Buying a Distressed Answering Service

We talked about “Selling a Distressed Answering Service.” Now we look at this issue from the alternate perspective of the buyer. The key is to treat a seller as we would want them to treat us if our roles were reversed. This is not the time to squeeze every possible penny from the transaction; you are already getting a good deal because of the situation. This is time to help a person move through a difficult situation, perhaps the worst one of their lives.

Stay Fair: Buyers of destressed properties control the situation. They dictate the price and the terms. While this gives power to take advantage of the seller, it also gives power to offer a fair deal.

Remain Sensitive: Never forget the seller of a distressed business sits mired in a low point of their business life, likely the lowest. By being aware of this situation we can act with greater understanding and increased empathy.

Give Affirmation: The seller built a successful business. Uphold that reality. He or she once ran a profitable operation. Confirm that fact. Just because those things are not presently true, we can affirm those accomplishments. Let them retain something to be proud of.

Show Respect: In parallel to affirmation is respect. Let them retain their dignity; don’t make them grovel. Though they won’t receive top dollar for their distressed answering service, we can still respect them by how we negotiate and transact the sale.

Consider Their Future: To the degree possible, let them determine their function post sale. Perhaps they just want to walk away. This is an understandable response. Maybe keeping them on as a consultant provides a way to tap their knowledge and help them hold their head up. Possibly they just need a job. Can you hire them to work for you? Though this requires careful consideration, it can offer value to both parties.

Leave a Positive Impression: The seller of the distressed property still has friends in the industry. Post sale, the seller will talk about you – good or bad – which will influence other potential sellers. If you want the seller to advocate for you, then leave him or her with a favorable memory of your treatment during the sale.

These are reasons why “it’s just business” needs to receive secondary consideration when buying a distressed telephone answering service. When we do, we will feel better about ourselves and reap rewards later. We will be glad we stayed fair, remained sensitive, gave affirmation, showed respect, considered their future, and left a positive impression.

That’s good business.


Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier sales and marketing service provider and consultancy for the call center and telephone answering service industry. Contact Janet at or 800-901-7706 to arrange a private consultation about buying or selling an answering service.

Peter DeHaan is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan.