"Equity sold a $ 3 million HVAC service contractor for an owner who wished to retire. The perfect buyer was a $ 12 million local competitor in the same town. Doug negotiated a very quick and confidential deal without disturbing the competitive marketplace. " A very happy Equity Client.
Selling a business is probably the biggest financial decision a business owner will ever make. After years of effort to build the company and after hours and hours of work building in the "sweat equity" value, the Sale is the time to use the best professional help to maximize the transfer of equity.
Becoming a client of Equity, Ltd. offers Michigan business owners many advantages to ensure a successful business transfer. Our local presence in Michigan provides the focus, knowledge and professional contacts that all sellers need and appreciate. Our regional network through MBBI and MEA and our national reach through BBN and IBBA provides exposure to thousands of pre-qualified buyers across the country and takes advantage of a highly professional and successful business transfer process developed over twenty years. Our negotiation skills and experience are directed at protecting owner equity to ensure maximum return on the personal and financial investment made in developing a successful business over many difficult years. We are committed to complete confidentiality throughout the process as one of our basic business principles.
These unique advantages translate into specific business transfer benefits that EQUITY, LTD. Company can offer business owners. We utilize a proven set of tools and techniques for packaging and marketing a business that are both effective and affordable. This is due in part to the efficiencies of scale of our state and national networks. We thoroughly understand the business transfer process and have access to the right professional contacts to help ensure a smooth business closing. This often means that less time is required to reach closing and provides for a higher probability of actually selling a business. The thorough and professional way that Equity, Ltd. manages and negotiates the sale also provides a higher probability that an owner will obtain the asking price and extract the deserved equity in a business.
Developing a comprehensive and effective Business Marketing Plan is required to ensure maximum market exposure for a business. This is a critical part of the process and it defines the potential buyer profile and criteria and determines target market segments for the marketing campaign. The following phases are key steps in the process.
Phase I -
1. Business Information Organizer
2. Confidential Business Review (Executive Summary)
3. Market Valuation Analysis
4. Valuation Summary
5. Confidential Executive Summary
6. Business Marketing Plan
1. Screen Buyers
2. Buyer Visits
3. Letters of Intent
4. Purchase Agreements
2. Deal Structure
4. Post Closing
Some businesses, such as historic landmarks or famous establishments, can actually benefit from publicly announcing they’re for sale. Yet, for most businesses, maintaining confidentiality can be extremely important during the business sale process, as well as post-sale so you can reach your exit goals.
If word gets out to your creditors, customers, competitors or employees that the business is being sold, it could trigger a negative reaction, weakening your business momentum and therefore its value. Moreover, prospective buyers may become hesitant if they feel sensitive information has been shared with others.
Once you start marketing your business for sale, confidentiality can be tricky, but less so if you're working with a business broker. Business brokers are experienced at fielding inquiries from would-be buyers and reaching out to prospects without ever mentioning you or your company name. Yet, if you’re selling your business on your own, there are several steps you can take to ensure the sale of your business doesn’t leak out prematurely.
Have this ready for presentation to qualified buyers. You can usually find sample agreements online or work with your attorney to formulate your own. Don’t provide any details or specific information that could identify your business prior to the buyer prospect signing this agreement. It’s important to include a clause that ensures confidentiality from both parties, plus an expiration date on the agreement.
2. Use blind ads when advertising your business.
Do not share your personal contact information or business name when you advertise your business for sale. You can reveal this information after obtaining their confidentiality commitments. A blind ad will lead with a headline that promotes the strength of the business, instead of its name.
Screening potential buyers protects your confidentiality as a seller. Do not hesitate to ask a prospective buyer about his or her financial and business background. Qualified buyers expect you to screen them; they are serious shoppers and prepared to provide information about themselves in order to move on to the next steps. Additionally, qualified buyers prefer information about your business remain private because they want to know that the business they are buying has taken steps to protect its trade secrets and financial information.
An effective method of screening is to formulate your ad with response requirements in a way that helps unqualified buyers opt themselves out. Ask them to describe their purchase intentions and qualifications. Prior to talking with potential buyers, prepare a form to record information about them, as well as a short script to help you answer their questions without divulging the identity of your business. Establish rapport by setting up a fair exchange of information. Keep in mind that it’s not unusual to have at least a 50% drop-out rate after the first round of communication, since this is the beginning of the process of narrowing down the field to qualified buyers.
Once you’ve determined if someone is a qualified buyer and they’ve signed your confidentiality agreement, provide them with a selling memorandum containing a unique identification number for tracking. A seller memorandum is a thorough overview of your business and why it’s a good purchase prospect. This is often referred to as a selling memo, a confidential description book, or an offering memorandum. In the footer of each page, add a reminder that access to the document is governed by the terms of the confidentiality agreement and that there will be legal consequences to any breach of that agreement.
Always disclose information about your business in phases. Even with a signed confidentiality agreement, you shouldn’t share proprietary information, client lists or trade secrets about your business. First and foremost, the buyer must demonstrate their purchase ability and their intent to make an offer.
Always meet off-site. An ideal place to meet would be at the office of your broker, accountant, or attorney.
You may require the assistance of a few key employees to assist you in assembling due diligence or a buyer may want to meet the team. Nevertheless, it’s best to limit the number of personnel involved and explain to them the downside of a confidentiality breach.
As you follow these steps, remember to deliver information about your business confidentially and in phases. Start by sharing a brief description of your business in your blind ad. As you screen inquiries and filter out unqualified buyers, take all the necessary steps to ensure confidentiality as you disclose more details to serious buying prospects. Balancing questions from buyers and maintaining confidentiality can be difficult, yet, proper preparation can ensure the sales process goes smoothly.