A Sobering Example Of Why You Must Plan For Succession

Jim Luff
Posted on June 19, 2018
Harvey L. Hall was a giant of a man both from the heart and in physical stature. He was larger than life. (photo: Jim Luff)
Harvey L. Hall was a giant of a man both from the heart and in physical stature. He was larger than life. (photo: Jim Luff)

Last month, I attended the funeral of a friend. He wasn’t just any friend. He was the mayor of my city for 14 years. He was my wife’s employer at the time we got married in the mid-90s. He was an astute businessman and in many ways a mentor to me from afar. While he never told me how to run my business, I sure took note of the way he ran his.

An American Success Story

Harvey L. Hall began Hall Ambulance Service in 1971 with a $15,000 loan and two ambulances while working out of his home. Sound familiar? On the day of his death, his company had 477 employees and today provides service to eleven cities with more than 200 ambulances and an air ambulance division. This blog isn’t really about Hall or Hall Ambulance though. It’s about what he did that you are in the middle of doing. It’s about building a business and a legacy. As a side note, the old Cadillac ambulance shown in the accompanying procession photo was used to deliver me to my wedding! Everyone would have expected me to arrive by limo. This was the very first ambulance of Hall Ambulance, and Hall was gracious enough to let me borrow it.

I assume you started your business with some intention of finding success. Whether success means financial independence, not having to go to work every day, or perhaps a plan for your children to take over your legacy and empire one day, we all want success. But, are you set up for success? Have you made it easy for key people in your life to transition to ownership? Have you put it in writing? Do you have a succession plan?

More importantly, have you ever thought about what would happen to your business if you died TODAY? Have you cross trained employees? Do people know what you really do in the course of a business day? I see so many operators carrying two cell phones, taking reservations on the golf course, and taking calls from their chauffeurs seeking instructions on how to change a flat. This is NOT running a business. The business is running you. Do you feel like you have to work on Saturdays because it is the busiest day of the week? Why? Hire the right person and you can reclaim your independence and freedom and enjoy weekends off like the rest of corporate America.

If You Died Suddenly?

I’m going to ask the question again. If you died suddenly today, could and would your company continue to thrive? Would someone be there to unlock the doors? Do they know how to make a bank deposit? Do they know your system for paying bills, putting money away for rainy days, investing money, doing payroll, handling collections and where important documents are stored such as your operating authority permit? Do they know how to prepare for an annual safety inspection by law enforcement? Do they know where your will is? Do they have access to important files or know how to gain access?

These are all things you need to think of TODAY because tomorrow isn’t promised. Harvey L. Hall was a giant of a man both from the heart and in physical stature. He was larger than life. In early May, Mayor Hall announced he was sick. Hall Ambulance Service said he was stepping down from his role as President and CEO and his wife would succeed him. Two weeks later, he was gone from this earth. While the absence of Hall is surely felt at Hall Ambulance Service, one day later it was business as usual at Hall Ambulance Service because the plans for succession had been laid. Begin crafting and detailing your plans today, for tomorrow isn’t promised to us.

Related Topics: business management, financial planning, Jim Luff, LCT Blog, succession

Jim Luff Contributing Editor
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