Why Would Business Sellers Use ‘Blind Ads’?

Blind Ads Protect Seller’s Confidentiality

When it comes time to put their business up for sale, confidentiality is critically important for most business sellers. They do not want their employees, customers, suppliers, or the general public to know that their business is up for sale. For this reason, professional business brokers advertise businesses through ‘blind ads.‘ A ‘blind ad’  does not reveal the actual name of the business nor even the specific location of the business (other than a broad geographical area such as county) being advertised for sale. A ‘blind ad’ does generally describe the business including its sales and profits, but it is a confidential ad.  Let’s explore the specific reasons of why business sellers use ‘blind ads’ to sell their business, with common examples that help explain the consequences of not using ‘blind ads.’

Business Sellers Do Not Want Business Disrupted During Sales Process

  • During the sales process, the last thing that a business seller wants is for their business to be disrupted by potential buyers.
  • Unless the business for sale advertisement is a ‘blind ad’, anyone (whether a serious buyer or not) will know what specific business is being advertised and hence the exact location and telephone number of the business.
  • Such ‘buyers’ may thus simply call or walk into the business establishment and attempt to talk to the owner about the business sale.
  • Needless to say, this is a totally inappropriate way to discuss such a sensitive and confidential issue.
  • Other customers and employees may certainly be within listening range of the conversation between the buyer and seller, and will thus be made aware of the sale along with any details discussed.
  • Further, the seller’s broker will be shut out of the discussion, and the seller will be unprepared for this sort of ‘ambush’ by potential buyers.
  • No business seller will want to be approached in such an inappropriate manner because of the obvious potential for business disruptions.
  • By advertising the business confidentially via ‘blind ads’ and qualifying buyers ahead of time by having them complete and sign non-disclosure agreements, these types of business disruptions can be eliminated.

Business Sellers Do Not Want Employees to Quit During Sales Process

Without a ‘blind ad’ protecting the confidentiality of the business being sold from the general public, it is quite likely that word of the sale will get out within the industry of the business being sold. When someone in an industry learns of the potential sale of a business within that industry, it will not take long before the employees of the business learn about the potential sale. When employees are made aware of the potential sale of the business where they work, they frequently feel insecure about their job security. After all, employees have no idea who the buyer of the business will be and whether they will still want to keep them as employees. Employees may also fear that the new buyer will create a less hospitable workplace or lower their wages.

Employees May Also Be ‘Stolen’ By Competitors

When employees and competitors within an industry are aware of the potential sale, the competitors frequently attempt to steal the employees of the business for sale. Such competitors realize that the employees are vulnerable and probably in fear of their jobs because of the potential sale of the business where they work. These unscrupulous competitors prey on these fears, and find ways to contact the employees in order to lure them to quit their jobs and work for them.

Example of Employees Being Stolen By Competitors

  • Let us assume that Jane owns Jane’s Hair Salon and has decided to advertise the business for sale by herself without using ‘blind ads.’
  • Unfortunately, because the advertisements are not confidential, the sale of the salon becomes known by Jane’s employees and competitors.
  • Jane’s employees consist of four hair stylists, and they become worried about who the buyer of the salon will be, whether their commission percentages that they receive will be lowered, and even whether the salon may close if no buyer is found.
  • Thus Jane’s employees are very vulnerable and in fear of their jobs for which they rely on to take care of themselves and their families.
  • Alex owns a competing hair salon nearby and is looking for hair stylists to hire.
  • Alex also sees or hears about the advertisements that Jane has posted online, and decides to surreptitiously contact Jane’s stylists.
  • Alex offers the same commission rate that Jane’s stylists are being paid, along with good working conditions and promises of stability.
  • Jane’s stylists quit, leaving Jane with very little value left in her salon.
  • Of course, this scenario could have been easily avoided had Jane trusted the sale of her salon to a professional business broker who would have placed a ‘blind ad.’

Competitors May Steal Business Customers Without ‘Blind Ads’

In addition to the risk of stolen employees, advertising a business without using ‘blind ads’ also subjects the business to losing customers. Competitors are always looking for an edge in order to gain new business, and many competitors are more than willing to use the knowledge that a competing business is for sale in order to steal customers from that business. This may occur by competitors simply telling customers that a competing business is for sale, and thus can not be trusted to serve their future needs.

Example of Competitors Stealing Business Customers

  • Let us assume that Jim is a physical therapist and owns Jim’s Physical Therapy Center.
  • Unfortunately Jim (like Jane) places a non-confidential business advertisement online in his desire to sell his business.
  • Because the advertisement is not a ‘blind ad’, a nearby competitor sees the ad and decides to take advantage of the fact that Jim’s business is for sale.
  • This competitor knows that Jim gets most of his patients from a certain group of referring physicians.
  • The competitor approaches this group of referring physicians and tells them that Jim’s business is for sale, and thus their patients may not receive the same quality of care from the buyer.
  • The group of referring physicians stop giving Jim their business, and decide to refer their patients to the competitor.
  • Although competitors do make excellent buyers of businesses, such competitors must be properly qualified and must sign non-disclosure agreements.
  • This will prevent them from stealing employees or customers of the business being sold.

In order to avoid business disruption and the loss of employees and customers, business sellers must ensure that their advertisements are properly presented to the public as ‘blind ads.’ This is the only way to protect their confidentiality, and safeguard their business during the sales process.

Give Martin at Five Star Business Brokers of Palm Beach County a call today for a FREE evaluation of your business.

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