Groupe Maison de l’Auto implemented a succession plan several years ago to ensure its growth and plan for a change in governance.
A family business
In 1948, Luc Verreault’s father, Oswald, decided to go into business and opened a service station in Saint-Félicien. By applying the organization’s philosophy of always putting the client first, the company experienced outstanding growth and now has numerous car dealerships in Lac-Saint-Jean.
A third-generation family business that is constantly growing, Groupe Maison de l’Auto consists of seven large-scale dealerships offering Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, ProMaster, Ram, Mazda, Kia and Mitsubishi vehicles.
Recognized for its professionalism, the organization offers an exceptional buying experience and five-start after-sale service.
Preparing the succession and ensuring the organization’s longevity
Luc Verreault began to reflect about the future progressive transfer of the business. He wanted an integrated succession plan built on key factors to support the success of such a process. To reinforce the new governance, he benefited from the assistance of a team of experts covering all aspects: human, strategic, financial and tax.
Luc Verreault’s shareholders were his three children and two non-family members, Jean-Michel Genest and Tony Bonelli. They were all targeted as transferees and the owner therefore wanted to ensure he had all the necessary tools on hand and appropriate work methods to ensure the business’s continuity.
It was with this in mind that the owner called on our firm’s services. Our team of experts, headed by Éric Dufour, the firm’s Entrepreneurial Succession Leader, helped the organization clearly define each person’s objectives and expectations in order to carry out the transfer plan.
Undertaking a diagnosis and setting up a succession plan
Once intentions had been diagnosed and the feasibility analyzed, we were able to implement a monitoring system based on the right agreement and concept, which included coaching on various aspects and the creation of a family council.
Five candidates were evaluated based on the diagnosis and succession plan. We assessed complementary areas and risks in terms of the targeted structure. We also highlighted each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses in order to assign them a strategic position within the organization.
Emmanuelle Verreault, the owner’s daughter and one of the five candidates, was designated to take on the role of Executive Vice-President.
The diagnosis brought to light an issue regarding the change in governance. The business model had to be reviewed to ensure greater synergy and foster team work rather than by dealership.
We highlighted various comparable business models in Quebec and mapped competitors, profiles and expertise mixes.
In addition to the financial and tax aspects, there is a major emotional component in an entrepreneurial succession that has to be skillfully managed. This was all the more so for Groupe Maison de l’Auto because it was a hybrid transfer: family and non-family members. Using a global approach that took into consideration all aspects as well as recognized efficiency tools and practices, we leveraged our experts’ expertise to help the transferor and transferees overcome this emotional phase.
Initiating and maintaining contact with the various parties throughout the process was also critical to guarantee that the process took place efficiently and transparently, while ensuring a smooth transition where all parties knew their role and responsibilities.
Today, we are working with the owners of Groupe Maison de l’Auto to implement and adjust the succession plan. It is a long process that can take up to eight years. Thanks to a unique relationship that transcends the professional context, we can support each player in the transfer process to achieve the objective sought and ensure that this family business keeps on going.