Succession planning is critical to any business; auto dealerships are no exception. With the automotive industry constantly evolving and facing new challenges, effective succession planning has become more crucial than ever before. Recently, George Karolis from The Presidio Group and Champ Rawls from The Rawls Group discussed the multifaceted landscape of succession planning. They highlighted the intricacies of this critical process and emphasized the vital considerations that shape it. The Rawls Group, with a remarkable legacy spanning five decades, is an unrivaled authority in the realm of succession planning. This conversation is a part of the discussion focused on Succession Planning and Strategic Considerations in Automotive Retail with Jason Stein from Flat Six Media, George Karolis of The Presidio Group, and Champ Rawls, a Succession Planner with The Rawls Group.

Understanding the Owner’s Motivation and Perspective

When developing a successful succession plan for an auto dealership, it’s essential to comprehend the owner’s motivations and perspective. According to Rawls, understanding the owner’s aspirations, personal goals, and long-term vision is critical in laying the foundation for the auto dealership’s future. By aligning the plan with the owner’s values and objectives, the succession strategy can be tailored to their unique circumstances, increasing the likelihood of a smooth transition.

Securing a Financial Future Through Personal Financial Planning

Incorporating personal financial planning into the succession strategy is crucial for the current owner and their successors. It provides a secure financial future for all parties involved by addressing issues like preserving wealth, tax planning, and retirement considerations. By addressing these financial aspects, the succession plan becomes not only a means of transferring ownership but also a way to ensure financial stability for both the current and future owner(s).

Analyzing Business Structure and Performance

To make informed decisions regarding leadership and management continuity, it’s essential to evaluate the current structure and performance of the business. Rawls points out the significance of dissecting the business’s organizational framework, assessing its strengths and vulnerabilities, and identifying areas for improvement. A comprehensive analysis of the business’ inner workings can provide Succession Planners with a holistic view, enabling them to identify the key areas that need improvement. This analysis can determine the dealership’s future success and ensure the right leadership and management continuity.

Strategic Planning for Future-Proofing Your Dealership

Taking a forward-thinking approach to succession planning requires a strategic outlook. By identifying long-term goals, market trends, and future challenges, dealers can stay agile and thrive in an ever-evolving business landscape. This proactive approach ensures a smooth leadership transition while positioning the business for future success.

Unleashing the Power of Leadership Management Continuity

Smooth succession hinges upon the uninterrupted continuity of leadership and management. Rawls asserts that identifying potential successors and cultivating their leadership capabilities is vital to ensure a seamless transition. This entails a comprehensive evaluation of internal talent, potential leadership gaps, and the development of tailored training programs. By fostering a culture of mentorship and nurturing emerging leaders, dealers can fortify their long-term prospects of top talent.

Navigating the Complexities of Family Dynamics and Governance

Succession within a family-owned auto dealership brings an added layer of complexity, necessitating a careful examination of family dynamics and governance. Rawls elucidates the importance of fostering open lines of communication among family members, ensuring that individual aspirations and concerns are acknowledged and addressed. Implementing a robust family governance structure helps establish a framework for decision-making, dispute resolution, and a smooth generational handover.

Synergy in Management: The Key to Success

Assessing the compatibility and collaboration among management teams is vital for sustainable growth. Through an in-depth analysis of each team member’s strengths, weaknesses, and compatibility, Succession Planners can orchestrate a harmonious transition. Dealers can have confidence in  a seamless handover and value preservation by mitigating potential conflicts and cultivating collaboration.

Succession planning in auto dealerships is a critical step toward securing the future of the business, and it goes beyond merely transferring ownership. To achieve long-term success in the dynamic automotive industry, dealers must adopt a holistic approach to navigate the complexities of succession. With careful, strategic execution, and the help of a seasoned Succession Planner, dealers can position themselves for continued growth and success.

This conversation is a part of the discussion focused on Succession Planning and Strategic Considerations in Automotive Retail with Jason Stein from Flat Six Media, George Karolis of The Presidio Group, and Champ Rawls, a Succession Planner with The Rawls Group.

How We Help You

Are you struggling with navigating the complexities of succession planning in your auto dealership? Succession planning is critical for the future success and longevity of your business, especially in the ever-evolving automotive industry. With insights from industry experts like George Karolis from The Presidio Group and Champ Rawls from The Rawls Group, understanding the multifaceted landscape of succession planning is essential.

At The Rawls Group, with over five decades of unparalleled expertise in succession planning, we understand the intricacies involved in securing a smooth transition for your dealership. From understanding the owner’s motivations to analyzing business structure and performance, we provide comprehensive guidance every step of the way.

Contact us today, and let us help you with insights, resources, and strategic planning tailored to your dealership’s unique needs. With our expertise, you can navigate the complexities of succession planning with confidence and position your dealership for long-term success. Schedule a consultation with us, and in just 30 minutes, you could gain valuable ideas to apply immediately to your business.

For more insight:

Visit the “Strategic Considerations in Automotive Retail” discussion page or select one of the additional episodes of the series below:


  • The Presidio Group: an independent merchant banking firm focused on mergers and acquisitions, capital raising, and investments in the automotive retail and consumer mobility sectors.
  • Succession Readiness Survey:  A 7-minute investment in time will put you in an informed position of opportunities many business owners overlook, impacting business value, growth, and lifestyle, and ultimately achieving your vision.
  • Contact a Succession Planner: The Rawls Group can help you with insights and other resources and see if it makes sense to work together. At the very least, in 30 minutes, you may get some ideas you can apply to your business immediately.

Growth Strategies for the Family-Owned Dealership


If you’re ready to get serious about succession and planning to ensure your business’s future success, we can’t wait to see you at the 2024 NADA Show in Las Vegas.

4 Strategies to Maximize Your NADA Experience

  1. Schedule a Complimentary Consultation: Book a meeting at our Booth #2100W during NADA or schedule a free consultation.
  2. Complete the Growth & Succession Assessment: Get a custom report to focus on your strengths and opportunities.
  3. Attend the Annual Wine Event: Join us for wine, insights, and Q&A with our experts.
  4. Register to Attend the AutoTeam America Buy/Sell Summit: Gain insights and network with industry pros.

The Succession Planning Matrix

Many people put off succession planning because they think it means retirement, exit, and the end. However; succession planning is just the beginning. It gives the owner options in terms of what “their next” looks like, whether that be growth, philanthropy, or a new business venture. Our process focuses are addressing 10 key areas of what we call the Succession

Click the following link for more drill-down resources on The Succession Matrix, or check out our Facebook post.

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We can provide insights and other resources and assess whether it makes sense to work together. In just 30 minutes, you may gain actionable ideas that you can immediately apply to your business. Contact us via phone or email below, or fill out the “Ask An Expert” form.