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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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You've Sold Your Business, Now What?

Recently I was invited to speak to a group of successful business owners about the various aspects of succession planning (what I refer to as the Succession Matrix). The Succession Matrix consists of ten interdependent factors that business owners must successfully address to improve the odds that their business will successfully make the transition to and through the next generation of owners and managers. Addressing these factors is important regardless of whether you plan to sell your business or plan to keep it in the family. Unfortunately, many franchisees and business owners are so busy “working IN their business” that they do not invest the time to “work ON their business” to consider their exit options.

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Spell It Out So There Is No Doubt, By Denise Ware

As a successful business owner with young children, homes in several states and a net worth in the millions, you need to periodically review your estate planning documents. Most likely you have taken your attorney’s advice and adopted a Pour-over Will and Revocable Trust. You have made important decisions regarding the disposition of assets upon your death.

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Successor Development Checklist

One of the biggest burdens weighing upon family business leaders is whether or not their successors will be ready and capable leaders for the next generation. No matter how intelligent, educated, progressive or firm, it is likely there will be some doubt and even more likely some challenges as you work towards preparing the next generation to lead. After many years of working with families, management teams and their business successors, we have put together a Successor Development Checklist to help clarify which factors are most important in knowing whether or not you have positioned your successor and team for the next generation.

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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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