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
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


  Related Articles, Events, Blog Posts, Discussions, Videos, Interviews
Considering Hiring A Business Broker? Ask These Questions First, Then Decide

The key to finding the ideal business broker or agent and selling a small business is asking the right questions and getting the right answers back! Peter Siegel, MBA with BizBen & several top business brokers and agents in California (ProIntermediaries) contribute to this topic to assist sellers.

Sellers Ask: How Long Should I Wait For The Buyer To Do Their Due Diligence?

Business sellers & buyers ask the question in the buying process-how long should I ask for due-diligence when buying a small business? The answer really depends on several factors. They include: type of business, demand for the business, complexity of the business. Advisors weigh in on this topic.

Before Buying A California Business, 10 Questions You Should Ask Yourself

Before buying a business, all serious business buyers should ask themselves some key questions about possible buying a small California business, franchise, or opportunity - from Peter Siegel, MBA (Business Purchase Financing Expert, ProBuy & ProSell Program Advisor with BizBen) at 925-785-3118.

Uncover Hidden Problems In Due Diligence When You Buy A Small Business

Most everyone who's decided to buy a small business in California knows the importance of due diligence. That involves close examination of a business prior to removing contingencies. But not everyone knows how to uncover problems that are not obvious. Here are five of the most common hidden issues.

Owner Asks: Why Is A Business Sale Kept Confidential? How Is That Done?

Recently a business owner asked me on the phone, "Why do you keep the sale of a small business confidential? Why does it matter? How do you keep the sale confidential - any good tips?" What would be your answer to this business owner's question? ProIntermediaries on BizBen discuss this topic.

Tips When Using Escrow Bulk Sale Services When Buying Or Selling A Business

The final part of the business for sale transaction is the escrow and bulk sale process by Peter Siegel, MBA (Business Purchase Financing Expert, ProBuy & ProSell Program Advisor) answers questions and describes the escrow and bulk sale process. Peter can be reached direct at 925-785-3118.

Financing A Business Purchase With Limited Or No Real Estate Collateral

In my experience working with the "right banks and financial institutions" repayment ability sometimes overrules collateral pledged by someone needing financing for a business purchase or a down payment. Peter Siegel, MBA (Business Purchase Financing Expert) at 925-785-3118 shares his experience.

What Should I Do If Other Buyers Are Trying To Buy The Same Business As Me?

Buying a small business is hard enough when there is no competition, so how might a buyer navigate the process when there is additional competition from other buyers? Potential small business buyers are offered a few key ways that a buyer can beat out other potential business buyers in this article.


Escrow Services Diane Boudreau-Tschetter
Michael Brewer, ABC License Consultant
Bill Ziprick Legal Advise
Health Care Broker Ralph Santos
Facebook
Twitter
Linkedin
Vlogs and Podcasts
Instant Email Alerts On BizBen
BizBen ProBuy Program
Advertise On BizBen
BizBen Blogs And Articles
California Educational Events Buying And Selling Businesses

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!
Business Sellers: Do Not Make It Hard To Buy Your Small Business: Owner ...
Read More News
How To Determine Whether The Buyer For Your Business For Sale Is Sincere...
Read More News