Outside Insights | December 2017 | By Guest Author

Why Your Restaurant Franchise Must Be Ready to Sell

Even if your restaurant is not for sale, you should be prepared in case opportunity knocks.
Your restaurant should always be ready to make a deal.
flickr: Flazingo Photos
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Selling your fast-casual restaurant franchise may be the furthest thing from your mind right now. Especially if you’re riding the success wave of one of the many current food crazes (think Pokeworks, MOD Pizza, or Wahlburgers). Still, with the fast-casual industry predicted to hit $67 billion by 2020, you never know when the right opportunity to sell your restaurant may present itself. As a smart and savvy business owner, you need to be ready. 

When everything is running like a well-oiled machine and it begins to feel like your restaurant is running itself, it’s easy to be lulled into complacency. This might make you believe that you wouldn’t consider selling your business for many years down the road. But that mindset can be limiting and cause you to miss potentially lucrative opportunities should they arise.

When opportunity knocks

While you’re not actively seeking to sell your business, someone else may be looking to buy a franchise as they strategize their way into the fast-casual restaurant space, or as they look to expand an existing operation. That could mean an attractive and lucrative offer you aren’t expecting.

As a franchise owner, you know well that your restaurant is worth the most when business is good, not when the business is in trouble or an owner is desperate for a sale. You should always consider the potential longevity of your business and be realistic about the fact that you won’t be holding the cards forever when it comes to reaping a healthy profit from selling your restaurant. 

Operational benefits

Besides the potential opportunity to cash in on a booming fast-casual market, there are a number of operational benefits associated with being prepared to sell your restaurant. Let’s take a look at some of the ways that maintaining a for-sale mindset can improve the way you run your restaurant on a daily basis:

Keeps your restaurant operating at its best: First and foremost, there is the sound logic that running a business as though it’s for sale and you’re courting potential buyers is a great way to make sure it’s running at its absolute best. Much like people, businesses always look most attractive in the courting phase. When things are going well, it’s easy to become complacent. Running your restaurant as if a potential suitor could walk through the door at any time can have positive ripple effects, including better customer service, increased cash flow, and an improved reputation through positive reviews from patrons.

Holds you accountable for the details: Keeping up your company books and records can often take a back seat to running the customer-facing part of your fast-casual restaurant each day. Having your restaurant ready for a potential sale will keep you accountable when it comes to maintaining your books, records, licenses, and any of the other back-end details of the business that can get pushed aside for what seem like more pressing needs.

Helps you establish repeatable processes: Always being ready for a sale will force you to adopt operational efficiencies and processes that are easy to duplicate. Effective, repeatable processes mean a greater chance of success when and if you decide to expand your business to additional locations.

Makes it easier to define your selling criteria: When you’re caught up in the day-to-day operations of a restaurant, it’s difficult to envision or define criteria that would prompt you to consider a sale. But when you’re prepared to sell, you can then begin to consider the reasons and circumstances under which you actually might consider selling. Keeping the potential for a sale top of mind will make you more aware of and prepared for potential opportunities that are too attractive to pass up.

If you are serious about making your fast-casual restaurant sale-ready you’ll want to consider enlisting the help of professionals to help you make sure your financials and legal documents are up to snuff should an actual sale materialize. And when the time comes that you are ready to actively seek a buyer, make sure to list your franchise for sale with a reputable partner.

Bruce Hakutizwi is the U.S. and International Business Manager for us.businessesforsale.com. Bruce is passionate about helping businesses succeed and regularly writes about entrepreneurship and business growth. Connect @BizForSaleUS.