What’s Your Next Game?

Located in Auburn, California – part of the beautiful ‘gold country’ area of Northern California, owner Urs Schopfer opened Euro Motors in 1997. With over 45 years of experience in servicing import cars, the goal of having customers for life has not changed. In that time, Euro Motors has grown to be a highly-respected business in Placer County.

Euro Motors has always been a family business. They have gotten to know the families that always return to the shop to receive quality reliable service for their cars, and the Schopfer family is there. That includes Urs’ son, Christoph.

A few years ago Urs started to think about his Exit Plan…what is the future of the business he had built. And what’s next for him.

Urs, when did you start to think about your exit plan?
I started thinking about my Exit plan a couple of years ago. I did some research on-line on how to go about it and how to get started. I didn’t get my questions answered so I was looking for more information, that’s when I found out about the Exit Planning Workshop that DRIVE offered. I took the class and it helped me to start planning for my future.

L2R Christoph and Urs Schopfer of Euro Motors Auburn, California

Christoph, when did you start to think you’d like to someday own the business?
In 2011 when I came back to work for my dad to manage the shop I started to really adopt practices and run the business as if I would own it one day. So, for the past decade I have thought about buying the business one day.

Urs, Christoph, when did you have the first discussion about Urs selling the shop to Christoph? How did it go?
Urs – I asked Christoph after I took the Exit Planning Workshop If he was interested about purchasing the business in the next five years.

Christoph – I started discussing it probably back in 2017 or so, my dad was taking the Exit Plan Workshop at DRIVE and I was taking another class. We discussed it on the airplane and in the following weeks. We discuss succession on a monthly basis since then.

Urs, you are in the midst of handing over the shop to Christoph. What are your top 3 recommended actions for any shop owner who is thinking about selling to a family member?

1. Find out if the family member is interested in purchasing the business and ask him or her how they would like to take it over and run it. It may not be the same way you ran it but if it makes sense to you and it works with your exit plan you need to be fine with it. This is an important conversation you need to have with your family member
2. Find a new GAME – something else to do, something you enjoy doing – a hobby or start another business and it does not have to be automotive. Or take on one job at the business that you enjoy and are really good at, like marketing or training employees. The worst thing is having nothing to do with no new goals, you will get bored and will hold back the sale of the business.
3. Find how much money you will need to support your lifestyle. After the sale of the business. Will it be enough with whatever else you will get from retirement and possible new Income from another business you may start. This will help you figure out a plan on when you are ready to get out and for how much you will have to sell it for. We are currently working on a 5-year plan, where I will keep the building and still receive the rent payment.

Christoph – What would be your top 3 recommended actions for anyone preparing to take over a shop?

1. You have to really want it. This is number one. You shouldn’t want to take over the family business because it is the easiest route with a path of least resistance. At one point in my life, I went back to college, graduated and started a career in a completely different field. I came back because I love this industry. If you don’t love it, then it’s not for you.
2. Run the business like you will be the final boss one day. When a difficult decision or task comes up, act as if there is no one above you. How would you handle it and then take that action. Of course, this may be difficult because your ideal scene may be a bit different from the current owner, but you get the general idea. This may also mean adopting the stresses and headaches that come with being the owner one day. I catch myself worrying about decisions and finances all the time as if it was my business and my family depends on it. I do depend on the business to be profitable but at the end of the day, as someone who has no stake in the business, I can walk away. This is not the attitude to have, nor will it be beneficial. Take pride and ownership in every decision you make.
3. Treat the business as a business and not a family venture. All contracts must be solid, all transactions must be communicated properly. Too many businesses fall apart due to miscommunication during the buying process. Be honest with yourself and really decide if buying a shop is what you want. I still to this day, I’m constantly on the fence on whether I would like to start from scratch and build a shop or purchase a thriving shop. At the end of the day the experiences from other people who have done both, point me towards purchasing my dad’s shop. But if you want something to be yours and really yours and not someone else’s creation you have to make it your own. You also must be patient. My dad and I have different things we want from the business. You must decide what you will get from being the owner and if that’s what you really want.

Christoph – What has surprised you the most so far about the process of buying the business?
It is not easy finding a decent business appraiser and determining the value of the business. I am sure more surprises will occur as succession actually begins.

Urs, Christoph – How are you two dividing the responsibilities today and how do you see that evolving as you gear up for a complete handover to Christoph? And what is your timeline for that complete handover?
Christoph – My hats today are: Hiring firing and training Employees. We both think it’s important that I build my own team. Also, Weekly Planning, Shop Meetings and Finances. Help in the front as needed. All Managers duties

Urs: Monthly and Long-term planning. Marketing. Spot check that policies are followed. And we are financially fluent with growing Reserves. Manager duties in Christoph’s absence

Urs – Today Christoph is running the day to day operation as a Manager , he is in the process of taking over the Owner responsibilities and turning over the Manager hat. I’m working on a new Photography Business and finalizing the Exit Plan. The plan is for me to be out of the business by April 1, 2027. This will be the 30th anniversary of the business.

Lastly….

Urs, what do you love about the business?
I love to help and educate our customers about proper car care and maintenance. I don’t do this personally anymore but together with Christoph, we’ve built a team that’s on the same page of helping our customers drive safe and reliable vehicles that last a long time.

Christoph, what do you love about the business?
I love running a small business in our local small community. I would like the business to become more community oriented once I own the business. I do not enjoy working for someone and in a way, I work for my dad currently, but I do enjoy the freedom that comes with being the manager or owner to be. I really love the industry and it is built on a good platform that will allow me to pursue the things I wish to pursue once I am the owner.

Congrats and thank you to Urs and Christoph Schopfer of Euro Motors in Auburn, California. Well done!

 

LINK TO ShopOwnerMagazine article

 

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