So, You Want to Sell Your WordPress Agency?
It happens. You want to move on to another venture, or perhaps you’re burnt out. Whatever the reason, at some point, you’ll most likely sell your agency.
Why listen to me?
I’ve acquired several agencies and have made it a cornerstone strategy for growing CyberOptik. I’ve also run this agency for over 20 years and have seen it and the industry change quite a lot.
I love talking about acquisitions and business development. To help other agency owners who may want to become more familiar with the process, I’ve mapped out this guide to help give you a jumpstart on what to know, what to organize, and where to start when selling your agency.
Table of Contents
- Why Sell Your WordPress Agency?
- How to Get The Most Money
- How To Value Your Agency
- Where to Sell
- What to Look For in a Buyer
- Frequently Asked Questions
- More Resources
Why Sell Your WordPress Agency?
Whether you’re actively running your agency right now or have started to let it be a more passive form of income, there could be any number of reasons you may want to sell. I’ll focus on the two main ones I’ve seen:
It’s a Distraction
You may want to sell if you’ve mentally moved on to another project or business already. If you don’t give it the proper attention, it will most likely fizzle out over time as clients churn, even if it’s easy income in the short term.
You Want Capital
If you need funds for a new project, to buy a home, or whatever it may be, that’s another excellent reason to sell your agency. Remember that, similar to the lottery; you can get a smaller payout up front (still a lump sum) or more over time.
How to Get The Most Money
If you’re looking to get more money when you sell your agency, outside of having a solid history of monthly recurring revenue, my biggest suggestion is to organize your operations.
Here’s the type of information you want ready to go:
For Your Agency:
- When did you first start the business?
- Why are you looking to sell? What are you moving on to next?
- What’s the overall history of the business? (did you start, did you acquire it, how has it grown over time)
- Do you handle in-person meetings with clients?
- How do you get your clients? (What kind of paid advertising, or marketing in general, have you done to get clients?)
- What kind of leads does your agency generate naturally? Whether through referrals, your website, etc.
- What’s your hourly rate?
- What does a typical project look like for you? (pricing, who does the quoting/design/development) (bonus if you have a few won proposals ready to share)
- What all services do you offer, and how are they fulfilled?
- How’s your team structured? Who handles what, and how are they set up (employee, contractor)?
- What are the financials over the past three years? Revenue/expenses/profit per month?
- What are your current operating expenses? (plugins, email, hosting, domains, etc.)
- Do you have any open quotes that are potentially going to close soon?
- Do you have any open projects that need to be closed before the new owner takes over?
- What are opportunities you see for growth that the new owner should explore?
- Make sure you have all of your passwords/accounts organized.
For Your Client List:
Have a spreadsheet or Airtable that shows an anonymized version of your list (here’s a template – open it, go to File > Make a Copy, and save it to your Google account).
Note: for identifiable information such as client names/domains, I’d have this ready, but don’t include it initially, as you don’t want to hand your client list to someone. I’ve highlighted these items in red in the template.
Here’s information I’d expect to see if I were acquiring an agency that hosted their client sites:
- Main Contact
- Billing Contact
- Location (where’s the client located; either a city + state or just a region/state)
- Industry (automotive, software, IT, etc.)
- Price (how much are they paying you)
- Frequency (how often do they pay; monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, annually)
- Renew Date
- Package (what package or services are you handling for them; if it’s a package, include the name and include a list of your package details separately)
- Cost (if those services have a hard cost, such as if you have a whitelabel partner that handles them)
- Client Since (how long have they been a client)
- Built? (did you build the site)
- DNS Access? (do you have DNS access; yes or no)
- DNS Location (where is the DNS hosted, or who has access)
I suggest having a notes document for each client. You wouldn’t share these up front, only once the new owner takes over. You can use this template and create a copy for each client.
You’d fill in what you could, but some are optional. This information includes:
- Client Contacts / Emails
- Communication Preferences (phone, email, zoom, in-person, etc.)
- Business Description (what do they do, how have they used your services, things to know about the client or their business, any general information on project/service pricing, pricing changes, things that the new owner should know)
- Opportunities (what are services/items to keep in mind for the future, potential upsells/cross-sells; things that may have been discussed in the past)
- Target Market & Key Demographics
- Marketing Goals
- Project Overview (if you did their website)
- Any Other Notes (other things that should be known)
Outside of this document, I’d include any client assets. Perhaps the source files of items you’ve designed for them, files you have from projects you did for them, etc. It’s always better for the new owner to have these and never use them than to need them and not have them.
How To Value Your Agency
This is the million-dollar question; what’s your WordPress agency worth?
There’s no right or wrong way to value your agency, but remember that anyone who values your business isn’t going to have the emotional connection you do. You’ve probably put years of blood and sweat into building your agency, and while you should expect a payout, you also need to be realistic.
Generally speaking, you can look to get 1-3X your annual profit.
Be sure to have everything organized as outlined above, so prospective buyers can quickly look/skim to see if there’s a good fit.
Where To Sell
Once you’ve got your operations organized, you’re ready to actively promote the business as being for sale. Here are some ways/places to sell:
I’m biased, but if you want to sell your agency, get in touch. I’m happy to learn more about you, see if we’d be a good fit for each other, and help provide any general guidance I can.
If you’d like someone to hold your hand throughout the entire process, handle the legal aspect, guide you on value, etc., you’ll want to find a business broker. Keep in mind that while they will provide more help, they also take a commission in return.
You can look to a marketplace like Flippa, FlipWP, BuyBizSell, or Acquire. These marketplaces will be the middle ground between going with a broker and selling it yourself. They often offer resources or some level of guidance and give you access to a larger pool of prospective buyers.
Networking is always helpful for sharing ideas, being around people who can better relate to your problems, and even finding someone who could one day acquire you. A group like The Admin Bar is a perfect example; post your interest in selling and see who responds.
Local Outreach / Strategic Partners
Reach out to other local agencies that offer similar services as your agency or to strategic partners whose services complement yours. For example, if there are other agencies within an hour’s radius of you, it may be worth reaching out to them.
What to Look For in a Buyer
Unless you’re only in it for the money, chances are you want your clients to be well taken care of after you’re acquired. With this in mind, here are some things to remember when selecting a buyer for your agency:
Go with someone who has agency experience, whether in the past or they currently run an agency. You’ll need to educate them on how you operate, as each agency does things differently. The last thing you want to do when selling your agency is to train the other person how to run an agency (feel free to test their knowledge with questions of your own).
Get to know your buyers better, and don’t focus solely on the money. You know your clients better than anyone else. Will they get along with the buyer? Will there be a clash of cultures? Is their goal to raise everyone’s prices immediately?
Look into your buyers further; Google their name or company name. See what clients say about them and their business. If they don’t have great reviews, it’s a red flag.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I do to increase the value of my agency?
You want to make it as easy as possible for someone to get a high-level view of how you operate, and if they’re interested, dive into the details. With that in mind, use the templates I included above as a starting point to get organized.
You should also focus on increasing your recurring revenue and decreasing your ongoing expenses.
How should I structure my business to make it easier to be acquired?
The biggest thing is to have structure and not run your agency solely by the seat of your pants.
Keep your team lean, as someone acquiring you may already have an existing team.
Don’t mix your personal projects/resources/accounts with your business/client accounts (or if they are mixed, you’ll want to separate them before you sell).
Have a question that isn’t answered here? Get in touch.
Knowledge is power. If you’re interested in selling your agency, I suggest consuming as much content as possible.
Buying or Selling A Small Web Agency by WP Care Market. I went through this excellent training course with Kristina and Johnny. They walked through the process when Johnny acquired Kristina’s agency. This bundle also includes the asset purchase agreement I use.
Schedule a free consult. If you’re a freelancer or small agency owner looking to sell, reach out, and I’m happy to give you my two cents and answer any questions you may have about the process.