Being a business broker I often hear horror stories of flubbed business sales. Last week while having lunch with a commercial real estate broker I heard the following sad story of a car wash sale gone wrong.

The local business owner had owned and operated a car wash for nearly 20 years, and due to his age he was ready to retire. Because he owned the real estate as well as the business, he contacted a commercial real estate agent to assist with the sale. The real-estate agent estimated the market value of the property & business, created a detailed real estate profile with address & photos, and posted the listing on his website. He then planted a few giant FOR SALE signs around the business to alert the public and generate interest.

Within the next week the car wash owner lost every single one of his employees, leaving him overwhelmed and forcing him to close the once profitable business for good.

So what happened? The real estate broker had only done what he always did to sell a building or commercial space, but because this listing included an operational business, the eminent change of ownership caused the employees to flee uncertainty and seek other employment.

When considering the sale of a business, it is critical to utilize a process that prioritizes confidentiality above everything. Employees and customers fear change, and vendors and competitors will use the knowledge of a sale to their advantage.

At Alliant we use “teaser” marketing profiles to announce listings to potential buyers. The “teaser” includes price, broad industry information, and a rough outline of the business size and region. No identifying information, including name, address, or photographs, is ever made available to the public.

If a buyer wishes to learn the precise details of a listing, they must first complete and sign a non-disclosure agreement and establish financial ability to purchase.

Our goal is to maintain secrecy so employees, customers, vendors, and competitors never know a business is for sale.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Alliant process, you can contact me for a free confidential consultation at 256-503-2806 or

Angela Graham, Regional Vice President, Alliant Capital Advisors