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Just Give Up

If I were to place one image here, a ‘swoosh’ that looks something like a happy go lucky check-mark, you would instantly recognize it – the Nike logo. You would also call to mind their slogan, ‘Just Do It.’ My interpretation of that slogan is that they are calling us to just get started, get practicing, get swinging, get running, get physical, and enjoy life - using their products, of course!

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Caught in a Rut? How to Move from Intention to Commitment

I seldom have the time to watch a lot of television. Some days, however, I channel surf with the best of them. When I find a poker game on the tube, I stop and watch. I do that because I know that at some point, one of the players is going to slide all of his/her chips across the table and go “all in.”

I love it! It’s one of the best visual demonstrations of commitment that I have ever seen; and those two simple words, “All in,” define commitment better than any philosopher, business consultant, or management guru ever does.

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Franchisee Succession Fumble: Don't Forget the Franchise Agreement

Those of you who are franchisees pay close attention! Have you developed a succession plan for your business? If so, I commend you as many of your peers talk about having a succession plan, but have yet to develop formal documentation that reflects their goals and objectives. Now let me ask you another question. Does your succession plan consider requirements in your franchise agreement such as ownership transfers or successor qualifications? If not, I suggest you shake the dust off of the franchise agreement and find the specific paragraphs that relate to successor nominees, ownership transfers, death, disability etc. Many times the franchise agreement is overlooked or in some cases ignored when franchisees develop their succession plans. This could result in a violation of your franchise agreement possibly resulting in significant consequences such as the derailment of your succession plan!

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A New Frontier: Life After A Sale

Many of you have dedicated a significant part of your working life pursuing the American dream through business ownership. Some of you will pursue succession through family members or key executives and others believe a sale is the best exit strategy option. Selling your business is a viable succession option enabling you to harvest the fruits of your labor and investment as well as to take some chips off of the table. A few years ago, a successful client who is a franchisee in the Midwest chose to sell his business. I had the privilege of working with this couple to help them evaluate their succession alternatives. After considering several options, they ultimately concluded the best decision for them and their family was to sell the business.

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Exit Strategy: When Should I Consider One?

Technically, the answer is before you even open your doors for business (why go anywhere without knowing how you are going to get back?). Now I know that is idealistic to many of you as survival is your highest priority. Let’s face it, succession planning is a subject many business owners would rather not face. However, I submit to you that the earlier you begin the process, the less stressful the transition will be for you and all parties who are touched in some way by your business (employees, community, vendors etc.).

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How to Create a Productive and Empowering Culture

How do you create a positive business culture where all those associated view your business feel a stewardship responsibility for its success and/or its failures? To navigate this subject, let’s first focus on what generally gets in the way.

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The Strategic Plan: Dust Bunny or Innovative Road Map

The Strategic Plan. In some organizations, the strategic plan is a great work of fiction. It may be written off-site by a group of people having a few days away from the office. Once read, it goes on the top shelf and becomes an expensive dust bunny.

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Exit Strategy: Is There A Role For Me After Transitioning?

I was working with a business owner, John, who was in the process of transitioning management and leadership responsibilities of the business over to a family member. At one point in the process, John asked,

“When Tim takes over my role, what do I do?”

For most business owners, they will develop an exit strategy that unfolds gradually over time. In other words, there will not be a “cold turkey” exit from the business. Developing a strategy that allows a gradual exit rather than a flip of the switch event provides you an opportunity to expand your vision about your future role in the company and identify a new purpose outside of the business. John, had not provided himself that opportunity and felt a little threatened by the fact that Tim would be taking over his role, leaving him feeling “sent out to pasture.”

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Communication Overhaul

As a therapist, my most frequent request is to “Improve Communication.” The family will express they, “don’t communicate well,” however, what I find is that they do communicate well; they just don’t use appropriate communication techniques.

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How Do You Fill The Room?

There is an unconscious quality that some call “presence,” others call “attitude,” and all of which try to explain “what is it that you fill the room with?”

We all have leaders and we usually judge them by asking “what kind of leader is he or she?” and “must I respect them?” This starts very early on. For example, in the movie Kindergarten Cop, tough man Arnold Schwarzenegger gets pushed around by a bunch of kindergarteners. By high school, however; we quickly ascertain whether this teacher is one you have to respect or one that let’s you slide by.

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What Should I Do If I Have More Than One Qualified Successor?

First, consider yourself blessed. The majority of businesses I have encountered do not have an available, capable or committed successor. On occasion, I encounter situations where there are multiple potential successors who appear to have the capability and passion, but lack the experience. The best advice I can give you is: do not make a hasty decision. Ponder it for awhile.

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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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How To Leverage Your People To Build Sustainable Business Value

In order to build long-term sustainable value in your business, you must understand that the business is all about the people. People generally want work with a purpose, to feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves, and that their work matters. As a business owner, you need to understand that you are leading a group of volunteers. Your employees could go somewhere else to work. What will endear them to you and the company is when you provide them with a clear and compelling sense of purpose. When there is a clear purpose that drives you and your organization, it will put you in a position to determine which of your people are in alignment with that purpose and which ones aren’t.    

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5 Steps to Streamlining Your Business

Another initiative that, in my educated opinion, has the ability to set your company apart from the competition is streamlining your processes. Nobody, but nobody, likes to be told how to do their job. This is why this issue sets organizations that excel at it apart. Standard operating processes lay the foundation upon which an organization that desires long-term sustainability can build. These processes are not intended to be constraining. They are intended to provide the parameters of operation, like the banks of a river. When the water remains inside the banks, it’s powerful and productive. When it overflows those banks, it’s powerful and destructive…and very messy!   

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How to Create Family Member Employment Policies

In developing family policies, I used to think it was the documented policies that made the difference in preventing future conflicts. But, I have come to believe that it is not the policies themselves that promote family harmony. Rather, it is the process of developing the policies that really makes the difference. Family businesses have been a subject of formal research for over 20 years and developing policies is definitely a best practice of those that last. But, what research seems to bear out is that it is the family that is flexible with one another and trusting of one another that really makes the difference. The process that gets everyone involved is a process that allows family members to work together and build trust with one another.

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Sibling Rivalry to Sibling Synergy

Siblings in business who are experiencing rivalry issues have simply not recognized that they are now adults. They have carried the petty issues of their childhood with them into the business. When you become an adult you have to put away childish things. Sibling rivalries in family business are often rooted in a competition to win dad’s approval. It’s time to recognize that you are in business together fighting for the survival and success of the business. You must spend more time winning each other’s approval than dad’s.   

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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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Successors: Bring Value

Here's a new concept, Successors: Bring Value!

The opportunities are endless - your dealership is a multifaceted, financially complex business, employing hundreds of different types of people, and accounting for millions of dollars in sales. But when you dive deeper, these dealerships consist of unique mini-economies that compete and thrive off of one another. Each department can be viewed as an interdependent business seeking to generate profit and minimize loss. The front end focuses on sales and exists in a variable world; working with manufacturers to acquire the right product, to sell as many units as possible, at the right price, in order to generate the gross revenue that will result in profit to the bottom line. Conversely, the back end relies on fixed costs, associated with the number of cars that come through the dealership and maximizing the serviceable hours of employees to generate adequate profit to the bottom line. Then there is the unique used-cars world that takes on its own special circumstances in regards to its place in the dealership’s greater-economy. In addition are the ancillary businesses associated with dealerships such as outside insurance sales, collision centers, quick lubes, cafés, employee benefits, reinsurance programs, etc. that co-exist with the major departments and serve as additional profit centers. Each of these interdependent departments can be reviewed for their solvency on a single statement, but ultimately rely on one another to achieve success. In fact, when departments work synergistically, the overall dealership economy produces generous profits, functions seamlessly, and provides a stable source of employment to the local community. 

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Have It All Done?: There is a Difference Between Continuity Planning and Succession Planning

Over the years we have encountered hundreds of successful business owners who have made the statement "I have it all done," as they describe how well they have planned and documented their business succession plan. Unfortunately, in most cases these business owners were referring to the work they have done to implement their wills, trusts, buy/sell agreements, and life insurance, which we would constitute as business continuity planning. You may be asking yourself, what is the difference?

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