Exclusive Interview with Peter Christman, Co-Founder of Exit Planning Institute

Peter Christman shares his inspiration for founding the Exit Planning Institute, insights for new CEPAs, his philosophy on prospecting, and so much more in this interview.

About Peter Christman

The “Original Exit and Succession Planning Coach, Mentor”

CEO and Founder of the CHRISTMAN Group, former CEO and Co-Founder of the Exit Planning Institute

Peter Christman is an experienced entrepreneur, corporate executive, coach, mentor, and investment banker. After spending 25 years as an investment banker with other firms, Peter Christman founded The CHRISTMAN Group, LLC to provide middle-market business owners with a comprehensive and integrated suite of services that simplify the exit planning process while maximizing the value of the client’s business.  The Christman Group mantra is that we want our clients to be “SET” for life.

During his 30+year career, Pete has successfully sold more than 200 companies in a wide variety of industries. Transactions have ranged in size from several million dollars to over one hundred million dollars.

Peter was the co-founder of the Chicago office of a national middle market M&A firm where he continually earned that firm’s “Top Gun” award, which recognizes the firm’s most successful dealmakers.

Peter is also the co-founder of the Exit Planning Institute which educates business advisors on how to implement business owner “exit planning” into their practices.  The Institute has developed its own proprietary certification program.

Peter is an entertaining and sought-after public speaker who has given hundreds of presentations and seminars on the benefits of exit planning and the middle market mergers and acquisition process.  He has also written articles on the importance of the exit planning process.  He is the Co-Author of the book, “The Ten Trillion Opportunity” and “Master Planning Success Stories”.  He is the author of the International Best Seller “The Master Plan”.

Before becoming a middle market investment banker, Pete spent 17 years in high-level marketing and management positions with both Ford Motor Company and Xerox Corporation. Pete is an active member of industry organizations and has served on many Boards of organizations and companies.

Source: The Christman Group

Interview Transcript

Ray Croff: well you know Peter, I think you know how I feel about you and I was pretty excited that you agreed to this.
You know, it’s just you’re interviewing Peter christian, it’s like the godfather exit planning really is, I mean if you ever have a exit planning, what is that?
Walk of fame, the stars? You know what I’m talking about? Grauman’s restaurant.
Peter Christman: Right, right.
Ray Croff: Yeah, the first start. Thank
Peter Christman: you. Thank you. I don’t, I hope I don’t have a bunch of people stepping on me
Ray Croff: though. Yeah, yeah. So let’s go ahead and get started and I’ve got some questions I’d like to ask you some of these questions I developed myself, but others, you know, I’ve asked other people, what do you want to hear from Peter?
Ray Croff: What’s in that mind that you want to to get out.
So, you know, one thing is a little bit about your background, you have an extensive background in corporate America and Fortune 500 companies and M and a space.
Ray Croff: So what did you see back then that made you feel like there was a need for assisting small businesses.
Peter Christman: Well,
Ray Croff: I
Peter Christman: tell you, uh, I grew up in, in, as you said corporate life and mainly in the car business with ford motor company and also calling on businesses through Xerox when I was with them and that’s where I got a lot of experience with larger companies and so forth.
Peter Christman: But the small company has always been uh near and dear to my heart, mainly because of calling on those car dealerships and knowing the entrepreneur and the fact that the entrepreneur is rolling the dice, giving, working their butt off.
Peter Christman: And I always thought that they needed assistance in education as far as business matters and so forth, that they weren’t in that arena on.
Peter Christman: And uh, I, I just always had an attachment to them And uh, there need, because I love to see people become successful.
Peter Christman: And I think one of the best ways to become successful is in your own business or managing a business and so forth.
Peter Christman: So, uh, that’s, that’s probably the basis of my feeling about small business and, and you know, especially in the car business.
Peter Christman: But entrepreneurs are a breed to themselves.
Peter Christman: They, they know how to work hard and they usually know how to play hard.
Peter Christman: So they’re fun and, and it’s a fun business.
Peter Christman: And, and if, if they like you and your credible with them, it makes it even fun.
Peter Christman: So, uh, you know, why not enjoy life and, and working with these people, you know,
Ray Croff: but you saw something back then that wasn’t really on the radar.
Ray Croff: The most advice was they did their little thing.
Ray Croff: But you saw more of a wider picture of these business owners.
Ray Croff: They need help in building their business parent for for sale.
Ray Croff: I mean, it’s, it’s kind of obvious now, it’s not, not at, but back then it wasn’t on anybody’s radar.
Peter Christman: Well I say a couple things that I started seriously thinking about this in the late 19 nineties.
Peter Christman: And uh when I, when I first started, uh, my concept of exit planning is uh I I googled exit planning And I got 500 hits, That’s in the late 1990s.
Peter Christman: Now, you google it today and you get millions of hits, you know, and try to experiment yourself and and see.
Peter Christman: So that shows you how much this whole thing is grown, the awareness and the need and and so forth.
Peter Christman: And uh yeah, and I, the other thing is I woke up in an epiphany one day and said, even though I’m selling our client’s company for the greatest value because of the auction process that I used.
Peter Christman: I knew we weren’t fully satisfying all of their needs and desires and so forth, because they weren’t doing.
Peter Christman: Nobody had planned to accelerate the value of the business.
Peter Christman: We we didn’t have a plan to go through tax and estate planning so forth.
Peter Christman: So they keep most of the money they get.
Peter Christman: And the third thing is, which was really an eye opener, They weren’t prepared for that exit on what they were gonna do afterwards.
Peter Christman: They hadn’t discussed it with their spouse, with their, with their family, uh, with their closest friends and uh, they were lost people not having to go to work that following week after closing and so forth, They didn’t know what they were going to do with themselves.
Peter Christman: And I said so therefore the basis of exit planning was developed.
Peter Christman: The famous three legs of the stool help famous three legs stool do everything you can to maximize the value of business.
Peter Christman: Second of all get planned personally from a state tax and financial point of view and certainly no what in the hell you’re gonna do After you have your liquidy event, you accomplish that and I’ll tell you what you’re gonna uh be almost 100% on reaching your goals.
Ray Croff: Yeah. My experience is that third leg that they just ignore.
Ray Croff: They figure I got it all figured out and that can be crushing afterwards because their whole identity is tied up in their business.
Ray Croff: Oh
Peter Christman: yeah. One of the one of the first things I learned as an M.
Peter Christman: And a specialist uh in the privately held business market is that asking the question what you gonna do after you have you sell your company and if that owner didn’t have a good idea, definitive idea, then I knew I was wasting my time until that idea developed and mature and uh he knew exactly what he or she knew exactly what they were going to do.
Ray Croff: So you just said something. So almost that third leg of the stool comes first. Is that what you’re saying?
Ray Croff: Get them to visualize where they’re gonna be before you can prepare for them.
Peter Christman: Yeah. It oh and all the yes it does come first because if that’s not established then you know what what good is maximizing the value and getting planned personally?
Peter Christman: Okay so you’re in sequence you’re absolutely right.
Peter Christman: That third leg of the stool is is really the first leg of the stool.
Ray Croff: You know you’ve been talking about you know the nineties and everything and you founded E. P. X.
Ray Croff: Planning in student in 5 2002
Peter Christman: 105 and we started our certification program 2006 2007.
Peter Christman: And uh so that’s when we started and uh I remember some of the earlier uh materials the materials I developed to sell exit planning and I looked back at them now and I just laugh and I say well it’s creative but it’s not anything what’s going on today.
Peter Christman: And the resources that these advisers have to implement a good exit plan with their client. Fantastic. Just fantastic.
Ray Croff: I mean when forded nobody even thought about But look where the car is now.
Ray Croff: So you are on the forefront and you know that you were talking about 2005.
Ray Croff: Could you have imagined at that point in time where it is now?
Peter Christman: No no I of course I knew it was needed but uh and you know what it really hasn’t fully developed yet in in in one manner that’s fully educating the business owner as far as the need to do it
Ray Croff: when
Peter Christman: they start or buy a business you know and and private equity The first thing they, they consider is how they’re going to exit the business.
Peter Christman: So why wouldn’t that work for a business owner? Right.
Ray Croff: Right. You know, you’ve already alluded to this, but you literally wrote the book The Master Plan, right?
Ray Croff: You wrote that, which is kind of our exit planners are kind of bible.
Ray Croff: I send these to my clients, right?
Ray Croff: You know, because to get them thinking about that before I even work with them.
Ray Croff: So you’re thinking about the master plan book? What are some of the most important messages from that book?
Ray Croff: Would you consider
Peter Christman: that was the most one of the most important messages is that
Ray Croff: I
Peter Christman: wrote that book and developed that book so that advisors could use it as a prospecting tool to educate their prospects?
Peter Christman: For instance, uh, you identify a prospect, sit down with them and say, hey, I got this book last week that, uh, and I really was fascinated by it and, and I think it’s something that would you be interested in.
Peter Christman: So you can see it’s not very thick and that the, the author told me had the print enlarged so that for older people.
Peter Christman: So it won’t take very long to read.
Peter Christman: So I want to give this to you and I’d like to sit down with you again after you’ve read it to discuss some of the things that are in it.
Peter Christman: So how long do you think? How long do you think will take you to read this? A week.
Peter Christman: Two weeks. Okay. Three weeks. Alright good. Let’s why don’t we set up a time right now.
Peter Christman: Three weeks from now roughly january 14th.
Peter Christman: And uh I’ll be back here we’ll meet at 10 o’clock and and uh and have a little session.
Peter Christman: They’re all right with you. So you’ve got confirmation on the next step. Right?
Peter Christman: So now you sit down with them on that January 14 or whatever date it is.
Peter Christman: And you say you got a bunch of discovery questions to talk to that business owner about and you have gone a long way to educating the business owner as to the pluses and minuses of not doing exit plan or doing exit plan.
Ray Croff: So we already got in that Peter Cressman tip right?
Ray Croff: Use the book as a is an entryway and then it gives you a reason to come back.
Ray Croff: You set the next appointment. Right?
Peter Christman: Absolutely. And and it’s all at that appointment. That second appointment.
Peter Christman: That’s where you have your discovery questions and you just sit there and ask that prospect a question and then shut
Ray Croff: up
Peter Christman: listen to their answer and then follow up and then question answer question answer.
Peter Christman: And I’ll tell you what after about two hours you’re gonna think you’re the smartest person in this country because first of all no one listens to them.
Peter Christman: Second of all no one asked them those questions and the other thing I wanna talk about about Discovery one of the things that in in explaining a lot of the uh a lot of the advisors in exit planning come from the financial side of business and they didn’t come from the sales side at all of business and they really need sales help and I recommend that they either take a course or read a book what have you because this is advising business owners as a sales business.
Peter Christman: You know it’s it’s just that’s it relationship the credibility, everything, it’s it’s a it’s a sales type thing.
Peter Christman: So uh and the other thing is in that discovery process is start asking personal questions okay and those personal questions will then help you achieve more and more credibility with that prospect because you’re asking them questions that they normally don’t get.
Ray Croff: You know you automatically do something that learned years ago from dale Carnegie, right?
Ray Croff: You know you’re asking these questions, you’re not sitting there, teach them and trying to prove how smart you are, you’re asking questions but the end they think you’re smart but all you did was ask questions and let them talk.
Peter Christman: Absolutely yeah,
Ray Croff: but they walk into that peter christmas is such a nice guy boy and all you did was ask questions so yeah right, so but that you’re right, that’s a sales technique, I love that.
Ray Croff: And so another question that brings me to another question.
Ray Croff: So You’ve been doing this for 20 years or whatever and here we are in the throes of you know exit planning or whatever myself and all those other CPAs out there, we know what the business owners up against.
Ray Croff: We know that only 20% of them that go on the market sell.
Ray Croff: We know how the business can be discounted.
Ray Croff: We know all these baby boomers are gonna be flooding the market here in the next 5 to 10 years.
Ray Croff: But the problem is is the business owner does not know that they’re saying peter I’m cash flowing.
Ray Croff: Great, I’m fine. So how do we convince them? How do we show them we have value.
Ray Croff: That makes sense.
Peter Christman: Yeah. They know or or how how do we convince them they need you?
Ray Croff: Right.
Peter Christman: Uh the you know the thing about it is that some advisers have credibility from other clients that they’ve helped in this regard.
Peter Christman: Okay. So that’s one way is to tell stories about the people that they’ve had and helped before.
Peter Christman: Another way is and and some people are gonna frown at this.
Peter Christman: But you know there’s nothing wrong with making up little stories that that if you handle it the right way to get the point across and what are the pluses and the minuses?
Peter Christman: And and uh so if you don’t have that experience level of of having past clients that you’ve been successful with or unsuccessful with uh then you know you certainly have talked to other advisors who have so use that material you know, one of the things that I would do, as and I have as an advisor is go out interview other advisers who have worked with clients.
Peter Christman: Okay, So, you know, no one’s got a monopoly on, I don’t have it, uh no one’s got a monopoly on this thing.
Peter Christman: And people love if you ask people for advice, they love to give it whether it’s good or bad, they love to give it, you know?
Ray Croff: Right? Well, I mean, you’re right, stories are powerful, They don’t have to be your stories.
Ray Croff: They can be the stories of other advisors,
Peter Christman: correct, correct? Yeah,
Ray Croff: I’ve used myself hypotheticals, right? I’m not saying this happiness thing, but hypothetically, what if you ask them those questions, So there’s nothing wrong with that, I know
Peter Christman: that. I mean, you’re listen, if your intent is good and you don’t wanna do fraud or anything or anything like that, what’s wrong with trying to help them help themselves?
Ray Croff: Right. You know. And so of course everybody knows that Peter Cressman is kind of known as the Master Prospector.
Ray Croff: So do you have any secret prospecting tips that you’ve used over the years that were, we felt were successful.
Peter Christman: Well, there there aren’t any secret prospecting techniques, I don’t care what any, anybody tells you.
Peter Christman: Uh one recommendation I have is don’t keep it confidential as to what you do.
Ray Croff: You
Peter Christman: know, you you develop that your marketing materials, you know, your website, your brochures, so forth, and and also build on your experiences with different business owners.
Peter Christman: The other thing is you get out there in the public and talk about this wherever you can uh give speeches on it, Give uh no matter where, what, even if it’s in church, you know what have you, let people know what you do, what value you provide and why it is needed?
Peter Christman: Okay, so there is no secret, You gotta work and blast out and let people know the benefits.
Peter Christman: That that that’s the other key thing I’m selling that people don’t really do is that they know how to talk about features.
Peter Christman: Well, what what that what does that feature bring the client? Okay, so uh you want to get planned financially?
Peter Christman: Why? So you can keep most of that, the resources you get in this whole thing, so feature benefit and what a lot of advisors do.
Peter Christman: They talk about the features of things, but they don’t talk about the benefits and the and the prospect just falls asleep.
Ray Croff: You know, that is fascinating because like both managers and me being one of those, we talk about accumulating wealth, but that number is not important is what that wealth will do for you.
Ray Croff: That’s what
Peter Christman: what’s the benefit of accumulating
Ray Croff: wealth?
Peter Christman: Exactly, the
Ray Croff: benefit is security, what buying that cabin in the woods or whatever, right?
Peter Christman: Yeah. Accumulating wealth is just a feature, so what’s the benefit of that be
Ray Croff: strong because in my in my what I do is acute help, Well that’s what I do, that means nothing to them unless you attach it to a benefit.
Peter Christman: Absolutely, absolutely.
Ray Croff: Okay, alright, excuse me, I’m writing down nuggets, okay, I know it’s supposed to be interviewing you, but well
Peter Christman: I’m glad, I’m glad we’re memorializing some of this stuff. Yeah, absolutely,
Ray Croff: so obviously I’m writing down these nuggets and so you know, a lot of our audience, our our newly minted Cepa’s, so they come out and they’ve got all this knowledge that’s kind of just going, but now it’s like now what?
Ray Croff: So here I am peter, I’m a newly minted CEPA how do you get me started?
Ray Croff: Where should I, where should I start?
Peter Christman: The that’s a good, very good question because one of the things that I’ve always been concerned about and uh it’s see becoming a c but the exit planning Institute does a terrific job of educating the business advisor, okay, But where they fall short, where I fell short is that after that week of of training they go back and they try to catch up and and uh on the stuff that they haven’t done the previous week and they just don’t get organized and develop a plan of how they’re going to implement exit plan.
Peter Christman: The other thing is they don’t have a spill Uh of the that 32nd uh that 32nd elevator pitch, you know, and so forth, that’s why I developed the three legs of the stool because just go around the store, what do I
Ray Croff: do?
Peter Christman: I help? Business owners maximize the value of business. Like one.
Peter Christman: I also helped them get planned personally from an estate tax and financial point of view late too.
Peter Christman: And then I helped them sit down and plan what they’re gonna do after their liquidy event so they can achieve all their goals and objectives that they worked all their life for Legs three.
Peter Christman: So you just spin around that that three legs are still there. You got your elevator speech?
Peter Christman: What in the hell you
Ray Croff: do? It’s brilliant because everybody talks about the 32nd elevator speech and they, you know, sit there and agonize over it.
Ray Croff: But that’s so simple. Go around school.
Peter Christman: It’s very very simple. And then then be prepared to discuss, how do you help people maximize the value of their business, how you help them get planned personally, financially and three, how you help them plan that life after
Ray Croff: well, peter you know, part of your legacy is that you’ve mastered this thing.
Ray Croff: But you’re making it seem so easy thing. You know, you’re giving us a road map on what to do
Peter Christman: that life. Life is easier and tied in with. You gotta develop your spill.
Peter Christman: And you you ask the question, what if Cepa can do coming out of the chute well, talk about exit planning to whoever your wife, uh your your friends, your family, what happened?
Peter Christman: Because the more you talk about it and they’re gonna ask you question, the more you talk about, the more confident you’re gonna get in what you’re what you’re saying and doing and uh, you can’t be rehearsed enough.
Peter Christman: And then then, uh then after you’ve done that and get your spiel down, you, you know, how you convey, communicate with a prospect as what you do in the benefit to them.
Peter Christman: Um then then you come up with your plan on how you’re gonna organize this thing and and implement it, you know, your marketing materials, your materials that you show people and all of that, you know, and then go out and develop that prospecting plan.
Ray Croff: Yeah. And so, you know, um so you’ve got all these CEPA and you know, this is better than I probably 90% or more.
Ray Croff: The CEPA actually are not doing the value acceleration work, right?
Ray Croff: They they’re looking to have a seat at the table.
Ray Croff: They want the wealth management seed or they want to be the business broker or whatever that is, whatever, so that’s 90% of our audience here, right?
Ray Croff: We’ve been talking about CEPA work and prospecting, but for those Cepa’s that just want to sit at the table, right?
Ray Croff: They find it awkward to approach a business owner and, you know, but I’m not doing the value acceleration, I’m not the seat or whatever, but I’m part of a team, how how do they approach a business owner on that?
Ray Croff: Or would you suggest that? Does that make sense?
Peter Christman: Yeah. One of the, what they can do is go back to what we’ve been talking about with, with the master plan book.
Peter Christman: They can go through that process with, with, with a business owner and then go through that discovery process.
Peter Christman: Okay. And then you come to a point and say Ray
Peter Christman: What I’d like to do is have you sit down with, uh, a friend of mine chris Snider who is, uh, CEPA and uh, he’s a terrific advisor in helping business owners maximize the, and uh, and you know, I really think you need somebody like chris to be kind of your quarterback in this, this whole process.
Peter Christman: And then what we’ll do is we’ll bring in Angela, your accountant and uh ted your, your attorney and we will get you a team together where you can accomplish all of this and
Ray Croff: what you’ve done there, you’ve suddenly, okay, so these team members, they’re so worried about that.
Ray Croff: Their value is gonna be diminished by bringing in somebody else.
Ray Croff: But what you suddenly did is saying, hey, look, I’m bringing in experts for you, I’m bringing in the urologist and I’m bringing all these specialties and I’m gonna bring those in because I know what you need.
Ray Croff: So it’s not really to value you as an advisor.
Peter Christman: Right. Right. So that’s, that’s my value in in bringing these silos of information and advisory who can, uh, provide the respect of benefit to the owner.
Peter Christman: And then, and then then you would have to look at either yourself or chris or somebody to be the quarterback and communicate, make sure all these advisers are communicating because there’s got to be a leader in this whole thing.
Peter Christman: And, uh, if my experience has been, if if these advisors feel like they’re not being, uh, usurped or their not being cheated with the client, then then they welcome it because I’m doing all the dirty work.
Peter Christman: I’m doing all the organization that, that just, okay, now it’s your turn. Now it’s your turn.
Peter Christman: And then I’m reinforcing with a client that he understands what Ray’s gonna do.
Peter Christman: So they got somebody, they got somebody backing them up on the, uh, features and benefits they provide to the client.
Ray Croff: Yeah. I’ve lost track on how many times you’ve used the term benefits. I’m getting the idea.
Ray Croff: And so, but the thing is, you’re right, okay, here’s my benefit. I’m gonna be bringing in specialists.
Ray Croff: The benefit while I’m bringing in this, this quarterback chris is because he specializes in this.
Ray Croff: And then I vetted, uh, transactional attorneys that specialize in this area.
Ray Croff: And so you’re constantly touting the benefits that all these players,
Peter Christman: Right? And the way you described it, then you’re the quarterback because you’re doing all that stuff.
Peter Christman: And, uh, in this case, Chris would not be the quarterback, but he’d be the leader in the, the area of expertise, uh, increasing the value of the business?
Ray Croff: Yeah. Okay. So now we’re gonna get into kind of some dirty work here. Right. Okay.
Ray Croff: So when we’re talking about getting a team together, right?
Ray Croff: Um, all these are very highly qualified teams, members with egos. Right? Okay.
Ray Croff: So you’ve been on a number of teams.
Ray Croff: So what are some of the most important elements of a high performing team and probably most importantly, what do you look out?
Ray Croff: What are the pitfalls of this dysfunctional team?
Peter Christman: The 1st 1st thing you got to do is get the sanction and uh support of a client.
Peter Christman: The client buys off on what you’re gonna do and and you’re not gonna be uh put down by the attorney, put down by the accountant or what have you?
Peter Christman: Because Pete Chrisman is the expert in my exit plan. Okay.
Peter Christman: So you’ve got to get make sure you got their support to back you up. Then.
Peter Christman: The other things I have done is I have interviewed their current advisers and then if their current adviser was not qualified to be part of the team, I would tell them that that’s the case and why that’s the case.
Peter Christman: Okay. Uh, for instance, I’ve done it on lawyers, interview the lawyer or law firm, say, Okay, how many deals have you done in the last year, two years?
Peter Christman: What have you? Okay. How many in this particular industry? How many deals have you done?
Peter Christman: You know and you query their experience and you get a feel as to whether they’re going to queer the deal or they really have some experience that will help the process.
Peter Christman: So then you get back to the client say, okay uh Ted is going to be an excellent attorney because of A. B. C.
Peter Christman: And D. Or Ted is not gonna be a good part of the team because of A. B. C.
Peter Christman: And D. His law firm has never done a deal like this this size. Okay.
Peter Christman: And uh and they’re just they only do about one deal a year or two deals a year.
Peter Christman: And you know what the people that are coming in that are gonna be buying your your your business.
Peter Christman: They have done deals almost every day.
Peter Christman: So we want to be on a pair of pursuit basis with those people coming in.
Ray Croff: Yeah. So my mind is just racing as you’re talking because a number of Cepa’s they’re worried about doing what you do with that at that attorney because I think that attorney is gonna, you know be defensive whatever.
Ray Croff: But the way you did it, you interviewed them and almost made them also come to the conclusion.
Ray Croff: They’re not ready because they’re gonna get beat up and chewed up and spit out by the opposing attorney. And
Peter Christman: so that
Ray Croff: actually gets them on your side. You can both go to the to
Peter Christman: the
Ray Croff: Business owner and the attorney will say, yeah, I’ve got, I’ve got experience up to 10 million.
Ray Croff: But this is a $50 million Peter’s recommendation
Peter Christman: and you still keep that attorney that the other attorney as a corporate attorney. Okay.
Peter Christman: So you don’t lose them, you just get an M. And a attorney
Ray Croff: who’s
Peter Christman: qualified to do it in the same way with all the other professions
Ray Croff: and the attorney becomes your cheerleader because you had performed due diligence on him so he can go back to business owners say, hey look, he asked me some questions.
Ray Croff: He got the right guy. He’s no really mouth, you know, by
Peter Christman: that’s right, you get credibility with everybody.
Peter Christman: That’s, you know what if you guys have credibility with the other advisers that then it’s, it’s a piece of cake.
Ray Croff: Right? Okay. I’m sorry, I’m getting a hand cramp from writing.
Ray Croff: So what was the, I’m kind of backing up to the beginnings here was the basic reason for developing that exit planning model.
Peter Christman: Yeah, that’s a good, another good question.
Peter Christman: Um, one of the, uh, when I was going through this whole process and I had that epiphany that I realized that all the planning up until the time we introduced exit planning and so on.
Peter Christman: But all the planning that was being done was being done after the liquidy event instead of before the liquidy event when you could maximize that planning effort.
Peter Christman: Okay, so you know uh what was happening is that before there was, there weren’t any specific programs to maximize the value of the business.
Ray Croff: There
Peter Christman: wasn’t any any uh financial planning uh state plant that until after the liquidy event and and really that planning on what they were going to do after didn’t take place until afterward too.
Peter Christman: So I said we got to reverse this horse and put it in the right direction and uh because it’s not going in the right direction, we’re not achieving, achieving everything we should be achieving.
Ray Croff: So you did one of those begin with the end in mind what does it look like and then reverse engineer this is the work we have to do to achieve that instead of wait until the end and it’s too late.
Peter Christman: Right. Right. Exactly. You
Ray Croff: Know, all of a sudden you’re 70 years old and overweight.
Ray Croff: You got heart disease or this that now they’re thinking maybe I should eat better and exercise better 30 years ago.
Ray Croff: Right. Right. So okay, so
Peter Christman: you
Ray Croff: know, we touched on this but I want to zero in on one of the most important values a cepa can provide to their clients want to zero in on that.
Peter Christman: I think that we discussed a lot of these but I too narrowed down the secret educates the business owner to see if I can get the business owner to commit to a formal exit plan.
Peter Christman: Help and help them develop it and then commit
Ray Croff: to
Peter Christman: that plan. And then the third thing the CEPA coordinates the efforts of the owner, an adviser to achieving that plan.
Ray Croff: Would you say commit? Also as holding them accountable.
Ray Croff: Is that kind of that also what you’re saying, you know we’ve we’ve started this plan and keeping that business owner on track and accountable.
Peter Christman: Oh accountability. The business absolutely and and the business owner loves it because no one no one holds them accountable except their wife or their spouse.
Peter Christman: You know and and they they love someone there that they respect that holds them accountable for doing it or not doing
Ray Croff: because I think very you hit on something that I think a lot of CPAs especially the earlier the new recetas they are afraid they’re gonna insult them or whatever or they’re gonna say something that the business owner doesn’t like or whatever.
Ray Croff: But you gotta have to have the the will to say ask the right questions and tell things that they may not want to know and hold them accountable.
Ray Croff: You
Peter Christman: know what? Absolutely. That’s when I that’s what I was talking about before about these personal things.
Peter Christman: You’ve got to establish a personal relationship uh with that with that client.
Peter Christman: Okay And look them right now and say look at Ray don’t B. S.
Peter Christman: Me, you don’t really mean that that you know, and and and what your what to be successful.
Peter Christman: You’ve got to establish a relationship with the client.
Peter Christman: And uh, and a lot of people um, that are CPAs and uh are not comfortable establishing that those relationships that are not comfortable in this whole thing of communication.
Peter Christman: So you know what they shouldn’t get involved in that particular aspect of being a quarterback.
Ray Croff: Uh,
Peter Christman: because being a quarterback, you have to have balls. You have to excuse me for being so direct.
Peter Christman: But you have to really be straightforward and not let that client bs themselves or you
Ray Croff: Yeah. And you got to be confident enough in your game, right?
Ray Croff: Because already, you know, 95% more than them, right? But you don’t have to know everything.
Ray Croff: And that’s why you present, you don’t
Peter Christman: know, you don’t know everything okay Because all of these things that happen, that’s what the other thing that’s exciting about this business is that you’re learning something new every day because of the individuals they’re involved.
Peter Christman: And there’s some individuals have stupid ideas about what they want and and so forth.
Peter Christman: You know, that’s what makes it so exciting.
Peter Christman: I remind of one client we were in negotiations on their on their business and and he kept on saying, you know, don’t you think you could do a little bit better here a little bit better here and so forth and so on.
Peter Christman: I maximized all the negotiating. I looked him right in the eye and say Bill, goddamn
Ray Croff: it. No.
Peter Christman: And and he laughed because he knew he was pushing me to the to the point.
Peter Christman: But he laughed because he knew I was telling the truth
Ray Croff: because
Peter Christman: I showed it emotionally. You know
Ray Croff: exactly what he showed. You can too.
Ray Croff: But okay, so talk about the pitfalls, you know, as far as implementing an exit plan, some of the pitfalls,
Peter Christman: but the the pitfalls are pretty obvious from the point of view that they’re the opposite of what we’re talking about.
Peter Christman: And being successful. If you don’t educate the business owner, what they’re doing ain’t gonna happen.
Peter Christman: If you don’t get their commitment,
Ray Croff: it
Peter Christman: ain’t gonna happen. And out the other thing too is tied in with this to make sure you’re dealing with all decision makers and you’ve got to find out who all the decision makers are.
Peter Christman: It could be the business owner’s spouse, it could be the business owner’s brother, parents, Children, what you gotta or their advisor, their attorney, their accountant, what happened.
Peter Christman: You gotta find out who that person’s listening to or it might be somebody at the country Club.
Ray Croff: Mhm.
Peter Christman: So if you don’t know who all the players are and you haven’t qualified that, then you might be on, you might be going down a path.
Peter Christman: You don’t want to go down
Ray Croff: or even inviting that decision maker in on the team or the meeting or whatever, right?
Ray Croff: Cause you know when you say get that commitment up front, right?
Ray Croff: So you’re doing this interview, you’re getting these commitments, you’re getting to know their goals and things like that.
Ray Croff: And then when things start breaking down and they do right, there’s this up and down the stuff, you get these false peaks and things like that, you can remind them and say, hey Jack, remember this is what you wanted to do and you were committed.
Ray Croff: Okay. And I remember I told you there’s gonna be these valleys were in those valleys
Peter Christman: and this is something we’d run
Ray Croff: into, right? And that lifeline is that vision that you had six months ago.
Ray Croff: I want to do this because Right, so
Peter Christman: absolutely part of that whole process is educating them on what they’re gonna run into when they start implementing the, the exit plan, especially from buyers, you know, and, and uh, you know, some of the deals that you’re gonna run into where financing might be a big issue or or what have you.
Peter Christman: So you want
Ray Croff: not,
Peter Christman: you want to make sure that that person is going through due diligence in an educated manner
Ray Croff: so
Peter Christman: that 98% of the stuff is covered and then another 2-5% is not going to screw up their deal or their uh exit
Ray Croff: police educated enough to know what to expect due diligence is painful, but I’m gonna be there by your side, right?
Peter Christman: Right? And and we’re gonna go through and eliminate a lot of those pain points, because there can be no surprises?
Ray Croff: You know, no
Peter Christman: surprises for them or for us.
Peter Christman: And if we leveled with them, that’s why, when, when I was in a, in a are confidential business review, you know, the book, it was the best there.
Peter Christman: That book was the basis for due diligence and the basis for the contract.
Peter Christman: And uh, so that there wasn’t, you know, we brought out the good, the bad and also the ugly,
Ray Croff: right. You
Peter Christman: know, the other thing tied in with that.
Peter Christman: And I’d also say, you know, you gotta, you gotta level and be truthful with everybody that we bring in to discuss your, your situation and uh, you know, you’re getting too old to remember your lies.
Peter Christman: So you can’t DS
Ray Croff: right. Exactly. Another peter ism.
Peter Christman: You know, one of the things when, when I was showing businesses and uh, you know, the business owner would be getting all these questions from the buyer and so forth.
Peter Christman: So I always listened to make sure his stories were told the same way and any deviation from that story, I would send up a red flag with me for further qualification, right?
Peter Christman: And that is really, really important to achieve.
Ray Croff: Yeah. That right? There is one of those things that you learn over the years, right and stuff.
Ray Croff: It’s like one of those detectives why they ask you the same question. Three different ways, right?
Ray Croff: You know, I mentioned we would be an hour and I want to be respectful of your time.
Ray Croff: So two things. One is, do you have any closing comments that you just want to throw out there?
Ray Croff: You
Peter Christman: know what? Yeah, probably the only closing comment because we have covered a lot of territory and I’ve given a lot of great advice and I’m not, it’s come from over, uh, 60 years now in business and, uh, and uh, 40 50 years in the M and a business.
Peter Christman: But uh, you’ve got to listen to what we’re saying.
Peter Christman: And you’ve got to commit, commit to your role.
Peter Christman: If you’re not committed, don’t do it. You know, if if you don’t like selling, don’t do it.
Peter Christman: Don’t, don’t get involved. If you don’t like building relationships with people and so don’t get involved.
Peter Christman: So because you’re gonna need all these things to be successful.
Peter Christman: And I love to see, as I said earlier, love to see people become successful and I try to give them all the tools I can to be successful.
Peter Christman: And that’s what, you know, when my number’s up, my number is called, I want to make sure that and this is a reason why I’m doing this with you.
Peter Christman: Ray is leaving my legacy behind so that people can use it and to be successful.
Peter Christman: So that’s that’s probably about the best closing comment I can get,
Ray Croff: I assure you peter your legacy is secure.
Ray Croff: But if you want to leave more of a legacy, I’m gonna record this.
Ray Croff: So I’ve got you on the record. You know, we have these monthly calls with other advisers.
Peter Christman: Oh yeah.
Ray Croff: And I would like to invite you on from time to time maybe as a regular guest to maybe talk about prospecting or something like that.
Ray Croff: And we’d like to call it something, I don’t know, Pete’s corner or something will come up with something that you agree on.
Ray Croff: But would you be our guest?
Peter Christman: Oh, absolutely. Peter’s repeater. You
Ray Croff: know what what’s interesting is the things, some of the things that you teach, especially prospecting, our tried and true.
Ray Croff: Oh,
Peter Christman: There’s nothing, there’s nothing new.
Peter Christman: Uh if you if you look at a lot of these sales book, the uh there there was a back in the 40s 50s, there was a closer by name, J.
Peter Christman: Douglas Edwards. He had the basic closes and and that that’s what life is about is closing on different situations and what to do.
Peter Christman: And there’s different types of clothes.
Peter Christman: And then other guys afterwards have taken those same closings that made a business out of them for themselves, you know, and in teaching and so forth.
Peter Christman: So there’s nothing new.
Ray Croff: Yeah,
Peter Christman: yeah
Ray Croff: ordered this one guy, you know the takeaway close right Master that he would say something goes, yeah, but that’s probably not right for you.
Ray Croff: And he’d start out and the business would go, wait, wait, wait, right. It was, it was magical.
Ray Croff: I love that. But you know, when you say peter the repeater uh, too many advisors want to reinvent the wheel, right?
Ray Croff: When there’s quite and true stuff that works,
Peter Christman: you don’t have to, that area goes back ages and that’s what communication goes back ages, you know, and so forth.
Ray Croff: Yeah. I mean, the caveman would hit her on the head and say, I’ve got, you know, I’ve got meat here, right?
Ray Croff: Here’s the benefit of being my wife is, I can bring home the
Peter Christman: bacon. I can bring home the
Ray Croff: bacon.
Peter Christman: Uh, the, you know, they’re really funny little little things.
Peter Christman: Uh, like, uh, there was a car dealership in Fort wayne that used to uh, give away ice cream.
Peter Christman: two people that would come in and prospect for a car,
Ray Croff: You
Peter Christman: know why they gave them ice cream?
Ray Croff: No,
Peter Christman: because they knew that they wouldn’t go on to other dealer shifts because that ice cream would
Ray Croff: melt.
Peter Christman: So they gave my scream. So they’d go home and think about what they learned at that dealership.
Peter Christman: So there’s all kinds of closing things have been around for years, You