As a consultant working in San Jose, California, in the 1970s, Ted Leverette would sometimes contact business brokers for his clients who were looking to buy a business in a certain industry. While they had many businesses in their inventory, the brokers rarely represented sellers of the types of businesses Leverette’s clients sought. Opportunity knocks.
Why was this so, Leverette thought? He discovered that up to 80 percent of profitable businesses are quietly for sale on the hidden market. These sellers neither advertise nor employ a broker because they are reluctant to pay a commission of 10 to 12 percent of the selling price.
But what if the business owner doesn’t know how to sell a business? The business owners Leverette contacted said they didn’t know enough to sell on their own but would try it anyway rather than pay a brokerage commission.
“I told them, ‘Hey, I’m not a broker but I can help you package your business so it’s ready to be sold,” Leverette recalled. “They started hiring me left and right. Soon, the word got out to buyers. They started showing up saying, ‘We understand that you know a lot of businesses that are quietly for sale.’ There was an obvious void in the industry…this hidden market of sellers.”
Today, more than 30 years since he got his start in 1974, Leverette is the founder and president of “Partner” On-Call Network LLC, a franchised network of business consultants whose menu of services fill a unique and valuable niche in the consulting industry. “Partner” On-Call helps clients buy, start, improve, finance, value and sell small and midsize businesses. POCN is the only business-to-business franchisor of its kind.
POCN was founded in June 2005 and is headquartered in North Palm Beach, Florida. Since 1993 Leverette has sold business opportunities, based on his successful business model, to people who independently own and operate their own consulting practices. There is a network of consultants throughout the United States and Canada that utilizes Leverette’s system; they will have the opportunity to become POCN franchisees.
Leverette has consulted with thousands of business buyers and owners on buy/sell, valuation and business improvement over the last four decades. He relocated his consulting business to four states during that time and each time he generated profit within two months with no prior or personal business contacts.
POCN expects to award up to 20 franchises in 2006 in the United States and have 100 to 150 franchisees by the end of 2008. The business is suitable for metropolitan and smaller markets.
The market opportunity for a mature and proven, yet newly franchised, business like POCN is immense. According to The Wall Street Journal, the greatest transfer of wealth in history will occur in the United States over the next decade. An estimated $10 trillion is expected to change hands, and much of this wealth is tied up in family businesses.
“Partner” On-Call furnishes clients with hands-on help and impartial information to make informed business decisions; they are neither business coaches nor business brokers. The business-coaching field is extremely competitive. According to Leverette, an online search for “business coach” or “success coach,” will produce more than 790,000 results (an independent search produced more than 42 million results).
A broker’s primary task is to simply market businesses for sale while working on contingency. POCN franchisees are paid in advance for their services and don’t work on commission. Since less than 20 percent of sellers sell their business through a business broker, POCN has a much larger market share and provides clients with results-driven advice and guidance.
“Business brokers are in a completely different field. We don’t compete with them. There are 3,400 business brokers working 20 percent of the market. POCN franchisees have 100 percent of the market available to them,” Leverette said. “We also don’t coach. We use our resources to help improve businesses. We’re in the results business. That means getting more money to the bottom line.”
POCN provides a strong investment opportunity for individuals looking to start or diversify an existing consulting practice. Potential POCN franchisees will already be successful, but may have been downsized through corporate restructuring; lost interest in working for a large corporation or retired early and missing the excitement of the business world.
THE POCN investment ($40,000) offers the opportunity to be a sole practitioner with the freedom to operate from a virtual office.
“Our franchisees don’t want employees, they don’t want to sign a lease and they don’t want to spend $500,000 to $1 million to open a franchise,” said Leverette, who is author of the best-selling book “How to Get ALL the Money You Want for Your Business Without Stealing It.”
Franchisees build their referral-based business by establishing relationships with bankers, attorneys, accountants, business brokers and other professionals.
“Lawyers, accountants and bankers can’t wait to meet us because we have a product that’s different from everybody else, which fits their needs,” Leverette said. “A lawyer or accountant can’t do the legal or financial work on a buy-sell transaction if the buyer can’t find a worthwhile business to buy. And the worst day in a banker’s life is the day he or she finds out a business customer is not going to pay their loan. Banks love us because we can go into the business and advise the owner on how to quickly create cash flow and make the business solvent.”
“We solve the problem that most consultants can’t solve: They’re all dressed up with no place to go,” Leverette said. “These are well-meaning, very successful people with technical know-how, who, if they were to get hired, would be useful to their client. Unfortunately, they don’t know how to run a consulting business or get hired. They have too few clients and soon go out of business.
Leverette has been a guest on television and radio talk shows and was a columnist for two newspapers, in addition to being a restaurant reviewer and board game inventor. Leverette is author of the best-selling book “How To Get ALL The Money You Want For Your Business Without Stealing It” and is a Certified Reserve Police Officer. He recently talked about his wide-ranging interests and experience:
Q: Discuss your experience in the restaurant industry and as a board game inventor.
A: Many years ago I was a consultant in the restaurant field. I wrote two restaurant review books that were big sellers. The State of California purchased thousands of my books for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and distributed them to state employees in Los Angeles so they would have information to give tourists on restaurants and other fun things to do.
While creating the books, I became intrigued with board games. I invented a popular game called “Trivia Bingo.” It was a takeoff on “Trivial Pursuit.” But instead of having questions that pertained to general subjects, the questions pertained to specific metropolitan areas. If you bought the San Luis Obispo game, everything had to do with San Luis Obispo. I did a lot of cities and their residents and visitors loved ”their” game. I got inside info from local newspaper archives and town historians.
Q: How has being a well-rounded person with many interests helped you operate “Partner” On-Call Network? You are a natural.
A: It broadens my perspective, which expands my vision. By doing many unrelated things I see opportunities sometimes sooner than other people. This empowers me to counsel my franchisees about how to be a valuable consultant to their clients. Thinking outside the box comes naturally to me. I want franchisees who wake up every morning and say, “Why not?” instead of “Yes…but.” Let us empower them.
Q: In the 1980s, because of your experience in the business investigation field, you were invited to join a law enforcement group in Seattle that was comprised of various state and national agencies. In 1999, you moved to Florida, where you hoped to volunteer your time to the local police department. You are now a Certified Reserve Police Officer. Share the entertaining story of how you achieved your goal.
A: When I moved to Florida in 1999, I contacted my local police department and told them I had been working with the top dogs in law enforcement in Seattle. I asked if I could help them get insight into business crimes. The chief of police said, “You’ve got to be kidding me. There’s not a chance we’re going to let some civilian, who we never heard of who just moved here from out of state, inside our police department because you tell me you can help us solve white-collar crime.”
I persisted and told him how much I love law enforcement. “What can I do to be on the inside and help?” I asked. He told me to go to the Police Academy. He said if I could make it through the Police Academy and if the State of Florida would certify me along with all those 20-something-year-old guys then I could come back and the PD would have a place for me. Persistence really did pay off in this circumstance.
I asked him if they would pay the tuition if I got admitted to the academy and he laughingly agreed, probably thinking I could not achieve the physical standards for admittance. Physically, I was in the top 20 percent of my class, despite being 55 years old. The trainees called me “Gramps.” The trainers were younger than me! I made sure I was in the top 10 percent on academic tests.
Today my agency assigns me a patrol car. My certification empowers me with the same authority as the career (paid) officers, but I am an unpaid volunteer. •
START YOUR OWN:
“Partner” On-Call Network LLC
730 Sandy Point Lane
North Palm Beach, FL 33410
Contact: Ted J. Leverette
Web site: www.PartnerOnCall.com
Training and Support: Franchisees complete 10 days of at-home training before attending five days of intensive, interactive classroom training at POCN’s North Palm Beach, Florida, headquarters. POCN works closely with franchisees to set up client referral arrangements with bankers, attorneys, accountants, business brokers and other professionals. POCN trainers are proactive, regularly contacting franchisees in addition to responding to requests for service. POCN and its “Partners” On-Call are available to work with franchisees on joint ventures. Continuing education conferences are also offered.
Franchisee Profile: Prospective POCN franchisees are successful managers or business owners. They are familiar with financial concepts and terminology. They want to start or diversify their consulting practice to enjoy the freedom of being a sole practitioner.
Ted Leverette is looking for franchisees to join his Partner-On-Call Network. All the candidates should be familiar with basic financial concepts and terminology. Ted started his business after working as a consultant he started the company to help clients buy, start, improve, finance and sell small to medium sized businesses.