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How to Develop Leaders Within

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Small operators are often their own shop managers. Conducting day-to-day business while keeping up with big-picture management is possible with one or two shops in a network.

Growing into a larger network might require the help of a regional manager who can take on daily oversight. The skills of this person are key to a great operation.

“When you have a quality manager at the store level, your life gets so much easier,” says John Wafler, a peer group facilitator with RLO Training. “ I just see it over and over again. When that manager is not up to the level they need to be, replacing them is your better option.”

Whether replacing or hiring a new shop manager, owners can either promote from within or hire someone who’s new to the company.


Making a Manager

Wafler says that the top choice should be someone who knows the shop inside and out already—an internal promotion.

“You develop your leadership team from within is the best route,” he says. “They’ve already demonstrated that they've bought into your culture and you know them, having worked with them over a few years, what kind of a person they are and that they represent your company well. And those are unknown quantities when you hire somebody in from the outside.”

Of course, that may be easier said than done. All shops have different strengths and weaknesses for each person at each position. It might be tough to shuffle people around within a roster that’s working well.

“If you're growing rapidly, or if you’re a smaller operation running a tight ship trying to stay profitable, you don't have that extra cushion to be able to do that,” Wafler says.

In that case, a successful manager can also be found in an outside hire. It takes a lot of research to find the right candidate.

Even with a manager in place it’s always a good idea to develop people within your organization so they’re ready to take on new opportunities whenever needed.

“You should always be looking for good leadership qualities within your current operation,” Wafler says. “Give them a path to grow and nurture them, and grow them and don’t let someone just kinda die on the vine and take the opportunity with a different shop.”

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