Richard Bundock

Acquiring businesses is not just for large corporations, but for any business owner with the proper knowledge and expertise as Richard Bundock found to his delight.

Adding £800,000 Turnover Overnight

After slogging for 12 years to grow his marketing technology business, Richard Bundock was desperate to find an easier way to expand.

“I had burnt the candle at both ends for a long time, working through weekends,” recalls Richard.

With the departure of two shareholders who weren’t keen on the direction Richard wanted to take the business, he felt even more pressured.

“We had gotten to a point where it wasn’t working. I changed the business, and the two other shareholders decided that it wasn’t for them. I ended up buying them out, at which point, I realised that the future was now completely up to me.”

The pressure went up a few notches. “I had everything resting on my shoulders, which forced me to look elsewhere for solutions. “When the other shareholders left, the accountants converted the company into a group structure to purchase their shares. I ended up with an SBA, which held the original business. However, it was a bit of a catalyst, as it got me thinking that if I’ve got a group structure now, maybe I could buy another company.”

“I wasn’t very excited about carrying on with just one business, so I started searching the internet for ideas about buying businesses. That’s when I came across Jonathan’s channel on YouTube. I started watching the videos, and things snowballed from there.”

“After listening to one of Jonathan’s courses, I ended up subscribing to the Mastermind programme. That’s what really kicked off the idea that I could go out, buy some other businesses, and bring them into the group. I saw the light.”

Soon Richard realised that acquiring businesses was something anybody could do, given the right mindset and training.

“The thing that really came across is that it wasn’t just for a select number of people, but for anyone with the right attitude and determination who could then go out and buy a business. You might have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince, but you can do it.”

What stood out for Richard was the speed with which it was possible to identify and acquire target businesses. Previously, he’d been told that buying businesses was something that involved a long ‘courtship’ between a business owner and a potential buyer.

“An advisor once told me, ‘You need to work with the owner for a while and really get to know that person. Have conversations and just build up a relationship. Eventually, you’ll both realise that you want to bring the businesses together.’”

Fortunately, Richard discovered more efficient ways of doing things from the Dealmaker’s Academy. A long courtship wastes precious time, especially if it ends in disappointment.

“I started to understand that you don’t have to have done business with potential acquisitions before approaching the owners.” He used what he learnt to identify and approach potential targets. And it worked.

“We have a flagship agency that works on strategic pieces, and we’re bolting on acquisitions that provide specialised technical services in various platforms. “Our pipeline’s now quite full.”

His first acquisition was an asset purchase. “We got in touch with an agency whose owner said, ‘You’ve piqued my interest, but I’m unsure if you’ll want to make a deal, as we don’t have any staff at the moment. We’ve run the business down a bit. Fortunately, we’ve still got the brand, case studies, and website. Besides, we’ve still got inquiries coming in, but we just don’t have any staff now. I’m kind of using it as a contracting vehicle’.”

Richard investigated further and really liked what he got to know. “It fit quite well into my existing business. So, we went back to the owner and said, ‘Look, we do want to make a deal, but not a share deal.

We’re going to do an asset deal because we just want the brand, case studies, website, and inquiries.’” And within two weeks, the deal was agreed upon. 

We paid just over £10,000 for the assets. One could say that that’s a lot of money for some pixels, but we’ve already had an inquiry that’s gone through to our main business and been picked up. Our team did a pitch for the work and won.”

The new contract was worth more than £10,000, which made the acquisition well worth it.

“One reason for picking up the business was that we already have another company to which we can send enquires.” “The second reason was so that we could tell everyone we’d done a deal. As Jonathan says, the first deal makes a big difference. We probably talked to 40 or 50 agencies before that deal. In those conversations, everyone asked, ‘What other deals have you done?’ Of course, we couldn’t really respond because we hadn’t even done one.”

The game changed once Richard completed his first deal.

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“We have a bit more gravitas with people. After hearing from us, they first type in the agency’s name and go and look at it. It has made a difference.”

Since then, Richard acquired an agency that specialises in a specific software platform. The deal took four months to finalise, and the acquisition involved a share purchase. The second company had a staff of six and a turnover of about £800,000.

“The only drawback on the deal was that the guy who was the linchpin of the business as far as operations were concerned decided not to stay on, but was happy to become a consultant developer.”

Luckily, there was someone who could manage operations. “As we looked into the business, we discovered someone who was managing the office with incredible capability. Thus, we helped the person grow into the operations role. In the short to medium term, we moved someone from our existing business across.”

The new business is run remotely, which has made things easier, says Richard. “It’s all done in the clouds as I like to say. There’s no central physical office because everyone’s working remotely. In fact, one of the guys is in Lithuania. So, it’s been pretty easy that way.”

The acquisition has meant that Richard has added £800,000 to the existing business. Even better, news of the purchase has sparked interest among his clients. “They’ve been saying, ‘Oh, that’s really interesting. We’re thinking about using that platform as well. Can we have a further conversation?’ Moreover, the clients in the business that we’ve acquired have expressed interest in our other work. We said, ‘Oh, by the way, we’ve got this strategy agency, and they responded, ‘We love what we’ve been working on with you, but we’ve got all these other things that we’d like to talk about. We don’t have an agency to go and talk about strategy.’”

“We’ve got this wonderful thing, where one plus one equals three. We have these two businesses,
but together, they can provide far more capabilities to the clients that we serve.”

With two acquisitions under his belt, Richard is keen to do more. “I’m incredibly excited about it. I think about it every second of the day. I can’t wait for the next acquisition. If we make the right acquisitions and add the right technologies, it will multiply the group by more than the acquisition costs.”

Richard wants his group to be one of the top five independent agency groups in the UK within the next five years. “We need to make about 20 acquisitions to get there; that’s the plan. We’re getting our pipeline of acquisition targets together, and we’re just going to go for it.”

The acquisitions he has completed were made easier with help from the specialist advisors he hired.

“The most challenging part of the process was getting my head around some of the more technical stuff. I’m reasonably okay with the law, but not the accountancy stuff. As we go through the deal, when accountants start talking, it really bends my mind.”

“As we entered into the deals, we had people to go talk to and work with. We already had HR consultants and a few other advisors, but we had
to find a new law firm. As our usual commercial lawyer didn’t do M&A, he recommended someone, who turned out to be brilliant. Having the deal team together before talking to people about deals was super useful.” 

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