Forgive the awful pun in the title but yet again I have spoken to a prospective buyer who reports great difficulty in buying a business.
He came to see me regarding a client of mine and mentioned that he has seen 3 similar businesses on the www.businessesforsale.com website. He has dutifully filled in the online request for more information and has only had one reply. This seems commonplace and I wonder why.
Ads on this website are not free so presumably there is some intent on the part of the advertiser to actually sell the business. It's not clear in this case whether the ads are placed by brokers or directly by the vendor but it is surely reprehensible for a broker not to reply. Even if the business is sold or under offer then an appropriate courteous reply would surely be seen as the correct, professional response - wouldn't it? You would also capture details of a potentially useful buyer.
In all cases I would reply to an enquiry. Even if the business is no longer available, under offer or maybe it doesn't seem to match the enquiry.
Another bugbear for buyers is getting up-to-date and relevant details on a business. A reply may be sent but details can be out of date, or vague, or simply wrong. I've even heard of some brokers who hold no accounts or other data on their client business and virtually expect the client to do the legwork such as sending out accounts, asset lists, management figures and all of the other information necessary.
Anyway, enough moaning. I'll continue to do the job the way I think it should be done - thoroughly, professionally and with the client's interests fully at heart.
Keith Green - selling businesses and advising SME business owners since 1997 and still enjoying it.