Statistics state approximately half of all business sales fall apart during the formal due diligence stage. One of the most common reasons of this is a buyer uncovering an issue or information which the seller did not disclose. Unfortunately, we find approximately 75% of the FedEx Routes we review fail due diligence. We offer the following free FedEx Route Due Diligence information from an unbiased perspective based on the top questions we get asked (Click here for information on our FedEx Route Buyer Support Services):
Q: The #1 question we get, what are FedEx Routes worth?
A: The short answer is whatever the market (someone) will pay. That said, don't overpay or fall for the 3x, 4x, or even 5x of incorrectly calculated "Cash Flow" & Broker/Seller mumbo jumbo! True valuation formulas should be used. Income Based Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) is a good method for valuation. It is a recognized Business Valuation Approach by the National Association of Certified Valuators and Analysts® and American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. It uses Discounted cash flow valuation based on Free Cash Flow (EBITDA minus CAPEX) along with growth factor considerations and a Weighted Average Cost of Capital (WACC) or required rate of return. Vehicles should be valued based on Blue Book Value.
FedEx Routes can definitely be a good opportunity, but setting a purchase price based on 3x, 4x of a loosely defined "Cash Flow", x% of Revenue in isolation, and other methods could lead to disaster. Unfortunately overpaying could lead to the Broker and Seller high-fiving and dancing when the transaction closes and a Buyer that could be setup for failure.
Q: I see ads showing FedEx Routes or Linehaul Runs make a 30% or more margin, is it too good to be true?
A: Yes, it is too good to be true. Routes and Linehaul Runs make an Earnings before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, & Amortized Items (EBITDA) significantly less than 30%. You may be led on to believe there is a 30% margin with EBITDA "Add-backs" included. Don't fall for "Add-backs" to EBITDA, if you do, you may be extremely disappointed with the financial returns you make as the new owner of Routes.
That said, FedEx Routes can be considered a reasonable opportunity and provide a competitive return, but its important to know what that potential return could be and at what price. In our experience EBITDA ranges from negative (routes are losing money) to some upper ranges near 16-18% for well run, high quality route operations where the owner is heavily involved and 100% dedicated to day to day operations. Engaging an unbiased consultant like ourselves is critical to help determine where the routes you are looking at likely fall.
Its very important to note that EBITDA is just one part of an equation when determining the potential return. Looking at it in isolation could be a major flaw. Routes and Linehaul Runs are a very capital intensive. Delivery Trucks and Road Tractors require major capitalized repairs at times (by definition they aren't in the P&L/EBITDA) and scheduled replacement. These activities are extremely costly. Engaging a professional advisor that can calculate CAPEX needs is critical. EBITDA is of little concern without knowing the other metrics, especially if the majority of the EBITDA ends up being used for CAPEX. You would then have very poor Free Cash Flow as result.
Knowing vehicle replacement costs (CAPEX) and vehicle operating costs (capitalized and non-capitalized) inside out are critical in the FedEx Route and Linehaul Run market. Do not purchase any FedEx Routes without modeling the impact of CAPEX.
Q: How can I go wrong with the "Cash Flow" generated by routes or linehaul runs?
A: We've found many of the "Cash Flow" calculations by Sellers/Brokers and biased or financially novice route consultants are incorrect. They omit future capital expenditures for vehicle replacement or CAPEX. For example, let's say you have 10 P&D trucks producing $1,000,000 in annual revenue with an EBITDA of $150,000. Some biased or financially novice route consultants and sellers will say your free cash flow is $150,000. This is completely incorrect and shows a lack of financial skills and knowledge. Future capital expenditures in terms of truck replacements and other items must be in your free cash flow calculations. Don't fall for Free Cash Flow calculations that are generated by someone who doesn't know how to calculate, attempt to leave out key things, or assume vehicles last in perpetuity. If you're getting a loan your cash flow projections for the bank will need natural vehicle replacement in them so model as the bank does.
Q: Are FedEx Routes better than Amazon Delivery Service Provider (DSP 2.0) Routes?
A: We would love to answer this question, but it all depends on your personal preference. We believe Amazon DSP 2.0 routes are easier to operate, require very low capital to start, and are slightly more financially profitable than FedEx Routes. However, Amazon Logistics is a relatively new organization that requires contractor flexibility due to the massive growth. FedEx Routes have slightly lower financial returns after vehicle replacement considerations, but are a more mature and stable organization. It all depends on your goals. If you want to go from 5 to 60 trucks on the road in just months and the challenges (and rewards) with that, go Amazon. If you want something that has been around longer, but with much slower growth (and capped growth), go FedEx Ground.
Q: Outside of financial related items, What should I be asking for in due diligence?
A: One of the first things a buyer should get and ask for is the Seller's current Agreement related items with FedEx Ground. If you can get a copy of the Seller's entire Agreement plus all their performance metrics even better. If not you must have the following as a very first step.
It is critical to engage an independent FedEx route consultant like MyGround® Support to understand what these items represent. It is typically too complicated for a buyer without deep FedEx contracting knowledge to do it on their own.
Q: Why do FedEx Route or Linehaul Run owners sell their routes? Who in the world would want to sell something that makes 30% margins?
A: As noted in an earlier question, the 30% margins don't exist...unless you've fallen for "Add-backs" that are nothing more than creative ways for you to think the routes make more money than what they do. If you, as Buyer think FedEx Ground contracts out services to allow contractors to make more than the Operating Margin it makes (much less than 20%), no offense, but you need to keep your money in your pocket before you loose it all. In our experience a Seller is selling for one of the following reasons.
Q: Can FedEx P&D Routes be run absentee or semi-absentee?, what about Linehaul Runs?
A: We will boldly say anyone claiming FedEx P&D Routes or Linehaul Runs can be run completely absentee has never owned them (we have!) or has something to gain from telling you that they can be. A Buyer could be making a very poor assumption assuming FedEx P&D Routes or Linehaul Runs could be run fully absentee either operationally or from a financial perspective. DO NOT BELIEVE ANYONE THAT TELLS YOU ROUTES CAN BE A PASSIVE INCOME ACTIVITY AS AN INVESTOR. Depending on the level of involvement and margin erosion that will occur, some P&D Routes and some linehaul can be run semi-absentee. Linehaul is likely to have more of a chance being run semi-absentee given the operations, but again do not assume it is possible at all. Margins at semi-absentee involvement are obviously lower than those where the owner runs the day to day operations.
Q: What expenses do I have running P&D Routes or Linehaul Runs, seems pretty straight forward?
A: Sometimes a Broker or Seller shows you a "Proforma" P&L (i.e estimated P&L) that looks like expenses are pretty small in number. It sometimes contains just a quarter of all the true expenses and would be significantly over simplified. Again, don't fall for the "Add-backs" to EBITDA, if you do, you may be extremely disappointed with the financial returns you make as the new owner of Routes. As noted earlier P&Ls DO NOT HAVE CAPEX in them. CAPEX IMPACTS ARE ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTORS IN ROUTE AND LINEHAUL EVALUATIONS.
As for a sampling of expenses...non-capitalized expenses would include, but aren't limited to Fuel, DEF, Payroll, Employer Payroll Taxes, Tolls (P&D only), Parking (P&D only), Parking Tickets (P&D only), Worker's Compensation Premiums, Scanners (P&D only), Tires, Repairs & Maintenance, Non-Capitalized Equipment Repairs, Annual Vehicle Inspection Fees, Rental Trucks/Rental Road Tractors, Heavy Use Tax (Linehaul Only), ELD Service (Linehaul Only), Vehicle Registration/ Vehicle Plate Fees based on GVW, Annual Business Personal Property Taxes, Vehicle Camera Systems, Driver Training Schools (P&D), Employee Timekeeping System/Software, Route Optimization professional fees (P&D only), Accounting/CPA Fees, Payroll Service Provider, Lawyer/Attorney Fees, Recruiting/Advertising Fees, Driver Uniforms, Small Equipment (dollies, carts, etc), Vehicle Washing Vendor, Vehicle Decals, DOT Physicals for Drivers, Annual State Corporation Filing Fees, Business/Commercial Property Taxes on Assets, Mobile Phone reimbursement to drivers,....the list goes on and on.
What should I know about FedEx Routes?
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