do every day if that if they need that, for example with people about to retire. So they can still have that identity because like with guys like you and I our identities is totally, totally wrapped up in what we do. And that's a way where you can keep them involved. I love keeping sellers involved. It's really great because they they've got the best ideas. They've been doing the business for 90 years you buy as well keep them on your board and keep to compensate them for their time.
Ronald Skelton 19:25
I absolutely do that. I usually I do it at 20 to 20% with them. And you know, it actually helps for those you guys are listening at the end of this. One of the main reasons I do that is occasionally especially AI companies have been around for 20 30/53 generation company I was talking to a couple years ago. They've been around for 63 years, right? When there's a problem with one of those customers that have been with them for 15 or 20 years. They want to talk to the last name that's on that side. Right? They don't care who but they want to talk to a you know, let's say call it Smith constructor they want to talk to a Smith. Right and that's you know, My wife's maiden name, but not my Dave. So it won't work, right. So having somebody there that you know, has a vested interest it can go and smooth over some things can be very beneficial in a lot of things, especially, you know, even like vendors and other stuff. And, you know, you got vendor relations and stuff that have been around for 20 or 30 years, you're the new guy, you know, you could be you can lose some of your, sorry, lose some of your vendors, when you keep the owner around, you keep that relationship around. And it's just, and the beauty of it inside of that is the other vendors and other other customers see it as you're just helping this guy transition and retire, and you get a warm up phase, right? You get a at some point, when they're gone, you'll own the whole thing, or their kids or their trust, I always tried to get them to, to set up a trust. And we move their shares into that. So their kids have a say, and then I you know, there's always an offer to buy him out later. Sure.
Christopher Wick 20:58
Yeah. Good deal. I like that. That's a great approach.
Ronald Skelton 21:02
So um, let's talk a little bit about like the growing. I don't have a whole lot of guys on here, a lot of us by them. And, you know, I have marketing background, but it sounds like you have some experience in like, scaling. Are you doing scaling through acquisition, like buying emerging companies together and scaling that way? Or do you go old school too, and just, like clean up their marketing clean up their all their stuff?
Christopher Wick 21:27
Well, but the answer is both. And how this even happened was such a great example of letting the market guide you, when I started my acquisition from years ago, I really thought, Okay, I'm going to go out and buy a bunch of businesses have a bunch of fun. And 90% of the sellers I encountered really didn't need a buyer, they needed a growth Park. And so I was talking to one of my team members, and I graciously give her credit. And I said, Look, most of our people are wanting to partner with us, we need to make a program and one of my team members came up with the gap partner program, the growth acquisition partner program, where we partner with sellers to get them to a sellable stage are to get them to a freedom number. And so we've got growth or a larger business will grow through acquisitions will buy lists or buy other businesses that can feed into that, or with some of our smaller businesses, it's boots on the ground, understanding pay died understanding referral marketing. And truly, that's a sign of a good entrepreneur to see what the market is telling you. And so when I made my acquisition firm, I really thought we'd be doing more buying. And here we are years later, we're still doing more partnering, because that's what the market needed. And I make it my life's mission to serve at the highest level. And that's what the market needed. So we partner with people we help them grow. Scale is a word I tend not to use, because I always want to make sure that I help a seller understand what's really going to happen. And I talk about small, incremental changes that lead to big growth, like understanding your list and really using that very well. That's free money, understanding referral marketing, and leveraging your partnerships, that's free money, lots of people will tell you to click buttons and launch ads and make a funnel. But really, I start much more conservatively when it comes to growth, because I want to help my business partners maximize their spend, and get them more runway because I say, Oh, hey, we can grow your business, but it's gonna cost you $50,000 In paid ads, that's gonna scare people. But if I say, Hey, we're gonna partner in your first month, all we're gonna do is we're gonna focus on free money. That's really exciting.
Ronald Skelton 23:37
I like to do the product grid, if a company's got more than one line of products, make the grid of, you know, which customers have which ones and then go through and see, well, should they have the other products and you'd be surprised at how many customers inside of some of these bigger companies don't even know that the company in the last 10 years added five different things a product line they could use. So there's a lot of and you know, I don't know how you do it. But a lot of things I want, you know, that we look at is, okay, there's a product of the month we focus on one line per month and introduce it to every single customer, you know, it usually depending on the size of the company, you can roll through their whole product line in a year. Right. And every customer at this point knows about every product. And then there's always that referral element. So I love that I love that side of it. So
Christopher Wick 24:27
free, that's free money that is free money, like imagining just implementing a product menu. By golly, what a great idea because now you're just educating, hey, we also have this stuff like with the soap company, I'm sure they've got other things that is a free money technique. And that is where you've got to be creative. I tell people, it's easy to click buttons and make finals and launch ads. But the real creativity and superpowers comes from being creative like hey, let's do a product of the month and educate people on what we currently have. Because we don't want to go out and change shiny objects, let's do what works. And that's free money. That's, that's a really good example.
Ronald Skelton 25:05
I love that, that these customers, these are customers, they already trust you, they're already opening up their wallet, they're already paying their invoices on time, right? You know, there were that there was a company that we were going to try to turn around. And the first thing I told the partners is like, look, we're going to do a lot of cross marketing for the other products. But we're going to start with everybody who pays their invoice in 60 days or less. Right? Why would I go out and market to people I'm chasing down at 180 and 240 days or whatever, 200, whatever the next one is, to get the money, when I've got a list of 100 clients that pay and by repeatedly, so that's another one is like your slow pay, guys, you don't have to cross market to them right away, you can almost fade them out just by really focusing on like, your, your top 20%. Right, the 8020 principle is I'm a huge fan. So that's, that's, that's great. One of the things a lot of guys are out there, they're looking to buy their first company that stuff. Where does somebody start to learn stuff like that you have a program. I don't even know when we got on here that you actually had your own program. So I'll even ask you here live on the show. I'm putting together a meet the mentors series, a mini series where I'm having a lot of the other mentors on there that have programs, if you want I'll hold your show the can portion of it to be in that series if you have a program for
Christopher Wick 26:27
people. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Like I value their audience for sure.
Ronald Skelton 26:31
Okay. So where do they start? I mean, for you they can? Is it at your say? Yes, enterprises calm is that where they start to do that, we'll put the rest of your contact information up there. But let me double check real quick, is that the correct
Christopher Wick 26:46
looks beautiful sas enterprises.com. And, and just like my origin story, either it's a hero's journey, or it's a cautionary tale. And what changed my m&a career was by working with people that knew what they were doing. And that's that's where my career totally changed. So with our entrepreneurs, if they want to go into m&a, truly work with someone who's already walked the path, but there's a concept I share with my students and business partners is, I've already gone down the yellow brick road, I know the shortcuts. I know the long routes, I know the really costly areas, walk with me shoulder to shoulder and we're going to accomplish it together. This week, I helped an entrepreneur get his very first deal. And it was an amazing opportunity for him. And I've known him for a very long time. And I had to deal come across my way. And I remember them. And I said, Hey, let's work together. And it's going to be his first deal. And that is awesome. Because now I'm a part of his origin story. And he'll always be able to share, he did it not on his own, but he did it with help. And by golly, and my second deal that failed. I really wish I could have adequate help. But it was a gift to me because I realized, okay, I have no idea what I'm doing. I'm going to go work with people that do. And then I got training. So today, we've helped, you know, in my marketing career helped over 500 businesses market successfully. And now we're helping people acquire businesses and create exit plans. And that's truly liberating.
Ronald Skelton 28:11
I got introduced last year to a book by Dan Sullivan. If you don't know who he is, he has a hell of a coach program itself. And I blog, I shouldn't be an affiliate or not, I'm not I get nothing from this. But I plug his book all the time. He's got a book out there called who not how, and I really am trying to own that concept. And the gist of it is, is anytime you try to catch yourself trying to figure something out, chances are you're probably not the right who to be getting it done. So it's not trying to figure out how to do things it's trying to figure out who would be the who out there and he knows how to do this way better than I I would and would like a piece of the action or some money to get it done. And that has helped me tremendously inside of these projects. I don't I don't go out and buy you know these companies I do a lot like yours talking about you know, the we call them why bows work in buyout. You work for equity, we take a piece of it, we help them grow. And then we either buy them on the other end or we help them next it is our strategy to but uh it's all about the team. It's all about figuring out, you know, I'm not the best guy that counting. So who do I know that is? Right? I can put up a website I'm a computer nerd by previous trade, right? So there was a time in my life I work for the government doing computer stuff. But uh, you know, I can put up a website, but that's not my note. That's not my day in and day out. Efficiency. So who do I know that is? So it sounds like you do the same thing. The other thing I do and sound like you might be the same. I'll look at almost any deal, right? There's a few things I'm not that interested in. And that's just because personal biases, I guess, restaurants here in Oklahoma, I'm not interested in cannabis just because the it's not federally available in from some of the international projects. I don't want the limelight of being in that business. Keep For me unable to participate and some international projects we've got going on. But other than that, I'll look at anything. And I always tell the business owner, like, look, I want to I want to talk to you a little to your business, I can't promise you that I'll be your buyer. But I can promise you that if I'm not, I probably know them. Because I reach out, you know, I have this podcast I have, you know, some other stuff. I do some networking groups that are all mergers and acquisitions, guys, I probably know who's interested in your business, even if I'm not. And I learned that in the real estate space, right? When I was doing real estate investing, I would be out there looking at houses and I walked through, and I got to this point where I knew what I wanted to keep, basically, I didn't like to do major rehab. So just paint carpet, and I could put an owner in it because I owner finance my houses. Right? If it needed more than that, I could walk through there and go out. Yeah, this is this house is for Mark, or this one's for Dan. And these are little German gentlemen, you know, investors that and I knew their math models. So I knew that if I you know, if we were gonna start talking numbers where I needed to get them to make it acceptable for, and I'm starting to do that. And then mergers and acquisitions face, I'll you know, starting to learn that like, look, this business, this guy really needs to cash. I know a guy over here loves doing LBOs. He's looking for one, he's got the credit, he's got the you know, he's got stuff lined up. He's just looking for the right opportunity. And it doesn't have to be me, I just want to make sure that the business owner gets where they're trying to go. Sounds like you've got that same vision in that. Sure. Yeah.
Christopher Wick 31:26
Yeah, absolutely. Because it's like you said earlier with the relationships, and I tell sellers, I will make it my life's mission to get you what you want. And if even if I'm not the perfect fit, I can point you in the right direction, I promise you, it's going to be a much better direction to on your own. And just like with partnerships, I tell my entrepreneurs, if you could have done it by now on your own, you would have it's not a question if you're smart enough or talented enough or good enough, if you actually don't have the people and the processes in place. And that's why you partner with us. Because if you could have by now you would have by now and it's not about you or your abilities, it's about your not knowing which direction to go and sellers, you know, you and I have got investor networks, sellers don't have that. So they can really build a relationship and return that good service of making sure this is a really good relationship. They're going to get what they want.
Ronald Skelton 32:18
Right? So this is an ever evolving space mergers and acquisitions. I mean, in the last four or five years fax came back around people are actually doing you know, this box. Right now there's actually a lot of crypto where they're doing token raises and stuff. I haven't seen anybody do a token raise to buy a business I'd like to see that occur. But there's just so many different areas in this year, there's the opportunity to stay constantly learning and improving your skill set. What's one area around mergers and acquisitions that you're still curious about and kind of watching and observing?
Christopher Wick 32:54
Oh, what a phenomenal question. An area of m&a that I'm still working on personally improving his integration. And when we acquire a business, how we help our team integrate it in a way that's going to really make the process very smooth for the seller. And also our team. Something I've noticed is one of our challenges is we will take a lot of the burden on in a deal just to make sure the seller has a great experience. So integration, I think is what we're focused on. And truly the reason why I mentioned that is one is being completely authentic. But also to that sellers have to think about integration, I asked a seller on every first call they have with me or my team is what your transition plan because you've got to have a really good integration plan. That's what I'm focused on. And I think that's a good lesson for anyone in any stage, whether they're a startup entrepreneur, or entrepreneurs looking for an exit plan, or an m&a person, because I tell my students in m&a Just because you can doesn't mean you should some students get so excited about getting a deal. They'll get a deal and what happened. It's the dog that's caught the car and now they don't know Oh, what do we do with this team? Oh, what do we do with payroll and says you've got to focus on the long vision play the tape all the way through not just focusing on getting your first deal.
Ronald Skelton 34:19
Yeah, the one of the mentors, I go to call it deal heat, right, you get so excited to get that first deal done, you get in the middle of something, and you're like, What do I do now? Right? And, you know, I can get, you know, one way to do you know, to avoid that is just to really market well and actually have 567 things to look at. The other one is what you're talking about is really and you should do both, you should have multiple things to look at. So you're not really excited about something you shouldn't be. And you know, and then the second thing is you got to know what is your exit plan and I would say two to three like you should have two or three exits out of that. You know, there are businesses that I have acquired and I probably will keep road for a long Longer term, I acquired them for different purposes. I own a pest control company of all things. I did that because I have some relatives that, you know, worked in the industry wanted to stay working in their industry and their owner was retiring. It's a good little business it needs to grow. I bought it wrong before I had any training in this. I bought a job, right? It's yeah, so it's one of those is fun. You know, we let my five year old name it it's called Lala by pest control, right? She's six now. But uh, when we bought when we bought the bought what we bought out of it, the equipment, everything, we couldn't buy the company just because as licenses and all that we're, I don't think the guy and I don't want to throw him under a bus, let's just say the liabilities were more risky than, you know, just buying the equipment and the and doing it ourselves. But, uh, yeah. So going back to the like, what are the things people know? What would you consider? Like, what is the top three things you think a seller should look at when they're looking at their business, you know, like preparing to sell a business.
Christopher Wick 36:04
One thing is history. Because I tell I have to routinely tell sellers do not sell me on the future. That's a total deal breaker for me, I do not care about what you think the future is. Because the future is so bright, you wouldn't be selling your business. So let's focus on history. That's one and truly understand an investor, they're not buying potential. They're buying what's happening right now, the second thing is having the ability to be flexible. What I tell my sellers very often is if they're willing to be flexible, they'll get very close their asking price. But if they ask for a ridiculous asking price, cash up front, they're not going to get that deal. And so they're flexible, they're going to be able to get what they want long term. And lastly, is understanding what makes something valuable. And as a real estate investor. So it delights me that you do real estate as well as I tell sellers all the time, just because you remodeled your bathroom does not make you the most expensive home on the block. What makes you the most expensive home on the block is what other homes are selling more we don't care about how beautiful the bathroom is we care about the land, we care about the toxins we care about the area. So history, that's important, understanding flexibility to get what you want, and being flexible and how you get that. And number three, understanding true value. I'm being featured in a magazine next month. And they chose out of all of our articles understanding business valuations, other than profitability, what makes my business valuable, and that's a really good thing for us. So those three things, if a seller could think about those three things, they would absolutely get the deal their dreams, right away.
Ronald Skelton 37:42
So if I had to, like if I had to just somebody said, What do you make a business? Most Valuable? I would say, the revenue, right? It's, it's got to be there's a there's a factor and money has to be there. Secondly, is the systems and processes, right? You know, even with the right people, if if the owner is the glue that makes everything work and turns all the gears, even with the right people at the system and processes aren't there you can fall apart when they're gone. And then third is the team. Right? For me. It's like I want to know who's staying who's going, who's, who's still here, just because the owners there and they've been working for him for 25 years, they're ready to retire to write. And it's like so that, you know, as far as what makes it valuable. There's all kinds of stuff that comes in play, right? There's different types of revenue, recurring monthly revenue or recurring revenue is, to me more valuable that one time revenue. I'm interested in, you know, your attrition rate stuff, how long does your customer stage do they come back? What's the lifetime value of your customer? Is that tells me on the surface level, it tells me how how well you're doing your job. Right? I actually had a marketing company of all things tell me that their average customer lifespan that like how long a customer stays with them, was less than six months. And I'm like, so they're constantly getting new customers and contracts. Now I'll give him a little credit. He his marketing agency only took on this new wave of courses, right? So online courses. So you would create an online course you go to him, he'll help you launch it, create it and run it. And they have a high failure rate anyway. But to even in that I just could not get my hands around is like you don't have any customers that are older than 120 days. Right? That everybody comes in, they do their launch, like even like even if they were the I just couldn't get it. We didn't we didn't we didn't offer him anything. We basically ended that call fairly quick. But uh, and he just thought it was going to be a normal business. And that to me, that's not right. I think that the numbers in that space are probably even if they're 95 and five, you should have a 5% retention rate. Right. So that's that's critically important. As a buyer to me is how well have your customers been treated? I don't do turnarounds at this stage, I don't think I mean, I could build a team around it. But if you're spiraling down the drain, I, I just don't I don't come with a cork. So, right. Um, that said, All businesses, when they get in that phase of if the owner has been considering selling for more than a year, there's got to be some, you know, like, kinda, they're kicking back a little bit. But what I'm talking about is like, you know, like, Okay, I've destroyed this thing. I need some help. For sure. All right. So do you guys do turnarounds at all, or you guys look for distressed companies or
Christopher Wick 40:42
life is too short to do turn around or distressed companies. I want to give a shout out T, we've got a fan. I love this platform model. Because Bobby Sensen just commented about fantastic motivation. I'm so glad that your audience is getting value. Love that. But back to your question. Life is too short to do turn around. There's lots of people super well qualified to do that they can have that risk threshold. That is not the path I've chosen in this life. My second deal that failed massively, that technically could have been a startup in disguise or turnaround, both of which I get.
Ronald Skelton 41:16
The two things I don't do is I don't look for turnarounds right, I'm not a truck driver. I'm not turning anything around. Right. The other one is, is I like to hunt a little bit, but and I might just ostracize some of my crowd there because a lot of anti hunters out there, but I like to have a little bit I like to fish. But I don't want unicorns. So the startup world's not my game. If you've got no I've got a call to return. So to get on here, somebody left me a voicemail right in between these two podcasts. He said, Hey, a buddy of mine told me you invest? Usually those are somebody has an idea and they want to get it off the ground. I don't do ideas. I don't think they're valuable at all. You know, everybody's got a million idea, that million dollar idea like no, you don't. You know, you've got an idea that could make a million dollars if you get the team, the systems, the process and the customers. Right. Right. But there's I don't believe in the concept of a million dollar idea. And so I think there's some brilliant stuff out there, there's some brilliant things that can go there. But if you don't put together that team, it can hurt you. So alright, so we talked about a lot of different questions right here, we cover different topics and stuff, or their journeys like thing we should really be talking about there something that you know, you're buying or selling or buying or selling a business, you should really know. Are there any major topics that you would like to talk about? I think we've missed so far. For sure.
Christopher Wick 42:37
I like that question. That's a great interview question. Why did we not cover what we missed? One thing that's really showing up with some of my students the past two weeks is action. There's a lot of people out there wanting to create businesses, create campaigns, buy businesses, etc. And like you said, there's no such thing as a million dollar idea. I agree with you. What's going to set apart being massively successful versus not having the outcomes that you want, is taking action every single day. What I noticed with my students, my business partners is they're one deal away from having the life that they want. They're one deal away from having the income that they want. They're one deal away from having the network that they want. And they have to take action every day. To achieve that. This is not this, the m&a community isn't a place where you can sit back and hopefully someone brings you a referral, you have to be out there actively doing that the two most important things I do in my firm, even as the chairman is deal making, and coaching, those are the two most important things and then deal making. That's a lot of action. So if there's people listening to this podcast now, one, I want to commend them for investing themselves in their education to listen to you what a smart choice. And now based on something that you've heard, take action. Now, don't wait. Don't put on your calendar for next Tuesday, perhaps you've been inspired to create a partnership. Or maybe you want to join our GAAP partner program. Take action now. Or perhaps you liked some of your criteria and making sure 10 years in business and employees I fit your criteria now and go find those people. Here's the crazy thing about our brain is if we don't take action within 72 hours of having an idea 90% of the time that idea is gone forever. So right now for the people listening to this either live or when they're going to get the beautifully edited video later, right now, take action, send that text message, send that email, make that call to submit your learning in this wonderful podcast and maybe that's by reaching out to me, maybe it's by reaching out to our wonderful hosts, but do something
Ronald Skelton 44:49
awesome. One of the, you know, on the lives of taking the action it's consistency, right it's you know, Well, I have people that were I work with and these mentoring groups and stuff, and I don't I don't coach or mentor at this stage. But I'm part of a bunch of networking groups where we kind of peer to peer mastermind we help each other. And, you know, yeah, I hear somebody was sent out 40 letters. And I was like, Okay, well, you can't complain about sending out 40 letters, because the average response rate and direct mail is one to 2%. So unless you've sent out 400, you probably shouldn't have taken any Oh, so it's consistent action. I do, you know, tell people you're out there buying businesses get involved, have the conversations meet with people who are in this space. And if you have some reluctancy, I'll share something with you, if you do training, one of the things I used to train the real estate guys in, I jokingly call it my European training model. Right? So somebody would call and say, Hey, I've been working in real estate for a long time, but I just haven't got my first deal done. And I say, Well, how many homeowners you've talked to? Well, I just, I'm not, well, they're not talking. So if you want to buy a business, you got to talk to business owners, if you want to buy a house, in a real estate world, you eventually have to talk to the homeowner, right? Or people who have houses. So their European training model is this fun thing, we create a list, I started off, I get the phone out, I said, as everybody on a conference table, we usually do these live because you kind of have to be there. And I'll call the first two or three will, they'll hear the conversation, they hear it. And then I dial the phone for the third or fourth one and I slide it to the next guy and go you're up. It's my European radio model, right? That's like, you're up, you're up. Like, I don't know what to say, I don't care order. I don't care what you say order a pizza, right? You need to pick up the phone when they answer and you know, and say hi. And then the next time they call we can we can we can go a little further. Right? But uh, you know, I don't advocate inside of this space. I haven't picked up cold calling business owners, you know. It's not I don't think it would be a bad thing. I haven't I haven't tried it, right. But, uh, the the concept of just cost action, making sure you, if you're, if you don't have a stream of two or three businesses to speak to every week, you're gonna have a hard time finding a good deal, right? Because there's just there's some stuff you have to sort through, it's almost the real estate space, like you got to look at 100 Make offer on five and you know, you'll you'll win three and you cherry pick the one you want. Right? You know, I still think it's that way. So, if you consistent action is what I would say I agree with that 100%
Christopher Wick 47:31
Every day, every single day. And I like forcing the call the phone so they can do their cold calling. I love that and and m&a cold calling or cold reaching out works wonderfully if you have the right script. And if you're constantly doing it, like with example, if it gets not 40 letters, try 4000. Last week, I personally sent out 1002 reach outs cold. And I was able to measure my response rate. And one of those reach outs led to this podcast interview like this is proof. Now this was a deal I was looking for but great things happen to those who take massive action. And there's a great comment from Bobby in that the LinkedIn chat for smaller companies looking for growth coaching. Do you have suggested communities? My recommendation is his reach out now either to myself either to Ronald, but right now reach out and say, Hey, I am raising my hand. I want to grow. Y'all seem super smart. Let's take action. I love that question, Bobby. That's an example of taking action. He's listening. So you've got a really good student.
Ronald Skelton 48:35
All right. So we're getting towards the top of the hour here. I want to put up your LinkedIn connection, because that's where we met. And I think it's a great place for people to meet you. Double check that for me make sure that's right.
Christopher Wick 48:50
And that is the best place to reach me that or email. And that's wonderful. I love it. When people reach out via LinkedIn.
Ronald Skelton 48:57
I will give a little secret thing their LinkedIn outreach really works. That's we yeah, we were fulfilling our entire one of the big roll ups we were working on, I would say 80 to 90% of our leads come from LinkedIn. Right? So it's, it's business owners, there are some like for my pest control company. I'd love to buy some competitors here in Tulsa just to grow that so I don't have to work there. I can have somebody else do all the work. But uh, you know, they're not on LinkedIn actively. Right? There are you know, but if you're like, it was beautiful for the marketing thing we were doing because all the marketing companies are there daily, right? Because they're using it. So if your users on there and they're active, that's a great way to to reach out. So if somebody's looking for a place to start, I use the LinkedIn Sales Navigator and I just reached out to people in my industry and say, Hey, I'm looking, you know, looking to acquire something in your space. Are you interested in chatting with me? And you'd be surprised at the response rate? Yeah, so cool.
Christopher Wick 49:58
Well, thank you very much for having me on. Really appreciate it. And it's been such a pleasure to chit chat with you.
Ronald Skelton 50:04
Awesome. Well, we'll wrap this up and hang on a few seconds after I hit the end button. And we'll chat. Alright, thank you for everybody for listening. And this was Christopher wick with say yes enterprises.com The investors and entrepreneurs professional mastermind, the investors and entrepreneur festival mastermind combines the traditional peer to peer mastermind interviews first in Napoleon Hills famous book Thinking Grow Rich, with accountability partnering, where your peers help you ensure that you set goals take action and get results. If you want to scale blow past roadblocks and achieve success faster than you might think is possible. I suggest you take a visit over to tiepm.com that's tiepm.com and check out the investors and entrepreneurs professional mastermind