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M&A Unplugged

Oct 22, 2019

In this episode, Domenic and Phil Stout discuss:  

  • Phil’s background and how he and his wife were led to owning a small business 
  • Becoming comfortable in a new industry 
  • Preparing ahead of time to buy a business 
  • Owning a business with your partner 


Key Takeaways:  

  • When looking for a business to acquire its key to have a list of requirements that are important to you as an individual 
  • Have a realistic expectation of what cashflow will be expected 
  • Have a good division of labor that focus on each other’s strengths in a partnership 
  • A good ‘elevator pitch’ will create a much smoother process later, establishing a good rapport


"Deal fatigue is a real thing. Making sure that we’re not overwhelming the sellers who have to run a business still, was a huge thing we tried to focus on." — Phil Stout   


About Phil Stout: As the new owners of Sizzle Productions, a 16-year-old staging company, Ashley and Phil Stout stage vacant properties across the Chicagoland area, catering to homeowners, developers and top-producing real estate professionals. Phil and Ashley strive to strike the right balance between aesthetics and function so that buyers can easily envision how they would live in a property. They can make any space “sizzle,” with current staged properties ranging in list price from $140,000 to $2.2 million.   


During their first year owning the business, Ashley and Phil not only maintained the company’s previous sales numbers but beat them. “Seeing existing customers reach out to partner with us on properties again and again is reassuring and gives us confidence in our decision,” Ashley says. “We are particularly proud of two new construction luxury listings for the same client. The properties hadn’t moved for some time but had offers shortly after we installed the staging.”   


Prior to Sizzle Productions, Ashley and Phil both had been working outside of the real estate industry. Ashley had a career in human resources, and Phil was a mergers and acquisitions consultant. After the birth of their second child, they decided it was time to switch directions. Phil applied his M&A skills to identify a business to invest in. “We were looking for an opportunity to work together as a team and have always had a passion for real estate,” Phil says. “The process of buying a business is very much like dating, and after meeting with the prior owners, who also happened to be a husband-and-wife duo, we just clicked.”   


Phil and Ashley have been running Sizzle Productions since November 2018. “Our clients appreciate the ease and simplicity of working with us, from quote to staging pickup,” Phil says. “We work great as a team and are truly interchangeable, which allows us to be very flexible for clients. This has helped us deliver a relatively simple and hassle-free experience.”   


Ashley and Phil focus on providing a stellar customer experience to set themselves apart. “We follow our clients’ properties through the sales cycle, review photos and learn from them. Our excitement comes from getting email alerts that a property has gone contingent or pending. We celebrate each one,” Ashley says.   


Phil and Ashley are Chicago-area natives, and when they’re not working, they enjoy spending time with their two young daughters.  



Connect with Phil Stout:  

Twitter:  sizzle-productions/     




LinkedIn: sizzle-productions/about/ 

Phone: (630) 319-9600 


Connect with Domenic Rinaldi:  

Sun Acquisitions Website:  

M&A Unplugged Website:  




Domenic Rinaldi:  

Sun Acquisitions:  



Sun Acquisitions:  

M&A Unplugged:  











Sun Acquisitions:  



Show notes by Podcastologist: Kim Mavy  


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