Tick, Tock – Why Business Buyers Need To Make The Most Of Due Diligence

If you are in the midst of your business search, then a major step in the process to buy a business is coming your way – due diligence.

 

This step in the business buying process occurs once an offer from a buyer is accepted by a seller. The business is pulled from the market and placed in a sort of limbo so the buyer has a chance to review all business related documentation and then make a final decision about whether or not they wish to buy the business and how much they would ultimately like to offer.

 

This limbo phase is great for buyers because it essentially stops the access of other potential buyers to the business they want and gives them a chance to peek behind the scenes.

 

Due diligence is not, however, an indefinite period that can drag on forever. A typical due diligence period is two weeks. That’s it, and honestly that’s all you really need. We regularly get requests for due diligence periods of multiple weeks or months – but that extended amount of time is unnecessary and unfair to the business itself.

 

Why is an extended due diligence period unnecessary? If you’ve made an offer on a business, you’ve already seen a good deal of the financial information and have a decent understanding of the inner workings of the business – like the contractual agreements the business has with major clients (for example). You don’t start the due diligence process with a blank slate, it is instead a more in-depth look at something you are already familiar with.

 

Since you aren’t starting from scratch, you should use your due diligence time efficiently. You should review the documentation as soon as you get it, thereby giving yourself a few days to think about your upcoming decisions. You should also have your broker or your business transaction accountant help you if you have questions – but you need to get them any questions and any documentation promptly as they may not be able to get to it right away. Don’t wait until two days before due diligence is over to rush the paperwork to an accountant and then try to request an extension. Procrastinating during due diligence could mean you are rushed into a decision without having reviewed the information thoroughly – leading to unnecessary surprises down the road.

 

Why is an extended due diligence period unfair to the business? An extended due diligence period pulls a business off the market and shifts a seller’s focus to just one buyer. The seller has to take time away from the day-to-day operations of the business to provide requested information and answer buyer questions. At the end of an extended due diligence a buyer can then decide they don’t want to move forward with the business sale, leaving the seller to start over with the process of finding buyers after an extended absence from the market. To shift focus for a period of two or three weeks isn’t unfair – but to ask a business owner to change their focus for weeks or months is.

 

If you are in the market to buy a business, it is in your best interest to use the due diligence period to your advantage by working quickly with the information you are given and giving yourself the time to think about the decisions you need to make. It will alleviate some of the stress of the business buying process and allow you discover any surprises before they become a problem down the road.

 

Are you looking at businesses and are concerned that a two week due diligence period won’t be enough? Do you have more questions about what happens during due diligence? Ask us! Please leave any comments or questions and we would be happy to help.

 

 

 

Michael Monnot

941.518.7138
Mike@InfinityBusinessBrokers.com
12995 South Cleveland Avenue, Suite 249
Fort Myers, FL 33907

www.InfinityBusinessBrokers.com

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The 3 Big Trade-Offs – Are You Ready?

So you think you want to buy a business and start off on a career as an entrepreneur?

 

Before you spend too much time daydreaming of becoming the next Branson or Zuckerberg you need to consider some very big trade-offs that your new life as a business owner will require.

 

Control Of Your Time

You may have hated your 9 to 5 job, but working for someone else offers you the opportunity to have something many entrepreneurs don’t – time off. If you are buying a business so you can have more control of your time, the good news is you will. Your work schedule will absolutely be up to you. The caveat here is that work schedule is going to have to cover more hours than your traditional job did, so you need to be mentally prepared to work nights, weekends and take working vacations (if you are able to take vacations at all).

 

The Need To Reinvest, Reinvest, Reinvest

One of the best ways to grow a small business is to reinvest your money in every way you can. What this means from a trade-off standpoint is you may end up making far more owning your own business than you ever did working for someone else, but that money really belongs back in the business if you want to be successful. You should also be prepared to go without paying yourself in the very beginning because you will need working capital available for things like inventory and payroll when you first take over.

 

Your New Baby

Working a traditional job means that you have to punch a clock, but the time when you aren’t at work belongs to you – and you can use that time for your family, your friends and your hobbies. When you own your own business, that business becomes your baby, and as such it will require you to make sacrifices in terms of the time you were once able to dedicate to the non-working parts of your life. The good news is you won’t have to ask your boss and hope that you can get the day off for your daughter’s ballet recital, you will be able to accommodate those all-important things in your non-working life. You will just have to find a way to balance the needs of your business and the priorities in your life.

 

Should these trade-offs scare you away from buying a business? Absolutely not! Owning your own business means that every expenditure of time, energy and money comes right back to you instead of going to someone else. The rewards of flexibility and control over your own destiny make any trade-offs worth it in the end. You just need to be aware that these trade-offs will be necessary so you can be prepared for business ownership.

 

Do you have questions about the trade-offs business ownership requires? Would you like to know what the schedule looks like for a business owner in the industry you are considering? Please feel free to ask questions or post comments below, and we would be happy to help you on your journey to entrepreneurship.

 

 

 

Michael Monnot

941.518.7138
Mike@InfinityBusinessBrokers.com
12995 South Cleveland Avenue, Suite 249
Fort Myers, FL 33907

www.InfinityBusinessBrokers.com

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They Google You Too – Advice For Business Buyers

If you are in the market to buy a business, then what is one of the first things you will likely do when you find out the name and location of a prospective business? Hit a major search engine like Google and plug in the name.

 

What many buyers fail to realize, however, is once a seller finds out your name they will do exactly the same thing.

 

Buying a business is not at all like buying a car. When you are shopping for businesses, you are essentially shopping for a job – so just like a prospective interviewer would do, business sellers are going to look you up.

 

You also have to consider that the business you buy is someone’s baby, a business where they have invested countless hours and a great deal of money. For most sellers, there is an emotional connection to their business, and as such they won’t be willing to hand over the reins to just anyone. The legacy of their business can be just as important as the check you write.

 

In addition to the emotional connection, in business sales there is typically a training period of several weeks – so major personality differences between buyer and seller can cause a whole host of problems.

 

Another major factor that will cause a seller to look you up? Seller financing. In most small business transactions, the seller finances part of the deal. Since they are keeping some skin in the game, it will be very important to know who you (as a buyer) are and if you are the kind of person who will be responsible enough to pay back the debt.

 

If you are in the market to buy a business, ask yourself this. What happens when someone Googles your name? If you haven’t ever checked, you should.  

 

Your online presence will speak volumes to a seller who has never met you, and in some cases, brokers themselves will even Google you before agreeing to work with you.

 

What should you do if you are in the market to buy a business? The first thing you should do is set any social media you use for personal use to private. Only those people you know should be able to see things from your personal life, not prospective sellers.

 

You should set up a professional social media account on a site such as LinkedIn or a more professional Facebook page that sellers and brokers can see. You should also abide by basic social media guidelines that anyone would use if they were going into a job interview. No pictures of drunken debauchery, no rage-infused political rants, no dirty jokes – you get the idea.

 

If a cursory search for your name turns up nothing but pictures of you partying hard – it may reflect poorly on you as a competent professional and leave sellers uncomfortable with your ability to get the job done. Clean up your social media image before anyone looks you up.

 

Are you a buyer looking at businesses and hadn’t considered your online image? Would you like to know what else you could do to make yourself more appealing to sellers? Please feel free to leave any questions or comments here, and we would be happy to help.

 

 

 

Michael Monnot

941.518.7138
Mike@InfinityBusinessBrokers.com
12995 South Cleveland Avenue, Suite 249
Fort Myers, FL 33907

www.InfinityBusinessBrokers.com

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The Good, Bad And Ugly: How To See Past The First Impression

It’s an age-old adage that first impressions are of the utmost importance. It’s why business people wear suits and why car dealerships keep the cars on their lots shiny and clean. It might seem like basic sales knowledge that in order to sell something, you need to make sure it is ready for that all-important first impression.

 

Business buyers who come to the business marketplace looking for a shiny, clean business are in for some serious disappointment, and that disappointment may lead some to either give up their business search or continue searching indefinitely.

 

Why?

 

Businesses, and small businesses in particular, can be ugly monsters. At a cursory first glance, a business that has recently listed might seem outrageously overpriced, have seemingly unintelligible financial records and look like an unorganized mess teetering on the brink of collapse. These terrible first impressions, however, mean that buyers regularly pass over perfectly good businesses just because they aren’t perfect.

 

Why do they look so bad?

 

Small business ownership is a tough gig. Owners who are very capable of holding everything together and helping the business grow may not be so great at keeping their books organized or at explaining why they listed the business for the price they did. As a buyer, you want a strong business, so overlooking businesses because the current owners focus more on the strength and growth of the business instead of focusing on neatly curated paperwork would be a very big mistake.

 

Another major first impression hurdle is the aesthetics – peeling paint, outdated decor, dirty floors – but again the point here is you want a business whose owner focused on the bones of the business itself, not someone who only worried that the place stayed immaculate.

 

How do I see past the ugliness?

 

Get some professional help. Business brokers look at ugly (but wonderful) businesses every day, and they can help you as a buyer navigate the shoddy paperwork and stained carpet to see what you really would be buying underneath. When you buy a business, you aren’t really buying furnishings and a sign anyway – you are buying cash flow – so having someone to help you determine what the cash flow looks like for the businesses you find interesting can go a long way towards helping you make a decision.

 

As you start your business search try to remember that in the business for sale world, it’s not the first impression that counts.

 

Have you been searching for a business but haven’t found one that doesn’t come across as a complete train wreck? Would you like advice about how to see past the first impression to find great businesses? Please ask us! Leave comments or questions here and we would be happy to help.

 

 

Michael Monnot

941.518.7138
Mike@infinitybusinessbrokers.com
12995 South Cleveland Avenue, Suite 249
Fort Myers, FL 33907

http://www.infinitybusinessbrokers.com

 

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3 Tips For First-Time Business Buyers

If you are thinking about taking the entrepreneurial plunge by buying a business, you may be wondering where to start.

 

Here are 3 tips to get your business search going and put you on the path to small business ownership:

 

Get In Touch With A Business Broker

Many new buyers think that the services of business brokers are only for sellers, but nothing could be farther from the truth. A good local broker can help steer you in the right direction – both to the right industry and businesses that you can successfully afford.

In your first conversation with a good broker you will likely discuss what your goals are for business ownership, what capital you have readily available to invest in a small business, the industries where you have practical experience and the businesses you are considering. In some cases a buyer who is considering one industry may have more success meeting their goals for business ownership (like setting your own schedule or employing members of your family) by buying a business in an industry they hadn’t even thought of.

 

Do Some Self Searching

Owning a small business is a life-encompassing affair, and before you decide what type of business would be right for you, you need to think about what you want to get out of business ownership. Have you always dreamed of owning your own bar, but you’ve never worked so much as one day in the restaurant industry? Buying a business and becoming an owner overnight can come with a steep learning curve – you don’t want to add learning a whole new industry to the mix.

You also need to consider what you want your life as a business owner to look like. If part of your reason for transitioning to an entrepreneur is to give yourself more time with your kids – then owning a business like a bar where you will work seven days a week from 3pm to 3am probably isn’t going to leave a lot of time for coaching their little league team.

 

Do An Exploratory Search

Many prospective business buyers have a general idea in their minds of the type of business they would like to own, but after a cursory search they discover that there are business opportunities out there they’ve never even heard of or considered. Do a cursory search of the businesses available in the geographical areas that interest you and you may be surprised what you find. You can start your cursory search by clicking here, and then ask us about any interesting businesses you find by contacting us today.

 

If you are thinking about joining the world of small business owners – do some soul searching, talk to a good broker and do a little exploratory searching on your own. By opening the field of available and potential businesses you will have a greater chance of finding the perfect business for you.

 

Have you thought about buying a business but aren’t sure where to start? Do you have questions about how the business buying process works? Ask us! Please feel free to leave any questions or comments and we would be happy to help.

 

 

 

Michael Monnot

941.518.7138
Mike@InfinityBusinessBrokers.com
12995 South Cleveland Avenue, Suite 249
Fort Myers, FL 33907

www.InfinityBusinessBrokers.com

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Buying A Business? 3 Ways To Find A Great Broker

If you are considering buying a business, then you’ve probably started looking for a business broker to help you. If you haven’t, you should, as the business transaction process can be dauntingly complex and rarely makes it to a successful closing without some qualified help.

 

If you are broker shopping, you will quickly discover that there are a lot of options.

 

How do you choose the right professional to help you?

 

First, avoid any “part time” brokers. Many, many business professionals like real estate agents, attorneys, accountants – we’ve even come across doctors – “moonlight” as business brokers. Their attempts in our industry are on a part time “dabbling” basis, and as such they rarely know what they are doing. You wouldn’t come to a business broker if someone was threatening you with a lawsuit, so why would you use an attorney to navigate a business deal? Look for business brokers who are only that – full time brokers.

 

Secondly, you want to avoid business brokers who have “proprietary methods”. Some brokers use their so-called proprietary methods as a selling point, but from an industry standpoint there really isn’t anything about what a broker does that could ever really be proprietary. Any broker who gives you the “I am the only one with the special sauce” routine is trying too hard to impress you instead of focusing on what’s important – finding you the right business.

 

Third, you want to avoid business brokers who spend a small fortune on advertising. Brokers who are spending money on multiple television ads, massive full-color mailers and dozens of radio spots are again spending too much of their time focusing on the wrong aspect of their business.

 

What should you use to find a great broker? Referrals. If you find a business broker who gets the vast majority of their business from referrals, then you’ll be in good hands. Referrals come from past buyers, sellers, other industry professionals like attorneys and accountants – and these referrals amount to a great review of that broker’s previous work. Those past clients and professionals trust this broker enough to send the people they know their way. If you are talking to a broker, ask them how much of their business is referral based. A broker with a ton of referrals will be someone who can get the job done and find you a great business.

 

Would you like to know more about how to decide on a business broker? Would you like to know about our referral rate here at IBB? Ask us! Please feel free to leave any questions or comments here and we would be happy to help.

 

 

 

Michael Monnot

941.518.7138
Mike@InfinityBusinessBrokers.com
12995 South Cleveland Avenue, Suite 249
Fort Myers, FL 33907

www.InfinityBusinessBrokers.com

 

 

 

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BEFORE You Get On The Plane – A Successful Business Buyer Trip

 

The rapid approach of another holiday season and the end of the year can cause a budding entrepreneur to rethink their current life and consider other options. New buyers come to the market curious about what life might be like as the owner of a business, and many who are visiting from northern climates experience the beautiful winter weather of Florida and seriously consider a move south.

 

There are amazing business ownership opportunities in the Sunshine State, and we would love to help you find the one that is right for you – but there is one very important element of the business buying process that buyers should know long before they set foot on a plane.

 

You absolutely, positively can’t call about a business one day and see it the next.

 

This one is frustrating for both business brokers and buyers alike. If you call us today and tell us you are only in town for another 24 hours and you want to see one of our businesses – the answer is no.

 

We would love to accommodate you, but it just isn’t possible, especially during this time of year.

 

In order to see a business, we would have to know that the business is right for you and that it is a business you could successfully afford. There is no sense in wasting your time looking at businesses you couldn’t or wouldn’t want to buy. Then you would have to sign the appropriate non-disclosure agreements. Then a showing would need to be coordinated between your schedule, the schedule of your broker, the schedule of the seller’s broker, the schedules of the sellers themselves and at a time when the business isn’t operating or when the employees will not be around (for confidentiality reasons).

 

This complicated mix of conversations, paperwork and meshing of schedules is going to be extremely tough during the holiday months in particular because many of the necessary parties are traveling or hosting family and won’t be available.  

 

It is possible, however, for all of the necessary background, non-disclosure agreements and schedule juggling to be done – with enough notice. Just realize that 24 hours or even a few days aren’t going to be enough.

 

If you are considering taking a trip south and looking at businesses, make contact with a broker and work on setting up these visits before you even buy your plane tickets.

 

We say this because we want your business search to be successful and we want you to find and see businesses that are right for you. The right business for you is going to depend on things we can’t know about you until we’ve had a chance to talk to you about your goals for business ownership and the amount of money you actually have available to buy a business. The right business for you will also be found by looking at many listings, reviewing financial statements and having conference calls with multiple sellers – all long before you set foot in an actual, physical business.

 

We also want you to be able to make the most out of your time here – so by researching and vetting the businesses that meet with your goals, by already talking to sellers via conference call – you can efficiently see the two or three businesses you are already serious about buying when you come for a visit.

 

Set yourself up for business buying success by starting your search before you buy your tickets to Florida!

 

Are you a buyer who has tried to see a business last-minute and would like to know more about why this isn’t possible? Are you curious about the business ownership opportunities available in Florida? Ask us! Leave any questions or comments here, and we would be happy to help you on your journey to business ownership.

 

 

 

Michael Monnot

941.518.7138
Mike@InfinityBusinessBrokers.com
12995 South Cleveland Avenue, Suite 249
Fort Myers, FL 33907

www.InfinityBusinessBrokers.com

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Buying A Business? The Importance Of A Narrow Focus

Here’s one we see all the time. We get a call or an email from a buyer who wants to sign 15 NDA’s on 15 different types of businesses so they can see where each is located and then decide which ones they like.



First of all, any business broker worth their salt is not going to disclose that many listings to a buyer all at once. Why? A buyer looking at 15 different types of business hasn’t narrowed their search, so disclosing all of those businesses puts the confidentiality of those businesses at risk unnecessarily. It is also a colossal waste of both the buyer’s and broker’s time to fill out all of that paperwork for nothing.



You might enter the business marketplace with only a vague idea of the kind of business you want, but you really need to narrow the focus of your search right away if you want to have any kind of success with finding businesses that will actually help you achieve your goals. There are hundreds of potential listings out there, and it can be easy to get overwhelmed by the choices.



How do you narrow your search?



Talk to a business broker first.



We will ask you about your goals for business ownership. What do you hope entrepreneurship will bring to your life? The freedom to make your own schedule? More money than you make at your current job? More time to spend with your family? The ability to grow a business to sell a few years later? These goals will be very helpful in eliminating businesses that don’t fit the bill.



We will ask you about your prior knowledge and experience. What industries have you worked in? What did you go to school for? Taking over a new business is hard enough, you probably don’t want to add learning a whole new industry to the mix at the same time.



We will ask you about your financial situation. How much do you have to invest? Are you looking for financing? Knowing from the very beginning exactly how much you have to work with will be instrumental to ensuring you end up with a business you can afford.



After having this type of discussion with your business broker, you can focus on businesses that will fit all of your needs and not waste any of your time looking at businesses that don’t. Narrowing your focus early also helps you keep from feeling like your search never ends.



Are you starting your business search and need help with narrowing your focus? Are you curious about what businesses are available in your area? Do a cursory business search by clicking here or leave us any questions or comments below.

 

 

 

 

Michael Monnot

941.518.7138
Mike@InfinityBusinessBrokers.com
12995 South Cleveland Avenue, Suite 249
Fort Myers, FL 33907

www.InfinityBusinessBrokers.com

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Buying A Business? Focus On Cash Flow, Not Assets

What should you care about, assets or cash flow?

 

When you begin the search for a business to buy, your initial tendency might be to think about buying a business in the same way you would buy a house. Buying a home or buying property means you are exchanging money for something physical – a structure or a piece of land.

 

Many new business buyers apply this same logic to the purchase of a business, focusing on the assets or inventory of the businesses they find interesting.

 

If you are buying a house, the finishes and included appliances absolutely factor into the price, but using the perceived value of the comparable physical assets found in a business (like a kitchen hood or vehicles) to judge a listing price won’t work.

 

 

Why? When you buy a business, you are buying cash flow. You are buying an income stream that is generated through the use of the assets – but the truth is most small businesses don’t have many assets to speak of. Most of the time, the physical location of a business isn’t owned by the business owner – a commercial lease is in place. In some cases, the equipment that has been installed (like the hood system in a restaurant) belongs to the landlord as well.

 

We will use the restaurant example to further illustrate this point. When you buy a restaurant, the expectation is that all of the equipment is in working condition, like the grill in the kitchen. You are buying the cash flow that is generated by the use of the working grill. The grill is critical to generating that cash flow, but outside the confines of the business the grill has no value on its own to a business buyer.

 

There are a few instances where the physical assets, like a grill, will play into price. As we just mentioned, the expectation is that everything is in working condition. Excessive equipment, not enough equipment or equipment that isn’t in decent working order can decrease the amount you as a buyer offer on a business – as in each of these scenarios you will have to make changes in order to get the business in proper working order when you take over.

 

It is important to note, however, that not liking the aesthetics of the equipment doesn’t mean you can discount it. If you are looking at a house with granite counter tops and you only like quartz counter tops – this aesthetic difference doesn’t mean you can take $10,000 off of your offer. The same holds true in business transactions. If the business has the necessary working equipment, then it has the necessary equipment- ugly or not. Your offer and consideration of each business should be based on cash flow, not assets.

 

Do you have more questions about how to evaluate the listing price of a business? Would you like to know more about how to use cash flow and multiples? Ask us! Leave any comments or questions here and we would be happy to help!

 

 

 

Michael Monnot

941.518.7138
Mike@InfinityBusinessBrokers.com
12995 South Cleveland Avenue, Suite 249
Fort Myers, FL 33907

www.InfinityBusinessBrokers.com

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Want To Buy A Bar Or Restaurant? Maybe You Shouldn’t

“I’ve always wanted to own my own restaurant”

 

We hear this one a lot. You might have a passion for great food, you might love the bar scene – but these loves from the patron perspective rarely translate to success on the business ownership side unless some basic requirements are met.

 



What are these requirements?



Experience



There are very few people who have little to no restaurant industry experience that have succeeded as the owners of a food service establishment. More often than not, the restaurant industry rookies that manage to buy a bar or restaurant drive it right into the ground in a shockingly short amount of time (we say “manage to buy” here because many property managers will refuse to issue a commercial lease to restaurant newbies).



The food service industry is rough. It requires an enormous commitment of time and energy. It requires the personality to wrangle a staff of typically young and inexperienced servers and bartenders while simultaneously ensuring no one is giving away your food and booze or taking money out of the till.



Sounds like fun, right? Not so much. If the restaurant industry is your passion, and you’ve spent a good deal of your working life learning the ropes as an employee or manager in this industry – then restaurant ownership will probably bring you success. If you don’t have the passion or experience, you should seriously, seriously consider something else.



Enough Capital



If you have $100,000 to invest in a restaurant, then you shouldn’t be looking at restaurants in the $100,000 price range. Why? Writing a check for the full amount of money that you have just to take ownership of a restaurant or bar means you are setting yourself up for an almost immediate failure. Working capital is essential in any industry, and the restaurant industry is no exception.



You will need money available for the litany of licensing requirements necessary for establishments that serve any form of alcohol. You need capital available to cover payroll for the first few weeks after you take over. You need the money to pay your vendors for the inventory you need to keep your patrons fed and happy. You need enough money to keep the doors open long enough to start turning a profit with you at the helm.



Consider the need for working capital when deciding what you can and can’t afford in the restaurant-for-sale market long before you start writing any checks.



Willingness To Work 24/7



If you are someone who is very involved in the lives of your children and need to be home every evening to help coach their soccer team, then buying a bar is probably not for you. The restaurant industry requires long, weird hours (think about when most restaurants and bars are open – like nights and weekends), so if the life you want to have outside of business ownership does not jive with these hours you might need to consider another industry.  



It’s also not for you if you are the kind of person who likes to take a handful of long vacations every year. This industry deals with a lot of cash, and as such it is an industry where it is incredibly easy for employees to steal a little off the top. Successful restaurateurs are vigilant and omnipresent in their establishments to ward off these sticky finger issues.



If you have the drive to keep strange hours, the experience to get you through and enough capital to pay for the bar or restaurant you are interested in – then you have a great chance at success. If not, then there are plenty of other industries where you can meet your goals for business ownership without having to serve food or sling drinks. Talk to your business broker today about your goals and experience and they can help guide you to the right business.



Have you always dreamed of owning a restaurant, but don’t believe us when we say prior restaurant experience is a must? Have you had a disastrous restaurant or bar ownership experience that could help others that you’d like to share? Please feel free to leave comments or questions here and we will be happy to help.


 

 

 

Michael Monnot

941.518.7138
Mike@InfinityBusinessBrokers.com
12995 South Cleveland Avenue, Suite 249
Fort Myers, FL 33907

www.InfinityBusinessBrokers.com

 

 

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Michael Monnot

941.518.7138
Mike@InfinityBusinessBrokers.com

12995 South Cleveland Avenue, Suite 249
Fort Myers, FL 33907




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