7 Benefits of American Business Brokers

Nobody has to tell you that these are pretty volatile economic times and if you’re contemplating buying or selling a business you are going to be facing some serious challenges. American business brokers have been doing a brisk business over the past two years thanks to a banking collapse and a stock market that no longer appears to be a prudent place to invest. Some businesses have to sell and others have cash that they can’t profitably invest elsewhere so they invest in growth. Business brokers are the professionals in the middle that make it happen for both the buyer and the seller. Here’s a short list of their services.

1. Preparing a business to sell

If you feel it’s time to sell your business a broker can help you put together the best look and then market your business professionally. When you’re selling you should be focusing on what you do best, running the business and making it as attractive as possible, and not be distracted with all the minutiae involved in selling a business. Leave that to the broker.

2. Valuation service

Arriving at a real market value for a business is obviously important to both a buyer and a seller and a professional broker can provide that service. In a sales transaction, the ultimate value of a business is what a buyer is willing to pay. However there are other times when an owner may want a certified value to satisfy estate planning, marital or partnership issues or when facing litigation. Once again the business broker is the pro you can turn to.

3. Closing

As hard and as complicated as it is to market and then negotiate a price, closing can be even more difficult because more people and organizations are involved. A business broker can handle much of the coordination that is required. He or she will have to deal with two sets of attorneys, accountants, possibly two or more banks, government agencies and vendors. This is a critical step and not the time to start learning by on the job training. Let a broker do it.

4. Exit strategy

The time to think about an exit strategy is before you put your business on the market. Discuss with your broker just what you want to do, retire or move on to another opportunity. This will actually have an impact on the method of payout. Many times you can get a more profitable deal if you agree to manage the business for a short time after the sale. There’s also the question of relationships with clients, vendors and employees. A broker can assist you in a strategy that leaves everybody feeling good.

5. Support services

Many brokers will work in partnership with support services such as legal and accounting. Some even work in conjunction with lending or funding sources as well. As a general rule, it is probably less expensive to contract directly with the services but if you don’t have a relationship with one or more already, then the broker is a good bet.

6. Up to date market intelligence

In a sense, business brokers work much like realtors, listing businesses and presenting the relevant facts. Brokers have the latest intelligence on a given industry in a given geographical area which can prove to be invaluable for either a buyer or a seller. And there are other market concerns that they stay current with as well. Perhaps one of the biggest changes for small businesses is in the area of financing a buy. With the banks as tight as they are, it is not uncommon for the seller to provide some or all of the financing.

7. Peace of mind

Buying or selling a business is a complex task and having a broker can assure the buyer or the seller that the transaction was fair, completed legally and save a considerable amount of time. Full time brokers make their living doing this, are professionals and render both the buyer and seller a real service of value.

The first step that a wise buyer or seller makes is to contact a professional business broker.

Food Service Franchise – Is a Franchise in the Food Service Industry Right for You?

Being in the restaurant business is never an easy road; just ask anyone who’s ever done it. For some people it has an addictive quality, and they cannot get enough of the fast pace, but this type of franchise is not for everyone.

If you have always enjoyed working with the public and being the person “in charge” behind the counter, then maybe a franchise in food service is right for you. To be successful with this type of franchise, you will need great communication skills, high energy, and a passion for owning your own business.

Why is a franchise in food service such a great idea right now?

According to the National Restaurant Association, the number of food service industry jobs in America will increase by 10% or more over the next decade. Most of this growth will be seen in the “franchise food service” category, particularly “fast casual” restaurants. Franchises like Chipotle, Baja Fresh, Cosi, Panera Bread and Peace a Pizza are cropping up in suburban shopping districts everywhere. They succeed by giving patrons more ambience and better food than a fast-food restaurant without the added expense of table service.

This promising new trend for franchise food service entrepreneurs has caught the attention of the restaurant industry as well, so expect to see more restaurants like this starting up over the next few years. It may seem surprising that any category of business could be growing this quickly during a recession, but the success of this type of franchise food service business has come at the expense of higher priced restaurants, who have suffered a decline in consumer spending.

Are you considering a new venture as a franchisee? Do you like the idea of starting a new business without the risk that comes from an unproven concept? Starting a franchise food service business may be the right option for you.

Challenges in the Customer Support Services Industry

Every entrepreneur knows the importance of the quality of customer support services. Although in the customer service industry a myth is developing that outsourcing the customer services will not give the desired result, this industry is growing incredibly in South Asia. Mostly progressive companies are recognizing the potential and turning towards outsourcing their customer services departments to call centers located at different regions. These call centers are the main contact point for their customers. Most prominently this industry is growing in Pakistan, Philippines, and India.

In the adverse global economic condition like others, call center industry is also facing lot of challenges. To keep consistent quality of services the most alarming global issue is the retention of staff. The reasons and solution to retain them is different in Asia as compared to rest of the world. There are two important factors in the retention process i.e. incentives and motivation. The priorities differ between agents, especially in South Asia. The balance between incentives and motivation is the dominant factor in the retention of agents. There is a considerably high ratio of agents give priority on positive relationships among the team, supervisors and managers over incentives. It is equally important to chalk out a customized plan for individual agents to find out what they value most. One size fits all approach does not work in this industry.

I don’t run outbound call center but to my understanding another possible reason of turnover is the stress in outbound call center environment. Because of the use of sophisticated technology, agents don’t get time to recover from the stress in between awkward call from an unhappy customer or the stress due to performance targets. The performance targets sometimes put so much pressure that agents start bragging the customers to achieve their targets. The stress build up can also lead to illness and promote non-attendance.

Another challenge in call center industry is measuring the quality of services provided by your agents. The difficulty is due to the fact that mostly instead of complaining to the call center or the company directly, customers tell their friends of their bad experiences. So how will you measure the quality of service? Mostly companies are using surveys to get the opinion of their customers. There are other resources which can be used along with surveys. Among those forums, social media platforms and product reviews sites are on top. I experienced a little improved result when contacting all the customers who put negative remarks on forums and commented on the product reviews sites. On approaching them I offered the best solution to their concern that the company could afford. In most cases it is acceptable to the customers converting them again a happy customer. It is still important to measure the level of satisfaction and the best way to accurately know is to ask your customer directly at the time of first interaction.

Few call centers measure the quality of their service and the customer satisfaction level by assessing the average call handling time, time to answer a call, and the number of contacts by a customer to resolve the issue. But at times this method will not show the correct picture. All these methods depend on the products and services such as technical support services which may require a lengthy call to properly resolve the issue. Same could happen with customized products where during the first call some verification is required and it may only be possible to resolve the issue on second call. Also satisfying a customer only during first interaction is not enough. To earn a considerable satisfaction level customers need iterative positive experience from the contact center. Developing business relationship, trust and credibility takes time and it cannot be developed overnight.

The first step in improving the quality of customer support service is to improve your relationship with the employees. Involve them in major decision making, give them the feeling of ownership and acknowledge their achievements. It will help in increasing their morale and loyalty. Inspiration is an important factor in improving the role of your employees towards their commitment to high level of excellence and professionalism.

Besides satisfying existing customers on their interaction, it is also a good idea to keep their interest alive in the company. There are various avenues to stay in touch with your customers and prospective clients. There are companies who bombard their customers with chain of strong sales messages which in turn adversely affect customers’ reaction. There is no harm in sending a few softer sales messages. If possible, phone contact and face-to-face interaction is more effective.

In this turbulent economic time customers tend to look for low cost alternatives and it is becoming hard to keep their interest in your products and develop their trust in the company. Now the question is how you can keep your customers satisfied and maintain their confidence. The first and foremost thing is that your front line champions of customer service should be well trained to listen to and understand the customers’ requirements and concerns. For this purpose a weekly performance reviews with all your agents are very helpful in maintaining the minimum required standards. This is very important to quickly and effectively resolve customers’ issues. In resolving the issue exceeding their expectations and make the process simple and easy will further enhance their interest and confidence in the company.