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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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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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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 Digital Dealer - Think Big

As Seen in Digital Dealer - Think Big

When starting out in business, most do not naturally look forward to the future and ask, “What do I want my legacy to be, and who will fill my shoes?” Rather, as entrepreneurs, we look at how we can get a business up and running, be profitable, and hopefully live a rewarding lifestyle. It is not until we are looking at what “next” looks like that we start to consider what we want to leave behind. And often, by the time we are looking at what’s “next,” we find ourselves a few steps behind the curve in planning for an effective leadership transition.

Even for those that are ahead of the curve in planning for “what’s next”, there is often a fear of failure. The fear that no one can run the business like you do causes many to get stuck in a rut, creating blinders to untapped resources and obstacles towards development of next generation leaders. Yet today, dealers have exponential opportunity to properly identify and develop their future leaders. To do this, however, you must embrace your vision, build out a leadership transition plan, and position the right leader for success to one-day fill your shoes.

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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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Who Will Be the Leader?

Ensuring the future success and sustainability of a dealership is not based solely on operational knowledge and efficiencies. In fact, identifying and developing future leaders is critical to building sustainable dealership value. This involves overcoming leadership barriers that lurk in areas that most tend to overlook.

No longer is auto industry knowledge and experience enough to sustain and lead a dealership into the future. Innovations in technology, a lingering fear of economic uncertainty, ongoing regulatory changes and generational perspectives of “old school” and “new school” way of thinking can build organizational tension, impacting performance. Therefore, what may have been good enough previously is no longer good enough to lead your organization into the future.

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As Seen in Automotive Buy Sell Report - How to meet the consolidators head-on in the dealership consolidation game

As Seen in Automotive Buy Sell Report - How to meet the consolidators head-on in the dealership consolidation game

Most owners and leaders of privately-held dealerships are wondering what’s going on with the publicly-held dealership groups as they engage in consolidation. These consolidators generally look down upon the privately-held dealerships as competitors because “I previously fired most of their employees”. Furthermore, there is general resentment that the local “dealer club” has been disrupted by “hired guns” working for a hieratical potentate, neither of whom have any idea of the sacrifices required to build a successful dealership.

However, before those of you who own between 1 to 30 roof-tops assume the consolidators are circling the drain, you should consider they have a plan. If you do not understand their “game”, one day you may discover the water is about to boil and your goose is cooked without ever understanding what happened.

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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 Digital Dealer - A Sad or Celebratory Day?

As Seen in Digital Dealer - A Sad or Celebratory Day?

Some people may skip this article because they consider they take pride in not sweating the small stuff. After all, there are a great many consultants and gurus who consistently preach the message of “don’t sweat the small stuff…and, by the way, it’s all small stuff.” Good for them; they may have become successful by following that counsel. If you are one of those fortunate souls, congratulations.

If you are having trouble expanding your market, keeping people productive, growing your bottom line, and building lasting relationships with family members, clients, customers, vendors, and strategic partners, then you may want to consider sweating the small stuff. It’s the small stuff that makes the difference.

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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 Automotive Buy Sell Report - Cultural due diligence an important step in a dealership buy sell

As Seen in Automotive Buy Sell Report - Cultural due diligence an important step in a dealership buy sell

If you are in a growth spurt fueled by mergers and acquisitions, here is a story that is worth your time. On a recent flight I sat next to someone who had just moved to a new position within a different auto dealer organization. As we talked about his decision, he made it clear that he left because his company had been acquired or merged with a former competitor. “It all seemed like a wonderful opportunity before the deal took effect. Then reality set in, and after about six weeks I put myself on the market. I could hardly stand what the new dealer company was doing with and to our customers, to those of us who had helped our former company grow, and to the culture we had and respected. We just weren’t us anymore!”

To some, that may sound like whining. Perhaps it was, but as I listened to this story it began sound more and more like a case of solid financial due diligence with little to no cultural due diligence. There is no way to predict how this will turn out in the long run; but if my flight companion’s company was purchased in hopes of also acquiring additional talent and other non-financial resources, someone is going to be disappointed. If your auto dealer group’s growth strategy relies mostly on acquisition, here are some Cultural Due Diligence considerations that bear your consideration.

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The Rawls Group Appoints David Ciambella as President and Chief Executive Officer

 

The Rawls Group, one of the nation’s most respected business succession planning firms, is proud to announce that David Ciambella has been named President and Chief Executive Officer. Initiating the firm’s succession plan, this move was effective January 1, 2017, with Loyd Rawls, the founder transitioning to Chairman of the Board.

“David has a relentless passion for succession planning. As a proven leader, he is committed to the growth of The Rawls Group and the acknowledgement of TRG as the global standard for succession planning.” said Loyd Rawls, Chairman. “David’s history and experience with our firm, combined with his receptiveness to new challenges and opportunities will ensure that TRG will continue to set the benchmark for succession planning into the future.”

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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 Digital Dealer - Business Growth Comes from Sweating the Small Stuff

As Seen in Digital Dealer - Business Growth Comes from Sweating the Small Stuff

Some people may skip this article because they consider they take pride in not sweating the small stuff. After all, there are a great many consultants and gurus who consistently preach the message of “don’t sweat the small stuff…and, by the way, it’s all small stuff.” Good for them; they may have become successful by following that counsel. If you are one of those fortunate souls, congratulations.

If you are having trouble expanding your market, keeping people productive, growing your bottom line, and building lasting relationships with family members, clients, customers, vendors, and strategic partners, then you may want to consider sweating the small stuff. It’s the small stuff that makes the difference.

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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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