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Dr. Merlot’s Perspective: Motivations and Strategies for Business Growth

Loyd and I found ourselves both with a Friday free from client travel, so we decided to meet for a round of golf. I always love an opportunity to talk some smack to Loyd about his golf game.

We were rounding the turn to move to the 10th hole and ran into a friend of ours, Jack. We took a minute to catch up, giving updates on family and business. As Loyd and I were about to pull away, Jack asked if he could ask us a quick question about his business. Jack was scratching his head, so I could tell he was really struggling with something. In short, Jack had been in Board meetings the previous day, where most of the conversation focused on strategic planning and growth. Jack’s business had a strong customer base, reputation in the community and product/services. To him, he felt everything was great and his mentality was focused on sustaining success, but his Board members were more focused on growth. As such, Jack felt at odds with his Board and was struggling with the direction of the strategic plan. Other than a date confirmed for the next Board Meeting, there was no resolution or next steps identified at the end of the day. Knowing our backgrounds, Jack asked:

“If everything is going well, why is business growth so important, other than to fill someone’s ego or make more money? I need a compelling reason to take on the risk."

I opened my mouth to speak, but Loyd beat me to the punch.

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As Seen in NCM Institute - Generational Tensions: 4 Barriers to Automotive Leadership

As Seen in NCM Institute - Generational Tensions: 4 Barriers to Automotive Leadership

Ensuring the future success and sustainability of a dealership is not based solely on operational knowledge and efficiencies. In addition to creating robust processes, identifying and developing future leaders is critical to building sustainable dealership value. But first, you must overcome the leadership barriers that sabotage your goals..

In the past, when someone took on the position of “dealer,” it was assumed employees would fall in line and follow the owner’s lead. Today, with up to five generations working together at the same dealership, this expectation doesn’t hold true. Instead, good people check out or leave after a transition in leadership if they don’t feel respected for their contributions and see opportunities for growth.

Read the complete article on the NCM Institute Website website

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As Seen in Digital Dealer - A Sad or Celebratory Day?

As Seen in Digital Dealer - A Sad or Celebratory Day?

Some people may skip this article because they consider they take pride in not sweating the small stuff. After all, there are a great many consultants and gurus who consistently preach the message of “don’t sweat the small stuff…and, by the way, it’s all small stuff.” Good for them; they may have become successful by following that counsel. If you are one of those fortunate souls, congratulations.

If you are having trouble expanding your market, keeping people productive, growing your bottom line, and building lasting relationships with family members, clients, customers, vendors, and strategic partners, then you may want to consider sweating the small stuff. It’s the small stuff that makes the difference.

Read the complete article on the Digital Dealer Website website

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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.

Read the complete article on the Multi-Unit Franchisee 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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The Rawls Group Appoints David Ciambella as President and Chief Executive Officer

 

The Rawls Group, one of the nation’s most respected business succession planning firms, is proud to announce that David Ciambella has been named President and Chief Executive Officer. Initiating the firm’s succession plan, this move was effective January 1, 2017, with Loyd Rawls, the founder transitioning to Chairman of the Board.

“David has a relentless passion for succession planning. As a proven leader, he is committed to the growth of The Rawls Group and the acknowledgement of TRG as the global standard for succession planning.” said Loyd Rawls, Chairman. “David’s history and experience with our firm, combined with his receptiveness to new challenges and opportunities will ensure that TRG will continue to set the benchmark for succession planning into the future.”

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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.

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

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Mapping Out The Road To Success

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Mapping Out The Road To Success

The only thing that we can rely on to be constant is change. The political environment is forcing rapid change like we've never seen before. No question that technology continues to evolve in a way that forces us to embrace it or simply get left behind. Demographics are changing with a record number of Boomers who are set to retire in the next few years, causing anxiety for many about who may be their future leader..

A change in leadership brings with it, a distinct change in style. Everyone is unique with their own personality type that impacts inter-office relationship dynamics, how departments operate, as well as how the organization goes to market. There are differences in tastes, motivators, expectations of employees, and even what one views as success or failure. These changes in styles and leadership are going to become more abundant as newer generations develop and move into leadership roles in the workplace.

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

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Part 2: The Impacts of Family Dynamics on the Transition of Leadership in a Multi-Generational Dealership

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Part 1: The Impacts of Family Dynamics on the Transition of Leadership in a Multi-Generational Dealership

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Dr. Merlot’s Perspective: Generational Differences Impacting Teamwork - Advice to Millennial's and Baby Boomers

When Loyd and I met last, we discussed Millennials and Boomers on a quick puddle jumper as best we could over the loud engines.

As a refresher, over the last couple of months, Loyd and I have focused our discussions on overcoming generational differences in the workplace. In December, we discussed influences responsible for shaping generational perspectives. January’s discussion was geared towards advice to Boomers about Millennials, and February focused on advice to Millennials about Boomers.

Today we are meeting at the rental car terminal on our way to meet with a client on this very topic. Our client is experiencing tension in the workplace between what the client is referring to as “old school” and “new school” ways of thinking. Over the last couple of months, our client has fielded multiple meetings on the topic. Frustrated and noticing a dip in productivity and team morale, he called us in to quickly “nip this thing in the bud.”

Once we found ourselves to the rental car and got our wits about us, Loyd asked: “So as we are driving towards what could be an emotional mess, how are you thinking of approaching the perspectives of “old” and “new” school thinker/team members?

Well Loyd, I started; you and I have had rich dialogue on how both Millennials and Boomers could expand their thinking about the other. What I would add to those discussions would be something to the tune of….

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As Seen in Digital Dealer - Business Growth Comes from Sweating the Small Stuff

As Seen in Digital Dealer - Business Growth Comes from Sweating the Small Stuff

Some people may skip this article because they consider they take pride in not sweating the small stuff. After all, there are a great many consultants and gurus who consistently preach the message of “don’t sweat the small stuff…and, by the way, it’s all small stuff.” Good for them; they may have become successful by following that counsel. If you are one of those fortunate souls, congratulations.

If you are having trouble expanding your market, keeping people productive, growing your bottom line, and building lasting relationships with family members, clients, customers, vendors, and strategic partners, then you may want to consider sweating the small stuff. It’s the small stuff that makes the difference.

Read the complete article on the Digital Dealer Website website

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - A Trump Effect On Your Estate Taxes?

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - A Trump Effect On Your Estate Taxes?

While it is still way too early to know what the Trump administration is going to do to change the federal estate tax laws, we do know President Trump stated on the campaign trail that he will eliminate estate taxes and we also know how Congress has acted in the past. So let's have a little fun speculating and assuming.

When it comes to the estate tax issue, Republicans claim they are against this tax and Democrats favor it. However, the largest reduction of estate taxes occurred in 2011 under President Obama. During this time, the estate tax laws were amended to increase the exemption per person to $5,000,000 including an annual escalator of the exemption based on inflation. As a result, in 2017, the estate tax exemption has increased to $5,490,000 per person or almost $11M per married couple. Due to the amendments in 2011, the estate taxes today are the lowest ever and affect less Americans than ever before, approximately 0.5 percent of the population. Politically this has been a tough out, since it doesn't affect most voters. Nevertheless, if your estate will have to pay estate taxes, you'd just as soon not.

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

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Whats the Trump Effect on Estate Taxes

Probably nothing, unless you plan to die soon! I happened to be with a client with whom I have worked since 1991, on the day President Trump was elected. That led us to examine the political climate over the past 26 years. We reminded ourselves that the 1980’s had been a Republican era (but Democrats had controlled at least one house of Congress). However, in 1992, President Clinton lead a Democratic sweep of the Congress. In 2000, President George W. Bush lead a Republican sweep followed by 2008, with President Obama sweeping the Democrats back into office, followed by the latest sweep by the Republicans under President Trump. Our country has been on a political roller coaster ride for the last three decades!

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Moving From Planning To Executing

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Moving From Planning To Executing

No one really knows the outcome of anything and we are seeing that play out in our country’s current political stage. Too often this keeps us from strategically planning for where we want our business to go and what we want from it in the future. However, the unknowns and the unpredictable should not keep us from looking forward, rather, they enforce the need to constantly be planning strategically towards your goals and vision.

We use excuses such as “the unknowns” to stop us from executing plans. Or believe that because we cannot predict something, we cannot guarantee if we will be successful or not. However, not planning and not executing means that we are in limbo, which means the odds of accomplishing great things are pretty bleak. Strategic planning guarantees that you place your franchise business in the position of being agile and flexible when the unknowns and the unpredictable hits. This is a much better alternative than yo-yoing with the market and political changes over which we have no control.

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

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Dr. Merlot’s Perspective: Generational Differences Impacting Teamwork - Advice to Millennial's about Baby Boomers

For the last couple of month’s Loyd and I have been discussing generational differences and how to overcome issues they often create in the workplace. Loyd initially posed the question to me in December, but since this was such a big topic, we decided to break up the conversation into a 4-part series; tackling one topic at a time.

In December, Loyd and I discussed outside influences responsible for shaping generational perspectives on areas such as work-ethic, communication and technology. And in January, Loyd geared the discussion towards what advice would I give to Boomers and Millennials. So, as I sit here in the airport waiting for Loyd to meet me for our connecting flight; I am pondering what could be Loyd's next question.

Loyd walks up, we say our hello’s, board the plane and as soon as we get to 10,000 feet, Loyd gets right to it. “Say Doc, not a lot of time on this puddle jumper, so let’s move on with this discussion on generational issues. Last month we focused on advice to Boomers about Millennials, so what insight do you have for Millennials working with Boomers?

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Prepare For The Future With Strategic Planning

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Prepare For The Future With Strategic Planning

2016 was a challenging year. Between proposed legislation impacting family gifting (IRS 2704), the DOL legislation impacting overtime, and the political uncertainty of the election, it is surprising that all our heads have not spun off our bodies. One of the biggest pain points of 2016 that could leave a lasting burn into 2017 is all the speculation around proposed legislations. Many of you last year were likely either chewing on your fingers with panic or moving towards action to button up your estate plans and shoring up HR policies. Now, after all that work, we find ourselves with a new party in office. That could mean that much of the proposed legislation could be reversed, may not go into effect, or may not go into effect to the extent you had planned.

So now what? If you have pro-actively engaged in planning, take a sigh of relief. You are likely in a strong position to adjust to whatever 2017 may (and will) throw at you. It is no secret that we are huge proponents of strategic planning, specifically the kind where you have integrated the plan into your culture, tied performance criteria to achieving the plan, and are actively reviewing your trajectory compared to available resources. We believe it keeps you agile and in the ready position to tackle whatever may be thrown at you – economic, political, regulatory, recruitment and retention, process/procedure - you name it.

Read the complete article on the Multi-Unit Franchisee Website 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 Mitzi Perdue's Blog - Substance Abuse and the Family Business: the Problem Doesn’t Go Away on Its Own!

As Seen in Mitzi Perdue's Blog - Substance Abuse and the Family Business: the Problem Doesn’t Go Away on Its Own!

This month's blog post by Mitzi Perdue, “Substance Abuse and the Family Business: the Problem Doesn’t Go Away on Its Own!” features The Rawls Group’s, Loyd Rawls. Read more about how substance abuse can harm not only the family, but the family business in this month's blog post.

When it comes to substance abuse, members of a family business are no more immune than the rest of the population. However, as family business advisor Loyd Rawls points out, the consequences can be more dire because serious abuse problems can threaten the entire company.

Read the complete article on Mitzi Perdue's website

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Get Ready For The Next Four Years Now

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Get Ready For The Next Four Years Now

The election is over and the 45th president of the United States will be sworn into office this week. Regardless of your political affiliation, a dynamic shift is upon us. We are transitioning from eight years of Democratic policy to a new era of Republican leadership. In addition to the change in party lines, we will have the first president in office that is one of the most recognized business names in the world and promises to run the government more like a business.

So now what do we do to prepare for any changes in the business climate? Put your pen to paper and get moving on your strategic plan. This means that if you have not yet established a plan for your business, you can consider the priority here to be that of critical. If you have a strategic plan in place but have not looked at it in the last three to five years, you are not getting off easy. Understand that what we have grown used to in the last eight years in terms of policy, legislation, business structure, and taxation, are all likely to change. This also means that any planning you have done as it relates to the prior administration, probably will need to be revisited and adjusted accordingly.

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

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