Serpone of NE Restaurant: Cooperating brokers = profits

January 02, 2014 - Front Section

Dennis Serpone, New England Restaurant Brokers

Don't we all like our possessions...that's my ball...she's my wife...that's my car. We also like to say that...he's my buyer. The reality is that buyers are not possessions, they're floating assets. As long as we maintain a value to them, they'll stay with us, but if they see value working with another broker, they're history. The key to making money with buyers is very simple...maintain a relationship and find what they want before someone else does. Sometimes that other broker has what your buyer wants. It's up to you to bring it to your buyer before "he" does.
Last summer a very successful restaurateur made a realistic offer on a $1 million Boston bistro. The offer was turned down and the seller was unmovable from his price and terms. The seller resumed his search. Fortunately we maintained our connection with him.
Two weeks ago, a commercial broker called me and asked, as a restaurant specialist, if I had a buyer for a $10 million restaurant doing $6 million in sales and having a 6% commission. He immediately got my full attention. Upon review of the financials and a tour of the property, it was determined that $10 million was way over priced. The bigger issue was, with 100% capital gain to be dealt with, the value in the deal for both buyer and seller was the structuring of the deal. We now have a $6.5 million deal with seller and buyer in a "win-win" structured program where the seller will be paying minimum taxes and the buyer has a very favorable debt package.
The moral to this story is that "my" buyer, married to the other broker's "property," is now providing hundreds of thousands of dollars in commissions for both of us. However, the best part of this industry is the friendships developed and enhanced over the years.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Dennis Serpone is president of New England Restaurant Brokers and The National Restaurant Exchange, Wakefield, MA.
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