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The Impacts of Family Dynamics on the Transition of Leadership in a Multi-Generational Dealership

In a collaborative effort to demonstrate some common roadblocks that both DHG Dealerships and The Rawls Group often sees within family-run dealership clients who are in the process of making leadership changes, this case study will briefly analyze the family dynamics between Sam (dealer) and his son, Mark.

Background

At 80 years-old, Sam is the majority owner and CEO of his family-run dealership. While Sam remains active in business operations and decisions, the time he spends at the dealership is gradually decreasing as he currently works about one or two days per week. Sam’s management team is very loyal; however, the micromanagement style of leadership he implements has proved to be a difficult challenge to overcome for his 50-year-old son, Mark, who serves as the stockholder “dealer” and is ready to start exercising more control.

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Dr. Merlot’s Perspective: Generational Differences Impacting Teamwork - Advice to Millennial's and Baby Boomers

When Loyd and I met last, we discussed Millennials and Boomers on a quick puddle jumper as best we could over the loud engines.

As a refresher, over the last couple of months, Loyd and I have focused our discussions on overcoming generational differences in the workplace. In December, we discussed influences responsible for shaping generational perspectives. January’s discussion was geared towards advice to Boomers about Millennials, and February focused on advice to Millennials about Boomers.

Today we are meeting at the rental car terminal on our way to meet with a client on this very topic. Our client is experiencing tension in the workplace between what the client is referring to as “old school” and “new school” ways of thinking. Over the last couple of months, our client has fielded multiple meetings on the topic. Frustrated and noticing a dip in productivity and team morale, he called us in to quickly “nip this thing in the bud.”

Once we found ourselves to the rental car and got our wits about us, Loyd asked: “So as we are driving towards what could be an emotional mess, how are you thinking of approaching the perspectives of “old” and “new” school thinker/team members?

Well Loyd, I started; you and I have had rich dialogue on how both Millennials and Boomers could expand their thinking about the other. What I would add to those discussions would be something to the tune of….

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Dr. Merlot’s Perspective: Generational Differences Impacting Teamwork - Advice to Millennial's about Baby Boomers

For the last couple of month’s Loyd and I have been discussing generational differences and how to overcome issues they often create in the workplace. Loyd initially posed the question to me in December, but since this was such a big topic, we decided to break up the conversation into a 4-part series; tackling one topic at a time.

In December, Loyd and I discussed outside influences responsible for shaping generational perspectives on areas such as work-ethic, communication and technology. And in January, Loyd geared the discussion towards what advice would I give to Boomers and Millennials. So, as I sit here in the airport waiting for Loyd to meet me for our connecting flight; I am pondering what could be Loyd's next question.

Loyd walks up, we say our hello’s, board the plane and as soon as we get to 10,000 feet, Loyd gets right to it. “Say Doc, not a lot of time on this puddle jumper, so let’s move on with this discussion on generational issues. Last month we focused on advice to Boomers about Millennials, so what insight do you have for Millennials working with Boomers?

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Dr. Merlot’s Perspective: Generational Differences Impacting Teamwork - Boomer Perspectives about Millennial’s

The last time Loyd and I were together, Loyd posed a question in regards to Overcoming Generational Issues Impacting Teamwork - “How do privately held businesses overcome the generational issues that have a direct impact on teamwork and business performance?” Loyd can never just ask a simple question. ”

Knowing that we could not answer this in one sit-down and one glass of wine, we decided to tackle the topic in a four-part series focused on:

  • Boomer perspective about Millennial’s
  • Millennial perspective about Boomers
  • Advice to Both
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Dr. Merlot’s Perspective: Overcoming Generational Differences Impacting Teamwork

We have looked at sibling partnerships under stress, my perspective on the impact gender has on leadership and teamwork, and my thoughts on gender bias in the workplace. In this installment, I have mixed it up just a little, thanks to my buddy Loyd, who felt it would be a good idea to bring the “generation” conversation to the table. His question to me was, “How do privately held businesses overcome the generational issues that have a direct impact on teamwork and business performance?”

Knowing that I could not answer this in one sit-down and one glass of wine, this four-part series will focus on:

  • Boomer perspective about Millennial’s
  • Millennial perspective about Boomers
  • Advice to Both
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Dr. Merlot’s Perspective: Overcoming Sibling Partnerships Under Stress

Picking up where we left off from my last post….

In typical Loyd fashion, just before hanging up from our phone conversation focused on Gender’s Impact on Leadership and Teamwork, he left me with a zinger - “What if siblings in business are not willing to recognize each other’s contributions to build a strong partnership?” After working through the previous gender topics I was grateful to have a few days to think about his heavy question.

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Creating Harmony in Sibling Partnerships

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Creating Harmony in Sibling Partnerships

Sibling partnerships create a dynamic environment - especially when managing relationships in a highly competitive multi-unit franchisee organization. Everything can feel personal because nothing can be "just business."

Read the complete article on the Multi-Unit Franchisee Report website

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Dr. Merlot’s Perspective: Gender's Impact on Leadership and Teamwork

Looking at how male vs. female psyche works, there is no doubt they are different. In fact, a popular analogy to describe these differences is “Men are like Waffles and Woman are like Spaghetti.” Coined by bestselling authors – Bill and Pam Farrel, their analogy provides imagery of how men create boundaries around issues and areas of life, where woman approach decision making and life like a plate of spaghetti – no defined boundaries and one issue can blend into another.

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As Seen in Digital Dealer Magazine - Family and Business Separation – Is it Possible?

As Seen in Digital Dealer Magazine - Family and Business Separation – Is it Possible?

In a family-owned automobile business, the dealership and general business dynamics often become the center of family interaction.  Read Amy's unique perspective on how to create boundaries between family and business from her experience as a family member employee in her family's business. 

Read the complete article on the Dealer Magazine website

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Dr. Merlot’s Perspective on Gender Bias in the Workplace

Natural May Not Be Obvious

Known for offering up the truth of the matter, let’s get right to the point and address a trend that I am seeing more often than I would like. Gender bias in the workplace. Yup. I said it. It’s out there, and if you are reading this, then you have experienced it, have seen it, or perhaps are a participant in it. Regardless of where you stand, let’s take a look into how your business may intentionally or unintentionally be impacted.

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As Seen in Digital Dealer Magazine - Finding Your Place in the Family Business

Finding your role in a family-owned dealership can be a difficult task. Not everyone is cut out or may care to take on the responsibilities of Successor/Owner, so where do you fit?

Read the complete article on the Dealer Magazine website

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Don’t Put the TITLE in Entitlement!

“Executive Manager,” “Director of the Custodial Arts,” “Chief Comradery Officer,” “General Associate Vice President” – Sweet titles, but what do they mean? Nothing without a job description. Unfortunately, a common family business mistake is endowing an important sounding title on someone in order to justify a paycheck that isn’t being earned.

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How to Build Respect for Your Successor Amongst the Management Team

Pride and heartfelt emotions are often factors when a business leader assesses his/her successor’s ability. Therefore, honest management feedback regarding a successor’s performance is a valuable piece of the succession planning puzzle. However, getting reliable feedback from management may be difficult unless the business culture supports open communication and an empowered management team. Ultimately, they are the ones who will be going to battle with the successor and their buy-in will be proportionate to their voice in the process. Management loyalty is not a company asset that gets re-titled to the successor!

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The Rawls Group to Present at Digital Dealer 19 Conference and Expo

The Rawls Group announces that they will be presenting at the Digital Dealer 19 Conference and Expo being held in Las Vegas October 5-7th, 2015.

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How to Overcome the "Perfect Family" illusion

Recently while attending a church service our preacher, Dr. Bob, delivered a sermon titled, “Behind The Manicured Hedges” that struck a chord personally and also as a professional family business succession planner. The preacher was referring to Winter Park, FL a largely affluent community consisting of families who have above average means, fabulous homes and impeccable landscaping surrounding their homes. Many who drive along the brick paved, tree lined streets are impressed with the meticulous landscaping and are somewhat envious thinking that these families have no issues or no problem that money cannot fix. If only that were true! The fact is, regardless of how perfect a family looks from the outside, all families have issues.

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Successors: Bring Value

Here's a new concept, Successors: Bring Value!

The opportunities are endless - your dealership is a multifaceted, financially complex business, employing hundreds of different types of people, and accounting for millions of dollars in sales. But when you dive deeper, these dealerships consist of unique mini-economies that compete and thrive off of one another. Each department can be viewed as an interdependent business seeking to generate profit and minimize loss. The front end focuses on sales and exists in a variable world; working with manufacturers to acquire the right product, to sell as many units as possible, at the right price, in order to generate the gross revenue that will result in profit to the bottom line. Conversely, the back end relies on fixed costs, associated with the number of cars that come through the dealership and maximizing the serviceable hours of employees to generate adequate profit to the bottom line. Then there is the unique used-cars world that takes on its own special circumstances in regards to its place in the dealership’s greater-economy. In addition are the ancillary businesses associated with dealerships such as outside insurance sales, collision centers, quick lubes, cafés, employee benefits, reinsurance programs, etc. that co-exist with the major departments and serve as additional profit centers. Each of these interdependent departments can be reviewed for their solvency on a single statement, but ultimately rely on one another to achieve success. In fact, when departments work synergistically, the overall dealership economy produces generous profits, functions seamlessly, and provides a stable source of employment to the local community. 

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Emotional Rescue: Understanding Relationship Dynamics in the Family Business

Recently one of my partners and I were facilitating a meeting between a father and his daughter to work through some mismatched expectations between them in the family business. We had already had several prep meetings laying the groundwork for aligning their expectations, which were all positive and headed in the right direction. They were both excited that we were going to be able to help them get some things out on the table, as they typically would avoid one another and leave issues unresolved.

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As Seen in Irrigation and Green Industry - Passing the Baton to the Next Generation

If you’ve decided that it’s time for your kids to take over the family business, there’s more to it than simply handing them the keys. You need to have a succession plan. We can’t give you a template, as there’s no single “right” way to do it. But you do need to have a plan. 

In a good succession plan, roles are clearly defined. “Everybody can’t run the company,” says Champ Rawls, associate planner at the Rawls Group, LLC, an Orlando, Florida-based succession-planning firm. “You have to clearly outline what everybody’s responsibilities will be.” 

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Setting Boundaries: How to Avoid Family Business Entanglements

A principle I'm reminded of on a daily basis is: “It is far easier to get entangled than it is to get untangled.” If you've ever tried to unravel a tangled up web of string you know what I'm talking about. Entanglement almost seems to be an effortless exercise whereas untangling can tax even the most patient of personalities.

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Successor Development - What About the Youngest?

Birth order can be a significant factor in many situations. Should it be relevant in the succession of your family business?

If you’re like most parents, you probably strive to treat your children equally, paying special attention so as not to create jealousy or the illusion of favoritism. Additionally, you want to equip each of them with all of the tools they will need to be successful in life. Unfortunately, reality has a funny way of making “equal” unattainable.

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