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Question: How can I approach a company to buy just their customer database?

Gary Elekes; EGIA faculty member and CEO of iMarket Solutions:

That’s exactly what we want to buy, for sure. It’s really about selling them that your company is going to take good care of their customers first, that your brand is a good fit for their customer database.

They may want to sell you assets. What we do is we simply say, we can structure the deal however you want but what we’re interested in is the customer list, your website, your phone numbers, those types of things.

Usually they’ll ask what they should do with their inventory or their trucks and the answer is, tell them to sell their inventory or return it to a supplier. They should try to get some liquidity for themselves and sell their trucks, or keep their trucks and sell them at auction. That’s the same thing we’re going to do.

If we buy your trucks, we’re not going to pay you anything and we’re going to put them to auction because we’re going to rebrand the new trucks that we would need anyway. Why would I spend $6,000 rebranding a truck that might have 200,000 miles on it and you wouldn’t.

It’s an obvious dramatic question-and-answer, so you just let them sell it to market and get the auction money.

If they have sheet metal tools, we bought a company one time and there were a couple of sheet metal tools that we actually used. We got a trailer in one acquisition. We said we’d buy the trailer. Occasionally you’ll pick up a newer vehicle but for the most part you just tell them up front, “This is what we’re interested in. You can take the cash, take your hard assets and convert them.

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