As an entrepreneur, Terry Hart is a good one. His emphasis is on win/win. He cares about the people he does business with and is passionate about fulfilling their needs as well as achieving his own bottom line. Terry has a creative and dynamic personality that exudes enthusiasm and charm.
When I first met Terry, he was working as an accountant for a small agency and it was not the right career for him. He had a heavy mortgage and his wife worked hard as an insurance sales manager so they could support the monthly repayments. Like many couples in this position, they lived in a very nice house, they drove nice cars, but they were paying an enormous price for these luxuries. They had no time to live because of their financial commitments. Mandy and Terry Hart were ready for a family but it wasn’t possible due to their current time commitments.
Then a car accident put Terry in hospital for 3 months. During his rehabilitation he recalls he had time to think and just catch his breath, away from his hectic life, he had a chance to reflect and regroup. But there were new pressures piling up. The insurance company found fault with the Harts claim and eventually refused to honor the policy. The doctors bills were high as he needed specialist attention and these pressures of money on top of the mortgage payments and the car payments were getting to be too much. They lost the house after being in default for over 7 months and the couple unfortunately began to drift and the relationship began to deteriorate. They separated on the day Terry was discharged from the rehabilitation program.
With care bills and a large mortgage default notice payment attached to his weekly wages, Terry was now living on half his weekly income. He was living back at home with his parents and was grateful he had that support to help him get back on his feet. However, as he recalls, his future looked bleak. The amount of debt that he now carried was too heavy to see his future as anything but questionable.
Over his time in hospital, my wife and I visited him several times and spent time talking to him. We really got to know him and he was a very nice guy. One day, a few months after his discharge from the hospital I received a call from Terry so I invited him over for dinner. He had a motive for seeing me and he wanted some advice.
I had come to evaluate Terry as having a very resilient personality and when he outlined his ideas and asked me what I thought, I was not surprised at all to hear such an ambitious plan coming from him. He had no money, in fact he was in debt to the tune of $60,000 He had no time because his job was still a chain around his neck and 80 hour weeks were not unusual. He also admitted he had not much motivation left either. His morale was at an all time low, but he did have a few ideas on how to get from under this mess and he claimed they were the one thing that kept him going over this dark period in his life.
Based on some of the ideas I relayed to him during his stay in hospital Terry formulated a plan to turn around his financial situation and felt that he could even find a way to reconcile with Many Hart if he could find a way to take control of his financial affairs. His plan was simple, as all excellent plans are. He was going to help struggling business owners from out of their business and profit from helping them. Where he works, there is an old couple Terry talks to that own the local mini mart. Every day he gets his lunch and makes small talk with the old owner. They are so tired and wanting to get out but don’t make enough to make the move. They own the building their business is housed in, but it is run down and they don’t believe it is worth very much.
Terry’s experience with numbers and accountancy gave him some confidence approaching this idea in this way, but as he says, its really a bottom line calculation and anyone can see that. You don’t need a degree in accounting to make the decisions he did. The couple were astonished one day when Terry approached them with an offer for the business, it was very generous in their eyes and they didn’t need to think long about it. Terry made them this offer conditionally. He wanted to buy an option to buy the place for the price he suggested. The option costed him $100 and it was for a term of 6 months.
He now controlled this business for the next 6 months and all he had to do was find a more willing buyer to interest in this building/business package. The offer was for $400,000 Terry believed the building itself was worth this much. The business had a net of $40,000 annually so he calculated the worth of the business to be around $100,000
Being a quick study, Terry did know that there was potential to get even much more then that. It depended on the utility of the new buyer that he may have been able to find. Utility is a word Terry is very focused on. “Utility is king” is something Terry has been heard to say a lot.
Well, he was spot on with his ideas, because the “utility” (the reason people decide to buy things) of the tyre chain that considered Terry’s option was to expand their operation. Brellins tyres were in an expansion phase and were snapping up sites like McDonalds on steroids. The mini mart was located on a corner site and could easily be converted into a convenient drive through style set up that a lot of tyre retailers often adopted.
Brellins didn’t find Terry’s offer by accident. In fact, Terry was one of those innovative entrepreneurs that created situations. He didn’t wait or hope for chance to find him. He researched large deep pocket companies who were on the look out for appropriate sites on the internet. He sent the head office of Brellins tyres an email that gave them the critical information they needed to asses the offer. The square footage of the building and passing traffic numbers. These two facts were the typical criteria most businesses wanted to know before they took any further steps in considering a site. Terry sent out these statistics and pictures of the building to over 20 company’s. Brellins responded.
Terry was asking $120,000 for his option. He assigned the option to Brellins tyres 8 months to the day that he was discharged from his hospital bed. After costs that were for attorney fees and taxes, he was left with nearly $100,000. Terry paid out his debts, contacted Mandy and was ready for his next deal.
The older couple moved to Florida and couldn’t be more happy.
Martin Thomas (c)2005