Selling businesses is just as much an art as it is a practice. It involves a fair amount of insight and tactics, but also a delicate understanding of what needs to happen within the sales conversation. You’ll also want to be comfortable with some of the realities of sales in the restaurant industry. In order to get the best bang for your buck, you need to have key business practices in your back pocket.
Do Not Oversell Your Product
In Specialty Group founder Ned Sokoloff’s Restaurant Rants, he tells it like it is. Every seller has the same mentality; you want to get more cash for your restaurant than its actual valuation. Your profit margins were higher than those of your competitors, and have been for the past couple of years. You just remodeled the entire kitchen. All in all, the place feels like it’s grown so much more than when you first purchased it, and you want that alone to be reflected in the price. You’re creating imaginary value with this selling attitude. Restaurant quality dimensions, such as the physical environment, the actual food, and the service have a large role to play in the image of the restaurant. As much as we want to use the public perception to increase the value our business, the evidence is in the books. Focus on the facts and the figures. Otherwise, your buyers get priced out. Even if they were interested originally, they now have to worry about finding additional money that they likely don’t have. Understand that your buyer hopes to make a profit down the road. The harder you push for a higher price, the more it eats away at his prospective profit margins.
Focus On What You’re Good At
The Harvard Business Review divides business-to-business sales professionals into 5 distinct categories:
- Problem solvers are the most reliable source of information in a transaction. They are detail-oriented and focus on the needs of the customer before and after the sale has been completed. They work with you to strike a balance between the tasks that are on them and the ones that are on you.
- Hard workers are similarly diligent. It’s not about balance, but instead they work really hard to get everything right and squared away. They’re workhorses without an off switch – at least until the work is done. Then, and only then, will they take a break and find something different to accomplish.
- Lone wolves tackle problems on their own. They are confident to the point of arrogance, and do not know when to quit if they believe they are right. They won’t be flexible with you, but they’ll get the job done to the best of their supposed knowledge.
- Relationship builders work to build a rapport at every step of the way. They’ll get to know you on both a personal and a professional level. When the time comes to get down to business, they are still active and hard workers. At the same time, they steer clear of conversational dissent and provide tension release whenever necessary.
- Challengers are knowledgeable and think critically about the business itself. They take control of the sales transaction in a way that is confident, decisive and well-informed. Tactically, they are unafraid of the consequences that their opinions may have. They have both your best interest and their own best interest in mind.
The best sellers understand themselves. They know what their strengths and weaknesses are. The self-aware salesperson serves the needs of their buyer better than the salesperson who’s only results-oriented. Try to understand what role resonates with you the most. That way, you can hone in on your skills and properly negotiate terms that work well for you and your buyer.
Personalize Each Interaction
You might think that taking time to personalize your sales pitch is wasteful, but it just doesn’t work that way. To the buyer, this is an opportunity to make their dreams into a reality. You wouldn’t want to work with a sales robot if you were buying your dream business, would you? No, of course not. The goal of the interaction is to leave both parties feeling satisfied with the transaction that they made. Throwing some basic courtesy into the mix can go a long way. Answer queries using your own human face and voice from time-to-time, rather than limiting correspondence to emails and phone calls. The internet is still an excellent tool for research and business-to-business marketing. Its use has a substantially positive effect on sales performance and efficiency. The point, however, is that you can marry both technology and human interaction to make the best out of your sales opportunity. At the end of the day, you’re still selling your product to another person. Use the experience and knowledge that you’ve gained from ownership as a guiding post. Know yourself and your customer – well enough to price your restaurant realistically and make that sale!