Who are you and what is your job?
Nicholas Ashford, Partner Fordhouse – I work with MSP owners who are thinking of exiting their business within the next 5 years.
What is your business and what do you do within the MSP space?
We acquire MSPs and I help educate MSP owners about the world of M&A so they better understand their options and can get the best outcome.
Can you explain a little about the business?
Fordhouse invests in essential UK business services that service SME clients. Current investments include:
- Contact Centres
How do you see M&A activity within the MSP industry right now?
Hot, but multiples have probably topped out for this economic cycle.
What advice would you give to MSP owners that are looking to plan for an exit?
Strategic advice: plan your path to exit now whether it’s in 12 months or 12 years. The longer the runway, the easier it is to get where you want to go.
Tactical advice: If you want to exit in the next 2 years, now (2022/23) is probably your best time. Otherwise you will have to wait for the next economic cycle if you want to maximise your returns.
How can your service support MSP owners building their MSP, that will ultimately support an exit?
I advise and help MSP owners on their (often multi-year) journey to exit; as I am an acquirer of MSPs I know what owners need to do to maximise the exit value of their MSP.
In select cases we are also the acquirer of an MSP.
What was the main thing you learned about M&A going through the process?
At the start, I didn’t think about culture, I assumed it was all fluff and looked only at numbers on a spreadsheet.
Now it’s clear to me that the number one reason why deals destroy value is due to poor cultural fit and integration. I now pass on great businesses because the cultural fit isn’t right.
Knowing what you know today about the industry, what would you tell yourself 10 years ago?
Start MSP M&A 10 years ago, before it got busy!
Is there any advice or things to watch out for that you would like to share with fellow MSP / Business owners?
Find an acquirer that you trust (your gut will tell you). Many acquirers will offer you the best (by far sometimes) headline price but over the course of the deal they will chip away at the price and then you are pot-committed and it feels too late to back out and you end up with a bad deal.
Ask to speak to EVERYONE that that the acquirer has bought an MSP from to make sure they are trustworthy and true to their word.
What are you up to now and how can people find out more?
Acquiring high-quality MSPs and educating MSP owners on M&A. I can be reached via LinkedIn in the first instance: or via www.fordhouse.team
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