What Every Seller Should Know

Selling your business is a major decision! You have devoted your time, money and energy to building, running and operating your business. It may well represent your life’s work. You have decided that now is the right time to sell, and you want the very best professional guidance you can get. This is when working in tandem with a professional business broker can make the difference between just getting rid of the business and selling it for the very best price and terms. Following are some of the most common questions asked by sellers — and if you are contemplating selling your business, these are questions you should be asking, too.

1. What Can — and Can’t — A Business Broker Do for Me?

Business brokers are the professionals who will facilitate the successful sale of your business. It is important that you understand just what professional business brokers can do — as well as what they can’t. Business brokers can help you decide how to price your business and how to structure the sale so it makes sense for you and the buyer. They can find the right buyer for your business, work with the seller and the buyer in negotiating, and coordinate every step of the way until the transaction is successfully closed. They will also help the buyer with all details of the business buying process.

A business broker is not, however, a magician who can sell an overpriced business. Most businesses are salable if priced and structured properly. You should understand that only the marketplace can determine what a business will sell for. The amount of the down payment you are willing to accept along with the terms of the seller financing can greatly influence not only the ultimate selling price, but the success of the sale itself.

2. Why Is Seller Financing Important To the Sale Of My Business?

Surveys have shown that sellers who ask for cash receive, on average, only 75 percent of their asking price, while sellers who accept terms typically receive 86 percent of their asking price. In many cases, businesses that are listed for all cash just don’t sell. With reasonable terms, however, the chances of selling increase dramatically, and the time period from listing to sale greatly decreases. Most sellers are unaware of how much interest they can generate by financing the sale of their business. What’s more, seller financing tells the buyer that the seller is confident about the ability of the business to — literally — pay for itself.

3. How Long Will It Take To Sell My Business?

It generally takes, on average, between three to four months to sell a business. (Keep in mind, however, that an average is just that.) The sooner the business broker has all the information needed to begin the marketing process, the shorter the time period for selling should be. It is also important that the business be priced properly right from the start. Some sellers, operating under the premise that they can always come down in price, overprice their business, not understanding that buyers often will refuse to look at an overpriced business.

It has been shown that the amount of the down payment may be the key ingredient for a quick sale. The lower the down payment, generally 40 percent of the asking price or less, the shorter the time to a successful sale. A reasonable down payment also — as in the case of seller financing — sends a message to a potential buyer about the seller’s confidence in the health of the business.

4. What Happens When There Is A Buyer For My Business?

When a buyer is sufficiently interested in your business, business brokers will help in the preparation of an offer or proposal, which may have one or more contingencies. Usually, contingencies call for a detailed review of your financial records and may also include a review of your lease arrangements, franchise agreement (if there is one) or other pertinent details of the business. The buyer’s proposal will be presented to you for your consideration. You may accept the terms of the offer or you may make a counter-proposal. You should understand, however, that if you do not accept the buyer’s proposal, the buyer can withdraw it at any time.

Business brokers will submit all offers to you for your consideration. At first review, you may not be pleased with a particular offer: it may be lacking in some areas, but it might also have some pluses to seriously consider. Remember the old adage: The first offer is generally the best one the seller will receive.” This does not mean that you should accept the first, or any offer — just that all offers should be looked at with thought and care.

When you and the buyer are in agreement, the business broker will work with both of you to satisfy and remove the contingencies in the offer. It is important that you cooperate fully in this process; otherwise, the buyer might think you have something to hide. The buyer may, at this point, bring in outside advisors to help them review the information. When all the conditions have been met, final papers will be drawn and signed. Once the closing has been completed, money will be distributed and the new owner will take the possession of the business. Your business broker professional will work with you throughout the entire sales process.

5. Co-Branding: The New Age Business Combo

The store-within-a-store is not a novel concept. The tailor next to the dry cleaner, for example, is a combination that’s been around since the beginning of business time.

Now combining business forces has a new look — and a new name. It’s called co-branding, and the idea is going like hotcakes. Like hotcakes with a side of motor oil. Among franchises, where the concept is most popular, co-branding means selling combined products and/or services at the same place of business. The combinations may sometimes seem unlikely, but any way you slice it, co-branding seems to work.

6. Co-Branding for One-Stop Convenience

This type of co-branding can produce some stomach-churning combos. Fast food and fuel, currently the most popular oddball mix, proves it can be convenience alone that makes the idea work.

For example, it’s lunchtime and you also need gas. Why settle for Nabs and a Coke from the service station machine? Why go to McDonald’s for your fast-food feast and then hit the road again for gas? Instead, while munching on your double-decker Italian at a Subway, your car is being gassed and car windows are being washed. One stop — and two items are off your list.

When the combined franchises are both nationally-recognized big names, each one benefits from the business attracted by the other. And in cases where one member of the combo is better-known, the bigger name draws traffic to the other. There are also real financial advantages when two or more businesses co-brand. They will shoulder equally expenses such as rent, telephone lines, and most utilities.

7. Co-Branding for Synergy

Adding synergy to convenience makes a hard-to-beat selling technique. Business accounting services with a next-door-copy center, an office-supply store with a packing/shipping outfit, the bookshop that houses a coffee bar — when different franchises are placed within one location, each can concentrate on its own special products or services. From the franchisor’s point of view, co-branding increases efficiency and customer satisfaction.

These two-for-one operations bank on the attraction of allied products or services. The key here is to predict customer need — and in the case of the bookshop coffee bar — mood. Having fulfilled his/her original shopping purpose, what might the customer be drawn to next? This leads us to the next type of co-branding …

8. Co-Branding for Impulse Purchase

The best example here is the national fast-food vendor, Arby’s. This company also owns T.J. Cinnamons (breads and muffins). How better to introduce a new food concepts than to put them side-by-side with good old established roast beef? After lunch, go ahead and get your breakfast buns as long as they’re right there.

From the point of view of the companies involved, this doubling-up (or even tripling up) means more than just increased sales. It makes good business sense all the way around. The space isn’t all that’s shared — a wise financial move in itself — but also payroll expenses and, in some cases, the workers themselves. After the breakfast rush, the crew can go next door and help set up for lunch. If one business melds better with the summer season and another with winter, employees can be concentrated to follow customer traffic.

So what’s not to like about co-branding? So far, so good. For franchisors everywhere, it looks like a win-win combination.