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Sellers: First Impressions Are Critical When Selling A Small Business


First Impressions When Selling A Business

I chat with various business owners every day and hear of a variety of businesses in nearly every imaginable business sector. The businesses that give the best first impression are those that appear well organized, are relatively clean, and where the business owner has books and records readily available. This gives me an indication that the business is most likely well run and that the owner has given some thought and preparation to the idea of selling his/her business.

What is the first thing people do when they decide to sell their car? Many take the car and have it professionally detailed. Those that don’t have it professionally detailed at least either take it to the car wash for a wash and wax, or spend the time and energy to wash and wax it themselves. Will anyone pay top dollar for a car with layers of dirt and bird droppings crusted into the paint? Not likely.

What do people do when they are going to sell their house? Many times they will paint the house, do a bit of landscaping and clean things up so the house shows well. Will anyone pay top dollar for a house that is dirty and cluttered with foot high weeds in the lawn? Not likely.

When it comes to business, the psychology is pretty much the same. I have seen manufacturing shops so clean you could eat off the floor. And, I have seen shops so filthy I didn’t want to sit, lean against, or touch anything. Interestingly enough it seems to be the latter where the business owners insist their business should command top dollar.

A buyer is not going to pay top dollar for a business that appears dirty, cluttered, disorganized and has either no books and records or records that make little to no sense.

The bottom line is that as a business owner, investing a few thousand dollars to have a professional work with you in preparing your business for sale will in most cases give you tens of thousands of dollars or more in return.

Peter Siegel, MBAAbout: Peter Siegel, MBA is the Founder & Senior Advisor (ProBuy & ProSell Programs) at BizBen.com (established 1994, 8000+ California businesses for sale, 500 new & refreshed postings/posts daily) working with business buyers, small business owners/sellers, business brokers, agents, investors, and advisors. Reach him direct at 925-785-3118 to discuss strategies regarding buying, selling, (or financing a puchase of) California small to mid-sized businesses.


Categories: BizBen Blog Contributor, How To Sell A Business, Selling A Business


Comments Regarding This Blog Post

Contributor: Attorney For Buyers & Sellers

If you want your business sold, it is critical in presenting it in the best light. As an analogy to selling real estate, realtors often notice those properties that have the fresh paint, updated kitchen and bathrooms, etc. will sell or sell a lot quicker than those that aren't...And if they aren't in that state, buyers often want something that is a total fixer/needs updating at a bargain price so that they can put in their personal touch. If you see something in the middle, i.e. half done jobs like new doors, but still those old/dinged up but repainted mouldings and baseboards or nice new countertops with cabinets needing refacing, people are more hesitant to buy. Things like this may seem like a cheap fix for the handyman/visionary type of person, but to the average buyer (especially in California), they may see shortcuts and dollars signs. Those little things you thought could save you money and be unnoticed will likely add up and become a big thing to others. Buyers may start to wonder if this is a pattern throughout the business, thus a red flag. If you aren't the handyman type of person, it is wise to hire a professional.

On the contrary, if the business lacks many of the attributes listed in this article, you can take this to your advantage. If a business has not been sold/stale and you see concerns, be comforted that likely does your competition. This may be your "fixer" at a good price. However, it is important to do your due diligence, especially when it comes to location, valuation and financials.


When talking with fast food restaurant sellers, I remind them that the buyer wants to see a business that is bright and clean. A business can have signage in the window, but not too much, because customers should be able to see inside, and this is especially important for liquor stores, because a store where people can not see inside, can be unsafe to who ever is working behind the register (i.e. robberies).


  Helpful Resources To Assist In Selling And Buying California Businesses
Joe Sandbank, Esq. - Legal Services

I have provided legal counsel to business buyers, sellers and brokers for over 17 years. With prior experience as a business broker and SBA loan officer, Joe brings both a practical and legal approach to all aspects of the business acquisition process.

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.

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.

Shalonda Chappel-Pilgram: Escrow Services - Southern CA

Escrow services to brokers & agents, owner/sellers, & buyers. Established 43 years. Extraordinary service. Experienced with handling difficult transactions. One stop for all your escrow needs: Bulk sales, lien searches, UCC searches, liquor license transfers, publishing & recording services.

Brad Steinberg, Broker - Laundromat Specialists

PWS is the leading laundromat broker in California. Since 1968 PWS has brokered over 2,500 laundromat sales. With over 90 employees dedicated to the coin laundry industry, PWS has 18 licensed agents, a 3 person in-house finance department, 10 service technicians and a 20 person parts department.

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.

Helen Yoo: Escrow & Bulk Sale Services - Southern California

New Century Escrow, Inc. is a fully licensed & bonded independent escrow company. Over 20 years combined experience in handling bulk escrow transactions. Multi-lingual staff that speaks your language, including Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese. Call Helen Yoo direct at 626-890-1151.

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.


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