Everyone knows you can buy a car, a house, or even a part of the moon. But did you ever consider buying an entire business? Whether you’re aware of it or not, businesses bought and sold on a daily basis. That’s what our guest for this episode of “Let’s Get Up To Business” does.
Patricia Walden helps others sell the businesses they’re through running and helps others buy into a venture they want to join. Whether a seller is ready to get out for retirement, or if they built the business to sell it, she can help you determine what the company is worth, and how much you should expect from the market.
If you’re on the buying side, Trish can help you figure out what your budget should be and if the seller is asking for more than the business is worth. Understanding how to determine the value of a company is important, and figuring out if there are any hidden values or pitfalls in the company you’re considering is what helps her stand apart from others in her line of business.
In this show, Trish sits down and discusses her company and how she got to where she is with Jordan Law Partner, Heather Trick who is temporarily covering for Jordan.
A licensed agent since 1979, Trish holds a degree in Psychology from Rollins College, a Real Estate Brokers license, and a CCIM. Trish is a current member of NAR, IBBA, BBF, and has actively worked in the Central Florida market both with developers, owners, tenants, and economic development boards across Central Florida. Trish is on the board of the Central Florida chapter of BBF and has chaired the Economic Development Committee for the Seminole County Regional Chamber of Commerce, an appointed seat on the Parks and Preservation Advisory Board for Seminole County and was appointed to and served on the Economic Development Advisory Board for the City of Casselberry. Trish is the founding member of Commercial Associates, LLC.
Episode 7: Patricia “Trish” Walden of Commercial Associates – Full Transcript
Patricia Walden 0:00
We try to work with attorneys and financial planners to make sure that people have set these up properly and are disposing of them properly and are running them properly, so getting the most economic benefit the can.
picture a world where cost or down, profits are up, and customers are clamoring at your door you’re listening to. Let’s get up to business from Jordan. Our interviews with business owners, service providers and area experts can teach you how to create a world of success and profitability. Contact Jordan law at 407-906-5529 You can also reach us on the web at Jordanlawfl.com. Jordan law we protect you and your business.
Heather Trick 1:00
Hello, this is Heather trick from Jordan law and I am here with
Patricia Walden 1:04
Trish Walden with commercial associates.
Heather Trick 1:06
And can you put your business contact information on the podcast for us?
Patricia Walden 1:12
I can You can reach me at Tricia my Florida business broker com that’s firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Us On The Web, call me up my cell phone 321-277-6429
Heather Trick 1:29
Giving out your cell phone, podcast. That’s pretty daring.
Patricia Walden 1:33
That’s how to get ahold of me on my hip every hour of the day.
Heather Trick 1:39
Do you ever have random weirdo callers? Since you give out your cell phone number?
Patricia Walden 1:43
No, I’ve had random weirdo people from LinkedIn. Which is a little freaky.
Heather Trick 1:48
Do you use LinkedIn in your business?
Patricia Walden 1:51
I try to use LinkedIn in my business, I find a lot of people don’t understand how to use LinkedIn. The few that I do will reach out will have coffee see there’s a connection. So it works if you use it.
Heather Trick 2:03
I don’t use it, I don’t understand it. I see
Patricia Walden 2:05
Well, I don’t use it to its fullest. It’s really my account. And I don’t run a company account like I should although one of the programs that I met Mark at here in your office was for content and talking about having a LinkedIn page for the business. So I’m really trying to even though we’re branded very well for the company, I’m trying to make sure the online branding moves that way too not just the web page, but the Facebook and the LinkedIn and try to get content to complete the circle for everybody.
Heather Trick 2:34
So I’m curious, how do you how do you use LinkedIn.
Patricia Walden 2:38
So LinkedIn, I actually am not good at posting as I should be. But I have do posts and get people to respond. And I put those posts other places, I can put them on the web page, and I can put them on the Facebook page. But I use it really to respond to people who are looking for information. A lot of times people reach out and thinking that there’s a connection, they see real estate, they don’t realize I’m just a commercial business broker, I don’t do anything residential. So I have to kind of explain to them that it’s that’s a different world. And I don’t cross worlds because they speak different languages, and they have different paperwork. So I try to stay where I am an expert, and that’s commercial and business sales.
Heather Trick 3:16
Why do you specialize in only commercial and business sales?
Patricia Walden 3:19
Ah, good basic emotional ties, not there. And we talked about that a little earlier. But it’s residential, and I never got along. I’ve been in this business forty years and never enjoyed helping other people with a residential purchase.
Heather Trick 3:32
You don’t sell houses, you only sell offices
Patricia Walden 3:35
I sell buildings, I leased buildings, I sell businesses. Okay, we’re different because I understand the commercial side of the business. So when we added business sales about six years ago, seven years ago, we’re different because we understand the commercial piece to any business deal. And that’s whether you own the building or leased the building. Business Brokers have not really been trained that way. I have extensive training both from the development side, landlord side and the 10 inside so I, I understand how it fits into the process, and how it fits into the picture.
Heather Trick 4:05
How long have you owned your business,
Patricia Walden 4:07
Commercial associates has been around for about seven years, but I’ve been self employed all my life. So I’ve actually owned other businesses, I’ve owned franchises, and I’ve owned what you would call a mom and pop business. I had a partner for many, many years in a finance company. So I have financed managed have pretty much run the gamut. And I get real estate.
Heather Trick 4:27
What led you to real estate.
Patricia Walden 4:30
I was young when I got into real estate It was 1979. And I just decided that without directly going to college, I thought I had two years under my belt. And rather than jump in to finish my degree, I thought I would try real estate I liked real estate. And so I did I just kind of jumped in and didn’t like residential at all.
Heather Trick 4:52
So you’re so you said you were always were self employed or the other businesses that you’ve done, where they always real estate,
Patricia Walden 4:59
They were always real estate. So I have I’ve managed real estate for other people. I’ve managed apartment complexes. I have financed real estate, I had a finance company for many, many years and had a partner in that I have sold the commercial and leased to commercial real estate. But my love was going to be development after finance. So I was actually training to do some retail development with a very well known retail developer in the town. And he’s almost retired by now. But that was before the downturn. So he was teaching me the development and I was doing the site acquisition work, I get it, I get why something has to be on a particular site. It was exciting work. But the downturn just made me decide to start brokering instead.
Heather Trick 5:40
So who’s your target customer,
Patricia Walden 5:43
My target customers, usually a business owner that’s looking to make an exit. There’s a lot of people that have that have that are involved in a business, that’s their life. And they don’t really have an exit strategy. Or maybe their children are really not wanting to take over the family business. So they’re not quite sure what to do. And we help them with an exit plan and to leave the business.
Heather Trick 6:06
And this is across industries, you do restaurants firms, retail.
Patricia Walden 6:12
I have, my friend is a restaurant specialist because he’s actually started restaurants and helped manage restaurants. So we do manufacturing and retail. We’ve done quite a bit of usually they involve a building, which is nice because you’re selling the building can come with it or outside of the deal but
Heather Trick 6:31
and you sell the whole shebang you
Patricia Walden 6:33
The whole shebang the building the business.
Heather Trick 6:36
Do you also
Patricia Walden 6:37
work on release,
Heather Trick 6:38
transferring the employees and
Patricia Walden 6:40
It depends on the it’s an asset sale just depends on what type of sale you’re doing. Usually the employees are involved because it’s an ongoing interest. You want the business intact.
Heather Trick 6:50
That’s very interested
Patricia Walden 6:51
It is interesting. And you should never see this on the MLS or on loop net. If you can find a business for sale, you probably don’t want that business, because their customers and competition see it too. So I don’t understand people that don’t understand business sales, trying to sell a business and making it common knowledge. Not a good thing. It happens
Heather Trick 7:11
And separate from the business sales. You also just lease and sell commercial properties as well.
Patricia Walden 7:17
Correct. We, I earned my CCIM in commercial real estate that’s like the master’s degree in real estate is the certified commercial investment member. I understand the real estate and its value and that add something to a business sale. If you have to backfill a building, you need to understand what that means.
Heather Trick 7:34
I don’t know what any of that means.
Patricia Walden 7:36
So if you’re selling a business and the building’s not going with it, where the business is going with it, the new owner decides that buildings not right for them, and they need to move out of that building. How do you backfill it for the same value haven’t been priced? Right? It could be paying too much rent that could be paying out enough rent to themselves, it could not even be set up that way. So there’s it we try to work with attorneys and financial planners to make sure that people have set these up properly disposing of them properly and running them properly. So getting the most economic benefit they can.
Heather Trick 8:05
How many employees work for you?
Patricia Walden 8:07
We are independent contractors, but we have a team of about five.
Heather Trick 8:11
And you said your son is a restaurant specialist. So he works for you.
Patricia Walden 8:15
He works with me. Yes.
Heather Trick 8:16
Do you have any other family members that work for you?
Patricia Walden 8:18
My husband is licensed but he does not work in real estate. He’s a forensic CPA. So he does other work I am I have a girlfriend who is a leasing Maven. She’s worked for a lot of the big boys and understands and we do a lot of have done a lot of leasing for national tenants. So we understand what that looks like.
Heather Trick 8:34
I work with my husband, you work with your son, do you have any advice to other business owners who may or may not want to work with spouses or children or parents? What’s the biggest difficulty you faced with that?
Patricia Walden 8:49
Okay, so I have to tell the story on myself. So when I owned a company many years ago with a partner, my daughter who was in high school started working for me and I fired her the first day she started. So we laugh about that now because I she’s too smart for me these days. But having my son work for me is nice, because as an independent contractor without somebody being excited about the business as I am. He gets it and he knows he doesn’t. He’s not afraid to go out and do the hard work. This is not an easy job, it doesn’t come to you. You have to go out and find the business and you eat what you kill in my world. So you always got to be hunting.
Heather Trick 9:22
So you’re looking for hungry employees,
Patricia Walden 9:24
I’m looking for hungry. People that want to work, I don’t mind training, we do training we have we do meetings, we try to keep it very casual in my company. A lot of a lot of us work from home, we have an office in Winter Park, but for the most part sitting in an office is not going to find you the business. So we’re out meeting people and trying to make it happen.
Heather Trick 9:41
Where do you find most of your clients?
Patricia Walden 9:45
Not fair because I’ve been in business for so long, I do get a lot of referrals. But we have, we have a great website that helps cater to people that are looking for specific information that brings them to call us and ask questions. I do networking events still this day, because it’s really nice to talk to people. I’m involved with the Oviedo Winter Springs Chamber. And really the people that I have met over the years, as far as my chamber work goes, I’ve been on boards of chambers, I’ve been on boards for cities and towns, it just means that you get to meet great people, and sometimes those relationships stick. So it’s a nice way to continue working and continue being a source for people to use.
Heather Trick 10:26
Do you have any secrets to offer for people who are trying to make sure that those referrals keep coming back? Because you may get one? But how do you keep a referral source happy and sending you more and more clients.
Patricia Walden 10:41
Because they know they’re important. So we try to keep the relationship going. It’s a relationship business, not only with the people that you get hired to do a job for, but for the people that refer them. So we do what we can to remain those keep those relationships going. And sometimes that’s a round of golf, sometimes that’s a lunch, we just we do what we do.
Heather Trick 11:00
What’s your favorite way to treat a referral source or a client? I’m not I’m not so great at golf. So that’s probably not where I’m taking people.
Patricia Walden 11:11
So what’s my favorite way, I like to send out gift cards for dinners to places that they may want to attend. Flemings or whatever. So I have done that a few times. And I enjoy that because I think they’re always surprised and thankful when it comes. I do lunches on a regular basis. And I just try to keep the lines of communication open.
Heather Trick 11:31
Isn’t it fantastic to have a job we’re going to lunch is part of your work duties?
Patricia Walden 11:35
I had a breakfast meeting this morning, it was great.
Heather Trick 11:38
Oh, that sounds amazing.
Patricia Walden 11:40
Yes, it was somebody that I’ve known for almost 40 years that I’ve been in business, she’s a residential agent. So she doesn’t what I do.
Heather Trick 11:47
When you when you have these referrals that keep coming to you, is there a way that you can track your client base or people who keep coming back and you using you over and over again, you keep track of those,
Patricia Walden 12:02
We do keep track of those things, we use a contact management system, it’s specifically geared really for the business side of the sales. But it’s it’s a way to keep track of all those people. You know, you keep track of the people that you get a relationship going with. And it’s an ongoing two-way street. So it’s people that I want to pass off referrals to because I would trust their business, and should I need their services there. That’s where I would go.
Heather Trick 12:25
Absolutely. What sets your company apart from other commercial real estate companies or Business Brokers.
Patricia Walden 12:34
Okay, so since we do both, since we understand both, that’s what sets us apart, there are Business Brokers in town that really don’t understand the leasing value of a piece of property or the building value that the ownership value of a piece of property, I don’t know that they always price it properly. So I that’s what sets us apart more than anything, the fact that we can feed those two together, and we understand how it impacts the business itself.
Heather Trick 12:58
When you started your company, did you you specialize in both, or did one come after the other
Patricia Walden 13:03
Business sales came after the commercial real estate and commercial real estate is it’s an interesting field, and it can be a young man’s game. And I like I really like to get a little more detailed. And even though I’ve sold investment grade properties, and multi-tenant and single-tenant, it’s just nice when you get into the business side of it, it’s a lot more detailed, there’s a lot more going on, there’s a lot more moving parts. So when I decided that I wanted to do more than just the commercial real estate aspect. The business sales was a nice add on.
Heather Trick 13:40
That’s fantastic. It’s like an all in one package.
Patricia Walden 13:42
It is it is except for with no residential. I’m not expert at that at all.
Heather Trick 13:49
And you do you find that most of your referrals for people who are looking to sell their business, transfer it move on come from other referrals? Or did they know that you are the person to go to to sell a business,
Patricia Walden 14:01
You know, if they’ve looked on the internet, they probably found me. But in most cases, they’ve got a financial planner, they’re dealing with exit strategies and financial issues with or an attorney, and that’s how they get ahold of me.
Heather Trick 14:14
What is some advice that you have for business owners who may not have an exit plan in place,
Patricia Walden 14:19
They need an exit plan in place. So you need to be thinking about what’s going to happen next year or the year after. And it’s got to be a succession plan. There’s a number of ways to get out of a business. You can go bankrupt, you can close it down, or you can sell it. And part of the selling it would be a transfer to a family member if that’s the case. But that doesn’t seem to be happening these days. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of children following in their parents footsteps. So they need to know what’s going to happen next and be able to monetize all that year of, the years of work that they’ve put into it. Why just walk away?
Heather Trick 14:53
So you’re advising people to think about selling.
Patricia Walden 14:57
I’m advising people to think about selling to think about where what comes next. A lot of people say they’re going to die at their desk. Okay, I guess that’s a strategy. But I don’t see how that’s all the work that they’ve done all those years. I don’t think that’s a good monetary strategy.
Heather Trick 15:13
When you’re looking at trying to value the business, you’re looking at years in business reputation, income, what are you looking at?
Patricia Walden 15:21
Yes, yes, yes. And we want to go back at least five years, we want to get a nice track record of what the business is done, or their ups or their downs or their reasons. We want to know what type of employees they have. Are they leasing them? Are they other employees, we want to know if there are benefits with the company. So we really want to take a very global view of what’s being sold to start to come to a valuation.
Heather Trick 15:48
As a business owner, what kind of documentation can I start keeping or tracking in order to provide to you at a future time to help value my business,
Patricia Walden 15:59
We’re going to look not only a tax returns, but we’re going to look at the associated balance sheets and income statements that go along with those tax returns. And we’re going to look five years. So you need to make sure that you’re keeping track as well as you can if you don’t have a CPA or bookkeeper that understands some of the software that can be used QuickBooks is a great software. But if you don’t understand how to use it, you can do more harm than good. And I can tell you stories of financials that we’ve seen trying to get them help the the owners of businesses get them fixed for a sale, because it doesn’t make sense, you don’t normally have negative inventory in the sale. So. So we really want to make sure that you have those kind of goodies. If you’ve got leases or the building is owned by you or another entity that you’re involved with, then we want leases for the business, we want to look at those, we want to look at equipment, we want to look at the value of that equipment, we want to look at whether or not it’s fully depreciated. Because you know, in an asset sale, when somebody buys a company as an asset sale, they’re going to take the company over and they’re going to start their own depression schedules, they do a stock sale, they’re going to take the company as is where is so there’s proposed pros and cons for both of those. But I will tell you that we’re going to look at the whole picture.
Heather Trick 17:09
Patricia Walden 17:11
HR from HR on,
Heather Trick 17:13
So from what I’m hearing from somebody who is financially challenge, I’m hearing that we need financials,
Patricia Walden 17:21
You need financials.
Heather Trick 17:23
tax documents, a list of assets. Anything else,
Patricia Walden 17:28
I’m going to say that financials are important due to some businesses sell with an owner to prove it happens. It happens if if there’s an associated buyer that understands the industry, and maybe understands why the the financials may look like they do or or works the way they do. So I’m not saying it’s it’s a no go. If you don’t have financials, it would make it easier. And we’re certainly able to put somebody together with CPA and bookkeepers in town. Hopefully, it’s a good fit. If it’s not, we’ll find somebody that is to help them put that together if they don’t have it. But sometimes it takes six months to a year to get the right, the right financials in order to properly show the business.
Heather Trick 18:05
So if so if I’m thinking about selling my business, I need to in three years, I need to come to you and start talking to you about it.
Patricia Walden 18:13
Heather Trick 18:13
Patricia Walden 18:14
You do and and probably a financial planner to boot and an attorney because as you know, there are tax ramifications with any kind of sale and you want to make sure that you’re protected and your understanding what your tax liabilities may be in the course of the sale. So
Heather Trick 18:28
Fascinating. I mean, this is something that as a business owner, I haven’t thought about. And I certainly don’t think that I’m retiring in three years, although if I win the lottery tomorrow, that might change. But But business owners really need to start thinking and talking to you years in advance in order to make sure that they have the most valuable asset that they can possibly sell.
Patricia Walden 18:54
That’s exactly right. And you know, there are entrepreneurs that build a business, sell it, build another business sell it. So they understand that there’s a there’s a life-blood and a company and there’s a there’s cycles, so you want to fill it up-cycle, if you possibly can, you don’t want to wait till maybe the technology gets ahead of you, and you’re on a downtrend to sell. So you want to look at that, too.
Heather Trick 19:16
Have you had any business sales, where you went in, it was complete disaster, and they really screwed up the profitability of their business.
Patricia Walden 19:26
I wouldn’t say they screwed up the profitability of their business, I think people would like to overvalue their businesses. But once we start talking about what the financial show, hopefully they’re a true picture of the business. But once once we see what the financial show and the trends that we show, we have to look at it from a buyer standpoint, and we kind of help them look at that. And it makes sense. And it’ll sell I mean, we had an owner and the owner not too long ago that thought that the business was worth a lot more than it was with the building. And by the time we got through the financials and and walk through what was going to happen, we were able to sell it. And we for a good value as far as I’m concerned. And they were very happy with the sale, but it made sense. So it could sell.
Heather Trick 20:05
So taking the emotion out of it.
Patricia Walden 20:08
Let’s take the emotion out of it.
Heather Trick 20:18
does that you’re dealing with my business?
Patricia Walden 20:20
The business owners that thing? I find people don’t understand that when we’re looking at tax returns with them. We completely understand they are tax adjusting to pay the lowest amount they possibly can we get it. So we understand how to look at the tax returns. That’s why we asked for the balance sheets and associated income statements. Because we’re going to look at actually what the bottom line for the business is not maybe what you lived off out of it. So I find people don’t understand that and think that that bottom line tax number is the number that the business is worth on a multiple factor. So that’s, that’s a misnomer. I find some, some brokers are quick to give a value they think an owner is going to honor or be happy with whether it’s a good value or not.
Heather Trick 21:12
So you’re saying that they set up clients with unrealistic expectations?
Patricia Walden 21:16
Heather Trick 21:17
I find that a lot in the legal world as well. And I try to be honest up front, so that way, they’re not disappointed in the end,
Patricia Walden 21:26
You know, I’m not 100% right all the time. But if I’m going to be involved with selling a business, and I feel like that the valuation that the owner wants is unrealistic, in my opinion, I’m not going to be any help to them. So that’s not a good match. And I’m happy to send them on their way.
Heather Trick 21:42
Do you find that clients are happier because you’re more realistic up front?
Patricia Walden 21:47
I think people understand when they get to know me, I can be a little blunt. And I find it easier to know where you stand, just tell it like it is. That’s a good fit for a lot of people, a lot of business owners, it’s not for some, and that’s okay. There’s plenty of business out there for everybody. Just a matter of doing your job.
Heather Trick 22:06
That’s a very good way to look at it. Now as a business owner, and also as a commercial realtor, and a business broker, how many different roles do you play at your firm? Do you do HR, the Finance? Are you the CFO, the CEO, the CEO,
Patricia Walden 22:25
The buck stops in my chair, it’s my license on the line from matter what happens in the company? And I care about the reputation of the company. So do I do it all? Yes.
Heather Trick 22:36
What’s your favorite role?
Patricia Walden 22:38
My favorite role is training. So I and I was able to do a lot with that I parlayed that, and I’m very proud to be a member of the Business Brokers of Florida, and Secretary of the Central Florida chapter. And what’s nice about that is I get to put on little educational seminars for our chapter. So I really get to talk to people in depth and help people learn something new in our group. And it’s so exciting.
Heather Trick 23:05
What’s your least favorite role?
Patricia Walden 23:09
It’s not always easy to sever a relationship with people. But it has to be done
Heather Trick 23:15
Severing relationships with clients with employees, all of the above?
Patricia Walden 23:20
All of the above.
Heather Trick 23:23
So as to severing employees, what do you do to make sure that you don’t get to that point? How what what sort of process do you go through in hiring?
Patricia Walden 23:32
I tend to be very upfront with what’s expected. And if, if that doesn’t pan out, them, they need to be on their own. So usually, if I feel like something’s not working out, they know it to I mean, it’s not a secret. So the severing and can be done quite easily. And not usually a shock.
Heather Trick 23:56
Do you do you have like a multiple stage interview process? Do you do personality assessments or something like that, to try to ensure that it’s a good fit prior to hiring?
That’s great. We’ll see. Yeah, so. And I find that a lot of business owners have the intuition to know what they’re looking for.
Patricia Walden 24:05
Isn’t that interesting, I should be doing personality assessments. And that’s not an unusual thing to do in our industry. And I know that there are very large firms that do that we happen to be a very small firm, I like a couple of meetings and a couple of phone conversations, you can pretty much suss out who you’ve got then, and whether or not they’re comfortable with you. So we just brought a new broker on to the firm. And I think he’s going to be an exciting addition to the firm. And he’s conversations with him, just lead us to think this will be a good fit for both of us.
I tell everybody, my degree is in psychology. So usually just gets me into trouble. But I do try to try to lean on that a little bit when I’m talking to people.
Heather Trick 24:53
Did your son have to go through the same interview process?
Patricia Walden 24:56
He had to prove himself to me? Yeah. He’ll tell you that.
Heather Trick 25:00
Do you think you’re harder on him than the other employees?
Patricia Walden 25:04
I probably expect more. Yes.
Heather Trick 25:07
Well, if he’s still working for you, then he must be a pretty good employee
Patricia Walden 25:10
He’s doing fine. You know, I’ve been there. They work with me there were team. So I work team. That’s what I want to pick us.
Heather Trick 25:19
And you said that your office is in Winter Park,
Patricia Walden 25:23
It’s in Winter Park,
Heather Trick 25:23
but most of your employees work remotely? They do they do? How does that benefit or harm your business processes.
Patricia Walden 25:34
That’s interesting that you asked that because we have now decided to move a lot of the business processes online with certain software that we’re all using to make sure that the team stays in constant contact. And we do weekly calls, and we get together for lunches and breakfasts and training sessions, usually every three or four months, so that we’re constantly talking about what they need, what they want, what they’re having problems with how we can solve any issues, we share business books. So we go to meetings together. So it’s it’s good, we try to have a team approach without being in the same office. And virtual offices are really what’s happening in the future.
Heather Trick 26:12
How do you keep the message of your company consistent when you’ve got everybody in remote, work environments?
Patricia Walden 26:21
Thick they have website helps keep that together. And the fact that we have, we have brochures and folders and things that we want them to use, we have a branding process, we’re in the process of redoing those now, because we’ve had some change, shift change at the car wash. So we’re updating those, and I have a marketing person that helps me with that. And so we’re getting that changed and out new.
Heather Trick 26:47
And that keeps all of your employees on brand.
Patricia Walden 26:50
It keeps them on brand.
Heather Trick 26:52
Now, you mentioned books, are there any books that you recommend for business owners that you really found beneficial?
Patricia Walden 26:58
You know, for business? No, I can’t recommend for business owners, I can tell you that I’m looking at and reading currently, Don’t Split the Difference, Never Split the Difference, the Art of Negotiation. And we’re actually doing a negotiation class in my BBF group in July, talking about negotiations, I think that there are agents that step over line with negotiations, because it’s not their money and not their property. So I get very concerned about the negotiation aspect of what we do. But I think keeping up with social media and what that means I think business owners need to avail themselves to the education available through that, whether it be Google or some other method, they need to understand SEO and making themselves available on the web, I still find a lot of businesses don’t really have active websites. And I don’t think I think in this day and age, you have to have something that a customer can lean on to say they’re real.
Heather Trick 27:54
Absolutely, there’s still so many attorneys that don’t have websites, or if they do there, they don’t work on a cell phone. And it’s interesting to find that in the world that we live in, you need to be present on the web and an easy to navigate.
Patricia Walden 28:10
Because customers that’s what they’re looking first. I think cars sales faulted first before a lot of retails shake up with Amazon. But that’s where people are going first, they’re going someplace the easiest place they can go to make something happen.
Heather Trick 28:27
Patricia Walden 28:28
Heather Trick 28:33
So you mentioned that, that you try and be upfront and with clients. And if it’s not a good fit, they walk away. Is it hard to see clients, potential clients walk away?
Patricia Walden 28:45
Oh, sure. Oh, sure. You’re always hoping that you can come to an understanding. And like I said, I’m not always right, we had a customer that my son and I were working with. And he didn’t think the valuation was strong enough. And he actually sold the business for more money. I’m very good concerned about the buyer, because I don’t think the numbers that I saw on the sale really made complete sense to me. So you wonder about who’s going to show up next and what they could actually prove and what was fluff and what wasn’t. But yeah, I I hate to see it happen. But it happens.
Heather Trick 29:19
Do you rely a lot on reviews from clients in your marketing like Google reviews, Yelp reviews, anything like that?
Patricia Walden 29:28
I should. But I haven’t really made that the onus of what I do. I mean, I have people that have certainly put on the website, you know, the fact that I was able to help them either buy a business or sell a property and how happy they were with the service and try to stay in touch with them too, because I’m forever calling them just to see if everything’s good. Reviews are important. And I know that there are brokers that do rely on them. Unfortunately, I have to tell you it’s a weak spot.
Heather Trick 30:00
Well, that leads into my next question, in addition to potentially focusing on your reviews, what’s in store for your five year business plan?
Patricia Walden 30:09
So we are really looking at generating good content that will help people make decisions. And I have started to really look at what people are asking, you know how to answer those questions. So it’s not what I what I know, it’s, it’s what you want to know, that I need to tap into?
What do you think we want to know?
From my gatherings it is when to start looking to sell a business? What’s involved in selling a business? in commercial real estate? It’s what’s the value of the building? What can be done with the building? Is it a redevelopment opportunity? Or were just a reuse?
Heather Trick 30:54
I mean, these are certainly the things that I’ve been curious about today. So it sounds like you’re heading in the right direction. Do you plan on expanding the number of 1099s or employees that you have as well,
Patricia Walden 31:06
I think I would like to as long as we can build a cohesive team that can all work together. And we do have a really good team right now.
Heather Trick 31:12
Do you offer a team building opportunities for your company?
Patricia Walden 31:15
I usually do I try to do a once a year education or lunch where they bring their families and usually at the house and we just kind of get together and have a casual time to get to know each other and their families so that everybody feels comfortable with one another. So we feel like family. That’s the best team building I can think of.
Heather Trick 31:32
Yeah, as a as a business, we’re always looking for opportunities to bring you know, morale up and get the team together. Since we’re all over the place all the time. And we’ve tried SeaWorld with the firm and lunches and different things.
Patricia Walden 31:48
What do you find works best?
Heather Trick 31:50
Anything, anything to get you out of the office? We we did a movie. We shut down and went to Avengers.
Patricia Walden 31:57
Heather Trick 31:58
Yeah, yeah. So but a house a nice house gathering. Sounds nice as well.
Patricia Walden 32:05
We’re planning our next educational meeting for our team at the house. And I’ve got my forensic CPA has been his BBA, who’s going to be teaching some aspects of what we do. And then we’ll have lunch and invite the families to come by and, and it’s just, it’s a nice way to get together in a nice way to see each other and keep up. But I try to do one on one lunches with everybody, and keep up with what they’re doing and what they need and reaching out to them. So I really try to make it feel like they understand that that they’re wanted in there, and what they think is valuable.
Heather Trick 32:40
As a business owner, who also has a family, how do you maintain work life balance,
Patricia Walden 32:48
Ah! And working from home, people don’t understand that I enjoy my home office. But there are no dogs or children around anymore. So the work life balances. It doesn’t mean it’s nine to five, it means you do the work when the work is there to be done. That’s work life balance. And there are times that I turn off the phone, and I will tell customers look after seven o’clock at night. I’m done. I’m spending quality husband time he’s been in my life for a very, very long time. And I expect that to continue.
Heather Trick 33:17
Did you have a office at home? And did you work from home when you had younger children?
Patricia Walden 33:23
No, I had an office outside the house. So I wasn’t there. Okay, I was really, I’ve been a working mom most of my life. More so when the kids were a little older, in high school that I was longer days. But for the most part, they were with me in the afternoon after school. So I would spend my work time while they were school and then home with them in the afternoon.
Heather Trick 33:44
And do you think that’s important as a business owner?
Patricia Walden 33:46
That’s important as a mother.
Heather Trick 33:49
That’s great advice.
Patricia Walden 33:50
But I try to spend time with my grandchildren. So I try to do you know, take time for them. So there are there are some four day work week so that I could be Nana and have a good time with them too. Because they’re a part of our lives. We like it very much.
Heather Trick 34:04
Now do you have a plan in place for one day selling your business
Patricia Walden 34:09
I do. I do have a succession plan in place. And he’s coming along nicely. But I’m in a business that I don’t have to retire. So the nice thing is, I can work as little as much as I want. But I gotta keep my hand and what’s going on. So there will be a time when there will be a little scale back. But it’ll be when the team is ready to roll on a moment’s notice. And they are now so that’s good.
Heather Trick 34:33
Do you find that you’ve automated most of the things in your business so that you don’t have to maintain so much control,
Patricia Walden 34:41
I’m not completely as automated as I want to be the contact management system is now going to feed in with our website and be able to talk to each other. And that’s a good thing. So that automation will help everybody. But there needs to be better automation in our outreach. And so that’s what I’ve been working on doing. That’s a newsletter, podcasts trying to talk to people like I do writing content, I should be better at it. I had a byline when I was younger, I know how to write I just need to spend some quality time thinking about it.
Heather Trick 35:13
What? What programs or technology are you using for for all of this?
Patricia Walden 35:18
So it’s all cloud based, because everybody needs to be able to get access to it. So it’s all cloud based software designed, in most part for what we do as business sales associates, because the commercial real estate fits right in with that.
Heather Trick 35:32
Fantastic. Is that something that you advise for, for the business owners that you’re working with as well?
Patricia Walden 35:42
They need to be cloud based. I think that that’s true. And I think people that are not technically savvy these days are probably the ones who are having trouble keeping the numbers where they want them because they’re just they’re not staying up with what’s going on in, in most industries. And most industries are using the cloud for some purpose in their business, whether it’s outreach or just behind the scenes work.
Heather Trick 36:08
And then and that makes me curious when you’re valuing a business or the technology systems that they have in place part of the value of the business?
Patricia Walden 36:14
Yes, it has to be. Yes.
Heather Trick 36:18
Patricia Walden 36:18
Heather Trick 36:20
Patricia Walden 36:21
Or the lack thereof.
Heather Trick 36:24
So what motivates you on a day to day basis to keep going at it building a bigger and better business and succeeding in your industry?
Patricia Walden 36:32
I, I get excited talking to new people. So it’s always wonderful to hear how somebody who’s done their widget just a little bit differently and was successful at it, or maybe not quite, and it’s time to move on to something else. I think that’s exciting getting to hear how people tick, that just may be my style, the years of schooling, but I really love that the human part of the business. That’s what makes it wonderful. That’s what you do though, to in law. It’s the human part of the business.
Heather Trick 37:01
Absolutely. The giving people the peace of mind and helping them deal with the decisions that they’ve made and the decisions they can make going forward.
Patricia Walden 37:10
Breaks your heart when you see something that didn’t go well for somebody. And normally it’s a financial loss. In my particular case, it can be more than yours, but it hurts and you know, you wish you had been there ahead of time to help them maybe make a different decision.
Heather Trick 37:25
Absolutely, and what so to sort of wrap this up, what is one piece of advice, professional advice that you can give people, that something that you’ve learned through your years of business, something that you’ve learned through dealing with businesses in the in the brokerage?
Patricia Walden 37:43
Location matters. And you hear about that in real estate, but you don’t think of it from a business aspect. But location matters. So if you’re looking at buying a franchise or opening a business, you really need to know who your customer is going to be so that you’re located properly. If it’s online, that’s one thing. But if it’s if you need a location, you need walk in traffic, then you need to really understand the co-tenants and the location of where you’re going. And I find that hurts the business more than anything.
Heather Trick 38:12
Patricia Walden 38:13
It’s an important decision.
Heather Trick 38:15
That’s a lot to think about. It is And is that something that your business helps with?
Patricia Walden 38:19
We do. We do. We understand co-tenancy and we understand locations and we’ve helped people locate relocate their businesses. So that’s the most fun when something works well.
Heather Trick 38:32
Absolutely, yeah, good results. While not always common in, in my industry are the best!
Patricia Walden 38:40
You’re right and they are and you want somebody to be happy about the decision they made.
Heather Trick 38:44
Yes. Well, I thank you so much. Just once again, for the listeners. How can people reach you and what kind of services can they call you for?
Patricia Walden 38:53
Well, thank you. So Commercial Associates. We are a commercial real estate and business brokerage firm. We are on the web you can look Commercial Associates LLC or my Florida biz broker, which is myflbizbroker.com and find us there. Call and ask questions. Let’s meet for coffee. I’m here to help.
Heather Trick 39:14
All right. Thank you, Miss Walden.
Patricia Walden 39:15
Absolutely. Thank you for the time.
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