Jamie Simpson

The beauty of the acquisition strategies you’ll learn from the Dealmaker’s Academy is that they allow you to buy businesses without ever using your own money as Jamie Simpson has discovered.

Disheartened Dealmaker Discovers a Better Way

Having wasted four years and his life savings on a complex deal that went nowhere, Jamie Simpson wanted a more effective and less costly way to acquire businesses.

Fortunately, he found the Dealmaker’s Academy, and discovered acquisition strategies that don’t involve using your money. He used what he learnt to acquire three businesses without touching a penny of his cash.

What’s more, he did it within a matter of months.

It’s a far cry from his earlier experience. Six years ago, Jamie enrolled in a business buying course after which, he decided to focus on buying care homes, but immediately got stuck with a complicated deal.

“I had a team that advised me to keep the deal going. It was a big transaction; one that was worth double-digit millions. At the time, I owned a small transport company. So, I took their advice, and thought I just needed to keep the deal going.” “There was no deal flow. It was the first deal we came across. There were no deferred elements. The owners wanted 100% upfront.”

“We gave the sellers a deposit upfront, which was my life savings at the time. I was being advised by someone more experienced, who used his own funds as well. I thought, ‘Well, if he’s putting in his funds, then surely I should as well.’” When the deal fell through, Jamie lost everything: his initial deposit, as well as the money he’d paid in legal fees.

“I ploughed so much into that deal. Besides, I topped up their legal fees all the time. I would never do that now.”

Many people would have thrown up their hands in defeat at that point, but not Jamie. “I felt as though I had two options: I could either be like the tortoise who puts his head back in the shell and stays like that for the rest of his life, or I could keep my head out. And the only way a tortoise moves forward is by putting its head out.

So, I thought I’d just keep going and find something better.” Fortunately, he discovered Dealmakers Academy, and signed up for a Mergers and
Acquisitions FastTrack programme, which was held in mid-December. He later decided to become one of Jonathan’s private clients.

“I used the bounce back loan from my current company to pay for the initial course. At the time, I was absolutely penniless. I took a punt, and it’s the best decision I ever made.”

He learnt how to locate targets and contact the owners, as well as the importance of having more than one deal on the go. This made the acquisition process much easier and faster, he says. “I’d been cold-calling targets over the last four or five years instead of the way Jonathan
recommended, which involved sending enquiry letters. I’ve had great success making contact by way of a letter.”

The enquiry letter encourages owners to make contact if they are interested in selling their business.

“They get in touch because they’re motivated, which is absolutely fantastic, as finding motivated sellers is half the battle.”

“If they weren’t interested in selling their business, they wouldn’t pick up the phone to contact you.”

Moreover, he discovered a much better way of financing acquisitions. “Jonathan provided us with multiple options or ways to get these deals
done.”

To begin with, he explored the early learning sector, specifically children’s day nurseries. “People said that they were going to test the waters by sending out about 200 enquiry letters to owners. And I thought, ‘They’re my competition, so if they’re going to test the waters with 200 letters, I’m going to do more.’ So, I sent out about 4000 letters straightaway.”

The phone calls began to flood in.

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“The first call was potentially a really good deal, but I was all over the place, and came across terribly. It was very awful. But I made a note afterwards of what I felt went well, what didn’t, and what information I lacked. I did that with every call moving forward, and used what I learnt to improve.”

Before long, he felt far more confident while speaking with the owners. He discovered that they were the best source of information on the sector. “I was learning as I was going. I started incorporating the terminology from the sector into my calls. And although it might sound like a cliché, things really did get easier.” 

But it wasn’t long before Jamie had to admit that he wasn’t as passionate as he needed to be about the sector he’d chosen. He was put off by the prospect of having to deal with regulations and Ofsted (the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills, which is a non-ministerial department of the UK government; it is responsible for inspecting a range of educational institutions including nurseries).

“It didn’t suit my character. So, I asked myself, ‘What else can I do?’”

Like other dealmakers, Jamie found his answer by listening to the Dealmaker’s Academy podcast that featured Darren Jacobs discussing his foray into the hairdressing market.

“I thought, ‘Hairdressing is very people-focused, which I like. There’s not much regulation. And it’d be a fun industry to work in.’”

He opted to follow Darren’s example and acquire hairdressing salons. Jamie decided to focus on larger salons that operated with a manager rather than one-person operations.

“It was the best move I ever made. I enjoyed the hairdressing sector a lot more than the early childcare sector. There was much less regulation.”

He sent out thousands of enquiry letters; this time to the owners of large salons.

“It’s a numbers game, so I just sent out as many letters as possible. I learnt much about the industry by way of the sellers educating me.”

He looked for sales that would be easy to complete.

 “My first two acquisitions were from a gentleman who wanted to emigrate with his partner. This was fantastic, as he was motivated to leave the businesses quickly. We wrapped up the deal for two salons in April.” The owner stayed on working in the salon until he departed overseas.

“Having the owner there during the transition period helped both staff and customers”, Jamie says. Since then, he has acquired another salon and signed Heads of Terms with three more owners.

Moreover, he has appointed a Managing Director with 35 years of experience in the sector to handle operations so that he is free to pursue
more deals.

For someone so busy, he seems remarkably composed. “It’s all about systems and processes and covering your weaknesses. I don’t know anything about hair salons, so I needed to involve somebody who does. 

My Managing Director ticks all the boxes, and is a strong character, who is used to dealing with staff. It frees up my time to focus on finding other deals and getting them over the line. That’s where my skill set lies. Whereas, handling operations and dealing with staff and salons would stress me out, as that’s not my skill set.”

To ensure that each deal is handled correctly, Jamie outsources the work to a team of experts in accounting, law, and human resources. He
also employs people to do research and bulk mailing of his enquiry letters.

“I’m best at speaking with sellers, building the relationship, structuring the deal, and finally passing it over to the professionals to dot the i’s
and cross the t’s.”

He has learnt, for example, to treat each call from a potential seller as a problem-solving opportunity. Instead of pushing his desire to buy
the business, he listens to understand each person’s problem. And then considers ways to resolve it.

“If somebody calls you up from a letter they’ve received, it means they’ve got a problem they need to solve. I listen and think of a way to solve their problems. And if I can’t solve their problems, I try to help them anyway by putting them in touch with somebody who can.

“Take the gentleman who wanted to emigrate, for example. His problem was that he needed to move abroad, but he had to sell his salons first.
He didn’t want to sell it to just anyone. He wanted to find someone he liked. I took the time to find out what his timeframe was. And with
that, I could offer to buy his salons and allow him to keep earning money by staying in the business until he departed overseas.”

Besides, Jamie has discovered the value of having a full acquisition funnel.

“It is, like I said, a numbers game. If you’ve got 10 deals on the table and two fail, you’re not going to lose sleep. But, if you’ve only got two on the table and they fail, you don’t have any deals.

Suddenly, you’re panicking, and you’re back to square one.”

He has learnt to trust his instincts when talking with prospective sellers.

“It’s important to get to know the character that you’re buying from, and be aware of the red flags that pop up during the initial conversation.”

“A problematic boss will have had a negative impact on the staff and customers. It is better to steer clear of a business that suffers from problems such as low staff morale or poor customer relations, as they will take too long to resolve,” he says.


Likewise, he is now wary of businesses where owners have micromanaged everything. That’s because once the owners depart, the remaining
staff may flounder, unsure of what to do next. In comparison, a company with an absentee owner usually has employees who are more accustomed to using their own initiative.

Jamie says that it’s also essential to understand the fears that the staff members will have when a new owner arrives on the scene.

“Everybody thinks that you’re going to go in there and change everything overnight, which is not the case. We make little tweaks to improve
the business and make the employees’ lives easier.”

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