Saturday, August 14, 2010



PALM CITY, Florida - Today I'd like to write about the different ways a professional can go about evaluating a business. Hidden deep in places only the current owner knows are minefields like pending lawsuits, staffs made up almost exclusively of relatives and insider information about cash transactions that could be much greater or less, depending on who is asking questions. Were the businesses furnishings and equipment purchased new or at rock bottom prices from an auctioneer? If new, how long ago? What does the lease look like? Is there room to expand either the facility or the product line? Of particular importance is how long the business has thrived in it's present incarnation (products, location, etc.). Those occupying the same structure for many years should be required to produce lots of financial records. Conversely, newer businesses must be judged and appraised by a different set of standards - using an asset based valuation method. Where is the business located? It almost seems like different standards apply as to general locations too. In Miami, Fort Lauderdale or West Palm Beach you'll find more unusual situations than in smaller cities such as Stuart or Fort Pierce. In rural Florida, where development significantly alters demographics, new business ventures can be like buying Lottery tickets - guaranteeing success is impossible because there's no set of statistics to rely on.

Restaurants, of course, always seem like logical investments for both those already in that business as well as the dreamers among us. Want to sell liquor? The liquor license alone could be the establishment's most valuable asset or no more than a convenience item. Liability insurance rates usually increase dramatically once liquor is added. If the place doesn't serve liquor, perhaps, as we have here in Florida, it serves wine and beer only. Is a liquor license obtainable - and for how much? The clear deterioration in restaurant spending hits specialty restaurants particularly hard. This factor must be addressed if you plan to sell sushi instead of sandwiches. Does the restaurant have intangible assets such as customer lists, contracts or affiliations with groups using the facility for meetings, etc? Have they developed an online presence such as a web site or blog?

Regardless of the type of business there are other important considerations such as competition from like businesses, is there a strong management team in place, does the business offer diversified products, can it withstand a weak declining market? Become familiar with the term "intrinsic value." It is basically the study of quality or value. Assuming it performs well, will you be happy in this business?

Want to open a nursery and shop along a busy state highway? How far from Wal-Mart and Home Depot's plant shops? When it comes to ornamentals, it may seem as if there is an overabundance of wholesalers out there but when stocks are low and the big box guys both out-order and out-bid you there's nothing you can do - unless the plant wholesaler is your cousin, and even then the percentages are probably against you.

An appraiser or CPA can give you a big edge in purchasing existing businesses. We'll find answers to both the important questions and those that might seem trivial but usually aren't. Truthfully, it's not rocket science and anyone can do it but preparing a thorough report is time consuming. Have lots of time on your hands? Do it yourself. Before long, you'll get the hang of it. Need a better, more experienced set of eyes to do it for you? Spend a few thousand dollars and sleep better at night on that mattress full of cash your small business earned for you. Call a Business Valuation Appraiser such as St. Lucie Appraisal or a CPA.

Our service area includes St. Lucie, Martin, Indian River, Brevard, Palm Beach, Broward and Dade Counties. Cities include Fort Pierce, Port St. Lucie, Stuart, Palm City, Jensen Beach, Hobe Sound, Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens, West Palm Beach, Lake Worth, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Boca Raton, Deerfield Beach, Coral Springs, Coconut Creek, Pompano Beach, Tamarac, Sunrise, Lauderhill, Plantation, Fort Lauderdale, Davie, Pembroke Pines, Miramar, Hollywood, Hallandale, Miami, Opa Locka, Hialeah, Coral Gables, Kendall and Homestead.

Diminished Value Appraisals throughout Florida including, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Jacksonville, Orlando, Pensacola, Fort Myers, Sarasota, Port Charlotte, Clearwater, Kissimmee, Melbourne, Daytona Beach, Ocala, Gainesville, Bradenton, Titusville, Panama City, Bonita Springs, Naples, St. Petersburg and Tallahassee.

Our rates for services are as follows:

Auto Appraisals (Donations, Bankruptcy, Divorce, Insurance Disputes) $125.00

Stated Value Appraisals (Antique & Classic Cars, Street Rods, Motorcycles, RVs, Trucks) $175.00

Diminished Value Appraisals (Determines how much less your car is worth after accident repairs) $225.00

Personal Property Appraisals (Contents, Collectibles, Art, Antiques) $225.00

Small Business Valuations $75/Hr.

All other services and additional time when necessary  $75/Hr.

You may obtain appraisals for Charitable Donation Tax Credits, Collateral, Damage Claims, Equitable Distribution, Bankruptcy, Estates, Insurance Stated Value, Purchase & Sale and Diminished Value.

Appraisals of Personal Property, Art, Boats, Classic & Custom Autos, Collectibles and Memorabilia, Electronics, Machinery, Motorcycles & Choppers, Furnishings, RVs, Trucks & Heavy Equipment. Business Valuations specializing in all types of small businesses.

The St. Lucie Appraisal Company
P.O. Box 2700
Fort Pierce, FL 34954
Phone: (772) 359-4300
Fax: (772) 466-8400

Keywords for this article: APPRAISAL, APPRAISER, business, CPA, FLORIDA, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Pierce, furnishings, insurance, Miami, restaurant, small, small business, st. lucie appraisal, Stuart, valuation, West Palm Beach

Revised 09-04-2012
Updated 06-20-2013