A short guide to selling a fishing & hunting lodge, camp or resort business

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It’s a tough decision to come to for fishing & hunting lodge, camp & resort owners, the decision to sell their business, to retire, cash in, or move on to a new venture.

Lodges, Camps & Resorts and their owners are “one and the same” to their guests. The idea of doing their annual vacation and not seeing the familiar owner’s face is a strange thought.

Nonetheless, the time comes for every outdoor tourism business to be passed on and have the next generation have a go at it.

While the process may vary slightly for every business, the following tips should provide you with a general idea of the process.


Putting a Plan into Place

It would be wise to really ramp up your business exit planning a few years out from the time you’d actually like to sell.

This is important not just because fishing & hunting lodges, camps and resorts can take years to find the right buyer, but because you’ve got to give some serious thought to the next chapter.

You need to be clear on how much money you’ll need socked away but also what you’re going to do with your new found time.

Consult your lawyer and accountant to ensure that your plan addresses all potential complications and tax liabilities.

By creating an exit strategy in advance, you’ll be better prepared when the time comes to sell your business.


Preparing Your Lodge, Camp or Resort For Sale

There’s a lot of prep work to be done in order to make it easy for a potential buyer to understand exactly what they’re getting when buying your business.

Take the time to prepare your business for a sale and you’ll more than likely jump to the top of a qualified buyers’ short list

Here are some tips to start your preparation:

  1. Address any easy fix cosmetic repair items around your property.
  2. Get your financial paperwork up-to-date and document everything.
  3. Create a detailed list of chattels that will go with the business sale (boats, motors, furniture, etc).
  4. Learn valuations for your business type and develop a listing price.
  5. Organize your guest list.
  6. Plan your information/sales package.
  7. Meet with your accountant or lawyer to determine what type of sale is right for your business.

The more work you put in upfront into properly positioning and “packaging,” the quicker and easier the sales process will be, and the more value you’ll get in return.


Finding a Buyer For Your Lodge, Camp or Resort

We’re really stating the obvious here but in order to sell you’re going to need to find a buyer.

But have you given any thought to where you might find a potential buyer?

It takes a unique individual that wants to go into the fishing & hunting lodge, camp or resort business.

In some fortunate cases, buyers will approach you with buyout offers but I wouldn’t bank on this.

As stated above, I would plan for your business sale to take up to 2 years, and this is with your lodge, camp or resort being priced appropriately and using a realtor

Speaking of realtors, due to their remote locations and the longer times frames required to sell lodges, camps & resorts, many outdoor tourism business owners will list the property themselves but will enlist the services of an appraiser, their accountant and a lawyer and rely on these advisors to complete the transaction themselves.

There are realtors who specialize in your type of business, don’t just use a friend of a friend with no experience in your industry who definitely does not have a list of interested buyers on standby.

Is there a family member, employee or competitor that may be interested in your business?

There are discreet methods of advertising your fishing & hunting lodge, camp or resort business for sale. Some websites that attract buyers interested in business like yours are as follows:


Creating a Sale Agreement

You’ve found a buyer a now its time to create a sale agreement.

You’ll have to reach consensus regarding price, payment structure, price allocation (and the resulting tax implications), and all the other details that comprise the final deal.

It’s important for you to understand exactly what’s in a purchase and sale of business agreement so you’ll know what to expect, where to negotiate, and why it’s so important to call on the expertise of your accountant, your attorney, and your realtor, if you’re using one.

Here is a sample business sale agreement that will help familiarize you with what is typically included in one.


Transferring Ownership

Depending on the nature of the sale, transferring ownership can be done in several ways including an outright sale, a gradual sale, or even a lease agreement.

With an outright sale, the new owner takes over the business upon closing the sale.

With a gradual sale, the owner offers the buyer seller financing.

A lease agreement is more like a temporary sale of the business.

For example, if you injure yourself or fall ill and need to take some time off to heal and have a prospect interested in leasing the business for a few years, a lease agreement might be an option to consider.


Maintaining Records

Once you sell your fishing & hunting lodge, camp or resort, transfer ownership and settle all of the loose ends such as paying debtors and filing your last tax return, there may still be things that “pop up”.

Ensure you keep all employment, tax and other records related to your business for several years after the sale is complete.

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