Advice for Buying a Restaurant and Selling a Restaurant

Best Restaurant Social Media Campaign Ever! IHOP goes to IHOB and We Sell Restaurants says...

Posted by Robin Gagnon on Jun 15, 2018 4:33:15 PM

What’s in a name?  For a company like ours, aptly named, “We Sell Restaurants,” we’re pretty confident that a good name is key to not only describing what you’re about but also gaining traction in the market. 

In the news that nearly crashed the internet this week, a familiar brand decided to change their name and their brand focus is one fell swoop.  For the last 60 years, people have known the name IHOP or International House of Pancakes.  On June 4th, they announced that they were “flipping [their] name to IHOb,” much to the consternation of the internet.

In advance of the announcement, jokes abounded about what the b would stand for. IHOP’s own twitter feed drummed up the action with a poll from their followers.  Guesses ranged from butternut squash to barnacles. Many people guessed breakfast, along with other logical choices like bacon and brunch.DfGbx9SVAAA86ag

The social media team at IHOP(B) did an amazing job teasing out the answer.  Their first tweet announced a change was in the work and then primed the social media pump.  From encouraging the speculation on social media, playing coy about guesses, and changing words that start with a p to start with a b, they managed to stage a brilliant online campaign.  They engaged in Twitter exchanges with others (Check out our favorite - the Wendy’s Twitter account) and overall hyped in a way we’ve never seen, as the name change had clearly been in the works for some time.

What did they get for this daring effort?  How about hours of online press, a social media firestorm and more mentions stacked up in a two week period than they probably had in the last year.  It wasn’t just social media getting into the action, traditional media was engaged as well and a quick search of articles finds three pages of online results for articles written in the past 48 hours.  Look at us – we’re writing about them too!  

Some are asking, is it a publicity stunt or is it real?  We don’t know but what we do know is that the tactic got everyone on board from other brands to schools and universities to corporations.  Here’s just a sample of some of the tweets that fueled the storm this week.

Burger King came out on Twitter claiming to be the king of pancakes.  When asked if they’d let IHOP sell burgers on their block, Wendy’s replied “Not really afraid of the burgers from a place that decided pancakes were too hard.”

Whataburger tweeted “as much as we love our pancakes, we’d never change our name to Whatapancake.” Hot Pockets simply tweeted “bot bockets”. Other non-food corporate twitter accounts joined in.  Netflix tweeted “brb, changing my name to Netflib.”

When the dust settles, it will likely be the best social media campaign ever.  Will it sell more pancakes?  The restaurant brokers suspect they will, at least for the foreseeable future. Will they really be IHOB – International House of Burgers?  We don’t see it.  Let’s stay tuned and see what’s in a name for this brand.

Topics: Buying a Restaurant, Selling a Restaurant

We Sell Restaurants Team Featured in Rivermoore Business Beat

Posted by Robin Gagnon on Jun 11, 2018 9:39:35 AM

The Rivermore Business Beat - Life in the Park Magazine posted this article about Restaurant brokers Steve and Cyndi Weinbaum of We Sell Restaurants in their June 2018 edition.

In 2015, Steve Weinbaum decided he’d had enough of the “corporate grind” and wanted to find a new career path that he would enjoy.  So, he started selling restaurants. Literally.

Weinbaum, joined We Sell Restaurants, a business brokerage practice focused on the restaurant industry. The company specializes in selling restaurants, restaurant space for lease and leads the country in independently owned and franchise restaurant resales. Before long, he was joined by his wife, Cyndi where they created a husband and wife team in the firm.  Cyndi Steve

Steve and Cyndi both have retail and financial backgrounds. They met and married while at Macy’s corporate headquarters in Atlanta where Steve was on the marketing side and Cyndi was in buying. When Macy’s relocated their corporate offices to Atlanta, Steve transitioned to the gift card and payment industry while Cyndi pursued a residential real estate career. Eventually, their Macy’s days led to a connection with Robin Gagnon of We Sell Restaurants. Eric and Robin Gagnon, also a husband and wife team, started the firm in 2001 and have grown it to a nationwide company working in 45 states.

“It’s a lot of fun because you meet buyers and sellers who are looking to get in or out of the industry for different reasons,” Steve said. “I had a guy who worked at a yogurt shop for five years as an operations manager and had the chance to buy one for the first time. You feel like you’re helping people realize their dream, which is both fun and rewarding.”

Steve and Cyndi help buyers realize the American dream of business ownership. They broker deals between parties looking to buy and sell a restaurant. Sellers need their services to figure out the value. Buyers need their advice to make the right decision.

In a typical transaction they begin with the seller who is interested in their services, speak with the restaurant or franchise owner to figure out their financial details, do a valuation and come up with an asking price. The listing is then marketed nationwide to a database of more than 75,000 buyers seeking a restaurant for sale, all while keeping the exact name and address a secret.

For buyers, Steve and Cyndi do the initial work to qualify them for the purchase, assist with lending options and provide overall guidance and support. Prospective buyers must sign a confidentiality agreement and the name of the restaurant is not listed on the site, only locations and details. Once the buyer has been qualified, the restaurant’s identity is revealed.

This career switch has worked out well for the Weinbaum family. They’ve found a way to provide for their blended family and lifestyle while enjoying the flexibility of being in business for themselves. They enjoy helping other realize the dream of small business ownership. They’ve also proven to make a great team. Steve admits he’s not a details-oriented person; that’s more of Cyndi’s strong suit, so she handles a lot of the numbers and writes many of the contracts. Meanwhile, Steve’s background in sales and finance comes in handy when working with sellers and lenders.

“We are a great team. We complement each other with our strengths and skill sets,” Steve said.

Steve can be reached at (770) 714 – 4552 or email at steve@wesellrestaurants.com.

Cyndi can be reached at (770) 851 – 5194 or email at cyndi@wesellrestaurants.com

 

Topics: Buying a Restaurant, Selling a Restaurant

IBBA presents Eric Gagnon with Outstanding Producer Award

Posted by Robin Gagnon on May 17, 2018 5:28:04 PM

 We Sell Restaurants President Eric Gagnon recognized as Outstanding Producer in 2017 by the International Business Brokers Association at their annual convention.

2017-Outstanding Producer-Award-Eric GagnonEric Gagnon of We Sell Restaurants is the recipient of the Outstanding Producer Award given out by the International Business Brokers Association (IBBA) during its annual conference in New Orleans on May 4. The Outstanding Producer Award is awarded to applicants who closed one or more business deals amounting to at least $1 million in total purchase price during the 2017 calendar year.

“As the only international association for business brokers, it’s important for the IBBA to recognize individuals like Eric who are worldwide leaders in this industry and who display the high standards of skill and excellence that the IBBA promotes,” said Warren Burkholder, IBBA Board Chair, "This award lets sellers and buyers know they are working with one of the industry's top performers."

The IBBA is the world’s premier organization operating exclusively for professionals and firms engaged in business brokerage. The Member Excellence Awards Gala that the IBBA 

Eric Gagnon

puts on during their annual conference gives winners the recognition they deserve for their achievements, while also giving their IBBA colleagues the opportunity to engage with them and learn from their experience.

Eric is the founder and President of We Sell Restaurants and wesellrestaurants.comEric is an industry expert in restaurant sales and valuation and holds the Certified Business Intermediary (CBI) designation from IBBA.  He has also been designated a Business Industry Expert by  Business Brokerage Press. 

Gagnon is the Past President of the Georgia Association of Business Brokers (GABB) and Lifetime Member of their Million Dollar Club. He is also the recipient of the Phoenix Award, presented to a select few who have received the Million Dollar Award for more than a decade.  Eric belongs to industry organizations including the International Business Brokers Association (IBBA) , Business Brokers of Florida (BBF), and the International Franchise Association (IFA) . Eric is also an active member of the Southeast Franchise Forum where he serves on the membership committee. Eric is licensed as a Broker in Georgia, Florida and South Carolina. He holds degrees from major universities in both the United States and Canada.

 

About the International Business Brokers Association

The IBBA provides business brokers with education, conferences, professional designations and networking opportunities. As an exclusive education opportunity, it offers coursework and seminars required to obtain its prestigious Certified Business Intermediary (CBI) certification.

The IBBA also strives to create professional relationships with successful business transaction advisors to increase the value of the IBBA to its members and to be a leader in the exchange of business referrals. Membership in the IBBA includes these excellent networking opportunities, as well as a complete package of other benefits and services. Formed in 1983, the IBBA has members around the world. For more information about the IBBA, visit the website at www.ibba.org.  

Topics: Selling a Restaurant, Buying a Restaurant

We Sell Restaurants Founders Earn CBI (Certified Business Intermediary) with IBBA

Posted by Robin Gagnon on May 14, 2018 3:23:48 PM

Eric and Robin Gagnon, the founders of We Sell Restaurants have each recently earned a designation in the industry as a Certified Business Intermediary or CBI.  The prestigious designation is held by less than 500 individuals worldwide. The two tested last week in New Orleans at the annual conference of the International Business Brokers Association.  Those holding this designation represent a unique community of professionals who have undergone significant coursework, possess relevant experience and have passed a test consisting of both industry knowledge and financial competency in recasting. 

Eric Robin Gagnon The CBI designation is earned through the International Business Brokers Association or IBBA.  The IBBA website states that, "the Certified Business Intermediary (CBI) is a prestigious designation exclusive to the IBBA that identifies an experienced and dedicated business broker. It is awarded to intermediaries who have proven professional excellence through verified education as well as exemplary commitment to our industry."  They go on to remark that the designation will, "indicate to potential clients that anyone who holds the CBI certification is a knowledgeable, invested, and dedicated brokerage professional. Successful completion of the certification process significantly distinguishes business brokers from their peers." 

Lifelong learners who are committed to the business brokerage and restaurant industry, the Gagnons had this to say about their latest certification.  "Teaching others how to buy a restaurant, sell a restaurant or just providing overall knowledge and data points are critical to our practice.  A designation like the CBI is just one more piece to our overall commitment to the highest caliber knowledge base we can draw upon to help our customers." 

The International Business Brokers Association (IBBA) is the largest international non-profit association operating exclusively for people and firms engaged in business brokerage and mergers and acquisitions. This association provides business brokers education, conferences, professional designations, and networking opportunities. Formed in 1983, the IBBA has members across the world.

The IBBA strives to create a professional relationship with successful business transaction advisors (i.e. CPAs, bankers, attorneys, and other related associations), to increase the image and value of the IBBA to its members and to be a leader in the exchange of business referrals. A membership in the IBBA provides “the most complete package of membership benefits and services and the best networking opportunities with the most influential group of business brokers.”

The IBBA concentrates on providing educational courses for the business broker profession. It awards the Certified Business Intermediary (CBI) certification as well as the courses and seminars required to obtain this certification.

CBI

Eric and Robin Gagnon have long histories in the business brokerage industry.  They launched the We Sell Restaurants brand in 2001 and currently work in approximately 45 states across the nation.   

Eric is the founder and President of We Sell Restaurants and wesellrestaurants.com.  He is the nation’s leading restaurant broker.  Eric is an industry expert in restaurant sales and valuation.  Eric, along with Robin is the co-author of Appetite for Acquisition  an award winning book on restaurant brokerage published in 2012 and named "Best of" by Small Business Book Awards.  Eric began his career in the financial services industry for Bank of America, Bank of New York and big five accounting firm, KPMG before launching the nation’s premiere restaurant brokerage firm and restaurant brokerage franchise.

Eric is the Past President of the Georgia Association of Business Brokers (GABB) and Lifetime Member of the Million Dollar Club. He is also the recipient of the Phoenix Award, presented to a select few who have received the Million Dollar Award for more than a decade.  He is a member of the International Business Brokers Association (IBBA), Business Brokers of Florida (BBF), and the International Franchise Association (IFA). Eric is also an active member of the for the Southeast Franchise Forum where he serves on the membership committee. Eric is licensed as a Broker in Georgia, Florida and South Carolina.   He holds degrees from major universities in both the United States and Canada. 

Robin is the Co-Founder of We Sell Restaurants and the firm's Chief Marketing Officer.  Robin is one of the most prolific restaurant brokers in the industry and is a franchise resale specialist. Robin's expert articles appear online and in print across the country. She co-authored Appetite for Acquisition,  the industry's leading book on buying restaurants that received the prestigious "Best of " award by Small Business Book Awards.  Robin is a member of the International Franchise Association and serves on the Women's Franchise Committee and the 2018 Conference Committee.  She is also the Chair of the Women's Franchise Network - Atlanta Chapter.    

Robin holds an undergraduate degree and an MBA where she graduated first in her class and was named "Outstanding MBA." Robin is an emeritus member of the ASU Business Advisory Council. She is also a founding member of the ASU Entrepreneurship Board. Robin is a licensed real estate salesperson in both Georgia and Florida and member of the Georgia Association of Business Brokers (GABB), the International Business Brokers Association (IBBA) and the Business Brokers of Florida (BBF).  She has been named a National Industry Expert by Business Brokerage Press in Franchise Resales.   Prior to joining We Sell Restaurants, Robin served as Vice President of Strategic Marketing for a $4 billion-dollar retailer and Director of Advertising and Director of Business Development for another Fortune 100 company. 

For more information on the services of We Sell Restaurants or its founders, visit their website at wesellrestaurants.com 

 

Topics: Buying a Restaurant, Selling a Restaurant

A Restaurant Broker Asks, "Do I Draft a Quarterback or Receiver?"

Posted by Dominique Maddox on Apr 20, 2018 7:48:00 AM

Should I draft a Quarterback or Receiver to sell my business? This restaurant broker has an opinion on the topic.  What's yours?

It's the time of year when football fans are glued to the TV listening to sports commentators talk about NFL prospects waiting to be drafted. This highly speculative event is where players realize their lifetime dreams of being drafted into the "league." Team owners a lot of money each year for their scouting department to evaluate the talent of potential players. They make this investment with one goal in mind. Which player can help their organization WIN? The right draft pick can help a team WIN and increase the value of an organization.

Pink Hobbies Facebook Post

The NFL draft puts a dollar value on each player position and the market value for each position is different. The team with the number #1 pick wants to get the most production and value for their pick. This is very similar to a seller that wants to sell their restaurant. They are choosing from a lineup of players (or brokers). Their challenge is to find the one who can help them WIN and increase the value of the transaction.

Quarterbacks are a highly specialized positions that can change the fortunes of a team. This position requires owners to pay a premium salaries. Kirk Cousins just signed a 3-year, $84 million dollar averaging $28 million a year and it’s ALL guaranteed! The highest paid Receiver only makes $17 million a year. Why would an owner pay a Quarterback 165% more than the top Receiver?

 

The answer is very easy. It’s called Value. That can be defined as “the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.” A Specialized Restaurant Broker is like a Quarterback. They bring more value than a generalized agent that is a "jack of all trade" selling anything from a day care center to a beauty salon.  Making the wrong choice to sell your restaurant would be like drafting a Receiver that would not help you WIN.

Certified Restaurant Brokers quarterback the sales transaction from the beginning to the end. They communicate with the seller, buyer, bank lenders, landlords, CPA’s, Franchise, closing attorney, and sometimes vendors. Restaurant Brokers are valuation specialists and understand the cash flow and add backs of a restaurant situation. They understand the deal making process and know when an audible may have to be called to get the deal closed.

I played football at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia and I did not get drafted to the NFL. On the other hand, I have restaurant sellers draft me every day to quarterback the sales transaction of their restaurants. I’m honored to represent these sellers and give them an opportunity to pursue their new life ambitions.

When it’s time for you to sell your restaurant make sure you draft the right person to represent you. It's not fantasy football and the right pick is critical.  The right draft pick can be the difference between selling your business for the most money in the shortest period of time or waiting while the clock runs out on the field. Get the guy that can score a touchdown each and every time!

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Topics: Selling a Restaurant

As the Restaurant Brokers Predicted, 2018 Business Sales Climb to New Heights

Posted by Robin Gagnon on Apr 16, 2018 10:03:51 AM

The Restaurant Brokers have been bullish on restaurant sales since very early in 2017 and our predictions have been spot on with reports from the marketplace.  BizBuySell is confirming our findings, stating that the first quarter of 2018 brought "record-breaking sales prices and transactions"  for  business sales.

Orange Accent Photography Quote2018 Versus 2017 Results

Asking prices, count of restaurants on the market and selling prices all rose in the first quarter of 2018 versus 2017 acording to the latest tracking data released by BizBuySell.  In their report, "small businesses sold for the highest sale prices since they started tracking data in 2007."  That's a decade ago!  Selling prices were up 3.4 percent increase from last year at this same time.  Asking prices are up as well.  Their report says that the median asking price of sold businesses also hit a record high.  The number was $262,000, a 4.8 percent increase over 2017.

There were a total of 2,678 businesses sold in the first quarter of 2018. This represents a 13.1 percent increase from this time last year and the most businesses reported as sold in a quarter since BizBuySell began collecting this data. What about restaurant sales?  Restaurants represented 21% of all businesses sold.  From our internal data, as the largest restaurant brokerage firm nationwide, we can confirm that transactions, asking prices and selling prices are all up from last year.  Restaurant transactions were up 7.65 nationwide in the first quarter. 

Drivers of these Results

What's driving the change?  It's the Trump effect and specifically, the tax bill.  Small business owners are listing businesses they previously held back on because they know the tax consequences are less when it sells in 2018.  Simultaneously, small business confidence is at an all time high.  The tax bill has made a number of buyers and seller realize that their efforts will put more money in their pocket so small business ownership is looking good to them.  

The strong stock market has also contributed to the boom in restaurant sales.  Many buyers rely on 401K savings and fund acquisitions through rollover products.  Now that their savings have seen a 20% to 25% bump in the last year, they are feeling flush with cash and ready to invest in themselves. 

Will it Continue?  Only if the Tax Bill Remains Unchanged

What do the trends look like?  Here's the quarter by quarter graph released by BizBuySell showing the sale price versus asking price since 2014.  You'll see that the first quarter of 2018 has the highest point on the graph.  The restaurant brokers fully expect this trend to last for the year with one caveat.  Should the Democrats take back control of the House or Senate, putting them in a position to reverse the tax package, as they have pledged, expect these numbers to tumble significantly.  

2018 Q1 Small Business Sale Price vs Asking Price

For now, the tax package has not only spurred tremendous growth in sales, it is also paying for itself, a little discussed fact released by the Congressional Business Office or CBO last week.  Last June, the CBO said GDP growth for 2018 would be just 2%. Now it figures growth will be 3.3% — a significant upward revision. It also boosted its forecast for 2019 from a meager 1.5% to a respectable 2.4%. The CBO now expects GDP to be $6.1 trillion bigger by 2027 than it did before the tax cuts. The CBO report also makes clear that this faster-growing economy will offset most of the costs of the Trump tax cuts.   BizBuySell surveyed business owners and and nearly half of them (more than 48 percent) believe the tax changes benefit small businesses.  Less than a quarter (24 percent) found it harmful. 

Business Confidence Rules

The restaurant brokers aren't the only ones discussing business confidence.  The NFIB or National Federation of Independent Business group surveyed its members in February.  In their  Small Business Economic Trends Survey, they reveal that "small business owners are showing unprecedented confidence in the economy."  These results are spilling over to unemployment numbers which has fallen to 4.1 percent, the lowest since the dotcom boom back in 2000.  That is also affecting small business owners and of those surveyed by BizBuySell, 60 percent plan to hire more staff and 57 percent plan to raise compensation.  

 All of this economic growth is pushing those interested in small business ownership to seek opportunities like our restaurants for sale, especially since the businesses themselves are performing better. 

Cash Flow Trends

Restaurants for sale like the ones we represent are priced based on cash flow.  The businesses sold in the first quarter of the year reproted higher earnings.  That is the trigger for rising valuation and ultimately, higher selling prices.  The median cash flow of businesses sold in Q1 increased to $120,000, a 2.3 percent increase over the same time last year.  This is still a minor raise that would not dramatically affect pricing but we expect to see this trend continue up as well.  Businesses selling in 2018 are reflective of 2017 earnings.  As trends strengthen this year, this will be factored into the valuation of transactions later in the year.  

Are more sellers putting their businesses on the market?  Yes.  The report found an increase of 6.9 percent in businesses listed.  The restaurant brokers continue to believe the time has never been bettter for selling.  Between small business confidence, the number of buyers in the market and continued favorable lending trends, 2018 is the year to sell your restaurant.

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Topics: Buying a Restaurant, Selling a Restaurant

Selling Your Restaurant? Better Start Your Spring Cleaning

Posted by Eric Gagnon on Apr 9, 2018 12:57:13 PM

 

Dark Blue and Red World Press Freedom Day Social Media Post-1Spring is in the air. We all feel driven to clean out closets, tidy up spaces and do a general touch up. Thinking of Selling your restaurant? Apply the same thought process.

Most of us take a hard look at our homes and we will try to make it look as good as we can for the upcoming months. Why not do the same for your restaurant? If you’re thinking of selling your restaurant, here are some of the major areas to focus on from the restaurant brokers. These are the major areas and ideas for your Spring cleaning.

 

Dining room, Patio, Kitchen

When it comes to selling your restaurant, you need to look up, down, and all around. When is the last time you really cleaned your dining room floor? I don’t mean just mopping it. What about steam cleaning, rebuffing, re-waxing or even replacing a tired surface. You may not look down, but your customers do.

A continuation of the dining room floor are the base boards. When selling your restaurant, no detail is too small. Take a moment and wipe down the baseboards?

For a larger project, consider touching up paint on walls, a fresh coat of paint maybe even a new color? HGTV is filled with stories of a “before” and “after.” Many of these are just fresh paint colors that can have a huge impact.

Don’t forget to look up. That A/C leak from last year that stained a few of your ceiling tiles is a constant reminder of failed equipment. Don’t let a restaurant buyer focus on these negative items if you’re selling your restaurant. Look up, fix the ceiling tiles and, how about those ceiling fans? Please don’t tell me the last time you dusted them was last Spring.

Look at your décor. Change out old faded artwork or posters. You can do better. New pictures, new TV screens, new table covers; all are easy and simple (low cost) ways to bring Spring in the air.

Your kitchen is the engine every buyer wants to see. When is the last time you pulled out your kitchen equipment and steam cleaned the entire space and equipment? Have you gone to your storage area and disposed of any items no longer in use? Consider updating to newer technologies or upgraded equipment for the upcoming busy season. New equipment may cost now but make a huge difference to your bottom line this year if the food cooks faster or the temperature is stable.

Patios are often a huge plus for restaurants but to require upkeep. That area if visible from the road could also be the first look in your establishment for many customers. Make sure you have a picture-perfect patio area. Adding water or fire elements to your patio could also make a very positive impact on your business. Your patio, seen from the road, can be a billboard for you.

Menu Spring Cleaning

When selling a restaurant, the focus is on profitability. When is the last time you took a hard look at your menu? Adding and/or deleting items, pricing adjustment, seasonal specials, promotions, LTO’s. Be very strategic here. An outside consultant or food vendor can help with this. This is a big part of your business. If you can bring up your loss leaders or trade non-selling items on your menu for more profitable and sellable items what are you waiting for? Status quo is very easy and comfortable but if your sales are not going up, you are losing marketing share.

Staff Spring Cleaning

When selling your restaurant, you want the best possible crew. Do you need to provide additional training to the current team? Should you roll out a new incentive package for the team to participate in? You can host team building activity to set the tone and expectations for the busy season ahead. Whichever you decide to do here do not overlook or skip staff spring cleaning.

You spend a tremendous of time in your restaurant and sometimes it is very difficult to step out be candidly honest with yourself about the appearance. When selling your restaurant, that first impression may seal or sink the deal.

A quick Spring cleaning can go a long way. Any changes small or big will be noticed by your team and your customers. That new paint smell or new air freshener in your bathrooms will soon become the smell of new customers and new profits.

Topics: Selling a Restaurant

What’s the Best Way to Sell a Restaurant?

Posted by Robin Gagnon on Apr 5, 2018 7:35:13 AM

Wondering about the best way to sell a restaurant? Here are some of the common approaches along with the pros and cons.

Dark Blue and Red World Press Freedom Day Social Media PostCommercial Real Estate Agent

One common approach to selling your restaurant is to find a local commercial real estate agent. This seems like a good starting point. They know the local market. They are familiar (or should be) with lease rates and they are licensed and in good standing. These are all the positive points. Is this the best way to sell your restaurant?

Compare this information with these less favorable reasons to list with a local commercial real estate agent. First, a local commercial real estate agent does not have access to a ready database of buyers in the market to buy a business. He or she typically deals with those in the market to buy a cash flow property generating a return, but these are generally people that want to be landlords rather than operators. Secondly, an agent like this is often using marketing tech

niques tied to the location like Co-Star or LoopNet. They aren’t familiar with the national marketing sites, featured listings, costs and methods to draft and market a confidential transaction. Lastly, a commercial real estate agent has comps and models for doing valuation on real estate property but frequently lack the training and skills to do a valuation on a business. It’s simply not their core expertise. For all these reasons, using a commercial real estate agent is not the best way to sell a restaurant.

General Business Broker

In seeking the best way to sell a restaurant, talking to general business brokers is a great approach. They are familiar with valuation methods, are sometimes credentialed (i.e. have a C.B.I. or Certified Business Intermediary status). They represent customers in the market to buy a business and understand how to market businesses for sale which is very different from traditional real estate. All of these are positive reasons that using a generalized business broker may be the best way to sell a restaurant.

Unfortunately, the term “general business broker” is the first clue that they may not be the best way to sell a restaurant and here’s why. A general business broker sells everything from manufacturing plants to liquor stores; from day care centers to dry cleaners. Throw a restaurant in the mix and he or she will sell that as well. That’s where the break down occurs. The analysis of the financials is best understood by someone who has sold dozens of restaurants that year, not someone selling one in 100. The ability to interact with buyers and answer questions they have related to infrastructure (is there a grease trap? How long is the hood?), and others posed by buyers is much more difficult when they are trying to remember or learn multiple industries. That’s very different from the granular level someone specializing the field will understand it. Lastly, remember the old saying that a “jack of all trades is master of none?” That applies to this instance. Based on their very generic approach to selling businesses, a general business broker is not usually the best way to sell a restaurant.

For Sale by Owner

On option for selling your restaurant is the “for sale by owner” route. Is this the best way to sell a restaurant? This is for you to gauge independently based on your situation. There are definitely risks to selling on your own. One issue is dealing with the confidentiality of the business. Who and how do you tell the world you’re for sale while keeping your employees from learning? How do you price it? What about marketing? For sale by owner is a tricky proposition that could actually cost more than it saves. We recommend avoiding this course of action unless you have a ready buyer already identified. Even in that case, it’s a good idea to bring a broker in for representation and to cover the basics.

Specialized Restaurant Broker

In this writer’s opinion, a restaurant broker, specializing in the field exclusively is the best way to sell a restaurant. Why is this the best choice?

A Restaurant Broker is both focused and expert in the industry. They are valuation specialists and understand the cash flow and add backs of a restaurant situation. A Restaurant Broker is working with clients every single day who have one single interest and that is buying a restaurant. In the case of our firm, We Sell Restaurants, we have more than 70,000 people in our database all looking for a restaurant for sale. They don’t come to us for day cares or dry cleaners, they have one mission.

A specialized brokerage firm has the depth and breadth of knowledge that is unmatched by either a commercial broker or a general business broker. For these reasons, they are the best way to sell a restaurant if you’re seeking to sell for the most money in the shortest period of time.

Do you have questions about selling your restaurant? Visit us online or give us a call today.

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Topics: Selling a Restaurant

Three Tips for Selling a Restaurant - a Restaurant Broker's Guide

Posted by Robin Gagnon on Mar 19, 2018 11:43:35 AM

If you are interested in selling a restaurant, these three tips provide you with a guide for the best results.  These basic concepts can help insure your desired outcome; selling your restaurant for the most money in the shortest period of time. 

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Tip #1 – Reveal that Dirty Laundry when Selling a Restaurant

Establishing a relationship of trust with your restaurant broker is a must when you are selling a restaurant. The relationship between you and your restaurant broker should be open and honest with a “no surprise” policy. It is important to make sure your restaurant broker is aware of every negative aspect of your business, so you must pull out all of your dirty laundry and reveal any liability for the sale to be successful.

Although you may feel embarrassed to tell your restaurant broker about a recent liquor license citation, a tax lien in the hundreds of thousand dollars, back rent that is owed to the tune of thousands of dollars, or even a lawsuit that you are facing from an employee, trust us, the restaurant broker has seen it all before. Talk about these issues openly so your restaurant broker can help you resolve the issues and move the deal to the closing table. Remember that the restaurant broker is highly skilled at dealing with these issues and they are equipped to help you through them one by one. It’s only when you attempt to hide issues like that that they become a reason the deal will fail.  Be open, honest and trusting with your broker and he or she should be the same with you. 

Tip #2 – Set Clear Expectations for Communication

Nothing is more disappointing than signing a listing agreement and having communication go silent.  However, remember, that restaurant broker is concentrating on selling your restaurant.  He or she is highly engaged every day with buyers, distributing information, doing calls and sending the would-be purchaser as a secret shopper to visit your business.  If it’s important for you to be looped in on all activity, set these expectations ahead of time.  Ask the restaurant broker what forms of communication they use and establish how you want to receive contact.  Do you want a text each time someone’s “hot” or do you want information weekly whether a buyer is fully engaged or not? 

Ask the restaurant broker to explain their typical style and form of communicating buyer interest to you as the seller.  Some restaurant brokers use high tech systems that automatically notify you by email when there has been an inquiry about your listing. Other restaurant brokers will simply call you when someone responds to the listing. Then there are restaurant brokers who are poor communicators and will never contact you.  By establishing what is important to you, trust is built between you and your restaurant broker.

Tip #3 – Make sure you have a Valid and Enforceable Agreement  

Formalize a listing agreement contract with your restaurant broker. Define exactly what it is that you are selling and which parties are authorized to sign so the deal can move to the closing table. This will help you to avoid any misunderstanding and make the transaction process go a lot smoother.

If there is more than one partner involved with your business, obtain their consent and sign a corporate resolution to sell in advance of the listing agreement. Following this process protects you in the event that one partner is not available or the closing or has a change of heart while everyone else is ready to sell.  Obtain a corporate seal on a document that confirms that all corporate partners have met and agreed to sell the business. Make sure this corporate resolution indicates a vote was taken to sell and designate a partner authorized to sign in the absence of the others. 

Further confirm the validity of your agreement by confirming the legal standing of your corporation.  You can visit the Secretary of State website to check the status of the LLC or corporation on the contract.  Make sure the latest corporate filing has been made.  Confirm your entity is in good standing and has not been administratively dissolved due to non-filing or non-payment.  An entity that is not in good standing cannot be a party to a transaction so this has to be handled before signing a listing agreement or purchase contract.

After following threes three tips for selling your restaurant, follow through on your daily responsibilities.  Run your business at the highest possible level.  Keep it staffed and continue doing the things that deliver a great return for you today. The last thing you want to do is pull back on marketing, staffing or quality while you are on the market.

Then trust the Restaurant Broker to do the job you hired them for.  Wait for the offer to come in and imagine the next step in your life after selling your restaurant. 

Interested in selling your restaurant?  Click this link for a free valuation of your restaurant from We Sell Restaurants. 

 

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Topics: Selling a Restaurant

Does Selling a Restaurant Require a License? You better believe it - in Many States

Posted by Robin Gagnon on Mar 15, 2018 9:14:33 AM

If you’re selling a house, you know you need a real estate agent.  That means someone who has achieved educational requirements, passed significant testing, undergone a background check and reinvests each year in continuing education. Do you know that in many states, selling a restaurant also requires a license?

It’s true. For sixteen states, it is a specific and certain legal requirement that business brokers or restaurant brokers hold a real estate license. Failure to do so is a Third Degree Felony in the state of Florida and a misdemeanor in Georgia punishable with a fine of $1000 for each violation with each day that person practices as a separate violation.

As of this date, the following states both require a license and have been very consistent in requiring a real estate license in order to sell a business without any real estate. These include: Florida, Georgia, Colorado, California, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Nebraska, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Alaska. In Illinois, the law is slightly different and requires that you register with the Securities Division of the Secretary of State.  That's a total of 17 states with a licensing requirements for business brokers.  In the event that real estate is involved, all fifty states require a license for the transaction to occur legally.

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What are these states hoping to accomplish by requiring a real estate license or other form of licensing for selling a restaurant?

First of all, each license holder is subjected to fingerprinting and a background check. If there are any convictions, clouds or issues arising from the background check, the applicant will not be able to get a license. If you consider that you’re about to spend several hundred thousand dollars at the advice of business broker, is it really such a bad idea to know if they’ve been convicted of fraud first?

Secondly, a real estate licensee is subject to specific educational requirements, including legal and ethics coursework. This education insures that the person holding money and advising you on buying or selling a restaurant understands the legal elements of a contract including, escrow, consideration, buyer and seller acceptance and much more. You would never dream of visiting an unlicensed doctor, why would you put thousands of dollars in the hands of an unlicensed person practicing business brokerage?

Lastly, a real estate license holder is held to specific standards for holding escrow money, advertising listings, the language and content of listings and in some cases, even the legal forms he or she may use for a business.

Each of these items protects the consumer, you, the person buying or selling a restaurant. In the event something goes wrong, the Real Estate Commission in each state has a full complaint and disciplinary process that can result in fines, loss of a license and other sanctions, including, for those operating illegally, criminal charges.

How do you know if your broker has a license to sell your business or help you buy a restaurant? Don’t bother trying to find out on the national listing websites. This restaurant broker did a quick check online and found that in Georgia, fully 50% of the “featured” brokers advertising on BizBuySell did not have a current Georgia real estate license.

The internet has made it incredibly easy to advertise, leading to what I personally believe is the “wild west” mentality where anyone gets listings anywhere. There are no checks and balances on the national listing websites so you will not be able to tell if someone is licensed. For this restaurant broker, who spends an incredible amount of time and money each year complying with educational requirements, paying for licenses and renewal fees and staying current in many states, it is inconceivable that others simply operate in the open without proper licensing. All listings on the We Sell Restaurants website are represented by duly licensed representatives for that state.

How do you confirm a business broker is operating legally? Fortunately, the real estate commission for each state has a simple process where you can verify licensing. I’m including links to each state below. Before you inquire on a listing for sale, take five seconds and confirm the person representing it has the legal right to do so.

What happens if you’re listed with an unlicensed broker? In my opinion, you should immediately terminate the listing. That person has no legal right to represent you and any agreement would be unenforceable in a court of law.

What if you are in contract on a listing with an unlicensed broker? Seek legal counsel. If the broker has mistakenly represented the he or she has the authority to represent your business, you may avoid paying commission. An unlicensed party to a contract making a false claim could easily void any requirement to pay on your behalf.

Lastly, if you discover a broker is unlicensed and representing a listing in a license state, take a moment and report this activity to your real estate commission. There are laws on the books to protect your community and while the real estate commission may not be swift in follow up, they will ultimately investigate any claim you file.

Confirm a real estate license for each state by clicking the link on each state below:

Robin Gagnon is the co-founder of We Sell Restaurants and a licensed real estate agent in Georgia and Florida. She is also an M.B.A. and Certified Restaurant Broker. Her firm represents sellers in forty states and has licensed brokers handling those transactions legally in all states.

 

Topics: Selling a Restaurant, Buying a Restaurant