Broker Briefing with Scott Prosser from BF Brokers
With their first-hand experience and knowledge of deals in the market, business and franchise brokers are right in the middle of the action. Eden Exchange recently talked to Scott Prosser, Director and part owner of BF Brokers, a leading Australian business brokerage firm which is part of the BF Brokers Group of family businesses that also offers valuations and finance options.
Thanks for speaking with us Scott. Can you give us some insight on your background and career history? What drove you towards business broking?
Wow, it started 12 years ago (LinkedIn reminded me a few days ago). Through University I searched for practical part time work whilst studying and was lucky enough that my father (still the Director today) offered me a role.
To go back a little further, my father bought into the Business Broking Firm over two decades ago after practicing as an Accountant in the city, then trying to buy a business for clients, he ultimately decided there were not enough Business Brokers who could offer a systemised and professional approach to the sale of businesses. Whilst working for my father, I could see the path he was trying to follow and that I could use some of my skills to help him and the business get there.
In terms of my background and career history, I worked part time completing Admin work until I completed my Bachelor of Business and jumped straight into work as a Business Broker in 2004. Whilst working I studied for my full real estate licence and then became Licencee and Officer in Effective Control in 2005.
Noticing there was a lot of misinformation surrounding business valuations, I completed the AIBB Registered Business Valuer’s Course in 2009 and start practicing in Valuations.
With finance becoming a big issue in business sales, we decided to do something about it. So in 2012 I completed my Certificate 4 in Finance/Mortgage Broking and a Diploma in Finance/Mortgage Broking in 2014. This now allows us to give clients up-to-date and accurate advice on finance for their business purchase and advise vendors on how lenders will view their businesses to purchase, allowing our vendors to put the right things in place and help sell their business.
What areas does BF Brokers specialise in? What markets do you focus on?
We do have a speciality in Franchise businesses, however we are as equally committed to non-franchise businesses. But personally, due to our initial due diligence process, I like to say that we specialise in quality businesses at the right price. Geographically, I live on the Surf Coast of Victoria, so many of my businesses are around Geelong and Surrounding areas.
How do you match a buyer with the right opportunity? When do you advise them to purchase a franchise compared with purchasing an independent business?
We may take this approach a little differently to other business broking firms. Outside our database and client matching system, we don’t do a hard sell and really don’t advise clients on what businesses they should buy. Given the importance and serious nature of a business purchase we believe purchasers need to have a “warm gut feeling” about the business they buy. Something that they are confident they can manage and grow. We believe our role is to point out the facts and facilitate the process to allow that to happen.
Rarely do we advise clients on whether they should buy a franchise or non-franchise, it gets back to what they feel most comfortable with and every buyer is different. Naturally if the buyer was to ask us questions in relation to the pros and cons of each, we will use our experience and expertise to point out the facts, issues and benefits of either option.
What advice do you have on positioning a business for sale? What’s the key message you tell your clients?
Prepare your business for sale! It can be as simple as keeping good financial records and documenting procedures. Then once on the market, it’s about honesty and the right price. I cannot emphasise enough about maintaining good records. Too many clients come to us and haven’t been keeping good financial records, which throws in a lot of hurdles, not to mention difficulties for buyers when trying to obtain finance.
Are you seeing any major industry trends you believe buyers and sellers should be aware of?
The market has suppressed for some years now since the GFC and coupled with some uncertain years with federal politics. As a result, many business owners had not adjusted their price down as a result of the market slump. Now with cheap finance and vendors more realistic about the value of their business, we are seeing more businesses change hands.
Do you have any advice for a business owner looking to value their business for the first time?
Pretty similar to the above points, but I’d only add, to increase value, try and reduce the business’s reliance on you. Test it by going on holiday for a few weeks….
In your opinion, what separates good brokers and advisers from average ones?
Honesty and Integrity aside, I focus and pride myself on communication so all parties know where they are at, through all parts of the process.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Meeting lots of people and learning a lot about different businesses in different industries. It’s not uncommon even after 12 years for me to find an industry I never even knew existed.
Thanks for your time Scott.
BF Brokers is a proud family business broking firm based in Melbourne with services stretching Victoria wide, including consultants in Geelong and the Surf Coast. Contact BF Brokers on 03 8823 5400 for a confidential discussion on your Business Sale or Purchase
Contact Scott from BF Brokers for further details.