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Need a business broker?

Even the fastest-growing companies have to sell assets from time to time. If you're looking to sell a restaurant, don't run out and get a "For Sale" sign. Run out and find a good broker—a good restaurant broker. There's no official certification for selling restaurants, but there are brokers who focus on foodservice. Check for-sale ads to find one. Specialized brokers can attract buyers already shopping for a restaurant and they can properly value your restaurant. Here are five questions to ask a potential broker.

If you're looking to sell a restaurant, don't run out and get a "For Sale" sign. Run out and find a good broker—a good restaurant broker.

There's no official certification for selling restaurants, but there are brokers who focus on foodservice. Check for-sale ads to find one. Specialized brokers can attract buyers already shopping for a restaurant and they can properly value your restaurant.  Five questions to ask a potential broker:

  1. How many restaurants have you sold in the past year? In your career?
  2. What percentage of your listings sell?
  3. How will you market my listing?
  4. How will you maintain confidentiality?
  5. Have you had any lawsuits filed against you? Any judgments?

A good broker should review everything from your real estate to your books before suggesting a selling price. Expect the value to be about three times annual cash flow, according to the National Restaurant Association. If you're selling franchise units of a top chain, that multiple can go as high as five.

A good broker will also keep things confidential. Only after a potential buyer shows himself to be serious—and sufficiently funded—should the broker disclose the restaurant's identity and arrange for an after-hours tour. Once a contract is signed, the broker manages details like leases and licenses—before a buyer gets cold feet or the market shifts. A broker will collect 10 to 15 percent of the sale price.

Finally, timing is everything. Call a broker when business is booming, not when you're about to shut the doors.

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