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Protect your Future by Planning in the Present

Most people believe that succession planning is synonymous with estate planning; wills, trusts, estate tax, life insurance, franchisor/manufacturer approval or gifts to family members. No doubt estate planning is an important component of succession planning. However, for anyone who has struggled with family squabbles, successor development, retaining and recruiting top talent, and unreasonable strategic partners I can assure you there is more to succession planning than estate planning. The best estate plan on the planet is no assurance of the continuation of business success.

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Don’t Put the TITLE in Entitlement!

“Executive Manager,” “Director of the Custodial Arts,” “Chief Comradery Officer,” “General Associate Vice President” – Sweet titles, but what do they mean? Nothing without a job description. Unfortunately, a common family business mistake is endowing an important sounding title on someone in order to justify a paycheck that isn’t being earned.

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How to Build Respect for Your Successor Amongst the Management Team

Pride and heartfelt emotions are often factors when a business leader assesses his/her successor’s ability. Therefore, honest management feedback regarding a successor’s performance is a valuable piece of the succession planning puzzle. However, getting reliable feedback from management may be difficult unless the business culture supports open communication and an empowered management team. Ultimately, they are the ones who will be going to battle with the successor and their buy-in will be proportionate to their voice in the process. Management loyalty is not a company asset that gets re-titled to the successor!

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Planning for the Predictable, Probable, and Possible

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was widely ridiculed for his “what we do not know” response during a 2002 Department of Defense news briefing.

In part, Rumsfeld said about threat assessments, ‘As we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns - the ones we don't know we don't know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.'

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As Seen On Automotive Buy Sell Report - The Right Price is Set by the Market, Not the Value of your Emotional Investment

Seventy-five percent of family businesses - especially highly demanding automobile dealerships - do not have the 4Cs of Successorship: Capable, Committed, Competent and Community-minded successor. In such instances, selling the family business is a viable succession option.

With all the money that is being thrown at buying dealerships today, the value of dealerships is a common discussion item. In some instances where there is no locked-in successor, I am often at the table helping my clients consider if they want to cash in on this hot market.

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What's The Purpose Of Your Success?

Succession is dependent upon success. Therefore, mediocrity is not a succession option. In order for you to have confidence your successors can survive the predictable distractions, issues and problems associated with the transfer of ownership and management control your business must perform above benchmark to assure that there is adequate margin for a dip in productivity.

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Knowing Your Role and Playing Your Position

Football is one of my favorite sports and football season is one of my favorite times of year! It has been said that football is the ultimate team sport. Success on each play requires each player understand their role, work together, communicate effectively and ultimately execute to achieve the desired outcome. The teams that win consistently have committed players who know their role, play their position and trust their teammates will do the same each play. From my perspective, there is a striking parallel between football and family business. To successfully compete and operate a family-owned dealership or dealership group, requires each family member, manager and employee to understand their unique role, work together, communicate effectively and operate interdependent departments well. Whether you are a team member of a family business or a superstar on a football team, knowing your role and playing your position are key ingredients to success.

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The Rawls Group to Present at Digital Dealer 19 Conference and Expo

The Rawls Group announces that they will be presenting at the Digital Dealer 19 Conference and Expo being held in Las Vegas October 5-7th, 2015.

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A New Succession Challenge: Private Equity

The automobile industry has encountered significant changes over the last 20 years. We have seen public companies come into the market. We have seen the dot-com balloon inflate and burst. We have seen banks offer money to anyone with an IQ over room temperature and then call loans from the smartest, brightest and most successful in our industry. We have seen franchises devalued, nuked, given away and arbitrated as manufacturers went belly up and gave up control to our government. And here we are with stock market returns struggling to beat inflation and the investment world recognizing that auto dealerships are a good buy at six, seven and eight times adjusted earnings.

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Motivating Prospective Family Member Successors

Many of you have kids in high school, college or who have just entered the workforce. As you see them grow and mature, you have dreams of them working for the family business. But now that your children are getting older and your dreams of them joining the business can soon become reality, you find yourself in a quandary as they’re not giving you "positive vibes" about this idea.

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But That's Not Fair: How To Overcome the "Fairness" Monster in the Family Business

The issue of fairness is at the heart of problems we encounter daily working with business owners and their families on their estate and succession planning. “That’s not fair! My brother expects me to do all the work while he gets equal pay”; “My parents expect me to run the business for the sake of the whole family – this is a father-son business, but my siblings think it is a family business”; “My father won’t retire – I’m 52  when do I get my chance?”; “My children want to push me out – I built the business, not them”; “Why won’t my son run the business the way I did?”; “Why can’t my children appreciate what I’ve done for them?”; “Why won’t my children work as hard as I did?”

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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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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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Family Business Decisions - How Emotions Can Triumph Over Reason

Whoa! I was definitely not prepared for the meeting I just had with my client. Going into the meeting, I thought I was well prepared.

However, I came to realize that emotions have a way of clouding what appears to be very straightforward decisions. The meeting was to facilitate the client transferring substantial assets to his youngest son. The transfer was for estate tax planning purposes and to bring the youngest son up to parity with his older brothers based on earlier transfers the father had made to them. Prior to the meeting, we also had multiple discussions about how the transfer would have had no impact whatsoever on the client’s control of the asset or on his income. It was supposed to be a slam dunk, no brainer meeting. However, it turned into a classic case of emotional hijacking.    

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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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Identifying Successors - Can I Have Multiple Successors?

family_business_heartburn_relief_loyd_rawls

~ An Excerpt from Family Business Heartburn Relief™~

The vast majority of businesses have a designated "successor leader." However, a business can have multiple successor candidates, who can provide support to "the leader." Successor candidates include any family member or key manager who brings value to the business and is prepared to serve as a leader with a goal of perpetuating the success of the business.

Multiple successor candidates ideally generate a team of successors who are led by the successor leader. The interaction of multiple successor candidates can be complex especially if there are no expressed parameters for sibling/cousin/Key Manager interaction; or if back biting, resentment and rivalry are tolerated. However, assuming there is mutual respect among the group of next generation successors, the more successors who have skin in the game and a vested interest in continued success, the merrier. Multiple successors, effectively managed, create organizational strength, resilience, power and leadership bench strength. 

Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for an electronic version of Family Business Heartburn Relief

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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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Why Do I Procrastinate and How Can I Stop?

A friend of mine believes very strongly that no one should do today what they can put off until tomorrow. He is the ultimate procrastinator; and he's quite happy with where that's taken him in life. He simply does not buy in to the notion that any non-emergency has to be dealt with today. His rationale is all based on a Rolling Stones' hit titled "Time Is on My Side."

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