My Million Dollar Mistake
A number of years ago, after a good run as a dealership owner, I was offered a premium price for my top of the line import store.
I hadn’t really thought about selling…but this offer got my wheels turning.
As luck would have it, because I hesitated a little, the buyer offered me an even better price.
After discussing it with family and dealer friends, the offer was too good to pass up…I decided to sell.
What could be easier…a dealer to dealer transaction…no problem!
I went and talked to a buddy, a fellow dealer who had sold his deal recently.
Between the 2 of us, we figured out we could do this and save a bunch of fees.
We wrote up the names and numbers and made a deal. That was December.
I was almost on easy street…getting more than I thought I ever could for my dealership, making plans for some well-deserved travel and recreation. I was thinking about all the fun I was going to have by not being tied down to a store.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the car business…but the time to sell was here, and as a business man I was ready to take a few chips off the table…lock in my financial independence for my family and catch up on a few of those things I wanted to do but had put off.
That’s when my nightmare began…
Two months later in February, my factory turned this application down.
Oh well! I figured…Ill just go back and run the store…maybe even find someone else to buy.
Not so easy…
The buyer was mad….real mad!
He sued the factory, and that was not good for me…
The factory didn’t treat me the same after that. Warranty audits. Sales audits. If red 4 door sedans stopped selling nationwide. I got em.
My troubles were plastered all over the local paper on TV at night employees quit customers went to the competition. ..this was not what I had in mind just a few short weeks before!
And it didn’t go away quickly, I grew more worried every day it dragged on…the deal was tied up in the courts the bottom feeders came calling just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse..it did….again and again and again! Oh, I saved a few bucks doing the deal without a broker sadly, it cost me a MILLION DOLLARS when I finally sold my store.
But it wasn’t just about the money…It took ten long years to resolve this issue because of a poorly prepared sale.
First the buyer appealed the factory turn-down to the State Automotive Commission…
They ruled in my favor…
Then the buyer took me to County court…
They ruled in my favor…
Then the buyer took me to State court…
They ruled in my favor…
And just about the time I thought I would get some peace, the buyer appealed to the State Supreme Court!
Every time he appealed, the stories started up again…newspaper, TV, radio…it went on and on…just about the time I felt safe going back into my favorite coffee shop…here came the reporters…
Well, it finally did come to an end 9 years and 7 months later.
That’s 3,498 days (and a lot of sleepless nights) of aggravation, lawyers, depositions, appeals, he said/I said, newspaper, television and all the other inconveniences I choose to call learning experiences.
In the end, I felt like I learned 3 things in my 3,498 day lesson:
- Most dealer to dealer sales don’t close…lots of reasons, but trust me on this, after 200+ transactions in my business the majority of those deals never cross the finish line.
- When it comes time to sell your biggest asset, you want some experience. Not a friend, fellow dealer or brother-in-law who sold a deal or 2…real horsepower…that will keep you out of the potholes that can make your deal go on forever.
- Most sellers underestimate the options they have when it comes time to sell their store. They underestimate their assets (hidden assets), they underestimate buyers wants and needs and they underestimate the quality and quantity of personal advice they will need to successfully conclude a deal.
In fact one dealer last year said he’d like to sell but he was looking at so much red ink on his bottom line he thought nobody would be interested. I told him that we explain the past and sell the future. (We sold his store for more than he expected!) Never think that your conclusion about the marketability of your deal is accurate.
After I was stung by my million dollar mistake, fellow dealers started asking me to help them with their deals…200+ transfers and 23 years later we’ve helped a lot of dealers get to where they want to go…over the bumps and away from the potholes.
I’d like to help you…because I know how tough it will be for you if you don’t get the kind of help I provide.
The next move is yours…
In these days of advanced technology, a simple phone call is the best way for us to understand where you want to go.
Call my direct follow me number (1-800-800-4728) and there is a 95% chance you talk to me right now.
I’ll get started understanding what you want and give you straight answers to make the informed decisions you want to make.
PS. If you only take one thought away from what you’ve read here, my message to you, is please, don’t go it alone!