What to do before you move on

  14 November 2016

I recently stumbled across a publication discussing the thorny subject of succession planning. It’s certainly a departure from the current talk surrounding Brexit, registration numbers and the threat from Internet retailers. And I’d wager it’s a subject that doesn’t get the attention it deserves. 

My impression – and feel free to correct me if I’m wrong – is that large auto retailers have this issue nailed down. I would hope that, if you have a responsibility to shareholders, there’s a clear plan somewhere safe. If not, then whatever you’re paying your financial advisors is probably too much.

What got me thinking was how a smaller, family owned retailer would cope if something unfortunate happened to the dealer principle. There’s also the issue of what to do when retirement looms; who do you pass the business on to? Naturally, that assumes there’s a family member or business partner willing to offer some semblance of continuity.

It’s a big responsibility running any business these days, and doubly so when you factor in the needs of your staff. What will happen to them if you sell up or, maybe reluctantly, shutter the business? Along with talking to siblings, it might be worth having that ‘chat’ with staff members well in advance of any disruption or uncertainty to allay fears and boost loyalty.

Experts have had a rough time of late, what with dodgy election and economic forecasting, but there’s no shortage of valuable knowledge on the subject of succession planning. The issue isn’t unique to the auto retail business, but failing to plan ahead now could ruin livelihoods and reputations.

Iain Dooley

Editor, Agenda

Auto Retail Network

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