The business sale process - a brief guide to what's involved
No two business sales, even in the same sector or industry, are ever the same.
However, there are often similar characteristics to the general process. With this in mind here is a very general guide to a typical/average business sale process.
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Preparation & Valuation
The first step is a non-obligatory and confidential meeting with you to see if the conditions are right for a sale and that we have an understanding and agreement on likely business value. We will look at the various operating aspects of your business and get a feel for its salability. Together we shall then discuss the various options and answer any questions you may have.
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You provide us with the necessary documents and data we require to compile an extensive Executive Summary and Information Memorandum. Two documents designed to generate interest and excitement in the marketplace. All your documents will be kept confidential until we have your permission to release them to an interested party
Simultaneously we will be conducting extensive research and developing a bespoke marketing plan aimed at securing the greatest number of qualified prospects. We have access to global databases allowing us to search over 7 million businesses on a global basis. Your approval for all of our marketing documents will be gained prior to executing the plan.
2. Marketing, Advertising, Vetting & Purchaser Credit Scoring
Around 50% of potential buyers are already known to us at the start of a new project. Irrespective of us having a buyer within our sites from the start, all our projects go through an extensive an unrivalled marketing process. This means each business gets exposure to the maximum number of potential purchasers.
Upon expression of interest, each potential purchaser goes through our rigorous screening and qualification process. Only after your approval will details of your business be released.
A lot of time and energy can be wasted talking to buyers who, no matter how well intentioned, just don't have the ability to fund a deal. This is why we have a very vigorous vetting and credit profiling process (checked against three different credit agencies) which means your business is only matched with prospects who have the will and funds to complete a deal. This saves you time, money and protects your confidentiality.
Meeting are arranged with vetted and interested parties, giving you the opportunity to quiz the buyer while they get to find out more about your business. Meetings can be held in neutral locations in order to maintain confidentiality.
4. Offer & Negotiation
Once we have received an offer, we will immediately present it to you for your consideration. You may decide to accept the offer. Alternatively, you may wish us to draw up a counter-offer. At this stage, most offers will be subject to contract and due diligence (see below), i.e. not legally binding. We negotiate to get you the best deal possible, ideally in a competitive environment with several keen purchasers.
5. Acceptance, Heads of Agreement, Due Diligence & The Legal Process
Once you have fully understood the terms of the offer and have accepted it, we prepare a document called a Heads of Agreement or Heads of Terms. This is a mutually agreeable explanation of the deal and its terms in plain English. It is the document the solicitors use to draw up a definitive sale and purchase contract.
Simplistically, due diligence is similar to a survey for buying a house. It is the acquirers opportunity to verify information provided and satisfy themselves that the business is in good order. Due diligence is usually performed by the purchaser's accountants and solicitors and covers financial, legal and commercial issues. Depending on the professionals involved and the complexity of the deal, the legal process usually runs from six to twelve weeks.
6. Completion & Handover
Once the legal process is finished, a completion date will be set where all the parties sign the final contract. Funds are exchanged and the business is transferred.
Finally, following completion there follows the handover or agreed consultancy.