Why Young Agency Owners should Utilize an Agency Valuation as a Business Planning Tool
By Craig Niess, MBA, CVA and Luke Hippler, MBA
In today’s business climate, agency owners can no longer afford to use revenue multiples to understand agency value. The exact calculation of agency value requires a much deeper dive into the numbers, employees, and operation to get an accurate assessment of an agency. Understanding agency value is essential for M&A opportunities, perpetuation (both internal and external), business planning, and the overall health and well-being of your agency.
If you are putting off getting an agency valuation, you should understand that the longer you wait, your agency could potentially decline in value until it is time to sell or make an important business decision. A valuation allows you to gain a comprehensive understanding of your agency’s value and make the appropriate decisions to continue to grow.
According to the Big I Best Practices, there are multiple ways in which an agency can create value, which includes:
- Strong leadership and management
- Top performing producers, sales process, and sales leadership
- Gaining competitive advantages (better employees and culture, better reputation, innovation)
- Effective operations, efficient processes, and customer service
- Superior ownership, perpetuation, and a sustainability model
- Successful acquisition strategies
In order to achieve any of these listed above, an agency looking to create value should begin with a valuation. A valuation will allow you to build on your strengths, address your weaknesses, identify operational inefficiencies, and make decisions on potential investments for the future.
What better way to becoming a superior agency in the insurance industry than knowing exactly what you are worth in the market? It is a critical piece of knowledge enabling you to create value and grow.
Next, getting a valuation early and often will have significant long-term benefits for agency owners. The average age of an owner getting a valuation for their agency is 58.7 years of age. At that point, the agencies could have lost significant value because the older the owner, the lower the value of the agency.
Our data shows that owners in their 40’s have the best potential for a higher EBITDA multiple, and as a result, the best potential for a higher value on their agency. The statistics tell us that younger agency owners who use the valuation as part of their business planning, will see a significant increase in value versus their older peers.
Additionally, agencies that use valuations as business planning tools, see a greater return on investment. From the valuations we have done in the past, we see that agencies that have business planning in mind, have higher revenue growth. These agencies with a business planning mindset have enjoyed an average two-year growth rate at 10.2%.
As you can see from the graphs, not only does the owner age play a factor, but using your valuation to drive growth can also play a significant role in increasing your agency’s value.
To illustrate the benefit of using a valuation as part of your business planning, consider this example: There are two agencies: the Miller Agency and the Johnson Agency. Both agencies have revenues in the range of $600,000, have EBIDTA profitability at the industry average of 25%, and both are looking to get a valuation of their agency. The Miller Agency is getting a valuation with the purpose of business planning, while the Johnson Agency is getting a valuation with a sale (external) in mind. Although they bring in nearly identical revenue and have the same EBIDTA profitability, there is nearly a $60,000 difference between the two agencies due to the EBIDTA multiplier.
As you can see, agencies that use valuations for business planning have a higher multiple than agencies that use valuations for other reasons. Using a valuation for business planning has multiple benefits and provides the most potential for higher valuations.
In conclusion, we recommend that agency owners receive a valuation well before they approach retirement age. By understanding their value and knowing the factors that can be tweaked to increase value over time, agency owners will position themselves for the best possible exit when it is time to transition the business.