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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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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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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 Do I Become an Effective Cross Generational Coach?

There are multiple generations in almost every organizational and business setting. If not at start up, then during transition periods of one kind or another. Older generations don't get younger ones; and younger ones don't get the older ones. Are you puzzled by why it always seems to be that way?

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Why Do So Many Businesses Underperform?

When the opportunity to work with a team of business leaders presents itself, one of my first questions is "How many of you are ready to go to the next level"  Depending on how I ask people to respond, either a lot of hands go up or there is a chorus of "Absolutely" that deafens the room.  It seems like everyone is in love with the idea of going to the next level.

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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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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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Bulk Up and Charge Up - How Vacation Can Reveal Your Business' Bench Strength

I recently wrote an article about managing one’s business as if it were always for sale. One of the key points was getting management proficient at running the business successfully in the owner’s absence. But what about management’s absence?

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Transfer Stock: Gift or Sale

Recently a business owner approached me with the following: I am considering transferring some company stock to my son and possibly some talented managers. He stated, each person has made significant contributions to the business and a few of them feel they have already earned the right to some of the stock via sweat equity. He asked, should I gift or sell the stock to them?

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Developing Your First Round Draft Pick

Your family business is like a professional sports franchise: You are the owner and your successor is a first rounder. The future of the organization depends on you and your team’s ability to properly develop your first round pick.

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Are You Missing Out on the Successor Right In Front of You?

 "Loyd, thank you for coming to see me. Please sit down," Mr. John Doe, the elderly but fit gentleman, offered as we settled into his office. Settling back into his chair, he continued. "My accountant attended one of your succession planning seminars and suggested we talk. We have three dealerships. I have a son who is pretending to run our stores. I also have a daughter and a son-in-law who work here. I own 35% but 51% of the voting stock. I don't know what to do," he continued apparently relieved to have someone to speak to. "My son will not listen to me. And unfortunately he is the only capable family member. I doubt he works 40 hours a week; he says he works from home. I know he trains for marathons, coaches his son’s baseball team and never misses a school meeting. Meanwhile, the businesses underperform. When I threaten to fire him he just smiles and says do what you have to do. My son-in-law wants me to appoint him the Dealer but he's had some issues with drugs," he offered with a conciliatory shrug of the shoulders. 

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When-ing and Then-ing: A Common Succession Planning Pitfall

I recently agreed to be the wingman for Dr. Merlot who was calling on a succession planning prospect, Victor. Doc described this gentleman as a 65-year-old, second-generation owner of 17 dealerships with a son and a daughter employed by the dealerships and another daughter who was not actively employed in the business. 

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Fifty-Fifty, Not So Nifty

As a business succession planner, I encounter the full gamut of dealership business structures, Regular C corporations, S-corporations, partnerships and limited liability companies. I have had clients owned by public corporations and foreign corporations, and even one client who boasted he was the only sole proprietorship dealership in the United States. That relationship was short-lived - he was not pleased with my response.  

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Are You Overpaying Your Children? Be Aware of the Potential Long-term Impact

So, in my first two posts, How "Over Giving" to your Kids Can Impact Future Succession Goals, and Did Your Child Earn That Title? The Impact of Giving What One Doesn't Deserve, on this subject I have discussed how a past pattern of giving can have a negative impact on the eventual gifting of business assets.  The previous posts focused on two common areas where business owners "give" to their children, which can create havoc on the business, successor development and family dynamics - giving your child a job or a title without earning them. 

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Did Your Child Earn That Title? The Impact of Giving What One Doesn't Deserve

In my last post How "Over Giving" to your Kids Can Impact Future Succession Goals, I discussed how past gifting behavior can impact and create unnecessary challenges the transfer of business assets to your children. A common first thing given to children, which sets a tone for future gifts is a job, I recommend for you, your business' sake and for the development of your children, they should earn it.

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How "Over Giving" to Your Kids Can Impact Future Succession Goals

The eventual transfer of business related assets to children is a common concern shared amongst family business owners. As a result, client meeting discussions often turn towards evaluating the most effective approach. 

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