How to Sell Your Business to the Right Buyer at the Right Price

Location: 
Ohio
Industry: 
Services

When Matt Wakelin decided to relocate and move back to upstate New York, he definitely knew that his decision would entail letting go of his business in Maumee, Ohio.

For one, Treasure Chest Foods, LLC — a home delivery service of high-quality meats and seafood — is 600 miles away from his new home. That would mean traveling such long distance, back and forth, just to be able to keep his company up and running.

Having no experience in selling businesses, he decided to start looking into ways to get some help in putting his business up for sale. After all, his company was then very profitable and doing well, thus he was confident that attracting buyers would not be much of a challenge.

To his dismay, things didn't turn out as easy as he thought they would be. After working with several business brokers and spending a hefty amount of money for two years, the number of responses he received regarding the sale wasn’t very promising.
 

Matt: “Two years, two brokers, not much response.”

To make matters worse, one of the two brokers he worked with had deemed his business ‘unsellable’.

“And actually the second broker by the end of the first year told me that he didn't even want to re-list with me. He didn't think it was really sellable and suggested I just leave it, go, or sell the customer list to my competitors, and get rid of the truck and stuff. And I get an email from him. He wouldn't even relist the second year with me,” Matt recalled.

Despite the feedback, Matt refused to believe his business broker’s verdict. Having run the business for 31 years, he knew that his company was valuable and was “worth something more to somebody.” 

For Matt, it was just a matter of finding the right people to help him find the right buyer to carry on his legacy.

On finding the right people at the right time

Not to be deterred by his previous experience, Matt went on the internet to search for more business brokers. When he found Morgan & Westfield — the broker that helped and encouraged him to give his business sale another shot — things had dramatically turned out quite well. 

He knew that his faith in his business had started to pay off.

Morgan & Westfield put it on, like, 11 different websites nationally and that was the first time I was getting responses left and right, and eight months later I had two buyers at the same time that wanted the business,” he narrated.

Not only did Matt find value in Morgan & Westfield’s substantive amount of expertise and efficient process, he also appreciated the following benefits:

- Business portfolio Morgan & Westfield offers a business portfolio that serves as a complete overview of the seller’s business. Such portfolio not only includes photos and business figures but also tips for its readers on how to buy a business. 

“In the first several pages of the business portfolio was teaching people how to buy a business. That was totally awesome. That was so good because people need to be educated in how to buy a business. Most people out there had never bought a business before.”

- Assistance throughout the process Sellers are also provided guidance and in-depth insights from valuation, marketing, negotiations and other fundamental sale elements, down to the closing of the sale.

To sell to the right buyer at the right price, you must have faith in your business

It only took eight to nine months to sell Treasure Chest Foods, LLC since Matt began working with Morgan & Westfield.

“And I ended up with a buyer who really wanted it . . . and the guy rode with me on the route and gave me $10,000 non-refundable, done deal. And that was it. The business at that point was pretty much sold.

And then we just waited until I could run him through the route again, and I got the rest of the money. And that was it, it just went really smooth.”

If you’re contemplating selling your business, here are some pieces of advice from Matt: 

- Keep your records clean. “I had a good talk with them [Morgan & Westfield], and all the things that I had come to believe with the last two brokers, he kept telling me, ‘No, that's not true. You can do this. Try this. We've got a great marketing plan.’ And he was very encouraging, and so I decided to give it a try.”

- Choose a broker and a buyer that truly appreciate the value of your business. “The record keeping is really key so you can show somebody the value of your business.”

- Don’t list your business at a higher price than what you can negotiate with buyers. Matt advises setting a good price and staying firm on your price. “The other brokers wanted me to list a good chunk higher than what I wanted to negotiate. I would say don't list a price higher to negotiate, don't list a price higher to pay that $10,000-$15,000 plus commission to some brokerage firm.”

Matt could have given up on his business when he wasn’t getting responses through a couple of brokers he worked with and when one of them told him his business wasn’t sellable. But he chose to keep going and have faith in his business until he found the right broker that helped him find the perfect buyer he knew he was looking for. 

When asked if Matt would have done things differently should he sell another business, Matt replied, “Other than record keeping, I would definitely refer them to Morgan & Westfield. I didn't end up shelling out $10,000-$15,000 in commission to a brokerage company. That was definitely the way to go.”

Now semi-retired, Matt has started in New York a business in solar energy. “It's also a door-to-door business and I like it — knocking on doors, meeting people, being outside.”