What is the job of the business owner? In this installment three of four, we add to the tasks of the job described previously – especially in the areas of sales and finance.
In the last two installments we said that ownership is a passive verb. An owner has a right to a return on investment in both time and money. We found owning a business was much like owning a car – that it is limited in usefulness until someone drives the car. And we found that ownership is broader than the founder – that it extends to the entire business family who are stakeholders in these businesses regardless of whether they are stockholders. Most people confuse the title of owner with the function of the one person who runs the business – the function of General Manager. And, the job of the General Manager is to make and meet all budgets, report to stakeholders on the progress of the business and to maintain organization discipline and oversight. We also find that this function is only a part-time function in most of our shops. But, this isn’t the complete story. There are other roles held by the General Manager like recruiting and retaining workers; selling; negotiating price; and finance. Let’s review them to help round out our picture of the function of the General Manager.
Role in Recruiting and Retention of Workers
At the highest level of the business is the requirement to recruit and retain workers. I put this at the top simply because it is usually the owner who chases off good workers and creating the need to recruit in the first place.
An owner in the Midwest obtained sales training for his CSR’s and then asked one of them to do part-time outside sales which she was eager to do. To cover the CSR’s absence, the owner had the bookkeeper, who was untrained in CSR things, to fill in.
The bookkeeper did some light stuff like answering the telephone, but stacked up all the heavy lifting (estimates, orders, etc.) until the CSR returned. The CSR found herself not only doing outside sales, but doing her original job as well but in less time.
It didn’t take long for the CSR to find reasons not to go out which didn’t make the general manager happy, so he puts pressure on her to get out the door. The CSR felt like the old saying, “no good deed goes unpunished,” interviewed for another job where they “really wanted me,” and quit.
There are a lot of ways that owners run workers off. Most aren’t because the owner cusses, yells and screams although I see that. Mostly it’s subtle but sometimes not.
Sometimes owners allow one person to repeat bad behavior to the detriment of others. I know of one who put up with a worker smoking pot in the delivery van. He didn’t do anything about it but expected everyone else to follow the rules. They didn’t. Imagine that.
Sometimes we don’t talk to a worker for six weeks because they actually took off some well-earned vacation days. Sometimes we hire a new worker and then expecting them to learn through osmosis – and then coping an attitude when they make a mistake.
There are so many examples but it is best summed up with this one: employee left a $15 an hour job for one paying $10 an hour. Owner questioned him and he said, “It’s just that $15 isn’t enough to put up with you.”
So, retention of workers is right up there with the recruitment of workers. As for recruiting workers, I’ll be publishing more on that soon. Just understand that recruiting workers is a campaign and you have to spend real time on it. You just don’t put out an online ad and expect the perfect person to walk in the door.
The General Manager’s Role in Sales
The general manager plans and oversees the company’s sales and marketing. This also is at the highest level of the organization since, as we have mentioned before, the businesses’ business is to find and keep customers (Al Rises in “Focus”). But let’s get specific.