As a business broker and franchise sales consultant I am often asked what the general process is to prepare and sell a franchise business. It’s a valid and important question because at some point the vast majority of franchise owners will want to sell their business for a variety reasons including retirement, relocation, divorce, owner burn out, etc. Here are some general tips below that all franchisees should keep in mind before putting their franchise business up for sale and will hopefully make the sales process unfold much smoother.
Contact the Franchisor: It’s important to let your franchisor know that you are considering selling for a number of reasons. Most franchisor’s have explicit rules (read your franchise agreement) regarding the transfer of franchise unit to new ownership including buyer qualifications, disclosures, transfer fees, etc. Most franchisor’s can also be very helpful in the consummation of the re sale and may even have a prospective buyer on file who has expressed an interest in your specific location or territory.
Franchise Sale Preparation: Before moving forward with a listing it is imperative that franchise owners invest the time to prepare and provide sufficient information for a comprehensive listing package that should include a business summary profile, equipment & asset list, and most importantly current and past financial statements. Most prospective buyers will not move forward with a business
purchase unless they and their advisors have been provided adequate financial information to verify the business is a good investment. I would strongly recommend that you consult with your accountant or book keeper to help prepare your business records to help validate and support your asking price.
As far as developing a business profile, most professional Business Brokers are very good at helping business owners at organizing and preparing a professional business profile which can be an instrumental tool in the sales process. A professional and thorough profile can also be invaluable in ultimately saving time for both the Seller and Buyer.
Pricing Your Franchise to Sell: Industry sales statistics indicate that the #1 reason why most small businesses and franchises don’t sell is because they are overpriced. It’s very important for business owners/sellers to establish a realistic and credible asking price for their business that can be supported on a number of levels, including financial history and market comparables. You should consult with your franchise company or other franchise owners in your system about recent re sales in the market to give you an idea where the market is. You can also use this free business valuation calculator to give you a rough idea what your business might be worth.
You may also want to find and consult with a local Business Broker in your area about demand and supportable pricing guidelines for your type of franchise business. It’s also important in most cases to offer terms to the prospective buyer because the majority of small business acquisition deals will not be acceptable for bank or SBA financing.
Confidentiality: Unlike the sale of assets like real estate, maintaining the confidentiality of a small business sale can be very important to the owner/operator for a number of reasons. It’s not unusual for employees, customers, and even vendors to become very concerned (or worse) if they become aware that the business for sale. Competitors may also use the knowledge of the business being on the market to gain potential unwanted and untimely advantages.
The best way to maintain the confidentiality of a sale is to hire a professional business broker or intermediary that has experience in confidentially marketing businesses and franchises for sale. This includes providing services such as screening, qualifying, and requiring prospective buyers to sign a non-disclosure agreement before releasing any confidential information.
Marketing & Advertising Your Franchise For Sale: Franchise owners today have a number of options when deciding how they would like to market and advertise their franchise business for sale. This includes going the “for sale by owner” route which has advantages and disadvantages. The biggest disadvantage being the potential loss of confidentiality and the possible negative effects it may have on the business and its chances of selling. The biggest advantage of a “for sale by owner” transaction is the owner obviously is not responsible for paying a commission to a Business or franchise Broker.
The most common option franchise owners choose when selling a franchise is to hire a professional business or franchise broker to handle the sale. Most brokers are only paid a commission after the sale is completed, so there is usually no up front expenses. They are also familiar with their local market and buyer demands, and can help maintain confidentiality as well as prepare and price a business for sale so that it has a good chance of attracting a qualified buyer.
As far as advertising, most brokers also employ a number of local and national “business for sale” web sites that can give a listing maximum & confidential exposure to prospective buyers. They also commonly work (or co-broke) with other professional brokers in their area that might have a prospective buyer for your business.