My area of focus is with owners who are evaluating and preparing  their companies for the next chapter –whether that be to grow by buying another company or to sell their company to a 3rd party or to family or key employees.  As part of this work, I evaluate a company from a “buyer’s eye view”.  (And like you, I also do this with vendors, municipalities, service providers, clients, etc.)  We all know by now that we make at least 60% of our decision to BUY by doing research on a vendor’s website and through their social media presence.  

Surely you have experienced a company/set of “service” providers who haven’t spent enough quality time looking at their website from a user perspective.  I’m sure you can share some great examples of the worst offenders (please share your stories with us… send them to me at my email address and I’ll share with everyone!) 

Here is my rant of the day:  without saying exactly which one, several of the Building Departments in the local municipalities are ridiculously difficult to use.  Here is an example of what I encountered last night when I was trying to find and print a building permit for a local township (this was for a commercial building for my husband’s use) 

  • Long landing pages of letters from government officials explaining how much they care about constituents 
  • More long pages of writing from various persons in the township’s payroll explaining how one must work in their portal with their own set of (nonconventional) tools 
  • Important words misspelled (general contactor—missing that r!) 
  • Forms that are on their face are out of date and have a warning -do not use! BUT there is no replacement link or explanation of how to get a new form 
  • Eleven categories of potential permits with no clear definition of which would be needed for which type of property (this was for a public park parking garage repair) 
  • Requirements that permits must pass Building, Electrical, Plumbing, Fire and Accessibility codes along with any requirements from the Planning Dept. 
  • Etc. Etc. 

Have you ever tried to read just the Electrical Code book? No wonder it costs so much to hire the “trades”.  

My husband (who has been in construction for 30+ years) isn’t really phased by those parts.  He can look at a job and estimate it on the site.  Over 90% of the time he ends up being right (no thanks to Exactimate, either. Don’t get me started on that estimating system!) HOWEVER, he asks me to “print a form” while he is driving to different properties and I am amazed at the lack of user-friendliness of these sites.  When I call to get an answer, I get the same lack of user-friendliness!  How many times do they reject a document for a tiny infraction?  When he asks them where it was on the website—the response is that that section hasn’t been updated yet! 

Why am I writing a rant about this?  Because I want you to access your website and social media as if you were a user.  Make some notes about how quickly a person can get a feeling for what your company is about, what your standards for quality control and attention to detail are (I’ve found typos in many websites main pages—not just for landscapers.).  How easy is it for someone to pay their bill and how long does it take before someone answers a question?  Can your customers tell what you will do for them and how you will do it?  

If you have perceived that you have issues, HURRY to FIX it—you could reach out to my genius fellow Harvester, Chris Darnell.  Even if you have a great website and want to make it even better, contact Chris.  At a  minimum, let the person in charge of your website and social media presence know that you care and they should too-and FIX IT. In doing this, you will be maximizing your company’s value AND improving your customers’ desire to work with you.  If you’d like to discuss your company’s readiness for sale, buying a company, help with an existing acquisition or sell your company, please let us know. In the meantime, if you have questions or comments, I can be reached anytime via email: [email protected] or phone at: 224-688-8838. We’re here to help you Harvest Your Potential.

Alison Hoffman

has more than 25 years of experience in strategy, operations, mergers and acquisitions and delivering business-to-business client solutions. Her areas of expertise include managing operations for profitable growth, organizational design and strategy activation. She brings a wealth of experience through her work in evaluating, valuing and purchasing over 30 companies, leading company-wide cultural and business integration projects and consolidating best practices among business processes and corresponding computing systems. Read Full Bio