By Scott Balfour
Marketing a business is tricky. You have to kiss a lot of frogs. You have to strike the balance of letting people know the business is for sale and maintaining confidentiality. The first thing to do is to keep any promotion about the business generic. If you have a pizza shop for sale in Portland, you can tout it as “Portland Pizza Store”. Yet if it were in Yarmouth where there are only a few pizza places, you might have to promote it as “Cumberland County Pizza Shop” or “Yarmouth Restaurant”.
With this in mind, you can now go to market. Ads in the paper, Craigslist postings, promoting it to other business brokers, posting it on the multitude of “business for sale” websites, trade magazines, contacting business organizations and their members, targeted direct mailings, networking advisors like accountants, lawyers, and financial planners, preparing a detailed brochure, making calls, and the list goes on…
Now let’s assume that some of this activity produces a call. Don’t get too excited! It has been said that of 100 buyer inquiries, only 2 businesses are actually bought.
The first step is to be prepared for the call. Be ready to answer any question that a caller might have, and have the numbers documented and available. Callers will want not just the business name, but your name, the location, number of employees, hours of operation, three years of tax returns, equipment list, the reason for selling, financing options, what training and transition will be offered, will a lower price be considered, etc.
As I said, be prepared with this information, but don’t just give it to them. Do you really want every Tom, Dick, and Harry to know all of this delicate information?
You must trade generic information to keep their interest high enough so that they will be willing to sign a confidentiality agreement and let you financially qualify them. Then proceed with the steps necessary to take them toward the closing.