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Atlanta Succession Planning

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Atlanta, Georgia

       850.294.3042 (T)
       407.578.4480 (F)

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T. Jeffrey Faulkner, M.S

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Jeff’s private practice in the counseling industry allowed him to gain specialized experience in working with families in crisis and achieving mutually satisfactory resolution of significant family dynamic issues.

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David Weaver, CEC

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David's career spans over 30 years as a successful business executive, where he specialized in the launch and growth of independent startups and new business units across multiple industries. In these roles, he worked with CEOs and executive management to achieve aggressive growth goals and prepare their organizations for eventual sale.

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Preparing Family Members to Take Over - As Seen On Automotive Buy Sell Report

Succession planning is a hot topic in the automotive industry and has been one frequently discussed in the pages of Automotive Buy Sell Report. Recent articles by Don Ray and Robert Bass have specifically focused on successor identification and development, and how, in the absence of a qualified successor or the lack of management bench strength, owners are forced to sell their business. 

Click Here to: Read full article on Automotive Buy Sell Report website

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As Seen in Automotive News - Family feud disrupts DARCARS


Article Written by Jamie LaReau for Automotive News, Jeff Faulkner Cited as an Expert Source


The cornerstone to the success of a family-owned auto retailer is the family members themselves.

So when a family dispute flares, the impact on operations can be devastating. It becomes a concern for many manufacturers and could result in termination of the franchise agreement, experts say.

DARCARS Automotive Group is embroiled in such a family dispute.

Tamara Darvish, 51, a well-known face of the company and leader in the auto industry, filed a lawsuit against her father, John Darvish Sr., 78, and the company he founded. She charged that he reneged on his promise to make her part of the dealership group's ownership team. Her stepbrothers run the company.

The suit, filed Jan. 9 in a Maryland court, will have a ripple effect on DARCARS' 22 dealerships, experts say. And such conflicts usually worry manufacturers..

"Family members are the leadership of the organization and when they are sideways with one another, there is no sense of purpose for the company," said Jeff Faulkner, an Atlanta partner at succession planning firm Rawls Group. "The business is not just about them. It's about their employees, vendors and others who depend on that business."

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How Giving Too Much to Your Kids Can Impact Your Succession Goals

There are 3 common "giving" pitfalls that create future havoc on your succession plan.  Most of the time family business owners believe they are doing the right thing, but are unaware of the long-term impact of giving or creating unearned rewards such as a job, title or a paycheck.

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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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Bulk Up and Charge Up - How Vacation Can Reveal Your Business' Bench Strength

I recently wrote an article about managing one’s business as if it were always for sale. One of the key points was getting management proficient at running the business successfully in the owner’s absence. But what about management’s absence?

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Are You Overpaying Your Children? Be Aware of the Potential Long-term Impact

So, in my first two posts, How "Over Giving" to your Kids Can Impact Future Succession Goals, and Did Your Child Earn That Title? The Impact of Giving What One Doesn't Deserve, on this subject I have discussed how a past pattern of giving can have a negative impact on the eventual gifting of business assets.  The previous posts focused on two common areas where business owners "give" to their children, which can create havoc on the business, successor development and family dynamics - giving your child a job or a title without earning them. 

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Did Your Child Earn That Title? The Impact of Giving What One Doesn't Deserve

In my last post How "Over Giving" to your Kids Can Impact Future Succession Goals, I discussed how past gifting behavior can impact and create unnecessary challenges the transfer of business assets to your children. A common first thing given to children, which sets a tone for future gifts is a job, I recommend for you, your business' sake and for the development of your children, they should earn it.

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How "Over Giving" to Your Kids Can Impact Future Succession Goals

The eventual transfer of business related assets to children is a common concern shared amongst family business owners. As a result, client meeting discussions often turn towards evaluating the most effective approach. 

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How to Create a Culture of Excellence – Are your Processes Aligned with Your Purpose?

It is absolutely imperative that the sales and services your team provides be aligned around a common purpose. Your purpose, or the purpose of each department of your organization, needs to be well defined as it will determine how they go about problem solving, accomplishing daily tasks and long-term goals. When it’s all said and done, it’s what we actually do that matters, not what we say we do. How you do things will define your reputation in the community. One of the most common disconnects in any organization is between purpose and procedure, or between what we say we do and how we go about doing it. 

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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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Tips for In-Laws in the Family Business

There are many potential landmines for in-laws in a family business environment. To navigate them successfully, keep the following simple steps in mind: 

  1. Acknowledge your role as an in-law. You are “family” with a caveat. Tread carefully and treat everyone with respect.  
  2. Understand the family’s unwritten laws. Observe and strive to uphold those laws. 
  3. Maintain pure motives regarding your involvement in your spouse’s family business. 
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The Importance of Conveying Your Message to the Successor

The immigration debate rages on, as today a federal judge put Arizona’s immigration law on hold, therefore upholding the idea that illegal immigrants, or undocumented workers, depending on your leaning, have rights in the U.S, namely the right to enter our country on their own terms.

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The Value of Pre-Marital Agreements

Building a healthy, strong, and long-lasting marriage requires a lot of hard work. Good marriages don’t happen by default, they require intentionality and equality of contribution and effort by both spouses. Unfortunately, even the best of relationships endure many significant challenges. As one marriage psychologist said, “Marriage is really, really, really, really, really hard work for about the first 20 to 25 years…and then, it starts to get kind of good.” This may be an overly negative statement, but it reflects the reality that establishing the foundation of a long-lasting, healthy, and fulfilling marriage is not easy.

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Dealing with In-laws in a sibling partnership

I recently facilitated a reconciliation meeting between a brother and sister-in-law. Since the relationship between the brothers was good, I wondered how did the relationship between the brother and sister-in-law go sour? The sister-in-law was admittedly harboring bitterness toward her husband’s older brother because of her perception of how her husband was being treated in the family’s business. 

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In-laws - How to Avoid Becoming an Outlaw in the Family Business

Family dynamics are usually fairly intense among immediate family members. Throw in-laws into the equation and you can have potential build up of underground pressure leading to explosions of volcanic proportions.  Put this pressure in the context of a family business and the lava and ash flows can suffocate the life out of the family and business.  If you’re an in-law connected to a family business, beware, lest you become an outlaw.

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High Expectations are Confirmation of Your Family Standing

I have the unique opportunity to work with a lot of fathers who are also very successful business owners. Many of these men are regarded by their children as control freaks. I have written before about how to effectively deal with and manage these strong personalities, and it essentially all boils down to learning to set effective personal and professional boundaries and risk the relationship by challenging dad. Today, I want to offer a different perspective that entails getting into the mindset of your control freak dad. 

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Business Growth - Why Determining the Underlying Motivation is Critical to Success

I was interviewing the 4th generation son of a business owner recently and asked about his vision for the company. He described a very aggressive vision for growth through acquisitions and diversification into other locations and channels. This kid has been in the family business all of two years! The business has afforded him a very lucrative and flexible job during difficult economic conditions. Having never even been responsible for running a department within the business, I found this vision astounding. 

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Evaluating Successors - Have You Clearly Communicated Reasonable Expecations

For up-and-coming successor candidates in family businesses, oftentimes their evaluation is not altogether objective or even reasonable. Family member employees live in a fishbowl where nothing they do is seemingly ever good enough. The good stuff they do is seen simply as par for the course. And frankly, that's often because no one in the organization gets a lot of affirmation for their hard work, so why should the "heir apparent." Yet, the errors of successor candidates often become mountains rather than the molehills they are.

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When Sybil Shows Up At Meetings - How to Deal With Emotions that Impact the Succession Planning Process

In some of my recent client meetings, I’ve felt as though some of my clients that have shown up were completely different people compared to my previous interactions while working through their succession planning issues. When I called one of my clients out on this “difference” recently, it was her remark that “Sybil had shown up,” calling to mind the movie depicting a character suffering from a multiple personality disorder. Not meaning to make light of a true multiple personality issue, I’ve been using the analogy ever since, applying it to the dynamic process that I’ve learned succession planning can be.

So, how can an advisor work effectively with the dynamics of succession planning? First and foremost, we all need to remind ourselves that we’re dealing with people and people are, fundamentally, emotional. Therefore, we are dealing with emotions. Further, we need to understand that those emotions are playing out in the relationships of the people involved in and impacted by succession planning.

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Keys for Resolving Conflict in the Family Business

Recently one of my partners and I were facilitating a meeting between a father and his daughter to work through some mismatched expectations between them in the family business. We had already had several prep meetings laying the ground-work for aligning their expectations, which were all positive and headed in the right direction. They were both excited that we were going to be able to help them get some things out on the table as they typically would avoid one another and leave issues unresolved.

However, once the meeting started, the dad took the opportunity to unleash on his daughter with unanswerable questions and acted like a prosecuting attorney trying to corner the defendant into a guilty plea. My partner and I were completely unprepared for this, and of course, the daughter was equally caught off guard. When I gained my composure and realized what was going on, I interrupted the dad by checking in with daughter saying, “if I were you, I’d feel like I’m on trial right now.” She broke down into tears acknowledging that I was spot on with her emotional reaction. Fortunately, this led the way to salvaging the meeting and beginning the process of working through their differences. Later, we apologized to her for not seeing that coming and for not protecting her from her dad’s onslaught quicker.

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