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Your 5-Step Guide to Selling a Fast Food Restaurant

Posted On: / By: Brian Knoderer
Selling A Business

From drive-thru restaurants such as McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, and Taco Bell to independently run eateries, Americans have formed a strong relationship with fast food establishments over the last several decades. With 293,329 and counting restaurants in operation, the industry has generated well over 200 billion dollars in revenue. If you’re thinking about selling a fast food restaurant, now be the perfect time to cash into this growing market.

5 Tips for Listing a Fast Food Restaurant for Sale

Relatively unaffected by the pandemic, fast food restaurants all across North America are seen as an attractive investment with steady growth rates from 2016 to 2021. Whether you plan to become a franchisee or prefer to open up an independent fast-casual restaurant, these essential steps can help you prepare for a profitable exit.

1. Develop an Exit Strategy

closeup of fast food burgers and fries

As time gets closer to leaving your business, you should have a well-thought-out exit strategy in place. Exit strategies can help you stay on track and ensure you’re not missing any crucial steps during the process. Consider the following when planning your exit strategy:

  • When do you officially plan on leaving?
  • Who are your potential buyers?
  • Will the new small business owner keep current crew members or employ new hires?
  • How will the ownership transfer take place?

2. Organize Your Books and Financials

Next, you’re ready to start prepping your paperwork for the parties interested in buying a fast food restaurant. Anticipate serious buyers reviewing anything from cash flow records and tax statements to start-up costs or anything else that will help them validate their potential investment. If you need any assistance getting these documents ready, consider reaching out to a professional lawyer or an accountant.

3. Improve and Get Your Restaurant Ready

Before listing your fast food restaurant on the market, take time to ensure your establishment and operations are in a suitable selling condition and seen by buyers as an attractive investment. To do so, make sure the building and dining room don’t require any cosmetic repairs and that they’re free from internal and external damage. Additionally, take a deeper look into your quick-service restaurant’s business model and spot any potential opportunities to attract growth and a new customer base that were missed out on previously. You may want to look into:

  • Expanding your restaurant’s social media presence
  • Responding to online reviews
  • Partnering with delivery and take-out services, such as DoorDash or Grubhub

4. Determine Your Restaurant’s Real Value

As a restaurant business owner, it’s relatively normal to have some bias while formulating your asking price. Emotional attachments formed over the years can get in the way of making explicit and precise calculations. To alleviate some of the uncertainty during this step, consider hiring a professional to do the work. A business broker or accountant can determine the real value of your food business and help you negotiate fair pricing.

5. List Your Fast Food Restaurant for Sale

Once the above steps are accounted for, you’ll be ready to list your fast food business for sale. While many restaurant owners list businesses on the market themselves, it sometimes proves more beneficial to enlist the help of a broker. Hiring a third party allows you to manage your day-to-day restaurant operations while your broker takes care of finding qualified buyers.

For expert guidance and help selling your fast-food chain or restaurant franchise business, consider connecting with the professionals at Sunbelt Business Brokers. Our large-scale professional network can connect you with a pool of qualified buyers interested in your restaurant. To get started, find your local Sunbelt Business Broker office today!


Brian Knoderer is the President of Sunbelt Business Brokers. He has over 20 years of experience as a business owner and managing business transactions. As a seasoned intermediary, Brian has successfully represented companies in a broad range of industries helping business owners achieve their desired exit strategy or growth initiative.

Brian is also co-owner of Sunbelt Indiana and Managing Director of MMI Capital Partners, a franchisor focused investment banking firm.

Previously Brian was involved in several entrepreneurial ventures as well as having held corporate roles in Franchise Development for Prime Hospitality and Choice Hotels.

Brian is a graduate of Ball State University with a degree in Management Information Systems and earned his MBA from Butler University. He has received the Certified Merger & Acquisition Advisor (CM&AA) designation, holds both the Series 7 – General Security License and the Series 63 – Uniform Securities Licenses, and is a licensed Real Estate Broker. He has been affiliated with several organizations including the Entrepreneur Organization, a Member of the International Business Brokers Association, Venture Club, and a Board Member of The Entrepreneur Institute.

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