How much is your architecture firm worth? The decryption

Transfer, partnership, divorce... How to fairly value your architecture firm? Discover the methods to set the right price

Assessing the value of an architecture agency is crucial at various stages of its lifecycle, whether for a sale, acquisition, partnership, or business dissolution. This intricate process involves analyzing financial, operational, and strategic factors to determine the firm's true potential. OOTI delves into the different valuation methods to ensure a fair and accurate assessment.

Revenue-Based approach | A simple starting point

The revenue-based method is a common yet simplified approach to valuing an architecture agency. It involves applying a percentage to the average annual revenue generated over the past three years. This percentage, typically ranging from 20% to 50%, varies based on the agency's specific activities.

While this method offers simplicity, it requires expertise to determine the appropriate percentage. Factors influencing this include:

  • Legal Structure: The agency's legal structure (sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, etc.) impacts accounting specifics.
  • Legal Documentation: Statutes, partnership agreements, pre-emption clauses, employment contracts, etc., affect transfer/sale modalities.
  • Client Base: Client presentation rights, a key value element, must be considered along with other intangible and tangible assets.
  • Accounting Adjustments: Adjustments are often necessary for a reliable financial picture, including receivables, debts, works in progress, etc.

While the revenue-based method provides a ballpark estimate, a rigorous professional assessment is essential for an accurate valuation tailored to the agency's unique context.

Profit-Based Approach | A Viable Alternative ?

The profit-based method values an architecture agency based on its average annual profits from previous years, using a multiplier coefficient. This coefficient, reflecting factors like location and clientele, ranges from 1 to 5. For instance, a higher coefficient applies to an ideally located agency with a prestigious clientele.

However, for architects operating as sole proprietors or civil professional societies, traditional profit calculations may not apply. These structures often declare their income as "non-commercial profits," the difference between annual revenue and expenses.

Reconstructing a "profit" by reintegrating elements like remuneration, social charges, or depreciation allowances may not accurately reflect the economic reality and profitability of the architecture agency's activity.

Moreover, regardless of the legal structure, accounting adjustments are often necessary to account for receivables, debts, works in progress, provisions for risks and expenses, etc., diminishing the significance of the "profit" concept.

Therefore, while the profit-based approach may be suitable in certain sectors, its application to architecture firms demands careful consideration and expert analysis.

Beyond Traditional Methods |Tailored Approaches for Your Agency

Moving beyond the simplified revenue-based and profit-based methods, tailored and in-depth approaches are necessary for a realistic valuation of an architecture agency.

The unique nature of an architecture firm, as a regulated profession heavily reliant on the "intuitu personae" of its leaders and their reputation, necessitates considering multiple specific factors, as mentioned earlier: legal structures, statutes, partnership agreements, pre-emption clauses, employment contracts, geographical location, agency positioning in specific niches or client types, valuation of client presentation rights attached to the manager(s), existence of other intangible assets (brands, patents, ISO certifications, etc.) and tangible assets (real estate, equipment, etc.). The list is extensive !

The solution ? A rigorous methodological approach based on a detailed analysis of each agency's specificities is crucial to accurately assess its overall financial value.

Expert evaluation by a qualified professional experienced in valuing architecture firms is indispensable to identify the most relevant valuation methods and perform the appropriate accounting adjustments. Only this tailored approach will yield a realistic valuation estimate.

If you need to estimate the value of your architecture agency, what better than a tool that consolidates your entire activity? With our management software, centralize all your information in one place: invoicing, subcontracting, project management... And in a few clicks, customize, export, and share your report with your accountant!

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