We know there are plenty of dealership buyers right now, and as we are all aware, it is a seller’s market. Brokers are constantly making inquiries and telling car dealers that they will never be able to get a better price than they can get right now.
Today on Inside Automotive, we’re pleased to welcome back Len Bellavia, Esq., Founding Partner of the law firm of Bellavia Blatt PC, also known as DealerLaw.com, who has handled hundreds of dealership buy-sells. Bellavia joins us to share his creative ways of dealing with this topic, which has been on the minds of many dealers lately.
Many dealership buyers in the market are private equity groups, family offices, and public companies with bottomless pockets. Every time one of these organizations buys a dealer group, they have to staff it. But with the current staffing challenges, it isn’t easy to find qualified operators. Sellers don’t always stay on after the transaction to consult.
In fact, Bellavia believes the buy/sell market is at a “crossroads” because it’s tougher to convince sellers that the value of their dealerships is not the same as it was a year or two ago. There’s a “widening gap” between what buyers are willing to pay and what sellers expect.
If you compound that problem with current economic conditions and OEM news, buyers are doing more sophisticated analyses of potential transactions. On the flip side, sellers are experiencing record profitability, and they are tempted to stay on the fence.
However, sellers need to have a succession plan in place, says Bellavia. Because blue sky values are so high, qualified general managers are largely getting priced out of the market. They are no longer able to come to the table because dealer principals are paying closer attention to the “big money players.” But if the dealer principal isn’t quite ready to leave the business, the best course of action is to cultivate a young, talented manager and allow them to buy a piece of the dealership.
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