In consulting to many reps over the course of the past 10+ years on the topic of successfully selling a rep firm, the author has found that less than half of succession plans succeed. Some make it through the process to the end, but find themselves plagued with turmoil, miscommunications and strained relationships, especially when the plan involves good friends or family members. The best defense against any of these misgivings is prevention -- he recommends that you start early, and make a plan to plan. Once the plan is triggered and the owner is about five years out from planned retirement, it's important to begin communicating the plan externally. A plan that is well done and done well-in-advance will increase your probability of success in meeting everyone's needs.