Automakers are pressing dealers to have an orderly transition plan for when they leave the business. In the latest such move, General Motors' field organizations will ask GM dealers this year if they have a succession plan.
If not, the company advises, get one.
It's a "best practice" that originated in GM's operations in other parts of the world, said Eric Peterson, GM vice president of diversity dealer relations.
The advice is timely, particularly in the wake of two high-profile, messy lawsuits filed in January over succession issues.
- Tamara Darvish, 51, a fixture of DARCARS Automotive Group, filed a lawsuit on Jan. 9 against her father, John Darvish Sr., 78, and the company. She charged that he reneged on a promise to make her part of the dealership group's ownership team. Her two stepbrothers now run the company.
- Tom Benson, 87, is the owner of several businesses, including the New Orleans Saints and five dealerships selling the Chevrolet, Mercedes-Benz, Smart and Honda brands in New Orleans and San Antonio, according to Benson's Mercedes-Benz of New Orleans website. On Jan. 22, his daughter, Renee, and her two children sued him after he removed them as his business successors in favor of his third wife, Gayle.
The lawsuit alleges that Benson's daughter and grandchildren have been heavily involved in all aspects of his businesses, including the dealerships, and that "Renee was named by Tom Benson and approved by the automobile manufacturers as successor dealer principal." The lawsuit also questions Benson's mental competency.