Advice for Buying a Restaurant and Selling a Restaurant

Robin Gagnon

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Restaurant Sales to Top $863 Billion This Year - We Sell Restaurants Weighs In

Posted by Robin Gagnon on Apr 29, 2019 9:05:17 AM

It's official.  The National Restaurant Association says that U.S. restaurant sales will reach a record high of $863 billion this year, up 3.6% over last year.  That's great news for the industry overall.  We see this overall trend for restaurant sales, after a few disappointing years, as an indicator of the overall strength of the economy since that rising tide, appears to be pulling all industries, not just restaurant sales, higher.

The National Restaurant Association, Senior Vice President of research and knowledge, Hudson Riehle, said of his research, "The growth rates for the industry are definitely more moderate than before the onset of the Great Recession in late 2007."  The group's data shows that if you look at the compound annual growth rate between 1970 and 2019, it is 6.4%.  That means, the most recent results are good, but not outstanding. 

Why are restaurant sales facing such pressure?  Strong growth in unit counts, particularly among certain channels, like burgers or sandwiches, intersected with a weaker economy in the Obama years. This is a market share issue.  There just are enough restaurant sales to fund this many outlets and there will be deterioration of topline sales overall.


Another reason restaurant sales are lagging.  Blame the Millennials.  A recent set of data released by Technomic Ignite consumer data, reveals that the percentage of millennials who say they visit restaurants “more than once a week” has declined to 55% from 59% over the past year. That's a lot when they have the highest percentage of frequent restaurant users.

That might not seem like much, but no other group saw that kind of change over the same period. And millennials had the highest percentage of frequent restaurant users. Overall, according to the National Restaurant Association, more than half, or 51%, of all consumer spending on food in the United States is allocated to restaurants.  Millennials were at 59% and have declined to 55% over the past year.

How are operators responding a challenge in restaurant sales?  Those who have not yet moved to add delivery are far behind the curve and need to get going. They are also looking at technology to deliver better front and back of the house experiences.

Do consumers like the restaurant experience?  That's a given.  Around 90% of consumers like to spend money in restaurants.  There is also, according to the National Restaurant Association a pent up demand for eating out, highest among baby boomers who say they are not using restaurants as often as they would like.

What are the projections for restaurant sales by concept?  Full service and quick service are poised for gains while cafeteria style concepts are taking the largest hit.  The survey shows snack and non-alcoholic beverage bars with the highest gains at 4.6%.  Based on the We Sell Restaurants performance this year with transactions on Smoothie and Juice concepts, we agree with this assessment.

The full table is shown below.

Screen_Shot_2019-04-08_at_9.35.57_AM.pngWhich states will shown positive restaurant sales growth?  According to the National Restaurant Association, "all 50 states have positive sales growth projected for this year."  That's great news for those of us in the industry.  Their table of projected sales by state is available at this link

The NRA State of the Industry report is available to association members and available for purchase to non-member a

Are you in the business and thinking of selling your restaurant?  We offer a free, no obligation evaluation of your business. 

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We Sell Restaurants Co-Founder Serves as Panelist for Women’s Franchise Network Event

Posted by Robin Gagnon on Apr 19, 2019 10:25:18 AM

Robin Gagnon, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer for We Sell Restaurants, the nation’s leading Restaurant Brokerage Franchise, was a panelist for the most recent Women’s Franchise Network Event held in Atlanta. 

The topic of the event was “Maximizing your IFA Membership” and included the perspective of a Franchisor (We Sell Restaurants), the IFA (International Franchise Association), a supplier (Naranga) and a franchisee of Mathnasium and the Goddard School.

The International Franchise Association, or IFA, is the top resource for franchise opportunities worldwide.   The group represents excellence in franchising education and advocacy. Their mission, found at is to “support your growth, connect our community, and protect our business model.  Advancing every aspect of franchising since 1960, IFA is the collective power of our membership.”

The Women's Franchise Network Atlanta posed the questions, "Are you taking advantage of your IFA membership and do you have a strategy to maximize the opportunity to network and learn from your peers in the industry.?"

The experienced panel was moderated by Ken Douglas of Social Joey, a seasoned professional with over 20 years of experience in human resources and workforce leadership and a track record of talent development and sucessful operations management.

Robin Gagnon, the Co-Founder of We Sell Restaurants and the firm's Chief Marketing Officer represented the franchisor perspective.  One of the most prolific restaurant brokers in the industry and a franchise resale specialist, she holds the Certified Business Intermediary (CBI) designation from the International Business Brokers Association and is an MBA.  She is a writer and speaker that has addressed many groups nationwide.

Leah Shimp Vass represented the IFA point of view.  She serves as Associate Director of Government Relations at the International Franchise Association. She is the director of IFA's political action committee, FranPAC. Prior to working for IFA, she was Assistant Vice President, Government Relations at CIT Group, and spent 15 years on Capitol Hill working for U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA). Shimp Vass is a graduate of Drake University.

The franchisee perspective was shared by Indi Nandhra, the co-owner of a Mathnasium franchise with her son. She previously owned two locations of the Goddard School preschool franchise. 

IMG_4046Finally, Faraz Iqbal, the COO of Naranga, represented the Supplier perspective.  A technology executive with 20 plus years of expertise, he’s has managed software application development and client services/professional services initiatives worldwide.  He is responsible for facilitating effective communication bridges between the business, sales and development teams coupled with hands-on experience in designing and developing application tools.

Questions addressed by the group included, “What is the Franchise Action Network (FAN)?  Why is it important for IFA to tell the story of franchising?”  Leah Shrimp Vass shared the importance of the annual event held in September on Capital Hill where franchisees, franchisors and suppliers do face to face meetings with representatives in the House and Senate from their state.  Their stories and direct contact resonate with legislators who are then, more attuned to the mission of overall franchising and its impact in their district.

ifa logo

The discussion around the annual IFA Convention focused on keynote speaker Gary Vaynerchuk, also know as Gary V and his riveting comments from the stage.  The moderator asked for feedback from the audience and panelist on the most recent convention and the responses were passionate about the keynote speech (available at this link). Robin mentioned that as a Conference Committee Member this year, there was a lot of spirited conversation around bringing Gary V’s style of personality and persuasion to the stage but ultimately, this paid off in one of the most riveting speakers in recent years.

The panel also took questions about leadership opportunities and getting involved on IFA committees.  Each contributed to a discussion of their experiences on IFA committees and the opportunity to participate.  The last discussion of the night centered on professional development opportunities and the CFE program, or Certified Franchise Executive program with the IFA.  With both CFE candidates and those who have completed the program present, there was great sharing of this experience.

The evening wrapped up with those in the Atlanta franchise community leaving with strong impressions on how to maximize their IFA Membership.

Topics: Restaurant Brokers

Best Tips for Buying a Restaurant

Posted by Robin Gagnon on Apr 17, 2019 6:31:16 AM

Believe you are ready to buy a restaurant?  Here are our best tips and tales of recent restaurant buyers that demonstrate how to get your game on and be truly ready to buy a restaurant.   

Tip One – Prepare in Advance and Make sure your Financial Picture is Ready to Roll

When buying a restaurant, multiple parties will be pulling a credit check.  That’s why you must prepare up front by doing the same thing.  There are two sites you can use for this service that don’t require a credit card:  Credit Karma and Credit Sesame. These are two of the most popular free credit monitoring services. Who will be looking at your credit when buying a restaurant?  Here’s a short list.

Best Tips (1)

If you are buying a restaurant that qualifies for lending, the bank will pull credit to confirm you are qualified to purchase.  For most lenders, this means you have a credit score of 650 or more and no bankruptcy in the past five years.  Even if you don’t meet that criteria, you may still qualify for lending but your Restaurant Broker at We Sell Restaurants needs to know.  If we identify the situation up front, we can develop a strategy to overcome the deficiency.  Knowledge is power.  Pull that credit check first so you know what it says.

When you are buying a franchise restaurant, expect the brand to do both a background check and credit check.  They want to know that you meet your commitments and pay your bills.  After all, they are allowing you access to their name, processes, intellectual property and trademark.  They need and want trustworthy individuals and a credit check is one way to establish those credentials.  

The landlord also wants a look at your credit.  If you are buying a restaurant, the landlord wants to be sure you have met monthly obligations in the past as an indication you will do the same with your rent.  If you have a late payment history but it’s tied to medical issues or identity theft or some other credible reason, be prepared to provide backup for that situation for the landlord to approve you as a tenant.  They may otherwise, deny you the opportunity to lease, or require the seller to stay on the lease as a guarantor.  This is never a good scenario and sellers often push back on requests to guaranty someone else’s payment.

Lastly, any time there is owner financing, the seller may and should require a credit check.  They are acting as the lender in this instance and deserve to know if you pay your bills on time.

This Tip in Action

One of our recent buyers relocated from overseas and had no United States based credit.  Since he began working with We Sell Restaurants months in advance, we advised him to establish a U.S. address as early as possible. From that address, he was able to get secured credit cards which he used and paid, building a credit history.  He also transferred his funds from overseas into U.S. banks, so they were shown available in dollars versus the native currency.  His preparation paid off.  He got through landlord and franchise approval with flying colors.

Tip Two – Dust off that Resume

You’re buying a restaurant, not applying for a job, but you will need to provide either a resume or your background and experience for all the parties listed above.  The lender, franchise, landlord and the seller all want to understand who they are dealing with. What’s your relevant experience for buying a restaurant? It may seem as though you don’t have any but that’s not the case. 

If you have a great resume that shows you are primarily an IT guy who has managed a lot of projects, take the time to rewrite this to focus on your ability to lead teams, hit deadlines and perform projects with long and short term goals.

If you worked in accounting for someone else, that’s a skill that translates to business ownership.  Buying a restaurant and operating it is not the same thing as working for someone else so make sure your resume doesn’t read that way.

Tip Three – Get a Mini Business Plan Ready to Go

We aren’t asking you to write a 50 page volume but a mini business plan consisting of eight to ten pages is a great start with most landlords and lenders.  You will need your resume (see Tip Two) for this so make sure yours is ready. 

A simple business plan for buying a restaurant should consist of the following:

General Description -- Easily picked up from the current operator’s website or a franchise website.

Area Specific Information – Add in the demographics of the surrounding area.  Often the landlord’s own website will give you this information so you’re feeding it back to him and confirming you’ve done your homework.

Background and Experience -Since you followed tip two, above, you are ready to go with this one.

Marketing Plan - No business plan is complete without a marketing plan and it will need to be specific to the restaurant you are buying.  If you are buying a sandwich shop, the business can be improved with more catering orders, so write up your plan to make that happen.   

If you’re buying full service operating dinner only, you can add lunch hours or delivery to increase the sales. If you’re buying any restaurant, you can develop and improve upon their local digital marketing campaigns.  Look at how they are advertising and where it’s being done. What’s their footprint on social media and what will yours be when you improve upon it?

Menu - This one’s easy.  It already exists.  If you’re adding to it, leave it out for now on an existing business unless it’s an entire change of concept.  Lenders and landlords like consistency so introducing a lot of change may hurt, rather than help your chances of approval.  When buying a franchise restaurant, this doesn’t apply as you are restricted from making a change of concept.

That’s it.  Follow those steps along with a cover page, a table of contents and you have a business plan for buying a restaurant.

Fourth Tip – Figure Out Your Partnership Ahead of Time

When buyers come to We Sell Restaurants that aren’t capitalized but want to buy a restaurant, they often mention “partners” or “investors.”  If your investors aren’t ready and funded, don’t begin your search.  You won’t be able to provide all the information requested above because you’ll still be doing work to figure out who owns what and at what percentage.  Work out your partnership and funding before buying a restaurant.

Final Tip – Buy a Restaurant Like you Mean it

We Sell Restaurants routinely works with franchise brands that take a very long time to transfer.  Between the process for approval and training, it can be six months before a deal hits the closing table.  We always warn buyers up front about this timeline.  We recently worked with a buyer who found that plan unacceptable and told us he would commit 100% and force an earlier transfer.  Then he did it.

This buyer was the epitome of the term, “Buy a Restaurant like you Mean it.”  Within 24 hours of signing the contract, he wanted and got a meeting on the calendar with the Area Developer. The next corporate Discovery Day was only three days away and he said, “I can book my flight and be there.” Within 48 hours of lending introduction, he had his approval letter. Less than one week after signing the deal, he was fully approved by the brand and in training.  When someone said, “I need …” his response was, “Here it is” in hours, not days.  He met with the landlord in the first two weeks.  His deal will go on record with this brand for the fastest closing on a transfer because this buyer simply stepped up to the plate and said, “I can get this done.”

When buying a restaurant, there are multiple requests coming from you each day.  If you prepare using our best tips for buying a restaurant and then, “buy a restaurant like you mean it,” you will experience great success in your quest.


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Topics: Buying a Restaurant

5 Signs You’re Ready to Sell Your Restaurant

Posted by Robin Gagnon on Apr 8, 2019 12:45:31 PM

If you’re working in a restaurant and have put in hours and hours and are still wondering when the excitement starts… maybe restaurants are not the thing for you. If you have owned a restaurant for years and years and are ready to retire or any of the above hits home, this post is for you.

You may intellectually know that selling your restaurant, or any business really, is frightening and full of unknowns. Your friends and relatives may tell you “You’ve put so much work into it! Just wait until it turns around!” Meanwhile, the idea keeps returning to you day after day, as you put your keys in the door and turn the lights on in the kitchen.   

Are you the person who gets the sense you would be happier in a different career?  Are you passionate about the restaurant industry but just not as a restaurant owner? Did you find yourself way in over your head once you bought your restaurant? It could be time for a change in your life and you just may be ready to sell your restaurant.  

In working with hundreds of entrepreneurs each year, we see common signs that now is the time to go ahead, take a deep breath and sell a restaurant like yours.  If you’re experiencing these signs, it may be time to stop procrastinating and sell your restaurant that seems to be holding you back.

5 signs you are ready to sell your restaurant

Sign Number 1:  You’re Not happy Anymore

When you first bought your restaurant, you were beyond excited. You had a pep in your step every day and woke up before the alarm clock even went off. Now the realities are hitting home; you get calls after hours, you are begrudgingly sliding out of bed and dread going into your restaurant in the morning. You love the people and what you put out, you just don’t have the zeal you once did. This is sign number one that you may be ready to sell your restaurant.

Sign Number 2: Your Restaurant is Not Performing Like You Thought

Signing the papers for the deed of your eatery, you had dreams of wads of cash and a packed dining room every night. The truth is, restaurant owners don’t always see profits quickly. If you thought you could get in, get rich, and get out – you definitely were surprised when you found how much time it takes to turn red into black in the restaurant industry. This could be the second sign that maybe you should sell your restaurant.

Sign Number 3:  Late Nights Mean Missed Family Dinners

You originally got into the restaurant business to build a nest egg, or a legacy, for your family. However, more and more, you are finding that you are missing family dinners in favor of dinner rushes. Showing up late to sporting events because the food delivery wasn’t on time. Missing your anniversary because your calendar is full of inspections, deliveries, payroll, scheduling and more. If your restaurant is getting in the way of your family, this may be a sign you are ready to sell your restaurant.

Sign Number 4:  You Aren’t as Comfortable with Risk Any Longer

When you started your business, you may have been young, with few responsibilities.  You were fine with the ups and downs of the business as your needs were minimal. Now you have a mortgage, two kids and a wife and feel the need for steady income. 

That makes sense and is often a reason to sell a restaurant like yours.  While you’ll never earn as much for someone else as you will working for yourself, you’ll also never have the potential to lose as much either. If the amount of risk on your plate keeps you up at night, give us a call.  We have buyers ready to go that have measured the risk and find it perfect for where their life is at the moment.

Sign Number 5:  The “What Ifs” Keep You Up at Night

You lay awake often wondering what would’ve happen if you sold your restaurant earlier or never bought one in the first place. It isn’t quite the lucrative money-maker you thought, and you are bogged down by the “what ifs” – “What if I bought that tech start up instead?” or “What if I decided to go back to college instead of running this restaurant?”  Your head is filling with things and none of them are your restaurant – this is a sign that it is time to sell a restaurant like yours.   

Whether it’s that you’re not happy anymore, you want to forego the long nights in favor of something more family-friendly, your restaurant is not performing like it once was, or if the possibilities are keeping you up – Relax. It may just be time to sell your restaurant.  

Review your motivations, your yearnings and your thoughts over the past few months.  If you’re exhibiting all these signs, it could be that you are indeed, ready to sell.  

We Sell Restaurants is the number one restaurant brokerage firm in the country! We would be happy to sit down and talk to you about the possibilities of selling your restaurant.

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Topics: Selling a Restaurant

Best Restaurants for Sale in March of 2019 - We Sell Restaurants Recaps the Top 10

Posted by Robin Gagnon on Apr 1, 2019 7:08:15 AM

What are the best restaurants for sale in the month of March 2019?  Here's our take on that with the ones that got the most views, clicks, downloads and inquiries from

 The best restaurants for sale in the month of March started with a listing priced to move at just $55,000 in Florida and escalated to a price point of $575,000 for a two store group in Atlanta.  That demonstrates the range of the current restaurant buyers in the market.  Some are seeking a simple conversion space while other are looking for high earnings.  Here's each restaurant for sale listing that hit our top ten listings out of more than 300.  These units have something special attracting more buyers than all the rest to be the top 3% of all our restaurants for sale.  That makes them the best restaurants for sale this month!

First on the  list was an asset sale in lovely Boca Raton Floridia that is fully equipped and ready for a new operator.  A right sized location at just 1497 square feet, this on has monthly rent of $4688 in Broward County, a hotbed of residents who love the beaches, the tax rate (0%) and more.  We are still seeking an offer on this one so move quickly. 

Listing ID:6650 Restaurant Broker Ken Eisenband    
Restaurant for Sale in Boca Raton, Florida - Can Convert to any Concept
Lease: Expires May 31, 2020; Option 5 years
Monthly Rent: $4688.73
Inside Sq. Ft. 1497
Outside Sq. Ft. 0

City:Boca Raton

Ken Eisenband
(561) 350-3365

Restaurant Broker Dominique Maddox in Atlanta represents two strong franchise locations that are combined in a two-store package with earnings of over $175,000 on the books.  The opportunity for these franchises for sale in the Atlanta Metro area is unmatched for the lifestyle, earnings and consistency.  Approved for SBA lending with just twenty percent down, these winning locations are ready for new ownership.

Listing ID:6647

Restaurant Broker Dominique Maddox    
2-Store Package! Franchises For Sale in Metro Atlanta - National Brand
Lease: Lease Expires July 2019 plus 5 year option |
Monthly Rent: $8586.69
Inside Sq. Ft. 3756
Outside Sq. Ft. 200

City:Woodstock | Marietta

Dominique Maddox
(404) 993-4448

Austin Texas is part of the best restaurants for sale this month with a store next to the University of Texas.  Campus locations are ideal for operators with fast casual concepts.  This location is priced to move at $119,000 and can stay the same concept or convert to something new. Contact Dave Duce in Austin Texas for more information on this one. 

Listing ID:6626 Restaurant Broker Dave Duce    
Highly Visible Restaurant for Sale right next to University of Texas!
Lease: expires August 2020
Monthly Rent: $6750
Inside Sq. Ft. 2000
Outside Sq. Ft. 250


Dave Duce
(512) 773-5272

 A recently updated restaurant in Atlanta that was priced to blow out at just $39,000 garnered strong activity and is going, going, gone with multiple offers.  Restaurant Broker Steve Weinbaum held a mini open house on this one and walked away with offers above asking price.  This one is no longer available but check with us for other conversion opportunities like this. 
Listing ID:6272 Restaurant Broker Steve Weinbaum    
3000 Square Feet, Beautiful, Recently Updated Restaurant For Sale in Atlanta Georgia
Lease: Remainder of 5 year lease expires May 2021. Can ask Landlord to Extend
Monthly Rent: $7200
Inside Sq. Ft. 2930
Outside Sq. Ft. yes
Steve Weinbaum
(770) 714-4552
 Lovely Ponte Vedra Beach is nearby St. Augustine on the east coast of Florida.  It has a lovely warm climate, amazing beaches and represents a real lifestyle location.  The pricing on this one means it is a real opportunity to keep the current concept or convert it.  With rock bottom rent of just $2400 per month, this is your place in the sun.  No wonder it's one of our best restaurants for sale this month. 
Listing ID:6175 Restaurant Broker Eric Gagnon    
Restaurant for sale in gorgeous Ponte Vedra Beach - Fully Equipped!
Lease: expires January 2019 with three 3 year extensions available
Monthly Rent: $2400
Inside Sq. Ft. 1100
Outside Sq. Ft.
City:Ponte Vedra Beach

Eric Gagnon
(404) 800-6704
 Austin Texas was home to the South by Southwest event in March of 2019 and maybe some of those visitors were ready to stay and buy restaurants!  Two of the best restaurants of the month with the strongest activity were from this market. This second generation location is ready for a new owner and is priced with all equipment.  Small patio as well as a 4,000 square foot location. 
Listing ID:6619 Restaurant Broker Dave Duce    
Restaurant for Sale in Austin, TX - 2nd Gen Space in Great Location!
Lease: expires August 2021
Monthly Rent: $7800
Inside Sq. Ft. 4000
Outside Sq. Ft. 200
Dave Duce
(512) 773-5272
 Naples Florida restaurant Broker Dave Whitcomb advertised his listing as "Tired of Snow" and lots of buyers must be ready for the warm Florida climate as it made our best restaurants for the month.  An unbelievable rental rate of less than $2000 per month makes this a winning opportunity for anyone who's ready to do a simple cafe concept or take over this successful operation. 
Listing ID:6631 Restaurant Broker Dave Whitcomb    
Tired of Snow? Why not acquire this charming cafe for sale in Naples?
Lease: 5 years
Monthly Rent: $1913
Inside Sq. Ft. 1200
Outside Sq. Ft. approximately 20-24 seats


Dave Whitcomb
(239) 300-5041

 Florida was on a roll with more focus on lease space in Sunrise Florida.  This Publix anchored shopping center is a beautiful location and the store is fully equipped to be nearly any type of concept.  The 1400 square foot location features a high traffic count, thriving and growing trade area and a three- mile radius population of 149,000, with household income of $66,000.  Don't wait on this one!
Listing ID:6538 Restaurant Broker Ken Eisenband    
Restaurant for Lease in Sunrise, Florida – Publix Anchored Center
Lease: Negotiable
Monthly Rent: $4443
Inside Sq. Ft. 1400
Outside Sq. Ft.


Ken Eisenband
(561) 350-3365

 Any time we list an office cafe in a metro area like Atlanta, it hits our list of best restaurants for sale and this one offered by We Sell Restaurants and broker Steve Weinbaum is no exception.  This location was barely on the market before someone snatched it up so it's already gone in less than 90 days on the market.  When you see an office cafe for sale, move quickly as they don't last. 
Listing ID:6542 Restaurant Broker Steve Weinbaum    
Highly Profitable Office Cafe - Atlanta - Limited Hours Earning Six Figures!
Lease: 2+ years remain plus 3-year option to renew
Monthly Rent: $0
Inside Sq. Ft. 2013
Outside Sq. Ft. n/a


Steve Weinbaum
(770) 714-4552

 Last on the best restaurants for sale list is yet another office building cafe and like the other one, this one's in contract as well.  The benefit of this listing was that it is essentially two stores in one.  The owners are leaving the country and the new buyer will take over as soon as training in complete.  
Listing ID:6389 Restaurant Broker Robin Gagnon    
Two Office Building Cafe for Sale Units! Great Locations in Atlanta Metro.
Lease: Expires 2025
Monthly Rent: $3500
Inside Sq. Ft. 3617
Outside Sq. Ft.
Robin Gagnon
(404) 800-6700

That's the list of the best restaurants for sale in March of 2019.  Florida dominated with the most on the list this month but Atlanta and Austin made strong showings as well.  If you're seeking a restaurant for sale location, contact the expert brokers at We Sell Restaurants or check out our listings online. 

Click here to view all of our listings!


Topics: Buying a Restaurant

The Five Best Ways to Sell a Restaurant

Posted by Robin Gagnon on Mar 26, 2019 8:14:40 AM

Thinking of selling your restaurant and unsure where to start?  Here are the five best ways to sell your restaurant that will have you ready to go in no time.

First and foremost.  Get your books in order.

Accounting is no one’s favorite task.  If necessary, bring in help to get the books ready to go.  Restaurants are sold on a multiple of cash flow.  No matter how much you are doing in sales and no matter how great the business looks, the books and records are the key to getting the most money in the shortest amount of time.  

Best Ways to Sell a Restaurant

Secondly:  Interview Brokers

The number two item on the list of the best ways to sell a restaurant is to interview restaurant brokers.   Have a series of questions ready to ask them to include things like:

  1. How many restaurants (no overall businesses) have you sold?
  2. How do you market my restaurant for sale?
  3. What is your background and experience?
  4. Do you have financial training, an MBA or other degree that demonstrates you understand valuation?
  5. Are you a Certified Business Intermediary? This designation is given to less than 500 people worldwide who pass extensive testing by the International Business Brokers Association. 

Finding a knowledgeable resource is one of the five best ways to sell a restaurant.

Third:  Inspect the Physical Space

Third on the list of best ways to sell a restaurant is to view the store with a critical eye.  If you usually enter the front door, go in the back.  If you usually come through the front, enter through the kitchen. Look around the space.  Look up and look down.  Are there ceiling tiles that are dingy and have grease clinging to them in the kitchen?  Does the bathroom need a paint job? 

You’re not selling a house and all pricing decisions should be based on cash flow, but buyers are critical when the store has obvious physical flaws.  Take a month or so and get the store in order before putting it on the market with peeling floor tiles and cooler doors that don’t close.

Fourth:  Put together an equipment list

If you’re selling your restaurant, you are selling the furniture, fixtures and equipment.  Buyers must know what they are getting.  These are the physical assets that transfer in the location.  It is time consuming and a pain, but a list of equipment is necessary.  If you want a starting point, ask your broker if he has a list to get you going.  We routinely provide these as a starting point.    

A few tips on generating your equipment list.  First, never include equipment that isn’t working.  Pull it out of the space. You’re not using it today to generate the earnings so the buyer won’t need it but if you leave broken equipment in place, they will expect it to be replaced or repaired prior to close. Also remove anything personal that won’t transfer in the sale.  If the Antlers over the fireplace are from the first deer you ever bagged and you refuse to transfer them, pull them down before you list it.  Once a buyer sees these items, he will expect them to convey in the sale.

Lastly:  Confirm what you Owe

The best way to sell a restaurant is to understand where you’ll be when the dust settles, and the money is paid.  You need to know what you owe any partners, any banks, lenders or others going into the transaction.  The last thing you want to do is get a deal in place and realize you don’t have the funds to close.  If you owe more than the restaurant is worth, this is not a deal killer.  A strong restaurant broker can work with you on negotiating settlements and give you tips to get you out of a tough situation. Just be up front and know what the problems are before they come knocking. 

These are the best ways to sell a restaurant.  If you want to speak to a restaurant broker for more details, reach out to We Sell Restaurants or click the link below.  Our experts can help.

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Topics: Selling a Restaurant

10 Signs You’re Ready to Buy a Restaurant

Posted by Robin Gagnon on Mar 19, 2019 7:09:59 AM

If you’re working in a restaurant or sitting at your computer in corporate America, visualizing yourself as a restaurant owner, read on.  This post is for you.

You may intellectually know that buying a restaurant is frightening and full of unknowns. Your friends and relatives may tell you that it will be too much work for not enough reward. Meanwhile, the idea keeps returning to you day after day, as you work for someone else. 

10 SIGNS you are

Are you the person who gets the sense you could do this yourself?  Are you passionate about the restaurant industry but just not happy in your current role?  Did you find yourself pushed into a college career tract that now has you sitting in a cubicle while your mind is churning out ideas for the next great concept?  It could be time for a change in your life and you just may be ready to buy a restaurant.

In working with hundreds of entrepreneurs each year, we see common signs that now is the time to go ahead, take the plunge and buy a restaurant.  If you’re experiencing these signs, it may be time to stop procrastinating and buy that restaurant that’s on your mind.

Sign Number 1:  You’re Passionate about the Industry

Food is more than fuel for the body for you.  Your social media stream is filled with photos of food (and you took most of them).  You’re first to check out the latest restaurant and you have ideas to improve the experience every time you dine.  You have a real excitement for the act of breaking bread that involves all five senses and delivers an experience.  This is sign number one that you are long past being a secret foodie and well on your way to buy a restaurant.

Sign Number 2: You’re going nowhere fast in your current role

Are you feeling unfulfilled in your current role?  Whether it’s filled with prepping someone else’s menu or handling another spreadsheet, life is too short to live unfulfilled.  You keep waiting on the current guy in charge to leave but realistically, where does that leave you?  For some, the 9-5 and reporting to someone else just isn’t for them.  This is a sign you’re ready to head out on your own and potentially buy a restaurant.

Sign Number 3:  You have a vision for something Bigger and want to see it Achieved

Some of the greatest minds of this century believed there was a bigger purpose to their life.  Where would our lives be if Bill Gates was happy hanging out in college instead of dropping out to build what we know today as Microsoft?  On the food level, imagine if Bobby Flay was happy as a chef and never saw the bigger vision of bringing food to the masses and joining a fledging start up network called “TV Food network” in 1993?  Would we all be so smitten by the food industry without him?  

Sign Number 4:  You Aren’t afraid to take Risks

We often speak to college and university students as guest speakers on entrepreneurship.  We always remind them to strike early in their career to try something risky.  Take on the risk before you take on the mortgage and two kids or make sure you’re prepared for both the best and the worst.  Those who are in the market to buy a restaurant have measured the risks and are still ready to go.

Sign Number 5:  You Never Stop Thinking

If your creative juices don’t turn off, you might be a closet entrepreneur and not know it.  Those who buy a restaurant are always trying to figure out the way to do it better, faster, smarter.  If you’re experiencing this sign and living in corporate America, you’re feeling a bit of your soul get stifled each day.  In your own business, you reap the reward for your ideas.

Sign Number 6:  You Can Solve Problems Independently

You might be ready to buy a restaurant if you don’t need a team to resolve a problem.  That’s a sign of independence that broadens your opportunities.  Those ready to strike it alone, know that while a team is important, they can handle a challenge on their own. Group think is not a byproduct of the entrepreneurial spirit.

Sign Number 7:  You are Driven

No one gets you moving. You don’t need three alarm clocks to open the day.  You approach each knowing what must get done and relish in seeing it accomplished.  This sense of self-motivation from within you inspires others.  That’s a sign you may be ready to buy a restaurant instead of working in someone else’s.

Sign Number 8:  You are Organized

Whether your skill set is front of the house or back of the house, you have the skills to organize the day’s work and the week’s calendar.  That’s a critical skill for operating a business and a sign you’re ready to go.

Sign Number 9:  You Know You Can Do It Better

You’ve been in the industry or been in the corporate world long enough to know that you can do better than your current situation.  The wait times are unacceptable, or the hiring practices don’t work.  You have ideas to get it right.

That means you can improve it for yourself and for those on your team.  It’s not egotistical.  It’s a sign you’re ready to buy a restaurant.

Sign Number 10:  You Want to Build a Legacy

You want more for your family than you had growing up or you want to create something your family can participate in and grow together.  That’s a sign that where you are will never get you where you want to be.  You know you must build that legacy on your own and it’s a sign you’re ready to buy a restaurant.

Review your motivations, your yearnings and your thoughts over the past few months.  If you’re exhibiting all these signs, it could be that you are indeed, ready to buy a restaurant.

Want to see our restaurant for sale listings?  Check out this link for hundreds of opportunities waiting on you!


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Topics: Buying a Restaurant

How to Buy a Restaurant the Right Way

Posted by Robin Gagnon on Mar 12, 2019 5:26:24 PM

From Food Network to Top Chef, everyone is in love with the restaurant business.  Are you feeling the burn to bake or the craving to cook?  Here’s how to buy a restaurant the right way and master the industry from day one.  The most important lesson.  Check your ego at the door and buy a restaurant before you build. Here are three reasons this makes the most sense.

How to buy a restaurant the Right Way

Clear Costs

When you buy an existing restaurant, you are purchasing a proven track record and profitable returns.  You know exactly what your costs will be to acquire.  There is no cost overrun from a builder that didn’t quote the project correctly.  There’s no delay on equipment to be delivered while you burn up valuable cash reserves in rent.  You know up front what your fees will be and can plan accordingly.

Building something from scratch makes you feel more in control and allows you to get everything just right - but in the restaurant industry, the opposite is often the result.  The perfect pizza oven from Italy will get stuck in customs for three months and the tile you just must have will be backordered while you burn up valuable dollars with no earnings.  

Whether you buy a franchise restaurant or independent concept, the control over costs is real when you take over someone else’s operation.

Verifiable earnings

Another reason to buy an existing restaurant are the verifiable earnings on the books. Restaurants with good books and records can often be acquired for three times earnings or less. An owner-operator of a restaurant can buy a restaurant for sale and pay off the purchase in less than three years!

That leaves you with a debt-free income stream.  That’s a great reason for a restaurant buyer that values earnings over risk.  It’s another way you can buy a restaurant the right way.


Earnings come more quickly in the restaurant market to those that buy instead of starting from ground zero. Restaurant buyers find that the advantages are almost immediate.  You may be putting capital at risk but you are seeing returns immediately based on the past performance.  That lowers the risk; making it a wise decision.

Instant Path to Opening

Buy a restaurant that’s already in business and turn the key to operate. Those looking to buy a restaurant can shorten their time to market when you buy a restaurant that’s already created.  Would you rather be in business next week serving up your creatively curated cuisine? Or would you rather wait six months and push through the headaches of build-outs and permits before you can even open the door?

With competition in the restaurant game as fierce as it is, there is no time to waste. Your idea could be taken by the time your permit is approved! Don’t wait for your dream to happen.  Take charge today when you acquire an existing restaurant versus starting from scratch.

People want to get into the restaurant business - and with good reason! The restaurant industry provides a great lifestyle and control over your own destiny.  Everyone from retirees opening cafes to moms with five-star juice bars agree that this is a fun industry with lots of potential.  Take our advice and buy a restaurant the right way so your dream becomes an immediate reality.

There are brokers like We Sell restaurants that specialize in helping you buy a restaurant and have access to listings and information on multiple, up to date opportunities in the marketplace. Buying a restaurant that is already established gives you clear costs, verifiable earnings and income, and an instant path to opening. It’s how you buy a restaurant the right way.

Ready to see restaurants for sale?

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Topics: Buying a Restaurant

5 Reasons Franchise Resales Should be Outsourced to a Specialist

Posted by Robin Gagnon on Mar 7, 2019 10:07:38 AM

Franchise restaurants, as well as all franchisors, experience a natural phenomenon known as turnover.  As part of the natural life cycle of the brand, some units will become available for sale.  The typical reasons for selling are common to virtually every brand.  For some, it’s burnout or a different expectation for the actual life of the franchisees versus what he or she expected.  For others, it’s a partnership issue which could include a divorce or marital split or simply two partners that no longer have the same goals.  For others, it may be the evolution toward retirement and life after work. In any case, a franchise resale occurs when the current owner of a unit, for one reason or another, opts to sell the store before his original franchise term is over.5 Reasons to not handle Franchise Resales

Does that mean something is “broken” in the brand?  No. In fact, it is healthy and appropriate to see a rate of around 5% to 7% in franchise restaurant resales for a mature concept. There are even higher rates quoted in the industry.  The International Franchise Association suggests on their site, that the number could be as high as ten percent.  No matter the rate, the important thing for franchise brands to know, when they are facing resales, is that this task is best left to a specialist.  Here are the top five reasons why We Sell Restaurants would tell you to seek outside help for franchise restaurant resales.

When the franchise restaurant resales surface, it’s important to choose a path that results in a good outcome for both the franchisor and the franchisee. Here’s why we believe there are five reasons you never, ever want to handle your franchise restaurant resales.

Reason 1:  Your Development Team has a Totally Different Focus

Those selling new franchises have a totally different skillset and focus than those buying new development opportunities. The financing requirements are different. The cost structure to buy and staff is different than for building from scratch. Most brands that go down this path segregate their team between new sales and franchise resales for a reason.  Resales are very time consuming, with many moving parts.  It’s outside the normal business practice and process, thus costing more effort and training with your team.  

Reason 2:  The Customer is Different for Resales versus new Sales

The customer buying a franchise restaurant is very different from those willing to build from the ground up.  The Franchise Resale customer has a much lower risk tolerance and a much higher need for security and ability to conduct due diligence on the numbers. He or she will need much more hand holding and materials from the seller.  Asking your development team to simultaneously handle new franchise sales and franchise resales is putting them at a disadvantage.

Reason 3:  Ask Your Lawyer.

Your Legal Team will tell you to never handle Franchise Restaurant Resales.  In the process of re-selling units, there will be a need for a valuation.  Do your team members have the expertise to provide that valuation?  The difference in even a few thousand dollars could easily benefit one person over the other.  Where does your loyalty lie?  Is it with the established franchisor who has been a loyal customer for many years or the new guy that you want to be sure doesn’t overpay or become over-extended?    

Item 19 or Financial Disclosures made in the FDD are not applicable to franchise resales so someone without the expertise and benefit of a strong financial background in your development team could expose your brand to major liability in the process of disclosing numbers.  Who is sourcing those numbers and what’s your liability for sharing them?  If they turn out to be flawed or there is a legal issue, will the buyer go after the individual unit owner or you, as a franchise brand?

Are you charging a fee for your services?  Before Franchise Resales are handled internally, as your legal counsel for an opinion.  We believe he will tell you to steer clear of these transactions and bring in an independent third party for franchise resales.  

Reason 4:  Franchise Leads are Expensive

It is no surprise that there is great competition for those seeking to buy a restaurant franchise or any type of brand.  By outsourcing this important role, your lead Acquisition can focus on new stores without the expense going to Franchise resales

The requirement to generate leads is a costly proposition.  Those leads and the advertising is very different for the two different customers, one seeking an established business, versus one seeking a proven opportunity.  Let an outside resource commit their dollars to resales while you focus the dollars on one lead funnel with one set of costs.

Reason 5:  You Aren’t licensed

Another reason for a brand to avoid franchise resales is the requirement for licensing.  Reach an agreement with a firm like We Sell Restaurants with the proper licensing in all the states where it is required.  The last thing you want to do is open yourself up both regulatory issues with the sixteen or so states that require a license.  In some states it is a misdemeanor to practice business brokerage without a license.  In others, like Florida for example, it’s a felony.

That’s not the only reason.  If you have an unhappy buyer or seller, you just opened the door for a lawsuit if they don’t like the outcome of the deal and you’re practicing without a license. 

If you are running a successful franchise program, our advice is to stick with what you do best.  Avoid the issues with franchise resales by contacting an independent third-party specialist like ours.  We build programs to eliminate the risks for the franchise and integrate to their practices for resales. 

Consider these five reasons to avoid internal resales and understand why they should never be part of your focus.

Looking for a franchise resales specialist?  Contact We Sell Restaurants or visit for more information.

Topics: Restaurants for Sale, Selling a Restaurant

International Franchise Convention – We Sell Restaurants Founders Report

Posted by Robin Gagnon on Mar 1, 2019 10:48:04 AM

The doors have closed, and the franchise brands have all headed home.  What did the highlights of the annual convention bring all of those in the industry together this year?  Restaurant Brokers Eric and Robin Gagnon attended from We Sell Restaurants along with Steve Weinbaum from the Atlanta office.

The high point of the opening session had to be the words of Gary Vaynerchuck or “Gary V”, the keynote speaker.  He challenged franchise restaurant brands to see the disruption occurring in the industry and move media dollars out of traditional methods like TV and into digital channels like Facebook and Instagram.  He noted that the attention of the end consumer is shifting and there is an enormous opportunity to leverage dollars.  His advice to the brands – make $1.00 spend like $10.00 instead of spending $10.00 in precious dollars only to have it return $1.00. 

Gary V

For this marketing guru who grew a $3 million dollar wine store and built it to $60 million before launching his own digital media company, it’s all about contextual creative that gets to the heart of the ultimate end user.  In his words, the number way to win – “Build an actual brand” and the volume of creative is imperative. He reminds restaurant franchise owners and all franchisors to have the discipline to create and get in front of the consumer with contextual creative.

What’s the restaurant of the future according to this visionary?  It may be a commissary with no brick and mortar that builds an incredible online brand presence and delivers 100% of its product through services like GrubHub or EZ Cater.  As a franchise restaurant owner, does that strike fear in your heart?  It should as it suggests that just like taxi cabs and car services who never dreamed of Uber and Lyft, a restaurant franchise can be replaced with an online brand. 

Eric FGB

Eric Gagnon, President of We Sell Restaurants, picked up power tools to work at a local school as many brands embraced Franchising Gives Back. The work of this team, at an elementary school in Las Vegas will send children back to school with smiles and renovated playgrounds and classrooms.

Franchising Gives Back is a national commitment by the International Franchise Association to band together in communities across the nation and share with those in need.  

Robin Gagnon is a member of the Women’s Franchise Committee and the sub-committee that produces the Annual Leadership Conference.  This year, Nick Friedman, co-founder of College Hunks Hauling Junk, led the program focused on culture.  As he reminded the audience, it’s not what’s on the walls; it’s what’s in the halls.  He terms a brand’s culture,  the “immune system” of the business.

The strong focus of this brand on core values instills the culture at all levels of the organization.  He also reminded the group of more than 300 that you must balance the “Sesame Street” approach to a fun workplace with the “Wall Street” demands in order to have a result based organization.  In his words, “With no margin; there’s no mission”.  He told franchise restaurant brands to repeat the values often for these to permeate the brand.  Does it work? For College Hunks Hauling Junk, the focus on culture has paid tremendous dividends in building one of Inc Magazine’s Fast Growing Companies.

A legislative update to the Women’s Franchise Committee suggested that the $15 minimum wage is probably going to pass on the House floor though the strong legislative arm of the IFA suggests it will probably fail in the Senate, leaving that bill, like many , at an impasse in today’s political climate.  The impact of this wage law on independent and franchise restaurants where we have seen this implemented has resulted in loss of jobs, cut backs in hours and overall loss in restaurant count.

Robin IFA Robin Gagnon, co-founder of We Sell Restaurants, moderated a panel with Google’s Maresa Freidman and NetSearch’s Mike Myers.  The presentation was titled, “Online Search in a Digital world, will you be left behind or lost online?” Key Takeaways from the session dovetailed with the keynote speaker as the Google team emphasized that an increase in connectivity is dramatically changing search.  The other key takeaway was a reference to today’s newly empowered consumer. 

Google’s advice to the restaurant franchise world and all brands was simple.  Be there, be valuable and be quick.  They estimate there were 8 billion devices connected worldwide in 2017 and by 2020, they expect that number to hit 20 billion. Time spent online in 2019 every single day is estimated to be 6.9 hours. 

Measure every moment was another piece of advice offered by Google.  It’s no longer about the final point before a customer buys but every interaction in a series of touches with your brand that gets them to the point of purchase. 

Eric Gagnon, President and Co-Founder of We Sell Restaurants, moderated a panel that included both franchise restaurants and other national brands.  His session, titled, “Building, Maintaining and Growing Positive Relationships with Your Franchisees,” was also moderated by Andrew Bleiman, Managing Attorney with Marks & Klein, LLP.  The participants ranged from emerging franchise restaurant brands with less than 50 units to powerhouse franchisors with 500 or more stores.  The sharing between these groups made the business roundtable format a win all the way around.

Robin Gagnon moderated a Business Solutions roundtable on the Topic of “How to Make a Good Franchise Great.”  Participants also ranged from entry level players to those with units in the thousands.  Key takeaways around communication included a suggestion to put Franchise Units together on a What’s Up App to share knowledge in a quick hit.  Those who report up to a Franchise Business Consultant with a range of approximately 20 – 30 units can use this tip for instant communication and connection.

 In addition to the great events above, the sessions were packed with restaurant franchise brands and other segments of the industry.  The closing session of IFA saw the installation of Dave Barr as the new incoming IFA President.  The action packed days passed in a blur but strong networking and great exposure to ideas is what the International Franchise Association Conference is all about.  Stay tuned to our blog for an update from Steve Weinbaum, Certified Restaurant Broker who also attended the packed event.


Topics: Restaurant Brokers