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How to Prepare Your Dealership for Dealer Acquisition

Change can be scary in business, and even in the most successful market conditions, a dealership can find itself being acquired by another owner. There are many reasons this can happen: founders retire, a larger player may make an offer that can’t be refused, or it just might be the right time to sell.

Any time new leadership takes over, there are a lot of little details that will need to be considered to ensure there’s a smooth transition. Information and documents pertaining to day-to-day operations need to be transferred to the new owner, an inventory of assets and their whereabouts will need to be compiled, and processes and strategies that are in place should be communicated.

Of course, the most important consideration is the employees who will be experiencing the shift from one owner to the next. You’ll want to make sure they have as much stability and continuity as possible, and you’ll want to work with a recruiter to put managers in place who can help streamline the process.

It’s a lot to think about, and preparing your dealership for dealer acquisition can weigh heavily on the minds of even the most veteran GM. Here are the most important things to consider and how to navigate the transition.

Bring the Future into Focus

If possible, you should work closely with new owners to develop a clear picture of what they need and what they plan to do when they take the reins. Obviously, they might not be able to tell you everything—especially if they need limited continuity from some of your top employees before making a change. However, if there are things you can work together on to make everyone’s life as easy as possible, you should.

Work closely with the future owner to communicate these basic aspects of your business:

  • Existing processes and why they work
  • Business strategies and expected value
  • How current employees contribute to success

At the same time, find out the following about their vision for the future:

  • Revenue expectations
  • How the business fits in with their other holdings
  • Restructuring and employee retention plans

These things are all great starting points for streamlining the dealer acquisition process and creating continuity for the business as new ownership moves in.

Assemble Important Documents and Information

When you’re transferring your business to a new owner, you’ll need to collect all the paperwork pertaining to its structure, assets, and protections. There are a lot of obvious practical business docs you’ll need to organize, but there are a few more obscure things in your file cabinet that should be included as well. At a bare minimum, be ready to transfer the following documents and information:

  • Insurance paperwork
  • Inventory data
  • Payroll and HR docs
  • Bank account information (and passwords)
  • Partnerships and franchise contracts
  • Budget spreadsheets

Organize the Nuts and Bolts

Every business has a lot of little details that are vital for day-to-day operations, and many of them are as simple—and potentially disastrous—as keys to a safe. There are typically hundreds of bits and pieces like this whether you’re running a dealership or a diner, and making sure the new owners have as few surprises as possible will minimize the chaos.

Remember: you may be leaving, but many of your best and most trusted employees (and friends) will have to deal with the fallout from a terrible dealer acquisition process. It will make their lives difficult and frustrating, and could even result in them losing their jobs.

Prepare Your People for Change

Very few dealerships change hands without some tears and fears about what it will mean for the hard workers who have invested in your success over the years. Fortunately, in most cases, a relative or new buyer who is taking over will benefit from as much continuity as possible, and this puts outgoing owners in a position to be a force for good. Dedicated industry recruiters who offer specialized services for dealer acquisition can be a godsend for the business from top to bottom, and this is the perfect moment to bring them in.

Dealership buy-sell expert Jesse Stopnitzky from Performance Brokerage Services, stated, “When dealers evaluate an acquisition opportunity, personnel is a critical component. Buyers are often looking for well-staffed, well-trained, and turn-key operations.” Jesse continued, “Utilizing an experienced, qualified, and well-connected recruiter like V20 Recruiting + Consulting can help to maximize the value and marketability of your dealership.”

Hiring the Right Managers

By working with a dedicated industry recruiter who specializes in these transitions, you’ll have the help you need to find and train competent managers who understand the business. These people can coordinate with the new owner to help guide them to good solutions rather than making them figure everything out as they go. They will also act as liaisons between ownership and existing employees to smooth out new communication and leadership challenges that may arise.

Assist with Employee Changes

While the managers your recruiter delivers can reduce personnel upheaval, there may still be some changes moving forward. It may be necessary for key executives or department heads to be relocated, and recruiters who specialize in these types of transitions can help make the experience as seamless as possible or explore new opportunities.

Also, if employees need to be let go, your recruiting partner can step in and assist with finding a new career that minimizes the impact on their personal and family life. In fact, sometimes your most talented and valuable employees may find themselves out of a job for reasons that have nothing to do with performance. In those cases, a recruiter may identify some extremely lucrative opportunities they can leverage.

Transfer Your Dealership With a Minimum of Upheaval

Dealer acquisition is a fact of life, and when it’s time to make a change, V20 Recruiting + Consulting is here to make it as smooth and painless as possible—for you, your employees, and your successor. We have decades of experience in the automotive and powersports industries, and our recruiters have the deep connections it takes to deliver talented employees to support the transition process.

The longevity and stability of your business are the foundation of our work. Whether it’s by placing game-changing talent in key roles to help your company thrive or by connecting you with pragmatic leadership to help navigate the difficult moments dealer acquisition can bring, your business can stay profitable and healthy throughout the process.

Contact us today to find out what V20 can do for the future of your business.