Chances of success in business sales multiply dramatically when owners and brokers work actively together through the entire process. I find that many automotive owners (and sellers in general) feel so engulfed in running their shops that they do very little to help the broker along the way. They presume their broker "does all that sales stuff."
Many owners tell themselves, hey, if I'm paying this guy a hefty commission, he better work for it. Which is true. Still, there is no commission if there is no sale. And we brokers are well aware of the prevailing statistics - more than 70% of business listings don't sell. That creates a pecking order, a priority system in the broker’s mind. You may not know it but it's possible the broker has you pegged as a business with a very low probability to sell and isn't spending any time on your listing.
Here are 7 ways sellers can get the most out of their brokers and increase their chances of crossing the finish line.
Verify the Marketing: Sadly, the vast majority of brokers do very little to actively and actually market your business for sale. In our internet universe, it's become almost standard practice for many brokers to post their business listings on a small handful of websites, then sit back and hope for the best. It’s important to understand what marketing methods are actually being employed. Ask if he does email blasts. Direct mail. Phone prospecting. In-person canvassing. Has he asked you which employees, competitors or neighbors may be important to call as potential buyers? And does he know who NOT to call to protect your confidentiality?
Consistent Contact: A broker will work harder when someone is watching. Most of us will hate to admit it but it's a simple reality. Owners will get better service, greater sales exposure, and ultimately better results, when they remain actively involved in the marketing and sales process. You should not go more than two weeks without speaking with your broker, even if it's simply to get a marketing update.
Information Check: Before hiring a broker to represent you and your business, ask detailed questions about how they market your business, how they find buyers, and how they will present the information. Make sure you review and approve the flyers, executive summaries and marketing pieces that go out. Don't presume the broker is getting it right. They often don't.
Anonymous Checkups: There's nothing wrong in a business owner checking up on his or her broker from time to time. Have a friend or colleague anonymously inquire about your business. See if your broker is returning calls promptly, giving accurate information, pointing up the benefits and advantages of your business. Determine if your broker is properly "selling it." Let the broker know what you found.
Staging Your Business: Realtors spend quite a bit of time and effort "staging" a home before putting it on the market. They have sellers not only clean and unclutter the home but sometimes repaint, re-carpet or re-landscape. Business owners should do the same. Whether you’re selling an auto repair shop, restaurant, manufacturing facility, pretty much all businesses can look better and project a more positive image with minor cosmetic improvements. It may seem insignificant but it signals to potential buyers that the business is being cared for and gives them more confidence.
Pay Upfront Fee: I know many of my broker colleagues vehemently disagree with the idea of charging a retainer or any type of upfront fee to business owners. The practice is more common in larger M&A transactions and on the East Coast. The prevailing attitude here in California is that Main Street retailers and small business owners will be turned off by an upfront fee and view the broker as a crook or an opportunist. Brokers often resist the upfront fee because it discourages listings and puts pressure on them to perform. As long as it’s not a huge amount, owners will get better results when they and their broker are invested fully. Paying a small fee spurs action and creates cooperation in a way that is more than worth it.
Price It Properly: Do yourself and your broker a huge favor. Price your business appropriately. Have reasonable expectations. Don't expect the broker to achieve an unbelievable price. One thing sellers often don't consider - when they demand an inflated price and demonstrate they're not willing to come off it, the broker won’t have much enthusiasm for working on your deal. You're not likely to get great service.
It mostly comes down to consistent, honest communication between owners and brokers. When you invest the time, it's much more likely to end in a pleasing sales experience.
About The Author: Brian Loring has been a broker since 2005, closing more than $150 Million in business and commercial transactions. He focuses on the automotive sector, providing unparalleled service to owners of repair, body, smog, tire, brake and lube shops in the LA and Ventura County areas. Brian can be reached direct at 818-973-2755.
|Helpful Resources To Assist In Selling And Buying California Businesses|
|Jordan Green, JRG Communications - Marketing Services For Brokers, Agents
JRG Communications is a marketing communications company assisting business brokers & agents. Services include: social media management, custom website creation & design, content creation services, optimizing and posting listings on business-for-sale websites, custom articles & blog post creation.
|Diane Boudreau-Tschetter: Escrow And Bulk Sale Services
California Business Escrow, Inc. is a full service independent escrow company serving all of California and has expertise in a wide range of escrows. Our team prides itself on providing an exceptional escrow experience. For more info phone Diane Boudreau-Tschetter at 888-383-3331 or 209-838-1100.
|Mark Chatow, Esq.: Legal Services For Buying, Selling Businesses
Mark has a broad range of small business purchase & sale experience from analyzing potential acquisition targets to successfully guiding buyers and sellers through the purchase & sale of small businesses. Mark can assist with contracts, negotiations, legal matters, etc. Reach Mark at 949-478-8393.
|Willard Michlin, CPA, Certified Fraud Examiner, Due Diligence Services
Willard Michlin, CPA #106752, offers buyers step by step training & assistance in doing Due Diligence Services when they are thinking of making an offer, or are in process of investigating a business purchase. He helps to determine the actual net profit even when there is cash. Call 805-428-2063.
|Brad Steinberg, Broker - Laundromat Specialists
Laundry specialists - founded in 1968 by three laundry professionals, PWS is a family-owned corporation. Through the years it has grown to become the largest vended laundry equipment distributor in the United States. Call Brad Steinberg at 323-721-8832 to sell or buy a coin or card laundromat.
|Peter Siegel, MBA - SBA Loans, Non SBA Financing Assistance
For over 25 years I have provided niche business purchase financial advisory and loan placement services with SBA and Non-SBA Loans, Retirement Plan Conversions, Private Investors, etc. Financing amounts available: $20K to $7MM. Call today to get pre-qualified or receive financing: 866-270-6278.
|Janet Carrera - Escrow & Bulk Sale Services - SF Bay Area
Redwood Escrow Services, Inc. is a full service, licensed independent escrow company. We are EAFC Fidelity bonded, fully insured & licensed with the Department of Corporations. Committed to offering our clients the most comprehensive variety of escrow services available. Phone Janet at 510-247-0741.
|Elizabeth McGovern: Escrow Services - SF Bay Area
McGovern Escrow Services, Inc., is a leading independent escrow company. We are a trusted partner with our clients, assisting them through the tangled bulk sale & liquor license transfer process. We provide attentive, quality & innovative customer service. Phone Elizabeth McGovern at 415-735-3645.
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