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As Seen in Automotive Buy Sell Report - How to meet the consolidators head-on in the dealership consolidation game

As Seen in Automotive Buy Sell Report - How to meet the consolidators head-on in the dealership consolidation game

Most owners and leaders of privately-held dealerships are wondering what’s going on with the publicly-held dealership groups as they engage in consolidation. These consolidators generally look down upon the privately-held dealerships as competitors because “I previously fired most of their employees”. Furthermore, there is general resentment that the local “dealer club” has been disrupted by “hired guns” working for a hieratical potentate, neither of whom have any idea of the sacrifices required to build a successful dealership.

However, before those of you who own between 1 to 30 roof-tops assume the consolidators are circling the drain, you should consider they have a plan. If you do not understand their “game”, one day you may discover the water is about to boil and your goose is cooked without ever understanding what happened.

Read the complete article on the Automotive Buy Sell Website website

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As Seen in Automotive Buy Sell Report - Cultural due diligence an important step in a dealership buy sell

As Seen in Automotive Buy Sell Report - Cultural due diligence an important step in a dealership buy sell

If you are in a growth spurt fueled by mergers and acquisitions, here is a story that is worth your time. On a recent flight I sat next to someone who had just moved to a new position within a different auto dealer organization. As we talked about his decision, he made it clear that he left because his company had been acquired or merged with a former competitor. “It all seemed like a wonderful opportunity before the deal took effect. Then reality set in, and after about six weeks I put myself on the market. I could hardly stand what the new dealer company was doing with and to our customers, to those of us who had helped our former company grow, and to the culture we had and respected. We just weren’t us anymore!”

To some, that may sound like whining. Perhaps it was, but as I listened to this story it began sound more and more like a case of solid financial due diligence with little to no cultural due diligence. There is no way to predict how this will turn out in the long run; but if my flight companion’s company was purchased in hopes of also acquiring additional talent and other non-financial resources, someone is going to be disappointed. If your auto dealer group’s growth strategy relies mostly on acquisition, here are some Cultural Due Diligence considerations that bear your consideration.

Read the complete article on the Automotive Buy Sell Report website

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As Seen in Automotive Buy Sell Report - Cultural due diligence an important step in a dealership buy sell

As Seen in Automotive Buy Sell Report - Cultural due diligence an important step in a dealership buy sell

If you are in a growth spurt fueled by mergers and acquisitions, here is a story that is worth your time. On a recent flight I sat next to someone who had just moved to a new position within a different auto dealer organization. As we talked about his decision, he made it clear that he left because his company had been acquired or merged with a former competitor. “It all seemed like a wonderful opportunity before the deal took effect. Then reality set in, and after about six weeks I put myself on the market. I could hardly stand what the new dealer company was doing with and to our customers, to those of us who had helped our former company grow, and to the culture we had and respected. We just weren’t us anymore!”

To some, that may sound like whining. Perhaps it was, but as I listened to this story it began sound more and more like a case of solid financial due diligence with little to no cultural due diligence. There is no way to predict how this will turn out in the long run; but if my flight companion’s company was purchased in hopes of also acquiring additional talent and other non-financial resources, someone is going to be disappointed. If your auto dealer group’s growth strategy relies mostly on acquisition, here are some Cultural Due Diligence considerations that bear your consideration.

Read the complete article on the Automotive Buy Sell Report website

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As Seen in Automotive Buy Sell Report - Grow or Exit, Is Private Equity for You?

As Seen in Automotive Buy Sell Report - Grow or Exit, Is Private Equity for You?

The automobile industry’s general upward trajectory, with increased car sales and dealer profits, has led the finance world to recognize the industry as a solid investment. Retail auto dealerships have become more intriguing as investors seek to diversify their holdings.

Meanwhile, the transportation industry is evolving as new players create direct-to-consumer products and advanced technologies change the way we interact with our vehicles. Many fear the industry as we know it will change drastically in the next ten to twenty years.

Read the complete article on the Automotive Buy Sell Report website

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Understanding Private Equity - What You Should Know Before You Jump In!

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Understanding Private Equity - What You Should Know Before You Jump In!

Private equity firms are an active force in the industry due to the rewarding investment opportunity the franchise business possess. They use their capital as a strategy for growth, or provide it as an option to those looking for a way out. There is no doubt that as a franchise owner, private equity (PE) provides you options. However, if you find yourself considering PE as a strategy, make sure you understand some of the unintended consequences in relation to your purpose and future business vision.

As an operator who is looking to grow, PE can be attractive. They can be your financial partner providing the capital resources necessary for growth, but without careful consideration you can also find yourself in your worst nightmare. Before you make a commitment to a PE partnership, it is critical to consider and understand the rules of engagement. Simply, make sure you know how to form the appropriate partnership in regards to your goals, and how you get out of it.

Read the complete article on the Multi-Unit Franchisee Website website

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Letting Go Without Giving Up Control

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Letting Go Without Giving Up Control

What happens to your blood pressure when someone asks you about your "exit strategy"? As uncomfortable and overwhelming as it may seem, strategically discussing an exit strategy along with business vision and growth goals actually puts you in the driver's seat. Sort of like athletes retiring at the top of their game - you are now in control by choice rather than by chance. Just as the building of your multi-unit franchise business happened over many years, the most effective exit strategy is deployed over time and is unique to your personal and business interests.

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Is Your Business Vision Working for You?

Did you know that it is impossible to not communicate? In the same way, you can’t be in business without a succession plan. Whether or not you have spent the energy and taken the time to engage a host of experts to help you plan for the transition to the next generation of owners and leaders, you have a succession plan.

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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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Protect your Future by Planning in the 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.

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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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You've Sold Your Business, Now What?

Recently I was invited to speak to a group of successful business owners about the various aspects of succession planning (what I refer to as the Succession Matrix). The Succession Matrix consists of ten interdependent factors that business owners must successfully address to improve the odds that their business will successfully make the transition to and through the next generation of owners and managers. Addressing these factors is important regardless of whether you plan to sell your business or plan to keep it in the family. Unfortunately, many franchisees and business owners are so busy “working IN their business” that they do not invest the time to “work ON their business” to consider their exit options.

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A New Frontier: Life After A Sale

Many of you have dedicated a significant part of your working life pursuing the American dream through business ownership. Some of you will pursue succession through family members or key executives and others believe a sale is the best exit strategy option. Selling your business is a viable succession option enabling you to harvest the fruits of your labor and investment as well as to take some chips off of the table. A few years ago, a successful client who is a franchisee in the Midwest chose to sell his business. I had the privilege of working with this couple to help them evaluate their succession alternatives. After considering several options, they ultimately concluded the best decision for them and their family was to sell the business.

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Exit Strategy: When Should I Consider One?

Technically, the answer is before you even open your doors for business (why go anywhere without knowing how you are going to get back?). Now I know that is idealistic to many of you as survival is your highest priority. Let’s face it, succession planning is a subject many business owners would rather not face. However, I submit to you that the earlier you begin the process, the less stressful the transition will be for you and all parties who are touched in some way by your business (employees, community, vendors etc.).

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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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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Have It All Done?: There is a Difference Between Continuity Planning and Succession Planning

Over the years we have encountered hundreds of successful business owners who have made the statement "I have it all done," as they describe how well they have planned and documented their business succession plan. Unfortunately, in most cases these business owners were referring to the work they have done to implement their wills, trusts, buy/sell agreements, and life insurance, which we would constitute as business continuity planning. You may be asking yourself, what is the difference?

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How Financial Independence Can Impact Succession Goals

What is financial freedom? In the context of business succession, financial freedom means accumulating sufficient liquid resources independent of the business whereby the owner doesn’t have to rely on business profits to maintain their standard of living.  Why is attaining financial freedom so important for a business owner in a family business setting?

Developing wealth independent from the business is paramount to an effective business transition. Financial independence affords the owners freedom to transfer some managerial and leadership responsibilities to successors without fear of them burning the entire house down. In essence, you have the opportunity to see your successors in action and determine if and to what extent additional coaching and mentoring may need to take place.

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Tips for Approaching Succession Planning with Your Franchisor

A few years ago I encountered a franchisee who had successfully transferred more than $2 million of business value to his children by taking advantage of available minority discounts in conjunction with depressed goodwill and depressed real estate values — a brilliant estate planning move. The only problem was that he had not received permission from his franchisor as stipulated in the franchise agreement.

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Succession Planning: Is There a Right Time to Start?

During a recent presentation, someone in the audience asked if there was a right time to begin putting a succession plan together. I didn't want to sound arrogant, so I simply replied, "Yes, of course there is. What time is it now?" 

Sooner or later, one or more generations involved in a family business wants to talk about succession planning. Sometimes the idea comes from the next generation to lead the business; other times it comes from the generation currently leading the business or from multiple generations simultaneously.

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Wimps Lose Out! Plan for the Future of Your Business

Succession planning is not a project, but an ongoing process requiring strength, resilience, and sometimes pure guts! Here are some steps to help you navigate the process of planning for the future and continued success of your business. 

  1. Develop a Vision – Affirm the concept that “the end must justify the means,” and take the first step for planning for the future of your business by developing a vision. This vision should be an inspiring and motivating mental image of what you want to see happen in the future such as: 

    • In 10 years, I want to be cruising on the Riviera while my business remains profitable! 
    • I want to build x-amount of value in my business so I can sell it by 2030 and live off the proceeds! 
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Thoughts on Succession Planning and the Business Life Cycle

As a succession planner I am avidly seeking to motivate business owners to take action. Unfortunately, I am not batting 1,000 due to a variety of reasons. Beyond my personality quirks and communication shortcomings, there are many business owners who do not want to become engaged. Irrespective of my attempt to demonstrate how "succession planning builds value" they have limited, if any, interest in addressing the issues that impact the continuation of business success. Timing may be bad or other priorities may be dominating if not consuming excess mental energy. Or perhaps these business owners lack the motivation and experience to spend time and money on something that will not fall strictly into their personal column of benefits. 

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