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1 Perpetual Business 5 WARDden.com
he success of your business is predicated
on its ability to transform what’s on
your balance sheet into profits on your
income statement. That transformation can
only occur when your standard operating
procedures are consistently executed by your
employees. Your assets are merely the “stuff ”
you own, while your staff spins it into gold
(profits). Nurture your staff, for as Harvey
Firestone exclaimed, “It is only as we develop
others that we permanently succeed.” Your
people are the foundation of a Perpetual
Owners often ask me if they should be forth-
right with their employees about planning for
the eventual sale of the business. They worry
that their employees might fear for their job
security. My response is unambiguous, the
truth is not to be feared, but embraced as
a powerful sign of respect for your people.
They’re smart. They know that you will not
live forever, and that you want a life beyond
your career. Including them in your mas-
ter plan creates confidence in their future,
encourages longevity, fosters teamwork, and
lights their own path of career development.
Inclusion transcends the “owner / employees”
culture into one of “owner / partners.” Em-
ployees tend to think singularly, “themselves”
whereas, partners work together to a common
purpose for the benefit of the entire company.
Partners benefit mutually.
Starting an inclusive dialogue is really
quite easy. It sounds something like this;
“I’m working on my plan for the future of
(business name), so that it will continue to
prosper when I’m no longer the owner. You’re
an important part of that plan. I value your
contributions and want to properly consider
what’s important to you and your family.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10
years and what are your aspirations?”
Just that easily, you’ve introduced the concept
of a Perpetual Business, reinforced the value
of your people, made known that their career
goals will be considered, and established that
your process will continue to be communicat-
ed as it develops.
Now, rather than fearing an opaque future, a
heightened sense of trust allows your people
to focus on building a healthy, vibrant busi-
ness that also fuels their career objectives. At
the same time, your desire of increased prof-
its, improved employee stability, enhanced
enterprise value, and a legacy that survives
your departure becomes reality. When you
have succeeded, your Perpetual Business will
always be ready for sale or expansion, at your
option and, on your terms.
A Perpetual Business cannot occur by luck,
accident or happenstance.
It must be deliberate. Every plan has a begin-
ning. Yours can start today.
If you want us to help, start by getting our
Perpetual Business Owner’s Guide, our
complimentary contribution to your future.
We’re just a “click” away: www.wardden.com.
What happens when you include your employees in the master plan for what happens after
you move on from the business? We discuss the benefits, dynamics and profitability here.
EMPLOYEES CRAVE INCLUSION
Promoting Powerful & Profitable Partnerships
Inspiring Owners to Build Companies That Survive!
2 Perpetual Business 5 WARDden.com
Doug Youngdale, owner of Gerber Auto
Care, is taking his time to make sure that
he and his potential successor’s goals
ver the years I’ve been to several hun-
dred sales and the old shop owner is sit-
ting there in the corner, tears running
down his face, and he’s watching everything
he’s ever owned go out the door. That’s not
gonna be me.”
Right out of college Doug purchased a one-
man auto shop. 43 years later, Gerber Auto
Care is thriving, topping a million dollars in
sales last year with 8 employees on the payroll.
“You’re supposed to say, ‘how many employ-
ees you got working for ya?’” Doug jokes,
“And I usually say, ‘About half of ‘em!’”
He’d like to get all of his employees more in-
vested in the profitability of the business. But
right now, he’s focusing on his key employees,
with the goal of establishing a successor who
is “all in.” “You get shop owners that are 65,
70, years old and get sick, or for whatever
reason nobody’s gonna buy them out and
they have an auction and they’re just selling
all their personal possessions. [Gerber Auto
Care] has been here forever and I’d hate to see
it just go away.”
About a year ago, Doug planted the seed with
two of his key employees. “Sat down and
talked to ‘em and let them know that I would
be interested in passing it on and that I would
try to help them with the process.” Without
a lot of direction, they tried to work out the
business valuation and figure out financing.
“We even went as far as to try and go talk to
the bank.” But, the potential buyers didn’t
have enough capital for a down payment so
“it kind of threw a funky wrench in the gears.
We’re back to square one and the employees
are pretty disenchanted over the whole thing.”
Doug sought expert advice. “The valuation of
the business was wrong and the lining up of
the financing was wrong. So now I’m trying
to back out of that and start over again.”
One of his potential buyers is still interested
in giving it a shot, a key employee who has
worked with Doug for 12 years. Their little
town is just 7,000 residents and they all know
everything about everybody. “So for an out-
sider to come in that would be a little tough,”
Doug says. “I feel that I’m the top trusted
shop in town and I would like someone with
the same moral thoughts as I do so they don’t
come in and turn the thing upside down and
get everybody wound up.”
However, “there is plenty of room for growth
and I’m after that new energy or excitement,”
that a transitioning owner can bring “to
make it more profitable for me and the next
person.” Doug is having weekly conversations
with his potential successor to make sure
their goals remain aligned. The next step
requires getting the revised, accurate, business
valuation. “Now I don’t know if the figure
I’ve thrown out there, if it’s too high or too
low or whatever. It’s gonna all change one way
or another…then we’ll have to come up with
a plan to help the employee slowly be able to
Although Doug is excited to have more time
for travel, he has no intention of handing
over the keys and skipping town. He’d much
rather spend time training his successor, even
staying in contact as an advisor once the sale
is final. “I’m 63 years old and I’m healthy. I
work 12 hours a day, 6 days a week and I love
it. So as far as me just hangin’ it up and doing
nothing, that would be an impossibility.”
Getting the right person and the right plan
in place in the next 6-12 months is integral.
“I’m gonna have some kind of a plan to move
it along and keep the name going.” Then, he
can back off the day-to-day decision-making,
“but still be involved for a few years and leave
at my discretion.”
“I’m not there yet,” he sighs. He needs a
commitment from his successor. “I’ve gotta
have somebody in place to say, ‘Yeah, we’re
gonna do it.’”
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Published by WARDden, LLC
Seattle, WA 775.553.8899
All rights reserved.
Founder, Bob Ward
Editor in Chief, Wendy Sloneker
Contributing Writer, Elizabeth Ward
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Second Time’s a Charm
DOUG YOUNGDALE: GERBER AUTO CARE: WEBSTER CITY, IA
Perpetual Business will check back with
Doug in a future issue to find out if he, and
his successor, are “all in” on the new plan.
Doug’s Action Items
• Talk to key employees about
• Have a conversation with potential
successors to align goals
• Get an accurate business valuation
• Establish a successor’s full
90% of businesses
fade away or liquidate