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January 2000

Managing: Retirement Planning

The Jeweler's Transition Series: Part 1

Will your story have a happy ending?

Most jewelers I know love their jobs and have a true passion for selling jewelry. Many have built their businesses from the ground up, while others have stepped in to maintain and grow a business begun by other family members. But for all the hard work, long hours and sweat equity independent jewelers put into their businesses, far too few put even a fraction of that effort into planning for their future outside the jewelry industry.

As much as you love your business, the time will come when you'll want to retire. Or perhaps the son or daughter you'd hoped would take over has decided to do something else. Maybe increased competition has taken all the fun –  and profit – out of the business and inspired a career change. Or unfortunate circumstances of illness or death may bring about a surprising and unplanned exit from the business.

One way or another, you'll find yourself in the inevitable situation of having to sell your store or just shut it down. We call this process "transition." If you haven't prepared yourself, your family and your store for the process, it can be an emotionally and financially unsettling experience.

Long-Term Planning

Have you planned adequately for that time? In today's world, a closeout retirement sale should provide a large amount of the income necessary to sustain the lifestyle many jewelers anticipate after they leave the business. Unfortunately, independent businesses traditionally have not developed a structured, long-term transition plan to make this happen.

It's time to start planning for your future. Serious thought, commitment and preparation must begin years in advance of your expected transition, with allowances and adjustments for contingencies along the way. I've spent 30 years helping jewelers maximize their assets and move into retirement. It can be a very gratifying job, but it also can be heartbreaking. That's why my company, Wilkerson & Associates, has established Wilkerson's Trade Transition Association.

The association is a free-membership organization formed to encourage independent jewelers to take control of their post-industry destiny and plan adequately for their future. The role of the WTTA is to offer you guidance on maximizing your most valuable asset – your store.

We want you to stop thinking about retirement or closing your store as a single event. Instead, we'll train you to start thinking in terms of a smooth and profitable transition up to 10 years before you actually retire or sell the store.

This monthly column will deal with many of the issues you'll need to consider as you prepare for your own successful transition, including succession planning, retirement event planning, investment strategies and estate planning, store and inventory maximization, and vendor support while transitioning. You won't find all the answers here, but we expect this column to serve as a helpful guide to getting you started.

Remember, the future is now. Everybody loves a happy ending. Make a commitment to plan for yours.

By Bobby Wilkerson

Bobby Wilkerson is president of Wilkerson & Associates, Stuttgart, AR; (800) 631-1999.

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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