2012: So, What’s Changed?

2012: So, What’s Changed?

The more I look at recent surveys asking who the business buyers are and why they are looking to buy (see some of those results here), the more I want to say, “So, what’s changed?”

When comparing some of these results to those found in surveys conducted 20 years ago, except for the increased use of computers and the reliance on listing sites, such as www.bizbuysell.com, not much has changed. Sure, the economy has impacted the business, but as one broker recently commented, sellers still can’t get their price and buyers still can’t get the sellers to move.

“I am being optimistic that 2012 will be a much better year for my business brokerage activity. Seems people who want to sell cannot get their price and those wanting to buy cannot get them to act.”  ~ Broker in today’s market 

The only thing that has changed is, perhaps, the reasons for the current stalemates. Twenty years ago, sellers wanted a lot more for their businesses than they were worth. Today, sellers want this same thing, but the reason they want it is because they paid more for their business several years ago or they want what the business would have sold for years ago at its peak (or what they think it should have sold for), etc.

I know I sound like a broken record, but the secret to making money in business brokerage is really no secret. Take a look at our industry survey results and you will see that listings today come from referrals (37%); direct mail (15%); and internet (15%). We were surprised that cold calling accounted for 6%. Apparently some business brokers still walk into a business and say to the owner: “Hi, we have a buyer for your business. Is that of any interest?”

Computers allow business brokers to be more efficient, gather more information, provide more information, and stay in contact more readily. But…brokers can’t forget that business brokerage is a people business. There is nothing like a personal visit or a telephone call. If you’re thinking, “Nobody does personal visits anymore,” great! That means your personal visit will stand out much more than a piece of direct mail or a listing on the web that is just one of many.