The Firm Business Brokerage Set to Double Sales within Seller's Market - MBJ 2014
by Kristin Durbin
The Firm Business Brokerage, located at 210 N. 78th St., is poised to more than double last year’s sales with a goal of $18 million in sales for 2014, said President Cortney Sells, who founded the firm in 2009.
As business owners look to retire or experience unforeseen events like health problems, listing with a brokerage becomes an option to secure a business exit strategy; the Firm Business Brokerage has completed 18 transactions this year – almost as many as it completed for 2013, and is now entering a traditionally very active season post-Labor Day. Sells said the interest in purchasing a profiting business is high with The Firm Business Brokerage communicating now with more than 280 buyers.
“It’s definitely a seller’s market,” she said.
The Firm has tripled in size to 17 employees, including Susanne Miller, in-house legal counsel who performs business valuations with a team for the seller including accountant, attorney and wealth adviser. Seven employees are full-time brokers.
In June, Sells purchased the 17,000-square-foot building just northwest of 78th and Dodge streets and will be leasing the first floor.
Providing introductions to professional relationships like attorney and accountant, providing a business plan and precipitating financing are among The Firm Business Brokerage’s services that are assuring a successful closing for both buyer and seller, with a rate of 92 percent currently, Sells said.
“We are an intermediary firm,” she said. “Our ethical responsibility is to get to the closing table in the most fair and just way possible.”
Sellers have individual motivations with death, divorce, retirement and disease among them. Other concerns are increased capital gains taxes and fewer businesses being passed down among families, she said.
Client Jaye McCoy and her husband, Bernard, decided to list their business Diamond Laundry Service with The Firm Business Brokerage because they wanted to do something different, and after a career of being vice president, McCoy was ready to be president of her own business, Sells said. During the negotiations and finalizing of the Diamond Laundry sale to new owner Todd Nelson, Jaye McCoy bought her own business, FirstLight HomeCare.
Another transaction involved a pain specialist who wanted to rejoin his wife who relocated to Florida. His company profits $870,000 a year after taxes, Sells said.
One misconception is that there is something wrong with a business up for sale.
“We only list profiting companies,” Sells said.
The valuation process does not cost a seller and is confidential, she said.
Sells made note that the last six medically-based deals were sold to non-doctors and four dental clinics sold to non-dentists. This is a successful way for business people to think outside the box for their new business, Sells said.
“Health care is an extremely active industry,” she said.
The Firm has completed transactions for businesses in at least 11 states and Canada. One active listing is a large manufacturer in York, Neb., and Alberta, Canada, which holds its patent for its product – large water bowls used in zoos across North America, Sells said.
Sells is active in Rotary Club of Omaha, the Greater Omaha Chamber and the Council Bluffs Area Chamber of Commerce. Long-term goals include franchising with at lease seven people who have already contacted Sells about that opportunity, she said. Las month the business launched a magazine with a reception at Zurlo’s Bistro Italiano attended by more than 200 people, she said.
The challenge is to encourage business owners, especially as the population ages, to consider a sale before they being shuttering a business by selling off assets or client lists. Sells said that is the story of how she founded the business, when she was able to match a friend retiring with two young personal trainers who wanted to own a fitness business. With a background in talent management since college, Sells had worked with lots of small businesses on ad campaigns, including the owner of a salon who was about to close shop. In the same vein as the fitness business, Sells knew the stylists who wanted to take ownership of the salon.
“A lot of what we do is matchmaking,” Sells said.
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