Operations

4 Signs Your Confidentiality Has Been Breached

Spencer Tenney
Posted on February 28, 2012

A transportation business sale resembles a top secret military operation. Even the smallest threat to security could alter the plan, endanger operations, and result in a major snafu. Confidentiality isn’t a luxury — it’s mandatory.

In the case of the business owner, breaches in confidentiality could lead to lost customers, strained employee relations, and sabotage by competitors. Ideally a business owner will keep plans to put a transport business up for sale quiet from clients, competitors, and even employees until the deal is finalized. But in the real world, inexperienced sellers sometimes let information slip. Identifying the signs of a security breach is critical. The sooner you become aware of the information leak, the sooner you can implement a damage control strategy to counteract it.

1.  Employee relationships seem strained

If your normally friendly employees are giving you the cold shoulder, it’s a sign that they may know more than you think. Because employees work closely with you, they are often the first to catch wind of a pending sale. Documents can be accidentally left out and e-mails can be thoughtlessly forwarded. There is always the possibility that your workers will use the information to quit en masse or to hold your feet to the fire for higher pay or perks. However, many employees who learn of a sale in a roundabout way simply feel betrayed and uncertain about the future.

2. Customers acting strange

Are your customers asking you unusual prying questions? Are they scaling back on purchases or otherwise adjusting buying behavior? If you get a suspicious vibe from clients, don’t write it off as paranoia. It may be easier than you realize for others to learn of your plans. Unqualified prospective buyers may interview customers behind your back. Clients may come across a carelessly obvious listing of your truck business for sale.

3. Online reputation under fire

As much as the Internet simplifies business communications, it also creates complications. Remember the game Telephone? From comments on a company website or industry-related blog to sabotaging reviews on sites such as Yelp, online rumors spread quickly and with declining accuracy. If you have any kind of online presence, take the time to regularly Google your business. Peruse what is being said about your courier business for sale and reply, hide, or disable comments as necessary.

4. Inquiring employees

Are employees asking you about the possibility of layoffs? Are they questioning your plans for the future of the business? By the time workers are directly confronting you about your intentions, you know your cover is blown. At this point, sellers have a few choices. You can deny the charges, downplay the issue, or openly discuss it. Many sellers opt for a middle ground, acknowledging that they have been approached by a buyer but emphasizing that no decisions have been made, and that the initial secrecy was intended to protect the business and employees.

Of course, the most effective form of damage control is prevention. Most confidentiality leaks could have been avoided by using an industry specialized transaction advisor at the start. From pre-screening potential buyers to maintaining your anonymity during discussions, a transportation business intermediary can help sellers avoid unnecessary problems so they can focus on finishing the deal.

Related Topics: business deals, How To, selling your business

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