Build a Management Team that Drives Growth
“We’re only as good as the people we have on board with us,” says Bob Waldron, owner of three CARSTAR locations in Massachusetts. Waldron has spent the last two years implementing a training and culture program across his shops, with a major part of that being how he handles his managers. Waldron’s goal is to add a few more locations to his CARSTAR operation and according to him, whether or not that happens will come down to proper management.
Waldron believes in checking in with his managers and regularly assessing their performance. “I just feel that people can get into a comfort zone if they don’t have big brother checking on them every once in awhile,” he says.
That doesn’t mean you have to micromanage, Waldron adds. By hiring the right people, communicating, setting expectations and following through with acknowledgement, any operation can cultivate a management team that will drive growth.
Finding the Right Fit
Before a manager can succeed, he or she needs someone to take a chance and hire them. Before posting a job listing, an owner should decide what qualities he or she is looking for. For Waldron, it’s important for his managers to have people and computer skills, that they are self-motivated and good problem solvers. He says that having knowledge of the industry is important, but it’s not a must.
After the candidates have been narrowed down, it’s time to find the one that will be the best fit. Waldron, who has four businesses when including the express lane at one of his shops, says that being aware of your audience and location is key when selecting a manager.
“I have a manager that does a great job where he is, but he might not be as effective at a different location," Waldron says.
Finding the right chemistry is key, which is why after phone and in-person interviews, Waldron has the final candidates come in and spend the day at the shop, where they meet with staff and work through real-life scenarios.
“The general manager is responsible for staff. I am not at that store everyday. I find the right person, we get them trained. We get them all the support they need and then we take the training wheels off and let them go,” says Waldron.
With four businesses and four general managers, communication is essential for Waldron.
“The way I view my business, I have four employees. I manage four people so that they can go ahead and manage their staff.”
Waldron suggests setting up weekly conference calls so that everyone is on the same page. A few days before the conference call, an agenda goes out so that everyone knows what will be discussed. If anyone has anything to add to the agenda, they can do so at anytime. During the meeting, someone takes notes and minutes. Each conference call is about 45 minutes long.
In addition to the weekly conference calls, each general manager has a plan for every month, which includes the numbers they are expected to hit. Waldron set up all of his shop managers with Google calendars so that information can be shared and viewed by anyone at anytime. Waldron says that being involved with a franchise has been a big help in setting up systems that allow communications between shops.
Just as Waldron is expected to communicate with his general managers, they need to be communicating with the shop staff. Each shop has a release meeting everyday led by its general manager, and any concerns or notes from those are reported back to Waldron.
Good communication and setting clear expectations for staff go hand-in-hand, explains Waldron. Located in each manager's monthly schedule are their sales goals for the month. Each store is a different size, so the goals are different. Through the sharing of documents and emailed reports, managers always know where they stand. By keeping everything online and emailing reports, Waldron and his leadership team know where they are all the way through the month and whether or not they are on track to meet their goals.
“We concentrate more on management than we do on financials, because financials can be fixed through management,” says Waldron. On a quarterly basis, Waldron goes through and checks to see if his managers are doing everything that they’re supposed to. For example, he makes it clear that quality control inspections need to be done on every single job. To make sure this is being done, he performs random audits. “Are they getting everything signed? Pre-inspections done? File inspections done? Do we have all the final billing in place? I have a system that randomly pulls a report for me, which allows me to do all of this,” explains Waldron. Waldron says that it is the manager's responsibility to take the information provided in the reports and at the meetings and share it with the rest of the staff at each shop.
“Catch somebody doing something right,” says Waldron. That is the mantra at Waldron’s shops, where he makes sure to let his GMs know how they’re doing at all times. If they’re falling behind, Waldron is sure to follow-up, but he also recognized the importance of acknowledging a job well done.
“People want to be recognized, they don’t always want to be reprimanded,” he explains. “If something is wrong, you need to tell them the truth. Also, if things are good, you need to tell them the truth.”