10 Things that Separate Us from the Rest
On the way to becoming the largest curated marketplace and the leading online business broker, we have made A LOT of choices. We got to where we are today thanks to tons of little decisions, through dealing with thousands of clients and hundreds of businesses. Many of these distinctions gave us qualities that are so integral to our identity, we have almost forgotten there were any other ways to be. That’s why we thought we’d put this page together to share a bit of “Us vs Them”—a manifesto, if you will, of why we do what we do and how it benefits you.
1. Transparency vs Fake Numbers
One of the best ways to find out exactly how we do business, where we’ve come from, and where we are trying to go is by checking out our quarterly reports. Early on, our founders were inspired by innovators like Pat Flynn, and they decided to jump on that bandwagon. Even though there are several downsides to transparently sharing business information (our competitors look at our reports, too!), we know that the benefits of lifting up the curtain and being straightforward with you far outweighs any disadvantages.
In recent years, we were surprised to see some of our competitors come on the scene with a similar standard of transparency—until we realized they were inventing their numbers! We watched as they whipped out fake listings and rattled off impossible figures. While we did find it mildly entertaining, the darker side was that some people, with no recourse, fell for this fake information. This is another reason we don’t expect you to take anything we say at face value. In addition to screenshots of our analytics and verifiable numbers, we are also proud to present testimonials highlighting our customers’ words. These are real people who wanted to share their experiences with Empire Flippers.
2. Hidden URLs vs Open Invitations
When you want to buy a site, of course you’ll want to see the URL so that you can know what you’re buying. This is reasonable. The problem is that copycats, not just buyers, are also looking at the URL. We decided to counteract this problem by hiding the URL and making it only visible to buyers willing to ‘prove’ their intent by placing a refundable deposit.
Do some people hesitate about sending us money before they get to see the actual domain or Amazon account? Sure, some people do. But only a few. Why? Because when a seller or a buyer realizes why we do it, they are thrilled that we want to protect the intimate details of their business from prying eyes. No one would want to buy a business if they knew the seller had just passed along all the financials and analytics to any and all competitors. Having hidden URLs and a deposit system allows for a “gate.” It’s not a perfect system, but it weeds out the tire-kickers and scammers so you don’t have to deal with the riff-raff. You can rest easy knowing that the business you’re purchasing had limited exposure and will keep its value.
3. Qualifying Businesses vs Relying on Sellers’ Numbers
On top of the URL, there is some information that ANY buyer would want to know about a business before they purchase it. This info usually comes down to two stats: income and traffic. The income information is further broken down into expenses and profit in a profit and loss (P&L) report. It became obvious to us that a lot of sellers have never had the need to create a real P&L report. That’s why our vetting team takes care of the entire process for you.
We do recommend hiring a bookkeeper to gather everything together for you first, but once you’ve submitted your business for sale, we will assist you in building out an attractive and accurate P&L cover sheet to help you sell your business. We have a vetting team dedicated to double checking these numbers against invoices and analytics. Our specialists spot any discrepancies before the businesses even go live on our Marketplace.*
*We still recommend that buyers do their due diligence. We consider what we do to cover the basics, but there are many layers of research a buyer can do before purchasing.
4. Marketplace/Broker Combo vs Marketplace Only
We could JUST have a marketplace. It would be easier for us. We’d probably still vet businesses, giving our customers that same leg-up, leaving our competition in the dust. And wham bam, you’d find a business you like, and … you’d be on your own. But honestly, just having a marketplace never crossed our minds.
Buying a business isn’t as simple as buying a car off craigslist: Both buyers and sellers want insights and guidance. That’s why we have a dedicated team for literally every step of the process. Sometimes we’re there to help prep for a buyer-seller conference call, sometimes we step in to come up with proper offers and counter-offers, and sometimes we’re just there for our customers to have someone to share the experience with. We don’t believe you should be on your own for any part of the this. The thing is, it’s not about what’s easy for us: It’s about offering you our best and working through the process together.
5. Offering a Range vs High End Only
One of our biggest goals at Empire Flippers is to help as many people as possible access the privileges that online businesses bring. Our buyers and sellers travel the world, spend time at home with their families, and are pursuing goals they’re passionate about. Business-wise, this looks different for everyone. One person may only need a $40k business, while another might need a 7-figure deal to live this way.
That is a big reason why we offer businesses in every price range, from $10k affiliate sites to multi-million-dollar ecommerce operations, spanning shore to shore across the globe. We are proud to have businesses small enough for people to get a foot in the game. We are also proud to have sold sites valued at MILLIONS of dollars. Working with this range requires a variety of skill sets and keeps us on our toes, which we truly enjoy.
Another aspect to consider is that we don’t do “insider” deals. We keep an open market where cash is king, and we don’t save any deals for VIP customers who want special off-market prices. While we recognize that the insider market could be lucrative, we feel it would be a breach of trust for our customers. Plus, it’s a big assumption that only the people we’ve already dealt with are the greatest potential customers. Every day, we interact with new people as this industry gets new fans, and we want to welcome every genuine customer to the table without limiting their opportunities.
6. Seller Interviews vs Fake Listings
We were pretty shocked the first time we heard about some of our customers who had to deal with fake listings using other brokers. Since then, we learned there are TONS of shady brokers in this industry. Multiple times, we’ve heard about a scheme where they lure you (the buyer) in with a really juicy-sounding business. Then, suddenly, it turns out that it’s already been “sold”—but, of course, they have ANOTHER business they can show you. The truth is, that magic listing was never real to begin with.
We felt terrible for our customers who had to go through this cheat. Doing business like that is not only unethical, but it’s also unsustainable. We believe our customers are intelligent, straight-shooting people who want to be treated equally, and we want EVERYONE to win. That includes the buyer, the seller, and us (for what we contribute). So, instead of luring you in with a fake listing, we invite you to explore each business with increased transparency, using what we call a “Seller Interview.”
Our Seller Interviews would be really hard to invent, considering all the work that goes into making them. In the interviews, we sit down with a seller to hear the story behind their business. These interviews started out as YouTube videos, where we link to the revenue numbers our vetting team reviewed. Out of sheer popularity and based on repeated requests, we recently decided to launch these interviews in podcast format, which you can check out here. While our competitors are trying to swindle with fake listings, we’re letting you explore deeper, at no extra cost to you. To highlight this difference between us and the rest, we named the podcast Real Money, Real Business.
7. True Valuation vs Overvaluing to Entice
Valuations are difficult. If your business is valued too high, it will sit on the marketplace for much longer than you’d like. If it’s too low, and it sells right out of the gate, you’ll ask yourself if you could have gotten more. What a tricky scenario! Unfortunately, another story we’ve heard from our customers is that they’ve been baited by companies who tell them their site is worth double or triple the estimated value given by our valuation tool. The seller sees dollar signs, makes the move with the broker, and… it doesn’t sell.
It’s not really the seller’s fault. They have worked hard and long on their business and they see inherent value in it. Most importantly, they want to get PAID. The offer looks so good, why wouldn’t they go with the broker promising the moon? Sadly, by the time the seller realizes that the broker can’t deliver on their promise, they are stuck in an exclusivity agreement that prevents them from bringing their business to our marketplace, where we can help.
Here at Empire Flippers, we depend on data, not feelings. Since we’ve sold hundreds of businesses, we have historical data we can review to see exactly where the “money spot” is. Our trusty valuation tool looks at several metrics that help decide which multiple is the right fit for your business. When we evaluate a business, it’s not just about making the seller happy, it’s about looking at what the numbers say so that we have the right arrangement to sell it. We’re not as interested in making you see dollar signs as we are in putting actual money in YOUR pocket.
8. Secure Transfer vs Leaving You On Your Own
Let me ask you a question, whether you are a buyer or a seller: What is the most frightening part of the process? Everyone always says the same thing: the Transfer. How do you get the money AND hand over the proverbial keys without risking getting ripped off? It’s smart to be afraid. The legal system hasn’t caught up to this modern business issue. Escrow companies have no idea how this all works. Plus, tons of interactions are international, with varied policies in place.
The majority of our competitors, even those with a team, have ZERO people to handle your migration. Imagine having to change over 3,000 affiliate links, troubleshoot hosting problems, negotiate with Amazon to transfer FBA product listings, or deal with anything else that pops up—ON YOUR OWN. Our competitors are just taking the money, paying it out to the seller, and making the seller and buyer perform all of these tedious and often complicated technical tasks by themselves. And you know what? If the problems aren’t resolved, that’s just too bad, it’s not their problem. The business has been purchased, and as far as the broker is concerned, the deal is final.
This is not the way we operate, and it totally goes against our win-win-win philosophy. That’s why we decided, from the beginning, to handle migration in house. We have several systems in place to make the exchange as smooth as possible. First off, we have an entire team dedicated to the migration of your site: our Migration Team. While we hold the money, our team guides you through the process of changing logins, emails, and more. After a two-week window when the buyer can verify that everything is running as it is supposed to, we release the money to the seller. And this is just the bare bones of one of our simplest processes. We have different procedures for a variety of unusual transfers that come up. We don’t feel this is something you should need to figure out on your own, we certainly wouldn’t want to.
9. Team Effort vs One Man Band
To be honest, this one is tricky for us because we’ve considered both sides of the coin. It does feel good as a customer to find a “guy” (or gal) at a company who you can continue working with for the whole the process. You have one person you know, who knows you, and who you work with, no matter what. We like that feeling, too. That made things awkward when we decided to go in a different direction, but we had good reasons for the change. The reality is that each buyer or seller we work with is unique. On top of that, while your ‘guy’ might have the answers for you, sometimes you’re going to need answers from the other side (i.e., the seller’s or buyer’s side). Now, let’s add the other layers: price updates, migration questions, and customer service issues. Do you still think it’s a good idea to funnel all of these wildly different skill sets through one person?
We have found that if we try to force you to keep all communication to an assigned agent, you end up feeling like you are on the outside of the room where everything is happening. We have responded to this issue by encouraging communication between our customers and any team member who has the right information. In the vein of transparency, we must admit, there is a downside to this: You deal with a lot of different people. But the upside is that we know you aren’t being held back and are getting the best of what we have to offer. We think it’s worth it. We hope you do, too.
Our process-driven approach lets you get your deal done faster, smoother, for more money, and with less hassle. There’s a reason why we’ve won the INC. 5000 Award for America’s Fastest-Growing Companies three years in a row, as well as the Top Global Producer and Top Deal Maker awards from the International Business Brokerage Association. While a one-man white-glove service sounds nice, ultimately, the upsides don’t outweigh the downsides. That’s why we adopted our unique team approach to best serve you.
10. Lower Fees for Big Businesses vs One Fee Fits All
We used to be one size fits all, with a 15% commission no matter the size of the business. Yet, as our marketplace grew, we saw that this was putting a hefty burden on our larger businesses, so we updated the commission structure:
- 15% for any business under a $1 million list price
- 12% for any business between a $1 million and $2 million list price
- 10% for any business between a $2 million and $5 million list price
- 8% for any business above a $5 million list price
We’ve sold over $50 million worth of businesses by growing with our customers along the way. While this change doesn’t affect all of our customer base, it’s worth highlighting. This is especially important because Empire Flippers has become quite the pot of gold for many business owners wanting a profitable exit. Maybe you are working hard now, not ready to sell, but you have your eye on the prize for a sale down the line. We’re firmly rooted in this emerging online industry, so even as businesses get bigger and bigger, we are ready to help you get the pretty penny your business deserves.
In Conclusion, We Offer Real Answers
vs False Promises
Through the years, we didn’t just become the best: we became experts. We have the largest, most dedicated team in the industry, with entire departments devoted to each part of the sales process. This is something no one else has the manpower to offer. We know that getting started can be daunting, but you are not alone; we have your back.
Ready to make a move? Let’s get started. Schedule a call with us here if you have any questions or if you want one of our business analysts to help you discover your specific criteria when it comes to buying an online business. Or, if you want to make the move to get your profitable exit, click here to sell your online business. We’re going to make sure you get the best advice, service, and deal possible for your unique situation. And look, if you still need to check us out a bit more, we get it. Selling or buying a business is a big step. When you’re ready, we’ll be here to help you get to the next level.