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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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Whats the Trump Effect on Estate Taxes

Probably nothing, unless you plan to die soon! I happened to be with a client with whom I have worked since 1991, on the day President Trump was elected. That led us to examine the political climate over the past 26 years. We reminded ourselves that the 1980’s had been a Republican era (but Democrats had controlled at least one house of Congress). However, in 1992, President Clinton lead a Democratic sweep of the Congress. In 2000, President George W. Bush lead a Republican sweep followed by 2008, with President Obama sweeping the Democrats back into office, followed by the latest sweep by the Republicans under President Trump. Our country has been on a political roller coaster ride for the last three decades!

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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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Are You Suffering the Christmas/Hanukkah Syndrome?

“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’. “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?”

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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 Multi Unit Franchisee - Family Business Perspective Matters

As Seen in Multi Unit Franchisee - Family Business Perspective Matters

An owner's perspective about the purpose and who the business serves directly impacts culture, ability to recruit and retain good people, and drive performance - all of which influences customer perceptions, revenue, and profits. In the franchise industry, often times, multi-unit franchisees do not intuitively view themselves as a family business owner. This misperception can and does have an impact on overall business success, sustainability, and value

Read the complete article on the Multi Unit Franchisee website

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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 Multi-Unit Franchisee - True Business Success Requires Liquidity

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - True Business Success Requires Liquidity

Everyone feels the liquidity pinch some time or another. Growth, acquisitions, internal investments, taxes, and bonuses take capital and drain liquidity. With all of these needs using up your cash, it can be hard to set some aside for a rainy day, but that's just what you should be doing to ensure the future success of your business, says Champ Rawls.

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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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As Seen in Digital Dealer Magazine - Four Ways to Keep Peace in the Family Business

As Seen in Digital Dealer Magazine - Four Ways to Keep Peace in the Family Business

Owning a business is hard; owning a family business is even harder. Learn how to prevent and resolve family business conflicts with these four simple steps.

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Juggling Expectations in the Family Business - By Kendall Rawls

Being in the family business is no easy task. You are juggling expectations amongst your loved ones from two different spectrum – family and business– as well as preconceived notions from managers, employees and vendors that you are likely enabled, under-qualified, and of course, grew up with a silver spoon in your mouth. No matter your work ethic, passion, and drive for the business; all family member employees are fighting the nepotism stereotype.

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As Seen in Dealer Magazine - How Do I Deal With An Employed Spouse Who Causes Management Problems?

As Seen in Dealer Magazine - How Do I Deal With An Employed Spouse Who Causes Management Problems?

Loyd Rawls for Dealer Magazine about the Family Business Conundrum: you cannot run a family like a business and you cannot run a business like a family. But what if you work in the business with your spouse? Learn how to overcome the challenges that marriage and joint business operation present.

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Protect your Future by Planning in the Present

Most people believe that succession planning is synonymous with estate planning; wills, trusts, estate tax, life insurance, franchisor/manufacturer approval or gifts to family members. No doubt estate planning is an important component of succession planning. However, for anyone who has struggled with family squabbles, successor development, retaining and recruiting top talent, and unreasonable strategic partners I can assure you there is more to succession planning than estate planning. The best estate plan on the planet is no assurance of the continuation of business success.

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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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