As part of a thorough understanding about business operations, many certified business brokers consider themselves experts on excellent customer service. But when subjected to pressure from the clock and the competition, they might forget to practice what they preach.
Here are five fundamentals of good customer care that business intermediaries need to remember.
1. Available and able to communicate with clients on a 24/7 basis. It’s surprising how many brokers are not equipped or knowledgeable about using current media, such as Twitter, text messaging and instant messaging, to set appointments and exchange updates with clients. Most buyers and sellers rely on the latest technologies to exchange important information with their representatives. There’s no excuse for business brokers not to have that capability.
2. Willingness/ability to work with client learning curves. In the bustle of daily business it’s easy to forget that not all sellers and buyers are familiar with the terminology and protocols involved in business transactions. Just because someone is new to the game doesn’t mean he or she isn’t a serious and qualified client.
Certified business brokers endeavoring to be successful need to take the time–or make time–and have the patience to educate buyers who aren’t quite prepared to begin the search and sellers who don’t yet have their act completely together.
3. “Shooting straight” with buyers and sellers. It often is tempting to work with someone who says he’s a buyer and has the money to do a deal, but without determining whether he is truly motivated to make a purchase. Similarly brokers often take a listing for a business though there’s no landlord commitment and an incomplete set of records.
It’s a better use of the sales professional’s time and more respectful of the client to make sure all pertinent facts come out at the beginning. Send the buyer home to think about whether he’s really ready to make a commitment. And tell the seller her business will be marketable only when she’s got a complete package of financial and other information, along with a landlord or franchisor commitment.
4. Find a way to work with other brokers, even those without experience. It’s not just greed that causes many certified business brokers to decline requests from other brokers to cooperate on a possible deal. But if the inexperienced licensee really has a buyer for your listing, or has a business for sale that represents a good opportunity for your buyer, you have a responsibility to your client to work with the other broker.
Some skilled business sales professionals know how to forge an agreement with less-experienced colleagues, so that everyone wins. One approach is for the more experienced broker to handle the deal and pay a finder’s fee to the other sales person.
5. Going beyond continuing education. While certified business brokers have specific training in the offering and selling of small and mid-sized businesses, some don’t bother to gain extra knowledge that might help their clients. It’s important to be informed about various funding strategies, including where SBA-backed lending might be available and how to get it. And the broker who is well versed in the documents and agreements that will be encountered–financial statements, leases and escrow instructions– will be a valuable resource for clients and also more likely to be very successful.
It’s not that brokers are lazy or want to be careless about their work habits. But many are so pressed for time they often neglect to follow their own advice to clients and practice excellent customer service.