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As Seen in Digital Dealer - Successors: Getting out of the Middle

As Seen in Digital Dealer - Successors: Getting out of the Middle

With more family businesses then ever seeking succession through the next generation of family leadership, a change to a multigenerational management structure is occurring with regularity all over the country. Owners are counting on the seasoned professionals who have carried the day to day operations of dealership management for the past 20 plus years through a conservative approach. Their experience and reliability are depended on to continue selling cars, maximize margins, and maintain customer relationships. At the same time, many dealers understand the industry is changing and as they groom successors, are capitalizing and embracing a move to a modern approach to dealership management that focuses on innovative selling, advertising, managing and capitalizing on the customer experience.

As this generation of successor candidates emerge, they often find themselves caught in the middle of the “way it has been” and “where we want to go”. It becomes a true challenge of maintaining conservatism and innovation. Who are successors supposed to be as they work to gain respect, earn trust, perform at the top of their class while continuing to be humble. The goal is to be the best so there is no doubt he or she is the next leader of the organization, but the task at hand is to fly under the radar to not step on the toes of those currently in charge. It is a daunting, nearly impossible and often very frustrating task for all involved. Unreasonable expectations accompanied by a general lack of functional and productive communication between the two sides generally leads to extreme frustration.

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Dr. Merlot’s Perspective: Leading from a place of Position vs Personal Power

I knew it was not going to take long for Loyd to get me back for my, ehhem, outburst the last time we spoke. How was I to know that he had the client on speaker, while golfing? Thankfully, the client did not seem offended as he ended the call with a little trash talk in expressing I am a better golfer than Loyd, which probably sent Loyd into golf orbit. I suspect Loyd has been practicing his game, since I was on my way to join him for a round while I was in Orlando.

Even though, Jack our client seemed fine at the end of our last conversation, I still couldn’t shake the feeling my Dr. Merlot “straight talk” had potentially offended him. Normally, I don’t care much because truth is truth and people need to hear it, but since I talked so freely not knowing Jack was on the phone in addressing Loyd’s question last month about “Is enhancement of personal lifestyle reasonable motivation for growth?” I was certain I had stepped in it somehow. This made me reflect more on a topic we are seeing more and more when clients are focused on building teamwork. What has become increasingly clear, especially with the multiple generations in a workspace, is the impact of tone and communication and how it relates to strong leadership.

Before Loyd could get his firs t-shot off, I thought this might be a good topic to dive into, while also offering myself up as the sacrificial token in a means of saying I was sorry. For the next eighteen holes, Loyd and I discussed how management style impacts people, attitude, recruitment and retention and overall culture of the business. Loyd also asked me to express my thoughts on leaders who try to rule from a place of positional power. Needless to say, this conversation took up the majority of our golf round, and could have continued into the dinner we had later that evening.

Loyd and I first focused our discussion on managers who “rule” from a place of positional power. What I shared with Loyd is it’s a touchy subject. It requires leaders to identify their style, and in most cases, make adjustments because positional power, or influence, is commonly a factual or implied superior role. We see it directly with owners, department managers, bosses, older siblings, or parents. It is, in simple terms, a “power” position where the leader uses their title or standing to influence those around them, and it often leads to malicious compliance.

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Dr. Merlot’s Perspective: Growth of Lifestyle Motivation for Business Growth

After an interesting golf game with Loyd, I was left contemplating why business owners often look at reasons other than their existing or potentially enhanced lifestyle when it comes to evaluating business growth. In the case of our conversation with Jack last month, Loyd and I had the opportunity to share with him why growth matters, even if the business is doing well. It is an easy area of confusion. If your business is in a good spot, you are making money, your people are happy and your bank account can sustain a future for you in retirement, why care about growth? A very simple answer is - life changes in a moment. What may look like is going well today, may in fact change in an instant. Therefore, if you are not constantly looking forward and trying to achieve more market share/growth, the lifestyle that you may wish to lead long after you have left the business, may not be a reality.

So, then we must take a look at motivation and understand as business owners, what is our real motivation to not only be in business, but to take on risk and continue to strategically grow and enhance the business to sustain the future? For some, it is likely to give back, develop people, contribute to the community, build something – which ultimately is to build a legacy.

Irony. Loyd happen to give my office a call as I was sitting here pondering this thought. I picked up the phone and answered, “Hey there, scratch golfer, to what do I owe the honor of your call?” With a slight chuckle, Loyd did what he does best. Without a hello, he simply asked me, “Is enhancement of personal lifestyle reasonable motivation for growth?”

I am not going to lie. I about fell off my chair because it was like he was in my head, and here I was thinking, I was the shrink in the relationship! I was not going to let Loyd one-up me, so I responded with,

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As Seen in Digital Dealer - Think Big

As Seen in Digital Dealer - Think Big

When starting out in business, most do not naturally look forward to the future and ask, “What do I want my legacy to be, and who will fill my shoes?” Rather, as entrepreneurs, we look at how we can get a business up and running, be profitable, and hopefully live a rewarding lifestyle. It is not until we are looking at what “next” looks like that we start to consider what we want to leave behind. And often, by the time we are looking at what’s “next,” we find ourselves a few steps behind the curve in planning for an effective leadership transition.

Even for those that are ahead of the curve in planning for “what’s next”, there is often a fear of failure. The fear that no one can run the business like you do causes many to get stuck in a rut, creating blinders to untapped resources and obstacles towards development of next generation leaders. Yet today, dealers have exponential opportunity to properly identify and develop their future leaders. To do this, however, you must embrace your vision, build out a leadership transition plan, and position the right leader for success to one-day fill your shoes.

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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.

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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.

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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 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.

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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 - 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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As Seen in Digital Dealer - Respecting Each Other’s Differences Builds Long-term Success

As Seen in Digital Dealer - Respecting Each Other’s Differences Builds Long-term Success

As owners or managers in the business, we often put a lot of pressure on ourselves to “do it all”. We like to own the work and too often, avoid delegating or mentoring others for fear of losing our position of power. What happens is that we, as the leader, set an example that others try to follow, and before you know it, people are working in silos. The reality is that teamwork is one of the most crucial foundations to a successful, long-term business and the entry for our future leaders.

Because we are human, the tendency to share and collaborate often does not come natural. We are competitive by nature, we want personal recognition and our personal opinions and beliefs impact our daily interactions with others. All of these influences creates barriers to reaching out to those around us for help or “across the aisle” to another department for insight, diminishing our ability to ensure proper mentorship and growth of our colleagues and future leaders.

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As Seen in Digital Dealer - Entitlement- The Kiss of Death in a Family Business

As Seen in Digital Dealer - Entitlement- The Kiss of Death in a Family Business

Entitlement issues are rampant in family owned dealerships. It is a stealthy and dangerous disease that can have a widespread and prolific impact on our business culture, as well as at home. How do we keep it from becoming an epidemic in our business and family lives?

First, you must understand exactly what entitlement means. The simple translation is when a person believes they are special and deserve to be treated different (better) than everyone else. Or perhaps that they are “deserving”..

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Strategies To Create Harmonious Business Families During the Holidays

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Strategies To Create Harmonious Business Families During the Holidays

Many franchise owners go into business with or employ close friends and family simply because there is an existing trust factor. As mentioned in one of our previous articles, "Family Business Perspective Matters," you don't have to be blood related to be considered a family business.

The last two months of the year offer more time together with loved ones than any other time of the year. For multi-unit franchisee business owners who view their partners, senior executives, or staff as close friends or family, this means that it often also brings a bit more of a challenge to navigating relationships and work environments. Working with close friends, family, or colleagues who have grown to feel like both, means that you are inheriting all the customary behaviors, habits, and routines that develop between those you care about. Familial-like bonds provide us with personal fulfillment outside of the office and can translate into building management teamwork in the workplace. However, the downside to personal bonds in business is, without clear expectations, role responsibilities, and performance criteria, it is an environment that can harbor attitudes of entitlement and resentment. Personal bonds often make it difficult to hold each other accountable from a business perspective. Even though we make the decision to handle working relationships with intentions of keeping it strictly business, without purposeful facilitation, it never ends up working out as planned.

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Succeeding at Succession

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Succeeding at Succession

This month’s Multi-Unit Franchisee article, “Succeeding at Succession” was written by Helen Bond and features The Rawls Group’s, Kendall Rawls. Read more about how transition your business and build a successful future with succession planning in the article below.

For Wanda Sieber, what began as an ordinary phone call became a wake-up call. The person who answered the phone told Sieber that the owner of the business she'd called had died unexpectedly, adding "We don't even know if we're going to have jobs tomorrow." Putting off succession planning is not unusual for multi-unit franchisees, who are preoccupied with running their everyday business--not when they will hand over the reins, whether through careful planning or an unexpected event. And as more Baby Boomers inch into retirement, the need to plan for succession has never been more acute.

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As Seen in Digital Dealer - Why Equal is Not Fair

As Seen in Digital Dealer - Why Equal is Not Fair

“But I love all my kids equally and I want to treat them fairly!” exclaimed Ted, the exasperated business owner who was trying to figure out his estate plan. This sentiment is voiced over and over by my dealer clients leading to many discussions on ‘why equal is not fair’! It’s easy to relate to this concern as most of us have experienced what I call ‘the Christmas/Hanukkah Syndrome.’ That happens as you lay out your gifts on your bed or table and start figuring out whether you have bought the right number of gifts. “Let’s see, I have 3 gifts for John, but only 2 for Hannah, but the 2 for Hannah cost more than the 3 for John – how do I make this work?” When we apply the same thinking to our estate planning it can really get crazy.

I believe it is important to remember that when your children were growing up, you didn’t say, “I just paid $5,000 for braces for Ken, therefore I need to spend $5,000 on each of my other kids.” Clearly, you spent money for braces for Ken because they were needed and would do the same for your other children depending on their needs.

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