the things that will make it easier to sell your property. In this article, we will take a step back, look at your business from a buyer’s perspective, and try to help you make changes that any buyer will want to see. Here are seven of the most important actions you can take to generate more interest in your site.
1. Don’t defer maintenance. You may be tired and ready to move on but keeping your site in good condition generates valuable curb appeal when buyers visit the site. It also keeps the customers coming in which obviously keeps sales and profits up. If you have been putting off replacing big-ticket items like dispensers and tanks, you will have to weigh the cost of replacement against the potential increase to the sale price. Often those investments won’t fully pay off but making smaller investments to keep the place clean and in good repair makes sense.
2. Get your books in order. This is huge. Obviously, buyers want to know what they are paying for, and the clearer you are with your profit and loss statements, the more likely you are to keep buyers engaged. If they must start hunting around for answers, or if they think the books are not clean, they will tend to lose interest fast. Also, most buyers are using bank financing; almost all banks will need to see your books and/or your tax returns.
2. Get your books in order. This is huge. Obviously, buyers want to know what they are paying for, and the clearer you are with your profit and loss statements, the more likely you are to keep buyers engaged. If they must start hunting around for answers, or if they think the books are not clean, they will tend to lose interest fast. Also, most buyers are using bank financing; almost all banks will need to see your books and/or your tax returns. If you are not claiming everything you should, it will likely come back to haunt you during the sale of your business.
3. Research potential expansion or alternate uses. Many gas stations in New England are on small lots, but there may be adjacent properties for sale that could increase the value of your property significantly. Even if they are not actively being marketed, it may make sense to inquire with your neighbors to see if you can increase your lot size to make room for a larger, modern style gas station/c-store or alternate use. It makes sense to check with the town on zoning to see what kind of use is allowable at your site too.
4. Don’t enter into any long-term agreements. Buyers want as much flexibility as they can get to make their own deals when they buy a gas station. Entering into a 10-year fuel supply agreement right before you put the place on the market is a sure way to decrease interest in your property as well as decrease the overall value. If your contract is expiring, go year to year (or month to month) with your supplier. They don’t want to lose your business and they want to be first in line to sign the new owner up, so they will hang in there with you after your contract expires.
5. Check your environmental status. I know – no landowner wants to go looking for trouble in the environmental department but you likely have a good idea as to whether there are issues or not. If there are concerns, they are not going to magically go away. Buyers and banks will be researching and testing for these issues. If they find something this will absolutely hold up the sale or potentially kill it altogether. Further, you are going to be responsible for cleanup. No buyer wants your environmental problems. So, knowing that, you may want to get ahead of any issue by hiring a good LSP and seeing if your costs may be reimbursable under the state funds. If there are any problems, you can move slowly or quickly to do the cleanup, depending on your timetable and funds available. Working through as much of this as you can before a sale will make things go a lot more smoothly.
6. Check your title. You may want to make sure you don’t have any surprise outstanding liens, easements, or rights of way that may impede a sale. The buyer will do this too so you may not want to incur the expense. However, if you suspect there might be an issue you should get ahead of it because it will come up in a title search, and it could hold things up.
7. Use good advisors. It’s not like you sell your gas station every day. You’ve got one bite at this apple. You should work with advisors who do this for a living. They have seen a lot more than you have and they are giving you the benefit of their networks and their experience. There are many hurdles to selling – legal, environmental, accounting – and to try to get it right by yourself is a tough chore, especially while continuing to run a successful business. Your best chance at the highest selling price and smoothest selling experience comes with using experienced, trustworthy advisors.