Confidentiality: Why Keeping A Deal Quiet Is Important To Business Sellers


Confidentiality Agreements

Business owners should keep the fact that they want to sell confidential. Before releasing information to prospective buyers, those buyers should commit to confidentiality in writing (Confidentiality Agreement / Non Disclosure Agreement) and should understand why it is important. Business brokers & intermediaries make commitments to owners of each listed business to keep the sale confidential for many reason (five of them are listed at the bottom of this blog post).

In order to keep these commitments brokers and agents must require each buyer to maintain confidentiality. This means that business buyers agree not to do anything that would let anyone know that the business is for sale or let anyone learn any of the information about the business that they discover in the process of examining it. The only exception is that buyers may inform their advisors, such as attorneys and accountants, in order that they may assist in the process. 

These professional advisors must first commit to maintain confidentiality. This is a very serious commitment as the business may be harmed if confidentiality is violated, and the person who breaches the confidentiality commitment may be liable for damages.

To maintain confidentiality all communications must be strictly between the buyer and the seller and/or his agent, i.e. the buyer agrees not to contact the business owner, its employees, vendors, landlord, accountant, neighbors or especially customers. Buyers agree to visit only when they make an appointment approved by the owner. Buyers must agree not to discuss the sale with friends or coworkers - it is a very small world!

When touring a business being sold be sure not to speak in front of employees or bring any confidential materials provided by the seller or an agent to the business premises being toured or checked out. Employees can and have found confidential business summaries on the tables in businesses after a buyer/seller/broker/agent meeting!

What can happen if confidentiality is breached?  Here are some things that have happened:

1. Primary vendors put the business on COD terms causing a major financial crisis for the owner.

2. Half of the employees quit in a panic because someone started a rumor that the new owner was going to fire everyone (never true, but employees don't know that) rather than wait to be fired, they sought and found new jobs.  The owner was unable to operate the business profitably.

3. Competitors have used the fact that the owner was selling to sell against the business, pointing out to prospective customers that any guarantees would be worthless after the sale (not true, but scares customers and may influence their purchase decisions).

4. Employees found the offering information left behind by a prospective buyer. When they learned how profitable the business was, they demanded pay increases from the owner!

5. The word got around inadvertently to employees, who started stealing large quantities of cash and merchandise, thinking that the owner would be gone before he discovered it.

The world is sometimes a very small place. The theory of networking says that each of us is separated from any other human being by no more than five degrees of separation. If you speak about the sale in front of strangers, one of the people who overhear may turn out to be the spouse of a key employee in the business, or a vendor. So pretend you work for the CIA and that all of the information about the business "including the fact that it is for sale" is mission critical, top secret information!

Categories: BizBen Blog Contributor, Buying A Business, Deal And Escrow Issues, How To Buy A Business, How To Sell A Business, Legal Topics, Selling A Business

Contributor:

Peter Siegel, MBA
Areas Served: All Of California
Phone:  925-785-3118 Cell, 925-785-3118 Text
Founder Of BizBen.com (since 1994). I am the Lead Advisor for the ProSell, ProBuy, & ProIntermediary Programs. I consult daily with buyers, sellers, and brokers daily about buying and selling California small to mid-sized businesses. Call 925-785-3118.





  Helpful Resources To Assist In Selling And Buying California Businesses
Diane Boudreau-Tschetter: Escrow & Bulk Sale Services - CA

California Business Escrow, Inc. is a full service independent escrow company serving all of California and has expertise in a wide range of escrows. Our team prides itself on providing an exceptional escrow experience. For more info phone Diane Boudreau-Tschetter at 888-383-3331 or 209-838-1100.

Brad Steinberg, Business Broker: Laundromat Specialist

PWS is the leading laundromat broker in California. Since 1968 PWS has brokered over 2,500 laundromat sales. With over 90 employees dedicated to the coin laundry industry, PWS has 18 licensed agents, a 3 person in-house finance department, 10 service technicians and a 20 person parts department.

William F. Ziprick, Attorney: Legal Services For Buyers And Sellers

Through creative problem solving, attention to detail, accessibility, & understanding that unnecessary delay is often a deal killer, I work closely with my clients and other professionals to consistently achieve a high rate of closings. Office: 909-255-8353, Cell: 509-951-7230.

Helen Yoo, New Century Escrow - Escrow Services In Southern California

New Century Escrow, Inc. is a fully licensed & bonded independent escrow company. Over 20 years combined experience in handling bulk escrow transactions. Multi-lingual staff that speaks your language, including Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese. Call Helen Yoo direct at 626-890-1151.

Janet Carrera: Escrow & Bulk Sale Service - SF Bay Area

Redwood Escrow Services, Inc. is a full service, licensed independent escrow company. We are EAFC Fidelity bonded, fully insured & licensed with the Department of Corporations. Committed to offering our clients the most comprehensive variety of escrow services available. Phone Janet at 510-247-0741.

Elizabeth McGovern: Escrow Services - San Francisco Bay Area

McGovern Escrow Services, Inc., is a leading independent escrow company. We are a trusted partner with our clients, assisting them through the tangled bulk sale & liquor license transfer process. We provide attentive, quality & innovative customer service. Phone Elizabeth McGovern at 415-735-3645.

Shalonda Chappel: Escrow & Bulk Sale Services - Southern California

Escrow services to brokers/agents, sellers, & buyers. Established 43 years. Extraordinary service. Experienced with handling difficult transactions. One stop for all your escrow needs: Bulk sales, lien searches, UCC searches, liquor license transfers, publishing & recording services. 951-808-3972.


  Related Articles, Events, Blog Posts, Discussions, Videos, Interviews
Computing All Add Backs: Defining Adjusted Net Income When Buying A Business

The use of add backs & adjusted net income is common among sellers of businesses when showing their financial information/performance. But buyers are cautioned to review financials and tax returns/documents closely. Peter Siegel, MBA with BizBen (ProBuy & ProSell Advisor, Lead Facilitator) explains.

Thinking Of Selling My Business: What Factors Create Value And Drive Price?

There are a lot of misconceptions about what enhances the value of a business. The following factors in this Discussion Post on BizBen are aspects of a business that really drives its value and pricing. Business owners thinking of selling should check these out these factors before selling.

Buy A Business Or Start From Scratch? 5 Key Differences For Business Buyers

Some buyers believe it's better to start a business from scratch rather than buy an existing enterprise. While this may be good advice in some cases, usually it's not the best strategy. Here are five tips to help a buyer make the right decision from from Peter Siegel, MBA (BizBen Director).

Buying A Small Business That Is Not For Sale - Strategies For Business Buyer

Approaching business owners directly to see if they want to sell can sometimes work well for business buyers searching to buy a business. Another way is to broadcast your search criteria via the BizBen ProBuy Program to all brokers, agents, and intermediaries who sell businesses in California.

Who Really Represents The Business Buyer In A Deal? Does Dual Agency Work?

Who really represents the buyer? The selling broker or agent through dual agency? Many brokers and agents weigh in on this Discussion on BizBen. Bottom line is all business buyers need to know who really represents them and has their best interest at heart when seeking and negotiating on deals.

Absentee Run Small Businesses - Is That Really A Possibility For Buyers?

Is buying a absentee run small business really a possibility? Peter Siegel (BizBen ProBuy Director) gets asked this question a lot in his consulting sessions with business buyers. Read more about what other Advisors and Intermediaries feel about this topic on this popular BizBen Discussion!

If You Plan To Offer Seller Financing: 3 Things Owner Sellers Need to Know

When selling your business, offering seller financing is a great way to help your business standout from others on the market and it is also a good strategy to consider that can help you close a sale. Peter Siegel, MBA (BizBen ProSel Program & Financing Expert) explains. Reach him at 925-785-3118.

Selling Your Business To One Of Your Employees - A Good Idea? Pros And Con

After investing years of time and talent into a company, many small business owners want to feel like they are leaving their business in good hands and for that reason, some sellers opt to sell their business to an employee. Peter Siegel, MBA talks about the pros and cons to taking this route.


Escrow Services Diane Boudreau-Tschetter
San Diego Florist Selling
Jim Thomas Broker Consultant Fitness
Restaurant Workshop Cheryl Maloney
Facebook
Twitter
Linkedin
Vlogs and Podcasts
Business For Sale California Stats
BizBen Blogs And Articles
BizBen ProSell Program
Advertise On BizBen
New Postings Reports On BizBen Sign Up
Instant Email Alerts On BizBen

BizBen - Where California Deals Get Done! 888-212-4747
7172 Regional Street #364 · Dublin, CA. 94568
BizBen · Copyright © 1994 - 2020, All Rights Reserved



Clost Login


Please confirm your registration by clicking the link we've sent to .

If you can't see it, please check your junk mail folder.

If you have any problems registering, or need assistance with your new BizBen User Account please phone BizBen Customer Support at 888-212-4747.



First Name:*
Last Name:*
Email Address:*
Confirm Email:*
Create Password:*
Confirm Password:*
Phone:
(   
 


You Are A:
Individual
 
Intermediary
 

Email Address:
Password:
 

500 New & Refreshed Detailed Postings Daily
Over 2500 Resources Available On BizBen
Since 1994. Where California Deals Get Done!
5 Myths About Selling A California Business: Best Tips For Sellers & Bro...
Read More News
Selling Your Business To One Of Your Employees - A Good Idea? Pros And C...
Read More News