It’s been a little over a year since Eric and I sold our Kia dealership, and although I still feel emotional about selling our business, our lives have undergone significant changes.
A few weeks ago, I had to take a car into the Kia dealership for a service recall. Like most people, I dreaded going there, but for different reasons than the average consumer. Walking into a place where I had spent nearly a decade of my life, seeing “my employees,” and experiencing their way of doing business made me feel uneasy with a pit in my stomach.
It had been several months since I’ve stepped foot in the dealership, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Countless thoughts and scenarios raced through my mind.
What would happen when they saw me?
Were the staff members happy or bitter about the ownership change?
I felt unnerved and rattled, to say the least.
As I drove through the service drive, I was immediately greeted by our top service advisor, someone we hired and valued immensely. She was also another strong female in the business, something I was extremely proud of while owning the dealership. This employee took my keys, explained the recall requirements, and informed me it would take about an hour to complete. Dealing with her was always a pleasure, and my nerves calmed down a bit.
Next, I entered the showroom and approached the reception desk where I was greeted by a new employee-a familiar face, though. This young lady had been an extremely loyal customer of ours while owning the dealership, and I was pleasantly surprised to see her as a part of the team. We chatted for a while, and when I mentioned needing to see the Office Manager, she reassured me that I was more than welcome to head upstairs. She told me I built the place and was still part of the family. A very comforting feeling.
Hesitantly, I made my way upstairs, feeling extremely uncomfortable, as if I were walking around someone’s home uninvited. I stood outside the glass door of the Office Manager’s office, and when she looked up, she smiled and jumped out of her chair to give me a hug. It was if she lit up like a Christmas tree when she saw me. We chatted for a while, catching up on both personal and business matters. She told me all about her daughter, a child I’ve enjoyed watching grow up and have a major soft spot for.
Another positive moment.
Once we were finished, I headed back downstairs to the waiting room, where I would wait for the car and attend to some business. Both a sales representative and sales manager approached me with a warm welcome, giving me big hugs. I engaged in a lengthy conversation with the sales representative, who filled me in on the details of this past year. He was excited to tell me about all the cars he had sold despite inventory challenges, the difficulties they faced with rising interest rates, and the new clientele network he had been building.
As I sat back and observed my surroundings in the middle of a weekday afternoon, I was pleased to see the showroom filled with potential clients shopping for new vehicles. The service department bustled with activity, and the parts counter had a continuous flow of customers. The dealership was immaculate and really showed well. Music played in the showroom, generating positive energy throughout the team.
The pit I had in my stomach before arriving at the dealership had now dissipated, and I now felt a sense of pride and accomplishment. My team had shown they cared for me as much as I cared for them. We all managed to move on to the next chapter of our lives and found success. I was extremely proud to see them thriving at the dealership and grateful to have played a role in the foundation of their careers.
It is also comforting to know we made the right decision so sell our dealership. The group who purchased it has been instrumental in developing the staff and growing the business, an opportunity Eric and I were limited with as single point owners.
So, one year later. How am I feeling about my decision to sell?
I am happy and at peace with it. The most challenging part was missing the staff, but I don’t miss the day-to-day grind. However, I must admit that while I disliked the daily frustrations, I do miss feeling needed and relevant. I think that was one of the biggest challenges we faced after selling the dealership. We went from constantly receiving calls and texts to hearing crickets.
Eric and I have enjoyed the freedom to live our lives. Anyone who knows me, knows I always wore heels and tried to dress to impress. Full make-up, styled hair, and dressing up made me feel good. However, after selling the dealership, I no longer needed to be dressed up every day. I have learned to embrace a more natural look and I’ve never worn so many flats in my life. My feet are thankful for the change!
I have also had more time to enjoy the things I love such as golfing, working out, travelling, and reading. My golf handicap has improved from the mid-20’s to the high teens while developing a whole new network of friends and clients. I’ve managed to spend more time at the gym, participating in the classes that were previously unavailable due to dealership hours. Eric and I have checked off items from our bucket list and explored parts of the world we always dreamed of. Additionally, I have caught up on my reading, finally diving into the books that had been sitting on my bookshelf waiting to be read.
As I sit back and evaluate my life, I am grateful for the current direction and have learned to trust the process without trying to control every aspect. Undoubtedly, I miss the dealership and its employees, but I don’t miss the person I was becoming during that time. Over the years, the stress had changed me. This move has allowed me to refocus on myself, rediscover who I am, determine what I want in life, and stive to be a better person to my husband, family, and friends.
Eric and I were too young to retire, and we had a desire to venture into new opportunities within the industry, including automotive M&A.
What does this all mean for you? Letting go, moving on, and rediscovering yourself beyond the dealership?
- Embracing Change
- Allows individuals to pursue new avenues and explore different opportunities within the industry.
- Relieving the Daily Grind
- Managing a dealership is demanding and can take a toll on individuals. Selling offers a break from the stress and challenges allowing for a more balanced and fulfilling lifestyle.
- Finding New Purpose
- While there may be aspects of the dealership that are missed, selling allows space to discover new passions and interests. It provides the freedom to explore personal hobbies, spend quality time with loved ones, and pursue activities that were limited by the demands of the dealership.
- Positive Impact on Employees
- Selling can have positive effects on employees. New ownership can bring a fresh perspective, growth opportunities, and development for the staff.
- Financial opportunities
- Provides a chance to invest in alternative investments and diversify.
- Rediscovering Personal Identity
- The stress and demands of running a dealership can sometimes change individuals and offers an opportunity for self-reflection and rediscovering personal identity, values, and relationships.
Eric and I understand the importance of making informed decisions, and we are here to support you and help navigate through any challenges or uncertainties you may be facing.
You can reach us at:
Katie.Naughton@DSMA.com / 647-282-7842 (CAD) / 702-764-8810 (USA)
Eric.Levitt@DSMA.com / 416-801-0463 (CAD) / 702-764-8385 (USA)