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As Seen in Automotive Buy Sell Report - Selling Your Business Because You Want To Not Because You Have To

As Seen in Automotive Buy Sell Report - Selling Your Business Because You Want To Not Because You Have To

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.

Read the complete article on the Automotive Buy Sell Report Magazine website

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As Seen in Digital Dealer Magazine - Not Everyone is Built to Lead and Sometimes Leaders Are Overlooked

As Seen in Digital Dealer Magazine - Not Everyone is Built to Lead and Sometimes Leaders Are Overlooked

How often have we seen ineffective leaders in senior level positions? Likewise, how often have we seen a manager that demonstrates exemplary leadership skills? A question many of us probably don’t ask ourselves enough is: what is the difference between management and leadership? Without careful consideration, many of us would probably naturally question if there really is a difference.

Read the complete article on the Dealer Magazine website

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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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Operating Your Business Like it’s Always For Sale

In early October, Berkshire Hathaway announced it had agreed to buy Van Tuyl Group, the nation’s largest privately held auto dealership group. Warren Buffet, having dipped his toes into the automotive industry by taking a stake in GM, sees the opportunity to replicate Van Tuyl’s success by consolidating dealership groups throughout the Sunbelt.

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When-ing and Then-ing: A Common Succession Planning Pitfall

I recently agreed to be the wingman for Dr. Merlot who was calling on a succession planning prospect, Victor. Doc described this gentleman as a 65-year-old, second-generation owner of 17 dealerships with a son and a daughter employed by the dealerships and another daughter who was not actively employed in the business. 

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OPPORTUNITYISNOWHERE

Take a close look at the letters above. Now, without changing the sequence of the letters, break those twenty letters into a sentence.

If business has been tough or you don't feel passion or commitment from your people, your sentence might read "Opportunity is nowhere." You might be thinking, "What have I done with that list of business brokers? I know it's around here somewhere."

Tempting as that broker search might be, don’t jump at it. Those same twenty letters can create another sentence: "Opportunity is now here." Same twenty letters, same and yet a completely different approach to finding a solution.

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Wal-Mart Approach to Succession Planning - Is There a One-Stop Shop?

As a business owner, many of your advisors may be offering succession planning services. Bankers, insurance agents, CPAs and attorneys are all promoting succession expertise within their menu of services. As a result, more and more business owners are approaching their CPA, insurance agent, investment banker or lending agent as if they are the Wal-Mart of financial and business advice. This corporate one-stop shop approach has investment bankers selling insurance, insurance specialists offering investment products, CPAs reviewing estate plans and attorneys recommending financial strategies.  As unnatural as this may seem, professional advisors are becoming more versatile than ever before, which is not necessarily a bad thing. However, it is important to remember that while they are offering advice that could leave you better off than you were before, it may still leave you short of your full potential.  

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Successor Development: 5 Key Indicators for Evaluating a Successor

If multiple successor candidates are available, it is important for you as the business owner to objectively approach selecting the successor leader. To evaluate the candidates, you can use what I refer to as the 5 C’s, which are five key traits your ultimate successor should have. 

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Leadership and Management Continuity - Succession is Not a Solo Endeavor

Achieving business success and succession are not solo endeavors. A great deal of your business’ value is locked in the resourcefulness, commitment, enthusiasm and teamwork of your management team.

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Case Study – No prepared successor and CEO ready to retire

Industry: Manufacturing

Location: Midwest United States

Company Overview: Second generation, family-owned company 

Succession Matrix® Issues: Leadership & Management Continuity, Management Synergy & Teamwork, Successor Preparation, Family Governance


Challenge: The owner is ready to retire, yet no successor is fully ready to take over. Two of his three children are working in the business with the inactive son uncertain about his future involvement with the company. The two active siblings and senior managers are all trying to compete for the opening CEO position.

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Where in the World Did You Get The Idea That People Never Change?

Sometimes our beliefs hold us back.  I am talking about what we consider to be “a fact”.  If I had more time and room, I could cite comment after comment that was proven to be inaccurate. Perhaps one of my favorite misquotes is attributed to a former Director of the Patent Office, who supposedly said in 1899 “Everything that can be invented has been invented.”  There’s really no proof that Charles Duell ever said that, so I use it to prove my point and not to trash the former Director.

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How to Use Coaching to Develop Successor Leaders

Studies conducted by various authors and organizations indicate that it is becoming increasingly difficult to be a successful leader.  In fact, among the Fortune 500 CEOs over the last 20 years, 30% have lasted fewer than 3 years.  According to the Harvard Business Review, an astonishing 40% of new CEOs fail in their first 18 months on the job.   Statistics like those aren’t important.  Usually.  But suppose we’re talking about your successor.  Do you want your successor – and in a family owned business that means your daughter or son – to be one of those casualties or do you want them to become part of the 60% who succeed?

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Leadership Succession - Whom Do I Develop?

Not too long ago, I spoke to a fairly large gathering of people involved in Human Resources, Organizational Development, and Talent Management.  Some worked for privately held businesses, some worked for the publicly held sector, and some worked for the government sector.  Regardless of their affiliation, all had questions about what groups of people get the benefit of development dollars.

When this topic inevitably came up, I shared a story that goes back more than fifteen years.  My client and I were finishing the definition of the scope of the development project under negotiation.  Tom made it clear that he wanted family members involved, and then he added, “I don’t have to do everyone do I?”  To that I replied, “Of course not, Tom.  You just tell me whom you want to leave ineffective and non-productive; and we’ll skip right over them.”  Tom decided to include everyone.  

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OPPORTUNITYISNOWHERE

Take a close look at the run together letters above?  Now, without changing the sequence of the letters, break those twenty letters into a sentence.

If you've had a particularly difficult day or few days, your sentence might read "Opportunity is nowhere."  That's most likely the case if you've gotten disappointing results after completing the "Where Are My People" (WAMP) analysis discussed in my previous blog post.  All of a sudden, you have no successor and things aren't looking real bright when it comes to the key managers and leaders within your organization either.  You might be thinking, "What have I done with that list of business brokers?  I know it's around here somewhere."

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How to Hire the Right People

Regardless of what business you are in, you and your business are only as good as the people that work for you. This sentiment has been shared with me consistently over the past seventeen years regardless of where I have traveled in the United States or the type of family business I have been engaged with at any given time. Recently I attended a local Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) event in Orlando titled “2012 Smart Awards” which recognizes companies in Central Florida that have distinguished themselves culturally, creatively and through the economic impact they have made in the community. Without exception, each of the CEOs that were recognized expressed gratitude and appreciation to their employees who in large part are responsible for the daily success of the company. Having the right people on your team and in the right position can be the difference between success and failure.

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Developing High Performance Culture - Forget About Accountbility, Build Commitment

“We desperately need a culture of accountability around here!    How can I make people more accountable around here (including, in some cases, my children, my parents, my spouse, my siblings)?” 

Well, you can use your power and emotionally or financially abuse people; but that may be what’s gotten you into a commitment bind in the first place.  If you rely mostly on organizational power and position to drive results, you will generally wind up with malicious compliance. 

Why?  When most people think about accountability, they usually picture heads rolling, feet held to the fire, nose to the grindstone, or any other metaphor that refers to people being punished or hurt in some way for not having performed at a high enough level (which is usually either ill-defined or undefined and, on occasion, unrealistic). 

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Why Employee Contracts Are So Important to the Succession Planning Process

Business Structuring is a critical factor of the interdependent Succession Matrix®. Business Structuring impacts the nine other factors of the Succession Matrix® and accordingly, those other nine factors positively or negatively impact Business Structuring. For more information on all ten factors, refer to the International Succession Planning Association website at www.ISPAssociation.org.  

Business Structuring actually consists of two sub-factors, Business Organization and Business Documentation. Business Organization refers to the actual structure of the business as a corporation, LLC, partnership, etc. and its alignment to the strategic goals the business has for the continuation of success through the next generation of owners and managers. Business Documentation, as the name implies, refers to the actual documentation that formalizes the business organization as well as agreements regarding the disposition of ownership, leases of equipment and real estate, and contracts with vendors (franchisers, distributors, lenders) and employees. With respect to employment contracts, I am often asked what role an employment contract has in business succession planning. In light of the volume of curiosity, let’s embrace this subject.

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Don't Overlook the Employment Contract - How It Can Impact Your Exit Strategy, Cash Flow and Protection from the IRS

As a dedicated business succession planner, I am often bringing up the subject of employment contracts. The predictable initial response is “I hate contracts and what role could an employment contract have in my business succession planning?” This question generally comes from someone who has 80% of his/her net worth tied up directly or indirectly in their business and does not have a prayer of retiring without concerns about their financial security. They are plagued with the concerns of “Where am I going to get income?” and “How will I replace my current benefit package?”  Fortunately, the employment contract can be a very valuable tool in relieving these concerns and facilitating business succession planning.

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Don't Overlook the Employment Contract - How It Can Lock In Your Competitive Edge

In addition to employment contracts being beneficial for business owners, they also can play a very important succession role with key managers. Business owners commonly have concerns that key managers, critical to the continuation of the business’ success, could be recruited away by a competitor. There is also concern that the key managers could become frustrated with their perception of the succession plan and jump ship after the owner’s retirement rather than give the successors a chance to earn respect.  And the nightmare of nightmares is that with access to customer lists, processes and technology, a key manager could hook up with a competitor and inflict devastating damage on the business. These concerns about the commitment of key managers commonly impede exit strategy, successor identification and preparation, the transfer of management responsibility and the transfer of stock.

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Family Business Issues: How Do I Play with My Predecessor's Team?

At some point in time, the ownership and leadership batons are going to be passed to the next generation.  When that happens, there's going to be some level of trauma for everyone involved, including the new owner/leader.  When the company becomes "yours", it comes with a team of leaders and advisors that you may or may not like and whom you may or may not trust.  If you are the successor, how do you make the best of this situation?

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