The year was 1980. Back then, I was commonly blasting Footloose, Danger Zone, or Mr. Roboto through my stereo speakers. I could spend much of a weekend playing songs like these. In fact, I loved music so much, that by 1983, I started a mobile DJ business – I founded Dance Systems Incorporated – “DJ Entertainment with a touch of class” using a $2,600 loan from my father, and began taking jobs. I started “gigging” at all kinds of events – from weddings to school dances, I was having a ball and filling event halls with the latest and greatest “tunes” of the day. But as it “turns” out, I was doing more than playing music; I was also learning a lot about the importance of product evolution and customer experience. Let’s reflect back.
Our industry is abuzz with acquisitions in every corner–from manufacturers to suppliers to dealers, it seems everyone is either looking to buy or planning for the day they will sell. And whether you have immediate plans to put your dealership on the market or hope to grow your business so that it can be passed on to the next generation, you should always be thinking about how you can grow the enterprise value of your business.
The other day my wife leaned over and showed me something our daughter Julia had posted to a social media site. One of Julia’s friends had commented about what they were planning to do for a living after graduation. Julia responded to the post with, “When I graduate, I want to be my Dad.” At first I said to my wife, “Why would Julia want to be a 51 year old, out-of-shape male?” All joking aside, it hit me. This was quite possibly my proudest father moment of all time.
I was just a 14-year-old boy. It was another warm Dublin, California summer day and my hands were getting black with grease in the bike shop where I worked. I raced BMX bikes and the shop owner had asked my parents if it would be okay to offer me a job, since I spent more time in his shop than home or school. Having had a successful business career in corporate America before opening Dublin Cyclery, Chuck Tyler saw something in me I did not yet see in myself. As a teenager, I simply saw the short-term benefits, like earning movie ticket money, but the lessons I learned from him about leadership were invaluable and endure to this day.