Protecting Your Legacy

Sylvain Seguin believes shop owners should make succession planning an important part of their business strategy.

It’s inevitable – sooner or later, as a shop owner, you will face the prospect of saying good-bye to the business you worked so hard for, nursed, and grew into a profitable venture. What happens to your legacy then? Are you concerned that the carefully accumulated value in your business will be wasted away?

Succession planning is an uncomfortable thought and, most times, the reason for heart break. Most owners put off discussions on retirement, death, or business failure, until it is too late. In my opinion, it is an important issue that shouldn’t be avoided, especially if you are determined to protect your hard-fought legacy. 

“Succession planning” can be as simple as asking a family member to take over your shop or grooming one of your high-performing employee(s) to ensure business continuity. By identifying your successor, you can rest easy with the thought that the business will continue to accumulate value in the long run.

Smart entrepreneurs involve their families very early on in the process, almost at the same time as they launch their business. I have come across several second- and even third- and fourth-generation owners within Fix Network who have been successfully groomed to take over from their parents. 

At Fix Network, as part of our program to empower franchisees, our operations team works closely with retiring owners and their successors to ensure that the business continues to be viable during the transition and beyond. We work together with the new leadership, familiarizing them with every aspect of the business and training them at our training centres across Canada.

Planning your business succession is not as difficult as it sounds. Here are some best practices to help you throughout the transition and beyond. 

Identify your rock stars

Review employee performance objectively and shortlist those who are adaptable, problem-solvers and highly productive. You can either groom them as your successor or ask their help in supporting the family member who takes up the business. 

Initiate the discussion 

If your successor is a family member, be prepared that their plans may not necessarily align with yours. If required, seek the help of a professional mediator who is acceptable to all family members. This is critical as it removes the emotion out of a business transaction. 

Involve your team

Once you have found your successor, communicate it to the rest of your team so your successor finds acceptance at the workplace and your team can support the new owner in every way possible. 

Mentor your successor

Be prepared to spend enough time teaching your successor all elements of the business. Encourage them to take whatever courses are needed to prepare for their new role. Do they need mentoring or to shadow an employee to learn more? 

Step away completely

Once the transition is completed and the new family member understands all elements of the business, it is wise to step away and allow the new owner to take charge. 

An ownership change is one of the most important, life-changing moments in your entrepreneurial journey and a lot will depend on the choices you made years before, and not who you put in charge of the business. Here’s wishing you a smooth transition for your business.
Sylvain Seguin is President – Canada for Fix Network, comprising brands such as Fix Auto, ProColor Collision, NOVUS Glass and Speedy Auto Service.

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