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Honey, start the car. It’s time to retire!

Are we ready for the dream of retirement?

October 26, 2022  By Mike Slack

Succession planning must be well thought out, beyond the dream of retirement. Photo credit: Andrii/Adobe Stock

As we work day in and day out dreaming of retirement, do we ever really plan properly for it? My wife and I have owned and operated our business for 33 years, living and breathing it 24/7. We’d love to find that guy who said, “Just own your own business! Make your own hours.” 

Yeah, right! We have been fortunate through hard work, a bit of luck and faithful customers, to have been able to stuff our socks with what we hope is enough money to retire on and live to a ripe old age – sorry kids! 

But wait! We have two kids involved in the business. What were we thinking? We cannot just drop it on them. Are they ready for this? Have we prepared them enough for the full shebang? Can they get along? Are they looking after our customers as well? 

Fortunately for us, our kids bought into the two most important things we drilled into them: 

  1. Get up and go to work and be on time 
  2. No excuses – figure it out. Your customer is depending on you 

As we have had discussions with our accountant, asking, “How do we pass this on to them? Fifty/50, 60/40, do I retain some of it to fix squabbles?” 

He responded with, “Ask them.” 

First, if they want it as he also proceeded to tell us, “They aren’t paying you for it.” What?

Thirty-three years and no buyout? This led to his point of why we would cripple them with payments that they do not need. You don’t want them coming back home to live with you, do you? 

Bazinga! I never thought of that. Adults living with adult kids usually does not work out too well. The kids, Kyleigh and Tyce, have actually had a good dose of what to expect when Dad isn’t a phone call away and had to make important decisions alone as I recently had a health scare. I couldn’t be at a phone’s reach for a few months, and that was difficult for everyone. 

According to our customers and employees, they were great. I think customers enjoyed talking with them more than me sometimes. As they are as nervous as they are excited about ownership of this company, it comes with us starting to question ourselves. 

We know they can work hard, but what about the business side of the business?

  • Money management
  • Buying and selling
  • Receivables and bad accounts
  • Customer relations
  • Employees…ugh!

The list goes on and on. We were fortunate enough to grow our business as we started from nothing and made a lot of mistakes and learned the hard way from them. A couple government audits straighten you out fast. However, the kids are taking over full bore. They will learn very quickly all the above points and realize at times why Dad was so cranky once in a while. Nothing makes my wife and I smile more than the kids saying, “How did you guys do this?”

Now that I may be home more with my poor wife, that’s another article I hope I live to tell. For now, enjoy the rest of the golf season.

Mike Slack is the owner of Slack Reel Services in Burlington, Ont.

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