Welcome!

Recreational Business Partners (RBP) is a national firm specializing in helping people buy, sell, value, and improve businesses. We are a group of professional advisors with over 70 years of combined experience. Our mission is to provide our customers with affordable and practical tools, systems and processes to make sound, confident decisions based on information, experience and knowledge of the marketplace.

We believe that business value is at the core of every decision we make about buying, selling or improving a business, and successful buyers and sellers have one thing in common: they were willing to get an education about valuation and become involved in the valuation process before making a decision. In our electronic world, full of "cookie cutter" computer programs, we take a different approach. We help you navigate through the process with just the right amount of our help. We know that every situation is different, and we work with you to solve your individual challenges.

Since confidentiality and managing conflict of interest are always priorities, we define the scope of our work carefully. We have developed user-friendly tools to access the value of a business and, more importantly, guidelines for what you can do to influence the value. The valuation process allows you to position a business for sale in the future, improve a business, justify an asking price or offer, determine if a particular business or industry is right for you, begin due diligence, or work more effectively with your banker and other professional advisors.

Unlike most firms, our professionals collaborate on each and every project to bring a variety of experience to the solutions for our customers. In addition, we frequently bring in outside professionals in the banking, accounting and legal fields to complete the process.

Buying or selling a business is one of the most difficult and misunderstood transactions there are. Highly skilled and educated business appraisers spend many hours preparing reports that will stand up in court proceedings and cost from $5,000 to $10,000 or more. As a result, each year thousands of buyers and sellers make business valuation decisions based on rumors or their “gut feel” and are frequently disappointed with their decisions.

Congratulations for taking this important step in the business buying/selling process. Your odds for success are greatly improved by focusing on this decision.

Valuation

A practical approach to understanding the value of a business.

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Due Diligence

A guide through the process to prioritize and complete the task.

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Exit Planning

How to position your business to be in demand when you want to retire.

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Financing Assistance

Navigating through the options and feasibility of obtaining a loan.

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Buyer Representation

How to have our experience in your corner during negotiations.

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Business Improvement

Brainstorming to solve the issues that keep you awake at night.

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Services

Valuation

BizValueTools is an affordable, interactive program designed to involve you in the valuation process.

From "what if scenarios" to value drivers for your industry, we help you make a confident decision.

Contact us

You can reach us using the information below, and we'll set up an appointment to learn more about your needs.

Telephone: 406-294-3860
Services

Due Diligence

We have questions, forms and procedures to share with you, but the most important item is our experience.

We know when things don’t look quite right and need better documentation.

We have been there in the real world.

Contact us

You can reach us using the information below, and we'll set up an appointment to learn more about your needs.

Telephone: 406-294-3860
Services

Exit Planning

The most important component is positioning your business for a future sale.

Too many business owners bank on rumors about another business sale or incomplete information about the terms of the sale.

We will help you with good solid information about the real world, early enough to do something about it.

Contact us

You can reach us using the information below, and we'll set up an appointment to learn more about your needs.

Telephone: 406-294-3860
Services

Financing Assistance

It is the elephant in the room.

You can make any deal that you want until you need to explain it to your banker.

Improve your odds by understanding your options in advance.

Contact us

You can reach us using the information below, and we'll set up an appointment to learn more about your needs.

Telephone: 406-294-3860
Services

Buyer Representation

“You don’t know what you don’t know.”

In a perfect world, the buyer and seller would share everything to keep the confidence levels up and the communication flowing.

Reality says that everyone needs to have someone in their corner to reach a good deal.

Contact us

You can reach us using the information below, and we'll set up an appointment to learn more about your needs.

Telephone: 406-294-3860
Services

Business Improvement

“You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”

Brainstorming to solve the issues that keep you awake at night.

We don’t know everything either but we are willing to go out and find someone who does and share the information.

Contact us

You can reach us using the information below, and we'll set up an appointment to learn more about your needs.

Telephone: 406-294-3860

Our professional advisors have the experience to help.

About us

John Halstvedt

John Halstvedt

John has been involved in business sales, ownership, management and consulting for over 35 years in a wide variety of businesses. His experience has led to the development of practical tools for buying and selling businesses. John’s primary role at Recreational Business Partners is managing the valuation services and training for exit planning, acquisition and due diligence.

Dan Singer

Dan Singer

Dan began his career in the construction industry and has specialized in buying and selling campgrounds and other recreational properties for over 20 years. Dan currently manages Recreational Business Partners and specializes in acquisition searches, exit planning and consulting in the campground business.

John Halstvedt

Todd Gainan

Todd spent over 20 years in both retail and wholesale businesses and was the president of a large family business. His experience includes business management, site selection, operations, acquisitions and managing multiple real estate properties. Todd’s primary role at Recreational Business Partners is helping clients with real estate acquisitions, business improvement, due diligence and valuation.

John Halstvedt

Kyle Halstvedt

Kyle is a programmer and computer scientist who sees computers as the ultimate environment for collaboration and teaching. Besides implementing web-based tools to help modernize the workflow at Recreational Business Partners, Kyle is always around to make various machines behave.

Questions? We have solutions.

Our Solutions

We begin every project with a no-cost interview with each customer to learn about their needs, and to be certain that we are able to provide results. We then work through a process to solve the most urgent issues and concerns until our customers are comfortable on their own.

We have learned that buying or selling a business online, without the support of personal interaction, has very low odds for success. We always look forward to your questions and concerns, and encourage you to call or email.

Sellers and brokers can ask for anything they want, and you should not always expect to see consistency from one to the next. There are standards to follow, but your only way to know is to have a system for valuation that you understand and can use with confidence. This really isn’t rocket science and it isn’t expensive like an appraisal but it does need to include your personalized benchmarks, motivation and your ability to obtain financing. What might be a good deal for one person may not be for another due to experience, skills, how it fits with your current situation and your ability to grow the business in the future. This is very teachable and should be where everyone begins the process.
Most businesses are sold due to some kind of a relationship with the buyer, not always through a broker. I would offer the same advice under both situations; don’t talk to anyone without being totally prepared. Odds are, the first person you talk to might be your best prospect and you do not want to blow it. Buyers only buy when they feel confident in the information you provided and if you are scrambling to get the information together, they lose confidence quickly. The process starts with a relationship and your goal is to keep the relationship strong throughout the process by giving information and getting information from the buyer in a methodical way. There are so many businesses on the market today and access to information is easier than ever so your job is to look better than the others on the market. Please see our list under forms available.
Going to the bank is very intimidating unless you are prepared with what the banker is looking for. Think about it like the job interview of your life, good jobs go to the applicant who interviewed well. Bankers try so hard to get along with people and are often not good at laying out the rules in layman’s terms. They want to succeed and they are not really partnering with you. We frequently help both buyers and sellers with their logic and the documentation needed to have a productive meeting. A banker needs to see a well thought out plan for where your equity comes from, your experience, how the debt will be paid back and how you will be able to make a living and improve the business to keep it viable in the future. A banker does not just want to hear what a great deal it is. Please see our list under forms available.
An appraisal is the right document for certain loans, to stand up in court for a divorce, larger business sales, partnership disputes, etc. but they are not great for planning or as a reality check for making an offer, justifying an asking price or for a regular tool for exit planning. We believe that you need more than an opinion of value at a certain point in time. We have developed a tool (BizValueTools) that not only is a fraction of the cost of an appraisal, but it is designed to give you a value and the reasons why. For smaller businesses, what good is the value if you don’t know what to do about it? We use valuation as a learning experience for both buyers and sellers to compare businesses, plan for exiting a business, justifying an offer and as a reality check to see an opportunity is right for you. Read more on www.BizValueTools.com.
Exit plans come in many forms depending on the size of the business and often include insurance policies and sophisticated financial plans and a team for the big guys. A company with a value of $2,000,000 or less normally will be more interested in positioning their business to look good in the eyes of a buyer but you still need a team. They will want to get their systems, employees and assets in a condition that will look attractive to a new owner. A business that depends too heavily on the owner is never good. A buyer is looking for a stable environment with management and reliable systems in place for the future. Knowing how much your business is worth today, and why is the starting point. The last thing you want is to use an unrealistic future value and base your retirement on something that will not come true.
This is a touchy situation because you probably don’t want to loose the employee if the deal doesn’t go through. The good news is that the employee must see value there or they would not be interested but can they afford it? You probably already know if they have the ability to manage, but it is hard to financially qualify an employee without a little outside help. To keep your relationship intact, it would be best to explain that you are going to get some help because you want it done right and because you value them as an employee. Confidentiality is another issue and you don’t want to give up everything unless you have strong reason to believe the deal has a good chance. A few well thought out documents and supporting information for the value in the beginning will help keep things on track and protect your relationship.
When a good business comes along and it is priced right, you probably do not have time on your side. After determining the profile of a good business for you, start with assembling your team, which will also impress the seller. You will need a commercial banking relationship, accountant and lawyer ready to help you and you should not need to pay them unless you find a worthwhile opportunity. A system to evaluate the business financially and from a practical standpoint is a must. You should be comfortable with your ability to make an informed decision before you start and we frequently use hypothetical situations for practice.
I would start with how did you try and for how long? Did you find interested parties who disappeared after the first contact? Today it is actually easy to advertise a business for sale on the many online sites. The problem is, there are thousands for sale and you need to stand out from the crowd. If you provide the basic information that a buyer is looking for along with a realistic asking price, with support for that price, you will look better than the competition. The hard part for a seller is to qualify a prospect but it has to be done. A good set of forms ready to email, including a Confidentiality Agreement and a brief statement about their financial position, is a must. You have to look organized and trustworthy for a potential buyer to be interested.
Due diligence always seems like such a mystery but it is actually more like common sense. We often hear: "Make an offer, put down earnest money and you have 30 days for due diligence." Hogwash! Sellers should listen here too. Due diligence begins the day you discover that a business is for sale. A certain amount of investigation (due diligence) is needed to know if you even have enough of an interest to request more information. The investigation becomes more intense as you move closer to an offer and much more intense to move toward closing. We recommend taking baby steps and starting with the “deal killers” like; do I even have enough money to make this work, and why is the business for sale? National statistics show that more than 80% of the deals fall through but just think about all of the effort and emotion that went into those deals! Why waste a bunch of your time and a bunch of the seller’s time for something that can’t happen? Put your energy into a project that has a chance.
Goodwill is what makes the business world go around. The goal of a small business is to buy assets that can be used to produce income, enough income so that the systems and people in place using those assets are making significant money (Goodwill). If not, why wouldn’t a new person just go out and buy brand new assets and start their own business? When an owner wants to sell their assets in addition to some extra, even though he is not earning significant money, that is usually referred to as “Blue Sky”. The real difference is that Goodwill is what makes a business desirable and Blue Sky is what causes a business to sit on the market for sale and eventually be liquidated for the value of the assets.
And you should be. Owners of good businesses rarely want their employees, competitors, suppliers, landlords and customers to know that they are selling. That is actually sort of strange because one of the goals of a business owner is to make enough money to retire! Did everyone think you should work forever? On the other hand, confidentiality is a necessity and it is well understood by educated buyers. Our goal here is to set up systems to gradually feed the confidential information to “qualified buyers”. This isn’t always easy for a business owner but we can teach you how to do it. If you are planning a couple of years ahead, as you should, we have a better way. You should prepare those around you that you will want to retire at some point and you would love to find a quality person to follow in your footsteps and not just run the business, but improve it too.
Absolutely not, but you do need to give some information about yourself to get information from the seller. This is an exercise in trust and it only happens when both sides are willing to work together. Just try to put yourself in the seller’s shoes; He started this business, worked his or her tail off and this is their baby. The employees are their family and probably don’t know the business is for sale. In the beginning, the buyer is nobody. Just think about it like the job interview of your life. I rarely see a deal go through unless the buyer and seller develop a relationship with each other through mutual respect. From the buyer’s perspective: How can I make an intelligent offer without learning more about the business? You should agree to meet half way and if not, the business might be on the market for a very long time.

Businesses Available

We have confidential listings available. For more information, please contact John at john@recreationalbusinesspartners.com.

Partners/Friends/Links

Guidant Financial - www.guidantfinancial.com

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