Valuation Multiples for a Car Dealership

March 4, 2024

The car dealership industry is divided into used car dealerships and new car dealerships, with nearly 22,000 new car dealerships and over 129,000 used car dealerships across the United States. This sector generates more than $1 trillion in revenue, showcasing a stable demand and frequent business transactions. Business valuations are a critical tool for individuals looking to grow, buy, or sell an auto dealership. In this discussion, we explore how to value a car dealership and the typical market multiples applicable to this industry.

Valuing a Car Dealership

For those considering the purchase or sale of a car dealership, comprehending its value is essential. Buyers benefit from valuations by gaining confidence in the purchase price, while sellers can use appraisals to set a listing price and facilitate negotiations with potential buyers. The valuation process begins with understanding a dealership's worth, which can be initiated through a consultation with a valuation expert.

Valuation Multiples for a Car Dealership

Experts use various methods to determine a car dealership's fair market value, including valuation multiples. These multiples offer a comparative analysis of two financial metrics to establish a dealership's value. For instance, the Seller's Discretionary Earnings (SDE) multiple compares the seller's discretionary earnings to the company's implied value. If a dealership has $775,000 in SDE and a 3.83x SDE multiple is applied, the implied value would be $2,968,250. Conversely, a 4.10x SDE multiple would suggest a value of $3,177,500.

Valuation multiples are based on the sale prices of similar businesses and provide a range of values for a dealership. These multiples include SDE, EBITDA, and Revenue (REV) multiples, reflecting different aspects of a dealership's financial health.

  • SDE Multiple: New and used car dealerships transact at an average SDE multiple ranging from 1.38x to 4.10x. This multiple is used to calculate the business's value by applying it to the most recent 12-month period of revenue.
  • EBITDA Multiple: The average EBITDA multiple for a car dealership ranges from 1.76x to 5.37x. This ratio is applied to the company's EBITDA to determine its value.
  • REV Multiple: Car dealerships typically sell for an average revenue multiple of 0.11x to 0.31x. The dealership's revenue is multiplied by the valuation multiple to estimate the business's worth.

These valuation multiples are guidelines and can vary significantly between dealerships due to unique factors. A valuation expert considers various elements when applying multiples to determine a car dealership's fair market value. This tailored approach ensures a more accurate valuation, reflecting the specific characteristics and potential of each dealership.

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