Selling your restaurant is not easy. Here are five deadly mistakes to avoid for greater success. We Sell Restaurants has been selling restaurants for twenty years. Our best advice follows.
Deadly Mistake 1: Choosing a Broker based on the cheapest rate
It’s human nature to look for the most cost effective means to accomplish anything. That may mean seeking a low cost provider when selling your restaurant. Why is this a mistake? The person who is charging the lease amount of money often has the lowest investment in marketing, the least number of buyers in their database and the lowest potential for selling your restaurant. You would not engage with a POS provider who gave you a 1% lower rate if in fact, your credit card machine wouldn’t operate during peak hours. Why would you engage with a business broker based on the lowest cost?
The other issues with selling your restaurant with the cheapest resource is that you may be dealing with a novice in the in industry. There are many costs that come into play when selling your restaurant. Many of these can easily cause items to “leak” from the cash you take away from the closing table. Negotiating the security deposit which landlords are notoriously slow to hand back is one element. If your broker does not secure your interest in this property up front, you could potentially save $4,000 in commission and give up $7,000 in security deposit. The same is true for inventory or cash on hand in the safe or tills. Those items must be negotiated and the “newbie” who does it for less may simply not negotiate the devil in the details that adds up to thousands of dollars in lost cash for you on the settlement statement.
One of the costliest mistakes that someone who is the “cheapest” may make on your behalf is simply negotiating a weak letter of intent or LOI without the proper structure of a full Asset Purchase Agreement. This not only leads to the issues cited above with loss to the seller of reimbursable expenses but often leads to a seller engaging with an attorney which can result in thousands of dollars in fees before a deal is even done. The adage to avoid being “penny wise and pound foolish” comes into play when selling your restaurant. The “cheap” choice can be very costly.
Deadly Mistake 2: Pricing above market
The second costly mistake for sellers is going out above the recommended pricing level. It seems harmless as you simply list “higher” and see what comes in the door. Today’s consumers for buying a restaurant are more informed, have great financial skills and are savvier than ever before. If the restaurant for sale is priced above market, you’ll lose countless days while it garners no interest before you adjust the pricing to the reasonable level.
Deadly Mistake 3: Taking Your eye off the Ball
A third deadly mistake when selling your restaurant is assuming that the buyer will pick up the slack and taking your eye off the ball. There’s never a more important time to stay fully engaged in the business and make sure it’s running at its full potential.
Buyers won’t purchase the future potential. They are purchasing the current performance. Be careful that you don’t become complacent or start generating sales drops once you’re listed, since after all, you’re out the door before long. When selling your restaurant, the bank, the buyer and the broker are looking for comparable store sales to stay at or above last year. Failing to do so is a deadly mistake that will impact your eventual selling price.
Deadly Mistake 4: Saying “no” to a deal
This is perhaps the worst of the deadliest mistakes when selling your restaurant. There are always three options when presented with an offer. Yes, is one option and it’s generally not the first response. No is the second option which is a deadly mistake. The last option is the appropriate one – a counter. When a buyer is engaged enough to make an offer, no matter what the offer, it’s time to swallow your pride and come back with a counteroffer. The most important part of the negotiation is to keep the would be buyer engaged. A flat out “no” leads to a buyer that must then, negotiate against himself and most will simply bow out.
Sellers that refuse to counter and simply respond “no” are acting out of emotion. These are the same sellers that return to We Sell Restaurants later and say, “Can you call that guy and see if he’s still interested.” We get one bite at the apple in negotiations. If you simply say no and go back later to negotiation, you are in a severely weakened position. No matter what the offer is; it’s a good strategy to look for some positive in it and counter the buyer.
Deadly Mistake 5: Going to market without good financial data
The last deadly mistake is going to market without good financial data. When buyers are interested, time is money. If you don’t have your past year books and records in order or if you don’t have the ability to provide electronic documents, get ready to lose deals.
You must have your financial house in order and be ready for due diligence. Time kills deals and introduces doubt. While we are waiting on due diligence materials, the buyers are getting cold feet by the minute. Don’t make this deadly mistake. Have your records ready to go.
In twenty years of selling restaurants just like yours, these are the five most deadly mistakes we’ve seen. Don’t fall victim to them. Prepare up front and contact a broker today for success in selling your restaurant.
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