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Dr. Merlot’s Perspective: Finding Holiday Cheer

As we enter the holiday season, I reflect on the past year and all the Merlot enjoyed, pontifications with friends, and memories created. I have enjoyed working through some significant client challenges, helping them right the ship out of the storm, and of course beating Loyd at golf is always a memory worth cherishing.

We have experienced a year filled with some challenges with hurricanes, flooding, fires, shootings, and political unrest. However, we have also seen a year of exponential growth in our economy and record highs with the stock market. Industries, that just several years ago were flailing, are now thriving. Technologies continue to develop new and innovative ways to work and live. And entrepreneurship and home ownership are attainable.

I often find myself working clients “out of the dumps” with the 24-hour news cycle. Too often, we are faced with only the messages of negativity, and all that is positive is being lost. It is for this reason, I challenge us all to spend some time reflecting this holiday season on the silver linings and uplifting events we have experienced in the last year.

For example, with mother nature being a force to be reckoned with this year, one of the most amazing outcomes our clients and I witnessed, was communities coming together. Strangers helping their neighbors, businesses helping their communities and non-affected individuals and companies banding together to help. We may not all have the same opinions and beliefs. But what we all do when it matters most, is care for and take care of our communities and our people..

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Dr. Merlot’s Perspective: Changing Face of Leadership

Loyd and I have not had the opportunity to get together as much as I would like over the last several weeks. Between our work schedules and the fact that he had surgery, not once, but twice, we have not been doing our regular golfing or commiserating. It does not mean that we have not been jabbing at each other whenever we get the chance, we just have not been on the golf course or having dinner where we can just sit and contemplate the problems of privately held businesses as much as we like.

Talking to Loyd recently, the subject of leadership came up and we reminisced about what “leaders” have looked like through the years we’ve been working with them. We could not help but think about how much the roles have changed from what was in the 70’s and 80’s what seemed like a “good ‘ole boy” style to where we are today. To clarify, when I say “good ‘ole boy” what I mean is business owners having power and influence through their relationships with their various sources that touch the business.

Today, that mantra of leadership has long since passed. We can blame some of it on the economic turn in 2008-2009, but all blame does not fall entirely there. The downturn did cause manufacturers and franchisers and business owners to face the hard fact that relationships, although important, will not sustain your business in a downturn. So, you could say that what we experience then has probably helped us prepare for what we are experiencing today, but it is not the most significant change we are seeing.

Working with second and third generation owned businesses, we run into a common theme of trying to run the business the way it has always been run. But what is taking place is a rapid change of leadership due to the expansive retirement of Baby Boomers. Combine this with the next generation of leaders that require leading and doing business differently. I like to call this a paradigm shift. Not only are we being forced to change the way we lead due to market changes, but we are being required to change the way we lead due to how the up and coming leaders wish to lead.

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As Seen On #AskNCM: How Do I Make My Dealership Successful?

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As Seen On #AskNCM: What do people want from a leader?

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As Seen in Digital Dealer - Increasing Leadership Effectiveness: It’s Simple (But Not Necessarily Easy)!

As Seen in Digital Dealer - Increasing Leadership Effectiveness: It’s Simple (But Not Necessarily Easy)!

Think of the most effective leader you’ve known or read about? What characteristics made that person come to mind? Pick up any magazine, journal, or periodical and you’ll probably find one or more articles that talk about desirable leadership best practices and/or about becoming a better and more effective leader. Most of those articles make leadership sound like a mystical process that blends heart and head into someone who magically morphs into a super powerful, charismatic, influential, and bottom line human being. And the authors sometimes seem more concerned with whether a leader is good or bad than with whether or not the leader actually makes something happen.

Let’s take “good” and “bad” out of the picture for a moment. Instead, let’s focus on effectiveness and ineffectiveness. Can the same leader be effective and ineffective? Does it matter who’s being led? Do skill levels of the followers make a difference? Does individual willingness to follow make a difference?

Well, the answer to all four questions is yes. What comes first, however, is understanding what leaders actually do. In simplest terms, leaders use power and influence to produce results. Period. And everyone leads one or more someones, even if it’s only themselves. When led effectively, people and organizations grow. When led ineffectively, people labor and organizations can feel like a prison.

Read the complete article on the Digital Dealer Website website

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As Seen On #AskNCM: How Do I Mentor a Family Member Employee?

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Success Requires More Than Operational Knowledge and Capital

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Success Requires More Than Operational Knowledge and Capital

Driving value in business is dependent on a variety of factors. Previously, we identified four key areas for building tangible and perceived value in a franchise operations:

  • Relationships
  • Lending
  • Operations
  • Leadership

All of these are critical but without strong leadership and operations, the ability to receive lending and build relationships will be impacted.

Leadership in today's organizations is drastically different than in prior generations. No longer can we rely on how it's been done to keep us moving forward into the future. Rather, there needs to be focused intentionality in areas where franchisees have never really had to pay much attention. Here are three areas in which leadership is changing and how you can set your franchise locations up for success.

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

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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 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 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Webinar Recording - Building a Strong Dealership in a Changing Industry

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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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