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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Soft Skills Win In Work And Life

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Soft Skills Win In Work And Life

Have you ever wondered where the term "soft skills" came from? Personally, I often find myself curious of its origin because it seems like a contradiction at best, but worse, a poor use of phrasing. By referencing certain leadership/ownership skills as "soft," doesn't it seem we are devaluing them? Because in a complex business like multi-unit/brand franchising, things that are viewed as soft are often skills or attributes that cannot be measured. But soft skills impact the bottom line, growth, and people development - so there is nothing soft about them, right?

While the term's origin lies somewhere in the imprecise world of business tribal speak, its connotation has been around for quite some time. The Harvard Business Review listed concepts like goal-centric thinking, collaboration skills, communication skills, learning skills, troubleshooting, and playfulness as being vital for achieving success. The Cambridge University Press dictionary defines soft skills as, "people's abilities to communicate with each other and work well together." The unfortunate reality is that our team historically has run into multi-unit franchise owners who don't want to invest in something that sounds "soft."

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Creating a Culture of Accountability Without Emotional Backlash

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Creating a Culture of Accountability Without Emotional Backlash

Power and position are two common traits leaders often lean upon to drive results. Somewhere in your past, you have likely experienced leaders who used some sort of power and position to motivate you. Depending on the situation, it may have helped you and those around you move the growth and performance needle. Today, you may also see how power and position motivates your employees and team to perform at a level that drives success throughout your organization. However, the use of power and position, if not managed properly, can create barriers to effective coaching and employee motivation to fulfill and exceed expectations. This has never been more critical than today, given the current generational shifts in the workplace.

Accountability is interaction designed to improve performance. Often, however, as owners or leaders, when we communicate with our team, we see a common communication style that comes across as critical. Perhaps we focus on and pick at weaknesses, areas of underperformance, and mistakes and bark out directives to get things done. After engaging in performance reviews, we see improvement in areas of underperformance - sometimes it sticks However, after a period of time, the mistakes or lack of attention begin to creep up again. Therefore, at the next review, we find ourselves talking about the same issues, and maybe even bringing the “hammer down” a bit harder. The reality of this tactic is that our employees check out and we foster a sense of insecurity. Our employees start to ask themselves if they can do anything right. They then start to operate out of malice compliance, which minimizes their motivation to go beyond the call of duty. We enforce a way of thinking that does the exact opposite of what we want. We therefore keep them from wanting to think outside of the box because they will likely be criticized versus rewarded for their efforts.

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David Ciambella featured in the Orlando Business Journal

David Ciambella featured in the Orlando Business Journal

Our CEO, David Ciambella, featured in Orlando Business Journal's People on the Move.  

Click here to learn more about The Rawls Group's CEO. 

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Positional Versus Inspirational Leadership: Where Do You Fall?

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Positional Versus Inspirational Leadership: Where Do You Fall?

Leadership influences others' choices, priorities, and behavior. Historically, the ability to leverage power and position has been the models of what some would consider great leaders. As our industry evolves due to technological advancements, changing consumer behavior, and demographic shifts, position and power fall short in inspiring good people. There are too many competitors recruiting for good talent, whether it be hourly or senior level leadership positions, which is making it harder for you to retain movers and shakers in your organization. As a result, it's imperative to foster an environment where your people are inspired, respected, and empowered, making them to want to stick around. Power and position may create compliance in your organization but it will also create challenges in nurturing a sense of buy-in amongst your people to your organization's mission and vision. This can demotivate employee loyalty and their drive to go above and beyond the call of duty.

If you asked your employees and those around you to identify your leadership style, how would they answer? Would you be defined as someone that is comfortable managing with authority? Perhaps you are viewed as using strong discipline to motivate performance, or adversely, would you be viewed as being informative, empowering, and passionate? And if you were being very honest with yourself, would you be surprised by your employees' perception of you?

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - The Critical Difference Between Effective and Ineffective Leadership

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - The Critical Difference Between Effective and Ineffective Leadership

Whether you're running your first and only location or multiple locations, leadership is all about the use of power and influence to produce results. Power and influence are also the keys to effective leadership. Power comes from the organizational chart - can you make people comply with your directives? (sometimes called accountability); and influence comes from inside the person - do you have what it takes to get people to commit to your dreams? (sometimes called dependability). How well and how often you choose between those two styles usually determines your effectiveness as a leader.

Knowing how to balance and when to use these two keys is critical. If you've populated your employee base with people who currently lack the behavior, attitudes, skills, knowledge, experience, and talent to meet your expectations then you will more than likely find yourself believing that the local unemployment index is too low and that someone else must have all the good people who live and work in your business communities. As a result, you may find yourself relying almost exclusively on power and accountability as a way of forcing your staff to comply with your directives to get even a close approximation of the results you want in terms of productivity and profitability.

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As Seen in NCM Institute - Generational Tensions: 4 Barriers to Automotive Leadership

As Seen in NCM Institute - Generational Tensions: 4 Barriers to Automotive Leadership

Ensuring the future success and sustainability of a dealership is not based solely on operational knowledge and efficiencies. In addition to creating robust processes, identifying and developing future leaders is critical to building sustainable dealership value. But first, you must overcome the leadership barriers that sabotage your goals..

In the past, when someone took on the position of “dealer,” it was assumed employees would fall in line and follow the owner’s lead. Today, with up to five generations working together at the same dealership, this expectation doesn’t hold true. Instead, good people check out or leave after a transition in leadership if they don’t feel respected for their contributions and see opportunities for growth.

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Managing The Changes That Come With Multi-Unit Growth

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Managing The Changes That Come With Multi-Unit Growth

Growth is not only about driving more profit, it's also about building a portfolio of locations, and to many, a diversity of brands. In the beginning, it is very easy to devote all your time to the first location. But before you know it you are on to your second. You find you are able to split your time between the two and still run the operations as you wish. It's when you move into the third, fourth, and so on that you start to notice a change. Multiple locations for franchisees offer extreme opportunity, but without a growth plan, multi-unit and multi-brand ownership creates challenges to performance.

One of the biggest challenges is analyzing how you sustain growth, while also looking for continued expansion without killing yourself trying to be everything to every location, brand, or business unit. Regardless of the size or diversity of your business, when you look at your strategic plan in terms of where you would like to be, there are key questions that need answering to ensure you can support, sustain, and continue to grow.

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Reputation Management On The Local Level

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Reputation Management On The Local Level

Like all businesses, the franchise world is full of opportunities and potential land mines. If you entered the franchise world for the same reasons I did, you were probably looking for something in your area of interest that met several criteria: brand recognition; proven market; franchisee friendly policies; and processes, services, or products that could be easily replicated once you paid your fees and had access to the brand's secrets. After all, isn't replicating the proven easier than starting alone from scratch?

In some ways, a franchise is a sail that pulls us along until we really know what we are doing and where we are going. Certainly, there are some tradeoffs, like giving up some control that non-franchisees have over their businesses. And many times, the level of influence you'd like to have over the business is just not possible because you do not hold the authority that comes with a privately held business operation. As a result, logos, color schemes, promotional materials, and menus become someone else's sphere of influence.

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Mapping Out The Road To Success

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Mapping Out The Road To Success

The only thing that we can rely on to be constant is change. The political environment is forcing rapid change like we've never seen before. No question that technology continues to evolve in a way that forces us to embrace it or simply get left behind. Demographics are changing with a record number of Boomers who are set to retire in the next few years, causing anxiety for many about who may be their future leader..

A change in leadership brings with it, a distinct change in style. Everyone is unique with their own personality type that impacts inter-office relationship dynamics, how departments operate, as well as how the organization goes to market. There are differences in tastes, motivators, expectations of employees, and even what one views as success or failure. These changes in styles and leadership are going to become more abundant as newer generations develop and move into leadership roles in the workplace.

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - A Trump Effect On Your Estate Taxes?

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - A Trump Effect On Your Estate Taxes?

While it is still way too early to know what the Trump administration is going to do to change the federal estate tax laws, we do know President Trump stated on the campaign trail that he will eliminate estate taxes and we also know how Congress has acted in the past. So let's have a little fun speculating and assuming.

When it comes to the estate tax issue, Republicans claim they are against this tax and Democrats favor it. However, the largest reduction of estate taxes occurred in 2011 under President Obama. During this time, the estate tax laws were amended to increase the exemption per person to $5,000,000 including an annual escalator of the exemption based on inflation. As a result, in 2017, the estate tax exemption has increased to $5,490,000 per person or almost $11M per married couple. Due to the amendments in 2011, the estate taxes today are the lowest ever and affect less Americans than ever before, approximately 0.5 percent of the population. Politically this has been a tough out, since it doesn't affect most voters. Nevertheless, if your estate will have to pay estate taxes, you'd just as soon not.

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Moving From Planning To Executing

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Moving From Planning To Executing

No one really knows the outcome of anything and we are seeing that play out in our country’s current political stage. Too often this keeps us from strategically planning for where we want our business to go and what we want from it in the future. However, the unknowns and the unpredictable should not keep us from looking forward, rather, they enforce the need to constantly be planning strategically towards your goals and vision.

We use excuses such as “the unknowns” to stop us from executing plans. Or believe that because we cannot predict something, we cannot guarantee if we will be successful or not. However, not planning and not executing means that we are in limbo, which means the odds of accomplishing great things are pretty bleak. Strategic planning guarantees that you place your franchise business in the position of being agile and flexible when the unknowns and the unpredictable hits. This is a much better alternative than yo-yoing with the market and political changes over which we have no control.

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Prepare For The Future With Strategic Planning

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Prepare For The Future With Strategic Planning

2016 was a challenging year. Between proposed legislation impacting family gifting (IRS 2704), the DOL legislation impacting overtime, and the political uncertainty of the election, it is surprising that all our heads have not spun off our bodies. One of the biggest pain points of 2016 that could leave a lasting burn into 2017 is all the speculation around proposed legislations. Many of you last year were likely either chewing on your fingers with panic or moving towards action to button up your estate plans and shoring up HR policies. Now, after all that work, we find ourselves with a new party in office. That could mean that much of the proposed legislation could be reversed, may not go into effect, or may not go into effect to the extent you had planned.

So now what? If you have pro-actively engaged in planning, take a sigh of relief. You are likely in a strong position to adjust to whatever 2017 may (and will) throw at you. It is no secret that we are huge proponents of strategic planning, specifically the kind where you have integrated the plan into your culture, tied performance criteria to achieving the plan, and are actively reviewing your trajectory compared to available resources. We believe it keeps you agile and in the ready position to tackle whatever may be thrown at you – economic, political, regulatory, recruitment and retention, process/procedure - you name it.

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As Seen in Mitzi Perdue's Blog - Substance Abuse and the Family Business: the Problem Doesn’t Go Away on Its Own!

As Seen in Mitzi Perdue's Blog - Substance Abuse and the Family Business: the Problem Doesn’t Go Away on Its Own!

This month's blog post by Mitzi Perdue, “Substance Abuse and the Family Business: the Problem Doesn’t Go Away on Its Own!” features The Rawls Group’s, Loyd Rawls. Read more about how substance abuse can harm not only the family, but the family business in this month's blog post.

When it comes to substance abuse, members of a family business are no more immune than the rest of the population. However, as family business advisor Loyd Rawls points out, the consequences can be more dire because serious abuse problems can threaten the entire company.

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Get Ready For The Next Four Years Now

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Get Ready For The Next Four Years Now

The election is over and the 45th president of the United States will be sworn into office this week. Regardless of your political affiliation, a dynamic shift is upon us. We are transitioning from eight years of Democratic policy to a new era of Republican leadership. In addition to the change in party lines, we will have the first president in office that is one of the most recognized business names in the world and promises to run the government more like a business.

So now what do we do to prepare for any changes in the business climate? Put your pen to paper and get moving on your strategic plan. This means that if you have not yet established a plan for your business, you can consider the priority here to be that of critical. If you have a strategic plan in place but have not looked at it in the last three to five years, you are not getting off easy. Understand that what we have grown used to in the last eight years in terms of policy, legislation, business structure, and taxation, are all likely to change. This also means that any planning you have done as it relates to the prior administration, probably will need to be revisited and adjusted accordingly.

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Strategies To Create Harmonious Business Families During the Holidays

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Strategies To Create Harmonious Business Families During the Holidays

Many franchise owners go into business with or employ close friends and family simply because there is an existing trust factor. As mentioned in one of our previous articles, "Family Business Perspective Matters," you don't have to be blood related to be considered a family business.

The last two months of the year offer more time together with loved ones than any other time of the year. For multi-unit franchisee business owners who view their partners, senior executives, or staff as close friends or family, this means that it often also brings a bit more of a challenge to navigating relationships and work environments. Working with close friends, family, or colleagues who have grown to feel like both, means that you are inheriting all the customary behaviors, habits, and routines that develop between those you care about. Familial-like bonds provide us with personal fulfillment outside of the office and can translate into building management teamwork in the workplace. However, the downside to personal bonds in business is, without clear expectations, role responsibilities, and performance criteria, it is an environment that can harbor attitudes of entitlement and resentment. Personal bonds often make it difficult to hold each other accountable from a business perspective. Even though we make the decision to handle working relationships with intentions of keeping it strictly business, without purposeful facilitation, it never ends up working out as planned.

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Succeeding at Succession

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Succeeding at Succession

This month’s Multi-Unit Franchisee article, “Succeeding at Succession” was written by Helen Bond and features The Rawls Group’s, Kendall Rawls. Read more about how transition your business and build a successful future with succession planning in the article below.

For Wanda Sieber, what began as an ordinary phone call became a wake-up call. The person who answered the phone told Sieber that the owner of the business she'd called had died unexpectedly, adding "We don't even know if we're going to have jobs tomorrow." Putting off succession planning is not unusual for multi-unit franchisees, who are preoccupied with running their everyday business--not when they will hand over the reins, whether through careful planning or an unexpected event. And as more Baby Boomers inch into retirement, the need to plan for succession has never been more acute.

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As Seen in Digital Dealer - Why Equal is Not Fair

As Seen in Digital Dealer - Why Equal is Not Fair

“But I love all my kids equally and I want to treat them fairly!” exclaimed Ted, the exasperated business owner who was trying to figure out his estate plan. This sentiment is voiced over and over by my dealer clients leading to many discussions on ‘why equal is not fair’! It’s easy to relate to this concern as most of us have experienced what I call ‘the Christmas/Hanukkah Syndrome.’ That happens as you lay out your gifts on your bed or table and start figuring out whether you have bought the right number of gifts. “Let’s see, I have 3 gifts for John, but only 2 for Hannah, but the 2 for Hannah cost more than the 3 for John – how do I make this work?” When we apply the same thinking to our estate planning it can really get crazy.

I believe it is important to remember that when your children were growing up, you didn’t say, “I just paid $5,000 for braces for Ken, therefore I need to spend $5,000 on each of my other kids.” Clearly, you spent money for braces for Ken because they were needed and would do the same for your other children depending on their needs.

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Entitlement Is A Silent Killer Of Business

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Entitlement Is A Silent Killer Of Business

Entitlement is a stealthy and dangerous virus that has a widespread and abundant impact in your business. Often it becomes so rampant and normal that multi-unit franchisee owners do not even know there are any entitlement issues going on right in front of them.

Let's start with understanding entitlement. Simply, it is when an individual believes they deserve to be treated differently than the rest of those around them. In business, entitlement exists when an employee or senior executive believes they should receive better or different treatment than their coworkers. There are a number of examples, but there are a few that have significant impact.

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Understanding Private Equity - What You Should Know Before You Jump In!

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Understanding Private Equity - What You Should Know Before You Jump In!

Private equity firms are an active force in the industry due to the rewarding investment opportunity the franchise business possess. They use their capital as a strategy for growth, or provide it as an option to those looking for a way out. There is no doubt that as a franchise owner, private equity (PE) provides you options. However, if you find yourself considering PE as a strategy, make sure you understand some of the unintended consequences in relation to your purpose and future business vision.

As an operator who is looking to grow, PE can be attractive. They can be your financial partner providing the capital resources necessary for growth, but without careful consideration you can also find yourself in your worst nightmare. Before you make a commitment to a PE partnership, it is critical to consider and understand the rules of engagement. Simply, make sure you know how to form the appropriate partnership in regards to your goals, and how you get out of it.

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Investing in Recruiting and Retention Programs

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Investing in Recruiting and Retention Programs

Starting December 1, 2016, our industry faces potential impacts from new labor laws, one of which includes creating additional retention challenges to our already stressed talent pool in the franchise industry. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is making significant changes to overtime pay for employees. As outlined in the article, “New Overtime Rule Compels Problems for Franchisees,” the change means that it is going to force employers to shift the pay status of their employees from salaried to hourly.

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