Getting Stir-Crazy?

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The Paycheck Protection Program

Billions more dollars will be poured into the SBA’sPaycheck Protection Program if the House shows some rare bipartisanship and passes compromise legislation today. Money should be almost immediately available through local banks. However, dozens of publicly traded companies with greater access to capital still rushed to cash in for more than $380 million from PPP’s last round, according to The Wall Street Journal. Small businesses got the shaft, but will likely get more access to funds this time around, as Congress originally intended. If you haven’t been to your bank to get in line for a forgivable PPP loan, or you haven’t talked to your banker lately, do it today so you are not left out.

Local grants

Many community leaders are concerned about small businesses that have been forced to close. In response, they are creating unique local grant programs to help bridge the lack of income. For example, the city of St. Petersburg, Fla., created the “Fighting Chance Fund” to distribute modest amounts of cash to locally owned small businesses and their employees. These are $5,000 grants, not loans, and must be used to pay rent or mortgage, utilities, payroll and employee support. Meanwhile, nearby county governments, including Pinellas and Pascoe, have set up funding to offer grants to their small businesses. Check your state, county and city governments for similar new programs.

Insurance claims

When there’s billions of dollars floating around, it’s like a siren call tolobbyists from everywhere seeking everything. And federal and state efforts to help small businesses and employees survive the pandemic are spurring real lobbying battles — call it “diving for dollars.” For example, a clash is underway between lobbyists for restaurants andthose representing the insurance industry. Among others, restaurants and related suppliers are lobbying the administration and Congress to mandate that insurance companies cover “business interruption” claims, even if a policy excludes losses from, say, a pandemic. It’s a timely signal for marine dealers to carefully check their policies. There may be coverage for your current business interruption and loss of income.

Leadership

If there’s ever a time when good leadership is crucial, it’s during a crisis. So now is the time for every marine dealer to pause and assess what improvements in his or her leadership could result from the times we’re in. Among the really good authors and speakers on leadership is Dave Anderson, president of LearnToLead and the author of 15 books on the subject, preceded by an extensive career in the automotive retail business. Here are some of his recommendations:

  • Performance: Redefine expectations for everyone on the dealership team. In other words, minimum performance standards need to be clearly set or reset. Why? Clear standards mean you can hold team members accountable; not setting standards means you can’t.
  • People: Don’t keep hopeless people too long. There is no greater predictor of future performance than team members’ past performance. This is an opportunity to make a true assessment and take action where appropriate. Or as Anderson quips: “Out of millions of sperm, you were the fastest?”
  • The Ball: Carrying the ball alone isn’t the way to play the game and win. It’s important to let others make decisions and be the ball carriers, too. “Managers want to be needed; leaders want to be succeeded,” Anderson says. “The best leaders actually make fewer decisions. Get over yourself if you think you’re the only one who can make a decision — you’re grossly overrated.”
  • Winning: Always play to win; stop playing not to lose. There’s a huge difference. Too often tenure is rewarded instead of what most important: results. Real loyalty to the dealership is reflected in performance, not the time someone’s been there. You want winners on the team. Put another way: How can an employee burn out when they’ve never been on fire?
  • The Best: Spend time with your best, and less to the rest. Too often the leader will spend a disproportionate amount of time with a weak team member expecting this will improve performance. Odds are it won’t. Moreover, it reduces the time to spend with the top performers. Team members should be treated by the leader on the level they’ve earned.
  • Political correctness: Forget it! Leaders who are always concerned with political correctness are failing to give honest feedback, and that hurts the rest of the team. Today, there is a tendency to sugarcoat instead of telling the truth, thus failing to hold people accountable. Like every kid these days getting a trophy just for being there — no calling out excellence or achievement, lest someone else might be offended. The business leader’s responsibility isn’t just to make the team members feel happy; it’s to make them better. That means straight talk and honest feedback.
  • Blame game: To be a truly effective leader does not allow one to blame outside forces for a failure to succeed. A leader doesn’t do what’s easy, but must always make the toughest calls. He or she clearly communicates all decisions. The team is made better when they can see how an effective leader performs.

Bottom line: An effective leader succeeds in building a culture of high accountability for all team members, and that will translate into outstanding customer service, a desirable bottom line and longevity for everyone on the dealership team.

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