Should Owners Hire Agents To Sell Business Listings?


Agents To Sell Business Listings

When the owner of a restaurant, retail store, janitorial service company or other small California business is ready to retire, it usually is a good idea to hire agents to sell business assets as part of a package that includes goodwill also called going business value.

Yes, the seller may be able to locate a buyer and conduct a sale without professional help, but because there are so many challenging problems associated with business transfers, it usually is smart to engage a business sales intermediary to launch the campaign and then manage a transaction.

Even though a hefty fee has to be paid for that service, it's almost always better to have the intermediary do the work.

The fee can total more than ten percent of the selling price. That seems very costly for many sellers. And they often fear they'll lose control of a deal if a third party is involved. But for at least seven reasons, most sellers should not trust themselves to handle the sale. Instead, they're smart to sign a listing with a competent business sales expert. Those seven benefits are:

1. Because they are in touch with many motivated buyers who are financially qualified, agents will have a bigger market of potential purchasers to draw from than will most business owners.

2. One of the biggest problems associated with trying to sell your own business is the time and risk involved in dealing with people who are curious about the business, but may not be financially able to buy it, or qualified to run it. Business sales agents and business brokers specialize in making sure the people introduced to your company have some interest and the ability to follow up with that interest.

3. When a seller hires agents to sell business assets, he or she will be able to benefit from the professionals knowledge of how to keep the intended sale a secret. It usually is important that employees and customers of a business don't know that it is for sale. The DYI (do it yourself) seller may have a difficult time, when responding to buyer inquiries and scheduling showings, trying to maintain confidentiality about the intended sale.

4. The business sales intermediary, as a third party, is usually in a better position to negotiate a deal between a seller and the buyer, than is one of the principals in the deal. Because of the seller's emotional involvement and lack of objective perspective, he or she may not be as effective as a skilled outside party at achieving an agreement that works for both sides.

5. One benefit of the experience brought to a deal by professional business brokers and agents is the knowledge about overcoming problems. There often are hurdles to overcome in California business sales. The seller, having little experience in deal making, will be less prepared and equipped to recognize and solve deal-killing problems than someone who has been doing this for a while, and earning a living at it.

6. Finding small business purchase financing has become more difficult in the past few years following the mortgage meltdown and the banking crisis. Unless a business owner knows lenders who cater to that market, such as financial institutions offering SBA loan programs, it's likely to be very difficult to know how to help a buyer who wants to borrow some of the cash for a down payment and/or working capital.   Service provided by a professional who sells businesses or arranges for business acquisition loans may be able to save a transactions that won't work unless the buyer can arrange for funding assistance.

7. One skill of a competent business sales intermediary has to do with presenting the business in an appealing way in order to get a buyer to pay the price desired by the seller. Or at least, close to that price. Not knowing how to manage competitive bidding to increase offering prices, the seller won't be able to accomplish that objective. It's not uncommon for owners who've hired agents to sell business offerings, to get a higher price than if they'd negotiated for themselves. The difference often is enough to cover the sales commission.

California business owners sometimes think they should take on the campaign of selling their businesses as a do-it-yourself project. But because they usually don't have the skill, objectivity or experience of a capable business sales intermediary, they usually improve the chances of successfully closing a deal at a desirable price when they hire a professional to manage the process.

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

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


Comments Regarding This Blog Post


Some sellers will say that they don't want to list, "...but if you bring me a buyer, than I will pay your commission." I try to explain to the seller that this would be like going to court as the defendant and paying the person who is suing their lawyer fees. Why would you pay someone to negotiate against you? Many sellers may have had bad experiences with brokers in the past, so it's valuable to show them all your marketing material when you go on the listing presentation, and explain the entire process of selling a business. When I talk with a prospective seller, I will also walk them through certain difficulties that may arise, and also explain that selling a business takes time and a bit of luck.


Of the several advantages Peter discusses, one of the most important is the professional detachment that a business broker can provide. Most business owners have an emotional attachment to their business and selling the business can often be a traumatic experience. The business broker can bring an objective perspective to the process and help the seller see the business from the viewpoint of a buyer, resulting in a more realistic understanding of the financial and economic factors being considered by the buyer. Furthermore, it is critical that the business owner not "slack off;" the business must continue to thrive until the sale transaction is complete - because nothing is final until the final closing of escrow; therefore, the seller should spend as little time as possible on selling the business and as much as possible on running the business.






  Helpful Resources To Assist In Selling And Buying California Businesses
Mike Nova, Business Broker: North Bay Restaurant, Retail Specialist

I have over 30 years of direct restaurant industry experience, including my personal experience as a restaurant owner. For the last 7 years I have worked as a Broker specializing in this challenging and ever changing field of restaurant and bar sales. Contact me at 510-708-6682 Cell.

Steve Zimmerman: Restaurant Broker Specialist, California

Steve founded Restaurant Realty in 1996. He has personally sold/leased over 1000 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.

Matt Weiler, Business Broker: Gas Station Specialist

Business Broker Specializing in primarily gas stations. Geographic area of focus: San Francisco Bay Area to Sacramento and as far South as Monterey, California. To sell or buy a small or large gas station phone Matt (gas station business broker specialist) direct at 408-623-0920.

Peter Siegel MBA, BizBen Founder, ProBuy, ProSell, ProIntermediary Programs

Founder Of BizBen.com (since 1994). I am the Lead Advisor for the ProSell, ProBuy, & ProIntermediary Programs. I consult daily with buyers, sellers, and brokers daily about buying and selling California small to mid-sized businesses. Call 925-785-3118.

Jim Saxton, Liquor License Broker & Consultant - SF Bay Area

20 years experience of local governmental requirements, such as Police Departments, Zoning / Planning Departments, and ABC District Offices, my company Liquor Licenses of SF Bay Area is very qualified to resolve all of your concerns during the liquor license transfer process. Call 925-787-0770.

Peter Siegel, MBA: Business Purchase Financing Solutions

Niche business purchase financing advisory and loan placement services with SBA and Non-SBA Financing, Retirement Fund Rollover Solutions, Combo Financing Packages. To get professionally pre-qualified or more information on the ProBuy/ProSell Programs: 925-785-3118.

Joanne Weber, Broker: Preschool Specialist, Southern California

The Ryan Craig Company is in its 46th 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.

Prabhjot Randhawa, Broker: SF Bay Area, Central Valley

I'm a Business Advisor at Liberty Business Advisors of San Francisco. I have over 20 years of experience in all phases of entrepreneurship. During the past 15 years my concentration has been in business of mergers and consulting. I have owned and operated over 10 businesses. 209-815-3842 Cell.


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