Most certified business brokers are well versed in the principles of good customer service, and notice whether or not their clients manage this responsibility effectively. But the intermediaries don't always adhere to those ideas in their own practices.
For those who are so busy that they’ve cut corners when it comes to dealing with clients, here is a reminder about five important rules for providing excellent customer service.
1. Tell it like it is. There's often a temptation to take a listing even though the company is not really ready for sale. The alternative, of course, is to tell the seller it’s best not to go to market until the cost savings have been instituted to improve profits. But what if another broker is willing to take that business as a client right now?
In the long run the best strategy is to stick to your principals. It’s often the case that after wasting 90 or 180 days with another broker unable to bring a good buyer, that seller may be ready to listen to reason.
2. Cooperate with other brokers. There is good reason, other than just greed, to decline working with brokers who have someone interested in your listing, but are inexperienced in business sales. Another broker’s errors could cause problems for your listing client. But in order to properly serve the seller, how about working out a deal to provide a finder’s fee to the other licensee, then manage negotiations and any transaction details going forward?
3. Properly equipped with technology to communicate. Not only is it important, in the 21st Century, for certified business brokers to have the tools needed to stay in touch with clients, 24/7, it’s also critical to know how to use them. Time is of the essence when a buyer is ready to make an offer, or a seller has an update on negotiations with the landlord. Whether the client wants to tweet, text message or use voice communication, the sales professional needs to be equipped so he or she can be instantly contacted and can respond in kind.
4. Patience is a virtue. For seasoned business intermediaries, it often is difficult to “shift into lower gear” to explain the fundamentals of buying and selling to an inexperienced buyer or seller. A “need to buy” client just learning what’s available might require more attention at the beginning. But it might be time better spent for the broker than working with a “want to buy” customer who’s fully informed but unmotivated to act.
5. Committed to continuing education. Buyers and sellers expect certified business brokers to be well informed about the mechanics of the profession. And that’s a requirement to obtain and retain the certified status. But it’s not sufficient to do the minimum needed for the certification.
A broker who provides excellent customer service is also knowledgeable about the law --although never giving legal advice, is up to date regarding how and where to get financing, is familiar with various earn out strategies, and is informed about other kinds of information that will help clients complete their deals.
Because certified business brokers are exposed to severe time and competitive pressures, it might be tempting to get out of good habits, and neglect to properly take care of clients. But any short-term gains that result for those who fail to follow good practices, such as the five mentioned here don’t equal the long-term benefit of practicing excellent customer service.
About The Author: Peter Siegel, MBA, (a former business broker), has provided consulting services for buyers, sellers and other certified business brokers for more than 25 years. He is an SBA counselor, nationally known author and blogger, and founder and CEO of BizBen.com. You can reach him at 925-785-3118