Are we business brokers or secret agents?

Why is it so difficult to find a buyer for a business, even a great one? 

One single word: Secrecy. 

Selling a business is completely different to selling a residential property. When an agent is selling a residential property, he is able to advertise the property, he is able to promote and advertise all aspects about it, out in the open. The more everyone knows about the sale, the better.

As business brokers, we cannot do any of that when we are selling a business. Most business owners do not want their employees, their customers, the landlord or their competitors to know that the business is on the market.

As business brokers, we must operate as covert secret agents. We are the James Bond of the business world or maybe some of us are more like Maxwell Smart.

As secrecy is so crucial, there are so many things that we cannot do as business brokers.

-We cannot advertise on our cars. If we park in front of a business, even if we are there for lunch, dinner or a workout at the gym and our car has a sign advertising ourselves or our agency, people will speculate that the business is for sale.

-We certainly cannot walk into a business, hand our card to a staff member and ask to see the owner. They staff member might speculate that the business is for sale.

-We definitely cannot erect a for sale sign out the front of the business.

-We cannot advertise the name or the actual location of the business.

-If we are required to visit a business during operating hours, while staff or customers are on the premises, we must have a believable cover story to avoid any speculation that the business is for sale. If we need to look around the premises, including the areas restricted from the general public, we cannot pretend to be a customer, we must create a scenario such as where we are an inspector of some sort with a legitimate reason to be there.

Life as a business broker would be so much simpler if we didn’t have to keep the sale of a business a secret. Advertising, marketing and promoting a business sale in secrecy is why it is critical to utilise the services of a large business brokerage agency. Due to the volume of ads, a large business brokerage agency is in a position to advertise on all business sales websites. Due to their large database, the large agency is able to effectively promote through email campaigns. They will also promote on social media and so much more, which is very time consuming. The large agency will cast a very large net to reach as many potential buyers as possible.

Without any disrespect to some of my colleagues in our sector of the business world, individual business brokers, no matter how capable they are, or brokers who work with a small agency are not able to offer the same level of service. I’m positive that I would not be able to operate as a successful business broker without the support of a large business brokerage agency.