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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Resolutions - Looking Forward

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Resolutions - Looking Forward

In our last article, "Reflections - Past, Future, Present" we talked about reflections and how the holiday season is the one time of year that we find ourselves reflecting, without even trying. In addition to reflecting during the holiday season, as a new year begins again, we are also no doubt thinking about what we would like to do differently, stop doing, or that new thing we would like to try. We commit to a decision, and start off January with a new focus.

The reality is that resolutions tend to fall short as time goes on. We start out strong, but I bet you can attest to not always sticking to the resolution. You are in a very small minority if you have achieved your resolution throughout the year. What about your franchise business? As you have reflected on the past year, have you considered resolutions for the new year? Are you committed to keeping them throughout the year, and do you have a mechanism in place to ensure you do not fall short on your commitment?

 

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

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As Seen in Park Press: Family Business Hurricane

As Seen in Park Press: Family Business Hurricane

Transitioning a family business to the next generation can feel a lot like hunkering down for a tremendous storm. Just like the winds and rain that push the walls and windows of a home, so too can the anxiety and stress in the family business push many past their breaking point. Often, you know the storm is coming with time to prepare, but hoping the storm will pass gets in the way of taking action. And, the closer the storm gets, the less time you have to fully prepare. It is, no doubt, stressful considering the impact of the storm, but ignoring it does not change the inevitable.

Proper hurricane preparation includes gathering batteries for flashlights or they’re not of much use. Gas for the generator and the chainsaw, water for cooking and drinking, screws for the plywood, sand for the sandbags, etc. Preparing well in advance makes the task at hand less overwhelming and with enough time, you can not only double check your work, but also catch anything that may have been missed. Whereas waiting until the last minute gives you fewer options, and you potentially end up huddled together, riding the storm out and hoping for the best. This is not the soundest strategy and sets you and your family up for potential disaster.

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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 Automotive Buy Sell Report - Three Steps to Making Business Planning Fun for a Dealer

As Seen in Automotive Buy Sell Report - Three Steps to Making Business Planning Fun for a Dealer

Some things in life are actually fun to plan, such as weddings, vacations, and special celebratory events. The planning that goes into the event usually leads to a happy outcome, regardless of how long the planning takes and even if there are bumps along the way.

Business Planning, on the other hand, can get a bad rap. Even mentioning business planning to a fast-moving, high-energy dealer makes his or her eyes begin glaze over. So how do we make business planning fun, exciting, and worthwhile for dealers?

Step 1: Think Big

Envisioning what you want your dealership to be is one of the reasons you became a dealer. Allow yourself to think big in the areas of facility design, approaches to attracting and retaining talent, and developing unique customer acquisition/service initiatives. Think: What could I do today that would forever change the way I do business?

  • What can you do to capitalize on in the dealership to drive performance (New/used Car Sales, Parts, Service, etc)?
  • What can you do to build a rewarding culture for your people?
  • What sort of actions are you taking to stay ahead of changes in the industry, including continued generational diversification and new technology in both operations and automobiles?

Read the complete article on the Automotive Buy Sell Website website

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Dr. Merlot’s Perspective: New Year Reflections

Another year has gone. As a I “mature” (a doctor’s way of saying, “get older”) I realize how fast time passes us by. As a kid, summers seem to last forever, school breaks during the holidays were like real “holidays” and the school weeks just seem to drag on, and on. Now I realize that it may seem that same way for many of us adults in the work place, however how many of us get to a new year and look back and ask, “Where has the time gone?”

Reflecting on 2017 I’m reminded of the wonderful relationships I continued to build with my family, friends, colleagues and clients. I, of course, carry fond memories of my time on the golf course with my pal, Loyd, and all our pontifications on how to solve the world’s behavioral business problems. As I’m here sipping on the juice, I realized, however, looking back is good for reflection, but visioning the future has much more possibilities.

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Reflections - Past, Future, Present

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Reflections - Past, Future, Present

As we prepare for a new year we often focus on keeping/growing what we have gained, or minimizing what we have lost. We also tend to get tunnel vision on growth and what the new year will bring. And, we cannot help but reflect on the past year as we look forward to where we want to take our business.

Reflecting on the direction of your business is a healthy exercise to provide insight into the future. You can look at trends, customer activity, and all those operational things that dictate what we think the next year is going to look like from a profitability perspective. However, where we sometimes fall short is in reflecting on those “touchy-feely” things that have the biggest impact on the growth of the business. The reason these things have such a big impact on the business is because they have to do with people and people have feelings.

For example, if you had to stop for a moment and reflect on the past year, what would be the first three things that come to mind? Growth in profit? Growth in portfolio? Growth in locations or brands? But what if you were challenged to reflect on your leadership and what you have done to ensure the sustainability and growth of your franchises through your people? Or better yet, what have you done to ensure the sustainability and growth of your people?

 

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

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Changing Perspectives for the New Year

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Changing Perspectives for the New Year

As we go into this holiday season, many may find themselves thinking, “I just might have had all the family I can handle.” The holidays are wonderful and provide togetherness and memories. But if you work with family, it is very easy to get "over-familied" and with that, a growing sentiment of needing space. The ambient stress, frustration, resentment, and acrimony with spouses, parents, siblings, cousins, in-laws, or children can drain your enthusiasm and consume your patience, blocking your ability to apply your skills and talents towards the productivity of your multi-unit franchisee business. You may find yourself looking at going back to work like another opportunity to stick your hand in the garbage disposal. If this sounds familiar, it is time for you to consider new perspectives that will relieve relationship pressure and potentially reinvigorate your passion for the business and those you work with daily.

"To set the foundation for a new perspective allow me to ask how your feelings of pressure, frustration, stress, resentment, etc. are working for you?”

Caution, do not allow yourself to think you are the victim of the circumstances. Remember, our mind is our only true possession. Within the double hierarchy and standard of both family and business, your mind (opinions, conclusions, and feelings) may be the only thing you truly control. When told to be quiet, your lips may have to shut due to a dumb, insensitive. or resentful comment, but your mind can continue to shout at the top of your lungs; therefore, own your feelings.

 

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As Seen in The Huffington Post - “Please” and “Thank You” Are Getting in the Way of Your Leadership

As Seen in The Huffington Post - “Please” and “Thank You” Are Getting in the Way of Your Leadership

Consider some of the lines that you use in your day to day business conversations. Phrases such as “Please let me know when we can speak more about this…”, “Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today!”, “I look forward to working with you.” Sound familiar? Most recently, these were my “go to” phrases when interacting with colleagues, prospects and clients, especially through email.

As humans and specifically those with the XX chromosome, we have been conditioned to always mind our “p’s and q’s” and please and thank you are a natural part of who we are. And let’s be honest, when we’re trying to negotiate, sell a new idea, or navigate conflict in some way, we think that having manners and using exclamation points or smiley faces to show our excitement make us seem less pushy, and more likeable. The exclamation points are not the issue, rather, they do a great job of visualizing a distinct difference in male and female written communication.

 

 

Read the complete article on the Huffington Post website 

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As Seen in Digital Dealer - Fallacy

As Seen in Digital Dealer - Fallacy

Dr. Merlot and I met up during a layover in Charlotte in route to a family business operating three semi metro dealerships in the Midwest. In our previous visit, we had been dealing with a daughter with a drug issue. Now we were focusing on preparing the dealer’s son and other daughter to be approved as successor dealers. We arrived at a small airport, and began the short drive to Marge and Bill’s dealerships that they received from Marge’s dad.

“Good morning Marge,” the Dealer; “good morning Bill,” her husband of 37 years and the Service Director. “Trust you have recovered from the stress of our last trip? How’s business? How’s Cindy doing in rehab?”

“We are doing about as well as expected,” responded Marge with measured enthusiasm. “Business remains decent and the family is doing ok as well.”

“Cindy dropped out of rehab,” blurted Bill. “She convinced me she can do it on her own.”

I was shocked at this news. “Is she still in Indy living with her ex-boyfriend?”

 

Read the complete article on the Digital Dealer website 

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Remain A Positive Influence In Your Community

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Remain A Positive Influence In Your Community

Hurricanes, wildfires, shootings, earthquakes, scandals, and an unsettled political environment have people feeling a range of emotions leading into our holiday season. Feelings from guilt because we are a witness, bystander, or survivor to being anxious and downright scared depending on how much of the news you believe. For some, it is hard to look forward to this season of thanksgiving without some sense of anxiety or grief. However, to overcoming these heavy emotions, it is in these moments we should work to shift our focus to giving thanks and celebrating unity more than ever.

Many of the tragic events overshadow some of the wonderful things that are taking place in our country. Where there has been tragedy, we are also seeing unity, acts of kindness, and selflessness for the benefit of others. Individuals and communities are coming together to rebuild and help others in need.

Another area for "thankfulness" is in that of our business and economic climate. Just this month, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce, reported that the United States gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 3% in the third quarter, just shy of the 3.1% from the quarter before. In addition, we are seeing record-breaking numbers in the stock market and exponential growth in the franchise industry. In fact, if you did not see the recent "Good News" article in Franchise Update Sales Report, it is worth the read if you are looking for reasons to smile in light of all that is going on in the world.

 

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

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Dr. Merlot’s Perspective: Finding Holiday Cheer

As we enter the holiday season, I reflect on the past year and all the Merlot enjoyed, pontifications with friends, and memories created. I have enjoyed working through some significant client challenges, helping them right the ship out of the storm, and of course beating Loyd at golf is always a memory worth cherishing.

We have experienced a year filled with some challenges with hurricanes, flooding, fires, shootings, and political unrest. However, we have also seen a year of exponential growth in our economy and record highs with the stock market. Industries, that just several years ago were flailing, are now thriving. Technologies continue to develop new and innovative ways to work and live. And entrepreneurship and home ownership are attainable.

I often find myself working clients “out of the dumps” with the 24-hour news cycle. Too often, we are faced with only the messages of negativity, and all that is positive is being lost. It is for this reason, I challenge us all to spend some time reflecting this holiday season on the silver linings and uplifting events we have experienced in the last year.

For example, with mother nature being a force to be reckoned with this year, one of the most amazing outcomes our clients and I witnessed, was communities coming together. Strangers helping their neighbors, businesses helping their communities and non-affected individuals and companies banding together to help. We may not all have the same opinions and beliefs. But what we all do when it matters most, is care for and take care of our communities and our people..

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Managing a Franchise Business With A Spouse

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Managing a Franchise Business With A Spouse

Where the holidays may be a hot spot for family issues, spouses working together in business create opportunities for conflict throughout the entire year.

Marriage vows speak to commitment during "richer or poorer and sickness and in health." Managing personal finances, sacrificing and nurturing individual needs for the sake of the union, and disagreements about replacing the toilet paper makes building a rewarding marriage - work. Throw in the demands of a competitive high-risk working environment, if not managed right, it can put a strain on marriage like nothing else. The bonds of love, commitment, and understanding are challenged by business demands of leadership, market changes, differing styles of management, employee, vendor and customer expectations, performance, and profit. Just as in marriage, because of the work involved to create a successful multi-unit franchisee business, many find partnerships too difficult, which can be observed in the rates of sales and buyout because it's not worth the brain damage.

Because of the complex challenges of both marriage and business partnerships, dynamics between a typical married couple working to maintain harmony and drive business performance can easily create excitement, distractions, and often organizational dysfunction. In the initial stages of building the business, leadership issues are simple. Both parties understand if there are serious marital differences of opinion, the business could fail, and everyone loses. However, after the business grows and supports the desired lifestyle, the independent ambitions of marital personalities can begin to create business chaos.

 

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

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As Seen in Park Press: Replacing "What You Do" with "Why You Do It"

As Seen in Park Press: Replacing "What You Do" with "Why You Do It"

I recently had a late lunch with my good friend, George. Ten minutes late, I entered the restaurant feeling rushed, but also feeling energized after the phone conversation I had just ended.

Apologizing for my delay, I explained to George the call was with a business owner interested in engaging our firm to help transition the business to the fourth generation of ownership. Being the gracious guy that he is, George replied inquisitively asking how the conversation went. “Well, you know, George, this was the second conversation with her about who we are as a firm, what we do, and how we do it.”

I continued to share more with George. As I was doing this, I could feel myself swelling with pride. “We are a quirky group of individuals with a diversity of backgrounds and professional experience. But what makes us unique is that we all have an absolute passion for what we do. We do everything we can to facilitate the continuity of a business THROUGH the next generation of ownership and management,” I said wide eyed and smiling. “That sounds awesome,” George remarked and then continued with, “The passion I hear in your voice and see in you as you’re talking is powerful in a way that if I were someone in need of your firm’s services, makes me want to do business with you.” He then shared, “It would be important to me to know who you are, why you do what you do and how you work.” Nodding in agreement, “but?” I replied with a short laugh. Taking a deep breath, George said, “well, I would challenge your thoughts on ‘what you do’.” “Really?”, I blurted, “How so, George? I feel like I’m pretty thorough.” George responded, “No, no, I completely agree with you there! However, talking to me about what you do is exactly what you said, it’s a DESCRIPTION. In my opinion, you are conveying your passion when you talk about the WHY.”

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As Seen in Park Press: Do Good, Have Fun, Make Money

As Seen in Park Press: Do Good, Have Fun, Make Money

What is your workday mantra? The Chairman of The Rawls Group, Loyd Rawls, reminds us often to “do good, have fun, and make money.” I believe it is a tone to set for the day.

The order in which it’s spoken makes all the difference. I find myself often wondering if I’ll hit all three, in that order, when going through my day. Are the options under consideration going to do “good”? If so, will the outcome feel or result in good, and for whom? What kind of difference will it make to those involved? And, will it be “fun”? If involved in a challenging business scenario, working in a bit of fun while working thru the issue may result in your partners or team members to more likely work together and take on the challenges of growing a business. Finally, I ask myself if the outcome will make money. After all, we are in business to generate a profit, and if we’re not, then how do we expect to survive?

In a perfect world, I’d stop and contemplate each decision or potential outcome and maybe sleep on it to get it right. Life moves quickly and most of the time you must simply see the pitch and hit it. I’ve found that there are three that have helped me in this quick analysis which you may find helpful:

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Disaster Recovery: Emotional, Physical, and Financial

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Disaster Recovery: Emotional, Physical, and Financial

We cannot predict when disaster will strike, but current events prove it can happen at any time. Whether it is hurricanes, flooding, blizzards, tornadoes, droughts, or wildfires, timing can only be determined by the "odds." This can cause us to become complacent in thinking that disaster will not hit our family, business, or geography. Thus, we don't prepare at all, because feeling "the unpredictable" is too far out of our control. However, to build exponential value in your multi-unit franchisee organization, it is essential to plan for the predictable, probable, and possible contingencies.

Plan can be a bad "four letter word" for entrepreneurial-minded business owners like multi-unit franchisees. But it can (and should) be your favorite word when you or those you care about are impacted by a disaster. By having a plan in place, you have the resources and protocols in to ensure you are there for your people, and you can recover damaged real estate or inventory.

There are a variety of areas we should plan to protect the financial, physical, and emotional future of our organization. Having a disaster recovery plan in place is one of the most important tools to keep the franchise business, your employees, and yourself moving forward should disaster hit your community. Let's face it, disastrous events can turn on a dime and you can find yourself in the path of destruction.

 

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Dr. Merlot’s Perspective: Changing Face of Leadership

Loyd and I have not had the opportunity to get together as much as I would like over the last several weeks. Between our work schedules and the fact that he had surgery, not once, but twice, we have not been doing our regular golfing or commiserating. It does not mean that we have not been jabbing at each other whenever we get the chance, we just have not been on the golf course or having dinner where we can just sit and contemplate the problems of privately held businesses as much as we like.

Talking to Loyd recently, the subject of leadership came up and we reminisced about what “leaders” have looked like through the years we’ve been working with them. We could not help but think about how much the roles have changed from what was in the 70’s and 80’s what seemed like a “good ‘ole boy” style to where we are today. To clarify, when I say “good ‘ole boy” what I mean is business owners having power and influence through their relationships with their various sources that touch the business.

Today, that mantra of leadership has long since passed. We can blame some of it on the economic turn in 2008-2009, but all blame does not fall entirely there. The downturn did cause manufacturers and franchisers and business owners to face the hard fact that relationships, although important, will not sustain your business in a downturn. So, you could say that what we experience then has probably helped us prepare for what we are experiencing today, but it is not the most significant change we are seeing.

Working with second and third generation owned businesses, we run into a common theme of trying to run the business the way it has always been run. But what is taking place is a rapid change of leadership due to the expansive retirement of Baby Boomers. Combine this with the next generation of leaders that require leading and doing business differently. I like to call this a paradigm shift. Not only are we being forced to change the way we lead due to market changes, but we are being required to change the way we lead due to how the up and coming leaders wish to lead.

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As Seen in Digital Dealer - Bringing Next Generation Family Members into the Dealership

As Seen in Digital Dealer - Bringing Next Generation Family Members into the Dealership

One of the biggest questions dealers are asking these days is when and how to bring their next-generation of the family in the dealership. The simple answer to this is that they should come into your business when they, and you are ready. Readiness, however, is a subjective term. These three perspectives, should be considered as you are going through the decision-making process:

  1. Yours, the owner
  2. Your next-generation family member, AKA Next-Gen
  3. Your business’

Yours, the owner

Your perspective as the business owner is foremost important. As the dealer principal, you have the freedom of control and the burden of responsibility. So, if you want your Next-Gen on board, feel free to make them an offer. However, if you are a bit reluctant to put on the fraternity or sorority rush, you are likely feeling the burden of responsibility to ensure you are not short cutting your Next-Gen or business.

 

Read the complete article on the Digital Dealer website 

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Two Statistics That Should Drive Your Future Thinking

There are two statistics that probably won’t wow you in terms of fact but don’t seem to get the airplay they deserve when it comes to building business value for the future. And they won’t serve as “wow factors” in the annals of research, but based on the behaviors of many companies they seem to go overlooked.

Fact #1. The mortality rate among humans is running at right about 100%.

Fact #2. The perfection rate among humans is running at right about 0%!

Here’s what it should mean for any business owner (or team of owners):

No one really believes they’re going to live forever. But oftentimes the structure, policies, practices and culture of a company are designed around the current leader (or leaders), which probably makes sense if we’re focused on this quarter or the next one, this year or the next one.

But if we are to think long-term, we could – and should – be revisiting the way we’re structured and the culture we’ve created according to who the future leaders of the company will be. This creates a competitive advantage that will help us win for a long time, and builds value in the event we ever wanted to package and sell some or all of our company.

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Three Considerations for Ensuring Your Franchise Future

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Three Considerations for Ensuring Your Franchise Future

A recent article, "The Coming Recession: What Lessons Can We Learn in Advance," made a simple, but significant point. We have recessions here in the United States. We don't always know when they are coming, or how long they will last, but one thing is for certain, they happen. And when they do, franchise owners who have not paid attention to historical trends or developed a strategic plan for the next few years can suffer.

The franchise industry is on pace to have one of its fasting growing years in history. In fact, the International Franchise Association reported in August that in addition to the number of franchise establishments increasing by 1.6 percent this year, the gross domestic product (GDP) of the franchise sector will exceed that of the total US GDP. With all of this growth, many owners may not be looking to protect themselves against an economic or consumer shift - or a natural disaster such as Hurricane Maria, Irma, and Harvey.

 

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

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What Business Owners Should Know About Trumps Impact on Estate Taxes

Press Release - October 5, 2017

The announcement of the proposed repeal of the federal estate tax and the GST tax could provide an immediate opportunity for those that want to take advantage before the next presidential change. For business owners and high net worth individuals, the repeal affects those that have an estate plan in place, as well as those that are either in process or need to get their plan established.

 “Clients often ask us why they should even bother addressing their estate tax issues if the estate taxes are going away, based on proposals from the current administration“ comments Hugh Roberts. “The truth of the matter is that this is a fight that has been going on in Congress for the last 50 plus years. Regardless of the outcome, it will likely change with the next administration. Therefore, being prepared and being ready to act when given opportunity, is more important than waiting for the perfect combination of time or situation, if not for any other reason, the unknown is unpredictable,” continued Roberts.

 Earlier this year, Hugh Roberts wrote an article focused on Trump’s effect that you can read here http://seekingsuccession.com/index.php/easyblog/newsletter-archive/whats-the-trump-effect-on-estate-taxes

 

About The Rawls Group

The Rawls Group, specializes in working with business owners and key leaders addressing issues impacting the ongoing viability and sustainability of their business, including:

  • Optimizing current business performance
  • Recruiting, retaining and motivating key managers
  • Coordinating complex family, business and estate planning dynamics
  • Enhancing family relationships
  • Developing successors
  • Growing strategically

We serve as a catalyst to facilitate the discussion and resolution of sensitive issues so all stakeholders are reassured about the organization’s current and future prosperity. By partnering with our clients and their advisors, we work to develop a plan that perpetuates the leadership, culture, performance and relationships that are critical to business success.

 

For more information about The Rawls Group or questions in regard to the proposed legislation impacting estate plans, please visit our website at www.rawlsgroup.com or contact Kendall Rawls at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

 

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