Wikipedia defines “values” this way: “A personal and/or cultural value is an absolute or relative ethical value, the assumption of which can be the basis for ethical action. A value system is a set of consistent values and measures. A principle value is a foundation upon which other values and measures of integrity are based.” Do values matter in business? I think so.
We all like to think that we are being treated “the right way.” One can argue that “the right way” may vary from person to person, as what is “right” for one person may not be so for another. But there are some fundamental practices that embody values and “the right way” to treat others in business. In the simplest and broadest sense, being honest is core to the concept of values. Honesty is not subjective; either someone is telling the truth, or they are not. They might make a mistake, but that’s not the same as being untruthful. So, honesty matters.
In the business of inn brokerage, whether representing someone who is buying a bed and breakfast or someone who is selling a bed & breakfast, being ethical is core to reflecting values in business. Many professions have formal codes of ethics. The one which we at The B&B Team® refer to most is the Realtor Code of Ethics. The Code can best be described as codifying the Golden Rule.
As an ethics instructor, I teach the importance of adhering to the Code, not just because it’s the right thing, but because it’s good business. The concept of “representing” a client means putting the client’s interests ahead of one’s own. Too often we see practitioners who place their own interest in “getting a deal done” and getting paid ahead of whether it’s the right decision for the client. Frequently those people who are disillusioned with how they have been treated by others come to us to complain and, hopefully, help them put things right. We cannot undo the past, but we can certainly treat them right going forward.
Being ethical also means obeying the law, which seems like a “duh!” kind of statement. But consider this: anti-trust law is intended to prevent collusion in setting rates of payment or commission structures. In our business we often share fees that we earn with cooperating inn brokers and inn consultants. It works like this: an innkeeper hires us to sell her inn. We have a fee arrangement with the sellers that establishes what we will be paid under different scenarios. Many times another broker with a buyer will ask us what we are being paid and if the “split” is 50/50. Our response is always to tell them what we are offering as cooperating compensation, nothing else. It would be a violation of the law to tell others what our fee structure is, as that could be construed as collusion or “setting rates.” Besides, it’s a confidential, contractual agreement between us and our clients. Likewise, when we ask what compensation would be offered to us if we bring a buyer to the table we are often told what a listing broker’s commission is and what the split is. I cringe every time, as that is NOT what we asked for!
Another key component of values and ethical behavior is maintaining confidentiality. If you tell us something that is personal (you are ill or in a divorce, for example) or confidential (which can include negotiating strategies, bottom or top line price, etc.), that information helps us understand your situation, but we will NEVER disclose that to anyone else EVER unless you authorize us to do so or we are required by law. Does this seem complicated? Not to us. Not when it’s natural to do the right thing. Not if we keep the Golden Rule in mind.
Our goal at The B&B Team® is simple. Our mission statement says it all: “We help our clients reach their personal and financial goals in the Innkeeping industry.” To be certain, we have our own financial goals (after all, we are in business), but they are not to be obtained at the expense of a client’s. Ever. Period. We believe that if we do the right thing by you, you will reward us with repeat and referral business. Our reputation is more valuable than any fee we earn.
People considering hiring us always ask us good questions about how we work. And the response is rather lengthy and, frankly, something only to be shared with a prospective client, not the world. If you’d like to understand better what we do, how we do it, and really understand what our VALUES are, I invite you to contact any of us. I started this company in 1993 on a foundation of ethical behavior, and every person who represents The B&B Team® brand is someone you can have absolute confidence in. That is our promise to you.