The COVID-19 pandemic dealt a huge blow to restaurant owners everywhere, just when the industry was thriving. Although the dining industry in Florida did not suffer for as long as it did in the other parts of the country, restaurateurs still experienced significant setbacks and were forced to alter their business models to adapt. For many sellers, this meant that they had to put their plans to sell on hold, and wait for a recovery. Now that restaurants throughout the state are filling up again, here are some of the things sellers should focus on if they want to attempt to sell again and catch buyers’ attention.

Curb Appeal

One of the most important assets for any restaurant is its curb appeal, but it is even more significant since the start of the pandemic. Cleanliness and safety are more important than they ever were, so giving buyers an impression of a clean facility is a crucial first step in preparing to sell your restaurant. Many buyers will make their initial assessment by just driving by, and not actually entering the facility, so you should put a major emphasis the exterior of the building. For starters, make sure the building is pressure washed and painted, if necessary, the windows are clean and uncluttered, landscaping is nice and neat and the signage is clean and well lit. Inside the restaurant, be sure to adhere to high cleanliness and safety standards, with an emphasis on pandemic-related safety measures such as diligent sanitization, social distancing and masks for staff.

Digital Ordering

If you haven’t already, invest in a digital ordering system. Covid has made take-out much more popular, so make ordering online an easy process for your customers. Many patrons also prefer menus that they can access with their phones using QR codes, to provide a minimal-contact dining experience. When shopping around for digital solutions, try to stay away from 3rd-party commission-based platforms, which will increase overhead and consequently decrease the overall value of your restaurant. It may cost more up-front, but 0% commission solutions will be much better long-term, and appeal more to buyers. Having a fully functional online ordering system is one way restaurant owners can exhibit their adaptability to potential investors.

Demonstrate Versatility

The pandemic gave restaurant owners the chance to demonstrate their ability to adapt to adversity. Showing that your business was able to demonstrate versatility when external circumstances demanded it will help to improve your chances of fetching a premium for your business. The aforementioned digital ordering system is one example of this. Other ways you can demonstrate versatility would be with adaptive marketing strategies and payment terms, as well as reducing overhead to stay profitable while business is slow. Having a resilient and adaptable restaurant will increase the value of your business and provide you with added leverage during negotiations.

Document the Impact

If your restaurant was heavily impacted by the pandemic, document and quantify the effect to show transparency and provide reassurance to the buyer. Putting together complete and thorough financial statements is important in preparing for any business sale. These include profit & loss statements, cash flow statements, balance sheets, information about government loans received, documentation of supplier interruptions and other disruption-related costs. Maintaining your books as you go, instead of having to go back and do it, is always best practice. If you need to catch up with your financials, get them current and then make a point of keeping up with them regularly.

Even though Covid disrupted the profitability of many restaurants, sellers can rest assured that there are still plenty of serious, well-funded buyers out there. They are being more cautious now than before, but are still targeting well run establishments with good fundamentals. Most investors are experienced and will take into account the extraordinary impact the pandemic had on the food and beverage industry. As long as your business exhibits strong curb appeal, adaptability and is on the path to recovery, you should be in good shape.

If you own a restaurant in Fort Myers, Sarasota, Naples, or anywhere else in Southwest Florida, and have considered selling it, contact Corporate Investment Business Brokers (CIBB). As experienced business brokers who have been selling restaurants for over 35 years, we can help you to confidentially market your business for sale and maximize your profit. Allow us to help you sell your business while you focus on running it. You can start by setting up a no-obligation consultation and business valuation to determine if selling is the right decision for you.

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