The following is an excerpt from my book, The Complete Guide to Buying a Cafe...
The two people you need to make contact with before buying a cafe are an accountant and a solicitor. If you really want to dot all the “i’s” and cross all the “t’s” you might want to consider having a hospitality consultant fully assess the café. You wouldn’t buy a house without a survey so don’t buy a café without a thorough analysis.
Referral can often be a good way to find an accountant or solicitor but make sure you ask the referrer what makes the person a good choice. The referrer may have very different opinions on what they look for and may also have very different business interests which lead to very different needs.
It is important to get these people in place and ready to go as the buying process can often be surprisingly competitive. For example, you may find a café that you want to buy but there is a lot of interest in it. If you have your solicitor and accountant ready to go you have the opportunity to get ahead of those that are not as organised as you are. It can make the difference between getting the café of your dreams or missing out.
Why you need to find a good accountant:
They can assist with your business plan
They will help you to set up an appropriate company structure (which helps to get the most out of the tax system)
They will help you to set up your accounting systems
They will advise you on the financial aspects of the business purchase
They will ensure that you submit all your required tax documentation on time.
But getting a good accountant can be tricky. There are lots out there and they aren’t cheap! So what should you expect from an accountant?
They will provide an initial consultation free of charge
They will come to you – you’re busy running your business so make sure that they are willing to come to you (you are the client!)
They will provide templates (e.g. Excel spread-sheets) or provide assistance on setting up your financial systems
They will provide a fixed price for your annual tax return
They include general enquiries (throughout the year) as “part of the deal”
They have a set hourly rate for other work i.e. work that isn’t “general enquiries”.
Why you need a good solicitor…
- To explain the buying process – including deposits, trial periods, etc.
- To understand the fine print in contracts e.g. the lease
- To warn you of any legal pitfalls
- To complete the deal!
What makes a good solicitor?
- They aren’t too busy to see you when you really need them
- They understand the legalities of cafés and small business
- They understand the legal requirements of councils
- They have experience with leases and property.
Once you have your support network in place, you are ready to really hit the road and begin your search.