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  • johannaj59

Careful when the wind changes direction

Here are a couple of fictitious scenarios. First, I rather improbably get made the Operations Director of a small dealer group (you can see why I used the word "fictitious").  I quickly find out it has been badly run for years. Their franchises should mean the group is highly profitable, but it isn't. The staff have received almost no training and, to put it kindly, are well meaning but bumblingly incompetent.    The owner struggles from hand to mouth because he doesn't realise that, with the right direction, the business can be unlocked and make him a lot money. But he'll have to get his act together before the manufacturers pull out. The second scenario, a small rural dealer has a very experienced local staff.  They are not the most efficient but they love their work.  It is owned by an owner who is also local, on the council, popular and who has owned the freehold for years. The owner doesn't put on too much pressure because everyone is doing their best. They get great CSI scores because their clientele are all local too - they know the people, they do their best, don't charge too much and if anything goes wrong, which it does, they know they'll put it right. The business puts a lot into local projects, gives away plenty of free shirts, umbrellas and other merchandise. In short, Rural Motors is part of the community and is well respected, if a bit quirky and inefficient. Then everything changes. Under pressure from outside, maybe the manufacturer or the bank, a one time cleric and preacher, as well as a very respected recruitment consultant and industry expert (I'll keep the fictitious bit going) Guy Liddall is appointed as operations manager. In both scenarios (or are they the same?) GL rides in on his white charger.  He changes the company focus overnight. All of a sudden everyone is under review, under pressure. The staff are now anything but settled but the business becomes profitable as they start charging the right price for the job. But customers are also unsettled - they don't like the way their friends are being treated, they don't react favorably to bigger bills and the distinct commercial attitude.  CSI plummets as profits rise. And then the employment tribunals start landing on the owner's desk - constructive dismissal, age discrimnation, grievances etc. The cat is well and truly amongst the pigeons. But this type of management and cultural change is played out across the UK every day, the motor industry, in the Health Service, in Local Government or any sector to be fair. Changes in Senior Management or ownership will often cause this stress. Because such changes mean changes in allegiances - all the old certainties have disappeared. But think about the problems for the new management too. The banks are closing in, the manufacturer has threatened to withdraw. So things have to change. But is it right?

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