James M. Farwell
To whom this may concern, I started looking at school properties in 2012 and bought my school, Montessori School of Fort Myers, from School Investment Properties (SIP) in September 2013. Before that acquisition, I looked at many different child care centers and private schools that SIP had for sale before settling on Montessori School of Fort Myers. Since I closed on my school in 2013, I have looked at several additional acquisition opportunities. The reason I say this is to explain how I got to know Michelle quite well. As anyone who has bought a business knows, the acquisition process lasts many months and you get to see the best and worst of people when they are under stressful conditions. Being the middleman between buyer and seller is a tough spot to be in. I worked for five years as a mergers and acquisition investment banker representing companies with revenues of $10 – 300mm and know the life of a broker well. When I am hiring staff for my school, I follow Warren Buffet’s advice that he wants all his employees to have intelligence, energy, and integrity. There are several things that strike me about Michelle.
1. Intelligence. Michelle is a smart lady and she has worked in the child care industry so she know what she is talking about and how to get the right data that buyers/sellers need.
2. Energy. A common error of brokers is to ignore communication for days at a time when their attention gets pulled to another deal that is having trouble. I had 50+ emails, 50+ phone calls, and in-person meetings with Michelle and never once did I wait more than 24 hours for a response. She never dropped the ball.
3. Integrity. While some brokers can be pushy in an untrustworthy way that makes you as a buyer want to walk, Michelle was diligent in getting me the information I requested and she presented the facts as she knew them but made no attempt to spin the data in any way.
4. Positive Attitude. If you are considering buying or selling with a broker this stressful process is much more fun if you enjoy the person you are working with. Michelle has a positive attitude and that matters when you will work so closely for so long.
If I were to ask SIP to list my school (which will likely happen someday), there is no doubt I will ask