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Regrettable but Reality – Facing Challenging Family Business Decisions

In spite of family dynamic issues, ABC Auto, a second generation multi franchise dealership group was “successful.” Dad, our original client from 35 years ago, was quite the dynamo. He had been a very successful domestic dealer in a prosperous community. Back in the 80's he also accumulated an assortment of lucrative import franchises before they were hot. Both of his sons came into the business and worked their way through the various seats with energy, enthusiasm and varying degrees of success. Against my recommendation, however; their dad did not hold them accountable for performance, elevated them quickly to management, paid them and passed ownership to them equally. He just could not bring himself to make a decision as to who would lead and who would follow.

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How to Move Under-Performers Up or Out of Your business

Take stock of the employees in your company; most likely you have already mentally classified them into categories of nonperformers, underperformers, average performers, or super performers. Hopefully, you have the majority of your people in the super performer bucket, but in all likelihood, you have a mix of all four types.

As the business environment becomes more complex and even more litigious, it's important to know how to deal with each of the 4 groups for two very different and yet related reasons: Risk Management and Productivity Management. With the concept in mind that you are only as strong as your weakest member the following will provide insight into how to address those in the non performer and under performer buckets.

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Identifying Successors - Can I Have Multiple Successors?

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~ 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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Successful Successors Come in All Sizes

The story of first generation family businesses is usually an inspiring saga about an individual with a vision who overcame a great deal of adversity through hard work, dedication, good timing and a certain amount of luck. Success does not come easy, especially when you start at the ground floor. The lessons learned through the sacrifices of G1 become a value system that is modeled for future generations. As future generations are introduced however, the story of G1 often becomes more like folklore – the message is heard but is not entirely relevant anymore. The successful family business is sure to have had a positive change on the family’s standard of living and your successor isn’t starting with the same perspective as G1. So in order to successfully pass the baton to the next generation, it is important to identify who you’re working with and what will motivate them.

The difference between successful G1 and G2 business owners can be compared to an ongoing rivalry between two current NFL quarterbacks – a first generation Tom Brady and a second generation Peyton Manning. Their routes to the NFL couldn’t have been more different; Brady an unknown back-up in college and 6th Round Draft Pick vs. Manning who is essentially quarterback royalty and a First Round Draft Pick. Despite the differences, they are both tremendously successful at what they do and are both known for a relentless work ethic to be the best.

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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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How to Check Perfectionism at the Door - Keys to Becoming An Effective Leader

Mary Poppins described herself as “perfectly perfect in every way”. Some of us nourish that same self image as we sing or think to ourselves, "What’s the matter with people today? Why can’t they be like me, perfect in every way?”

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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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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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When is the Right time to Discuss Succession Plans with Family Members?

In 1988, Jack was thrust into the leadership position of the family business his father started in the late 1950’s. At the time Jack took over the family business there was only one dealership and approximately sixty-five employees. Over the years the business had become highly productive and profitable in large part due to his father’s incredible work ethic, customer focus, business savvy and knack for attracting quality employees. Jack’s father was a humble man who attributed much of his success to luck, good fortune and being in the right place at the right time. “Timing is everything” was a phrase Jack’s father used frequently. From a business perspective, there very much could have been some truth to timing and being in the right place at the right time but for Jack, timing could not have been worse!

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Preparing Family Members to Take Over - As Seen On Automotive Buy Sell Report

Succession planning is a hot topic in the automotive industry and has been one frequently discussed in the pages of Automotive Buy Sell Report. Recent articles by Don Ray and Robert Bass have specifically focused on successor identification and development, and how, in the absence of a qualified successor or the lack of management bench strength, owners are forced to sell their business. 

Click Here to: Read full article on Automotive Buy Sell Report website

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Interview - Key Issues Impacting Dealership Succession Plans

Check out Dan Schneider's Interview on Car Business Today where he discusses key issues impacting your dealership's succession plan. 

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Interview - Why Your Dealership Needs a Succession Plan in Place

Check out Jeff Faulkner's Interview on Car Business Today where he discusses why your dealership needs a succession plan in place. 

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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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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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Keys to Preparing Your Successor

Just as there are many roads that lead to Rome, there are many paths that can be taken when it comes to preparing your successor. Many Dealers believe operational experience in the front and back ends of the business and participating in learning opportunities such as Dealer Academy are all that is necessary to become a successful auto dealer. Operational rotations and successfully completing industry education are extremely valuable steps in the successor preparation process. However, this approach often results in a false sense of security for both the Dealer and the aspiring successor as other critical developmental opportunities are omitted. So, what else can you do to ensure your successor is adequately prepared to lead your business in the future? Here are some tips to help ensure your successor is equipped to take the leadership baton and successfully run with it.

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As Seen in Automotive News - Family feud disrupts DARCARS


Article Written by Jamie LaReau for Automotive News, Jeff Faulkner Cited as an Expert Source


The cornerstone to the success of a family-owned auto retailer is the family members themselves.

So when a family dispute flares, the impact on operations can be devastating. It becomes a concern for many manufacturers and could result in termination of the franchise agreement, experts say.

DARCARS Automotive Group is embroiled in such a family dispute.

Tamara Darvish, 51, a well-known face of the company and leader in the auto industry, filed a lawsuit against her father, John Darvish Sr., 78, and the company he founded. She charged that he reneged on his promise to make her part of the dealership group's ownership team. Her stepbrothers run the company.

The suit, filed Jan. 9 in a Maryland court, will have a ripple effect on DARCARS' 22 dealerships, experts say. And such conflicts usually worry manufacturers..

"Family members are the leadership of the organization and when they are sideways with one another, there is no sense of purpose for the company," said Jeff Faulkner, an Atlanta partner at succession planning firm Rawls Group. "The business is not just about them. It's about their employees, vendors and others who depend on that business."

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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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