As owners or managers in the business, we often put a lot of pressure on ourselves to “do it all”. We like to own the work and too often, avoid delegating or mentoring others for fear of losing our position of power. What happens is that we, as the leader, set an example that others try to follow, and before you know it, people are working in silos. The reality is that teamwork is one of the most crucial foundations to a successful, long-term business and the entry for our future leaders.
Because we are human, the tendency to share and collaborate often does not come natural. We are competitive by nature, we want personal recognition and our personal opinions and beliefs impact our daily interactions with others. All of these influences creates barriers to reaching out to those around us for help or “across the aisle” to another department for insight, diminishing our ability to ensure proper mentorship and growth of our colleagues and future leaders.
As your business vision develops over time, evaluating the option to transfer the dealership(s) to family, key management, or to sell to a third party can be an emotionally draining process. As a successful dealer, passion drove you to make sacrifices and take risks to develop a strong automotive enterprise. Seeing the seeds of your labor that you planted early in your career grow and develop over time fuels your drive for the business.
You're a dealer nearing retirement, but the next generation of ownership has big (risky) plans for the business that put your retirement in jeopardy. There are family and business issues to resolve in this scenario. Learn more as Loyd Rawls and his alter-ego, Dr. Merlot, discuss how to navigate this vision conflict in a new article published in Automotive Buy Sell Report.
Loyd Rawls for Dealer Magazine about the Family Business Conundrum: you cannot run a family like a business and you cannot run a business like a family. But what if you work in the business with your spouse? Learn how to overcome the challenges that marriage and joint business operation present.
Most people believe that succession planning is synonymous with estate planning; wills, trusts, estate tax, life insurance, franchisor/manufacturer approval or gifts to family members. No doubt estate planning is an important component of succession planning. However, for anyone who has struggled with family squabbles, successor development, retaining and recruiting top talent, and unreasonable strategic partners I can assure you there is more to succession planning than estate planning. The best estate plan on the planet is no assurance of the continuation of business success.
Organizational productivity is dependent upon teamwork, which I describe as two or more people working together for a common goal. Team can be expressed or implied, conscious or unconscious, but regardless, organizational productivity depends upon the effectiveness of interdependent, collaborative effort. Teamwork can be fair, good, or great, but there really is no such thing as bad teamwork. If you think about it, bad-teamwork is actually an oxymoron. To further this point, the English language doesn't have one single word to describe the opposite of teamwork. We generally associate "the opposite of teamwork" with uncooperativeness, inter-organizational competition, backbiting, and under productivity.
Organizational productivity is dependent upon teamwork, which I describe as two or more people working together for a common goal. “Team” can be expressed or implied, conscious or unconscious, but regardless, organizational productivity depends upon the effectiveness of interdependent, collaborative effort.
Seventy-five percent of family businesses - especially highly demanding automobile dealerships - do not have the 4Cs of Successorship: Capable, Committed, Competent and Community-minded successor. In such instances, selling the family business is a viable succession option.
With all the money that is being thrown at buying dealerships today, the value of dealerships is a common discussion item. In some instances where there is no locked-in successor, I am often at the table helping my clients consider if they want to cash in on this hot market.
On a limited basis, The Rawls Group provides Successor Development Forums (SDF) for prospective leaders who feel they need coaching and education on the unique challenges of successor development. An SDF is not intended to be a "lucky sperm club;” it is intended to be a “work group" for successor candidates who are seeking coaching that they cannot get at home.
Succession is dependent upon success. Therefore, mediocrity is not a succession option. In order for you to have confidence your successors can survive the predictable distractions, issues and problems associated with the transfer of ownership and management control your business must perform above benchmark to assure that there is adequate margin for a dip in productivity.
The automobile industry has encountered significant changes over the last 20 years. We have seen public companies come into the market. We have seen the dot-com balloon inflate and burst. We have seen banks offer money to anyone with an IQ over room temperature and then call loans from the smartest, brightest and most successful in our industry. We have seen franchises devalued, nuked, given away and arbitrated as manufacturers went belly up and gave up control to our government. And here we are with stock market returns struggling to beat inflation and the investment world recognizing that auto dealerships are a good buy at six, seven and eight times adjusted earnings.
First, consider yourself blessed. The majority of businesses I have encountered do not have an available, capable or committed successor. On occasion, I encounter situations where there are multiple potential successors who appear to have the capability and passion, but lack the experience. The best advice I can give you is: do not make a hasty decision. Ponder it for awhile.
Many of you have kids in high school, college or who have just entered the workforce. As you see them grow and mature, you have dreams of them working for the family business. But now that your children are getting older and your dreams of them joining the business can soon become reality, you find yourself in a quandary as they’re not giving you "positive vibes" about this idea.
As a succession planner, Dr. Merlot is engaged in an amazing diversity of issues on any given day. The average day is replete with high and inside "heaters" from all points of the Succession Matrix® of issues. Predictably this nonstop progression of diverse succession issues creates excitement that ranges from invigorating and gratifying to confusing, perplexing and shocking. None the less as a poster child for Attention Deficit Disorder, Dr. Merlot thrives in this frenetic environment with occasional reliance upon the medicinal qualities of the nectar from the grape that has earned him the moniker, Dr Merlot. After taking a few moments to decompress, we thought you may find it interesting to listen in on a morning of Dr. Merlot's Brain Bombs as they may provide you perspective on Brain Bombs you may be facing.
Apart from all the advertising, KIA is not only a Korean car. KIA is also an unfortunate military acronym for "killed in action". Within the business succession realm KIA also has a mantra of morbidity as it stands for "Know-It-All; I've got this; Don't need your input". More importantly from a succession planner's perspective: KIA means uncoachable!
I was with a new succession planning client the other day that is known for paying his managers very well. He is also known for being a bit cocky and aloof. He was a referral sent from another client who is very successful at recruiting and retaining managers. He inquired about the advice I had given his colleague, in order to have the same productivity. I confirmed his observation noting that his friend had several managers who were amazingly motivated and most importantly, they were totally committed. I confirmed that they were paid well but not extraordinary, but relative to the jobs they were doing. I advised him, that with respect to the development of these managers, I expressed that his friend was coachable. I told him to acknowledge those managers that produced, show affection to managers that could lead, affirm the ones that drink his Kool-Aid, and show love with more than money to those leaders who believe in him. His friend had done this and now he has a very impressive management team that is getting better every day.
In spite of family dynamic issues, ABC Auto, a second generation multi franchise dealership group was “successful.” Dad, our original client from 35 years ago, was quite the dynamo. He had been a very successful domestic dealer in a prosperous community. Back in the 80's he also accumulated an assortment of lucrative import franchises before they were hot. Both of his sons came into the business and worked their way through the various seats with energy, enthusiasm and varying degrees of success. Against my recommendation, however; their dad did not hold them accountable for performance, elevated them quickly to management, paid them and passed ownership to them equally. He just could not bring himself to make a decision as to who would lead and who would follow.
~ An Excerpt from Family Business Heartburn Relief™~
The vast majority of businesses have a designated "successor leader." However, a business can have multiple successor candidates, who can provide support to "the leader." Successor candidates include any family member or key manager who brings value to the business and is prepared to serve as a leader with a goal of perpetuating the success of the business.
Multiple successor candidates ideally generate a team of successors who are led by the successor leader. The interaction of multiple successor candidates can be complex especially if there are no expressed parameters for sibling/cousin/Key Manager interaction; or if back biting, resentment and rivalry are tolerated. However, assuming there is mutual respect among the group of next generation successors, the more successors who have skin in the game and a vested interest in continued success, the merrier. Multiple successors, effectively managed, create organizational strength, resilience, power and leadership bench strength.