I'm about to buy one myself. I'm getting a van and some tools, but the main thing worth paying for is the name (established 20 yr business) and phone number. Basically I'm buying customers. All I have to do is maintain them and I'll be set, I hope.
I bought a small one man shop that had been around 20 years. My first year the repeat customers easily carried the business. I also nearly doubled what my buddies where doing setting up their own shops and was able to help them out with some of my overflow work. If you pay the right price equipment, van, + no more than 20% of the cost goes to "goodwill" (customer base) you can do well.
If you live in a small town. Buying a small service company = eliminating a competitor.
I negotiated to buy out a commercial competitor of mine. Just to eliminate him. He wanted me to keep him on garaunteed 40 hours a week for 5 years:no:. I said no way. He closed the doors about a year later.
Worst part about negotiating a buy out is. They think all their crap is worth WAY more than it is.
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