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How to Overcome the "Perfect Family" illusion

Recently while attending a church service our preacher, Dr. Bob, delivered a sermon titled, “Behind The Manicured Hedges” that struck a chord personally and also as a professional family business succession planner. The preacher was referring to Winter Park, FL a largely affluent community consisting of families who have above average means, fabulous homes and impeccable landscaping surrounding their homes. Many who drive along the brick paved, tree lined streets are impressed with the meticulous landscaping and are somewhat envious thinking that these families have no issues or no problem that money cannot fix. If only that were true! The fact is, regardless of how perfect a family looks from the outside, all families have issues.

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Emotional Rescue: Understanding Relationship Dynamics 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 groundwork 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.

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Preparing your Business to Weather the Succession Storm

Hurricane season is upon us and hopefully you have taken the necessary precautions in the event Mother Nature unleashes the power and fury of a hurricane on Central Florida. Forecasting the weather is not a perfect science, however; when it comes to identifying and tracking hurricanes, weather forecasters do a remarkable job. Thanks to news outlets, we have the benefit of advance warning. We are given insight into the strength and magnitude of the storm and we even have a close projection as to the hour the hurricane will pass over our area. Yet many people ignore the advance warning, neglect to prepare and develop contingency plans. Business succession planning is similar to a hurricane in that business owners know succession planning is inevitable, know they need to develop a plan, more often than not have adequate time to prepare yet often procrastinate and ignore the implications and consequences associated with not having a sound plan. The result is a business catastrophe where many are shocked, devastated and in some cases have to pick up the pieces, salvage what’s left and start all over again.

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As Seen in Irrigation and Green Industry - Passing the Baton to the Next Generation

If you’ve decided that it’s time for your kids to take over the family business, there’s more to it than simply handing them the keys. You need to have a succession plan. We can’t give you a template, as there’s no single “right” way to do it. But you do need to have a plan. 

In a good succession plan, roles are clearly defined. “Everybody can’t run the company,” says Champ Rawls, associate planner at the Rawls Group, LLC, an Orlando, Florida-based succession-planning firm. “You have to clearly outline what everybody’s responsibilities will be.” 

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Brain Bombs From Dr. Merlot

As a succession planner, Dr. Merlot is engaged in an amazing diversity of issues on any given day. The average day is replete with high and inside "heaters" from all points of the Succession Matrix® of issues. Predictably this nonstop progression of diverse succession issues creates excitement that ranges from invigorating and gratifying to confusing, perplexing and shocking. None the less as a poster child for Attention Deficit Disorder, Dr. Merlot thrives in this frenetic environment with occasional reliance upon the medicinal qualities of the nectar from the grape that has earned him the moniker, Dr Merlot. After taking a few moments to decompress, we thought you may find it interesting to listen in on a morning of Dr. Merlot's Brain Bombs as they may provide you perspective on Brain Bombs you may be facing.

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Family Business Leadership: Coachable is Cool!

Apart from all the advertising, KIA is not only a Korean car. KIA is also an unfortunate military acronym for "killed in action". Within the business succession realm KIA also has a mantra of morbidity as it stands for "Know-It-All; I've got this; Don't need your input". More importantly from a succession planner's perspective: KIA means uncoachable!

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Setting Boundaries: How to Avoid Family Business Entanglements

A principle I'm reminded of on a daily basis is: “It is far easier to get entangled than it is to get untangled.” If you've ever tried to unravel a tangled up web of string you know what I'm talking about. Entanglement almost seems to be an effortless exercise whereas untangling can tax even the most patient of personalities.

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Successor Prep for the New Generation

Picture a 50-something year-old multi-unit franchisee who has been in business for more than 20 years and has tirelessly worked to grow and build a diverse business. His kids are in their mid- to late-20's and have been getting more involved in day-to-day operations. They are ecstatic to be entering the family enterprise and proudly fly the family name. The company has a fantastic reputation in the community and the family name holds weight and notoriety in the industry. It is well-established with sound business practices and a formula for success that has produced generous profits and provided a great place of employment for many families. Sound familiar? 

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Successor Development - What About the Youngest?

Birth order can be a significant factor in many situations. Should it be relevant in the succession of your family business?

If you’re like most parents, you probably strive to treat your children equally, paying special attention so as not to create jealousy or the illusion of favoritism. Additionally, you want to equip each of them with all of the tools they will need to be successful in life. Unfortunately, reality has a funny way of making “equal” unattainable.

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Win the Right to Be Heard: Successor Prep for the New Generation

Picture this, 60+ year-old dealer who has been in business 20+ years. Possibly inherited the dealerships from his/her own family and have tirelessly worked to grow and build the business. The kids are in their late 20’s and have been getting more involved in the dealerships. They are ecstatic to be entering the family enterprise and proudly fly the family name. The company has a fantastic reputation in the community and the family name holds weight and notoriety in the industry. It is well-established with sound business practices and a formula for success that has produced generous profits and provided a great place of employment for many families. Sound familiar?  

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Family Feuds and Business Turf Wars: How Do They Start? How Do They End?

A lot of people lose sleep over a great divide where two or more people have chosen sides. It happens where ever there are people. It could be among friends, enemies, a family or families, clients, or business partners. Usually it is a disagreement over relatively scarce resources: People; Time; and/or Money.

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Family Business Issues - I Did Not Like You at 22

I recently met with the son of a client that I had not spoken to in a couple of years. It was somewhat of a surprise as I frankly did not think I would ever meet with him again as a prospective successor. We had initially been introduced when he was 21, a fresh college graduate and a new employee at my client's business. Neither he nor my client had taken my advice that he work elsewhere prior to joining the family business. Sonny was newly married and Dad did not want him to struggle as a common law employee; working long hours, being criticized for his size and not being able to travel with the family on vacations.

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Are You Really Listening to Your Successor

"Good morning, Jacob. Thank you for the fine dinner last evening. It was nice to spend time with you and Sandy. It is very apparent that you married above yourself."

"Oh yes, Loyd. You continue to have an outstanding ability to pick up on the obvious," he responded with a chuckle. Dr. Merlot, my succession planning alter-ego, joined us as we enjoyed a cup of coffee before continuing the prior day’s discussion about Successor Development Curriculums for Jake Jr. and Sally, Jacob’s son and daughter who were both working in the dealerships.

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Successor Filters

For many dealers, coming to terms with the assets and liabilities impacting the continued success of their business can be a difficult wakeup call. The ability to build a resilient, sustainable business over multiple generations is a multi-faceted endeavor impacted by different factors. One common concern heard from dealers however; is “Who has what it takes to fill my shoes?”. Here is an example of just that type of situation.

"Loyd, is there anything else you want to discuss? This succession assessment has really put me under a microscope. I haven't been bruised up like this since I slipped on the ice a few years back!"

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How to Handle Underperforming Family Member Employees

Family members are attracted to the family business for a number of reasons. Most of my clients are thrilled to have their offspring involved in their businesses and many have high aspirations for their children. The truth is, family members can represent a profound asset especially if they enter the business with humility, adequate training, and meaningful prior work experience. These individuals tend to be a delight to have around and are relatively easy to manage. Conversely, entitlement, arrogance and a less-than-stellar work ethic can be problematic. So what happens when a family member does not carry his or her weight?

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Working Towards Working Together

When I first met my wife, Patricia, I was head over heels in love. Although, just a few years after our honeymoon, our marriage appeared to be less than ideal. However, we decided we wanted to be married so we found a counselor to help us understand and deal with the good and bad we brought to our union. After 30+ years of counseling we have a marriage that isn't perfect but one that is getting better every day.

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Changing Family Business Perspectives for the New Year

Reflecting back on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years you may be thinking I have had all the family I can handle. No doubt, these are wonderful family holidays but within the realm of the family business it is very easy to get "over-famlied" and conclude "I need some space; I don't need more of the same crap I get at work at home". The ambient stress, frustration, resentment and acrimony with 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 family's business. As a result, you may be looking at going back to work like another opportunity to stick your hand in the garbage disposal. If family relationships have drained your New Year family business enthusiasm it is time for you to consider new perspectives that will relieve relationship pressure and potentially reinvigorate Family Dynamics and Harmony.

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Wills and Trusts - How to Keep Your Family and Business Matters Private During Probate

As a succession planner, I am in constant dialogue with my clients’ attorneys about appropriate estate planning structures. Depending upon the state of residency, the training, and the perspective of the attorney, the dialogue can be interesting, especially when it comes to a few of my preferred structures, simple Pour Over Wills and Revocable Trusts. As we discuss these options, I commonly hear, “We can accomplish the same objectives with a Testamentary Trust Will.”, which is a Will containing a trust that is funded after the completion of probate. However, my classic response is, "Our clients who own a family business, and to varying degrees are subject to greater publicity and scrutiny, would prefer to remain private, and depending upon the state, avoid the hassles of probate, which cannot be guaranteed with a Testamentary Trust."

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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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