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Dr. Merlot’s Perspective: Servant Leadership

The last discussion Loyd and I had revolved around leadership style. Specifically, we discussed the impact of those that manage from a position of power versus those who manage with personal influence. Today, businesses may hire employees, but what both the business and employee wants are to be team members. Therefore, a paradigm shift is taking place as it relates to managing people in a way that motivates and inspires.

In comes the practice of servant leadership. If I was in the grip of the grape with Loyd, I am sure he would tell you that servant leadership is how we work together. He believes very much that I serve him and that he serves me (and no, I am not just talking about the wine here).

Loyd had taken a few days off, which is a very rare occasion, so we took the opportunity to talk some smack on the golf course. On the 18th hole, just as I was taking a few practice swings, Loyd started to comment on my swing. Loyd had been riding my butt all day, so I could not help but look back at him in complete disgust. I was sure he was trying to flub me up because, since Loyd double bogeyed on 17, I was surely going to win by two strokes!

“Whoopsie, my bad,” Loyd let’s out with a devious smirk. I teed off, ball landed perfectly in the fairway and I started walking towards him with a confident swag and my club tightly gripped in my hand. Not knowing yet if I was going to smack him with it or not, he let out the question that was lingering in his mind. He mentioned our past discussions on leadership and wanted to know my perspective on leaders who miss the “servant” nature of leadership. Now I am intrigued.

After a few minutes, I responded to Loyd:

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Using Covenants To Build Teamwork and Performance

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Using Covenants To Build Teamwork and Performance

Contracts between parties have existed for centuries. Before contracts - there were agreements, or what we also call, covenants. Covenants go back to a time before our language was spoken or before words were printed. Old Testament biblical language showcases the first existence of a covenant between non-equal parties. I don't think anyone would make a case that Abraham and Yahweh were equals. Throughout history, we have seen how covenants have the power to transform. In business today, covenants play critical roles and they are especially powerful in privately owned businesses where relationships with outside influences, such as franchisors, have an impact on your success.

A covenant is an agreement between two parties wherein each agrees to what they are asking for, what they are offering, their commitment to live by their offer, and fulfill what is asked. The reason covenants add extreme value to the operation and growth of multi-unit franchisee businesses is sublimely simple: business leaders, managers, and employees need to make a plethora of decisions in the daily function. Covenants act as the foundation to which decisions are made, making the process simpler in the complex business environment of multi-unit/brand organizations.

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

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As Seen in Park Press: Hitting the Apex

As Seen in Park Press: Hitting the Apex

In all aspects of life, it is not about the destination, it is about the journey. Racing is a great analogy to this, as well as, to the longevity and sustainability of your business. Like a racer, every race brings with it a different set of challenges, but all races have the same expectation. Winning. Not just winning one race, but winning as many as you can so your reputation is strong to garner sponsorships and your team is committed to helping you win.

A business owner is very much like a racer. You take special care to ensure your business performs well. This means building the foundation of the business, as well as establishing a team to support growth efforts to help your business thrive. How you invest in your team impacts how the business performs and defines how you are able to support your family, your team, and community.

Like that racer, you’ve spent many long days and sleepless nights making improvements, working relentlessly to be the best and to bring out the best in others. Fine tuning things to win, thrive and sustain. Not without sacrifice, your family has felt the struggle while sharing in the success, and failures. Still, there are risks present that whether you are on the racetrack or running the business, being prepared for what may come is critical to protecting all you have worked so hard for. As the business owner, this means not just looking at where you are today, but also looking forward, just as a racer does going in a turn, to ensure you have built a business that will not only be successful today, but for years to come, even if you are no longer involved.

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As Seen in NCM Institute - Think Like an Owner

As Seen in NCM Institute - Think Like an Owner

Ownership, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is the state, relation, or fact of being an owner. Often, those who feel ownership of something take special care and feel great responsibility for it. If we dissect the definition of ownership a little more, it does not necessarily mean that one must “own,” but rather, there is a mindset of being or acting like an owner.

This “ownership attitude,” or lack thereof, can be seen in many dealerships. Some leaders may not own stock in the dealership but have ownership in areas of strategic initiatives, team motivation and collaboration, and show emotional investment in the achievement of the dealership’s mission. On the other hand, some leaders show up, fulfill their responsibilities, and get the job done. However, if a better gig presents itself across the street, they don’t hesitate to take the opportunity.

Read the complete article on the NCM Institute Website website

 

 

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As Seen in Automotive Buy Sell Report - Fostering an ownership mentality – drinking the organizational Kool-Aide

As Seen in Automotive Buy Sell Report - Fostering an ownership mentality – drinking the organizational Kool-Aide

Owning a business is not a simple task. Financial risks, anxiety over success, ensuring employees are taken care of, and all the tasks that go into leading and running a business are a heavy load for business owners. Add to this the continued rapid pace of change in our political, economic and technological environments creating more challenges, as well as opportunities.

Many entrepreneurs gain energy by taking on risk – it is the challenge that keeps them going, and we see this often with dealer principals. With this comes a very strong entrepreneurial focus – finding ways to revolutionize process and procedures to create more out of less, and taking exceptional care to nurture the appearance and brand of the organization.

Read the complete article on the Automotive Buy Sell Website website

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Solving the "Rubik's Cube" of Business

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Solving the "Rubik's Cube" of Business

Have you ever attempted to solve a Rubik’s Cube? The three-dimensional multi-colored toy invented by Erno Rubick was never intended to be a “toy.” In fact, he developed it for the purpose of teaching students how to solve the structural problem of moving independent parts, without the entire cube falling apart. But the teaching tool became a wildly popular toy.

If you are like me, you have tried it and know that once you get one side right and try to figure out another side, you then have to mess with what you first thought you’d solved. A few know the secret but most, like me, become frustrated. When I ask clients if they’re able to solve it, I get responses such as “Sure, just unpeel the color stickers!”

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

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As Seen in Digital Dealer - Successors: Getting out of the Middle

As Seen in Digital Dealer - Successors: Getting out of the Middle

With more family businesses then ever seeking succession through the next generation of family leadership, a change to a multigenerational management structure is occurring with regularity all over the country. Owners are counting on the seasoned professionals who have carried the day to day operations of dealership management for the past 20 plus years through a conservative approach. Their experience and reliability are depended on to continue selling cars, maximize margins, and maintain customer relationships. At the same time, many dealers understand the industry is changing and as they groom successors, are capitalizing and embracing a move to a modern approach to dealership management that focuses on innovative selling, advertising, managing and capitalizing on the customer experience.

As this generation of successor candidates emerge, they often find themselves caught in the middle of the “way it has been” and “where we want to go”. It becomes a true challenge of maintaining conservatism and innovation. Who are successors supposed to be as they work to gain respect, earn trust, perform at the top of their class while continuing to be humble. The goal is to be the best so there is no doubt he or she is the next leader of the organization, but the task at hand is to fly under the radar to not step on the toes of those currently in charge. It is a daunting, nearly impossible and often very frustrating task for all involved. Unreasonable expectations accompanied by a general lack of functional and productive communication between the two sides generally leads to extreme frustration.

Read the complete article on the Digital Dealer Website website

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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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Dr. Merlot’s Perspective: Leading from a place of Position vs Personal Power

I knew it was not going to take long for Loyd to get me back for my, ehhem, outburst the last time we spoke. How was I to know that he had the client on speaker, while golfing? Thankfully, the client did not seem offended as he ended the call with a little trash talk in expressing I am a better golfer than Loyd, which probably sent Loyd into golf orbit. I suspect Loyd has been practicing his game, since I was on my way to join him for a round while I was in Orlando.

Even though, Jack our client seemed fine at the end of our last conversation, I still couldn’t shake the feeling my Dr. Merlot “straight talk” had potentially offended him. Normally, I don’t care much because truth is truth and people need to hear it, but since I talked so freely not knowing Jack was on the phone in addressing Loyd’s question last month about “Is enhancement of personal lifestyle reasonable motivation for growth?” I was certain I had stepped in it somehow. This made me reflect more on a topic we are seeing more and more when clients are focused on building teamwork. What has become increasingly clear, especially with the multiple generations in a workspace, is the impact of tone and communication and how it relates to strong leadership.

Before Loyd could get his firs t-shot off, I thought this might be a good topic to dive into, while also offering myself up as the sacrificial token in a means of saying I was sorry. For the next eighteen holes, Loyd and I discussed how management style impacts people, attitude, recruitment and retention and overall culture of the business. Loyd also asked me to express my thoughts on leaders who try to rule from a place of positional power. Needless to say, this conversation took up the majority of our golf round, and could have continued into the dinner we had later that evening.

Loyd and I first focused our discussion on managers who “rule” from a place of positional power. What I shared with Loyd is it’s a touchy subject. It requires leaders to identify their style, and in most cases, make adjustments because positional power, or influence, is commonly a factual or implied superior role. We see it directly with owners, department managers, bosses, older siblings, or parents. It is, in simple terms, a “power” position where the leader uses their title or standing to influence those around them, and it often leads to malicious compliance.

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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.

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

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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?

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

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Dr. Merlot’s Perspective: Growth of Lifestyle Motivation for Business Growth

After an interesting golf game with Loyd, I was left contemplating why business owners often look at reasons other than their existing or potentially enhanced lifestyle when it comes to evaluating business growth. In the case of our conversation with Jack last month, Loyd and I had the opportunity to share with him why growth matters, even if the business is doing well. It is an easy area of confusion. If your business is in a good spot, you are making money, your people are happy and your bank account can sustain a future for you in retirement, why care about growth? A very simple answer is - life changes in a moment. What may look like is going well today, may in fact change in an instant. Therefore, if you are not constantly looking forward and trying to achieve more market share/growth, the lifestyle that you may wish to lead long after you have left the business, may not be a reality.

So, then we must take a look at motivation and understand as business owners, what is our real motivation to not only be in business, but to take on risk and continue to strategically grow and enhance the business to sustain the future? For some, it is likely to give back, develop people, contribute to the community, build something – which ultimately is to build a legacy.

Irony. Loyd happen to give my office a call as I was sitting here pondering this thought. I picked up the phone and answered, “Hey there, scratch golfer, to what do I owe the honor of your call?” With a slight chuckle, Loyd did what he does best. Without a hello, he simply asked me, “Is enhancement of personal lifestyle reasonable motivation for growth?”

I am not going to lie. I about fell off my chair because it was like he was in my head, and here I was thinking, I was the shrink in the relationship! I was not going to let Loyd one-up me, so I responded with,

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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.

Read the complete article on the Digital Dealer Website website

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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.

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

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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.

Read the complete article on the Automotive Buy Sell Website website

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Dr. Merlot’s Perspective: Motivations and Strategies for Business Growth

Loyd and I found ourselves both with a Friday free from client travel, so we decided to meet for a round of golf. I always love an opportunity to talk some smack to Loyd about his golf game.

We were rounding the turn to move to the 10th hole and ran into a friend of ours, Jack. We took a minute to catch up, giving updates on family and business. As Loyd and I were about to pull away, Jack asked if he could ask us a quick question about his business. Jack was scratching his head, so I could tell he was really struggling with something. In short, Jack had been in Board meetings the previous day, where most of the conversation focused on strategic planning and growth. Jack’s business had a strong customer base, reputation in the community and product/services. To him, he felt everything was great and his mentality was focused on sustaining success, but his Board members were more focused on growth. As such, Jack felt at odds with his Board and was struggling with the direction of the strategic plan. Other than a date confirmed for the next Board Meeting, there was no resolution or next steps identified at the end of the day. Knowing our backgrounds, Jack asked:

“If everything is going well, why is business growth so important, other than to fill someone’s ego or make more money? I need a compelling reason to take on the risk."

I opened my mouth to speak, but Loyd beat me to the punch.

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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.

Read the complete article on the NCM Institute Website website

 

 

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