07 Mar Email Interview of WM B Martin by Tom West (Part 2 of 3)
Today’s posting continues an interview between BBP’s Tom West and industry veteran WM B Martin. The following picks up after Bill’s first “retirement.”
Then, you “un-retired”.
Yes, Tom, I simply wasn’t ready to stop making deals. So, in late 1999, I bought back from ABMI the Springfield, Mo branch office I’d sold them, moved to the Ozarks, and took possession of that one agent, 10 listing office, planning to just “tinker” with business brokerage part time, and enjoy the wonderful Southern Missouri lifestyle.
That “part time” plan didn’t last long.
Right. We started doing the things in Springfield that had worked so well in KC, and the Springfield brokerage (now called First National Business Brokerage Corp) “took off” like a sky rocket. Within a year we had 7 full time agents, and were “rocking and rolling” once again, in Springfield, proving that there’s great opportunity, even in a town of 200,000 population.
But, FNBC Springfield was just the beginning of this new venture.
Yes, one day in 2000 I received a call from Steve Park, in Springfield, Illinois. Steve had been in business brokerage for 5 years, was struggling, and had called you to ask if there was anything he could do to be more successful. You were kind enough to encourage Steve to call me for advice. I invited him to visit Springfield, Mo to observe our operation, and, after just half a day watching FNBC, he asked how we could duplicate our methods for him.
So, I developed a licensing program, and Steve became our first licensee, which included my going to his area and providing him with extensive training.
From that beginning, we went on to establish, from scratch, licensed business brokerage offices in 26 different cities nationwide, for different licensees/office owners, all affiliated with a new company I started, called United States Business Brokerage, which served as the licensor, and as a “central service bureau”, providing services to the licensed offices..
USBB services included:
- Each licensed office electronically sent their new listings to USBB in Springfield, Mo, and USBB maintained a computerized listing data base, available 24/7 to all the offices, and all the agents.
- USBB’s HQ admin’s registered each listing, for each office, with all the available biz opp web sites (which, by 2008, totaled over 150 different sites), and all the hundreds of thousands of buyer leads generated over the years from those sites were sent electronically to USBB HQ, where we then distributed each office’s leads to them daily. Each office would commonly have fresh buyer leads waiting for them each morning.
- USBB created a master web site that highlighted each office in great detail, and also listed all the active listings available from those offices. We also created an ultra professional web site for each office, and maintained all those sites at HQ. Our web sites generated literally millions of hits/visitors during the years I owned USBB.
- USBB created an advertising company, TelespondUSA, that, among other benefits, conducted telemarketing (with live operators) for each of the offices, whereby we called business owners daily, canvassing for seller leads. Then, those leads were emailed to each applicable office, so that each office commonly would have fresh seller leads for their agents, waiting for them each morning.
- USBB conducted agent training classes, in each office, on a regular basis, as well as conducting training for each office’s admin’s and owners/licensees. USBB also sent USBB data processing personnel to each new office, to set up their computer systems, and those same personnel stayed “on call” every day, to help any office that had questions or problems with their electronic/web site/lead control systems.
- USBB published hundreds of “Memo’s From Bill” annually, all designed to help agents and licensees/owners stay “on the cutting edge” of methodologies for listing, selling and financing small businesses.
- And, we developed many other benefits that were provided to the offices.
Also, along the way, in addition to owning the FNBC office in Springfield, Mo (the original inspiration for the USBB offices nationwide), I became the absentee owner of the FNBC agencies in St Louis, Mo and Columbia, South Carolina, both of which I sold, after building them to success with operating managers.
All that, after you “retired”.
Yes, and, somehow, we did all that without corporate partners, without investors, and without any loans of any kind (except for the mortgage on the ABMI KC office building). I’d always owned 100% of those companies. We made all of it happen out of fees/commissions generated along the way. As I used to say to my wife, when I wanted to do something new…”I need money, so, I’d better go list and sell another Laundromat”…However, counting ABMI and USBB and the 26 licensed FNBC offices, we’d sold over 4,000 different businesses, and millions and millions of dollars of related commercial real estate, over the years. So, our successes had provided the funding needed to grow everything.
Another factor is that we originally elected to be a licensor, and not become a franchisor. I think that, and that we’d “self funded” the growth, and the fact that we’d not diluted ownership with partners, made our organizations unique in the industry.
Then, you “retired” again.
Yes, in 2008 I sold USBB and TelespondUSA and our franchise marketing agency, USFRANBIZ, to investors, and “retired” to just owning the Springfield, Mo FNBC office, which had been successfully overseen for years by a full time manager.
Then, in 2009, an investor purchased from me the Springfield, Mo FNBC agency, and Quality Real Estate Co, LLC, which was the real estate agency handling the real estate related to FNBC’s business listings. For the first time in 30 years, once those companies were sold, I was mostly “un-involved” in business.