Transforming Business Brokerage - Handout 4 03 08


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Transforming Business Brokerage - Handout 4 03 08

  1. 1. Transforming Business Brokerage: How To Be The One They Choose Workshop by Glen Cooper / NEBBA Conference for Professional Development Manchester, New Hampshire / Saturday, April 5, 2008 Introduction & Outline: This workshop will surprise both business brokers and M&A intermediaries. Veteran business broker Glen Cooper poses four questions we all need to ask. He then offers six steps to transforming our professional practices, whether it’s in “main street” brokerage or in “mergers and acquisitions.” Each attendee gets Glen’s complete prospect client packet and a detailed explanation of how to structure and market a firm to become the broker (or intermediary) of choice in any area. Using Michael Gerber’s “E-Myth” concepts as primary sources of inspiration, Glen successfully operates the firm he and his wife founded in 1981, Maine Business Brokers of Portland, Maine. In this workshop, he shares very candid insights from his own practice development and openly discusses what he has found that works. The Presenter: Glen J. Cooper, CBI, CBA, BVAL is President of Maine Business Brokers (, which he and his wife co-founded in 1981, and which is now a 10-agent firm. He is also Vice President and Broker Associate of New Hampshire Business Sales, a strategic partner of Maine Business Brokers. Glen is a Certified Business Intermediary (CBI), a designation awarded by the International Business Brokers Association, a Certified Business Appraiser (CBA) and a Business Valuator Accredited for Litigation (BVAL), designations of the Institute of Business Appraisers, and a licensed real estate broker in both Maine and New Hampshire. His offices are in Portland, Maine and Meredith, New Hampshire. In addition to business brokerage and business appraisal, Glen has an extensive background in commercial and investment real estate and was southern Maine’s first Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) of the Realtors’ National Marketing Institute of the National Association of Realtors from 1985 to 1992. Cooper has been a full-time business broker since his first business sale in 1979. He writes and speaks frequently on small business topics. His practice no longer involves selling commercial real estate or preparing fee-based business valuation reports, except as it serves his business brokerage seller clients. Presenter’s Notes: The notes attached are the presenter’s notes as of April 3, 2008. Permission is hereby granted to the New England Business Brokers Association (NEBBA) to reprint and distribute this material.
  2. 2. Copyright © Glen J. Cooper 2008 Transforming Business Brokerage: How To Be The One They Choose I am very excited to be here. It took me 27 years of business brokerage, however, to understand what I’m about to share with you, so I will caution you that this is difficult material. We must be patient with ourselves. It takes time to understand - and even more time to implement - what I’m about to tell you. The ideal way to share this with you would be in a very long interactive workshop. Hopefully, we can achieve that today in 3 hours. After today, you can read my outline again. Adult learning theory tells us that we can only get a small fraction of what we first hear. But, if we read it again, our retention will improve with each exposure. It becomes an exercise in sharing and reflection. Much of what I am going to say today is inspired by “E-Myth” author Michael Gerber. Michael Gerber published “The E-Myth” in 1986, and then re-published it in 1995 as “The E-Myth Revisited,” and then published a longer version, “E-Myth Mastery,” in 2005. In those books, he tells us that businesses are usually not started, owned and run by “entrepreneurs.” This, he says, is the “Entrepreneurial Myth,” the “E-Myth.” Businesses, he says, are started and run by “technicians suffering from an entrepreneurial seizure.” In that seizure, the plumber starts a plumbing business – he’s an expert plumber, but he has no idea how to grow a business that does that technical work. We know this from our business brokerage practice, don’t we? We see all kinds of businesses started by technicians suffering from an entrepreneurial seizure, who don’t know how to grow a business. That’s NOT the part that took me 27 years to understand. The fact is that this applies to us, too! That’s what took me so long to figure out: that it applied to me, and that it would take so much time to apply it! We start a business brokerage firm because we know (or think we know) the technical work of being a broker (perhaps we’ve been a business seller, or are familiar with business sales, accounting, banking or law), BUT we have no idea how to grow a stable, on-going business that does that work. OR – we become an independent contractor business broker – because we know (or, again, think we know) how to do that work, but we don’t have any idea, really, how to make that a predictable, stable profession. This material I will share with you today has transformed my business brokerage experience, and it can transform yours. I volunteered to offer this workshop because I have to teach this material to business brokers back in Maine, and you are the ideal audience to give me feedback. I look forward to establishing a dialogue with each and any of you about this topic as we go forward from today. 2
  3. 3. Slide 2: Questions are Alive. Answers are Dead. The most important ideas I offer today are questions, not answers. Even my most important “answer” today is, in fact, a question. More on that in a few minutes. “Questions are alive” because they prompt us to think and stretch, creating a process which goes forward. “Answers are dead” because they’re never right for long and we are often deceived into thinking they are permanent. The Questions we’re asking today are: - What’s Wrong? Does It Need Transforming? - What Can We Do To Transform It? - What Do We Need to Learn? - Who Are We Becoming? (Incidentally, the reason we have to ask this last question is because, ultimately, who we are as business brokers cannot be separated from who we are becoming as people.) These questions have life and power. To ask “what’s wrong with business brokerage” starts out as negative, but then asking “what can we do about it,” turns the whole thing into positive empowerment. We business brokers know this pattern because it’s almost always the pattern that occurs when we first meet seller prospects? What’s wrong? What can we do? How can we help? Right? We always start with active listening, which involves asking the right questions. Well, it’s that same pattern we need to follow in developing our own business model. We have to ask the right questions. I am also offering answers today. I have some strong opinions about what works. But, I need to caution you that my answers may not be your answers, and even for me, my answers are not permanent. In this day of rapidly changing on-the-ground realities, I probably don’t have to make the point that rapid change calls us to respond, but I am always amazed at how many people get “into a rut” of doing it the same way day-after-day, never re-asking the important questions to seek new answers because it’s just too difficult to change. But, change we must, and we need to start by asking: 3
  4. 4. Slide 3: What’s Wrong? Does Business Brokerage Need Transforming? Is there anything wrong? I think so: Brokers and Agents are frustrated. I know they are. I’ve been seeing it for 27 years. If 60% (or whatever large %) of business brokers fail in the first 9 months, that tells me something’s wrong. Our Seller clients are frustrated. I see it every day. If only 20% (or whatever small %) of listings sell in the first year listed with a business broker, that tells me something’s wrong. Our Buyer prospects are frustrated. I’ve taught a buyer seminar for 14 years, so I know these people need much more help. If only 2% (or whatever ridiculously small %) of buyer prospects ever buy, something is definitely wrong! The fact that brokers, sellers and buyers are all frustrated tells me we need to take a closer look at what’s wrong. 4
  5. 5. Slide 4: Brokers and Agents are Frustrated! Let’s take a close look at WHY: There’s . . . - Not Enough Money . . . For such complicated work We need to know sales, law, forensic accounting, banking, market research, diplomacy and counseling, right? What about time management, direct mail & telemarketing? For having to be available 24/7, unable even to take vacations - No Predictability in this business We don’t know who will list, or when People say they will, and then they don’t They don’t call back, but we don’t know why We don’t know who will buy, or when People say they’ll buy, and then they don’t They say they have money, and then they don’t They say they can get financing, and then they can’t Only 2% of our buyer inquirers buy, but we don’t know which ones. Only 20% of our listings sell, but we don’t know which 20%. Most business brokers fail, but we don’t seem to be able to stop it. There are . . . - No Standard Methods in this profession! We do it differently than the office across the street; and let’s face it: Our office does it differently today than we did yesterday! There are no standard methods, even within our own offices, for: Valuation. What earnings measure are we supposed to use? How are we supposed to be presenting this? Confidentiality. What NDA do we really need the buyer to sign? How much should we be telling the buyer? Marketing. How can we get a steady flow of leads? What should we be doing to sell our listings? Screening & Qualifying. How can we recognize a qualified buyer? How much time should we be spending with buyers? Negotiation & Closing. How much should we stay involved? How can we speed this process up? There’s . . . - Not Much Training Our office doesn’t train enough; IBBA is expensive And, finally, because there is not enough money, no predictability, no standard methods and not much training, there’s . . . - No Respect Other professionals look down on us; sellers think we’re mercenaries; buyers don’t believe us; and, when we get home at night, our family asks: “When are you going to sell something?!” Does this sound familiar?! Can we not see that, if our business is this frustrating to most of us, it’s not working? Michael Gerber says, “The purpose of a business is to give us more life.” 5
  6. 6. If our business is this frustrating, it’s NOT giving us more life, is it? Slide 5: Sellers are Frustrated! In many ways, this business doesn’t work for us because it doesn’t work for our sellers. That’s why sellers are frustrated, too. Sellers . . . - Don’t Know How to Sell They are asking: Who can I tell? I’m sick. I’m tired. I’m perplexed. What’s a business broker anyway? I don’t think I know any. What am I going to say about the problem? You know, THAT problem! (The one they know that they don’t think anybody knows) They’re going to look at my tax returns?! How is the broker going to handle “showings?” Who’s going to do the financing? How much am I going to net at closing? Sellers . . . - Don’t Know When to Sell Is now the right time? Or is there a better time than now to sell? Should I wait for the new competitor down the street to open? Maybe I should wait for interest rates to decline. How long does this process take, anyway? It takes HOW LONG?! - Don’t Know What It’s Worth It’s only HOW MANY times earnings!? Hold on! How can I use earnings? I don’t report any. That doesn’t include my equipment, right? What about my goodwill? On second thought, who would buy this, knowing what I know? Sellers have a . . . - Fear of the Broker Broker is just interested in the deal. Broker is a mercenary. Besides, what does the broker know about MY business? Is he competent? Is she honest? Geez, he looks like a real estate broker! - Fear of a Confidentiality Breach If I “list it,” everyone will know. What will I tell my clients, customers? What will I tell my vendors? What if the bank finds out? What will I tell my employees? What will my family say? Our sellers don’t know how to sell, when to sell, or what it’s worth. They don’t know what we do, or how we can really help. They’re afraid of us! They’re afraid that we’re incompetent, dishonest mercenaries. Look around this room. Is that who we are?! Is that who we want to be?! 6
  7. 7. When our sellers are this frustrated (and they are!), it’s because our business doesn’t work for them. Slide 6: Buyers are Frustrated! In many ways, this business doesn’t work for our sellers because it doesn’t work for the buyers either. So, we have to consider why buyers are frustrated. Buyers . . . - Don’t Know How to Buy They are asking: How can I find out what’s for sale? Is there a business broker for buyers? What am I going to say about the problem? You know, THAT problem! (The one they know that they don’t think anybody knows) Can I ask for tax returns first? When do I hire an attorney; do I need a CPA? How much cash am I really going to need? - Don’t Know When to Buy Is now the right time? Should I wait until I’m laid off at work? Maybe I should wait for interest rates to decline. How long does this process take? - Don’t Know What It’s Worth It’s HOW MANY times earnings!? What’s “earnings?” What if the seller’s tax returns don’t show any earnings? What about goodwill? Do I have to hire an appraiser, too? Buyers also have a . . . - Fear of the Broker Broker is just interested in the deal. Broker is a mercenary. Is she even competent? Is he even honest? Besides, what’s she know about me? If he represents the seller, how can I trust him? - Fear of Making A Mistake What if this is not the right thing for me to do? What if I buy a business that goes downhill? What if I can’t get financing? What will my family say? Business buyer prospects don’t know how to buy, when to buy, or what it’s worth. They don’t know what we do, or how we can really help. They’re afraid of us! They’re afraid that we’re incompetent, dishonest mercenaries. When our buyers are this frustrated (and they are!), it’s because our business doesn’t work for them. Our business isn’t working well for us, our sellers OR our buyers. Everyone is frustrated! 7
  8. 8. That brings us next to the question: “What Can We Do About It?” Slide 7: What Can We Do? Okay, I have to stop here. It’s easy to identify with the frustrations of brokers, sellers and buyers. Right? We’ve all experienced those frustrations. We experience them every day! BUT, in trying to figure out what we can do about it, we are overwhelmed. We really DON’T know how to solve these problems, do we? Do you know why? (This is part of what took me 27 years to understand.) Because these problems can NEVER be solved! In business brokerage, we can’t: -Offer certainty about what a business is worth. Have you figured out yet that nobody knows what a business is worth? -Guarantee confidentiality: Confidentiality is never certain. -Promise a sale: Marketing campaigns (even award winning ones) often fail. -Ensure that a closing will happen. No, these problems CAN’T be solved. That’s why I say, “We CAN’T solve problems.” So, you ask, WHAT CAN WE DO!? My answer: “We CAN address the frustrations by transforming the process.” And, when we do that, we will solve SOME problems. We CAN’T solve these problems directly. We CAN TRANSFORM OUR PROCESS. Transforming the process - THE WAY WE “DO IT” - can give people hope. Hope brings action. Right action bonds people together in the effort to solve problems. PEOPLE UNITED TO SOLVE PROBLEMS ARE EMPOWERED, NOT FRUSTRATED! So, what’s wrong with business brokerage? We’re trying to solve our problems without engaging people (our brokers, sellers, buyers) in a transforming process. Slide 8. Six Transforming Steps. I’m suggesting six steps that will transform the process. This is my answer to the question: “What Can We Do About It?” We need to: - Choose Our Market (You’ll notice there is no “s” on the end of “Market.”) - Develop Our Promise (That’s singular, too, on purpose) - Create Systems to Generate Leads (Now, it’s beginning to look familiar, right?) - Create Systems to Convert Leads to Listings (More familiar?) - Create Systems to Convert Listings to Sales 8
  9. 9. - Create Systems to Deliver Our Promise (Oops! Back to the Unfamiliar!) Slide 9: Choose Our Market Most of us aren’t focused. When any motivated seller wants to sell, we list! Sounds perfectly reasonable. It’s not. If we don’t choose our specific market by intention, we confuse our market and diffuse our effectiveness. Yes, I’m saying “one market.” NOT just one type of business, but “one market.” We need to: - Segment the Market: We must ask: “Who, What, When, Where & How” - Who are our potential clients, customers? Businesses or Real Estate or both Sellers or Buyers or both - What do they do? Sort businesses by types & sizes Sort by salability characteristics, & by what we know - When are they likely to sell next? What’s moving now? What’s moving next? - Where are they? Geographic segmentation - How do they get it done now? List of competitors & potential competitors - We must clarify and review the available opportunities and choices. - Focus Our Attention on Our Intention - What’s the rest of the phrase: “Jack of All Trades . . .”? - We can’t afford to be all things: Clients WANT “Masters” not “Amateurs” - We must decide who we will serve; and it must be just one market. - Assess Our Own Strengths - What are we good at? What’s our life experience & personality type? A career placement test (like MBTI) is useful - What do we like to do? What are we good at? Making a list of “20 Things I Like to Do” is a good idea - We must take the test, make the list & choose how we will serve - Assess Market Perceptions (What our chosen market thinks of us) - What does our chosen market segment think we’re good at? What do they know about our Education, Reputation, Visibility & Accessibility, and what is that likely say to them? - What do they expect us to do? Can we surprise them? Can we overcome their prejudice? - We must anticipate our market’s response Another way to say all of this is that we should . . . - Run With Our Strengths - Specializing in what we do best, - Serving in a way that showcases our talents and skills, 9
  10. 10. - Choosing our market and becoming professionals and masters! Slide 10: Develop Our Promise Besides specialization (choosing our market), another thing that helps us become masters at what we do is the development of our promise. What are we going to promise ourselves? What are we going to promise our clients and customers? What works for us and them? What energizes and empowers us? What energizes and empowers them? It starts with looking at: - What Frustrates Our Market? - Look back at what frustrates us, our sellers and buyers - Analyze referral sources (influencers) as well When we analyze what frustrates us and them, it’s the same thing: NO PREDICTABILITY AND NOT ENOUGH MONEY. - How do we make it more predictable and profitable for them and for us? - First, we have to have enough engagements (listings) to stay in business. - How do we get engagements? - Our seller clients give them to us: Because we energize and empower them with our unique selling proposition Because we create compelling reasons for them to do business with us Because they see us as: - professionals they can trust, - who have a mastery of our craft, and - who can creatively apply that craft to their situation Well, all of that is what I’m calling our “promise.” It’s our unique selling proposition, the compelling reasons we give them to do business with us. It’s our “marketing differential,” our “big idea,” our “one thing.” There are lots of names for it. All marketing books and seminars tell us we need it, but Michael Gerber calls us to a higher level. He says it has to work! It has to be real. To really address everyone’s frustrations – so that our sellers sell and our buyers buy, and we make more money – our “promise” has to be “transforming.” Our promise has to give them, and us, hope. If it’s not transforming, it won’t address our frustrations. It won’t be real. It won’t work. So, with that in mind, - What Would We Like to Promise? - What one thing could we do, that if we did it, would completely transform our business?! - What promise could we make, that if we made it, our prospective clients and/or referral sources would say, “Wow! You can do that?!” - What big idea could we pursue, that if we did, our agent & employee prospects would say, “You pursue that?! 10
  11. 11. Wow! I want to work for a firm that does that!” - What unique selling proposition could we have, that if we did, our competitors would say, “Wow! They do that? How do they do that?” - What organizational structure could we create that would get those “wow” reactions - over and over? - What organizational template could we create that would give people compelling reasons to work with us? - What combination of elements could we use to bring life to the one thing we’re here to do: our big idea? - What Dare We Promise? - Your business “SOLD” in 24 hours or we’ll buy it? We all wish we could offer such instant solutions, don’t we? But, it’s much more complicated than that, isn’t it? - It seems to me that there are 5 parameters of an appropriate promise: 1) What could we do, if we really stretched? - What’s possible, practical? - What’s too challenging for our competitors to copy? - What are our competitors sure we CAN’T do? 2) What should we do – what’s ethical and uplifting? 3) What comes naturally from “our story;” where does our past lead? - People don’t respect us until they know our story. 4) What will set us apart from all the others? 5) What will get a “wow” reaction? Assuming we can conceive it, we will need to answer just two more questions . . . - How Will We Experience It? - Is it challenging enough, yet possible? - Does it engage us, interest us, touch us? - Is it worth doing? - Will we be eager to share it? (as in “Let me tell you our story!”) - Does it give us hope? - How Can We Deliver It? Gerber notes that most business clients and customers experience things visually (and through our other senses), emotionally, functionally and financially. For us, that’s: - Visually – through our web site, ads, office, materials and agents - Emotionally - from our story and how it connects with their story - Functionally – through our process. It either works for them, or it doesn’t - Financially – as the value of our service is compared to the cost So, whatever we choose to promise, it must be reflected in everything we do and how we do it. From the logo and pictures to the words we use; from the way our office looks, the way we look, the way we talk and the ways we act. Ultimately, it comes down to just doing a better job, doesn’t it? To do a better job, we have to transform our businesses. 11
  12. 12. We must understand our markets, then choose which one we will serve and how. If we can then create a transforming promise, we will be on fire! Slide 11: Create Systems to Generate Leads Our third transforming step is more familiar to us than “choosing our market” or “developing our promise.” We must: Create Systems to Generate Leads - What Does the Firm Need to Do? - It’s my view that the firm needs to spearhead the development of a professional lead generation system: - old real estate model, where only agents generate leads, is “out” - a business model, where the firm does this itself, is “in” - So, a “Contact Manager Data Base” is required - 1,000 businesses per full-time agent is my thinking - AND, a Contact Effort must be launched - with from 4 to12 contacts made by the company each year with every prospective client (# needed can differ for many reasons) - telemarketing, direct mailing, emailing & in-person meetings - What Does the Agent Need to Do? - We agents also need our own professional lead generation system: - We need to get real about how many contacts it takes (60 contacts per week?) - We need to get real about independent database training (manuals & classes?) - Who’s Making Initial Contact? - Telemarketing is what I would recommend, probably professional - The initial call volume required is huge for most brokers - Professional telemarketers can do it faster, better, cheaper - Who’s Following Up? - But, who does the follow-up is critical - Agent follow-up – not the telemarketer, who doesn’t know our “promise.” - What Works and What Doesn’t? - Database & lead generation system works in more than one way: - clarifies our market segmentation by number, size & geography - shows what works by tracking lead sources - helps us keep our promises because we have specific notes - demonstrates a serious commitment to everyone involved - can actually help us sell through better market information - We agents need to be expected to make, and properly track, contacts. - helps us clarify what we are supposed to be doing - shows us what works - helps us bear the load of so many needed contacts So . . . we must understand our markets, choose one, and decide how to serve it. We must then create a transforming promise that is worth pursuing. 12
  13. 13. To begin that pursuit, we have to have a system for making and tracking contacts, so we can generate leads. Slide 12: Create Systems to Convert Leads to Listings Our fourth step. This is where we begin to see the need for more than just a database and a contact management system. We actually need a professional sales system. Converting leads to listings in business brokerage follows what I call an “Agenda Systems” model. A professional sales model for business brokers MUST follow an AGENDA that leads to a LISTING PRESENTATION that, in turn, leads to a commitment by a business owner to engage us to represent them in the sale of their business. That’s an “Agenda Systems Model” of a lead conversion system. This breaks down into three agendas: - 1st Contact Agenda (Assumed to be a phone or written contact) - Initial contact needs to focus on their frustrations and needs, not ours; This is not the time for our “sales pitch,” but for active listening. - Our goals at 1st contact are: 1) to verify that this person’s business fits our market; 2) to briefly communicate our “promise,” adding value to that moment with them; 3) to ask what led them to us (for our lead generation record); and, only then, to 4) set the time & agenda for the 1st meeting. -“What is it that you would like to accomplish in our first meeting?” - 1st Meeting Agenda (Assumed to be the first in-person meeting) - Start by re-setting the agenda: “We agreed that we would meet today to discuss your business first, then talk about the process of selling, what we do and how we do it, and then decide whether or not to proceed to the next stage. Is that still what you’d like to accomplish today?” - Our 1st meeting goals are: 1) to hear the business and personal story to re-verify that it fits in our market; 2) to explain the process of how we work and what our “promise” is; 3) to ask them what their concerns are about moving forward; and 4) to agree to move forward by setting the time and agenda of the 2nd meeting. Do you see what I mean by an agenda systems model of a lead conversion system? This is a systematic way of proceeding, driven by effective agenda setting: - 2nd Meeting Agenda - Review last meeting & verify understandings - Review an agreed-upon agenda for this meeting - Discuss concerns expressed at the first meeting – often a valuation issue - Choose if and when to make a listing presentation at this time - Listing Presentations - Also involve a process - Goals of a listing presentation must be: 1) to convey our interest and excitement about their business; 2) to explain how our “promise” addresses their expressed frustrations; 3) to re-explain how the process works for them; 4) to assist them in taking the logical next step of 13
  14. 14. engaging us; and 5) to begin the process of actually selling their business. - What Works & What Doesn’t? - There is a real need for a professional sales system in our firms - Focusing on “Agenda setting” at each stage is professional and it works – we can train ourselves to do this part - It is agenda driven; it reminds us to confirm our market choices at each step; it is supportive of “our promise;” and it is respectful of both our clients’ and our own time. - But, we need formal sales training: courses, tapes, books, and coaching. I am a strong believer that it is, ultimately, our personal responsibility to get this additional training and to use it. - Training for a 2nd career can be difficult for us - We each tend to follow habits from our previous career - But, the sales techniques of the 60’s, 70’s & 80’s don’t work: A continuing revolution of opinions, attitudes & beliefs has taken place since we were trained before; A continuous technological change has changed all the ways that messages are delivered and received. So . . . , we must understand our markets, choose one, and decide how to serve it. We must then create a transforming promise that is worth pursuing. To begin that pursuit, we have to have a system for making and tracking contacts, so we can generate leads. To convert leads to listings, we need to have systems for those contacts and whatever sales presentations we are making, so we can convert leads to listings. After all of that, you’d think we’d be done, but we’re not. We still have to . . . 14
  15. 15. Slide 13: Create Systems to Convert Listings to Sales Our clients’ ultimate concerns aren’t about our market segmentation, about our “promise,” or about our lead generation or lead conversion processes. They just want us to sell their businesses for the most money. Right? So, the most important “systems,” in our clients’ minds, are ones that make this happen: First is . . . - Valuation Systems - Do we give good advice to our clients about pricing their business? - Do we build credibility with the client? - Can we defend their value in front of buyers? Next is . . . - Confidentiality Systems - Do we explain our buyer confidentiality process to them? - Do we guide clients to know how to maintain confidentiality themselves? - Do we maintain confidentiality from our end? - Marketing Systems - Do we get our client’s story right in the offering memorandum? - Do we produce impressive, accurate materials? - Do we maintain positive relationships? - Do we use the client’s time well? - Do we satisfy the client that we are doing all that is reasonable to do? - Do we create enough buyer interest to get a good offer? - Screening & Qualifying Systems - Do we keep our client informed about our process? - Do we handle the buyer and seller contacts well? - Do we find a good buyer match? - Do we avoid unpleasant surprises? And, finally . . . - Negotiating & Closing Systems - Do we work as a team with other professionals? - Do we get transactions closed in a timely manner? - Do we set the stage for client endorsements? These are the “systems” that we should be discussing with our clients. Our clients don’t care how or why we choose them to be in our market. They don’t really care about the part of our transforming promise that inspires us. They don’t care about our lead generation or lead conversion systems. But, they do care that we are prepared to sell their businesses as professionals! 15
  16. 16. So, we DO have to create systems to convert listings to sales: Valuation Systems, Confidentiality Systems, Marketing Systems, Screening & Qualifying Systems and Negotiating & Closing Systems. Slide 14: Create Systems to Deliver Our Promise Our final step. This is the part we really don’t want to do. We not only have to talk the talk and walk the walk, we have to write it down and teach it! Our business is a school! It’s how we pass it on. The way that gets structured is by creating a . . . - Primary Aim & Mission Statement - Purpose (primary aim) of a business is to give us more life (according to Michael Gerber) - for us (owners and agents) and for our clients and customers - Our Mission is our “One Thing,” our “Big Idea,” our “Promise” - Must involve commitment to an ideal; - Giving, adding verifiable value to what we do; - Making a real difference to us, and within us; - Making a real difference for our clients and customers - Goals, Objectives, Strategies & Tactics - Goals in each major area of focus - Objectives of each Goal - Strategies to achieve the Objectives - Tactics to implement the Strategies - Standards of Operation (“This Is How We Do It Here”) - Always looking for that predictable result: a “wow” reaction; - Working to appeal to the visual, emotional, functional and financial preferences of the client; - Standards that make it possible for the client to feel in control; - Doing whatever it takes in a systematic, repeatable way - Policies & Procedures - Delivering the “promise” to ourselves - After all, clients & customers aren’t the only ones that need to have promises kept. Our business must, therefore, become a school, because that is, ultimately, how we deliver the promise. “Transforming it” requires right action in real time by each of us to address our own frustrations, as well as those of our clients and customers. - Training & Recruiting - Is where our “promise” starts, and nothing ever quite works if it doesn’t - What can make us different? Continuous training of our agents – our business as a school Our commitment to continually improve our process - Employees and agents who know what market they serve, what to do, how to do it, and who do it exceptionally well, not because 16
  17. 17. they’re super human, but because they have superb systems. Slide 15: What Do We Need to Learn? “E-Myth Business Brokerage” is probably what Michael Gerber would call what I am proposing to you. Although what I’m saying and what we’ve done in Maine is really only an adaptation of what Michael Gerber advocates. I’m not an E-Myth spokesperson. AND, Michael Gerber is himself a borrower of ideas from many others, so we both stand on the shoulders of those who went before us. In this third section of today’s presentation, I want to discuss: - Michael Gerber’s “Entrepreneurial Myth” and where it comes from - Working “On” vs. Working “In” a business, his central concept - The “System” Is the Solution and why that applies to so many businesses - Each Other’s Stories and why we need to share them openly And, finally . . . - What’s Easy; What’s Not about adopting these procedures 17
  18. 18. Slide 16: Michael Gerber’s “Entrepreneurial Myth” - The Easy Book: “The E-Myth (Revisited)” This is the 1995 version of his original 1986 book. The E-Myth, you will now remember, is the myth that businesses are started and run by entrepreneurs when, in fact, they are usually started by “technicians suffering from an entrepreneurial seizure.” - the business owner tends to work “in,” but not “on,” the business. - the business is not set up to give more life to its owner - the business owner’s hard work is the only system - So, instead of giving more life, it takes the life he/she has . . . - doing it, doing it, doing it . . . burn out! What is the E-Myth prescription for preventing this? - Gerber says we need to transform our business with a “big idea,” by understanding how to work “on it” not just “in it.” “The system is the solution,” he says. We need to create business systems that produce predictable results. - The Big Book: “E-Myth Mastery” - best if we really want a thorough understanding - a head trip; read this only if we’re really interested. - The Best Audio: “The E-Myth Seminar” - best if we hate to read “how to” books - it’s from his1995 Australian seminar, but it’s great - The Website: “” - best if we want to plunge in and get help - a source for the products: books, recordings, seminars & counseling - Why I Recommend Gerber as a Source: - He writes and speaks with great wisdom and passion - He’s a great role model - His thoughts and writings are laced with familiar reference points for me. I hear more than faint echoes of points about business made back in the 20th century by such icons as W. Edwards Deming, Peter Drucker and R. Buckminster Fuller. I wish we had time today to talk about what those gentlemen advocated, but we don’t. Gerber obviously stands on their shoulders, as now do we all. - Finally, I recommend him because he’s right. All my life and business experience tells me this. 18
  19. 19. Slide 17: Working “On” vs. Working “In” Gerber’s major point is about Working “On” vs. Working “In” our business. - The Purpose of Our Business, he says, - is to give us more life, so - to create a business with that purpose, Gerber says we need to work “on” our business by creating a transforming mission, - defining our mission as what we want to do, need to do, and can do, that will give us more life. Our mission in business is our “big idea,” our “one thing,” our “unique selling proposition,” our “promise.” This is the one thing we can do, that if we do it, will transform our business experience. If working “on” our business to develop our “big idea” succeeds in addressing our frustrations, will it give us more life? If, as a result of this effort, we attract more prospects, create more listings and sales and earn new respect from our clients, our customers and their advisors, will that give us more life? What do you think? Gerber tells us there are three types of business people we need to know to get the job done: - Entrepreneurs, Managers & Technicians - the Entrepreneur in us gives us our vision & structure our big idea, our one thing, our unique selling proposition, our promise - the Manager in us creates the systems and controls manages innovation, quantification, orchestration & documentation - the Technician in us does the technical work Most of us probably still need to play all three of these roles, but we need to understand the differences, and the need for differentiating between them. - Eventually, our business needs different people to fill these three roles - The Viewpoint We Need is . . . - Mostly, to develop the entrepreneurial attitude within ourselves: - connecting our passions to our work - learning how our business works, not just how to work in our business. - That of working “on,” not just “in” our business. -by understanding that our business purpose must be “more life” -by creating a promise worth making and keeping -by creating systems that produce predictable results - The Skills We Need are . . . - Entrepreneurial skills – the Ability to Focus On Results, Not Work, as well as 19
  20. 20. - Managerial skills – the Ability to Create and Implement Systems, as well as - Technical skills– the Ability to Focus on Work, Not Results - Gerber puts this all into: - 7 Areas of Focus which I have adapted for us today (in my six steps): - Leadership Focus – Creating the Aim, Mission, Strategy & Plan - Marketing Focus – Choosing & Positioning in Our Market - Financial Focus – Making the Numbers Work - Management Focus – Creating & Making the Systems Work through Innovation, Quantification, Orchestration & Documentation - Lead Generation – Finding the Prospects - Lead Conversion – Turning Prospects into Clients & Customers - Client Fulfillment – Servicing our Clients & Customers / i.e. Selling Listings To work “on” our business, we need to create “systems” because that’s obviously what works best. Systems engage and empower people to address frustrations with right action in real time. Because they are so essential, we might even say . . . 20
  21. 21. Slide 18: The “System” Is the Solution because . . . - No Matter What Size Business, we need to . . . - Dream the Dream – develop our “big idea,” our “promise” - Talk the Talk – design our systems to produce predictable results - Walk the Walk – keep our promise by implementing our systems - Write it Down & Teach It – make our business a school in order to pass it on so that everyone we come in contact with knows that “this is the way we do it here.” Now, Gerber’s writings are filled with examples, but I chose just three to mention, each of which has some tie to me personally: - Gerber’s LensCrafters® Example is one classic (and I’m a customer): - - 1983 “Glasses in About an Hour” was the promise - 1995 acquired by Luxxotica - 2006 “Fashion Rocks!” - the new promise w/ fashion model Heidi Klum (you may know Heidi Klum as the moderator on TV’s “Project Runway”) - Gerber’s FedEx® Example is another (and we’re all customers): - - 1971 – Little Rock / Fred Smith - 1973 – Memphis – Federal Express (Federal Reserve business?) - 1974 – “When it Absolutely Has to Get There Overnight” - the promise - “On Time, Worldwide” was a later promise - 2006 – Just “FedEx” “Doing Whatever It Takes” is the new promise - Network of networks: transportation, e-commerce & biz services. - Gerber’s McDonald’s® Example (my first job!) - 1954 Ray Kroc – Multi-mixer and the McDonald Brothers - 1955 “Drive-in with the Arches” – not really a promise, but let me tell you what the REAL promise was, because I worked there. The promise was that the “Drive-In w/ the Arches” had windows. You could see the kitchen. It was an implied promise – No Greasy Spoon Here! - Corporate goal: “to be our customers’ favorite place and way to eat.” - youthful & energetic; committed to well-being; a delightful experience; personally engaging & distinctly casual - 2006: “I’m Loving It” - new trademark promise. But, you’ll notice that the McDonald’s experience isn’t about food. It never was. McDonald’ is a gas station for food – “Fill it up!” Neither they, or the market segment they serve, is particularly responsive to food quality issues. - BUT, with systems, as Gerber says, they’ve built a multi-billion dollar business using a labor force of the children we can’t get to clean up their own rooms! 21
  22. 22. - So, in contemplating Business Brokerage Systems . . . - What’s our “Promise,” our “Big Idea?” - What business systems can we create? Slide 19: Each Other’s Stories We need to continue the IBBA ethic of open sharing of each other’s stories: of how we define our markets, about our big ideas and our best systems. We need to share with each other what we think is wrong and what we’re going to do about it. What’s the story of Maine Business Brokers? - Started in 1981 by me and my wife; now 4 full-time and 6 part-time agents - I think it was 1987 when I first read “The E-Myth.” - 1987-92 was a real struggle; our practice nearly crashed - My wife, with severe medical problems since 1991, had to quit the business and I was working 24/7 “doing it, doing it, doing it,” - Got the E-Myth tapes in 1998; implemented E-Myth systems 1998-2001 - My wife became seriously ill again from 2001-2003 - I started again in 2004, after my wife recovered, and now it’s finally working. - I tell you all this so you know: I have family, problems, and the need to make money - just like you. I am not some “perfect specimen business broker.” - How Do We Define Our Market? - In Choosing Our Market, We are proud to be general business brokers, handling sales of closely- held businesses, in which the annual sales are usually less than $10MM. We represent only sellers. Buyers are customers for us, not clients. We only sell businesses, unless the real estate is integral to the business. We favor coastal Maine businesses within 2 hours of our office. We favor businesses where the seller is in a position to help finance the purchase by the eventual buyer. We work only for sellers who have enough faith in our process to pay us a retainer, credited against the fee due at closing, but non-refundable. We serve only as business brokers. We provide appraisal and consulting services only as part of our business brokerage service to our sellers. - What’s Our Big Idea? - In Developing Our Promise, We decided that the most effective message we could deliver is that, “We will put our systems, teamwork and track record to work for our seller clients and buyer customers.” We have developed systems that allow us to give a high-level, custom service to each client, at a competitive price. Our team of experienced professionals works collaboratively for each client. Our large network of past clients and contacts gives us the edge to get a tough deal done. That’s our track record. 22
  23. 23. - What are Our Best Systems? - Lead Generation Systems Website – our website is our single best marketing effort for both sellers and buyer prospects. Everyone checks the website. Professional Networking Breakfasts – we host a weekly breakfast in our office of a small group of invited professionals. Direct Mail / Newsletter & Other mailings – we mail 4 quarterly newsletters to our general mailing list (8,500); then our general brochure to seller prospects and professionals in Maine only. Seminars – we do seminars for Lorman Education Services, National Business Institute (CPE credits for lawyers and CPAs), Maine Center for Enterprise Development, Maine Marketing Association, local colleges and our quarterly SCORE seminar for “Buying A Business” Telemarketing – we use an independent telemarketing service; the sales manager makes a first follow-up call, then passes it to a broker Emails – we send a limited number of bulk emails to buyer prospects about our quarterly buyer seminar, sponsored by SCORE. Database – we’ve grown a contact manager data base for a decade - Lead Conversion Systems “Agenda Systems” model of 1st Contact / 2-Meeting / Sales Presentation Contact Manager Database with 10-year history used by every agent Current/Complete Website – designed primarily for seller prospects - What They’re Saying About Us (Endorsements) - Our Qualifications (Agent photos & biographical sketches) - Past Client List - Businesses for Sale - Advice (Articles on Selling, Buying and Business Valuation) - Seminars (Upcoming Dates) - Links, Contacts & Directions (Driving directions to our office) “Wow” Seller Packet - Appeals to visual, emotional, functional & financial preferences - Photos of real agents in a real office – friendly, accessible - Graphic design and substance of the highest quality - 3rd party endorsements everywhere - Discussion of the mission is in “how to” articles in the newsletters - Systems, Teamwork & Track Record emphasized in every way - Commission structure disclosure typical of our straight-forward approach - Informational packet for our sellers - Mirrors website Office w/conference room is attractive, comfortable and central to market Superior Seller Presentation Skills of Agents - Sales training course series in-house - Double teaming used often 23
  24. 24. - Seller Packet provides structure for listing presentations - Monthly ½ day agent meetings - Collaborative office systems - Client Fulfillment Systems – Converting Listings to Sales Valuation systems - Broker due diligence carefully performed, early on - Double teaming & collaborative systems among brokers - Standardized spreadsheets used by brokers - BIZCOMPS® and other database references used by brokers Provided by firm with standardized software and web access - Brokers trained to defend seller client’s value Confidentiality systems - Buyer Registration System enforced - Agent training in confidentiality management - Training of sellers in confidentiality management - Showing systems (when & how) Marketing systems - Broker Due Diligence process is extensive - Offering Memorandum as a “wow” for buyer prospects - Contact Manager Database with 2,900 buyer prospects - Internet Blind Ads in BizBuySell®, BizQuest, MergerNetwork™ and many other sites - Current & complete proprietary website - Buyer Registration System easy to use - Broker’s Networking Options - Special Targeting & Telemarketing Options Screening & Qualifying systems - Buyer Registration System enforced - Contact Manager Database used for organization & reporting - Buyer Matrix evaluation system taught to agents - Offering memorandum that outlines “proposed transaction” Negotiating & Closing systems - Broker Due Diligence systems - Professional Networking systems - Organizational “Punch Lists” - Retainer Credit, Earnest Money & Trust Account systems - Broker Negotiation Training systems - Team Approach - Systems to Deliver Our Promise Primary Aim & Mission Statements – we’ve got them Goals, Objectives, Strategies & Tactics – we’ve got them Standards of Operation – we’ve got them Policies & Procedures – we’ve got them Training & Recruiting - Business Broker training offered even to our competitors! 24
  25. 25. - What We Think Is Still Wrong and What We’re Doing About It - Choosing Our Market We still need to work on our telemarketing systems to improve our target canvassing of seller leads We need to expand and improve our database We always need to consider market segmentation changes - representing different types, sizes & locations of businesses? - representing buyers? - retainer/commission structure changes? - offering other services? - Developing Our Promise Keeping the “promise” is now our biggest challenge Systems must be continuously improved Team of agents needs reinforcements - more listing leads - more training - new agents added to the mix Track record needs to be better documented - Lead Generation Systems Website – our website needs constant updates & revisions Professional Networking Breakfasts – 10 hours weekly booking effort! Direct Mail – always a challenge NOT to become junk mail Seminars – constantly need to seek fresh topics and/or venues Telemarketing – always needs better, faster follow-up Emails – bulk emails is an ever-changing environment Database – we will need more business prospects; and may soon need a new system altogether - Lead Conversion Systems More & better sales training needed Seller Packet needs new content every year - Client Fulfillment Systems – Converting Listings to Sales Valuation systems – evolving approach needed here Marketing systems – more networking needed here Screening & Qualifying systems – need to do better job w/buyer prospects - Systems to Deliver Our Promise Primary Aim & Mission Statements – annual updates only Goals, Objectives, Strategies & Tactics – annual updates only Standards of Operation – need a re-write when we can get to it Policies & Procedures – need a re-write when we can get to it Training & Recruiting – need to continually improve and supplement formal training from outside sources (like the IBBA) 25
  26. 26. Slide 20: What’s Easy; What’s Not - Understanding the Message: Easy - When we read the books - When we listen to the tapes - If we take the courses Gerber outlines four systems development steps in his early work, which I have used here: Innovation, Quantification, Orchestration & Documentation - Innovation: Easy - Easy to think about changes – to dream about it - Easy to brainstorm – to talk about it - Easy to “Talk the Talk” - Quantification: Hard - First stage of “Walking the Walk” - Requires care and patience to experiment - Hard to measure the effects of a change - Orchestration: Harder - More “Walking the Walk” - Requires actually changing habits - Requires teaching ourselves new tricks - Documentation: Hardest - The “Write it Down & Teach It” stage - Who wants to write an operations manual? - Who wants to organize a school for business broker training? - Ultimately: - It’s not easy to find time to do anything but work “IN” our business - It’s not easy to create our “promise” - It’s not easy to build and maintain “systems” - This does NOT happen quickly 26
  27. 27. Slide 21: Who Are We Becoming? In this final section of my presentation, I want to present five questions that actually take us back home to basics: - What’s Our Primary Aim? - What’s Our Mission? - What’s the Work? - Where’s the Money? - What Will Our Business Brokerage Practice Look Like When It’s Finished? Slide 22: What’s Our Primary Aim? - The Purpose of Our Business Is Our Primary Aim - To give us more life. - Key question: Is Our Practice Giving Us More Life, or Is It Taking the Life We Have? - Are We Adding or Creating Value? - For ourselves; for our colleagues; for our clients, customers - Are We Constantly Improving? - Sometimes incremental; sometimes revolutionary - Our business is a school – that’s how we “pass it on” - What Are Our Unifying Principles? - Our unifying principles are what define what “more life” means to us. 27
  28. 28. - What Are My Unifying Principles? - Mark Twain, at age 70, said that when someone reaches that “7th terrace summit,” he ought to be able to tell everyone else “how to get up there.” “The problem,” he said, “was that [his] method would kill anyone else who attempted it.” The point, of course, is that everyone has to “get there” in their own way. So, I offer you my own very personal “unifying principles” with that caveat. They work for me – they might kill you! For me, they continue to provide a foundation for my life and brokerage career. I needed to write them down, but most people don’t. I still haven’t figured out if the people who do are happier, but I know I am. - Here’s what I use: - I choose to be a creative force in my own life - by assuming responsibility for deciding - What’s the truth? - What are my values? - What do I care about? - by reaching out to family & friends - Honor family commitments - Make community commitments - Give my time, talent & treasure - Adopt an attitude of tolerance - by planning for financial security - Establish & keep goals & budgets - Work daily action plans - Conserve all resources -intangibles like time and relationships -tangibles like money and materials - I want to grow as a person - by continually increasing my knowledge - reading & study - choosing new experiences - by maintaining my health - eat healthfully, exercise daily - rest, recreate & pace myself - enjoy life, enjoy being a creative force - by broadening the bounds of my spirituality - allow love to flow through me to others - hold on to hope; share it with others - be honest in all relationships - keep my promises 28
  29. 29. Slide 23: What’s Our Mission? - Our Promise Is Our Mission - Our Big Idea, Our One Thing, Our Unique Selling Proposition the Compelling Reasons People Do Business With Us and what we are doing to create value and grow - Would “Systems, Teamwork, Track Record” work for us? Systems: Valuation, Confidentiality, Marketing, Screening & Qualifying, Negotiating & Closing Teamwork: A team of professionals that are specialists Track Record: A history our prospects can check out – client list & testimonials – a testament to what we’ve done & who we are - Does Our Promise Touch Us? - It must. It does. - Systems – we take pride in what we’ve created - Teamwork – true collaboration is magical - Track Record – not just what we’ve done, and who we have become, but who we are still becoming - So we can proclaim it: - Systems – This is how we do it here - Teamwork – This is how we recruit, train and treat people here. - Track Record – This is not just what they are saying about us, but this is the reputation we have that will help us get it done for you, too! (addressed to your prospective client or customer) - So we can live it: - Systems – so we have a way to transform it here - Teamwork – so we have a way to stop failure here - Track Record – because results count here - So we can enjoy being with people who share it - Systems – people who make the systems work are fun to be with - Teamwork – people who will work collaboratively are givers - Track Record – people who share our values that relationships really count - Does Our Promise Touch Others? - So they will join us 29
  30. 30. - So they will refer to us - So they will find compelling reasons to do business with us Slide 24: What’s the Work? Frankly, it IS hard work . . . - Adapting &Taking the Six Steps - Choosing Our Market; Developing the Promise; and Creating Systems to Generate Leads, to Convert Leads to Listings, to Convert Listings to Sales and to Deliver the Promise - Defining & Redefining Our Markets - Not set in stone because: - people change - circumstances change - markets change - Telling & Retelling Our Story - Always re-writing our messages - Telemarketing Scripts, Letters & Notes - Brochure (annually, with photos) - Seller Packet & Presentation (Practice by doing it) - Newsletter (How-to-articles & sales stories) - Website (articles) (Agent: photo, bio) - Agent Recruiting & Training course material - Working & Reworking Our Systems - Build & “farm” a database of prospects - Professional sales training critical - Understand & follow our own systems - Educating & Re-educating Ourselves - Daily contact with prospects – active listening - IBBA Courses a must - Professional Sales Courses A Must - Up in the Maine Woods, we have to cut enough wood for winter, but, we also have to stop and sharpen the saw! So, if we’re going to do all of this . . . 30
  31. 31. Slide 25: Where’s the Money? - How Many Clients Do We Need? - If 40% sell, we need 20 clients / listings! - If 20% sell, we need 40 clients / listings! - How Many Client Presentations? - If we get 1 in 3, we need to make 120 presentations! - If we get 1 in 5, we need to make 200 presentations! - How Many Appointments? - If it’s a two-meeting process, and we only get to that second meeting with 50% of our client prospects, we need 400 meetings to get to make 200 client prospect presentations. - How Many Leads? - If we get 1st appointments with only 50% of our leads, we need to be calling 800 to 1,000 leads per year! So, - The Money Is In Following Our Systems! - If we’re new in the business, we need those new clients / listings - Of we need to reach 1,000 leads per year, that’s only 20 per week - Reaching 20 per week, however, may well take 60 phone calls - The money is in the 60 attempted phone calls per week! Just think of every phone call as worth $50 to $100! 31
  32. 32. Slide 26: What Will Our Business Brokerage Practice Look Like When It’s Finished? - a visionary, ethical, relevant & professional service provider - for us, our clients, our customers - a school for stretching, testing, enlarging - for us, our clients, our customers - a money-making machine - for us, our clients, our customers - a fun place to go to work - for us - the broker of choice - for our clients, our customers - What’s Right with Business Brokerage? - it’s challenging - it stretches our analytical abilities - it tests our legal and accounting knowledge - it enlarges our sales abilities - it’s meaningful - it calls us to ethical standards - it keeps us relevant - it provides a service to some of the most vital people in the world - it makes money when it works - it’s fun when frustrations melt away in collaborative efforts So, who are we becoming? As you have heard me say today in lots of different ways, I believe that it’s never about what we’ve done, but who we have become and who we are still becoming. I hope that something I’ve touched upon today . . . - will bring you closer to addressing your frustrations - will serve as a catalyst for your “big idea.” - will clarify your own systems - will help you become (or remain) THE ONE THEY CHOOSE in your market I welcome a personal dialogue with each of you so we can each have “more life,” as Michael Gerber says we deserve. Slide 27: Thank You! ______________________________________________________________________ Recommended Reading: “The E-Myth Revisited” Michael E. Gerber © 1995, 2001 “E-Myth Mastery” Michael E. Gerber © 2005 “Managing the Professional Service Firm” David H. Maister © 1993 32
  33. 33. “The Art of Possibility” Rosamund Stone Zander & Benjamin Zander © 2000 33