Two years ago, We Sell Restaurants embarked on a journey to confirm that our customer service standards were being met. We achieved this through Mystery Shopping our Restaurant Brokers. We now highly encourage any restaurant seller to do the same. Here’s why.
Quarterly, our restaurant brokers are shopped by “secret” buyers. They never know which buyer inquiry it is, and they never know how they are chosen. They simply receive one of many inquiries on a restaurant for sale. Our corporate standard for follow up is that each buyer will be “touched” three times within the first three business days. Why three times? It shows genuine interest without putting undue pressure on the customer. If the first message or contact is ignored, it lets the restaurant buyer know you will be professionally persistent without being annoying.
What’s a touch? The first, most critical touch is by phone. There are auto email responses on buyer inquiries, so we penalize the scores of brokers that email the buyer. If a buyer has inquired through a national website, odds are any broker will have an automated response that says something like, “Thank you for inquiring on my restaurant for sale….” In addition, the online listing site will also send an automated response..
Imagine that a buyer inquires on three listings. They will easily get a total of six auto response emails (three from the site and three from the broker), without having spoken to anyone. Buyers are getting inundated with email but are not receiving a personal touch in the form of a phone call and actual discussion with a broker.
We hired a research firm to develop the scoring mechanism. An email outreach results in a negative score. Failure to achieve three touches results in a negative score. If the outreach occurs over six days instead of three business days, full points cannot be achieved.
Overall, it’s simple. Each broker is held to a standard for buyer contact by phone three times within the first three business days of their inquiry. We compare each office and each broker to others as well as their last quarterly “shop.” Lastly, we compare the income of the brokers with the highest Mystery Shopping scores to the income of restaurant brokers with the lowest scores. What we found got their attention. The brokers with the highest Mystery Shopping scores had the highest income and most sales. Every. Single. Time. The brokers with the lowest Mystery shopping scores correlated directly to the lowest income. Every. Single. Time.
What does this mean? Restaurant brokers is a full contact sport. You must touch and communicate with buyers in order to sell a listing. When we figure out how to sell restaurants with total automation and through email, then brokers are no longer needed.
So why must Restaurant Sellers perform this exercise for themselves? After a year of quarterly shops, we decided to shop our competitors in year two. That’s right. In every single market, nationwide, we knew our performance, but what about the person we’re competing with for the listing. What did we find?
Brokers have forgotten to use the telephone. They don’t realize it has a function other than to send and receive email. In markets nationwide, in dozens of mystery shopping scenarios with competitors, our “buyers” did not receive one single phone call from other brokers. It is almost unbelievable, but the results are clear and scientific. We gave them an email address, a phone number that rang to an area code in their market and an inquiry. We did not get a single response outside of email.
I recently sat through a software presentation built for business brokers and the entire focus was to build a chain of emails to respond to the buyer. That’s fine for marketing and brand recognition but for sales, a personal phone call is still required.
If another broker offers to sell your business for less, consider what that means. If they do not call buyers and try to put deals together, it doesn’t matter how much they market or what else they do. Emails do not sell restaurants. Brokers do. Don’t sign my listing agreement or anyone else’s until you make a buyer inquiry and see what happens.
When I call you three times in three days, I deserve the listing.