Buying/Selling a Business: The External View
There is the oft-told story about Ray Kroc, the founder of Mcdonald’s. Before he approached the McDonald brothers at their California hamburger restaurant, he spent quite a few days sitting in his car watching the business. Only when he was convinced that the business and the concept worked did he make an offer the brothers could not refuse. The rest, as they say, is history.
The point, however, for both buyer and seller, is that both need to sit across the proverbial street and watch the business. Buyers will get a lot of important information. For example, the buyer will learn about the customer base. How many customers does the business serve? How often? When are customers served? What is the makeup of the customer base? What are the busy days and times?
The owner, as well, can sometimes gain new insights on his or her business by taking a look at the business from the perspective of a potential seller, by taking an “across the street look.”
Owners and potential buyers can learn about customer service by having a family member or close friend patronize the business.
Interestingly, these methods are now being used by business owners, franchisors, and others. When used by these people, they are called mystery shoppers. Franchisors are increasingly using them to check their franchisees on customer service and other operations of the business. Potential sellers might also want to have this service performed prior to putting their business up for sale.
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