My Business Broker, My Banker

When you buy a business (or a franchise) the seller traditionally are willing to pay a finder fee or commission. Brokers will charge anywhere from 5-20% of the purchase price for listing the business. Franchisors will pay referral fees depending on what the total price of the franchise is. How can that be of benefit to you when you are buying your business?

During tough credit times most brokers are willing to carry back some portion of the commission to help the buyer and the seller complete the transaction. Some business brokers live and die by the idea that they will absolutely never carry back a commission, consequently they can and will kill the business purchase. When using these techniques remember that business brokers are professionals and they need to make a living to. These techniques are not to pull the wool over their eyes, they’re merely present to help you negotiate better.

Here are a few steps to get your business broker or franchise consultant to help finance your acquisition.

1. Listen to the first piece of information the business broker wants to know – Several brokers will start off their relationship with a buyer by initially asking, “How much cash can you put down IMMEDIATELY on this business if you were going to buy it?” This is the business brokers’ way of playing poker. Remember the object (the true object) of poker is to get the other party to show the maximum risk they are willing to accept. If you tell the business broker that you have $100,000 then they will try to get you to put even more down.

2. Ask the broker how business is going – This is the thermostat to knowing whether or not the broker is willing to play ball or not. A broker whose business is thriving may not worry about lending a qualified borrower a small amount of money to finish the acquisition. On the other hand a starving broker may be more than willing to lend money to get some portion of the commission.

3. Avoid engaging in a contract directly with the broker – Traditionally the business broker has engaged the seller for a listing. A business buyer can engage a broker to help them buy a business; however in many states brokers do not split commissions. Consequently a contract with the broker with the buyer may lead to a very odd relationship.

4. Ask the seller how much of a commission they are paying the broker – Here is your opportunity to play poke. Most business sellers feel like they are getting nailed to the wall when they are selling the business. They are giving up 5-20% of the business to some guy or gal that the seller considers to be a glorified real estate agent! What did they do in the past 20 years to earn this huge portion of the seller’s retirement fund? I find getting to see the listing agreement is one of the easiest parts of negotiations.

5. Ask the broker where to come up with the remainder of the money – The broker will try to get you to put more cash on the table. The greater the cash you commit to buying the business the more likely you are to close, and be successful with your new venture (according to the business broker.) When and if there is a “boot” or remaining funds that you need to come up with ask the business broker – frankly where to find it at. They may direct you to some lending sources, but a good broker may consider doing a carry back with the seller to accommodate the transaction.

How Important Is a Business Broker to Buyers and Sellers?

Establishments and companies change ownership at some point. As such, the services of business brokers prove to be highly valuable for both the seller and the buyer. An aspiring entrepreneur needs to evaluate a target business establishment, and this is where a professional business broker can offer valuable assistance. The seller also will find it rewarding to seek the assistance of a business for sale broker for the advertising and the negotiation facilitation with prospect buyers.

Benefits of Hiring Business Brokers

Selling a business can be a demanding and tiresome process. This can take up a lot of time and can even affect the value of the business, as you spend more time on its sale process rather than on the daily operations of the business. This is where the services of business brokers come in handy.

First off, a professional broker can give you confidentiality, and can assure you that only the prospective buyers you approve will be contacted. A trustworthy and experienced broker can save you time in screening prospective buyers in advance. Brokers can already check if a prospect buyer has good financial resources to buy your business. They will also ask buyers to sign a confidentiality and non-disclosure contracts. If you attempt to sell your business openly or independently, you would most likely damage your staff’s morale. You would also give your competitors the opportunity to spread damaging rumors about you and steal your valued customers. When you hire a business for sale broker, he can work anonymously, ensuring the protection of your business.

Moreover, selling your business all by yourself can be inefficient, especially if you lack the experience. A business broker generally has more experience, resources, and tools to effectively reach potential buyers faster and easier. However, reaching target buyers is just one part of a broker’s job; getting the best price for your business is his other important job. A professional broker should have the capacity to advertise your company in such a way that it can attract serious and financially stable buyers. This would definitely increase your benefits and advantages in selling your business.

Finally, business brokers can name the value of your business. This process involves more than just revenue or profit, thus, you may undervalue or overvalue your company, and these mistakes bear indicative consequences. For an experienced business broker, there is a rare chance to commit such mistakes.

From a business buyer’s perspective, a business for sale broker brings a lot of advantages as well. If you are a buyer and asked the assistance of a broker, you will be able to have access to opportunities that you won’t likely find on your own. If you do not have enough knowledge regarding the industry you chose, you can get helpful advice and useful insights from a good business broker. Your broker can also facilitate other essential tasks such as researching recent market conditions, current prices, and reasonable financing.

Trusting only Certified Business Brokers

With the increasing number of sale brokers out there, you may face challenges identifying which ones are trustworthy and which ones are bogus. To resolve this dilemma, all you need to do is check their certifications and experiences. The main organization that provides business broker certification opportunities is the International Association of Business Brokers (IBBA). A certified business broker should have at least one of these designations:

– Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV)

– Certified Business Appraiser (CBA)

– Accredited Senior Appraiser in Business Valuation (ASA-BV)

– Certified Valuation Analyst (CVA)

Although a certification may be a good sign that a business broker is legitimate and trustworthy, it does not fully guarantee his competence in the field. The broker’s practical experience is also an important aspect to consider in choosing which one to trust. Do some research or ask around for the number of transactions that your prospect broker has successfully closed, as well as some positive feedback regarding his experience in the industry. An insightful business broker can benefit a lot from his or her experiences, such as building significant relationships within the industry and learning from past mistakes. Certification cannot match such benefits and advantages.

While certification is a vital requirement in establishing a broker’s credibility, you should always take into account the experience of a business for sale broker before making a decision. Choose one who has the knowledge and experience that you will not get anywhere else. Don’t you agree that the role and importance of business brokers is essential to both business sellers and buyers?

Business Brokers – How to Choose the Right One

The vast majority of small businesses are sold without the assistance of business brokers.

But if you do decide the hire a broker, here are some suggestions on how to pick the right one and how to structure the agreement in your favor.

What Business Is The Broker Actually In?

In many states there is no training or certification needed to become a business broker. In other states, brokers are required to hold a real estate license.

In these states it’s common to find real estate agents that do business brokering as a side business. If you deal with a broker who is also a real estate agent, make sure that being a business broker is more than just his hobby.

You will pay a pretty penny for the broker’s expertise and experience – you should make sure they have that experience when it comes to selling businesses and not just experience selling houses.

Questions To Ask

If you hire a broker you will be working with them closely for months to come; they will have access to your most confidential business records; the amount of money you put in your pocket at closing will be influenced heavily by the quality of work they do.

Therefore, you absolutely must check them out.

Here are some questions you should ask any prospective broker before hiring him:

1. How long have you been a broker?
2. Have you ever owned a business?
3. How many businesses similar to mine have you helped sell?
4. Can I see a blank version of your Listing Agreement?
5. What percentage of you income comes from brokering and how much from real estate (If applicable)

Ask them to provide you with references from previous clients. Then, I suggest you do something very unusual: Actually call the broker’s references!
I know a lot of people ask for references just to see how the person will react when asked (and to see if they actuality have any). But you can learn a lot about the broker’s reliability and professionalism by talking to people who dealt with that broker when they were in the exact same spot you are in.

Business Broker Fees

There are two benefits a broker can provide the business seller. First, he can locate potential buyers while maintaining the seller’s confidentiality. And second, a broker will qualify these potential business buyers so the seller saves time by not having to deal with weak prospects.

The big negative of dealing with a business broker is his fee, which averages 10-12% of the sale price. This fee is charged to the seller.

There is also a minimum fee. A very small business will pay a flat amount, typically $8-$10,000, instead of the commission. For a business worth $50,000 this minimum fee actually works out to be a higher percentage than the 10-12% industry average. But as a matter of practice, brokers usually won’t be interested in your business unless the asking price is above $100,000.

These fees are the reason most business owners choose to sell their business themselves and rely on their lawyers and accountants for the professional assistance they need.

The Broker Agreement

If you decide to use a broker you’ll be asked to sign a broker agreement which will detail the his fees. If possible, have your agreement include the following clauses:

Timing of Payments – Have it written into the agreement that the broker’s fee will be paid at the time you receive the purchase price – not at the time the sale is closed. This way, if you finance part of the sale price over a number of years, you pay the business broker as you get the money, not all up front.

Length Of Agreement – Your listing agreement should be for a limited time. If the broker locates the buyer within that time he gets paid. Be careful of lengthy agreements that lock you in with one business broker for more than 6 months. If he doesn’t produce, you want to be able to try other options. A 6 month business broker agreement is the longest you should allow. However, because selling a business can be a lengthy process, 3 months is usually too little time for the broker to find the right buyer. Try to settle on something between 3 and 6 months. If after six months, you haven’t closed the deal but you think the broker has done a good job, you’re always free to extend the agreement. But you want to be free to decide on an extension 6 months from now, not today.

Broker’s Guarantee – Include a paragraph stating that if you find the buyer, you don’t have to pay the commission. Without this clause, the broker is usually paid no matter who locates the buyer. Before signing any listing agreement, it is best to have your attorney review it to make sure your interests are protected.

5 Red Flags in Choosing a Business Broker

When selecting a broker to sell your business, be aware of the following tips…

The broker wants a significant or total fee paid upfront.

Many brokers have begun taking upfront fees, but generally the total fee is a combination of an upfront fee and commission paid upon sale of the business. An unreliable broker meets with you, runs some quick numbers, tells you that you can get your price or even more for your business, and then asks for a check to get started. In many cases, business owners are so relieved that they’ve found a broker and elated that they’ll write a check on the spot, without checking any references.

During your first meeting, the broker says he or she can get your asking price or higher.

Be wary of too much optimism. The key to selling is that the price be reasonable. According to Tom West of Business Brokerage Press in Concord, Mass., most owners over value their businesses. An unreliable broker might suggest after a brief meeting with you that he or she can get you your asking price or higher for your business.

The broker doesn’t have a Web site.

Most likely, if the broker doesn’t have a site, he or she is behind the times. The Internet is a powerful marketing tool for business brokers, according to Cooper. Is the site well-written? That’s another way to gauge a broker’s competence, he adds.

The broker doesn’t seem well grounded in business valuation.

Your broker should be able to explain business valuation to you clearly and if he or she can’t, then how can he or she explain to a buyer what your business is worth? Make sure your broker is confident in this area.

The broker is not licensed to sell or lease real estate in your state.

Ninety-two percent of business brokers have a real estate license, according to an annual survey of business brokers West conducted. Even if your business doesn’t include real estate, make sure your broker carries the license. Also be aware that if a broker holds a real estate license doesn’t mean he or she should be selling commercial or residential real estate too. A good broker will hold the licenses but be focused on selling businesses.