Buying A Business? Why A Terrible Business Seller Isn’t A Bad Thing

If you’re new to the process of buying a business, you might wonder why business brokers exist. Can’t reasonable buyers and sellers get together and get a transaction all the way to the closing table?


The reality of the business game is there is very little chance of success when buyers and sellers go it alone. Why? Buyers and sellers don’t buy and sell businesses for a living.


If you are in the market for a business, then the person you most want sitting across from you at the closing table isn’t a seller at all. You want a business owner instead.


A business owner is someone who cares about the business they are selling. Their top priority isn’t how fast they can get out the door – it’s their bottom line. A business owner is focused on growth and getting the most money possible for their successful small business.



A business seller, on the other hand, is a temporary title. It involves gathering and assembling documentation and information about the business, being available to answer questions or requests and negotiation skills.


Someone who is a successful small business owner will not necessarily make a great and/or cooperative seller because selling isn’t their focus and it’s something they’ve never done before.


This is where the role of a business broker is critical and patience on your part as a buyer is a must. The person on the other side of the table isn’t a professional business seller, they are a professional business owner.


If it takes some time to have questions answered or get requested documents you shouldn’t be frustrated, you should be glad that they are focused on the running of the business you are about to buy. A business owner who doesn’t care about the day-to-day operation of their business could potentially be leaving you with a disaster the day you get handed the keys.


Your business broker is there to ensure the process goes smoothly, to keep the lines of communication open and apply the right amount of motivation to a seller so that they can both successfully run and sell their business. Have patience with the process – and with the business owner across the table. 


Are you considering buying a business but have more questions about how the process works? Would you like to know how long it typically takes to get to a closing table? Ask us! Please leave questions or comments here and we will be happy to help.




Michael Monnot

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


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Tips for Business Buyers: The Negotiation

If you are thinking about buying a business, then you probably already know that one major step on your path will be the negotiation of a purchase price and the negotiation of the purchase contract.



If you’ve ever been involved with the purchase of a house or a car, then you already know a little bit about how the negotiation phase is going to go. A buyer offers a price, the seller counters – and after a bit of back and forth the deal is done.


The major difference with business sales? There will be many, many more moving parts.


The best way to deal with these moving parts is to prepare yourself for the negotiation process:


Find and use a business broker


Buying a business is no small task. There are large amounts of money changing hands, a purchase contract that needs to be drafted and negotiated, licensing and permitting requirements that must be met, a new commercial lease that must be negotiated – the list goes on. A business buyer will be far better off with an experienced adviser by their side – and your broker also acts as an all-important buffer between you and the seller. Asking the wrong kind of question, asking too many questions, coming in too low with an offer – all of these things can offend a seller. By using an intermediary like a broker you can keep the deal moving while simultaneously keeping the other side of the negotiating table happy.


Make your offer realistic


You absolutely don’t want to overpay for your new business, and you want to keep as much of your cash as possible to ensure you have enough working capital the day you take over as owner – but that doesn’t mean you should insult the seller by offering a rock-bottom price. Unless the business is listed as an asset sale, don’t treat it like one. An operating business is so much more than the depreciated value of the equipment and inventory. You need to remember that to the seller this business is a huge deal. Most sellers are very emotionally attached to their businesses because the business has been an enormous part of their life. Low-balling a seller will almost assuredly offend them – some to the point where they will refuse to work with you. Make your initial offer fair and be able to justify that number when asked.


As a side note, if you are a buyer who is making an all-cash offer, you may be in a better spot to negotiate for a lower price than someone who is looking for seller financing to be a part of the deal. If you do need seller financing, consider the situation from the seller’s point of view. You probably wouldn’t give someone a big discount on the purchase price of your business if you were going to be taking a big risk and financing part of the deal.


Be 100% prepared for compromise


One last and very important point to make regarding negotiations – the final purchase price and purchase contract will be a compromise for both sides. Go into this process understanding the reality that you are not going to get everything that you want, no matter what side of the table you are on. Many deals have died because one side (or both) refused to budge over something tiny, like the value of a piece of equipment or the closing date. Stay calm, patient and willing to compromise if you want to have a chance of reaching the closing table.


Are you considering buying a business but have more questions about the negotiating process? Would you like to know what types of businesses are currently out there in your price range? Ask us! Please feel free to leave comments or questions here and we would be happy to help.




Michael Monnot

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



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The Toxic Myth Of The Perfect Business – How To Handle Messy Books

It is a very common complaint in the world of business sales. A buyer comes to the market with money in hand and ready to buy the right business – but every time they request financial documentation what they get is poorly assembled numbers, difficult to understand tax returns and no current financials of any kind.


Do they want to sell their business or not?


What you have to remember about the small business world is owning your own business is a tough and time-intensive enterprise. Small business owners are great at what they do, but most are not trained accountants. Many times record keeping and financial documentation fall down the priority list, and what a buyer is left with is what the seller was able put together in the short time the business has been listed.



When we take on a listing for a small business we often get handed nothing more than a big box of crumpled papers and register tapes – and have to figure out the numbers from there. This is not true of all small businesses, as some owners are better record keepers than others – but you have to remember that even a great business may not have the world’s most organized books.


It is also typically true that the larger the business is, the more likely it is that they have an accountant on payroll and therefore the more complete the records will be – but if you are in the market for a small business you probably don’t have the couple of million dollars you would need to buy one of these higher-priced and more-complete-records businesses.


What should I do then? How can I decide with seemingly incomplete records?


Have patience, and understand that you will never get perfectly organized books. What you will get is the opportunity to look at all of the financial records of a business once you have entered the due diligence phase. Your business broker will be there to help you, and if the books really are a mess then perhaps an accountant familiar with business transactions will be brought in.


What you can do as a buyer is use that not-so-pretty cursory information you get with your first requests – like P&L statements and tax returns – to weed out businesses that don’t suit you and focus a more thorough look on on the ones that do.


Are you in the market to buy a business, but are disappointed with the information you’ve been sent so far? Would you like to know more about how we as brokers turn that jumbled box of paperwork into use-able numbers? Please feel free to leave any questions or comments here, we would be happy to help.




Michael Monnot

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


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Am I Buying The Building? Commercial Leases And Business Buyers

If you are new to the world of buying a business, then you likely have some basic questions that need to be answered before you really get rolling. One very common question we get from the curious future entrepreneur when discussing businesses to buy is:


Do I have to buy the building too?



The answer to this question is almost always no, as commercial leases are the norm in the small business world.


What do I need to know about commercial leases when I’m looking to buy a business?


First and foremost, you can’t simply look at the amount of rent the current owner pays and the length of time left on the current owner’s lease to understand the nuances of the commercial lease market. It is also very important to understand that while you as a new owner will get a new lease, the rent amount itself is unlikely to change in a major way (and if it does change it will probably go up, not down) – especially if the current lease has quite a bit of time left. The property owner already has someone who is committed to paying that rate for the remainder of the lease term, so they have no motivation to change the terms of the lease for a new owner.


Commercial lease rates depend on a large number of factors, but in general it will depend on where the business is located. In some parts of town you may be able to get a commercial lease at $8 per square foot, while in another part of town not far away the typical lease rate will be more like $40 per square foot. A property on a main street or in a plaza with a strong anchor business will fetch higher rent than a business somewhere off the beaten path. A location on the water will also have a higher rent rate.


If you are in the initial phases of searching for a business and think a particular rent rate looks ridiculous, don’t make a judgment on the business or the lease until after you have spoken to your business broker. They will be able to tell you if a lease rate is truly ridiculous, or (more likely) if a lease rate is in line with the current location of the business. It is also far more important to look at the cash flow of a business than to get hung up on the lease.


In terms of renegotiating the lease rate, it will depend on a number of factors – like the length of time left on the current lease and other factors (like location) that we’ve already discussed. In some business transactions there will be a little wiggle room on price – but for the most part a property owner is not going to cut a lease rate significantly for a new business owner.


While you won’t be able to cut the lease rate in half, you will more than likely get a chance to renegotiate other parts of the lease, like the length. For instance, if the current owner only has six months left on their commercial lease, you certainly can’t be expected to pay $100,000 for a business with no guarantee on the current location for anything more than that short amount of time. Your lease will likely be renegotiated for a much longer term, sometimes 5 or 10 years. Each situation and each property is different – so you will need the expertise of your business broker for this part of the renegotiation.


If you are new to the process of buying a business, don’t get hung up on seemingly high lease rates or on short lease terms. Your business broker is there to help you understand any lease and also to renegotiate a lease to best suit your interests as the new owner of a business.


Are you searching for businesses and have questions about why certain lease rates are so high? Do you want to know which areas typically have lower lease rates? Ask us! Please leave any questions or comments here and we will be happy to help.




Michael Monnot

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



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Business Buyer? Must-Haves – The Right Help


If you are considering taking the plunge into entrepreneurship by buying a business, you should know that the best way to be a successful business buyer is by using all of the resources available to you – namely the experts who can help you along your path.


Why do I need help? Aren’t experts expensive? Wouldn’t I be saving a ton of money by buying a business on my own?


You absolutely, positively need to have the right help when making a purchase as large and life-encompassing as buying a business. That help needs to be experienced in their field and have the knowledge to properly guide you through the business transaction process.


Going it alone may seem like a good idea because there aren’t any fees or commissions to pay, but you will more than likely end up in hot water if you don’t know what you are doing – and that can mean way more money spent cleaning up the mess on the back end than you ever would have spent hiring the right help.


What kind of hot water could you end up in? You could be shut down if you don’t handle licensing and permitting issues correctly, you could end up signing a purchase contract that doesn’t cover what you thought it did, you could end up discovering surprise debts the business owes after you’ve signed on the dotted line and that business is now your problem alone – just to name a few. In addition, most businesses you buy do not come with the corresponding real estate, so a commercial lease will need to be negotiated – and commercial property managers are notorious for being difficult, more so if they feel like you don’t know what you are doing.


What should you do instead? Employ the right help, they will be worth their weight in gold.


What help might I need


A Business Broker


This person will be the main adviser you use for the purchase of a business. They will assist you with your search, help you obtain the information needed for due diligence, help you make sense of the numbers, negotiate with the sellers for the best price, negotiate and play middle-man with the landlords and property managers, help you get the appropriate licenses and permits, help you transfer utilities and vendor contracts – the list goes on. A good, experienced business broker has already seen everything that could possibly go wrong in a business transaction, so they can help you avoid the pitfalls and come out with the right business for you.


A Business Transaction Attorney


Notice we didn’t just say “attorney”. A family law attorney will do you no good in a business transaction in the same way a plastic surgeon isn’t going to be of much help if you have back pain. An attorney who specializes in business transactions will be best equipped to help you navigate your purchase contract and help you on closing day.


A Business Transaction CPA


Again, we didn’t say just “CPA”. Not all accountants are familiar with the very tangled web of numbers one finds in a small business. The one or two numbers on the bottom of a tax return are not going to tell you everything you need to know about how much money the business makes. For example – has depreciation been taken into account, have the personal benefits of vehicles and cell phones been added back, has the value of the inventory been accounted for? Having a CPA who has business transaction experience will be your best bet for understanding the numbers.


The moral of the story? Your best bet for the successful purchase of the best business for you is to have the right help along the way.


Have more questions? Don’t believe us? Leave questions, comments or concerns here and we will be happy to talk to you more.




Michael Monnot

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

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Buying A Seasonal Business? Understanding And Surviving The Off-Season

Here in Southwest Florida, we have a very unique business climate, but our lessons about seasonality in the business market translate to just about anywhere that sees a seasonal fluctuation.


Our area is known as a fantastic place to retire and also as a family-friendly vacation spot, so throughout the year our local businesses see a fairly regular fluctuation in the amount of business they do month to month. Our beautiful wintertime weather means that from October to April our population swells as retirees from the northern states come down to ride out the bad weather in our sunshine.


You can blatantly see this fluctuation if you visit at different times of the year. For instance, going to dinner on a Saturday night during “season” (October to April) means a 2-3 hour wait, go to the same restaurant in July and you will likely be one of only two tables in the whole place.



What does this mean if you are thinking of buying a business in this area (or in any area with seasonal fluctuation)?


It means you will need to be a bit open-minded when looking at the numbers, and compare multiple years of numbers instead of looking at only the last several months. In a place without much seasonal fluctuation the most recent numbers may be sufficient, but in our area or any like it – recent numbers won’t tell you the whole story. For instance, if you are looking at buying a business April, then the numbers from January to April will not be a reflection of the next handful of months in the summer. Likewise, if you are considering a business in September, abysmal numbers here might mean the business is doing just fine – you are only looking at the very slow summer months.


How do you figure out how to navigate these types of fluctuations? Find a knowledgeable and experienced local business broker who can help you to understand the seasonal fluctuations and can assist you with determining if a business is dealing with a seasonal slump or is in real trouble overall.


Another major seasonal business consideration? Keeping some cash on hand. If you are buying a business in Southwest Florida in the spring, then you had better find out how much capital the sellers have needed in previous years to weather the sparse summer and save some money for getting yourself through the lean times. Once business picks up and then explodes in the fall, you will also need to know what staffing considerations you will have to address (like bringing on new staff or bringing back the former owner’s seasonal workers).


Your business broker will be invaluable in helping you ask these pivotal questions of the sellers while you are in the negotiating process, and will also ensure you have a proper training period with the former owners post-sale to cover all of the bases.


Do you have more questions about how to look at the numbers of seasonal businesses? Would you like to know what types of seasonal businesses are for sale in this area? Ask us! Please feel free to leave any comments or questions here and we will be happy to help.




Michael Monnot

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



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Business Broker 101: Making The Right Choice

Our industry sometimes gets a bad rap, but as professionals who deal with other business brokers on a daily basis – we get it.


Like any industry, there are great brokers who excel at their job, and then there are those who are not so great. This article is meant as a peek into the business broker world and a quick education of what business brokers (should) do with the hope of helping business buyers and sellers choose a professional who will be a help – not a hindrance.



For starters, what is a business broker? A business broker is someone who assists business buyers and business sellers with the business transaction process. They (depending on the state) are licensed and insured to do this type of work, and although the business world is very different than the real estate world – they are often licensed as real estate brokers.


You can liken what a broker does to the buying and selling of homes, but with some MAJOR differences. First, business brokers aren’t typically selling property. They are selling existing businesses, and most businesses don’t own the property where they are located – they lease it from someone else. Second, the marketing and sales process for a business is very different from the same process for a house. For example, business sales are inherently much more complex and the for-sale status of a business must be kept in the strictest confidentiality (businesses for sale are perceived to be businesses on the verge of failure, which is rarely the case – and without confidentiality the whole staff might quit, clients might cancel contracts, etc.).


A business broker is hired by a business seller to list their business on the business market, and also hired by business buyers to help them find and then purchase a business. The commission paid to a broker (or brokers) involved is typically paid as a percentage of the final sale price by the seller.


Not all business buyers who come into the market end up buying a business, in fact the rate is probably something like 10% of those who inquire about businesses actually end up buying. For this reason, many buyers find it difficult to get the attention of brokers and sellers until they are forthcoming about their financial information and are ready to make serious offers.


Not all businesses that get listed on the market sell, this is also just a fact of the industry. The average rate most brokers hold is somewhere between 20-25% of businesses they list actually sell. If that rate sounds abysmal to you, we agree. Ours is typically closer to 60%, and most good brokers will be in that range. Why don’t businesses sell? Why isn’t the rate higher?


There are a litany of reasons why businesses don’t sell. Some businesses are priced way too high right out of the gate, and as such won’t sell because they are far outside the range of what the market will allow. In some cases the sellers refuse to take anything but a full-price, all-cash offer, which almost never happens. Some brokers take listings just to load up on potential calls, but do little to nothing to actually sell all of the businesses they list. We see “marketing packages” that consist of three poorly photocopied pages of old tax returns and nothing else. We deal with brokers (and sometimes sellers too) who rarely, if ever, respond to requests for information. In other cases, a business may not sell because of the time constraints of the sale on the seller’s side. If you have a very niche business, you will need to wait for a very niche buyer. Even if you don’t have a niche business, patience is necessary as most businesses take somewhere between 9 to 12 months to get from listing to closing.


Now that you have an idea of how the business of buying and selling businesses works, how do you pick a good broker instead of a bad one? Ask questions. Lots of them. A good broker will have no problem supplying you with answers.


If you are a seller, ask to see what a typical marketing package looks like. If you’re a buyer, see how quickly your requests for information and phone calls are returned. Ask any broker what percentage of their clients come from referrals (a high percentage here is a great sign). When you listen to answers to your questions, is the broker being honest with you, or are they just telling you what you want to hear? How important is confidentiality to this broker? How many closings do they typically have a year? Does this broker have their own shop, or are they a part of a much bigger company (and if part of a big company, are the numbers of businesses closed and number of listings just theirs, or are they including the corporate numbers)? Are they properly licensed and insured to do this type of work? Is this person only a business broker, or is this a side job that they don’t focus on?


The help of a good business broker can mean the difference between success and failure in the business market, so ask questions. Once you’ve found a good broker you can work with – listen to their advice. A good (or great) broker is there to help you, and by helping you and others like you, help the small business community they depend on.


Are you a seller who wants to help your business sell with the right help? Are you a buyer who’s had trouble getting attention from anyone in the business? Do you have more questions about the business buying and selling process? Contact us today or leave us a question or comment. We would be happy to help.




Michael Monnot

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

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Why Your Real Estate Agent Can’t Help You Buy A Business

If you are thinking about buying a business, your first step should involve looking for someone to help you find the right business for you. The right professional for the job is called a business broker – someone who specializes in helping people buy and sell existing businesses.



In our industry there are a lot of fly-by-night impostors who think that dabbling in the business broker profession is something that can be done on the side to make some extra money. Nothing could be farther from the truth. 


The business market and businesses themselves are very complex, and each business and each business transaction is unique. Helping people buy and sell businesses isn’t something you can do without the knowledge, experience and focus necessary to successfully reach a closing table. We’ll put it this way, you wouldn’t trust a general practitioner to do reconstructive plastic surgery on your face, you would use a plastic surgeon instead. Why? They are a specialist. Business brokers are specialists too.


The fly-by-night impostors come in all forms. We’ve come across lawyers, doctors and accountants who have tried to pass themselves off as someone who could help someone buy a business – but by far the worst offenders are real estate agents.


A real estate agent is a specialist in the buying and selling of homes and property, so many in that profession think they can seamlessly transition into helping people buy and sell businesses. Again, nothing could be farther from the truth. A home and a business are completely different animals, the business market operates by different rules and the set of skills needed for a successful closing on a house are completely different than those needed to reach the closing table for a business.


Many real estate agents attempt to dabble in the realm of business brokers by offering to help a client who already bought a house find a business. These agents call us and try to work out some kind of deal where they will represent their buyer clients in the business transaction. Whenever this happens, any business broker worth their salt will refuse to work with a real estate agent in this way.


Why? Why can’t I use the real estate agent I already know and trust?


You can’t because that real estate agent can’t help you buy a business. They have absolutely no idea what they are doing. As business brokers we would never try to sell you a car or manufacturing equipment for the same reason – we would have no idea what we were doing in that industry.


What should happen instead? Your real estate agent refers you to a qualified and experienced business broker, and they get a referral fee for the introduction. They essentially get paid for doing nothing more than exchanging phone numbers, so for the agent it’s a great deal. You as a buyer then get the proper help you need to successfully buy a business. Everybody wins.


The point here is you need to be suspicious of anyone who is not a full-time business broker who wants to help you buy a business. Save yourself the headache and get the right help from the start.  


Are you thinking about buying a business and want to know more about the difference between a business broker and a real estate agent? Would you like to know more about the process of buying a business? Ask us! Please leave us any questions or comments here and we would be happy to help.




Michael Monnot

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

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Start Here! How To Begin Your Business Search


You’ve decided to break out on your own, to become your own boss.


It’s time for the business search stage of your journey to entrepreneurship.


Here’s how to start:


Think about what industry you would like to work in.

Do some general research in the fields where you have some practical experience. Having a background in the field you are entering will be critical to your success as a new business owner. Practical experience can be work experience, education or time spent on a particular type of work. For instance, if you are someone who has spent the last few decades restoring old cars for fun – an automotive business might work for you. Experience in one industry might also translate well to another, so keep an open mind when you first start your search. You might be surprised by the businesses that meet your goals for business ownership. Once you have an industry or two in mind, do a cursory search of the business listings within those industries to get a general idea of what’s available. You can start your search by clicking here.


Hire a business broker.

Business brokers act as intermediaries in a business transaction. They can talk to you about your goals for business ownership, your background and the funds you have available – then make suggestions for the businesses currently on the market that fit within those criteria. As we said before, keep an open mind when it comes to your initial business search – there are many, many options out there. It is also important to use a business broker because they have access to business search sites that you may not be able to use on your own, they know of businesses that are not yet on the market and they can market you as a buyer to the business sellers they know.


Try to find out as much as you can about your desired industry.

In every sector, there are positives and negatives to business ownership.  It is important during the business search process to try and discover what these positives and negatives are. Check industry organization websites, articles written by those who already work in the industry, blogs created by industry insiders – you get the idea.


No matter what industry you end up in, it is important to think about your goals when beginning your business search.  You and your business broker should work together to determine what businesses might be right for you – then you can follow up by finding out everything you can about that industry.  By starting your search this way, you are sure to end up with a business you love.


Have you always thought about owning your own business, but don’t know what type of industry would be right for you? Do you have questions about the business search process? Please feel free to leave questions or comments and we would be happy to help!




Michael Monnot

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


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3 Reasons Why A Business Buyer Needs Their Own Broker


In the world of business transactions, it is the seller’s side that pays the commission of the broker (or brokers) involved – so why would a buyer need their own relationship with a broker since they don’t have a business to list?


There are many reasons why it’s a good idea to have a relationship with your own broker, here’s a few:


Someone Who Actually Knows You


Entering a transaction with only the seller’s broker (who you haven’t spent any time talking to other than signing an NDA on a specific listing) means that the broker probably knows little to nothing about your goals, your situation and what you are hoping to get out of business ownership. If a broker doesn’t know any of these things about you, how can they properly advise you on a business? The short answer is they can’t. You need to have a relationship with a broker before you are sitting at a negotiating table, hopefully long before. A good broker is going to ask you questions, lots of them. They should find out how much capital you have available, what your past work and educational experiences have been, your goals for business ownership, what you hope your work day will look like, what your dream business would be, how long you hope to own any business you purchase, what industries you are qualified to work in, what industries interest you – just to name a few. Buying a business is a huge decision, and having an expert involved who already knows all of these details about you as a buyer will be instrumental in successfully finding you the right business to buy.


A Buffer And A Negotiator


You are about to write a very big check to a complete stranger so you can buy their business – a business that has been their life and probably their baby for some time. Both sides will have serious emotional and financial attachments (you to your money and the seller to the business) so it can be tough to get through negotiations without one side or both ending up offended (and killing the deal). A business brokers acts as a buffer between the two sides, allowing forward progress while keeping the two sides away from each other. This role as a buffer during negotiations can be pivotal to the success or failure of a transaction.


Help For A New Owner

If you’ve never owned a business before (and even if you have) the lease, property managers, laws, red tape, licensing, permitting, etc. can be daunting and overwhelming if you don’t have help. Having your own broker ensures that you both know what needs to be done and have assistance with making it happen.


What if you already know the broker involved? Can you make a transaction happen with only one broker?


Yes. If your broker has a listing that fits your goals, then it can definitely be appropriate to only have one intermediary. The key to success in this situation is the broker needs to know both you and the seller.


If you are on the road to business ownership, don’t try to go it alone. Having an experienced and knowledgeable broker who knows you can make the transaction process go more smoothly and will greatly improve your chances of finding the right business for you.


Are you new in the market and are wondering what you should look for in a buyer’s broker? Have you already tried to shop the market on your own and have a story to share with other prospective buyers? Please feel free to leave comments or questions below, we would be happy to help.




Michael Monnot

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

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Michael Monnot


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


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