You’ve probably heard by now that Sonny’s has expanded quite a bit recently through acquisition.
With each acquisition, we’re not just adding companies to ours — we’re also blending families. It requires time, shared values, communication, scheduling and transitions. All these people coming together under one roof is like a supersized Brady Bunch family.
Just the other day, I was involved in a meeting regarding the upcoming Vegas show. The meeting was called to discuss what topics Sonny’s, as a company, would be presenting at that show. Thankfully, due to COVID, Zoom calls are now the standard, which is especially useful with Sonny’s having locations all over the country. Here we are — at the same “place” at the same time — technology at its finest!
As I sat there in my own little square on the screen looking at everyone else in their squares, I was reminded of the beginning of the old Brady Bunch series from the 1970s. If you’re old enough, you probably remember the intro of the show.
The theme song described the lives of two individuals, both with three children, who decide to marry and become one family. While the theme song played, on screen was each of the characters in a different square and stacked on top of each other. That’s exactly what the Zoom meeting looked like. And once I had time to think about it, our new corporate structure resembles that of a marriage that brings with it children from past relationships.
Each with their own special qualities (that’s why we purchased them), each with their own set of needs (comes with the territory) and each with their own ideas and opinions.
Back in 2003, when I came to work for Sonny’s, I remember Paul telling me that he had no desire to be the biggest in the industry, only the best. Over time, being the best has made us the biggest. Funny how that works.
That got me thinking — what made Sonny’s the best? For starters, there is no, “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha,” at Sonny’s. Sonny’s became the best because Paul has faith in the (multiple) people he puts into key positions. Delegation has led to a culture of trust amongst the entire organization. Regular communication about company goals and potential roadblocks points to resources needed. Imparting appropriate authority, encouraging independent action and thinking, and holding people to account when things don’t always go as planned steers people to perform at their best.
And the same is true as we grow and acquire. Sonny’s hand-selected each of these companies because they are the best at what they do. Therefore, they continue to operate as they have, with values and best interest in mind, and they will be held to account if things don’t always go as planned. Every person, every company has a different skillset and a slightly different way of working. Understanding this and capitalizing on these differences is key to creativity, innovation, drive and — ultimately — success.
How about you? Are you winning the war on talent? Are you allowing your top talent to showcase themselves? Are you giving them the tools needed for success, then allowing them the authority to act as they deem appropriate? Or are you still clinging to all the power?
If you resist giving your workers authority, the more they will interpret it as a lack of trust. The more power you give to your workers, the more they will return to you. Moving aside but remaining on-hand for support and setting clear goals ensures what is required and sets your team up for success.
Try it! Give them an assignment and the resources to get it done. If they accomplish it, raise the bar. If they fail, hold them accountable. Remember, almost everything that has ever been produced of value is the result of a collective human effort — people with different backgrounds and talents coming together to turn something into a high performing something.
Getting back to that Zoom call with all the other department heads, I feel it my responsibility to make the new folks feel welcome, so I try to act like a big brother to them, insults included. Those who don’t flinch are usually left alone, while those who flinch continue to bear the brunt of my twisted sense of humor. After all, isn’t that what family is all about?
Bob Fox has 35 years’ experience in the carwash industry and is the vice president of Sonny’s Car Wash College™. Bob can be reached at [email protected]. For more information about CarWash College™ certification programs, visit CarWash College or call the registrar’s office at 1-866-492-7422.
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