July 28, 2017 (Eastwood City, Metro Manila, Philippines)
Azhar (Bill) Khan, President of Sunbelt Business Brokers Philippines,
Recently we spoke with Azhar (Bill) Khan, President of Sunbelt Business Brokerage, which is the largest business brokerage firm in Philippines and the world having sold more businesses over the past 30 years than any other company.
Sunbelt Business Brokerage Philippines is starting its operations officially in Eastwood City, August 2017.
Mr. Khan and I agreed for this interview that he be referred within as “Bill”.
In careful analysis, Bill decided to start Sunbelt Business Brokerage in Philippines since it was difficult for buyers to buy an existing/operating business for overseas (OFW’s), foreigners and even local residents due to (a) no set systematic approach of specialization in this area. Current laws in the Philippines have made it very complicated for a new buyer to have full independence professional guidance to make sure that they are fully protected from all possible areas which may not be openly disclosed by and between the sellers or buyers.
Azhar (Bill) Khan
Bill who has lived in over 25 countries, managed or owned various types of business operations from small franchises to large public companies, some even trading on US Stock Exchanges, brings his unique experience to both buyers and sellers to make sure the process goes smoothly.
To add further to Bill’s extensive resume, he has substantial experience within Philippines over the past 7 years in operating, managing new startups to successful operating business operations from Call Centers, Information Technology Development Companies, Commercial Real Estate, International Trading to Night Club Operations.
The acquisition of Sunbelt Business Brokerage, Philippines will provides business owners of commercial operations from as small as 2 million, up to 50 Billion pesos adequate comfort to know they are dealing with company who can guide them in a professional manner from beginning, to ongoing, to even re-selling at a later time. Transactions will be completed in a very confidential way not to affect current operations, staff or suppliers, who may get worried knowing that the business could change hands with little time notice. Overall these processes are carefully monitored in a manner not to affect ongoing business operations.
Sunbelt is by far the largest business brokerage firm in the world with a network of over 300 offices worldwide, it provides existing base of potential buyers for their business which enables Sunbelt Philippines to select qualified buyers that can meet the goals of the seller in the way the future business is operated.
In addition to Bill, Sunbelt Philippines has a very strong team of seasoned current & former business owners in Philippines & overseas with specialization in various industries. At Sunbelt all transactions are approved by the company’s highly experienced legal team, independent accountants and bank escrow companies for distribution of funds, in addition validating all documents with various agencies as to their authenticity.
Sunbelt Business Brokers Philippines Team
Currently there is a major demand from OFW’s wanting to return to their home country in Philippines and to operate their own business as the Philippines economy continues to grow and the standard of living continues to improve countrywide. With incentives in place, we expect Sunbelt to play a major role in providing avenues for OFW’s to return and acquire obtainable businesses base on their individual financial needs within the scope of businesses they seek. In addition, Philippines been one of the fastest growing economies of the world with population of over 130 million, we have lots of foreign investors looking to move away from western countries to settle down in the country with better weather and life style than their own countries, providing them longer happier life.
In my interview with Bill, we embarked on a question and answer session that extremely informative, not only to me, but hopefully for those reading this article now.
-Julie: “Sunbelt Philippines corporate office in Eastwood City has started operations with a very professional team of former business/current owners as Professional Business Brokers to provide a very unique experience for both buyers and sellers.
Why buying or selling a business is important and how does the business brokerage compare between USA and Philippines?”
-Bill: In our lifetime, we will make many major purchases and buying or selling a house is likely one of the biggest. While most home buyers and sellers know precisely what they are looking for: from the number of bedrooms, to the size of the property, to the listing price – purchasing or selling an entire business is unique, presents a number of challenges, and requires specialized expertise to ensure both business sellers and buyers receive the greatest value for their Pesos or dollars.
Buying or selling a business – from Automobile Dealerships, Casinos, Night Clubs, Gas stations, Hotels, IT Companies, Resorts, Private Islands, Mining, Oil & Gas Companies, Various franchise brands, Online Internet companies and more – is about much more than numbers. By sitting down with owners who have put their heart, soul, time and money into their business, Sunbelt discusses all aspects of valuation in detail.
These include location of the business, processing systems, age of staff, market positioning, where customers come from, age of equipment, risk, and more. “The numbers don’t tell the whole story, and I don’t trust other peoples’ valuations. Even if the business owner had a valuation, we insist on re-doing it. Only in this way, can he come up with an accurate, objective value for the entire business, and go to market with pricing and strategy that reflects true worth.
Many business owners are not only professionally invested in their companies, but have worked to build them up for decades in some cases, and have developed a personal attachment to their work. Unlike someone who works for another company and retires at sixty-five, the average business owner sells at seventy-one years of age, and has literally invested their life into their work.
Selling a business can be complex. You need to be a psychologist, a financial analyst, a great salesperson, and more. By the time we finish a deal, not only did we deal with the financials, the valuation, funding the transaction, educating the buyer and the seller, but we have also had to deal with the seller who has a tough time letting go. There were many strong emotional attachments and part of the issue with some sellers even after they have received full payment is that some still find themselves unhappy since they did not realize that the business was no longer be part of their life. Therefore, we also have to educate business sellers to start planning for life after the sale, as some can become a disruption to the new owners of the business since they mentally did not prepare themselves that we will be able to finalize sale of their business that quickly.
Furthermore, it is very important for business sellers to gather all the required documents necessary for sale. Since we have a qualified buyers and they do not want to review the business fully it makes major financial commitments along with time unless all legal documents of the business are in proper legal order. Otherwise, we are unable to present the business to our buyers with full confidence with missing documents, since this can delay a sale for finalization by months, as time is money for the buyers. Further, we only work on an exclusive listing basis and not waste time of the seller or buyer.
Entrusted with helping business owners find the right buyer, Sunbelt maintains professionalism and the utmost discretion throughout the entire process of packaging a company for sale. Working confidentially, Sunbelt does not disclose the name of any business for sale to anyone, unless the prospect buyer already signed a non-disclosure agreement.
Taking the process seriously, the highly trained team at Sunbelt will ask potential buyers for their net worth, aspirations, passions, skills and more to match them with a business that is the right fit.
For Philippines owners, selling a business through anyone else can be risky for a number of reasons. Some less than reputable organizations or individuals value a business at two to three times its actual worth, with the result that the business never sells.
Ultimately, the goal of a successful business owner is not to keep working into old age, but to retire, spend time with family, and transition their companies, processes, staff and systems to new ownership. Currently large number of business owners of Philippines children who have grown up, graduated from college are pursuing different professional careers rather than join family business as this has also created situations for current owners to sell the business as we see many companies contacting us with this situation.
For anyone interested in selling or buying a business in Philippines, Sunbelt’s highly trained team is available to make this process as smooth as possible. Realizing that many who come to Sunbelt are first-time buyers, company staff will help educate them and guide them step-by-step through locating, valuing, financing, and purchasing a privately held business that is right for their needs.
Undergoing extensive training, many Sunbelt brokers are themselves former business owners, well-educated, almost all of them with first-hand experience. Most of our business brokers already been successful in their own businesses, and they do it because it is fun and exciting in making people’s dreams and goals come true.
Further we have a major advantage with qualified buyers in Philippines and worldwide with our own personal contacts. Further Sunbelts over 300 offices worldwide provides a unique base of fully qualified buyers.
The business brokerage is much tougher in Philippines than in the US because in the United States, the average transaction is 80% owner financed and in only about 20% of transactions, the owner has to put down cash. In Philippines, almost 100% of the transactions have to be paid in cash.
To help potential buyers, we now have Banks available willing to loan funds on operating business operations with at least a 3-year history along with some collateral from the buyer.
-Julie: “Are most of your customers foreigners in terms of business brokerage?”
-Bill: “40% foreign, 60% Philippines.”
-Julie: “Obviously you work with many foreigners doing business here in Philippines. Which industries are profitable and who is doing well?”
-Bill: F&B, (Food & Beverage) and tourism related businesses have always and will always be strong in Philippines. Recent trends also include consulting services, technology, hotels, resorts, franchises & website platform development…. Anything that has to do with software development. Consultants have also done well in IT as there are a lot of foreigners in this industry.
As we get ready to start operations based on word of mouth only, we have had substantial interest in business owners from various parts of the country to have their business listed with Sunbelt Philippines. Currently we are reviewing them to see if they will be good prospects for our buyers in Philippines and on Global basis.
Few of the current business operations, we are in final stages of review for approving them to be listed with Sunbelt Business Brokers Philippines range from Automobile Dealerships, Private Island, Commercial Beach front locations, Hotels, Major commercial Bank, Malls, Night Clubs, KTV Bars, Call Centers, Major Fast food Franchise brands , IT Companies among others.
-Julie: Are there any industries where the opposite may be true, where foreigners seem to struggle, not do so well, or face issues that make running a business difficult.
-Bill: Real estate brokerage has been a very tough industry. Many of them are showing losses. Food and beverage can be challenging, but if it is done properly, you can be very successful. We see Remax Real Estate Brokerage firm, World’s Largest with over 20 franchised offices in Philippines making a major impact with the way, real estate is sold and bought in Philippines. Previously developers had only their own team as now that is starting to change with Remax Philippines.
In Metro Manila, mostly the developers have been very successful with excellent projects with ongoing growth expanding to other areas of the country with the current government limiting more development permits in Metro manila area so growth can take place in other areas of Philippines. Further infrastructure projects are going to be very big for the country as population expands. Will see more highways, railroads, airports around the country growing at a fast pace.
Many locally developed franchises have done well and have asked us to review for them expanding to other countries of the world where there is a large base of OFW’s to have name recognition.
We are seeing major growth in the provinces of the country with over $25 Billion dollars annually coming back to Philippines from remittances.
Now lots of OFW’s and Expats want to return to Philippines and invest wisely to have their own business operations, rather than just sending money back home to relatives or friends to invest for them, which most of the time has turned out not good.
-Julie: “What are the problems businesses face here? What about Mafia interests?”
-Bill: In most developing countries, there are some form of under the table demands of business owners. However, Philippines is moving in a positive direction to provide a fair avenue for business owners to be able to operate their business in a professional manner as current government is putting new rules in place by increasing government workers salaries so there is less demand for them to make money from business owners.
We never had to pay anything under the table or be involved in anything like that nor been approached.
I think you must also not think that doing business is going to be easier in Philippines than in your own country. If anything, it is going to be tougher because in your own country if you have questions about anything, you can just pick up the phone and ask the authorities or whoever knows the answer.
In Philippines, you do not have business associations who can help so pretty much you have to start everything from scratch and you have to work harder. Moreover, if you do not understand that you are going to be frustrated to the point that you think there is no way you are going to be successful in Philippines. In addition, I think what makes us successful, is our ability to identify niche markets or demand. We chose to be in this business.
Also, as in any foreign country there is always going to be an initial culture shock that you need to overcome. With patience, and perseverance you have a good mixture of coping with problems in Philippines. Once you put the time and hard work into something to get it running smoothly then running a business is not that much different to anywhere else?
-Julie: “How is the local staff compared to foreign expats?”
-Bill: We have been very fortunate, as our local staff has been excellent. This may have been due to our positive outlook in treating all with respect regardless of their position & providing ongoing development, training along with clear path for growing within the company by acquiring new skills for advancement. In addition, the English language in Philippines, good educational system provides a solid base for selection, as most are very good with customer service. This has enabled the country to export talent to all over the world. Further majority of the workers are now from Philippines in the Middle East due to their good customer service and attitude towards learning and improving.
-Julie: “What's the story with foreign ownership of a business in Philippines, in simple terms? Can we, as foreigners, own a business here or does it have to be majority Philippines citizens?”
-Bill: Well we deal a lot with foreigners that own a business 100%. Per local laws, it depends on the type of industry as to the percentage amount a foreigner can own.
-Julie: “Many people start a business simply as a way to keep busy while in Philippines. Do you think this is a good idea?”
-Bill: Many people get into business not just for the money. It might be because of pride of ownership, they want freedom or maybe they just wanted something to do. There have been many surveys around the world about why people own a business. Many might be surprised to know that making money can be number 5 or 6, depending which survey you read. Many think it would be number one.
People have different reasons. If making money were not your primary goal, I would not say that these businesses are a failure. As you know many people who have done well in business here but on the other hand there are others who have not done so well. Owning a business can have a high degree of risk. We require any prospective buyer to sign this to get additional information. Business certainly is not for everyone. But for some they will find excellent opportunities in Philippines.”
Julie: “How has the business environment changed in Philippines over the several years you've been operating here?”
Bill: Current administration has many ongoing proposals, which implemented to make business ownership or starting a new business easier. This current administration is making huge strides in this area so they can soon compete with countries such as, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, where it is possible to open a business within a few days.”
-Julie: “If you could give a few pieces of key advice to Westerners doing business in Philippines, what would they be?”
-Bill: Be patient, be diligent and follow up, never assume anything no matter how many times you have told someone to do it before. Even if they have done it, right 5 or 6 times, time number 7 you still need to follow up! Things should done on how you wanted it.
Make sure you set up your company structure properly to protect your interests.
If you would not do it in your home country, do not do it here. The money you save by taking shortcuts in the beginning are eclipse by what you lose in the end. Follow local laws, rules and show the necessary respect to all.
I will give you some advice that does not matter if you are in Philippines or in US. Many times I have asked business owners why they were successful, many of them said that they put themselves in the customer's eyes and did what they would have wanted if they were on the other side as the customer.
They had the passion. The passion is what is going to get you through the ups and downs. We have been lucky in business but hard work and passion has helped. If you enjoy what you're doing, you have to have that passion and the commitment.”
-Julie: “What are your plans for the future?”
-Bill: “Currently as Chairman of Guillys Night Club, Guillys located in Tomas Morato, QC, Philippines is a 12 years old operating club, one of the most ongoing successful clubs in the country as its full 7 days a week. Most clubs go out of business after 2/3 years of operation. Guilly’s difference is it provides a fun entertainment experience every night where people can come, enjoy, have fun in a comfort setting feeling comfortable as their home.
We have had requests for Guillys to expand to other locations of Philippines and overseas via franchising or company owned locations. Currently we are analyzing potential partners for expansion.”
-Julie: “What about Sunbelt?”
-Bill: “We have had huge interest from buyers and sellers of businesses both domestically and internationally and we will officially start in August.
We see huge potential growth and more importantly providing a company for people to make it easier to obtain a business and fulfill their dreams of owning a business for personal financial growth.
Philippines is one of the fastest & established markets for franchises whether locally developed or major international brands. We see continued growth in this market especially with expansion to the province areas.”
About Sunbelt Business Brokers Philippines
Sunbelt Business Brokers was founded in 1979 in Charleston, South Carolina. It began franchising in 1993 and has franchises throughout the United States and internationally. The company is now based in Independence, Ohio.
Sunbelt has expanded to become the world’s largest business brokerage operation with over 300 franchised office locations worldwide.
Sunbelt has been able to maintain its leadership in the business brokerage industry by investing in professional education programs for our office owners and brokers, developing leading edge technology and systems, and leveraging our international office network to better serve our clients.
Sunbelt Philippines is owned by Master Franchisor, Azhar (Bill) Khan. Under Bill and Ed Totanes CEO, vision and management, Sunbelt Philippines has quickly grown to serve Philippines fast growing economy. Head offices are located in Eastwood City, Metro Manila. Sunbelt sells more businesses than any other firm in the whole world.
For further information:
Sunbelt Business Brokers, Philippines, 11U Cyber One Eastwood Ave, Cyber park Eastwood 1110, Philippineshttps://www.facebook.com/sunbeltph/
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