Tips & Suggestions for Creating Effective Broker Listings
We maintain regular contact with brokers, we know who are making sales through us, and we get feedback from those who get good results from our site. In broker discussions the same threads keep appearing and there are common issues that we hear from these brokers which we share below.
Many of our brokers have been listing with us for over 10 years and some use us almost exclusively for leads. That would not happen if they were not getting good leads and quality results - and we see that in their sales. So what they say has value and should be considered...... We recommend that you at least read this article through.
Some brokers, quite enthusiastically, initially seem to resolve to place all their listings on Biz.for.Sale. We don't have a problem with that, but we do suggest that a more focussed approach will yield better results for the effort.
It is frustrating to receive few enquiries for a lot of listings, to get a poor response to NDA completion requests, and then still have to maintain the listings.
So, how to pick them.....
- Scenario 1 : Typically. a business is listed with a broker has failed to find a local buyer using traditional contact, matching, networking and advertising methods. In tandem with the "long wait" strategy the broker will consider whether there is a reasonable chance that the business would be attractive to a remote buyer. (see more about this under metro/rural below). Is it big enough to warrant a new owner uprooting and relocating.? Does it have enough local leverage that would give a business wanting to expand into this area some significant ready-made market share.? Some positive response here would mark this as a likely one for listing.
- Scenario 2 : You have received a listing for a business that's likely to sell fast. It's a popular format, the return is is good and it's priced well. Perhaps you only have a limited time mandate or your mandate is not exclusive. But it will sell fast and you need to find a buyer. Then use us - and ask for front page exposure !
- Scenario 3 : The big sellers, we have found, are businesses priced between R150 000 and R750 000. The buyers can usually raise the cash without much borrowing which also means the sale can happen before remorse sets in while waiting for banks. And buyers like an "easy to understand" business model - they will lose interest fast in something that is too complicated. Meeting these criteria also make it suitable for listing with us.
- Scenario 4 : The business presents a lifestyle change. The very operation of the business presents security (both physical and financial), less risk, a relaxed and pleasant working environment and an opportunity to kick back and enjoy life more. Typical businesses would be easy to run and simple in operation. This could mean relocating and moving to a coastal town where the holiday feeling prevails or off into hospitality to run a fishing resort or a country hotel. You would know if this was applicable. And the listing wording, of course, would emphasise these aspects.
Metro Enquiries vs Country and Small Town Enquiries
There is a big difference in responses depending on your location.
The "Big Five", in our experience, are Gauteng, Cape Town, Durban and then, to a lesser extent, Port Elizabeth and Bloemfontein. They all maintain populations big enough to enquire locally. The spread extent of rural South Africa (not to insult the mid-sized towns) means that we would have few offerings in those areas. So visitors don't really use us for that. Someone finding a suitable business on geographical search (and they mostly use provinces) will mostly have a metro area in mind. They are usually not thinking in terms of relocating into the country areas.
This is a reality related to the level of enquiries that you need to expect.
However this is not always necessarily true. There are large and/or specialised businesses located in country areas because of labour, supply and other logistical reasons. If big enough, they will always attract interest.
Pricing most definitely effects response levels.
There is enormous interest in businesses priced below R100 000, but of course the commission potential for all involved makes these less than profitable business sales to promote.
From R100 000 to R800 000 you can often find cash buyers and the prospect of financing and funding and the attendant pitfalls are not too much of a problem. Interest is still high at these levels.
But from R1,5 million and upwards, it is advisable to get buyers to prove access to funding before too much effort and time goes into the sale presentation and introductions. There are standard statements available on our submission form to guide you in setting funding qualification requirements. These become more and more necessary as the price climbs to deter the dreamers and tyre kickers.
Having said that, we have been successful in introducing many buyers who concluded sales in the R10m / R20m range and upwards. It sometimes takes the reach of the internet to find those specialised buyers. Often these are companies looking for established operations that allow them to expand quickly into different areas. By definition, they will always be geographically distant and not easily reached by other media.
Provide Plenty of Details
Give the Detail ..... and Then Some More
The more detail you can give - the higher the level of enquiries and the better quality of enquiry is received. We see that time and time again. The brief and somewhat fuzzy listings definitely get the lowest and poorest level of enquiries.
more info = perceived transparency and disclosure by the seller
more info = better informed buyers who then provide a focussed enquiry
more info = more chance the buyer understands what is on offer, saving everyone wasted time
Ideally, you want a prospective buyer who is ready to sign the NDA, meet and view the business.
On our online submission form we provide a "template" of items under the "Other Information" tag. These are the typical issues that need to be addressed and are the most likely questions that will be raised if they are not detailed here. Not all are relevant, and each business probably has other items that may need to be added - but this might be a useful checklist for ensuring that sufficient information is provided.
The brokers who provide a lot of detail in their listings usually end up with an enquiry where the prospective purchaser is ready to sign the NDA. The brokers who complain about non-return of NDAs and bemoan the type-kickers are usually those who provide insufficient detail. And they also receive the lowest number of enquiries. We see this time and time again.
Submitting the Business Details Online
Use the [Broker Pre-Load] Button
The "Broker Pre-Load" facility was introduced to help speed up broker submissions, save you typing and cut down on typo errors.
To use it, you just need to click the "Broker Pre-Load" button right next to where you would be typing in the first field (your name). This takes you to a screen which would ask for your broker code. Type in your full or part broker code, press the button "Preload the Data...." next to that field, and you'll be returned to the submission screen with all the administrative data fields completed for you.
If you ever forget your broker code, then there's an "easy finder" function just below where you enter your broker code. Enter in any part of your first or last name and the broker code will be presented....
This was added after receiving complaints about the repetitive typing (especially when submitting several listings at the same time) and those using it say it's helped a lot. So if you're a one or two finger typist, we suggest giving it a go.!
If any of your contact details are changed then our system will note that, will advise us, and it will be updated and filling in correctly when next you use the system.
Be Brief and Punchy with the Full Description
We reserve the right to edit and amend all entries and need to ensure that there is a standard tone and format applied to all the listings. We discourage the use of "flowery" text and "advertising puff" and encourage brokers not to use persuasive phrases. Stick rather to an objective listing of the business details that are likely to elicit an enquiry. Don't repeat info that will be shown further down - such as profits, turnover, establishment date and price. Give the prospective buyer good information about trading conditions and prospects.
Listing on Our Front Page
It is an inescapable fact that businesses listed on the front page ads attract far more enquiries. The visibilty catches the visitor's eye and they often refer them on to another buyer. Most brokers, of course, want enquiries but we apply certain rules here. There is generally a balance between the provinces with a 6 / 5 / 4 weighting on Gauteng, W.Cape, KZN and 2 each for the remaining provinces. We also only list businesses here which are likely to sell speedily and also need to be priced over R500 000. Brokers with recorded sales in the last year have preference as well. There is no extra charge for these ads.
Please let us know if you feel a particular listing will qualify for a front page position.
Receiving an Enquiry eMail
Who Gets It
On completion by the visitor, the email is sent directly to yourself (the broker) and a copy is routed to us at Biz.for.Sale. The visitor's details are also automatically recorded in a database linked to this business to give you, and us, access for follow up. Clicking the link on the email to yourself you can then get a listing of all previous enquiries for this business - see more related to this under "Automail Reports" below.
An unacceptably high amount of emails "go missing" and do not reach brokers. There are a number of reasons for this, but we need to ensure that you have received the enquiry. We have therefore recently introduced a "Click to Confirm Receipt" system whereby we ask you to click once on the email to confirm to us that the enquiry has been received. This will automatically flag the enquiry on our side and we know it has reached you and you are dealing with it.
This confirmation can be found on your enquiry email directly after the visitor's message.
The next section of interest to the broker is headed "AS A BROKER, you can also request....."
This enables you, with one click, to instantly receive an emailed report on any of the following:
• A full list of All Referrals Received
• A full list of All Businesses Currently Listed
• A full list of All Enquiries Received
Visitor Routing and The Breadcrumb Trail
The next section, headed as VISIT ROUTING gives some technical information:
• "Entry Page" is the first page where the visitor entered trhe site
• "Referred From" tells us which site they clicked on at to get here. Often it is Google
But it is the "Breadcrumb Trail" that may be of interest. This details the names of the BizForSale pages that the visitor viewed before seeing your ad and clicking on the enquiry. So if they searched on particular terms you would know their price, industry or location parameters. You would also know what other businesses they have viewed and which of our informational pages they read. This can help in assessing the visitor and with preparing your reply.
Trimming the Reply
Most brokers will use this same enquiry email for the initial reply to the visitor. Often it is to provide a quick response to a specific question and will be followed up later with more formal communications. We encourage you to remember to trim off all the extra admin stuff on this enquiry email and perhaps leave only the visitor's message and the short business description to help identify the original query for them. Your reporting links, breadcrumb trails and admin stuff should not be included for them to see. It is a bit sloppy and doesn't promote a first time impression of efficiency. Many brokers (probably inadvertantly) leave us on the reply in copy and we do see that nearly all neglect to trim and tidy the email for that initial reply.
Your Obligation to Reply
We do expect you to reply to the visitor within 72 hours - and you probaly understand just how important it is to make quick return contact and appear motivated and efficient. The completion message seen by the visitor after the enquiry had been sent indicates that a reply can take up to three days because of travelling, weekends and office located computers. But please do not leave it longer than that. If we are contacted by a visitor wanting broker details after lodging an enquiry then we do release your details. You would need to specifically instruct us should you not want that to happen.
Respond Promptly to Visitor Enquiries
We follow up all enquiries with a "customer service" note to the website visitor around seven weeks after the initial enquiry was made. It is always surprising that some visitor enquiries have not been responded to. The brokers are equally surprised when we contact them and they realise that they let one fall through the cracks. That one missed lead could have been the needed sale for the month. This may seem like no-brainer advice - BUT it does happen.!
More alarmingly, we have established that malconfigured spam filters are often deleting mail, especially where the visitor's address (and to a lesser extent the broker's address) is on a public server which is often abused by spammers. This includes all GMail, Hotmail, Yahoo and Live addresses. If the email does not reach the broker then the chain is broken. This is a serious problem and we have introduced an "enquiry received" system to deal with this.
On every enquiry there is a clickable link, just below the business description, which once clicked tells us that you have received the enquiry and we we do not have to follow up on your receipt. Although this is still at the trial stage of implementation we do request that it is used.
..... and the Occasional Admin Stuff
Reply Promptly to Our Confirmation Requests
As a broker, you will be receiving reminders from us at regular intervals (usually every 4 weeks) which detail all the businesses currently listed with us. Please let us know of any changes to those listings as soon as possible.
We would also appreciate being advised if there are any sales under negotiation with any of our introductions, whether regular listings or referrals from the recommended brokers page.
If you do not reply, then this mail is resent at 5 day intervals until responded to and then reverts to a monthly request. Please reply promptly to save us all the extra admin.!
Owners listing are reminded at two weekly intervals of their business listing details with Biz.for.Sale and are required to confirm the availability at eight week intervals. Brokers, on the other hand, tend to advise us immediately when any of the conditions of sale change and we accordingly do not mail mail out regular (and annoying) reminders of the listing.
Amending Details for an Already Listed Business
Should you wish to amend the details that are listed for an existing submission, then please e-mail us at email@example.com
We will use your originating email address to authenticate the instruction. In your message, please clearly detail.....
- the Biz.for.Sale Reference Number
- the effected section title,
ie. Long Description
- the text or data to be removed,
ie. Starts: "The factory layout presently...." and Ends "... as per agreement."
- the text or data to be substituted.
We use "Cut 'n Paste" functions to clipboard the text from your email into the website listing for typo-free insertion so please double check your spellings and figures.
So a typical instruction could look like the following...........
( 1 )|
Under Section: Location
Remove para starts "All areas....." and ends "... are still available."
replace with "The new owner may choose to specify how we will reconfigure the production line and all equipment will be repositioned at the seller's cost."
( 2 )
Under Section: Financial
Replace all with "The unencumbered cash requirement would be R800 000
Requesting that a Listed Business be "Supressed"
For various reasons, a seller will sometimes want a business to be temporarily removed from public access. This would typically be intended for a short period only, but sometimes a listing may be supressed for several months. While supressed, the listing will not appear on any search results but links to that record may still be visible in display ads. If so, when clicked on, the visitor is shown an apologetic error message explaining why the record may be unavailable. Here's an example
When deleting a record it is automatically archived and can obviously be restored if the business again becomes available. But this is a manual task and the record is restored with a new reference number which complicates enquiry history and visitor statistics. Supression is a much preferred option where there's a possibility that the business might be relisted within a few months.
Reasons for a Supression Request would include :
- The business sale is under final negotiation.
- An agreement is in place and the sale appears concluded.
- The seller has experienced market or personal conditions which are not conducive to a sale at present. Retail and hospitality sellers do not want to dispose of the business, nor can they attend to buyer enquiries during the high season periods.
- There is a broker/seller dispute or a discovery of significantly incorrect data.
- The sale presentation requires restructuring.
The broker would be regularly reminded of the Supression Status as that record would be prominently flagged as such in the monthly Confirmation Request mailing.