The BizBuySell Small Business Community

  • Get Expert Advice

  •  • Find Local Service Professionals

  •  • Share Your Experiences

I want to sell my restaurant and I've just begun research I need to use a local broker?

I can see both the up and down sides to using a local broker as well as keeping the sales listing confidential. Our family restaurant has been in business 32 years and I'd now like to retire. I'm concerned about both employee and customer loyalty once my desire to sell is public.

No User Photo

Answer This Question

max 5000 characters

Web Reference (optional)

e.g., ""

Review Community Guidelines

Help keep our Community clean and on topic. The BizBuySell Community is a place where you can discuss your questions, concerns and knowledge with others you can trust. It is not OK to use this forum to solicit others for personal or financial gain, or to rant about personal issues. It's all in the guidelines.

Submit Your Answer
Answers (16)
Michael Hamlar
Hamlar Enterprises, LLC
Roanoke City County, VA


Congrats on the 32 years of service. Having a family business for that long takes dedication and we applaud you for that. I have a family business that is 58 years old and I'm the 3rd generation so I get the picture of the family concept. Most of the time you list a business confidentially it takes longer to sell. I would recommend using a local broker for restaurnants. If it was a big industry or construction company a broker outside of the region could be helpful but due to the family history of 32 years a local broker would be best in our opinion. I would still ask questions and get references from other brokers if you desire. There is nothing wrong with intelligent conversation. If you have questions or would like to discuss it futher please contact us.


Michael Lawrence Hamlar
President & CEO

Hamlar Enterprises, LLC
Hamlar Business Broker
P.O. Box 3336
Roanoke, VA 24015
Phone & Fax 1.800.682.1950
Skype: MHamlar

Jun 13, 2010
Angelo A. Ferrara
Rapt Enterprises Inc.
Premium Broker

If you're still considering selling, I would stongly suggest that you consider a local broker. In addition to the other responses you have received, a local broker would be better able to mentor both you and the buyer throughout the process. You should expect that he/she would be present at all meetings to represent your interests and earn his/her fee. Moreover, as with all business entities, yours would have to be presented in the proper manner, recasting financials to reflect cashflow properly, rather than reported by IRS statements. This would require a level of confidence and trust better handled by a local broker who would meet with you personally and delve through your information to present your business properly.
Angelo A. Ferrara, CBI

Jun 10, 2010
No User Photo

Using an online auction service is a great way to go. I used DoubleTake Auctions to sell 2 of my restaurants in the last few years. They did a very good job and I was able to sell the property after the fact very easily.

Feb 6, 2010
David Gagné
Dabeck Business Brokers
Business Broker
Monroe County, NY

I would always suggest using a local broker. Local brokers are having ongoing conversations on a daily basis with good qualified buyers looking to buy in your local area. Many times they are very familiar with the marketplace and recent sales, so they will have the best valuation capabilities. The issue of confidentiality should be thought of as a seperate issue. Any broker you choose, no matter where they are located, has the potential to talk too much. You should ask the potential broker how they handle securing confidentiality. If they can convience you that they have a good practice then go with them.

Jan 25, 2010
Sean Lacy
The Hatteras Group
New Hanover County, NC


I understand your reasons for considering a broker from outside your area but it probably isn't necessary. There's no reason hiring a broker from outside your area would be better for protecting confidentiality. Your main concern should be finding the best business broker for you. If that means a restaurant specialist, great. If you hit it off with a "general" broker and feel that they would do a good job, go with them.

Keep one thing in mind though- with or without a broker, confidentiality is not always going to be possible. Sometimes these things just have a way of getting out. Be prepared in case the "cat gets out of the bag." Know what you are going to tell employees, customers, and suppliers if word gets out. Having a plan just in case will allow you to minimize the effects. Good luck

Sean Lacy

Dec 14, 2009
No User Photo
Philadelphia County, PA

Yes, you should use a local brokerage firm which has solid experience in selling restaurants in the NY, NJ, PA regions. Prospective buyers for your restaurant will likely be found in one of these states. Our in-house legal team provides restaurant sellers with the confidential process they need to protect their employee and customer loyalty. For example, once a listing agreement is signed with a restaurant owner/seller, a professional marketing package can be produced by our in-house marketing/IT team which includes a confidential, non-disclosed listing on BizBuySell, and much more. Also, once a buyer contacts us, any prospective buyer is pre-screened, is required to sign a confidentiality/non-disclosure/non-compete agreement whenever deemed necessary by our teams before any showing of the restaurant by a broker. Sellers are asked what times are the best for viewing the restaurant, and a simple meal or coffee can be purchased by the broker with client-buyer so that no employees or customers notice anything unusual. This is a sample description of what services our business brokers typically provide for sellers. Contact us at Airst Stann, based in the Philadelphia region (website:

Dec 7, 2009
No User Photo
Waterway, Inc.
Nassau County, FL

You do not need to use a local broker unless you plan on selling your property. The property portion of the sale would require a state licensed real estate broker. If you plan on keeping the real estate, if owned currently, and perhaps utilizing the lease of the facility as retirement income (which I would suggest if you do own the property) then you don't need a local broker. Give me a call at 404-229-0724. My company provides Brokerage, including restaurant, throughout the US.

Oct 26, 2009
No User Photo
AIRST STANN Business Brokers & Services
Connecting Buyers and Sellers of

Yes, you should look for a local broker who is familar with valuations of similar restaurants in your geographic area. Also, since business brokerage is not currently licensed in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and various other states in the U.S., most sellers desire to select a business broker who has special credentials, such as a law background or CPA background.

At AIRST STANN Business Brokerage, we are managed by an exceptional executive team which includes a licensed attorney, former public official, and former attorney with a NYSE traded REIT, together with a highly respected executive in the business and real estate fields. See our website: We represent owners and sellers of Main Street businesses (such as restaurants, etc.) as well as Middle Market businesses (manufacturing,etc.)

Some of our restaurant listings are advertised online. See, BizBuySell, etc.

You can reach one of the Lead Business Brokers with Airst Stann at (215) 552-8800 Ext. 756 Randall Airst Esq. or 755 SL Airst JD for a confidential, no obligation and complimentary discussion about your needs. Or email:

1800 John F. Kennedy Blvd. Suite 300, Philadelphia, PA 19103

Oct 23, 2009
Mel Jones
Placer County, CA


Not to disrespect any other brokers on the line here, but you should use a broker specializing in restaurants. they are a unique beast requiring specialized skills and specialized relationships. A good restaurant broker knows the nuances of selling a restaurant such as transfering liquor licenses, health department process, point of sale system transfers, entertainment permits, qualifying the restaurant for SBA financing as well as how to qualify the buyer for passing all those I just stated as well as getting the buyer past the landlord, which is the major issue these days with so many buyers being damaged goods as a result of the economy.

Find a restaurant broker in your area. I would suggest you shy away from general business brokers and especially real estate (housing) brokers.

Oct 22, 2009
No User Photo

A local broker who knows your area would be best suited. Someone from far away doesn't know the maket and the neighborhood you are in and can't sell it properly. You also might end up doing more work than you should because the broker isn't local. Personally, i would insist that a prospect had a face to face meeting with your broker just to make sure the buyer was serious and capable of buying the business.
It sounds weird to get a broker from far away..... kind of like listing your house with an agency from out of state.
But if I knew a broker from out of town that I trusted I would go with that person.

Oct 21, 2009
No User Photo
The BAF Group LLC

Jean, if you have a local Broker that has experience in Restaurants, that is probably your best bet. That is more of a vital question than locality, depending upon the kind of Restaurant you have. But there are a lot of questions I would ask, before I could give you a fast and hard answer. If you want to call to discuss it, free of cost and with no obligation, please do so. (410) 715-0700.

Oct 21, 2009
No User Photo

I'm located in Central NY...very helpful answers so far but still wondering if I should use a local broker or go outside of the area.

Oct 21, 2009
No User Photo
The BAF Group LLC

Jean, a second comment from me, given the responses you have received thus far. As a Business Broker, I agree with all of the prior writers including (I hate myself for saying it,) John Ovrom in that you don't absolutely need a Broker to sell your business. But I would caution that talking to the various others he suggests to generate selling leads must be done with extreme care: vendors, competitors, employees and even friends are great sources of selling leads, but they don't necessarily understand the confidentiality issue. Vendors in particular can be extremely risky: I have seen radical changes in service, once a vendor understands an Owner's selling intentions. And you are correct in wanting to maintain customer loyalty, because if that drops, the price you can command will unquestionably drop, as well.

Why would I come to eat at your restaurant? Theoretically, I would come to you for a meal that is ideally better prepared, offering a greater variety and better overall service than I can prepare in my own home. Will I pay more for your meal? Undoubtedly; but the value is far greater in your establishment than I can provide - otherwise, the only reason to come to you is convenience. Convenience is not a bad thing, and 7-11 has proven for years that people will and do pay a premium for convenience. It is a valuable commodity.

You face the same decisions with a Business Broker: Do you anticipate better results than if you do it on your own? If not, it is worth it for the convenience? In virtually all cases, we provide a better sales price than our fee demands, and that goes back to my original competition thesis. (See my first posting on your question.)

Finally, an experienced Business Broker is a knowledgable professional. He or she provides a service that is far better than you might be able to provide for yourself, in selling your business. As I frequently (and disgustingly say,) if you needed a colonoscopy, would you do it yourself? Where do you draw the line, on do-it-yourself service?

I can't answer that for you. I can only raise the questions.

Oct 20, 2009
No User Photo
Exit and Answers, Inc
San Diego County, CA

Jean - You do not "need" a broker to sell your restaurant. You NEED a buyer! You can hire a professional or do it yourself, but you finding a buyer is the hard part. You can list the business yourself online or your local newspaper and someone might find you. Another option is to look at your vendors, competitors, employees, family members and suppliers and mention it to them. Thinking about and building an exit plan is part of any good business model. Learning about the process and asking around is normal and reasonable. Confidentiality is expected but needs to be clear.

Oct 20, 2009
Chuck Woolweaver
Franchise Your Business in 60 Days
Palm Beach County, FL


Don's answer below is correct.

I might add that a broker has access to quaified buyers that you wouldn't and a broker will pre-screen applicants a weeding out "tire kickers" which can be a daunting task.

What state are you located in?

Oct 20, 2009
No User Photo
The BAF Group LLC

There are a number of reasons to use an experienced Broker. One is that it helps with the confidentiality of the sales process. If done properly, the transfer of ownership does not become known by employees and customers, until settlement is complete.

Another reason is to ensure competition, even in the face of confidentiality. Such competition keeps the price at its highest possible level.

There a number of other reasons that I could give you, but those are two of the best. The key is to work with someone that knows the Restaurant market; it is vastly different than selling a Gas Station or a Convenience Store.

Oct 20, 2009

Start a Discussion