I'm looking at a professional services business with a passive seller where the general manager that runs it is paid 20% of annual revenue as their salary, and all others are paid hourly at much more affordable rates. The seller says all of the employees including the GM want to stay on, but he wants to value the business net of the general manager's salary and sell the business to an owner/operator who will be a more hands-on operator.

My preference is a passive ownership model, and to keep the operation running as close to the same as it was pre-acquisition (including having the existing management team stay on). Do you think these buyer and seller preferences are fundamentally incompatible? Any creative ideas for how to make this work for both ends on valuation and with operating post-acquisition? One idea I had was to take out the revenue associated with this GM if we were going to take their costs out of the valuation as well.

Thanks for your input!