Like any industry, there are good business brokers and there are those who should find another way to make a living. Determining if the broker you’ve chosen falls into the “good” category might seem tough, but one way you can decide is by looking at the things your broker is willing to do without you having to pay extra for that service.
Most brokers earn a commission at closing, and the amount is based on a percentage of the sale price. If you are a seller, this percentage will be negotiated at the time of listing and will be a part of the listing agreement.
Beware the broker who will forgo the listing agreement or who will drastically cut their commission percentage just to get your listing. A great broker will stand firm of their typical percentage because they know how much work they are putting into selling your business. A desperate broker who can’t get and keep regular business will be willing to do anything to get you to sign on the bottom line. Also beware of a broker who charges extra fees for something as basic as your marketing package or advertising costs. These basic elements necessary to sell your business come out of the commission your broker makes at the time of the sale, not before.
For buyers, your broker gets a chunk of the money you pay for the business, so technically you are paying them even though you don’t have an agreement. Beware the broker who forces you to pay up front for their services. This shows a lack of confidence in their ability to find you a business and get you all the way through to closing. A great broker is not going to demand a retainer, nor are they going to charge you extra for help with the things every buyer needs – like basic assistance with licensing. If you are getting billed for basic services, then you probably need a different broker.
The key here is to watch for those brokers who put the amount of money they make in front of the reason they do what they do for a living. A great broker likes their job. They like helping the small business community grow, and they live for the chase and the thrill of negotiations. They don’t live to nickel and dime their clients. They get the vast majority of their listings through the referrals by former clients and members of their local small business community. They go to bat for their clients and are willing to help.
If the things we’ve named for a great broker don’t sound anything like the broker you are currently working with – it might be time for a change. When you initially interview brokers – ask about their referral rate, what kinds of fees they charge (there shouldn’t be any besides the commission) and what kind of percentage they take for commissions. The answers to these questions will speak volumes about the motivations of your broker and give you a good idea of where they fall on the great vs. not-so-great broker divide.
Have you had a not-so-great broker experience? Do you have questions about our referral rates and typical commission percentages? Ask us! Leave a comment or question, and we would be happy to help.