Over the years I have seen many appraisals from many different appraisers. I have been totally surprised by the wide variations of methods and the accuracy of these appraisals.
Appraising businesses accurately is not an easy task. There are about five different methods that can be used along with variations in the purpose of the appraisal. None of these methods addresses the total value of a business by its self. One method might look at cash flow value another at asset value and another at a capitalization rate. It is up to the appraiser to pick the appropriate method or give each of the methods used a percentage of the final value. Purpose also changes, as an appraisal done for the sale of a business will be different than one done for a divorce. Also, the IRS has certain requirements that must be followed for any appraisals submitted to them for such things as change in corporate structure or family trusts.
Financial statements and tax returns can create problems. Financial statements are always different, and tax returns don’t always match the financial statements. I can spend hours going through the documents, talking to the business owner or the business’ accountant looking for answers. To do an accurate job on the appraisal I have to understand these documents completely and how they relate to each other.
There is a wide variance in the quality of business appraisals mostly because of lack of experience. It is easy to pick up an accounting book and find the different methods of doing an appraisal, picking out a formula and plugging in some numbers. This process doesn’t necessarily give you an accurate appraisal. Most accountants know this and turn to an experienced Business Appraiser for an appraisal. Also, be aware that there are appraisers that stuff the appraisal with irrelevant and highly technical information to exaggerate the complexity of the appraisal or over inflate the appraisal to make an owner feel he has a high value business. With a growth in the internet, we now see “fill in the blanks do it yourself” business appraisals. It is not possible to get an accurate business appraisal this way. There is no way to provide a short cut to an accurate business appraisal.
I use a blended method of appraisal consisting of cash flow, asset value and market analysis. This blended method evaluates all items that create value in a business. I never have to guess if I am using the correct method or find percentages to use for each component. I have successfully used this process for over 25 years for business sales and business appraisals. My goal has always been to provide clear, accurate and affordable appraisals that meet the needs of my clients.
Robert A. Klein
President Business Appraisals