Important Questions to Ask When Selling Your Propane Business

Important Questions to Ask When Selling Your Propane Business

Every independent propane business is different. From staff to services to serving customers in their local community, they each have a unique history, a story that’s all their own, and a legacy to preserve.

If you are a propane owner or operator that’s considering retiring or potentially selling your business, finding the perfect acquisition partner is critical to ensure your legacy lives on.

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, finding the right partner to carry on what you’ve worked so hard to create doesn’t have to be painful. In fact, it can be exciting and enlightening, if you know the right questions to ask before you begin the acquisition “journey.”

If you’re interested in selling your independent propane business, here are the most important questions you should ask any potential buyer.

Does the company’s values and mission align with yours?

The decision to sell may not be easy, but before you talk about dollars and dates and details of your business, start the conversation by understanding the foundation of theirs.

  • What are their values and vision, their mission and motivation?
  • What is their teams’ background and their story?
  • Will they honor your history and recognize your hard work?
  • Will they respect the local legacy of what you’ve built?
  • Is their intent to evolve your existing brand or erase it?
  • Do they care about the community you’re in and the customers you’ve served?

For most independent propane owners and operators, making sure that your acquisition partner’s mission aligns with yours is the most important question to ask before you ever mention money.

A partner that’s truly committed to continuing your legacy, spirit and success – what you’ve worked your whole life to build – is paramount. As such, start there.

How will the company maintain your established legacy and continue your tradition of excellence?

Once you’ve determined that your acquisition partner does align with your core values, the next questions to ask are about how they will execute on it.

Essentially, how do they plan on continuing what made you so successful – the staff, the service, the special relationship with customers, etc. – while also focusing on the future to help expand and optimize each operationally?

  • Will they remain actively involved in your local community?
  • How will they standardize, support and improve current services?
  • What tools, technology, or team changes do they plan on implementing?
  • How do they plan on increasing current sales?
  • What are some ways they may be able to improve customer service?

Finding a partner who brings a sophisticated, yet small-town philosophy in their approach to your local business and has the industry know-how to scale your success will bring you the profit you seek, the peace of mind you want, and ensure the perception in your local community stays strong.

Sadly, some of the biggest companies out there who are buying independent propane marketers claim to care about these things, but end up turning your brand into the same cold, corporate “shell” of a business you’ve been competing against for years.

So look for those that see the world as you do. Those special partners are out there. And while they’ll pay you a competitive market price for your business, the very best ones also provide authenticity, experience, and transparency in everything they do – including maintaining your established legacy and continuing your tradition of excellence.

Does the company have a transition plan for your employees?

Like any family, you probably love your staff (or at least most of them) and want them to be taken care of after you retire or sell your business. Good help truly is hard to find, and both customers and potential buyers realize that too.

  • Are there any career opportunities for key employees?
  • Any plans for competitive compensation packages?
  • Is there a focus on safety, continuing standards, and ongoing training?
  • Will you implement regular meetings and establish milestones for success?

Trustworthy, hardworking, helpful employees are the heartbeat of any propane business, and for good reason. Without them, you’d be out of business. And any good acquisition partner understands that too.

But while there’s never any guarantee each staff member sticks around or that every employee will forever have a job, asking the right questions to ensure there is a plan in place for the very best ones will mean you can rest easy long after after you retire.

Will the company provide marketing exposure, sales growth and financial stability?

While honoring your history is important, focusing on the future to help expand and optimize your propane business operationally is paramount. Frankly, that dedication to improvement and iterating on what you’ve already done is the only way to truly ensure your legacy lives on and your entrepreneurial spirit is rewarded.

  • Does the potential buyer have a proven track record of success in this industry?
  • Are they motivated by both revenue and relationship-building?
  • Are they well-connected, well-capitalized, and well-organized?
  • Is their team marketing-savvy and interested in using technology smartly?
  • Do they have a reputation for bringing integrity, reliability and trustworthiness to every acquisition?

The very best acquisition partners bring a unique combination of all the above and will use industry expertise, local knowledge, and proven experience to scale independent propane businesses, both large and small.

Will the company pay the proper value of your business?

Your legacy, local community, and the livelihoods of your employees aside, ensuring you get a competitive offer and a customized deal in place is the most important thing to consider when selling your propane business either now or in the future.

Every business is unique, every location is special, and every owner/operator may be motivated differently, so before you talk dollars and sense, make sure a potential buyer checks the following boxes:

  • Will they develop a customized exit strategy and purchase agreement designed around your individual needs and goals, as opposed to forcing you into a “one size fits all” model?
  • Regardless of determining what your business is actually worth (that comes later), are they making the entire process as simple and straightforward as possible?
  • Are they able to answer all your questions, address your concerns, and work alongside you versus
  • Is there approach personalized and an alternative to the intense, high-leverage approach of most other large propane companies and consolidators?
  • Do they want to learn more about your propane business and discuss a potential transaction in a discreet, fair, and transparent manner?
  • Are they creative and customizable with how they structure a mutually beneficial deal that will benefit both parties?

The connection owners often have with their business and getting to the “sell” decision is not always easy. But once you’ve arrived at that decision, asked all the right questions, and determined that your potential acquisition partner has both integrity and your best interest in mind, you can narrow down the options for buyers and know who will carry on your legacy and continue it into the future.

The answers to the above questions will make the next big discussion – what your business is actually worth – much easier and efficient, as it will come from a place of mutual respect. And the outcome and opportunities for you, your staff, and the future of your propane business, will be far more meaningful.

When You’re Ready to Talk, We’re Here to Listen.

Platform Fuels has successfully acquired many local propane businesses just like yours. Beyond providing complete transparency and competitive valuation, we are dedicated to continuing the local legacy, entrepreneurial spirit and long-term success of independent propane owners like you.

We take a ‘jeans and boots’ approach to acquisitions, so we work with every potential seller personally to develop a customized exit strategy and purchase agreement designed around your individual needs and goals.

Our team is happy to answer all your questions simply, honestly, and confidentially to help determine what you will need if you are thinking of selling your propane business either now or in the future.

Let us walk you through all the ins and outs of selling your propane business and discuss your goals as an owner by contacting us at [email protected] or by filling out a simple form to get started.

Platform Fuels