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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?”

 

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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.

 

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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 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.

 

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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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As Seen On #AskNCM: How Do I Make My Dealership Successful?

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As Seen On #AskNCM: What do people want from a leader?

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As Seen in Park Press: Family Dynamics - A Constant Force

As Seen in Park Press: Family Dynamics - A Constant Force

For family business big or small, family dynamics is often their heaviest weight to lift into the next generation. There’s an essay on weightlifting and life by Henry Rollins that’s well known in the fitness community (by folks in my generation, anyway). In it, Rollins talks about how finding weightlifting as a young man helped him build strength both physically and mentally. Rollins affirms that circumstances and people will change throughout life but that, “…two hundred pounds is two hundred pounds”. I think one of his points is that the “iron” is a constant, something that will always challenge him and that will always be there to guide him like a beacon in the night.

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As Seen On #AskNCM: How Do I Mentor a Family Member Employee?

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Getting Help From Those Who Have Been There

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Getting Help From Those Who Have Been There

My family and I recently took the plunge into the world of RV’ing. I enjoy operating all kinds of vehicles, so towing our new purchase round trip for the first time did not present too much concern, but I knew I’d have to be on my game. Anything new and different presents learning curves. One of the things I discovered soon, after plunging in, is the need for checklists. There are a variety of procedures and processes that must be in place and carried out for the RV to run properly, and to ensure that I do not kill someone on the roadway.

For instance, some of the procedures I had to learn included hooking up to the truck, unhooking and leveling the RV, putting out the slides and awnings, loading the motorcycles, dealing with the holding tanks and understanding black water, grey water, and fresh water. There is simply too much to do without a checklist, it would be very easy to make a misstep or forget something that could have a detrimental impact. In fact, if you think about it, there are a lot of instances in which checklists help ensure positive outcomes. Examples that come to mind are pilots and the checklists they use prior to flight, or captains of ships before they leave port. Surgeons have checklists to ensure they have all the proper supplies and staff before surgery, and each of your stores likely have opening and closing procedures organized in some sort of checklist. I’m sure you get the point.

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As Seen in Park Press: Hitting the Apex

As Seen in Park Press: Hitting the Apex

In all aspects of life, it is not about the destination, it is about the journey. Racing is a great analogy to this, as well as, to the longevity and sustainability of your business. Like a racer, every race brings with it a different set of challenges, but all races have the same expectation. Winning. Not just winning one race, but winning as many as you can so your reputation is strong to garner sponsorships and your team is committed to helping you win.

A business owner is very much like a racer. You take special care to ensure your business performs well. This means building the foundation of the business, as well as establishing a team to support growth efforts to help your business thrive. How you invest in your team impacts how the business performs and defines how you are able to support your family, your team, and community.

Like that racer, you’ve spent many long days and sleepless nights making improvements, working relentlessly to be the best and to bring out the best in others. Fine tuning things to win, thrive and sustain. Not without sacrifice, your family has felt the struggle while sharing in the success, and failures. Still, there are risks present that whether you are on the racetrack or running the business, being prepared for what may come is critical to protecting all you have worked so hard for. As the business owner, this means not just looking at where you are today, but also looking forward, just as a racer does going in a turn, to ensure you have built a business that will not only be successful today, but for years to come, even if you are no longer involved.

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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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David Ciambella featured in the Orlando Business Journal

David Ciambella featured in the Orlando Business Journal

Our CEO, David Ciambella, featured in Orlando Business Journal's People on the Move.  

Click here to learn more about The Rawls Group's CEO. 

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - The Critical Difference Between Effective and Ineffective Leadership

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - The Critical Difference Between Effective and Ineffective Leadership

Whether you're running your first and only location or multiple locations, leadership is all about the use of power and influence to produce results. Power and influence are also the keys to effective leadership. Power comes from the organizational chart - can you make people comply with your directives? (sometimes called accountability); and influence comes from inside the person - do you have what it takes to get people to commit to your dreams? (sometimes called dependability). How well and how often you choose between those two styles usually determines your effectiveness as a leader.

Knowing how to balance and when to use these two keys is critical. If you've populated your employee base with people who currently lack the behavior, attitudes, skills, knowledge, experience, and talent to meet your expectations then you will more than likely find yourself believing that the local unemployment index is too low and that someone else must have all the good people who live and work in your business communities. As a result, you may find yourself relying almost exclusively on power and accountability as a way of forcing your staff to comply with your directives to get even a close approximation of the results you want in terms of productivity and profitability.

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As Seen in Automotive Buy Sell Report - How to meet the consolidators head-on in the dealership consolidation game

As Seen in Automotive Buy Sell Report - How to meet the consolidators head-on in the dealership consolidation game

Most owners and leaders of privately-held dealerships are wondering what’s going on with the publicly-held dealership groups as they engage in consolidation. These consolidators generally look down upon the privately-held dealerships as competitors because “I previously fired most of their employees”. Furthermore, there is general resentment that the local “dealer club” has been disrupted by “hired guns” working for a hieratical potentate, neither of whom have any idea of the sacrifices required to build a successful dealership.

However, before those of you who own between 1 to 30 roof-tops assume the consolidators are circling the drain, you should consider they have a plan. If you do not understand their “game”, one day you may discover the water is about to boil and your goose is cooked without ever understanding what happened.

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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.

Read the complete article on the Automotive Buy Sell Report website

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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 Report - Reputation Management On The Local Level

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Reputation Management On The Local Level

Like all businesses, the franchise world is full of opportunities and potential land mines. If you entered the franchise world for the same reasons I did, you were probably looking for something in your area of interest that met several criteria: brand recognition; proven market; franchisee friendly policies; and processes, services, or products that could be easily replicated once you paid your fees and had access to the brand's secrets. After all, isn't replicating the proven easier than starting alone from scratch?

In some ways, a franchise is a sail that pulls us along until we really know what we are doing and where we are going. Certainly, there are some tradeoffs, like giving up some control that non-franchisees have over their businesses. And many times, the level of influence you'd like to have over the business is just not possible because you do not hold the authority that comes with a privately held business operation. As a result, logos, color schemes, promotional materials, and menus become someone else's sphere of influence.

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