How to avoid becoming an incubator for dealer brats

Donna Harris covers retail issues for Automotive News
My partner on the retail beat recently wrote about an Ohio dealer whose family was in auto retailing and required relatives to work outside the car business before coming back to the fold. Another dealer said his two children have MBAs, attended the NADA Dealer Academy and had to be successful salespeople before they could move into management positions at his store.

Those dealers are eliminating the semblance of entitlement that's a threat to any successful family business.

I've also seen operations that were incubators for dealer brats.

I know one dealer who gave a son a salary to steer clear of the dealership. Another otherwise savvy businessperson appeased an ex-spouse with an executive title and salary, knowing the ex would spend far more time on a golf course than in the dealership.

Most of the successful second- and third-generation dealers I've known say they started in the car business in their teens - sometimes younger -- washing cars, mopping floors and cleaning toilets.

It's a simple rule, but effective: To raise successful entrepreneurs, start when they're really young and start them at the very bottom.



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