Retiring? Consider all options before closing up shop

By Rich Lindblom, YSN

One of my favorite bands in the ’80s was The Clash, and a favorite song of theirs is Should I Stay or Should I Go?

As I sat on a plane recently, trying to think of topics for future YSN columns and staring blankly at my laptop, the song popped up on my playlist. And it occurred to me that it might make for an interesting article. 

I know there are plenty of dealers out there who are closing in on retirement and basically asking themselves the same question: Should I stay or should I go?  In other words, what’s the next step?  Do I try to sell my company, or do I just close the doors one day and just walk away?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard members, many of whom I consider good friends, say that no one wants their company, or even worse,“Who would want to buy an appliance store?”

From my own first-hand experience, I can tell you that there is a very real possibility that someone out there would be interested in buying your business.  I was able to sell mine, and the odds are pretty good that you can sell yours too.  When you get right down to it, if your company is earning you a decent living, then it does have value for the right person. 

Why, you ask? Because it is still the American Dream to own your own business, and odds are pretty good that someone else out there would love the opportunity to make that same decent living that you’ve enjoyed for the past 10, 20 or even 40 years. 

And isn’t getting something out of your life’s work better than getting nothing?  If you ask me, the biggest problem is that too many store owners aren’t even willing to take the time to simply explore the possibility of selling.

Think about it: Even if you “only” get six to 12 months’ worth of salary out of the sale, wouldn’t it still be worth it?  And if your company is profitable, it’s not unreasonable to expect a whole lot more than that. Possibly as much as three to five years’ worth of salary, and even more in some cases.

Yet every year, rather than bothering to try to get something out of their business, dealers all over the country simply lock their doors one day and never go back.

I’m here today pleading with you to understand that there is one and only one reason why a dealer should consider locking their doors and walking away: if your company is losing money every single day. Then and only then could walking away possibly be the right thing to do. 

But (I know, there always seems to be a “but” in my blogs), if your store was profitable in the past, I would suggest you consider having someone from outside your company, a business expert, do a deep dive on your company before you just walk away, to see if perhaps what ails your operation can be fixed.  

Who knows? Maybe it’s not too late to turn things around to the point that your company can once again be profitable.  And if you can find a way to get your company back in the black, there may well be an opportunity for you to sell your business after all.

So, before you decide to simply lock the doors and walk away, I think you should first consider the words of Mick Jones and ask yourself, “Should I stay or should I go?”

I have three goals in mind with my columns: To motivate, educate and entertain.  If I have achieved at least one of those, then I have done my job. Don’t be shy about letting me know if you agree or disagree for that matter. Write me at egvrich@gmail.com.