Advice for Buying a Restaurant and Selling a Restaurant

Scott Ruby

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People Like to buy Restaurants, Not to be sold!

Posted by Scott Ruby on Aug 21, 2019 4:36:47 PM

Certified Restaurant Broker Scott Ruby reports on a recent sales seminar.  His takeaway -- People want to Buy Restaurants but they don't want to be sold.  Here's his report.

Scott Ruby recently attended a Sandler Sales training class that discussed how to be a true and genuine person. It touched on how to avoid being a ‘typical salesperson’ while continuing to grow your business.

The days of a sales professional having all the right words and being a slick car salesman are over.   You need to dress like a restaurant operator, have the same language, and understand the challenges of the business. 

Scott Ruby

The restaurant owner or restaurant buyer of today is looking for a trusted business adviser that they can work with in a comfortable environment. They look for someone they trust with their intimate financial situation.  They want someone who will listen to what they need financially to with the business. 

Good Restaurant Brokers earn the seller or buyer’s trust first.  Failing to do this by requesting financials may cause the buyer to seller to shut down and move to defensive mode. 

Understanding that staffing challenges are affecting all of our clients is an essential in this business.  Most of the We Sell Restaurants sellers are exiting the business because they are tired of struggling to find good team members and can’t afford to pay the “market rate.” 

Seek First to understand

Too Often we show up and start telling what we can do for them. The fact that we focus on Restaurant Sales and are pretty great at what we do is an excellent start.  But what is the pain point that we are trying to solve for them?

  1. Don’t show up and Throw Up!
    This is a common trait for a new salesman. They get nervous and show up and state how great they and the company they work for are, not really focusing on what problem the customer is struggling to solve.   Listen first, then figure out what we can do to solve the problem.
  2. Don’t be afraid to say that we are not a fit for everyone.
    This is the biggest problem with a new salesperson / franchisde. We are not the one size fits all solution!   We can’t help the operator who has 30 days to vacate the property and is losing money.   The best thing we can do is to focus our energy on the opportunities where we can make an impact and generate income in the process!
  3. Stay Behind the Pendulum
    This is the biggest lesson from the class. The best thing we can do as a trusted business advisor is to stay behind the customer.   If they are super excited about an opportunity, we need to keep them grounded.   If they are concerned about a situation, we need to help them investigate, and not be overly excited and positive.  This will drive them away if we are more excited about the opportunity then they are.
  4. Help them buy, but don’t sell!!!
    Our Business Analysis Tool is a best in class report at stating the opportunity as it sits. This does not over promise but clearly states the opportunity and how they can build upon the current sales.
  5. Never Give Something, unless you get something in return!
    Time is limited.  As Restaurant Brokers, spending time with people who have no intention of ever working with us is a waste of resources. We need to be sure and offer free evaluations, travel to the listing, only when we feel that the client is committed to selling, and prescreen them to make sure that we are not just providing a free valuation.  You don’t want to travel halfway across the state, only to confirm that they are priced right if they list it without us!
  6. Customers call us for a reason, as they think we have the solution!
    The information that we have on the market, the price to SDE ratio, is of value to most of our operators. They have been so focused on growing their business, that they have lost track of how to price a restaurant.   Our information is valuable.  We don’t give it away without some commitment of working together.
  7. Be Open, Honest and Up Front!
    Sometimes we are not a great fit.  Be sure to understand how we can provide value. One of my long-lost friends ran a restaurant that he leased from a golf course.  His lease was coming due, and he wanted to know his options.   Since he didn’t own the real estate, his options were fairly limited, either continue to operate the restaurant, or let his lease expire.  Our customer is this situation is the golf course, not the lessor.
  8. Use their data.  People don’t argue if we use their data.
    This was a great lesson as well. If we let the customer provide the area data, or the problems with the restaurant’s numbers, they have a hard time arguing with their own assessment.   If we say that their occupancy numbers are too high, they tend to want to argue with our assessment.   If they come up with the challenges themselves, it is more of a team environment, instead of us stating the problem.
  9. Seek First to understand – ask lots of questions!!
    Why are they selling, what is staffing like, what are they going to do when they sell? We need to do a better job of finding out what is driving them to sell.   Most operators struggle to communicate the real reason they decided to call you today and why they are selling, but I recently asked a pizza franchise what staffing was like, and he showed me a picture of every team member working while on their phones!  He was so done with them looking at their phones instead of actually working that he decided to call and list the restaurant.

Every person knows what is driving them, but it is not always as easy for them to verbalize why.  This is a big piece of the puzzle, and the bigger the problem, the more likely they are to sell at a reasonable price to solve the problem. We need to find the pain point, and then find a way for us to solve it for them!!!

Scott Ruby

 

Topics: Selling a Restaurant