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08 September 2016 | Pubs

Thinking about selling your business? Where to start in choosing your agent

John Grace, Associate Director in Christie & Co’s Ipswich office gives some advice about finding the right partnership when it comes to selling your business.

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When you start out along the road to selling your business, it’s important to look at all of your options. In particular, your agent will become your professional confidante ready to advise you on every step of the way, so choosing one that you trust and get along with is paramount.

Firstly, do your own research on the market. Find out who the active agents are in your area, and check out the other businesses which are being sold similar to yours. It’s good to have an objective view of the marketplace before listening to agents’ opinions, and this means that you are in a good position to question them as well as their valuation of your property (and others). Also, don’t be tempted by the agent who gives the highest price as it may not be realistic.

Make contact with different agents in good time before being ready to sell. Despite not wanting to sign on the dotted line there and then, a good agent will be willing to offer advice on anything you need to do in order to best present your business when you’re ready for it to come onto the market – and they should never pressure you.

Interview your agent: what’s their background, how well do they know the location, what other businesses have they sold recently, will they be your consistent point of contact throughout the sale? It is very difficult to sell a business if the person selling it has never visited or doesn’t know the area.

How your business is marketed is important and different agents will take different approaches. Register as a potential buyer in your local area so you can experience different agents’ strategies; ask for examples of digital marketing and see who has the biggest pool of buyers in their database which will offer you the best chance of selling your business. Websites are also an ever-increasing tool for any agent and buyer – check the agents’ websites and see whether it would present your business in the best light.

Lastly, selling a business can be stressful at times so make sure that you help the agent as much as possible – it requires teamwork! Make sure you have everything available that is requested and ensure to mention anything which might have an impact on your business’ sale. A good agent will have plenty of marketing options at the ready; if you decide to go down the press route for example, make sure to share any quirky stories or famous connections or visitors the property might have to generate interest.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions until you are sure of the agent you wish to go with – in the right partnership, you can reap big rewards.