You made your decision that it’s time to sell your restaurant. You put a lot of hard work into this place, but it’s time to retire, move, or do something totally different. However, you obviously want to get the best price for your restaurant!

It is a difficult time in our economy to sell a restaurant. Not all banks will loan on restaurants requiring owners to have more capital. When owners have more capital, they tend to want to pay less for what they’re buying because they have cash. The following is a list of things that you should consider when preparing your restaurants for sale:

  1. The first is, and always will be, to work with a good commercial real estate agent that understands your business and is willing to partner with you to get to know your business so that you can sell for the best possible price. A commercial real estate agent will understand profit and loss and balance states. A good commercial real estate agent will be able to walk through the property and give you recommendations on how to improve things to have your property in the best light. A good commercial real estate agent with help to qualify potential buyers so that you don’t waste your time with poor offers.
  2. As you probably already do with your customers, you want your restaurant to appear in the best condition, have the best curb appeal, and give the best first impressions. You want your property to look good even when it’s closed since potential buyers may come and look in the windows even when you’re not there. So keep your property clean! This is not a time for a potential buyer to see that you have given up already.
  3. Remove any personal items from the property so that you don’t confuse a potential buyer about what’s included.  Work with your commercial real estate agent to develop the list of included equipment with the sale. Therefore, any items that aren’t included can be removed before hand.
  4. Do not be afraid to spend a little money make sure your paint is up to date and your ceiling tiles look good! Remember, it’s the little things that matter! Also, keep up with all positions in advertising.You want to keep your customers coming in!
  5. Having well prepared books by either you or your accountant is an extremely important item to have. By working with your commercial real estate agent, the books will be available for potential buyer to evaluate your business and the potential for return on investment. You want your commercial real estate agent to put forth an honest and straightforward picture of your businesses financial position. Anything short of that will hinder a sale or asking price that you desire.
  6. Have lists of websites, social media, promotions, and advertising that you do to give to your business a boost. By giving these to your commercial real estate agent, they will be able to show potential buyers some of the marketing tactics you have taken that either are or are not working. Also, be prepared to stay on and help a potential buyer transition into their new business which will help retain customers and sales. Only agree to stay on with a well-prepared agreement on what will be expected from you and how long you will be around before you start pulling away from the business. Your commercial real estate agent can assist with this, as it is very important point to avoid issues down the road.
  7. Decide ahead of time with your commercial real estate agent on if you’re going to do any type of seller financing or seller holdback. Sure, this may not be what you desire to do, but think back to when you got involved. You might not of had all the money to buy your first business! These days some banks will not lend to a new buyer for your restaurant because they have some stringent guidelines making loans hard to get! Therefore, you might have to help the new buyer out; however, you’re more likely to get a higher price and maybe a better interest rate on a “loan” to the buyer. Something to consider.
  8. The assistance of a good commercial real estate agent is essential in the process of selling. There are over 50 basic facts that you should be aware of when buying or selling a restaurant: Are there lease arrangements? How about the vendors? How are the employees paid? Has there been any work comp claims? Are there parking issues? What’s your relationship with the local health inspector? Are key employees staying or leaving with the sale? And so on and so on!

The team at Christopher J Mokler & Associates is prepared to help you buy and sell restaurants. We understand the business. We follow three simple guidelines; The first is TEAMWORK, not only within our selling team, but with you the business owner. We want to know your business to tell the story to a potential buyer. Next is INTEGRITY, we will represent you with professionalism and honesty. We will give you advice and assist you through the process. We may tell you what you don’ t want to hear, we won’t “sugar coat” the advice, we are telling you what is needed to sell your property! Finally, TRUST, we want you to trust that we are doing everything for you as you would expect. We want a relationship with you to work together on your goals!

Please feel free to call us anytime to sit down and discuss what you would like to achieve!

This content is not the product of the National Association of REALTORS®, and may not reflect NAR's viewpoint or position on these topics and NAR does not verify the accuracy of the content.