Interest in buying a business is exceeding the number of businesses for sale, as buyers look to secure future employment amid the COVID-19 pandemic, experts believe.
Link NSW business director Mark Jason said sales inquires for businesses in the medical, transport, distribution and cleaning industries had been strong.
“Our website inquiries and traffic have gone through the roof,” he said. “Every time unemployment creeps up, we see a spike in the ‘buy yourself a job’ market.”
Allbiz Business Sales and Business Brokers cofounder Matthew Holland said the rise in buyer interest was significant, particularly from those who had been made redundant.
However, there had been a lag in the number of businesses being put up for sale, as many owners were still receiving the JobKeeper subsidy and were not sure how to proceed in the months ahead.
“We’ve had a complete turnaround, we’ve got buyers coming in from regions – from all over, really – and we are just not seeing the listings come through,” Mr Holland said.
Businesses related to information technology, food and supermarkets or anything with a future in technology that was non-retail had been in demand, he said.
“We’ve had the level of inquiry drop when it all [COVID-19] started and it didn’t take long to come back and it is really busy now,” he said.
“Also quite a number of people are strangely doing well out of this and it’s not all doom and gloom, with businesses in certain sectors doing quite well and are looking to expand.”
This included gas services, transport and food services, especially in the central west areas of NSW, in “resilient” country towns such as Dubbo.
Mr Jason said he had noticed strong interest within the hospitality sector, with potential buyers cautiously scoping out future viability.
Fast food in the suburbs, as well cafes restaurants in the city, inner city and the east were also high on the list.
“So it really is that ‘buy yourself a job’ market. The high end-business sales, while they are still somewhat cautious, there are still a lot of people looking to deploy money whether it’s a roll-up [people buying out their competition] or economies of scale … we are still seeing a fair amount of interest from high-net-worth individuals who are looking for a reasonable rate of return from deploying their money into an investment,” he said.
MMJ business and sales acquisition manager Martin Lo Surdo said sales during the pandemic had been consistent with a small drop in general inquiries during the period from the end of March and throughout April, with activity returning to normal in May.
He said there had been no particular type of businesses which had been in higher demand than others.
“There have been some industries affected by the restrictions, where we’ve had to just pause those campaigns, like the beauty industry, where the whole business is in closedown or limited trade,” he said.
“We’ve still had interest in those businesses as people move to prepare for life after COVID.”
There had been no marked rise or fall in sale prices and some transactions have had a delayed settlement period, particularly if bank funding was required, Mr Lo Surdo said.
For individuals thinking of buying a business in the current climate, Mr Holland said it was vital to consider the future of the business.
“Consider is it something you want to be in long term?” he said. “The old rule applies – don’t go into something that you aren’t going to love.
“Check the numbers and don’t be too hard on the sellers on the way out. At the end of the day as long as the numbers are bouncing back, it’s not about bargain hunting.
“The sellers aren’t dumping their businesses. Don’t try and offer silly prices as from what we have seen people won’t take them.”
Mr Jason said to start with an objective list and remember there was no such thing as a perfect price.
Finding a business which ticked as many of your objectives as possible was best, he said.
He also recommended obtaining a good understanding of what available finance and money you had at hand, as well as what other financing was available depending on the business.
“It’s important to feel out each individual because you don’t know what their position or bottom line is until you ask the question or put an offer forward, and understanding that an offer is really the starting point and there are a lot of steps in the process, including due diligence,” he said.
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