The business broker and business transfer agent market in the UK has some really dodgy operators in it. A couple of the more regular tricks are below:
1. The small print – there are quite literally hundreds of articles and complaints on the internet about some of the larger and more sophisticated sales operations out there who have armies of agents cold calling businesses to see if they want to sell. The most common clause is the exclusivity one. You sign an agreement with a broker and then if you end early or sell elsewhere you pay them an administration fee. www.cebta.org.uk has links to actual cases and examples that have arisen, involving some of the more dodgy firms.
2. The high valuation to entice a signature. This is a real problem for us – we have clients who have paid for a valuation, which we think is off the scale in ridiculousness, but the client is convinced that the valuation is genuine and insist on a sale at that price. Unfortunately the valuation is a complete waste of time and has been prepared for one reason only – to sign the seller up on an exclusivity contract for a period of time and take fees for various services.
Obviously our company is a little different! We charge no upfront fees and neither do we tie any of our clients in to exclusivity contracts. We are naturally delighted if anyone sells or merges without our assistance and we provide any additional advice to all our sellers and buyers at no cost.