How to Select a Business Broker

Apr 14, 2023

Business brokers offer specialized expertise and often have extensive knowledge of businesses that are for sale. Using a business broker when buying a business will jump-start your process and is likely to help you get educated about the process of acquiring a company.  Still, this is a process that should not be rushed. 

Many business brokers focus on the “sell side” representing those who are selling a business.  Others focus on the “buy side” representing business buyers.  It is important to understand the specific business model of your business broker. 

Talk to several business brokers to find one that you like, trust, and would enjoy working with.  Still, that’s just the beginning.  

This article provides additional information about how to evaluate a business broker and select one that can assist you with perhaps the biggest financial decision of your life.

Speak with Buyers Who Were Their Clients

When considering a business broker to help you negotiate buying a firm, getting information from their former clients is vital. Reach out to other purchasers who have worked with the broker and inquire about their experiences, including the level of service, communication, and overall satisfaction. This can help you grasp the broker’s capabilities, advantages, and disadvantages.

image of a business broker speaking with a business man

Ask them if there were any obstacles they had to overcome during the purchasing process and how the broker assisted. This data can be quite helpful in figuring out whether the broker is a good fit for your needs and will work well with you as a partner as you look to purchase a business.

Understand the Broker’s Fee Structure

Before working with them, understanding a business broker’s pricing structure and payment timeline is crucial. For instance, some brokers may bill a retainer or an hourly fee, while others operate on a commission basis. Commission-only brokers receive a cut of the sale price once the deal is finalized. You should know before engaging, who pays those fees, the buyer or the seller.  As a result of learning these things upfront, your expectations and budget can be managed more effectively.

Although a commission-based model can connect the broker’s interests with yours, make sure they don’t put closing the deal rapidly ahead of locating the ideal business opportunity for you. If you engage a business broker, one of your first items of business (after understanding the fee structure) should be documenting your criteria for the right type of business.

Ask the Tough Questions

Do not be afraid to ask the tough questions of your prospective business broker.  If they are offended, that would be a red flag.  Here are a few examples:

  • Have you ever had any litigation involving your business brokerage practice?  If so, learn more.
  • Have you ever had any issues with your licensing board or any other regulatory matters?
  • Is business brokerage your full-time endeavor?
  • Do you also broker real estate or any other types of transactions?

Make Sure Your Broker Only Represents You in the Transaction

It’s essential to have a broker that exclusively serves your interests in the complicated area of business acquisitions. A broker representing the seller may have conflicting interests, potentially affecting their ability to negotiate the best terms for you. Make sure the business broker you choose will act only in your best interests and will put your needs and goals first at all times.

Establish a precise agreement with the broker detailing their role and obligations and stress the value of openness and open communication in order to protect your interests. By doing this, you will develop a solid working partnership based on respect and understanding.

Integrity Is Vitally Important

A business broker’s reputation can say a lot about their knowledge, professionalism, and capacity to guide you toward the ideal company opportunity. Investigate prospective brokers in-depth by reading internet reviews, examining trade periodicals, and asking for referrals from reliable sources. A trustworthy broker has to be well-connected in your target market or industry and have a track record of successfully acquiring businesses.

Also, take into account the broker’s bargaining, problem-solving, and communication style. These traits are crucial for overcoming the difficulties of business acquisition and obtaining the best possible terms for you.

Experience Matters

An important consideration when choosing a business broker is experience. A broker with several years of expertise in the field is likely to have an enormous network, a wealth of knowledge, and a thorough understanding of the intricacies of purchasing a business. Additionally, the length of time a broker has been in the industry might reveal their knowledge and capacity for navigating complicated transactions.

Portrait of successful group of managers at modern office looking at camera.

Ask prospective brokers about their experience, the trades they’ve handled, and their success record while evaluating them. You can use this information to assess their competency and decide whether they are a good fit for your needs.

Industry Experience Can Add Great Value

When buying a company, engaging with a broker with expertise in the exact industry or specialty you’re targeting is beneficial. In order to make an informed choice, a broker with specialized experience can provide insightful information on industry trends, development potential, and potential obstacles.

A broker with knowledge in a particular industry may also have access to exclusive listings and contacts, giving you access to a wider choice of options and resources. Ask prospective brokers about their experience working with companies that are comparable to the one in which you are interested, and ask for examples of any profitable deals they have helped to facilitate in that industry.

Your chances of discovering the appropriate company opportunity and effectively completing the purchase process increase if you work with a business broker who is familiar with the nuances of your specialized or industry-specific target market. In addition, their counsel can prove useful as you navigate through the various steps of buying a business, from discovering possible prospects to closing the acquisition and shifting ownership.

For more information on buying a business, see the article: how to buy a business.

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