Commercial vs. Personal Auto Insurance: Which Should You Be Using?

By Guest Contributor Kiley Baldauf of Insurance Group of West FloridaThere is no doubt that Florida has been one of the most popular states in recent years for new investors.Commercial vs. Personal Auto Insurance: Which Should You Be Using?

Numerous laws and regulation offer some of the best forms of protection for these clients that are hard to match in other parts of the country. However, an often overlooked area that many of these investors are lacking proper protection in is their auto insurance coverages.

As a result, when a new client is looking to insure one of their property investments, I often ask them a few questions to see if their current personal auto policy (PAP) is the correct type of auto insurance for them or if they should look into a commercial auto policy.

• Do you visit 2-3 different locations a day: Many investors have multiple properties that require visits on a daily basis. If this is true, you may wish to consider a commercial auto policy.

• How well protected are your investments: In the event that a serious injury may occur to another vehicle’s occupants in an at fault accident, you may leave yourself financially vulnerable with a PAP. If you qualify for one, a commercial auto policy can provide extra peace of mind due to its optional increased coverage limits.

• Who drives the vehicle: If other family members use your vehicle often, you should remain insured with a PAP.
A common misconception is that commercial auto insurance is far more expensive than standard PAP. This is not always the case. In some instances, commercial auto insurance may even save the driver money over a personal auto policy when comparing apples to apples on coverages.

Additionally, commercial auto policies usually are enforced on an annual basis as opposed to semi-annually as is the case with a PAP. This should be taken into account when researching coverage changes in relation to overall premium increases. Many investors would rather pay an additional few hundred dollars over the course of a year for one million dollars in coverage as opposed to a $100,000 personal auto policy.

As always with insurance, there is not a single answer that is the best for every scenario. Some reading this article may still find a personal auto policy is the best suited for their situation. However, there is the possibility that you are currently driving on a daily basis with less than adequate auto coverages. Be sure to contact an agent at the Insurance Group of West Florida for additional information and to make sure that you and your investments are protected at all times.

Kiley Baldauf
Insurance Group of West Florida
Licensed Agent
Phone: 727.230.9804 Ext. 101
Fax: 727.230.9861

Michael Monnot

1910 Park Meadows Drive, Suite 202
Fort Myers, FL 33907

The 4 Big Reasons You Should Use A Business Broker, Part 2

As we discussed in the last article – although there are many reasons to use a business broker, I will focus on just a few of the main reasons from my personal experience.

This is usually one of the first questions that I get asked and is definitely one of the most important. We are held to a higher standard than Realtors or commercial agents because the confidentiality of a business that is on the market needs to be paramount. Here are two recent examples that will highlight why you need a business broker and not just an agent in the real estate industry if you want confidentiality to stay in place.

1. A Realtor asked us to disclose a business to a client of his. While we do not necessarily cooperate with a Realtor we will pay referral fees. I asked the Realtor to give me some background on the buyer, like what they were looking for – and not only did they not have this basic information, they did not even have the client’s full name.

2. Loopnet is used to lease or purchase commercial buildings, not to sell businesses. I recently acquired another business listing where the commercial agent listed the business on Loopnet, posted a picture of the logo of the business and then added a disclaimer of “Do Not Speak to the Staff”!

Saving a few percent on listing fees may not be worth your clientele or an employee finding out that your business is going to be sold.

We already have much of the necessary information on most of our buyers such as financials, background and requirements for a business so we can quickly qualify or disqualify a business as a likely fit. If it is a buyer we do not have this information about, we will get it. Once we are sure of a possible fit between a buyer and a business, we systematically release pertinent information so confidentiality can be maintained.

Packaging Business Documentation for Sale

One of the skills we possess is properly packaging the business documentation into a format that will satisfy a buyer, lender, CPA and an attorney while knowing what each one will want/need to see as not to affect a deal. This information can include recasted financials, SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats), valuation methods, and details of the business such as advertising, staff duties and pay, press and so much more.

Although there are many other reasons to use a business broker such as negotiating strategy, maximizing price, paid advertising by the broker, business advice such as contracts and so much more there is no doubt that using a qualified business broker has many benefits to assist in selling your business quickly and professionally.

Want to read The 4 Big Reasons You Should Use A Business Broker, Part 1? Click here.

Michael Monnot

1910 Park Meadows Drive, Suite 202
Fort Myers, FL 33907

Is Your Handbook A Dinosaur In The Computer Age?

By Guest Contributor Robert Parks of Priority Payments South Florida

Most people take the employee handbook for granted. In reality the handbook is the single most important tool for new hires as well as current employees. The employee handbook relays important information such as the history of the company, mission statement, policies, procedures, benefits and legal compliance issues on the state and local level. As our society becomes more and more litigious the properly formatted and executed employee handbook could expose or protect the company in discrimination or other legal claims. A small amount of time now reviewing and updating your handbook could prevent a large settlement later.

It is recommended that the employee handbook gets reviewed at least once a year. An updated handbook needs to reflect current laws and regulations and should adapt to changing business practices as well. So, what are the basics to handbook management and what are the common mistakes?

The first item should be the acknowledgement and at-will form. This states the employee relationship and receipt of the policies. At-will employment should be referenced several times in the document including under the disciplinary and termination sections. It is vital that all employees are aware of how policies can be altered and who sets the standard.

In the current climate it is important to list all current anti-discrimination, immigration and harassment policies. One area to reference when preparing your handbook is the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and current federal guidelines for immigration compliance.

Throughout your handbook your policies should reference applicable state and federal laws and guidelines and a human resource expert should be consulted for any areas that may cause confusion. This document is the first and last protection for you and your employees and should always reflect current laws.

Now comes the meat and potatoes of any employee handbook document: policies and procedures. The important thing to remember when building your policies is to be specific and clear. There should be no vague terms or steps. Each policy should be spelled out in its entirety with the specific ramifications and steps involved. The disciplinary policy is one of the most vital steps. Do you have warnings? How many do you have before written notice and what violations cause immediate termination? In the computer age your policies on cell phones, passwords and documents could be one of the most important functions of the handbook. Always remember when building your policies that this document can be used as your defense or as evidence against you. A properly functioning handbook could make the difference between victory and a large settlement.

The employee handbook is not a document to be taken lightly; it is the lifeblood of your company. A well thought out handbook shows your team that you are looking out for them and helps to develop teamwork and moral. Conversely a poor document can tear a team apart and cause unnecessary turmoil. When crafting your employee handbook you should always consult a human resource expert who has the knowledge and skill to create a well rounded document. As the environment for the twentieth century changes your company must evolve or become extinct.


Robert Parks
Payroll Operations Director
Direct: (239) 980 2958
Office: (877) 266-7063
Fax: (239) 603-6690

Michael Monnot

1910 Park Meadows Drive, Suite 202
Fort Myers, FL 33907

The Insurance Every Business Owner Needs In Place

If you own a business, then a good deal of your life is about mitigating risk. You have insurance policies to cover unforeseen events like fire and theft, but the insurance you really need isn’t a policy at all.


You need to be prepared to sell at any time, and by being prepared you ensure that you will be able to handle whatever major upheaval is forcing you to sell and the sale of your business simultaneously.


Most owners don’t plan for this eventuality, assuming instead that the timing of a sale will be on their own terms and will occur peacefully near retirement age. This isn’t always the case, so many owners are stuck trying to contend with a personal catastrophe and then also having to put together what’s needed for a successful sale – all why trying to keep the business doors open long enough to get it sold.


How do you avoid this high-stress nightmare scenario? Set yourself up with your own in-case-I-have-to-sell insurance by maintaining your business in a ready-to-sell state.


Some pointers on how to do this?


Keep your books in order.

If you are a business owner who keeps records by shoving stacks of receipts and daily report print-outs in a box under your desk – it’s time for an organizational change. You would need to have legible and well put together financial statements and business records (like P&L’s, copies of contracts and leases and the last handful of years of tax returns) to give to any potential buyer. Getting your books and records into a user-friendly format and then keeping them that way will save you the headaches of trying to find and assemble all of the documentation buyers will want when you have too much going on in other parts of your life.


Keep the business in good, clean shape.

First impressions are always a big deal, and many owners get a little lazy with the appearance of their business over time. You will always have tomorrow to repaint that wall or fix that leaky cooler, right? If you don’t want to drive buyers away in that oh-so-critical, need-to-sell time then you need to change the way you maintain the physical appearance of your business in the same way you maintain the books. Not only should you keep everything in good repair, you should also keep your business clean. One of the major complaints we get from buyers after a first visit is how dirty a business was. If you have a major issue that is compelling you to sell, you can’t afford to have buyers think your business is filthy – because if you haven’t even kept the place clean, what else have you let slide?


No one wants to be forced to sell their business, but situations frequently arise that require sellers to do just that. Set yourself up so that you could potentially sell at any time and you will help mitigate the stress of what would already be a very stressful situation. It’s the smartest insurance you can give yourself.

Are you a business owner who has never even thought about an exit strategy? Would you like to know how you can get your business in ready-to-sell shape? Ask us! Please feel free to leave a comment or question here, and we would be happy to help.



Michael Monnot

1910 Park Meadows Drive, Suite 202
Fort Myers, FL 33907

Understanding Seasonal Businesses – Before You Try To Buy or Sell One

“Feast or Famine” Road Sign with dramatic clouds and sky

Southwest Florida (and all of Florida for that matter) is a very seasonal place. Starting in October our population swells with retirees and vacationers from northern climates where the weather has just turned cold. This is great news for our local economy as businesses are packed, wait times at restaurants climb exponentially – so profits rise. It stays this way until the spring when the weather improves for the northern latitudes. Then, quite suddenly, local businesses feel the pinch of summer. The tourists and retirees are gone, so the year-round locals are all that’s left.

This seasonal rise and fall in business happens in many places, so if you are trying to buy or sell a business, you will need to understand what this seasonality means in terms of a business deal.



You will have to realize that the numbers during a peak month are not the numbers for every month, and likewise the months on the low end of the profit spectrum shouldn’t necessarily scare you away. Buyers who are coming to a seasonal area from an area without such fluctuation need to look at the numbers on a yearly basis instead of on a month-to-month basis. If every year the business is slow in July and August, but then rebounds and does well for the remainder of the year, then the business is probably in good shape.



Most sellers want to sell their business in the slow months, just after the busy season has ended – thereby taking the lion’s share of the yearly profits when they go. Although this is a smart move financially, most buyers won’t agree to take the wheel with a handful of bad months directly in their path. As a seller, you will need to be realistic about a closing date and be willing to negotiate with a buyer so that both parties end up happy. This is especially true if you will be offering seller financing, as you won’t get paid if the business folds in the first few months after the ownership transition. You will likely need to give up a few lucrative months so the new owner will have enough cash flow to keep the doors open.


The message here is you will need to consider the feast and famine cycles of businesses in a seasonal area before misinterpreting numbers or trying to set closing dates that will benefit you alone. By allowing some room for negotiation both sides can end up with a fair deal.

Do you have a seasonal business that seems to scare away buyers when they look at the slow months? Are you looking at businesses in a seasonal area and want to know what is acceptable in terms of fluctuation? Please feel free to leave us a comment or question here, and we would be happy to help.


Michael Monnot

1910 Park Meadows Drive, Suite 202
Fort Myers, FL 33907

Why Now Is Great Time To Buy A Business

If you have ever considered entering the world of entrepreneurship by buying a business, now may be a great time. There are three factors currently at play that buyers should consider if they have been waiting in the wings for the perfect time to buy.

Stock market concept. Scale on financial graph.

The Recession Is History

The recession hit everyone hard, especially in the small business market. Small business owners tried to sell, but since there was a lack of funds for buyers, most sellers ended up just closing the doors or taking big financial hits long enough to stay in the game. Now that we’re in 2014 and the economy is in an upswing, the small business market is a far better place to be. Sellers are seeing their businesses rebound and are ready to try to get a return on their investment. Baby boomer business owners are also in a place where they are able to retire from business ownership. All of this is great news for buyers. There are more great businesses on the market than there have been in the last handful of years, and sellers are motivated to get deals done.

Welcome To The Digital Age

Most buyers are not part of the baby boomer generation and have grown up with ever-evolving technology by their side. The business brokers in decades past may have relied on print advertising to get businesses sold, but now digital is definitely the name of the game. Online business search tools and listing services make finding a business far easier than it was even ten years ago. Digital marketing packages and multimedia (like video tours of a business) give buyers greater access to more information. Even some legal documents can be digitally signed, like a non-disclosure agreement, meaning less time shuffling paper and more time finding the right business for you.

Seller Financing Is Still The King

If this wasn’t true before the recession, then the economic collapse definitely hoisted seller financing to the top of the heap in terms of how business deals get closed. In the wake of the recession, many traditional lending institutions are still gun-shy about financing small business deals. The good news for buyers is the recession opened the minds of many sellers. When the banking industry clamped down on lending, the only way business deals closed without the extremely rare all-cash offer was when sellers financed part of the deal. The same still holds true in 2014, as many deals involve at least a bit of seller financing.

If you are a future business buyer waiting for the right time to enter the game – today is the day. With the willingness of sellers to offer financing, the ease of the digital age, and the resurgence of the economy on your side – now is a great time to buy a business.

Have you thought for years about buying a business, but haven’t yet made the leap? Did you try looking for businesses during the recession but didn’t find anything you liked? Would you like to have a look at what’s currently on the market? Click here to see businesses currently for sale in Florida, or leave us a comment or question here. We would be happy to help you on your journey to entrepreneurship.


Michael Monnot

1910 Park Meadows Drive, Suite 202
Fort Myers, FL 33907

“Why Are You Selling?” The Biggest Question And How To Answer It

Business sellers are always ready for questions from buyers, but they rarely realize the importance of their answers in terms of the successful sale of their business. How you answer pivotal questions can greatly impact the price a buyer is willing to pay or even affect whether a deal happens.

The biggest of these pivotal questions from buyer is also typically the first.Why are you selling?” can tell a buyer volumes about you and your business. Here’s how:

Confused businessman looking at question markConfused businessman looking at question markConfused businessman looking at question markConfused businessman looking at question markConfused businessman looking at question markConfused businessman looking at question mark

Say you are a business owner who has been in the game for a long time. You built your business over the last few decades into what it is today. You may be approaching retirement age and looking forward to slowing down a bit from the hardy day-to-day experience of being an entrepreneur.

What are your reasons for selling? You may want to retire. Perhaps you need to focus on a health issue for yourself or a member of family. Maybe you are just burned out and ready to spend every day on the golf course. Most of your reasons focus on the fact that you need to be finished in the entrepreneurial world.

How should you answer the “Why are your selling?” question?

Let’s answer this question by telling you how not to answer this question. If you are burned out and ready to retire, you shouldn’t let a buyer know. Telling a buyer you are tired of your business can give the impression that you have let things slide because you just don’t care about the business anymore. Instead, you should tell buyers that you are ready for retirement, but that you will miss owning your business.

What if you aren’t a retirement seller?

If you are a young and investment-driven entrepreneur, building a business with the intention of selling it may be your focus. Here’s the caveat. Be careful not to answer the question “Why are you selling?” in a way that would make a buyer think you are trying to sell your business at its peak.

Instead, put the emphasis on your excitement for your next business venture. Showing that you will continue to be a motivated entrepreneur in the near future will tell a buyer that you are a motivated entrepreneur in your current business venture.

Whatever your reason for selling, you need to show that you have what it takes to stay in the game and that you truly desire to see your transaction through to its successful conclusion. Answering the “Why are you selling?” question carefully will help instill confidence in buyers – both in you as a seller and in the business.

Are you ready to sell, but you want to make sure you answer this and other “big” questions in the best way? Have you chased away a buyer in the past by answering this question in a way that created concerns? Please leave a comment or question here!


Michael Monnot

1910 Park Meadows Drive, Suite 202
Fort Myers, FL 33907

How To Make Business Buyers Like You: The 5 Things Sellers Can Do

If you are selling your business, you may think it doesn’t matter if a buyer likes you or not – but in small business sales a buyer’s impression of the seller can mean the difference between a successful sale and a deal falling apart.

Why? You are a major part of your business, and like it or not, your actions towards your business and towards buyers not only say a lot about you, they say a lot about the way you’ve handled your business in your time as owner.

How do you ingratiate yourself to buyers? Here’s a few ways:


Be Personable

You will likely meet more than one potential buyer while your business is on the market, and whether you are freshly excited about the prospect of selling or you are completely burned out on the whole process, you need to be nice to any buyer you meet. A seller who is condescending or rude to a buyer has probably treated their employees and customers the same way. The buyer’s opinion of your reputation in the community can come across (whether accurate or not) in one bad interaction with a buyer.


Become An Organization Guru

Not all small business owners are masters of organization, but when you are trying to sell your business you need to at least appear as if you are. An unorganized owner may have let an important aspect of the business fall through the cracks, leading to issues down the road for any potential buyer. Ask your broker to help you get your books and business records in a buyer-friendly organized form before an actual buyer ever has a look.


Don’t Drag Your Feet

This one happens more often than you might think it would. One would think that all sellers are motivated to get their business to the closing table, but the selling process isn’t an instantaneous one. It typically takes between 9 and 12 months to get a business from listing to closing, and in that time many sellers get tired of having to answer questions and provide documentation to buyers. Don’t get burned out and start dragging your feet, as you will drive away perfectly good buyers out of their frustration with your perceived lack of cooperation.


Follow Through – On Everything

Nothing is more frustrating that when someone tells you they will do something and they don’t follow through. Deals fall apart everyday because a seller didn’t show up for a meeting, canceled at the last minute, didn’t provide a requested piece of information – you get the idea. Buyers are about to spend a very large amount of money on your business and they want to be reassured they are making the right decision. Knowing they can depend on you to follow through will help immensely with the confidence of a buyer.


Honesty Prevails

Every business seller has a few things they would love to keep from buyers, but the fact of the matter is buyers will almost always find the skeletons in the closet during the due diligence process. Anything you were not forthcoming about, anything you lied about – it will come out and it will likely kill your deal. Always be honest, about everything, because in a lot of cases seemingly large “skeletons” are something that buyers are willing to deal with if they are aware of them from the beginning.


If you are ready to sell your business, remember that you and your actions say a great deal to buyers about the way you run your business and the reputation your business has within the community. Do what you say you will do, be honest, be nice, and stay organized and you will set yourself up for a much more successful business sale.



Are you a business seller who has questions about why it is so important that buyers like you? Do you have an experience where clashing personalities between yourself and a buyer killed a deal? Please feel free to leave us a comment or question here, and we will be happy to answer any question you may have.


Michael Monnot

1910 Park Meadows Drive, Suite 202
Fort Myers, FL 33907

Own A Business In One Of The Fastest Growing Cities In The US, Right Here In Southwest Florida!

When looking at the time period between 2006 and 2012, one of the cities in the United States who made the top 8 for population growth is Cape Coral, right here in southwest Florida!

Why here and not New York or San Francisco? The current trend of growth is away from the large coastal cities where real estate prices are through the roof and towards areas where housing is more affordable. Cape Coral is still a coastal city, but without the extreme home prices – the best of both worlds.


at the seaside

This is great news for a small business owner who is considering southwest Florida as an entrepreneurial destination, as a growing population will mean a growth in the local business market as well.

Are you thinking about buying a business in southwest Florida, but have questions about the types of businesses that are currently available? Click here to search for available businesses! Do you want to know more about the local business market? Ask us! Please feel free to leave us a comment or question here, and we would be happy to help.


Michael Monnot

1910 Park Meadows Drive, Suite 202
Fort Myers, FL 33907

Strangers On A Plane: How Confidentiality (and Deals) Falls Apart

Confidentiality is a major deal in business sales.


What is confidentiality? When a business is for sale, the only people who should know that it is on the market are the seller, the business brokers and attorneys involved and qualified buyers who have signed the appropriate non-disclosure agreements. That’s it.


Most people new to the process don’t understand the importance of confidentiality. When you are buying a business, you want to know absolutely everything about the business so you can make an educated decision. When you are selling a business, you want to get the word out there so you can reach the most possible buyers. Confidentiality seems to stand in the way of those two goals, right?


It does, and it doesn’t. Sure, confidentiality makes it a little more difficult to spread the word or gather information, but there is a very big reason why confidentiality needs to be in place. Without it, the business stands to lose – a lot.


What can happen if confidentiality is breached and a business gets disclosed? We’ve seen an entire staff quit and move to the competition, taking all of their regular customers with them. We’ve seen customers stop frequenting their once-favorite establishments. We’ve seen clients who are under service contracts cancel their contracts in favor of a more stable company. We’ve seen the local competition move in for the kill. Bottom line? The bottom line suffers.


I signed the non-disclosure agreements and I’m not going to tell anyone, why is this such a big deal?


Here’s why. Most of the time when a business gets disclosed it’s not because someone was shouting from the from the rooftops. A seemingly innocent conversation can derail a deal and hurt a business almost immediately.


Here’s a recent example. A client was flying in from out of town to get a first look at a restaurant he was already very interested in buying. He had signed the appropriate non-disclosure agreements and hadn’t told anyone he knew the name of the restaurant or exactly where it was. On the plane, he strikes up a conversation with the woman sitting next to him. She tells him the name of the exclusive gated community where she lives, and he says “Hey! That’s where I’m going too! I’m buying the restaurant in that community!” She gets off the plane a few hours later and then casually mentions the conversation to a friend in the same community. “What a small world, right?” Within a few days the entire community knows, as do the restaurant staff (now in a complete state of panic). This seemingly innocent conversation between complete strangers led to a complete disclosure of the business.


The most important thing that you can do as both a buyer and a seller is keep business information to yourself!

Are you a buyer who wants to know more about how you get information on a business without breaching confidentiality? Are you a seller who wants to know how you can keep your business sale a well-guarded secret? Ask us! Please leave a comment or question here, and we will be happy to help.


Michael Monnot

1910 Park Meadows Drive, Suite 202
Fort Myers, FL 33907

Michael Monnot


5111-E Ocean Blvd
Siesta Key, FL 34242

Michael Monnot


5111-E Ocean Blvd
Siesta Key, FL 34242


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