Frequently Asked Questions
- How long will it take to sell my business?
- How will my business be advertised?
- How will I be protected on financing I provide to the Buyer?
- Will the buyer pledge any additional collateral for my loan?
- What types of offers should I expect to receive?
- How long is the training period for the buyer?
- Will I have to sign a non-compete agreement?
- When should I tell my employees about the sale?
- Does Bay Area Business Brokers qualify the buyer?
- What can I do to help sell my business?
The time needed for sale depends on a great many factors, including the price of your business, the type of business, your willingness to finance all or part of the purchase price, and the market conditions. On average, it takes 60 to 180 days to find a buyer for a business with whom you enter into a ratified contract. Obviously, the more reasonably priced, and the better the terms offered, the faster the sale. Your Bay Area Business Brokers agent can discuss with you how your business fits into these general guidelines.
The first thing we do is send out a “New Listing Alert” to our large database of qualified buyers who have opted into our Preferred Buyer Group. We advertise on the Internet, on our website and on several other business listing sites, giving your business exposure to thousands of Internet users. We may run ads in trade magazines that target your industry. We do not include any identifying information in the advertisement. The advertisement is frequently updated as we learn more about the selling points of your business, and as you provide us with the latest financial information.
The closing escrow agent will prepare a promissory note, a security agreement and will file a UCC-1 financing statement with the appropriate local and state agencies. It is much like financing a car – your lien will be recorded in the public records and the assets listed on the UCC-1 cannot be legally sold or refinanced without your permission. Should the buyer sell the assets without your permission, it would be a felony offense.
Buyers are sometimes able to pledge additional collateral for your loan. Usually, when a buyer buys your business, he/she does so based on the business being able to generate sufficient cash flow to pay your loan and provide him/her with cash flow to meet their needs. When you ask for additional collateral, you are sending a negative message to the buyer: the buyer has paid too much for your business and the business will not generate enough cash flow to pay your loan and provide adequate cash flow to the buyer.
An astute buyer is going to structure the initial offer to insure that they get the best possible price and terms from you. Therefore, you should expect to receive a low initial offer. Don’t be offended – this is just an initial offer to “test the waters”. It’s the first step in the negotiation of an appropriate purchase price for your business. All offers will contain some important contingencies, including review of the financial books and records of the business, obtaining a satisfactory lease and agreement on a training and transition period. Other contingencies specific to your business may also be included. Contingencies are normal and provide the buyer with the opportunity to verify the information presented in the marketing materials.
Generally, you will be expected to provide two weeks to two months training in the business with an equal time of telephone consultation. Remember, if you are financing any portion of the purchase price, you still have an investment in the business, so properly training the buyer is in your best interest.
Yes. Generally, the non-compete agreement covers the area from which your current customers are
generated and the time period usually equals the term of the financing you are providing to the buyer. For example, if your customers come from a 20-mile radius of your business and you are providing the buyer with a five-year loan, you will be asked to sign a non-compete for a five-year period covering a 20-mile radius from your business.
Although it sounds harsh, our considerable experience has proven that it is best to tell your employees about the sale immediately before or immediately after the sale is complete. Of course, if there is an employee whose expertise will be needed after the sale, you should introduce the buyer to this employee shortly before closing. Your Bay Area Business Brokers agent can assist you in determining the timing for notifying employees.
No. We usually ask for a personal financial statement from the buyer, but we do not verify the
information submitted is correct. If you desire, we will run a credit report on the buyer as long as the buyer consents and pays a modest fee (and if he/she won’t consent, watch out!). Other than that, it is your responsibility to do whatever you feel is appropriate regarding qualifying the buyer. If you are carrying a substantial part of the purchase price, you should verify income, asset and liability information as carefully as would a commercial lender. We have some SBA forms that will help you accumulate the necessary financial information about the buyer.
As Bay Area Business Brokers begins the process of selling your business, there are certain things you can do to help us:
- Keep normal working hours.
- Make sure your financial records are an accurate reflection of revenues and business (only) expenses.
- Conduct business as usual. Do not let inventory levels dip below normal.
- Keep the business clean and in good repair.
- Remove equipment or furniture that is not part of the sale.
- Provide us with required information in a timely manner.
- Be as accommodating as possible in setting appointments to meet with buyers.
- Work with us and not directly with potential buyers. Always refer buyers to us.
Remember, in order to get to a ratified contract, a negotiation process is usually required. Do not become offended by what you consider to be a “lowball” offer. Any offer, no matter low, should be countered, even if your counter is not far off your asking price!