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Don’t think you need an Exit Plan? Think Again!


Joe Marconi

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As shop owners, we get consumed with the day-to-day routine of running our businesses. When we are young, we think we have all the time in the world to plan for our futures.  When we hit middle age, we think about our end game, but too few of us do something about it. And when we reach retirement age, we wonder if we did all the right things to prepare for life after owning an auto repair shop.

The reality is that life can throw you a curve ball at any age. This means you need to prepare today. You have responsibilities to yourself, your family, your loved ones, and those you employ.

Ask yourself, “What if something happens to me today that would force me to retire? Would I have everything in order so my family would be protected?  Would my business survive without me not being there?”

No matter what stage you are in your business career, my advice is to do this: Set up a series of meetings with a financial advisor, your accountant, an attorney, and an insurance agent. And your business coach, if you have one. Tell them that you are concerned about your eventual exit from the business and to plan for the unexpected. They will help you to get all your priorities in order.  

Remember, when it comes to life’s curve balls, age does not matter.

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Joe,

Great post, brother.  Here's what we think of even less.  That is before we retire, IF, the BIG IF, we are selling our shop to employees or anybody of the technical mindset, hook them up with a shop trainer.  If I had it to over, I would have paid a trainer's fees a couple of years in advance for my purchaser.  They had the money to buy the shop, but little more.  They were expecting an immediate return on investment because they didn't have any money to do otherwise.  Food for thought.

I did sales and management training shortly after retirement and in almost every shop, I got disappointment after disappointment.  The biggest disappointment was after the gig was over, the shop I was coaching went right back to doing the S.O.S. they were doing in the first place that got them in the jam to seek coaching.  All, but 1, is now out of business.  The one that's not out of business is only 3 miles from my house and stopping by to say HI! keeps them on track.  Thank goodness it doesn't cost me a hotel and airfare.  A profitable, well-run, and managed company rarely seeks consulting services.

I read somewhere that a shop owner thinking about retirement was going into coaching shops.  He's living in a dream world and his desire has no basis in reality.  If you think owning and running an automotive shop takes commitment, you don't know what commitment is until you coach other shops.  Personally, I couldn't do it.  I only lasted 6 months and I had enough.  I wasn't cut out for living out of a suitcase and dealing with hotels, airlines & airports on a weekly basis.  I'm too old for that. 🙂

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3 hours ago, Transmission Repair said:

Joe,

Great post, brother.  Here's what we think of even less.  That is before we retire, IF, the BIG IF, we are selling our shop to employees or anybody of the technical mindset, hook them up with a shop trainer.  If I had it to over, I would have paid a trainer's fees a couple of years in advance for my purchaser.  They had the money to buy the shop, but little more.  They were expecting an immediate return on investment because they didn't have any money to do otherwise.  Food for thought.

I did sales and management training shortly after retirement and got disappointment after disappointment.  The biggest disappointment was after the gig was over, the shop I was coaching went right back to doing the S.O.S. they were doing in the first place that got them in the jam to seek coaching.  All, but 1, is now out of business.  The one that's not out of business is only 3 miles from my house and stopping by to say HI! keeps them on track.  Thank goodness it doesn't cost me a hotel and airfare.  A profitable, well-run, and managed company rarely seeks consulting services.

I read somewhere that a shop owner thinking about retirement was going into coaching shops.  He's living in a dream world and his desire has no basis in reality.  If you think owning and running an automotive shop takes commitment, you don't know what commitment is until you coach other shops.  Personally, I couldn't do it.  I only lasted 6 months and I had enough.  I wasn't cut out for living out of a suitcase and dealing with hotels, airlines & airports on a weekly basis.

Thank you, as always for your feedback and great comments. It's much appreciated. 

With regard to coaching, perhaps the most difficult part is when you see things, and give advice, and the client does not act. Experiences have been a great teacher for me, and for many. But it's like the old saying, "When the STUDENT is ready, the TEACHER appears." 

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Finding those people has been the difficult part. I've felt like all they wanted was to milk me as long as they can and do as little as possible.

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1 hour ago, Old and Tired said:

Finding those people has been the difficult part. I've felt like all they wanted was to milk me as long as they can and do as little as possible.

Agree. You need the right team of advisors around you. And that can be difficult. 

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We own the business and the land outright, we also just paid off our home 12/30/22!!  I'm hoping to have one or both (business & land) fund our retirement hopefully in the next 3 to 5 years.  We are currently in the process working with an amazing insurance agent/planner organizing our mess of current numerous policies into two better plans for my husband and myself.
When the eventual sale/lease of the business and/or property comes to fruition, is there somewhere to sock away what's left in it's entirety (after CA takes the tax) to just let it grow and live off the dividends?

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On 1/11/2023 at 11:09 AM, Juli Southard said:

We own the business and the land outright, we also just paid off our home 12/30/22!!  I'm hoping to have one or both (business & land) fund our retirement hopefully in the next 3 to 5 years.  We are currently in the process working with an amazing insurance agent/planner organizing our mess of current numerous policies into two better plans for my husband and myself.
When the eventual sale/lease of the business and/or property comes to fruition, is there somewhere to sock away what's left in it's entirety (after CA takes the tax) to just let it grow and live off the dividends?

I think what you plan to do as being an excellent idea, Juli.  Take a lesson from my experience... First, make sure the people you sell your business to doesn't go out of business.  That happened to us.  Secondly, have an early pay off penalty clause for the real estate.  The guy we sold the shop real estate to (different from who we sold the business to) paid off the mortgage totally off only 9 months in.  We ended up paying $400K to the IRS.  And... our $9,100/mo. payments for 30 years simply evaporated.

Our retirement plans went out with the shitter.  However, overall we came out OK even with the challenges.  Like you, our home and new car are  paid for and we have no debt.  We'll make due with what we have to work with.  Don't let my mistakes happen to you!!!

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On 1/11/2023 at 1:09 PM, Juli Southard said:

We own the business and the land outright, we also just paid off our home 12/30/22!!  I'm hoping to have one or both (business & land) fund our retirement hopefully in the next 3 to 5 years.  We are currently in the process working with an amazing insurance agent/planner organizing our mess of current numerous policies into two better plans for my husband and myself.
When the eventual sale/lease of the business and/or property comes to fruition, is there somewhere to sock away what's left in it's entirety (after CA takes the tax) to just let it grow and live off the dividends?

I sold my company and the land a little over a year ago. Made out good with the sale of two locations and property.  However, one of the things I did (on the advice of my financial advisor) was to also fund a retirement plan over the past 25 years.

Your question is valid and right on target, but you need advice from a CPA accountant and your financial advisor. For me, while the sale was good, I had to pay capital gains tax, but it wasn't that bad since the property was redeveloped in 2008, and I still had a lot of depreciation that helped reduce my tax liability. 

Another thing to consider is how your money will be invested.  I moved my investments to more slow growth over the years as I got older and added the proceeds from the sale to this portfolio. You don't make large gains in a good market with slower growth investments, but when it turns bad, you don't lose as much. 

The point is that you need to sit down, do your budget for after you retire, and then determine how much your money will last with different scenarios. A good financial advisor can help with this.  Only after that can you determine if the dividends will be enough.  Sorry for not giving a direct answer, but I want to be honest from what I have learned. 

 

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