We have all experienced drastic changes in the past 24 months. From a global pandemic, supply chain shortages, tenuous political environment, and insane buy-sell activity; you could feel very overwhelmed. Any one of these factors has changed the way we do business, and they have all dramatically changed the automotive retail landscape. Surprisingly enough, despite what is happening around us, most dealers are experiencing some of their best profits.

Record profits and valuations combined with the grind of doing business have many dealers considering selling to release family and business stress or growing to stay on top of the competition.  We have been talking to many clients about what “the future” looks like, and we have been sharing with them that getting big OR getting out are not the only options.  You have as many options at your fingertips as you want.  It requires becoming clear about what you want, leaning on innovative and experienced advisors, and creative problem-solving.

Getting clear on what you want can be difficult, especially with 24-hour news filling your head with obstacles, doom, and gloom.  As you take time to reflect, use the following questions to help you drill down.  Suspend reality and the doubter voices that can seep into your head; there is no place at the table for them during this exercise:

  1. What is your vision for the next five years?
  2. What are the known and potentially unknown obstacles getting in the way of your vision?
  3. What is your contingency plan if anything were to happen to you or a critical leader you depend on?
  4. What is your vision for the organization’s future?
  5. What are the known and potentially unknown obstacles getting in the way of your vision?
  6. What are a few strategies to overcome the obstacles listed above?

Download the “Getting Clear” worksheet 

We know nothing of the future or what tomorrow will bring.  What we know is based upon past experience.  However, there is so much missed opportunity by ONLY applying historical background to the present or future moments and thinking in a vacuum.

The pandemic, supply chain issues, and political environment have been a time of transition for all of us.  Our environments have called for creative thinking, flexibility as leaders, meeting people where they are, and transitioning our stance to support instead of only pushing towards performance goals.  Transitioning the business from one generation to another, scaling for growth, transitioning from son/daughter to boss, or transitioning perspectives to support employees are examples of evolving with change, also known as “succession.”

When working with dealers, we find they have made assumptions regarding their strategic vision and what they think their family, key leaders, and emerging leaders want.  And often, these assumptions are pretty far from reality, creating friction.   To protect your future wealth and ensure you live the life you wish, you need to start communicating to remove assumptions and create clear expectations.  Communication is key.

Working in a family business for the past 16 years, I know all too well that differences of opinion or past grievances can turn a casual dialogue into a roaring dumpster fire.  Dialogue can be challenging, especially when communicating isn’t a natural behavior or something commonly done in your family or business.  Consider leaning on a facilitator until you become more comfortable with dialogue versus conflict in these situations.  I often leverage facilitators and coaches to prepare for conversations that bring on anxiety and fear.  Sometimes I leverage coaches and family business experts within The Rawls Group, and sometimes I leverage third-party experts for a fresh and, importantly, unbiased perspective.

Fundamentally, you must be willing to have a conversation with your family and key leaders about what you want and hope for the future, both financially and for the business, too.  Finally, and probably most importantly, you need to listen, learn, and adjust as needed.  Leverage help where you need it, as it is available.  Don’t allow the unknown to get in the way of getting what you desire.

Contact Us and we can help you with insights, 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 right away.

The article was originally published on the Digital Dealer Magazine website: Creating the Future You Want

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.

Strategic Planning

The only constant one can plan for is change.  Strategic planning positions the business to address the probable, possible, and potential contingencies impacting business success. 

Click the following link for more drill down resources on Strategic Planning

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We can help you with insights, 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 right away.