I recently had a conversation with a client who is in the process of determining the value for his business.

The company has a potential buyer. The company is doing extremely well.

During the conversation with his accountant, the accountant asked why the company was for sale. After all, they are doing very well, cash flow is great and they are happy. My client reported the question to me.

My answer was this is the perfect time to sell. Sales are great, profits are great and everyone is happy. You’ll get a great value for your hard-earned sweat and work now. And if you don’t like the offer, you can walk away with no regrets.

It’s like going to the bank and asking for a line of credit. You don’t want to go when you need the line. You go when you don’t need it. If you wait, you’ll be under stress and you might not get the best deal.

“But what if I could get more money later?” is a common question.

My answer usually is if the market stays strong and you continue to run the business, you probably will get more in the future. However, weigh the availability of trained technicians, their health and potential for injury. If you think that competition will erode your market share, or any of the above, then now is the time to sell.

“But what will I do if I sell and walk away?”

That’s the major issue for most owners. You’ve invested all of your time in the business and don’t have many outside interests. Maybe it’s hard to imagine yourself not coming to work every day. Or you think you’ll become a consultant. Talk with me if you think you want to do this. It’s not as easy as it looks!

“But what if there isn’t enough money for me to retire?”

Depending on your needs, you can say no and ask for more. Or, if you want to keep your hands in the industry, you might teach or train. There are always ways to generate income.

No one has a crystal ball to know the perfect time to sell a business. However, it’s much easier to sell in good times than bad.

You never know what the market or your competition will do in the future. Consider all serious offers.

Hanging up on call-backs

Until you do sell your business, you have to run it. And that means sometimes dealing with call-backs.

Your dispatcher is the link to decreasing stupid callbacks. There are two major types of stupid call-backs: To get customer signatures or manager signatures for commercial jobs so you can bill and to get a model and serial number so that you can order a part or verify the unit that was repaired or maintained on a commercial building.

There is no logical reason that any time or gasoline should be expended on these two issues. The dispatcher is totally responsible for ensuring that these types of stupid, wasted calls don’t happen.

When the technicians are given one call at a time, these types of call-backs are eliminated. Why? At the end of each call, dispatchers should ask the following questions before giving technicians their next call:

Did you get the customer’s signature?

Did you get the model and serial number?

Is the job complete?

What recommendations did you make to the customer?

Did the customer request a quote on a repair? (Commercial customers only)

Do parts need to be ordered?

Did you get a check/credit card number? (Residential customers only)

Forgotten work

I’ve walked into contractors’ offices and found service tickets where the technician had written “Customer requests a quote” and the ticket was three months old or older. The customer thinks you don’t care or forgot about them.

The recommendations question is where additional work can be found. Asking it also prevents additional work from being left off of service tickets. If a customer’s system is older than the manufacturer’s stated equipment life, then it is time to have a discussion about replacing that system. Is it running? Probably. However, wouldn’t you rather replace a running system without any competitive bids? That’s likely to happen if you bring up the subject and educate your customer.

This information goes into a tickler file for future work. Then when it gets slower, the tickler file has been building up and there is additional work for the technicians to complete. They will be busy with productive work and the service department continues to earn revenues and profits in slower times.

Copyright 2008, Ruth King. All rights reserved. Write to Ruth King, 1650 Oakbrook Drive, Suite 405, Norcross, GA 30093. Call (800) 511-6844; e-mail ruthking@hvacchannel.tv.