When Lou Brill began his career as a business broker in 2002, he took his brand new stack of business cards and walked right into the businesses in the printer’s strip mall, giving them to the owners. He wanted an inventory of businesses to sell and why not start there?
In fact, he reasoned, why not blanket the entire town in central Jersey in which he lived? Why not go door-to-door in a small area, he continued, becoming “the resident business broker expert?”
One problem: Almost nobody in town was looking to sell.
“I just assumed someone, anyone, would want to sell,” Lou says, laughing at the feelings of disappointment he felt at the time. “Okay, so maybe a pizzeria and a clothing store. Oh, and a dry cleaner. That was it. Business was good. Why sell?”
Almost as important, he adds, his buyers were from all over the New York Tri-State region.
“Why would a guy in Brooklyn want to buy a dry cleaner on the Jersey Shore? he asks rhetorically. “He wants places that are lucrative or can be built up, or what have you. But to drive two hours for the change in the machines? Not that attractive, to say the least.”
“BE AN AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER”
Josh Factor, President of Vertica, a business brokerage software firm, knows Lou for many years. When Josh was starting in the industry, he asked Lou – who had been in the business only a couple of months – what he thought was a simple question:
“Why not get listings wherever they are?”
Lou said it was “the proverbial ‘a-ha’ moment.”
“I think he might have lost the forest for the trees,” says Josh, who provides software to business brokerage companies all over the world. “You need to cast a wide net, if you will. You sign up listings hours away if you need to. It’s better to be an air traffic controller, sitting at your desk, getting listings over the phone and via email, than running all over, wasting time in transit.
“There are so many listings that are busts – owner decides not to sell; doesn’t show up; asking too much; about to go under, etc. Why kill a day driving to a restaurant to find out the lease expires next week? Sign it over the phone. Honestly, the owner does not care where you are. He or she just wants a buyer.”
Lou points to a map on the wall of his home office. It is a map of New Jersey and its surrounding environs. There are small flags in dozens of locations, chock-a-block, all over. Each is a sale. The color of the flag represents the year since 2001 he has closed a deal.
“You see that? My biggest deal was here, in Pennsylvania,” says Lou, touching a point around an hour outside Philadelphia. “I found him on a FSBO (for sale by owner) ad. Signed him over the phone. Sold it to a guy five minutes away. Didn’t meet either until the closing. That’s how you do business brokering.”
Josh laughs over the phone when told Lou’s story.
“He’s absolutely right. Why chase when there are so many businesses that need you?”
Joshua Factor is the founder of Vertica CRM. A software company dedicated to helping Business Brokers and M&A professionals work more efficiently through technology. For more information about their main product, Business Brokers CRM, visit www.BusinessBrokersCRM.com or call +1 212 381 4994 in the USA or +61 385 184 759 in Australia.