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As Seen in Automotive Buy Sell Report - Developing successors in a time of dealership business change

As Seen in Automotive Buy Sell Report - Developing successors in a time of dealership business change

Historically, the car business is one where legacies are built. When one generation tires of the daily grind, there has traditionally been family, in one way or another, ready to jump in and continue to drive the dealership forward. It is an industry where it is common to see privately-owned dealerships celebrate longevity of ownership. We have been fortunate to celebrate some of our clients’ 100-year anniversary.

Due to the “legacy” nature of the car business and years of developed “best practices”, as the business was passed on from one generation to the next, there tend to be protocols and approaches to sales and service — as well as learned behaviors, patterns and styles — that are passed down.

But the traditional way of doing business is changing. Industry disrupters and technological innovations are creating new paradigms, and leaving many of us wondering what the future will hold. In addition, generational blending, with some dealerships having up to three different generations working alongside each other, is altering the leadership and management role of the developing dealer. As such, current dealers must be cognizant of their part in properly developing their next generation of leaders in this changing landscape.

 

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - What Kind of Leader Do You Want to Be? Positional or Influential Leadership

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - What Kind of Leader Do You Want to Be? Positional or Influential Leadership

Teamwork is imperative to business success simply because you cannot do it all. This extends in many directions including business partners, up and coming talent, key leaders, employees, franchisors, and vendors. The reality, however, is teamwork is not a natural behavior.

As humans, our natural tendency is to focus on our self-interests because we are not “wired” to consider our impact on others. We tend to be competitive, ambitious, driven by our own motivators and inclined to overlook others’ contributions to our success.

Now, if your first inclination when reading this, is “well this can’t be me,” perhaps take a quick second and self-reflect. We are human, no one is perfect, so there’s always opportunity for improvement and growth. We all naturally have selfish moments. The key take away here is to question is that the norm? Either way, when you feel you have stepped in it, have you developed the humility to address it with your team? Your approach to teamwork acts as role model behavior to all those in your organization – it is up to you to set the tone.

 

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As Seen in Digital Dealer - You Don't Have to be Blood to be Family in the Dealership

As Seen in Digital Dealer - You Don't Have to be Blood to be Family in the Dealership

An owner’s perspective about the purpose and who the business serves directly impacts culture, ability to recruit and retain good people, and drive performance – all of which influences customer perceptions, revenue, and profits. Often, if there is no actual “family” working in the business, dealers do not intuitively view themselves as a family business owner. This misperception can and does have an impact on overall business success, sustainability, and value.

It is important, as a dealer, to understand the purpose of your business and what you hope to achieve, long-term. Is the purpose of your business to serve you and your ambitions? Or is the purpose of the business to serve and provide opportunity to your community? Is it a mix of both? If the mission and vision of your business includes serving those around you, then it is important to begin thinking like a family business owner.

 

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Effective Leadership: Identify, Cultivate and Grow Talent

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Effective Leadership: Identify, Cultivate and Grow Talent

In our last article, "How and Why to Identify Rising Talent" we discussed the 6 C's for evaluating and identifying the next generation of leaders. These key indicators are a first step to helping multi-unit franchisee owners identify rising talent. But once you have identified those potential stars, you then have to determine how to effectively inspire and develop them.

Ineffective leadership is an unfortunate commonality in many of today's businesses. Mostly because it takes a substantial amount of humility for one to look in the mirror to develop and sharpen their soft skills, especially for fast paced entrepreneurs focused on pushing the needle. Through the dedication and sacrifices in building the business, successful multi-unit franchisee owners have gained substantial technical and industry knowledge, but if they can't inspire and develop people underneath them, the direction and growth of the business is limited.

 

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - How and Why to Identify Rising Talent

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - How and Why to Identify Rising Talent

Many owners remain as the only key manager in the business and fail to develop people under them who have actual leadership capabilities. This sort of hub in spoke structure, inhibits growth and organizational longevity because eventually the business grows beyond the capacity of the owner, and there is no bench for when the time comes to transfer leadership. This does not mean that you are giving up control of your franchise operations before you are ready. Instead, it could mean freeing yourself up to do more to grow the brand and your portfolio.

If as an owner you hold the reigns too tight and have not worked to identify and develop your successor or leadership bench strength, it's time to call a spade a spade and get to work. Depending upon the maturity of your business, you may be required to conduct a talent search; otherwise, if you have the time, look inside your business for leadership potential. In either circumstance, here are six key indicators (the 6 C's) to evaluate when identifying next generation of leaders:

 

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Resolutions - Looking Forward

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Resolutions - Looking Forward

In our last article, "Reflections - Past, Future, Present" we talked about reflections and how the holiday season is the one time of year that we find ourselves reflecting, without even trying. In addition to reflecting during the holiday season, as a new year begins again, we are also no doubt thinking about what we would like to do differently, stop doing, or that new thing we would like to try. We commit to a decision, and start off January with a new focus.

The reality is that resolutions tend to fall short as time goes on. We start out strong, but I bet you can attest to not always sticking to the resolution. You are in a very small minority if you have achieved your resolution throughout the year. What about your franchise business? As you have reflected on the past year, have you considered resolutions for the new year? Are you committed to keeping them throughout the year, and do you have a mechanism in place to ensure you do not fall short on your commitment?

 

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Reflections - Past, Future, Present

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Reflections - Past, Future, Present

As we prepare for a new year we often focus on keeping/growing what we have gained, or minimizing what we have lost. We also tend to get tunnel vision on growth and what the new year will bring. And, we cannot help but reflect on the past year as we look forward to where we want to take our business.

Reflecting on the direction of your business is a healthy exercise to provide insight into the future. You can look at trends, customer activity, and all those operational things that dictate what we think the next year is going to look like from a profitability perspective. However, where we sometimes fall short is in reflecting on those “touchy-feely” things that have the biggest impact on the growth of the business. The reason these things have such a big impact on the business is because they have to do with people and people have feelings.

For example, if you had to stop for a moment and reflect on the past year, what would be the first three things that come to mind? Growth in profit? Growth in portfolio? Growth in locations or brands? But what if you were challenged to reflect on your leadership and what you have done to ensure the sustainability and growth of your franchises through your people? Or better yet, what have you done to ensure the sustainability and growth of your people?

 

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Remain A Positive Influence In Your Community

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Remain A Positive Influence In Your Community

Hurricanes, wildfires, shootings, earthquakes, scandals, and an unsettled political environment have people feeling a range of emotions leading into our holiday season. Feelings from guilt because we are a witness, bystander, or survivor to being anxious and downright scared depending on how much of the news you believe. For some, it is hard to look forward to this season of thanksgiving without some sense of anxiety or grief. However, to overcoming these heavy emotions, it is in these moments we should work to shift our focus to giving thanks and celebrating unity more than ever.

Many of the tragic events overshadow some of the wonderful things that are taking place in our country. Where there has been tragedy, we are also seeing unity, acts of kindness, and selflessness for the benefit of others. Individuals and communities are coming together to rebuild and help others in need.

Another area for "thankfulness" is in that of our business and economic climate. Just this month, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce, reported that the United States gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 3% in the third quarter, just shy of the 3.1% from the quarter before. In addition, we are seeing record-breaking numbers in the stock market and exponential growth in the franchise industry. In fact, if you did not see the recent "Good News" article in Franchise Update Sales Report, it is worth the read if you are looking for reasons to smile in light of all that is going on in the world.

 

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Disaster Recovery: Emotional, Physical, and Financial

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Disaster Recovery: Emotional, Physical, and Financial

We cannot predict when disaster will strike, but current events prove it can happen at any time. Whether it is hurricanes, flooding, blizzards, tornadoes, droughts, or wildfires, timing can only be determined by the "odds." This can cause us to become complacent in thinking that disaster will not hit our family, business, or geography. Thus, we don't prepare at all, because feeling "the unpredictable" is too far out of our control. However, to build exponential value in your multi-unit franchisee organization, it is essential to plan for the predictable, probable, and possible contingencies.

Plan can be a bad "four letter word" for entrepreneurial-minded business owners like multi-unit franchisees. But it can (and should) be your favorite word when you or those you care about are impacted by a disaster. By having a plan in place, you have the resources and protocols in to ensure you are there for your people, and you can recover damaged real estate or inventory.

There are a variety of areas we should plan to protect the financial, physical, and emotional future of our organization. Having a disaster recovery plan in place is one of the most important tools to keep the franchise business, your employees, and yourself moving forward should disaster hit your community. Let's face it, disastrous events can turn on a dime and you can find yourself in the path of destruction.

 

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Three Considerations for Ensuring Your Franchise Future

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Three Considerations for Ensuring Your Franchise Future

A recent article, "The Coming Recession: What Lessons Can We Learn in Advance," made a simple, but significant point. We have recessions here in the United States. We don't always know when they are coming, or how long they will last, but one thing is for certain, they happen. And when they do, franchise owners who have not paid attention to historical trends or developed a strategic plan for the next few years can suffer.

The franchise industry is on pace to have one of its fasting growing years in history. In fact, the International Franchise Association reported in August that in addition to the number of franchise establishments increasing by 1.6 percent this year, the gross domestic product (GDP) of the franchise sector will exceed that of the total US GDP. With all of this growth, many owners may not be looking to protect themselves against an economic or consumer shift - or a natural disaster such as Hurricane Maria, Irma, and Harvey.

 

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What Business Owners Should Know About Trumps Impact on Estate Taxes

Press Release - October 5, 2017

The announcement of the proposed repeal of the federal estate tax and the GST tax could provide an immediate opportunity for those that want to take advantage before the next presidential change. For business owners and high net worth individuals, the repeal affects those that have an estate plan in place, as well as those that are either in process or need to get their plan established.

 “Clients often ask us why they should even bother addressing their estate tax issues if the estate taxes are going away, based on proposals from the current administration“ comments Hugh Roberts. “The truth of the matter is that this is a fight that has been going on in Congress for the last 50 plus years. Regardless of the outcome, it will likely change with the next administration. Therefore, being prepared and being ready to act when given opportunity, is more important than waiting for the perfect combination of time or situation, if not for any other reason, the unknown is unpredictable,” continued Roberts.

 Earlier this year, Hugh Roberts wrote an article focused on Trump’s effect that you can read here http://seekingsuccession.com/index.php/easyblog/newsletter-archive/whats-the-trump-effect-on-estate-taxes

 

About The Rawls Group

The Rawls Group, specializes in working with business owners and key leaders addressing issues impacting the ongoing viability and sustainability of their business, including:

  • Optimizing current business performance
  • Recruiting, retaining and motivating key managers
  • Coordinating complex family, business and estate planning dynamics
  • Enhancing family relationships
  • Developing successors
  • Growing strategically

We serve as a catalyst to facilitate the discussion and resolution of sensitive issues so all stakeholders are reassured about the organization’s current and future prosperity. By partnering with our clients and their advisors, we work to develop a plan that perpetuates the leadership, culture, performance and relationships that are critical to business success.

 

For more information about The Rawls Group or questions in regard to the proposed legislation impacting estate plans, please visit our website at www.rawlsgroup.com or contact Kendall Rawls at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

 

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Operations and Lending Impact Business Value

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Operations and Lending Impact Business Value

The last installment of this series is focused on lending and operations, and their importance in driving value in the business. In the first three articles, we focused on the overall value drivers in the business and then broke them down into the first two core value drivers of leadership and relationships. There is no question that leadership and relationships are the most critical value foundation of the business. However, the other two pillars are just as important to driving value in your multi-unit franchise organization:

Lending

Banks are going to want to know how strong your business is before they choose to invest in it (and you). When it comes to banks looking at the value of your franchise operation, they take into consideration subjective conclusions of borrowing capacity based on various criteria, including the three V’s of leadership:

  • Vision – Do you have a clear plan for use of borrowed capital? 
  • Values – Is there a positive impression of core values, character, etc?
  • Victories – Is there a track record of business successes that include borrowing money

It is important to understand that the bank’s impression of the business mission, strategic plan, character, competency, commitment of management and ownership continuity as they generally reflect on the bank’s confidence in your long-term business plan.

 

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Three Relationships That Are Key To Success

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Three Relationships That Are Key To Success

Value is derived from a variety of areas within the organization. Understanding the value drivers is a critical component of ensuring long-term sustainability and success. The four key areas of focus, as outlined in “Building a Foundation to Weather the Storm” are relationships, lending, operations and leadership. Although leadership is one of the most important categories for long-term success, it is not the only one.

We discussed last time how leadership impacts value in the areas of generational management, recruiting and retention, successor identification, and development. This time, we are going to look at the area of relationships and drill down into how they impact the value of your franchise operations. As with any business operation, relationships are a critical piece of the complex multi-unit franchisee business puzzle. The franchise industry is one that relies on relationships more than many others because of the dependence on brand reputation and product quality.

Although there are a multitude of relationships that have impact on the success of a franchise, there are three that play directly into the value of your organization:

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Success Requires More Than Operational Knowledge and Capital

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Success Requires More Than Operational Knowledge and Capital

Driving value in business is dependent on a variety of factors. Previously, we identified four key areas for building tangible and perceived value in a franchise operations:

  • Relationships
  • Lending
  • Operations
  • Leadership

All of these are critical but without strong leadership and operations, the ability to receive lending and build relationships will be impacted.

Leadership in today's organizations is drastically different than in prior generations. No longer can we rely on how it's been done to keep us moving forward into the future. Rather, there needs to be focused intentionality in areas where franchisees have never really had to pay much attention. Here are three areas in which leadership is changing and how you can set your franchise locations up for success.

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As Seen in Digital Dealer - Developing a Dealer-Minded Attitude

As Seen in Digital Dealer - Developing a Dealer-Minded Attitude

It is just too easy to not care. This was the keynote topic at a graduation a colleague of mine recently attended. In reflecting upon the focus on the commencement speech, and the audience – high school seniors, I realized that this is the same theme dealers are struggling with – how to get people to care.

More and more, what we hear from dealers is, “how do I get my people to care about the business as much I do?” Essentially, what they are referring to is, how do they foster a “Dealer/Owner-Minded Attitude” in their dealership.

The reality is it is very easy for today’s employees, and in even in some instances, our future leaders to show ambivalence regarding the impact they have on the organization or their own future. Often the root of ambivalence is fear – fear of failing, not being good enough, and/or not being chosen “seen” as a leader. And unfortunately, this is becoming common in the workplace, in part due to the generational diversity, but also in how culture has created a stigma of everyone gets a trophy. Therefore, this ambivalence, often comes across as a lack of caring – because without care, there is no failure or rejection.

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Building a Strong Foundation to Weather the Storm

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Building a Strong Foundation to Weather the Storm

In the best of times, it's easy to look forward and have no fear as to what the future is going to bring. It's also easy to forget to take advantage of the good times to build a foundation that can withstand any potential future storm that might hit. In the worst of times, building this foundation can protect all that you have built, and hopefully help you weather the storm. A great example of this is taking a look back into history.

The economy tanked in 2008-2009. The markets affected most were those that not only relied on access to lending, but those that also relied on strong brands to pull them through. If you think back to the automotive manufacturing segment, Ford was the only manufacturer that weathered the storm, practically unscathed. The automotive retail industry, one of the hardest hit, had more than 1,200 dealerships collapse. Many of these were well recognized in their communities and top performers for the manufacturer. The dealerships that survived were able to, in part, thanks to the foundations that had been built long before the storm hit.

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As Seen in NCM Institute - Think Like an Owner

As Seen in NCM Institute - Think Like an Owner

Ownership, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is the state, relation, or fact of being an owner. Often, those who feel ownership of something take special care and feel great responsibility for it. If we dissect the definition of ownership a little more, it does not necessarily mean that one must “own,” but rather, there is a mindset of being or acting like an owner.

This “ownership attitude,” or lack thereof, can be seen in many dealerships. Some leaders may not own stock in the dealership but have ownership in areas of strategic initiatives, team motivation and collaboration, and show emotional investment in the achievement of the dealership’s mission. On the other hand, some leaders show up, fulfill their responsibilities, and get the job done. However, if a better gig presents itself across the street, they don’t hesitate to take the opportunity.

Read the complete article on the NCM Institute Website website

 

 

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As Seen in Automotive Buy Sell Report - Fostering an ownership mentality – drinking the organizational Kool-Aide

As Seen in Automotive Buy Sell Report - Fostering an ownership mentality – drinking the organizational Kool-Aide

Owning a business is not a simple task. Financial risks, anxiety over success, ensuring employees are taken care of, and all the tasks that go into leading and running a business are a heavy load for business owners. Add to this the continued rapid pace of change in our political, economic and technological environments creating more challenges, as well as opportunities.

Many entrepreneurs gain energy by taking on risk – it is the challenge that keeps them going, and we see this often with dealer principals. With this comes a very strong entrepreneurial focus – finding ways to revolutionize process and procedures to create more out of less, and taking exceptional care to nurture the appearance and brand of the organization.

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Creating a Culture of Accountability Without Emotional Backlash

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Creating a Culture of Accountability Without Emotional Backlash

Power and position are two common traits leaders often lean upon to drive results. Somewhere in your past, you have likely experienced leaders who used some sort of power and position to motivate you. Depending on the situation, it may have helped you and those around you move the growth and performance needle. Today, you may also see how power and position motivates your employees and team to perform at a level that drives success throughout your organization. However, the use of power and position, if not managed properly, can create barriers to effective coaching and employee motivation to fulfill and exceed expectations. This has never been more critical than today, given the current generational shifts in the workplace.

Accountability is interaction designed to improve performance. Often, however, as owners or leaders, when we communicate with our team, we see a common communication style that comes across as critical. Perhaps we focus on and pick at weaknesses, areas of underperformance, and mistakes and bark out directives to get things done. After engaging in performance reviews, we see improvement in areas of underperformance - sometimes it sticks However, after a period of time, the mistakes or lack of attention begin to creep up again. Therefore, at the next review, we find ourselves talking about the same issues, and maybe even bringing the “hammer down” a bit harder. The reality of this tactic is that our employees check out and we foster a sense of insecurity. Our employees start to ask themselves if they can do anything right. They then start to operate out of malice compliance, which minimizes their motivation to go beyond the call of duty. We enforce a way of thinking that does the exact opposite of what we want. We therefore keep them from wanting to think outside of the box because they will likely be criticized versus rewarded for their efforts.

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Positional Versus Inspirational Leadership: Where Do You Fall?

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Positional Versus Inspirational Leadership: Where Do You Fall?

Leadership influences others' choices, priorities, and behavior. Historically, the ability to leverage power and position has been the models of what some would consider great leaders. As our industry evolves due to technological advancements, changing consumer behavior, and demographic shifts, position and power fall short in inspiring good people. There are too many competitors recruiting for good talent, whether it be hourly or senior level leadership positions, which is making it harder for you to retain movers and shakers in your organization. As a result, it's imperative to foster an environment where your people are inspired, respected, and empowered, making them to want to stick around. Power and position may create compliance in your organization but it will also create challenges in nurturing a sense of buy-in amongst your people to your organization's mission and vision. This can demotivate employee loyalty and their drive to go above and beyond the call of duty.

If you asked your employees and those around you to identify your leadership style, how would they answer? Would you be defined as someone that is comfortable managing with authority? Perhaps you are viewed as using strong discipline to motivate performance, or adversely, would you be viewed as being informative, empowering, and passionate? And if you were being very honest with yourself, would you be surprised by your employees' perception of you?

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