Paul Brljevich and Kevin Kerr of Tauranga-based Tabak Business Sales share the secrets of successful deals.

WORDS DANIEL DUNKLEY / PHOTOS SALINA GALVAN

Making the decision to sell your own business is never easy. If after years of hard slog, you opted to sell up so you could ride off into the sunset, how exactly would you go about it? Would you phone a few contacts and hope for the best, or take up an offer from the first interested party?

For the owners of Tauranga’s Tabak Business Sales, Paul Brljevich (pictured above left) and Kevin Kerr (above right), finding the right buyer is something of an art form. They could be considered matchmakers who link Bay of Plenty businesses with the most attractive suitors.

Paul and Kevin each have more than a decade’s experience in orchestrating business sales for Tabak, Tauranga’s oldest business brokerage. They say selling can be an emotional decision, but requires sharp analysis, impartiality and fairness. After all, it can be the most important decision of someone’s career.

From their base on Cameron Road, in the heart of Tauranga’s rapidly expanding business district, the duo has earned a reputation for their exceptional valuation skills, forensic-like attention to detail and extensive network of contacts. They cover sales all over the Bay of Plenty and up to the Coromandel, finding buyers for businesses valued at between $200,000 and $10 million. Tabak also has offices in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown.

Kevin has been a business broker since 2001, when he was enticed into the industry from horticultural management. Paul joined in 2007, after running companies in the leisure, hospitality and property industries, plus a spell in banking. “We’ve lived it,” says Paul. “We’ve run businesses and operated businesses, so we can relate. A person’s business is like their baby; their staff are their family. They want to find a buyer who can make things bigger and better for the future.”

The business of selling a business requires top-notch expertise. Tabak works to achieve the delicate balance of getting the right price for sellers while ensuring a fair outcome for buyers. “If the initial valuation isn’t accurate, the business will remain out there on the market,” says Kevin. “We have to give realistic valuations based on thorough analysis and data. Vendors are on one side and buyers are on the other, and we’re right in the middle brokering a fair outcome.”

How does a sale happen? First, Tabak conducts an interview with the seller. A warts-and-all review follows, which evaluates the positives and negatives of the business. Tabak then taps into its prized global network of 3500 buyers, investors and contacts. This network is so successful that 80 percent of Tabak’s listed businesses are sold before they go to the wider market, allowing sellers to discreetly find the right buyer and avoid disruptive publicity.

“It’s different to selling a home,” says Paul. “You need to know the intricacies; you need to know everything! Buyers don’t purchase because we’re slick. They do it because we’ve done our homework and presented it in the right way.”

The results speak for themselves. On average, Tabak sells businesses in just three to four months, and in the past 10 years, has consistently achieved sale prices within 10 percent of the listing price. 

So, what advice would the Bay’s business matchmakers give to potential sellers? “Confidentiality is key,” says Paul. “Have an exit plan when you start a business,” adds Kevin, who also believes advisers
with dedicated resources can make all the difference. “Because we’re smaller, we’re not trying to service a huge number of clients. We have a select number of listings, to make sure we deliver.”

Paul and Kevin clearly get a buzz out of their work. From business owners seeking a change, to 60-somethings cashing out on their lifelong endeavours, each case is different and requires a thoughtful, personalised approach. “We focus on quality, not quantity, and situations in which the whole team can work on a deal – where we all know the business inside out,” says Kevin.

The pair’s drive comes from helping people achieve their long-term goals. Whether it’s buying that dream retirement home, splashing out on a beachside bach, or funding a round-the-world trip, there’s great satisfaction in helping people reap their rewards.

“We recently had a husband-and-wife team who’d been in business together for decades – it was their life,” says Paul. “We were able to get multiple offers for it. The buyers loved it, and the couple were able to go on and enjoy their retirement – it worked for everybody. Outcomes like that are why we love what we do.”

TABAK.CO.NZ