Industry sector: Leisure

Golf driving range: Buy an existing business

You might decide to buy an existing driving range rather than start your own venture from scratch. Buying a going concern can mean that:

  • the range is already set up which, among other things, means you don't need to obtain planning permission
  • there are established customers
  • the business can generate income immediately
  • suppliers have been identified and relationships established with them
  • the business has a track record, which can help if you are looking for finance
  • staff are already in place
  • the business already has an online presence, for example its own website, social media accounts or entries in online directories

However, look critically at any business that you are interested in to make sure that the price you negotiate with the seller is a fair one. Try to establish why the business is for sale - for example, is the owner keen to retire or is there another personal reason for selling up.

Your market research into the sector as a whole and the locality in particular will help you to establish whether or not the owner is selling because he or she can no longer generate enough income from the business. This may not necessarily deter you - many business people are confident that they can turn a failing business around. The important thing is to have established the current position so that the price you pay for the business is not too high.

Other matters to consider include:

  • the state of the range. Will you have to spend money on refurbishment or expansion or on replacing the supply of balls and hire clubs
  • the condition and value of any stock you are buying if there is a retail side to the business. Check this over carefully before agreeing a price. Contact suppliers to ensure that you are paying a fair price
  • existing staff rights
  • how to retain key personnel once you've taken over
  • does the business owe money that you will be responsible for
  • whether there are any unresolved disputes, such as complaints from neighbours about noise or light pollution

Ask your accountant to look critically at the business accounts for the past three years and discuss with him or her the selling price in the light of what the accounts reveal. Make sure you budget for other professional fees such as legal fees and valuation and survey costs.