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|
|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.
|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.
|Jordan Green, JRG Communications - Marketing Services For Brokers, Agents
A marketing communications company assisting business brokers & agents. Services include: social media management, custom website creation & design, content creation services, optimizing & posting listings on business-for-sale websites, custom articles & blog post creation. Call 866-620-2752.
|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.
|Steve Zimmerman: Restaurant Broker Specialist
Steve founded Restaurant Realty in 1996. He has personally sold/leased over 900 restaurants, bars & clubs, & completed over 3000 valuations. The author of "Restaurant Dealmaker - An Insider's Trade Secrets For Buying a Restaurant, Bar or Club" available on Amazon. Reach Steve direct at 415-945-9701.
|Joanne Weber, Broker - Preschool Specialist - Southern California
The Ryan Craig Company is in its 35th year as the recognized expert in Southern California, dealing exclusively in the sale of preschools, Montessori schools, day care centers, and private schools. Our extensive list of references speaks for itself. Phone Joanne at 818-760-3684 for more info.
|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.
|Ralph Santos, Business Broker Specialist - Health Care Related Businesses
Using my MBA and my perseverance I will make things happen! I provide business brokerage niche services specializing in the hospice and home health care agency industry in the Los Angeles County or Ventura County areas. For either buying or selling assistance please phone or email me today.
|Related Articles, Events, Blog Posts, Discussions, Videos, Interviews|
|Business Broker Asks: What's More Important: Branding Myself Or The Company?
As a business broker, branding yourself with consistent and ongoing content is critical to your long-term success. Branding yourself protects you from outside factors that may affect your company's brand in the future and allows you to continue making progress if your company's circumstances change.
|Business Purchase Financing Expert Gives Tips On Proving Cash Flow
What are the actual "provable" adjusted net earnings (cash flow) of a small to mid-sized business being purchased? Buyers need to look carefully at all financial info for the "real" adjusted net income or cash flow. Peter Siegel, MBA (business purchase financing expert) at 866-270-6278 explains.
|FREE Workshop: Due-Diligence When Buying/Selling A Small Business 11/10
This workshop is about the due diligence process of buying & selling a business. Saturday: 11/10 from 9AM - 1PM (refreshments will be served) in S. CA. Phone Willard Michlin (CPA, Certified Fraud Examiner, Due Diligence Expert, Business Broker). Phone 805-428-2063 to RSVP.
|Due Diligence Checklist: 10 Key Items To Investigate When Buying Businesses
Buying a California small business involves reviewing due diligence checklists so buyers can learn enough to determine whether to proceed with a deal. Here's a due diligence checklist. Peter Siegel, MBA (BizBen ProBuy Advisor & Business Purchase Financing Expert) at 866-270-6278 shares his views.
|Attorney Specialist Shares Escrow Instruction Tips When Buying A Business
Once you have successfully negotiated the Asset Purchase Agreement ("APA") for your acquisition it's natural to relax a little and let your guard down. Attorney Specialist Mark Chatow discusses what business buyers should look out for when opening escrow and getting escrow instruction in place.
|BizBen Index: Weekly Results - 274 California Businesses Sold 5/21 - 5/25
For the week of 5/21 thru 5/25, 274 California small businesses were sold by business owners, business brokers, and agents. In 2017 16,956 CA small businesses were sold. So far this year (2018) 3,896 small to mid-sized California businesses have sold so far by business owners, agents, and brokers.
|Podcast/Vlog: Business Purchase Financing Chat: SBA Loan, Non SBA Financing
Ever wonder what is involved in obtaining business purchase financing to buy a business or franchise? Peter Siegel, MBA who has over 20 years advising and obtaining all types of financing for business buyers in this video/podcast - SBA loans, Non-SBA Financing, Alternative Financing Sources.
|Differences Between Business Appraisers, CPA's, And Due Diligence Experts
What are the differences between a Business Appraiser, CPA auditor and Due Diligence Expert - and why should you care? Insights from Willard Michlin, CPA in his latest BizBen blog post that will be useful for someone engaged in, or planning to conduct due diligence in the future
|See All News, Tips And Events|