More dealerships are changing hands in these post-recession days, but it's never an easy task. The commercial aspects are complex in themselves, but each deal is highly personal. Usually, the seller is parting with a business that has had years of investment, devotion and sweat poured into it.
The story of the sale of SanTan Honda and Hyundai of Tempe in Phoenix to AutoNation, told in last week's issue of Automotive News, shows how much persistence, negotiating skill and flexibility it can take to close a deal. Without family members wanting to take over, dealers Tom Sparrow and Bud Thurston had talked to AutoNation and others for a decade.
They chose AutoNation because of its reputation for retaining employees and because the No. 1 U.S. dealership group agreed to lease the real estate instead of buying it. Still, the deal almost fizzled over details that were important to the sellers.
It's just one among dozens of deals, but other dealers contemplating the future of their enterprises can draw from the experiences of Sparrow and Thurston.
It's never too early for dealers to plan for succession or to prepare to get the most for themselves and their families out of selling. And flexibility is always important in closing the deal.