Can you believe this?

I haven’t posted for a while because I have been too busy trying to save a business in Australia, increase employment, bring in foreign investment and build export business for the country.

But when I recount the bizarre set of events in trying to complete something fairly simple you will know why this is being added to my list of I Don’t Get It in the Grumpy Old Managers Guide to the Internet.

salesA client of mine makes some great products – Organic Fruit Juice, Dried Fruit Bars and has some IP that no one else in the world comes close to but they need capital and they need marketing expertise. For one reason or another the existing shareholders see no future and want to bail out rather than build further despite profitable trading and great prospects. They are tired and want to move on.

So we have put together a great team, have sourced some investors in New Zealand who want to back us and have made an offer for the business which has been accepted by the Board.

So now lets go back and look at what it is that I don’t get and why this post belongs in a blog about Communications, PR, Web 2.0 etc.

When we started the process I invited a business broker to contact the MD of the company that was selling to assist them in dealing with the whole sale and purchase process. At this stage I wasn’t fully aware that the broker planned to charge 6.6% of the sale price which after some pressure from the Seller he reduced to 4.4%.

Subsequently I went to him to tell him I had a buyer and was ready to negotiate a deal. At this stage he quickly had the MD of the selling company sign an exclusive agency agreement to guarantee his commission.

When I suggested that perhaps a share of this commission (around $A100,000) could be paid to me as spotters fee I was told that couldn’t be done as it was forbidden by law. Subsequently another broker explained that is common practice to pay a consulting fee to someone who provides the kind of assistance I had.

Communication Breakdown #1 – Several emails on the topic to the broker remain unanswered and some heated discussions resulted in more quoting of the law!!

I have since become a strong part of the new buyers team and as such have disqualified myself from any commission.

So having provided the broker with the buyer and the seller, I negotiated the deal and reached an agreement in principle. Before finalising this, I had rung the broker, on the Thursday before Easter, to see what any other bids were and if we had any competition.

I received a call from the broker on Easter Saturday with an update on the other bidder – so I had to tell him it was too later as we had reached an agreement. This was Communication Breakdown #5.

But what happened to #2, #3 and #4 you say. Well, lets go back a little bit more.

When I was ready to make a formal bid on behalf of the “consortium”, I phoned the broker a few times and got no result (Breakdown #2). So I went to his office and spoke with his business partner about the deal and the contract process. It was then that I found it was virtually impossible to get anything other than a printed copy to send to New Zealand. No such thing as a PDF or any from of download and I also found that a deposit would have to be paid into the brokers Trust Account.

When finally I spoke to the broker he explained how hard the Real Estate Institute (they are responsible for business brokers) made it to get downloads and how he could not provide me with a website that explained what a broker was and why the Kiwis should put money into his account. I just got Its the Law again!! (Breakdown #3).

So I rang the President of the REI (whom I know very well), on Thursday afternoon, to find out why I was getting this story. Having left a detailed response and highlighting the urgency I heard no more until around midday on Easter Sunday. He left a message saying he wasn’t sure when he received my message!! (Breakdown #4)

When I did talk to him on Monday he wasn’t really able to explain why I couldn’t get the info downloaded from their website anyway!!

So a week has gone by and we cant get a sample form contract in a PDF to send to investors in another country…without me scanning the blank I have which I refuse to do!!

Eventually the guys in NZ get fed up and decided to do their own contract but for whatever reason this proves too hard and we chase the broker again on a Friday afternoon at about 3 and leave phone, email and text messages highlighting the urgency. Unfortunately he is out to a long lunch with wife and friends (Breakdown #6).

By Saturday I have an email from the broker asking for more info to complete the contract and I still ask for a blank to review and still nothing can be done.

So I decide to call the CEO of the Real Estate Institute to complain about this saga. I have met this fellow on a couple of occasions so I called on his mobile. Not surprisingly, I get his voice mail and leave a message, highlighting urgency and two hours later…no response (Breakdown #7). So I sent an email and 18 hours later, once again, no response (breakdown #8).

I will stop counting now as it still continues although once our accountant received a printed copy he scanned it (about 40 pages) and emailed it to the NZ investors. An expensive way to get a simple form to people who want to help the economy in Australia.

The best the broker could manage was eventually sending a fax of the blank contract to the NZ lawyer and as yet he has never responded to a text message from me at all.

So what conclusions do I draw. As I have said before in previous posts the Real Estate industry in this country does not understand technology and modern Marketing Communications and Media and as such has a very limited view of a gloomy future. They also do not understand urgency or deal with complaints. They also don’t understand that text and voice mail means instant, email means asap and fax and the old methods have a very limited place.

I need to say no more as I have presented enough evidence to show they sure as hell do not understand the world of Consumer 2.0.

Imagine if your business didn’t have a website that allows consumers to access (and download with some protection) key info online and even more so these days, a mechanism to develop a conversation and a direct response mechanism when your consumer has a complaint.

Love to hear your views.