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What can you do with a broker that uses a bait and switch posting on BIZBUYSELL? Fake listings?

A broker on BizBuySell lists a business for sale in a specific area, yet that listing is 100% fake.

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Jul 5, 2017
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Not all business brokers are bad and they are not all bad in the same way, but too many are and they give the whole industry a bad name. What business brokers need is something similar to the National Association of Realtors, a body that sets ethical and professional standards for business brokers and has a formal process for dealing with ethics complaints. Every good broker would benefit from this.

Too many brokers refuse to cooperate with others out of greed thus hurting their clients, they charge fees that are outrageous, they misrepresent listings, they waste buyers' time, they are ill informed, and on and on.

It's gotten so bad and so frustrating that I tell everyone who seeks my advice to avoid business brokers and save themselves a lot of money, aggravation, and time.

May 23, 2009
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Charleston County, SC

John Pasqualino - I do know of an EXCELLENT business broker firm in greater Charleston. They represent restaurants all over NC and SC. Gimme a way to contact you if you are still in the market for beach area restaurants.

May 18, 2009
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The BAF Group LLC

Mr. Pasqualino, I don't argue with what you say about some, perhaps more than a few Brokers. Again, my concern is about judging all Brokers on the basis of those kinds of situations, and how to overcome or guard against being victimized by them. As I stated, make them put it in writing! We do. We stand by our information, and when there are questions about numbers, we have specific documentation that backs up any potential error - which is documentation we receive from the Sellers, by their own hand.

And once again, you point to another Restaurant, which is to say another Cash business. People in this forum or with whom we directly deal asked frequently, "How do I value a Restaurant?" or other Cash business. And our response is ALWAYS something to the effect that we cannot stand behind such businesses. Which is AGAIN, why we do not normally list them. Because we can NEVER document the Cash Flow.

And I am not knocking Restaurateurs, either. Let's stick to the initial topic, which is to say there are good Business Brokers and there are bad ones. And the bad ones should be drummed out of their own businesses. Those need to be held up to the light of day and made to take responsibility for their actions.

But they are not all crooked; there are some I would trust implicitly. They are not all unskilled; but there are some that I know for a fact, cannot read a P&L Statement. They are not all uninformed; but there are some that have no idea that it means to own and operate a business of their own.

As a Broker, I am embarrassed by some of them, do be certain. I deal with some of them from your perspective, because we act as Buyer Brokers with some frequency, and we have some of the same difficulties you do, in the issues you are relating. But we do so with infrequency because we ask the questions that need to be asked, BEFORE we waste time with the bad ones.

We turn away almost 80% of the business people that come to us, asking us to list their businesses for sale. We refuse the ones that have poor records, obviously false Tax Returns, businesses that should never have been opened in the first place or some that are outmoded and cannot possibly have a future. And we still get burned from time to time, by Sellers. Does that make all Sellers crooks? Not by a long shot. And neither are all Business Brokers. Neither are the large number of Buyers that waste my time, who have 10 cents in their pockets and want to buy a million dollar business.

We need to put all of these things into perspective. We were called by an Accountant once, whose Client was extremely ill, needed to sell and had no idea his Deli was worth anything. The Client was just going to throw the keys in and walk away. We sold his business for almost $700,000. (In his defense, the Seller's illness really clouded his judgement, but he was seriously going to walk away from the business!) That was three years ago, and I just bought lunch from the Buyer who said the business was up 60% under his ownership, in spite of the economy; he was still, extremely happy with his purchase and he has sent me two Buyers as referrals. Getting it financed was a killer, and I know we could not get him the same loan, today. But it was our contacts that got his funding for him. His Accountant was from out of State, and almost structured the deal in a way that would be terrible for the new Owner, because of strange laws in Maryland that pertain to Depreciation; we helped the Accountant understand that issue and gave him resources to check our information, since we are not Accountants, and can only suggest that he look into our suggestions. We had no reason to do that, because if the Buyer got screwed on that issue, what was it to us? Our Client was the Seller. But se spent a large number of hours researching our position, before presenting the information for the Buyer's Accountant to consider. And we worked with the Landlord to make him comfortable with the new Owner, in the process getting a Lease that was beneficial to all.

You want more inane stories? We have a number. Brokers do SOME good work, sometimes...

May 17, 2009
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Last thing-- I know all brokers aren't bad. I have great experiences in the past with most brokers. The last good experience I had was last July. There was a pizza shop with an asking price of 90k and cash flow of 115k in Virginia Beach. Everything was great until we got down there. The food was so God awful that even if the guy was making 115k a year (which I really believe he was) there was no way I could in good conscience serve that crappy food and the prospect of starting over from scratch didn't appeal to us. (I am very picky about pizza and Italian food as I grew up in the business and no one can ever convince me that a guy form India or Eastern Europe, no matter how much money he makes, knows Italian food.)
In case you are wondering why I am all over the map on the Eastern Seaboard, my wife forced me to go on vacation in 2004. . She introduced me to the Atlantic Ocean and I have been having an affair with her ever since. Anywhere from Ocean City MD to the Florida Keys is fine with me!

May 17, 2009
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Mr. Barrick,
You're third paragraph is one of the problems that I have with some brokers and some of their listings. I am a grown man and I realize the world we live in is not picture perfect. But...... when a broker lists a business as having 184k cash flow and you call him about and he tells you the place is closed but "you should make 184k if you did this, this and this....." then something is wrong.
I am a very busy man. I run a successful restaurant in Pittsburgh but I want to have a business on or very very near the ocean. I don't have time to mess around with brokers who treat my like a stupid kid by trying to sell me a dead horse and claim it will win the triple crown.
I understand the consequences of buying and selling a restaurant--- I chose that life. But after dealing with so many bad apples the first question I ask is, "Did the buyer represent to you that he is making the money you wrote in your listing or did you make it up?"
There was a pizza shop on the beach in Florida where it was listed as 90k cash flow. For three days the broker told us all these great things about the place. We decided to take a trip down there and right before we left we told the broker that if these numbers were true we would buy it on the spot. He finally told us, "You do know this is an asset sale, don't you?" We aked him why he didn't tell us from the beginning and he said we must have misunderstood him. I am not a moron, I just don't to want to get stroked.
One time I asked a broker( who was the owner of the brokerage firm) three times if the numbers were actually represented to him buy the seller. The first response was similar to yours about cash business, blah blah. The second response was the old 'I can't do due dilligence for you" routine. The third response was a self righteous "I have been doing this for 25 years and in that 25 years I have never guaranteed the sellers numbers before." I never asked him to guarantee me the numbers, JUST THAT HE GUARANTEE ME THE SELLER TOLD HIM THOSE NUMBERS AND NOT THAT HE (THE BROKER!!!!!) MADE THEM UP. I can take it from there. I can tell by hanging out at the place for a few days for an hour or two at a time and figure if the business is viable or not.
BTW, The last broker I told you about owned the firm that stroked me for three days on that pizza shop. He wasn't the broker on that deal but he owned the place.

May 17, 2009
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The BAF Group LLC

My apologies; my goal was not to suggest you were not having difficulty with the people with whom you were dealing, or to make light of the difficulties you have had - because I realize there are a LOT of bad apples out there. But in these forums, the problem is that many comments are generalized to the point where it becomes extremely disruptive to the market. I wish I were in position to help you, but I do not know your market from a business perspective, at all. And I thank you for your clarification.

May 17, 2009
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Charleston County, SC


You might be taking my quotes out of context - I made a true statement in accordance with my dealings here locally: "I have been searching for a liquor store in Charleston, SC for 9 months and EVERY broker that I have signed a NDA with has been so full of SH*T that it is a shame they are still in business."

I did not imply that of ALL brokers................ my statement was one of first hand knowledge with the brokers I have delt with in Charleston, SC. As an side note, I do know of a great firm with great brokers in North Carolina. I bought a business with their help in 2001 and sold that same business with their help in 2008. So, I have been on both sides of the transaction and have the upmost respect for honest borkers, honest deals and legitimate listings.

May 17, 2009
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Charleston County, SC

John - I agree, I have been searching for a liquor store in Charleston, SC for 9 months and EVERY broker that I have signed a NDA with has been so full of SH*T that it is a shame they are still in business. I guess they are looking for suckers instead of business savy people. After selling my topless club in another state, a true white elephant, it seems all the honest brokers are gone in South Carolina. It is a shame that we, honest buyers, can't complain and be heard here on this site. Our complaints go ignored and they continue getting their site fees for the BOGUS listings contained here.

May 15, 2009
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i have had a lot of problems with brokers in the past.. Listings like "84k cash flow, 49k ask price, best pizza in town, manager in place," Then I call and find out that the place is losing money, has the worst pizza in town and has no staff at all let alone a manager, but, what do you kow, the broker has other listings I might be interested in. That is just an example, I have many more stories like this including wasting a trip and money to Myrtle Beach for a place the broker told me was doing 800 a day and 1200 on the weekends. When we got down there they were doing 400 a day and including saturday's and were closed on Sunday. The owner said he never told the broker that he was doing the numbers that were represented to us.
I can never get a straight answer from a broker on this question: "Did the seller represent to you that he is making X amount of dollars or is that figure some fantasy number based on 'if you did this to the place, you should make this.'" I will further explain that I understand due dilligence is on me and is my responsibility but they always say to me that I will have to verify the numbers during my due dilligence. They don't understand that I am asking only for an assurance that the seller represented to them that they are making this money (so I don't waste my time in the first place) and not an assurance that the numbers are actually true.
Don't get me started on that drive thru beer store in Tampa that was making 184k year and turns out wasn't even open on a regular basis.

May 15, 2009
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The BAF Group LLC

BizBuySell's numbers and contact information are below. In addition, when you Submit Your Answer to these comments and questions, there is a "Report abuse" button that appears just above and to the right of the "Answer this Question" space. Have you tried to use that? And by the way, I LOVE Charleston and am trying to visit the town with my wife in July, if possible! Great place to do business, so don't let one guy ruin your outlook on ANYTHING, please.

Contact us Here
Telephone 415.284.4380
Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm, PST
Fax 415.764.1622
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San Francisco, CA 94107

May 15, 2009
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Charleston County, SC

I have contacted BizBuySell directly to report the abuse, their response was "log in to your account and remove the posting" obviously an automated response. I have DIRECT knowledge of a broker on this site misrepresting listings by 1. false locations and 2. businesses that have been sold, yet the listing reamins on this site for going on 120 days now. I guess the best thing to say is "Buyer Beware" especially in and around Chrleston, SC

May 15, 2009
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The BAF Group LLC

If they are doing that, and you are certain of that, it is a serious situation and he/she should be stopped. As a Broker, people that do that make it extremely difficult for us, and we are sensitive to the issue. If he is a Licensed Broker, he should be reported to the Licensing autority. If he is not Licensed, if you are in a state where licensing is not required, he still may be guilty of fraudulent actions, and you might contact the States' Attorney. Be careful: You need to be certain of your facts, so that he does not have recours against you for making false allegations. And the first thing I would do is to contact BizBuySell itself, and report the abuse to them.

May 15, 2009

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