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Renwick Business Brokers: Jim Renwick

A business broker sets itself apart by offering a comprehensive service to buyers and sellers

Juliet Pitman

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Jim Renwick of Renwick Business Brokers

In tough competitive environments, serviceis sometimes the only differentiator between winners and losers. This issomething Jim Renwick, founder and CEO of Renwick Business Brokers, understoodwhen he first started Renwick Business Brokers, today an industry player ofsignificant weight.

“Most business brokers take a mandate froma seller, source a buyer who is ready, willing and able to enter into anagreement with the buyer and draw up a memorandum of agreement between the twoparties. At this point, they cut their ties, charge their fee and leave thebuyer and seller to sort things out. Looking at this, I just thought it was arip off. It’s like an estate agent who simply takes you to a house and thencharges you commission for doing so. They’ve basically done nothing,” heexplains.Realising there was money to be made byoffering more, he set up Renwick Business Brokers, offering a full servicebrokerage. Buying a business is a complicated and often risky process and thebuyer is just as much in need of advice as the seller. As Renwick explains: “Wesee the seller and the buyer as our clients. Once the agreement is settled, wetake the buyer through a 21 point documentation sequence, helping them with allaspects of the process. In so many cases, the first-time buyer is three to fourmonths down the line and still no closer to owning the business. They lose interestand the deal falls through but the business broker has long since gone withtheir commission.”

Initially Renwick started the business witha work-from-home operation in mind. “I wanted something that could make moneyfor my retirement,” he recalls, but so great was the demand for the service hewas offering that the business started to take on a life of its own. “It grewso quickly and I found I couldn’t provide all our clients with the full servicethat sets us apart, so I started farming deals out to friends in the industry,”he adds. Recognising that he was sitting on a gold mine, Renwick startedfranchising. Today the business has 34 franchises around the country.As an entrepreneur whose business iscentred on brokering the sale of businesses, it’s not surprising that one ofRenwick’s strongest skills is in sales. He has used this to great effect notonly in placing numerous buyers into very lucrative and viable businesses, butalso to grow his own business. From a marketing point of view, he hascapitalised on the fact that consumer knowledge of business brokering isseverely limited.

“Very few people in South Africa even knowwhat business brokering is because it hasn’t been marketed. But there is anenormous need for it. I have seen people lose their life savings buying abusiness that they weren’t suited to, and the fact is that people needprofessionals to help them through the process,” he comments. To tap into themarket and meet this need, Renwick conducts free seminars throughout SouthAfrica on how to buy and sell a business. Not only do these events educate themarket about the need for business brokering, but they also generate salesleads, establish Renwick as a market expert and drive interest amongprospective franchisees.Today his core focus is on his role as afranchisor and the need to ensure that all franchisees deliver the samecomprehensive service that set Renwick Business Brokers apart in the firstplace. His goal is to establish 100 Renwick franchises nationwide and althoughhe admits that the role is very different from his original one in sales,Renwick is philosophical about the challenges that come with dealing withfranchisees. “Renwick is, at its heart, a family business and franchiseesbuying into it need to understand that. From my perspective, the most importantthing is to be able to deal with people – but then that’s something I’ve beendoing my whole life.” Contact: +27 31 709 0723; www.renwickbrokers.co.za

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.

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