What will you do after you sell your business?

April 30, 2022
Consider giving back to the industry when you're no longer a collision repair shop owner.

Some conversations I’ve had recently with collision repair operators either considering the sale of their business or after the completion of a sale centered around the same theme: What do I do after I’m no longer a business owner? 

It’s an important consideration, and while I think it may unduly hold some people back from selling if they can’t envision what’s next, it’s also not something you should wait to consider only after the transaction closes. 

Here’s a little bit of what I shared in those “what’s next?” conversations. First, while some R&R or reflection time is not a bad thing after a business sale, think of it as a transition period. Then get busy.  

One option that may be on the table is going to work for the collision repair business that bought your shop or shops. I know some former owners who now are senior executives with the large consolidators that bought their business. That works out well for some people, but I will say that often it doesn’t. 

Others are ready to move on, to follow a passion, doing some activity that too-often took a backseat to their career. They want to sail or scuba dive or restore vehicles or coach sports or road-trip to add to their antiques collection. 

One of the things I wanted to do more of after I sold my business was charity work.  

Others find fulfillment working as a business consultant to help other small business owners. It doesn’t even have to be in this industry. The non-profit organization SCORE (formerly the Service Corporation of Retired Executives) for decades has been connecting experienced business leaders with small companies to offer their expertise in a variety of business skills. 

But one thing I highly recommend to anyone who sells their collision repair business is: Give back. This industry needs help. You have the expertise, and now maybe you have more time to contribute. Think about whether you perhaps owe the industry something. 

What might that look like? Chances are, there’s collision repair training program at a school in your area that could really benefit from your passion and commitment to helping it improve. Serve on the advisory committee, work with students, maybe even consider a teaching position. 

I consider working on a column like this one another way I can give back to the industry in which I’ve worked all of my adult life. 

There also is a wide variety of nonprofit organizations in this industry looking for volunteers. Maybe it’s with a trade association. I’ve continued to volunteer on the national board and Collision Division Operations Committee for the Automotive Service Association. There’s also the Society of Collision Repair Specialists, the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers, and any number of state and regional trade organizations working to assist and represent the collision repair industry. 

There are also industry-related groups focused on different aspects of the industry. The Collision Industry Electronic Commerce Association (www.cieca.com) needs both technical and non-technical people on its committees. The Collision Industry Conference offers quarterly meetings that can be a way to stay connected to the industry, and you’ll likely find one of the topic-focused CIC committees to be something you’re interested in. While the Women’s Industry Network is focused on women in the industry, it’s open to anyone who sees the value in encouraging and supporting the involvement of more woman in all aspects of our industry. The National Auto Body Council strives to showcase and improve the image and professionalism of our industry, through programs like Recycled Rides and first-responder training.

Lastly, I think an awesome way to give back to the industry after selling your business is to get involved with the nonprofit Collision Industry Foundation, and the Collision Repair Education Foundation. They can put your financial donations to work on behalf of the industry, but they also have a role you can play with your time and expertise as well. 

What are you going to do if you sell your business? Do something. Give back. There are many options. 

About the Author

Mike LeVasseur | COO, Kennan Auto Body

Mike LeVasseur is an industry consultant and advocate specializing in mergers and acquisitions. He sold his multi-shop collision repair business in 2015, and continues to serve as director of the Automotive Service Association’s national “Collision Operations Committee.” He can be reach at (610) 637-3109, or at [email protected].  

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