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