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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 Park Press: Thankfulness, Celebration and Renewal

As Seen in Park Press: Thankfulness, Celebration and Renewal

“Here we are again”, I say to myself as I climb a ladder up towards my mother-in-law’s Christmas decorations, held precariously in the rafters of her garage for the past eleven months. I feel like I find myself saying something like this more often each year as the seasons roll on by, and yet of course, the same amount of time has passed. Fortunately, this year finds my family and friends healthy and safe and living in a country with beautiful choices available to them and a way of life that is arguably the envy of most of the modern world. As a natural born optimistic pessimist, I need to actively practice gratitude to focus on the silver lining of circumstances. To view problems as challenges and failure as growth opportunities, instead of succumbing to the internal need for perfection.

As luck may have it, I recently came across a quote that gave me pause and reason to think more deeply on thankfulness, celebration and renewal. Both for myself personally, and for my clients, as they wrestle with many of the difficult, emotionally charged situations that are part of a family business environment. The quote is by an author and poet, Mary Karr, who happens to have attended Macalester College, my alma matter and proving ground for my own self-actualization a million years ago (go fighting Scotts).

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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 Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Getting Help From Those Who Have Been There

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Getting Help From Those Who Have Been There

My family and I recently took the plunge into the world of RV’ing. I enjoy operating all kinds of vehicles, so towing our new purchase round trip for the first time did not present too much concern, but I knew I’d have to be on my game. Anything new and different presents learning curves. One of the things I discovered soon, after plunging in, is the need for checklists. There are a variety of procedures and processes that must be in place and carried out for the RV to run properly, and to ensure that I do not kill someone on the roadway.

For instance, some of the procedures I had to learn included hooking up to the truck, unhooking and leveling the RV, putting out the slides and awnings, loading the motorcycles, dealing with the holding tanks and understanding black water, grey water, and fresh water. There is simply too much to do without a checklist, it would be very easy to make a misstep or forget something that could have a detrimental impact. In fact, if you think about it, there are a lot of instances in which checklists help ensure positive outcomes. Examples that come to mind are pilots and the checklists they use prior to flight, or captains of ships before they leave port. Surgeons have checklists to ensure they have all the proper supplies and staff before surgery, and each of your stores likely have opening and closing procedures organized in some sort of checklist. I’m sure you get the point.

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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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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - The Critical Difference Between Effective and Ineffective Leadership

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - The Critical Difference Between Effective and Ineffective Leadership

Whether you're running your first and only location or multiple locations, leadership is all about the use of power and influence to produce results. Power and influence are also the keys to effective leadership. Power comes from the organizational chart - can you make people comply with your directives? (sometimes called accountability); and influence comes from inside the person - do you have what it takes to get people to commit to your dreams? (sometimes called dependability). How well and how often you choose between those two styles usually determines your effectiveness as a leader.

Knowing how to balance and when to use these two keys is critical. If you've populated your employee base with people who currently lack the behavior, attitudes, skills, knowledge, experience, and talent to meet your expectations then you will more than likely find yourself believing that the local unemployment index is too low and that someone else must have all the good people who live and work in your business communities. As a result, you may find yourself relying almost exclusively on power and accountability as a way of forcing your staff to comply with your directives to get even a close approximation of the results you want in terms of productivity and profitability.

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Managing The Changes That Come With Multi-Unit Growth

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Managing The Changes That Come With Multi-Unit Growth

Growth is not only about driving more profit, it's also about building a portfolio of locations, and to many, a diversity of brands. In the beginning, it is very easy to devote all your time to the first location. But before you know it you are on to your second. You find you are able to split your time between the two and still run the operations as you wish. It's when you move into the third, fourth, and so on that you start to notice a change. Multiple locations for franchisees offer extreme opportunity, but without a growth plan, multi-unit and multi-brand ownership creates challenges to performance.

One of the biggest challenges is analyzing how you sustain growth, while also looking for continued expansion without killing yourself trying to be everything to every location, brand, or business unit. Regardless of the size or diversity of your business, when you look at your strategic plan in terms of where you would like to be, there are key questions that need answering to ensure you can support, sustain, and continue to grow.

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Reputation Management On The Local Level

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Reputation Management On The Local Level

Like all businesses, the franchise world is full of opportunities and potential land mines. If you entered the franchise world for the same reasons I did, you were probably looking for something in your area of interest that met several criteria: brand recognition; proven market; franchisee friendly policies; and processes, services, or products that could be easily replicated once you paid your fees and had access to the brand's secrets. After all, isn't replicating the proven easier than starting alone from scratch?

In some ways, a franchise is a sail that pulls us along until we really know what we are doing and where we are going. Certainly, there are some tradeoffs, like giving up some control that non-franchisees have over their businesses. And many times, the level of influence you'd like to have over the business is just not possible because you do not hold the authority that comes with a privately held business operation. As a result, logos, color schemes, promotional materials, and menus become someone else's sphere of influence.

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Technology And The Multi-Unit Operator

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Technology And The Multi-Unit Operator

How often do you conduct business via your cell phone? And when was the last time you took a picture with a traditional camera? Technology has developed so today, that our phone has become our constant companion fulfilling a variety of needs. If you had to guess when the first camera phone was released, would you know? I was surprised too, it was 2002; and it was one of those flip phones. Today, in addition to taking pictures, we can stream live video, and even see the person with whom we are talking, in the moment! The reality check here is that although the introduction of the camera phone was impressive at the time, it was a very small step to introducing a new way to communicate.

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - The Emotional Toll Of The DOL Ruling

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - The Emotional Toll Of The DOL Ruling

Changes to the DOL rules may stir up concerns of employee turnover, especially in an environment where it is difficult to find good committed people. Learn how to motivate and retain employees that are affected by the new ruling on overtime pay.

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Pass the Baton So Your Successor Can Fill Your Shoes

Developing a successor is paramount to sustainable business success. It requires empowering your successor to step up to the challenge, while holding them accountable to strategic goals. For a period of time there are multiple hands on the baton. If this delicate transition is not done properly there can be a demotivating tug of war experience - you might run past the disqualification line before the hand off is complete, or even worse, drop the baton.

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Juggling Expectations in the Family Business - By Kendall Rawls

Being in the family business is no easy task. You are juggling expectations amongst your loved ones from two different spectrum – family and business– as well as preconceived notions from managers, employees and vendors that you are likely enabled, under-qualified, and of course, grew up with a silver spoon in your mouth. No matter your work ethic, passion, and drive for the business; all family member employees are fighting the nepotism stereotype.

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Cultural Due Diligence Essential In M&A's

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Cultural Due Diligence Essential In M&A's

Check out our article in Multi-Unit Franchisee to learn more about integrating different business cultures during a merger or acquisition.

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As Seen in Digital Dealer Magazine - Protecting Your Profits From The Unknown

As Seen in Digital Dealer Magazine - Protecting Your Profits From The Unknown

Great article by Jeff Faulkner in Dealer Magazine. How to protect your business, and even see it thrive, during the inevitable next economic downturn. Spoiler: succession planning is key!

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Succession Planning: A Tool to Build Business Value by Kendall Rawls

Often times the term succession planning creates a negative feeling for business owners. The reality is, the stigma tied around the word succession is too closely aligned with “death” and “retirement”. In addition, the natural anxiety and emotions that come with the thought of exiting the business can, and do often prevent owners from planning for the future. Entrepreneurs simply do not want to plan for a time that means they are no longer building a business. The reality, however; is that succession planning has a direct impact on the value of the business.

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As Seen On Automotive Buy Sell Report - Communication is key when integrating a new dealership into your corporate culture

As Seen On Automotive Buy Sell Report - Communication is key when integrating a new dealership into your corporate culture

Succession Planner Dan Schneider was featured in Automotive Buy Sell Report. He gives great communication tips to minimize conflict and build trust when adding a new dealership to the business.

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The MAGIC in Succession Planning

During the Christmas season, people still sing about Frosty the Snowman and that old silk hat the children found and placed on his head. For when the kids put it on his head, Frosty began to dance around. There was magic in the air.

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Getting Comfortable with Your Exit Strategy

Before you can get comfortable, you first need to define your exit strategy. This means being able to define what your exit will look like and the range of options are broad and include:

  • Complete cold turkey break from operations
  • Exiting day-to-day management but continuing to have operational final say
  • Entrepreneur’s retirement: participate when you want to, and delegate decision making power to an individual successor or board of directors
  • Sale of the business
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Exit Strategy: Is There A Role For Me After Transitioning?

I was working with a business owner, John, who was in the process of transitioning management and leadership responsibilities of the business over to a family member. At one point in the process, John asked,

“When Tim takes over my role, what do I do?”

For most business owners, they will develop an exit strategy that unfolds gradually over time. In other words, there will not be a “cold turkey” exit from the business. Developing a strategy that allows a gradual exit rather than a flip of the switch event provides you an opportunity to expand your vision about your future role in the company and identify a new purpose outside of the business. John, had not provided himself that opportunity and felt a little threatened by the fact that Tim would be taking over his role, leaving him feeling “sent out to pasture.”

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