I really enjoy buyer/seller meetings, also called management meetings by M&A folks. Before the meeting there have been calls, questions answered, valuation dances, and a stream of documents delivered. But until the sellers and potential buyers meet face to face, you really have no idea how it will turn out.
Great potential buyers can turn into aggressive jerks and so-so buyers turn out to be princes. Private equity buyers can frustrate sellers by focusing on earnings, customers, inventory turn, etc. while strategic buyers can frustrate sellers by knowing “too much” about their industry.
I just spent a day and a half with a potential buyer that was so serious about the potential purchase, we decided to go ahead and spend that amount of time with him. Typically I’d allow a buyer about 4-6 hours max for a meeting, and say that we could spend more time after we had signed a letter of intent and entered into due diligence. In this case, the buyer was a real gentlemen and the meetings went well.
It was a gamble that paid off, as he turned out to have the highest offer and we did indeed sign an LOI with him.
Not only that, but this deal is in Washington state. I flew myself up for the meeting in my plane, and on the way back I took a detour over the mountains of Washington. Here is the video of that flight: