A proven business leader who was part of a team that successfully built one of the print publishing world’s largest magazine conglomerates through start-ups, strategic acquisitions and sales, Roger Murphy entered business brokering in the early 1990’s only to find it lacking true structure and training programs. With years of deal making under his belt, Murphy taught himself how to broker business deals in other industries.
His success caught the attention of other brokers who inquired about his business model. Instead of turning his back to the competition, Murphy welcomed their interest and began training other brokers. Many of those he trained began working under him as brokers in their own communities.
Murphy grew his business into the largest independent business brokerage firm in Florida. As he fielded more calls from interested parties outside of Florida seeking to join his business, Murphy made the decision to begin franchising and added seasoned franchise talent around him. Five years into the franchise initiative, Murphy shares the same compassionate approach that he had when he first began training business brokers.
Franchise Chatter: Can you tell us how Murphy Business and Financial Corporation got its start?
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Roger Murphy (RM): I started as a member of a well-known brokers network in 1993. We paid a fee to the owners of the network, and in return they gave us self-paced training manuals and some guidelines. It was not an intense training, and I needed more guidance. However, I never received it from them. So I figured it out on my own, and grew my business to become the largest independent business brokerage in Florida with more than 30 offices.
During that time period, others in and out of that network in Florida were paying me to train and teach them how to get their business brokerages going and how to sustain them through sales and marketing programs. By 2006, I had built an executive team to help me manage and grow the business. Together, we decided to begin franchising, given the interest from individuals out of state. In about five years now, we’ve grown the company to more than 140 offices and agents.
FC: For those unfamiliar, please tell us about the range of services offered by your franchisees?
RM: The professional Business Brokers at Murphy design a custom plan to promote their clients’ businesses to likely buyers. We directly market through global networks and on multiple websites, which means our clients have a powerful network of business brokers behind them.
We understand the importance of maintaining confidentiality, so information about our clients’ businesses is shared with potential buyers in stages as their level of interest heightens. Our brokerage firm does not disclose confidential information without a signed Confidentiality Agreement and a buyer application. We work toward a full disclosure with either an Offer to Purchase or a Letter of Intent to Purchase.
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We use our banking and financing contacts to assist the buyer and arrange favorable financing. This includes traditional financing, small business loans (SBA) or the use of non-traditional lenders. By doing this, we can also help minimize the amount of seller financing.
FC: What sets Murphy Business apart from other business brokerage franchise opportunities?
RM: The back office support system. We have a team of people at corporate that allows our franchisees to spend more time selling and in front of their clients and prospects. We assist with marketing, data entry, posting listings, maintaining inventory and more. A broker would be locked in his or her office all day doing direct mail if they didn’t have us.
Another difference is our regional developer model, which serves as an extra layer of management in local markets. No other brokerage has regional developers.
Also, we are doing deals at the home office. We have our own broker business and territory. No other franchisor is doing deals like we are. We don’t compete against our franchisees, we are in our own territory.
Lastly, the training that we provide is unique. It is systematic for brokers and their agents. It starts when they join the system and continues throughout every year.
FC: Please tell us about your unique business listing service.
RM: All of our inventory is in the business listing system (BLS). Every broker can show the entire inventory to potential buyers. With this strategy, we have more people working the deal and satisfying our clients’ needs.
FC: Why do you think now is an appropriate time for prospective franchisees to enter the business brokerage business?
RM: Individuals reluctant to sell their business during the past three-plus years due to sinking prices are now putting their companies on the market. And with business friendly tax laws set to expire, the time to sell is quickly approaching. Plus, extremely high unemployment rates have sent many former corporate refugees on a path to buy a business or franchise as their best option for earning a living.
FC: Based on your experience, do most franchisees have realistic expectations about the amount and type of effort needed to be successful in this field?
RM: When we are meeting and qualifying prospects, we tell them to have reasonable expectations. We try to make them see things from a realistic point of view. We tell them that it could take 6 to 12 months before you start to make money. Getting cash flow started in our business is the most challenging obstacle. Our discovery day and training set those realistic boundaries. We do support their efforts with a quick start program which is based on a forced success theory. We make sure they get off the ground running, not leaving it to chance. Plus, for many of our franchisees, their regional developer team and other nearby franchisees give them additional support.
FC: Can you describe the ideal franchisee for Murphy Business? What skills or attributes are required to be successful?
RM: The ideal Murphy candidate possesses the following attributes:
• Excellent Sales Skills
• Excellent Management Skills
• Hard Working
• Excellent Customer Service Skills
• Very Good Organizational Skills
• Very Good Marketing Skills
• Growth Oriented
• Open Minded
• Problem Solver
• Very Good Financial Skills
FC: What is the ideal neighborhood and territory for a Murphy Business franchise?
RM: Minimum of 5,000 businesses of the types that are commonly sold, that buyers are commonly looking for today. Territories include a cluster of businesses in an area that a person can cover within 2 hours driving time of their office. Our territories are both rural and urban.
FC: What specific steps do your most successful franchisees take in order to build and grow their respective businesses?
RM: The Quick Start marketing program and ongoing marketing efforts are key. Networking and building professional relationships are important. Plus, our most successful franchisees become more educated in the field every year. And you have to be a little bit lucky. For example, a franchisee in Georgia randomly connected with a buyer looking to scoop up more Pawn Shops to add to his portfolio. So our franchisee is on the search to find him multiple businesses.
FC: What are some of the things you are doing to help your franchisees become profitable?
RM: Training and back office support helps make them more efficient, which in turn can help make them more profitable. And we keep trying to add synergistic services and products to their repertoire. For instance, we’re working with an innovative service which creates a sellability score report for our franchisees’ prospective clients. It gives a potential seller a quick, descriptive snap shot of the viability of selling their business at a given price and what they can do to improve the price. Some of that report is held back, and gives the broker an ability to follow-up and manage the process.
FC: What are your goals for Murphy Business and Financial Corporation in the next few years and how do you plan to grow your business?
RM: We are planning for significant growth in 2012, adding 30 to 50 new franchisees. Another goal is to have all of the units perform better. And we want to attract more good regional developers. We’re looking to fill-up another three or four regions that are open.
FC: Is there anything else you wish to share about Murphy Business and Financial Corporation?
RM: Our business is growing. We’re having a good time seeing our franchisees succeed. We are proud to be expanding at a time when most businesses are contracting.