Business Planning and Strategy

From Alarm Systems to Prescriptions to Mosquitoes

Your business is likely your largest asset so it’s normal to want to know what it is worth. The problem is: business valuation is what one might call a “subjective science.”

The science part is what people go to school to learn: you can get an MBA or a degree in finance, or you can learn the theory behind business valuation and earn professional credentials as a business valuation professional.

The subjective part is that every buyer’s circumstances are different, and therefore two buyers could see the same set of company financials and offer vastly different amounts to buy the business.

The one thing that everyone can agree on is that even tiny companies are worth more if they have subscription or recurring revenue.  When even very small businesses with less than $500,000 in sales were analyzed, it was found that the average offer these small businesses attracted was 2.6 times pretax profit.  For a business of that size that is pretty good.

For example, security businesses that monitor alarm systems and charge a recurring monthly monitoring fee to do so are worth about twice as much as security businesses that just do system installations. Retail pharmacies with a large pool of prescriptions for drugs that people take every day, like Lipitor and Lozol, command a premium over a traditional retailer because customers re-up their pills on a regular basis, creating a recurring revenue stream for the pharmacist.

Compare that to the average Mosquito Squad franchise. Mosquito Squad is a Richmond, Virginia-based company that offers to keep bugs off your patio by spraying your backyard regularly with a proprietary chemical recipe approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. Mosquito Squad franchisees target affluent home owners with an average home value north of $500,000 who entertain in their backyard and don’t want to be bothered by mosquitoes. Mosquito Squad operates on a subscription basis. You subscribe to a season of spraying, which includes 8 to 12 sprays, depending on how buggy it is where you live.

Mosquito Squad is a franchise business, and the impact of its recurring revenue model on its valuation is remarkable. According to Scott Zide, the president of Mosquito Squad’s parent company, Outdoor Living Brands, Mosquito Squad franchises that changed hands over the most recent five-year period had revenue of $463,223 and sold for 3.7 times their pretax profit. That’s a 42 percent premium over the traditional value of a company with less than $500,000 in sales, and it’s because Mosquito Squad operates on a recurring subscription model and 73 percent of its annual spraying contracts renew each year.

Whether you plan to build a subscription-based software application or the simplest personal services business, having recurring revenue will boost the value of your most important asset.

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