The Manager Role: Why your Org Chart is broken

Finding a great studio manager is a daunting task. We’ll take a look at some of the reasons why many manager role’s fail and show you how to setup your organization chart for success.

Bordeaux & Bordeaux CPAs is a Supplier Member of CCSA (Contemporary Ceramic Studios Association) which is a organization representing paint your own pottery studios (PYOP) and ceramic arts businesses.  Donna Bordeaux, CPA provided the webinar to CCSA association members as a benefit of their membership in the organization.  Their CPA firm specializes in growing PYOP studios with industry specific key performance indicators by helping them grow their studios and minimize the impact of taxes.

Episode Transcript:

All right. Let’s go ahead and get started for today. We’ve got an exciting topic, Is Your Org Chart Broken? We’re going to talk about your management and structure of employee staffing in your studio.

First off, let me start off by showing you our team. I worked with Bordeaux and Bordeaux CPAs. I’m Donna, as I said. My husband, Chad is also a CPA here. Our son, Zack; maybe one day he’ll be working here as well. Nancy is our administrative assistant. She happens to be my mom. You may hear a little bark in the background if the UPS man, or FedEx man stops by today. Dixie is here with us at the office, too.

We are located just outside of Charlotte, North Carolina, just over the border in South Carolina. We work with studios all across the country. We specialize in working with PYOP studios and ceramic art studios of all types. We’d love to help you. We specialize in dealing with those issues.

We’re very aware of the issues you face on a daily basis. I commonly ask my clients, “What is the biggest challenge you face today?” What is the most common answer that I get? “Staffing, staffing, and more staffing.” This can always be a challenge in studios and in all retail businesses.

Let’s dive a little bit deeper. First off, we look at management structures. When should you have a manager? This is a common question. Several times, I see studios that jumped the gun on this. The owner is usually very anxious to get out of a lot of the duties that have to be done by a manager.

I always ask the question, “Are we really there yet?” When should you have a manager on board? First off, your sales should be able to support you getting a paycheck before you can afford to hire a manager. I know that’s not great news for many of you. This business is not a non-profit organization in most cases.

You should be earning a paycheck from your business and taking money out before you can afford to pay somebody else to do your job. If you can’t pay yourself yet, you’re not in a position yet to hire that manager. [Rule 00:03:42] number 1 is you have to have your revenues to significant enough place where you can afford to get a paycheck first.

I generally see, and this is again a very generalized number, because there are a lot of factors. I generally see that your revenues need to be between 150 to 200,000 before you’re going to be able to support this. Again, that can vary because your location and local demographics also varies. Take that with a grain of salt, but just to give you a little bit of insight there.

Let’s just assume for a moment you are ready to hire a manager. What types of duties do we commonly see you trying to send off to a manager? Things like scheduling employees. I saw a great post on the Facebook chat the other day. Somebody said, “1 of the worst jobs they have is scheduling employees.” because everybody always wants to change that schedule. That is generally 1 that I see handed off a lot with owners want rid of that one.

Creating samples for inventory and for display for your customers to see; instructing the customers in the studio. Inventory management is another big pain in the behind that a lot of people would like to pass off to a manager; point of sale management and making sure that everybody is using your point of sale system consistently; some marketing tasks; perhaps designing events and parties and lining up the schedule for those. Last, but not least, kiln room management.

You will notice that there is no delegation that can happen with anything to do with cash. The ordering of inventory should be at least finalized by the owner always. I never suggest letting a manager finalize and prepare all the inventory.

Perhaps they can put it into the cart as to what needs to be ordered, or prepare the inventory order sheet for you. I highly suggest anything to do with cash should still have the final authority resting in the owner’s hands.

All right. Let’s take a look a little further. We have some pretty varied duties for the manager in place here. Let’s take a look at where the problem usually lies. It’s usually very difficult to find 1 person who is good at all of these types of tasks. We’ve done a little research on our end to try to dive into why that is.

John, for your question, yes. All of the slides in this entire webinar is being recorded. It will be posted to the Facebook chat group, so you will have access to all of this information later on. Thanks, John.

All right, back in. Here is one of our big problems where we look at. Left brain versus right brain activities. A lot of the activities that we looked at, for a manager, have to do with creative things. Some others have to do with very structured things.

We generally have a problem in finding 1 person who can handle all of that. I’ve included a little link here. You can follow this link through. I’ll send this back out to you later on when I send you the link to the recording as well, so that you can take a look at this a little further.

We have a lot of areas where people deal with left brain and right brained activities. Usually, there is a varied course where people are not great at both of those. They usually have a specialized area that their brain can handle.

Let’s dive a little deeper in here. What do we look for? A left brained versus a right brained person, again have different qualities. Not to say that any 1 is any better than any other. We each have our own personalities and different qualities.

A left brained person will typically possess traits like a critical thinking. They’re very organized and rational. They tend to be more quiet. They tend to work independently. They may not be the best person to lead up a summer camp event. They may be the person who should organize the heck out of it. Maybe the right brained person should be the one who is actually doing the event and in charge of it.

The right brained person will have more qualities like emotional qualities. They’re very creative and artistic. They’re very intuitive. They tend to [inaudible 00:08:16] from the hip a little bit better. They’re probably better suited for team-oriented work. As you can see, these are pretty much the opposite qualities on each side.

The traditional role of a manager, we want somebody to do both. Therein lies the problem. Typically, when we look for a manager to handle all those tasks, they fail at half of them. Maybe we’ve set things up a little wrong.

I want to throw out a little bit of a different idea for you. Let’s take a look at the conflicts a little. If we’re talking about the left brain and the right brain duties that we have back on that management slide, the left brain types of duties would include more of the marketing, the structure, the ordering of inventory, the hiring and firing, helping you assist with that.

Again, that’s not one I’d recommend you delegate fully. I do recommend that your manager should be able to look at the qualities necessary for an employee and interview anyone on the spot, if need be. They should also be able to call you and say, “This person shouldn’t be here anymore. They are not a good fit for our team.”

The left brained person will be great for process documentation, which is really an important piece in studios. A lot of times I find that’s lacking. They would also be a good fit for for scheduling employees at events.

The right brained person would probably be your creative person who would be great at custom painting and samples for you. They would probably also be able to help you with the kiln room management. Depending on what your needs are there, you can see the quandry with the kiln room management, the organization versus their creative side. They would also be great with marketing programs and helping you think of creative ideas and programs to have in your studio in events.

They’re usually really good at the customer service. This is typically a criteria with right brained. They’re generally more into talking with people, not quite as quiet as the left brains. They may be a little more outgoing. How do we find 1 person to fit those needs? The answer may be maybe we shouldn’t. Let’s take a look a little deeper.

What if we could look at that issue in 2 different managers, paint pictures of different things, a more right brained manager and a more left brained manager. Perhaps they’re assistant managers. You could give them different titles here.

I’ve just done it for simplicity. Maybe have an administrative manager who works more on the structure tasks in the studio. Then you have an operations manager, who’s more in charge of the marketing programs, the customer service, and making sure that the events are staffed right and helps you out with the custom painting and custom projects.

I think a solution, or at least a step in the right direction may be let’s not try to force that round peg in a square hole, or the opposite, the square peg in the round hole. Maybe we need to look at delegating and separating those duties between people who are a better fit for each of those tasks.

I’m going to open up at the end here for a little more on comments from you as to how you might approach, or use this information; if you have any experience with this; and thinking in terms of your best employees, do you think this situation might help your studio, from a management perspective, in helping you grow the studio even more?

All right. I’ve got a couple other tips I want to bring up too, for staffing, some common areas where I see problems. First off, I know it’s painful, terrifically painful, and we all want to put it off. Hire slow, and fire fast.

When you have an issue with an employee, you need to address it quickly. The longer it festers, the more problems you will have. A bad employee can turn five good employees bad, or cause them to be unhappy in their jobs. That’s the last thing you want.

You must be very loyal to your good employees and make sure that you do what it takes to make sure they are happy. Your good employees will definitely pick up the slack for a bad employee if you’ll just let that person go.

Secondly, I don’t recommend offering a high salary to start with somebody, or to put somebody directly into the manager’s role and give them the full salary of a manager. Give them some incentive to get their own raise, based on their initiative. Perhaps set out some goals.

“I would like you to handle these 5 activities. As you take each one of these on, we’ll have a little checkpoint here after about 90 days. When you get to your full potential and you’re able to handle all of these, I expect that your salary would be, or your hourly rate would be X number of dollars at that point. We’re going to start you off at a lower amount right now, as you grow into the job, but the sooner you reach your full potential, the sooner you’ll have access to that full salary of that person.”

That will also give you an out if somebody fails to perform. You’ve not wasted a whole lot of money on them. Typically, I would start them out at the same rate that you would start a current employee and let them grow into the management position.

Lastly, we tend to be very forgiving and want to believe that people will do their best. Sometimes they will disappoint you. When you have the new employee, they should be on their best behavior to start, so if they’re not showing you their best from the start, believe them. They’ll show you who they are immediately. We just have to learn to believe them. Again, back to the hire slow, fire fast.

I know those are painful tips. Nobody really likes those. It is the best thing you can do for your business and for your good employees to keep them as good employees.

I hope this gives you some food for thought on hiring a manager and what your manager roles could look like. Instead of using the traditional model of a manager, maybe we need to be a little more creative. I know that’s where most of your strengths lie as owners of studios. You’ve got that creative gene. Let’s put it to work with manager roles and see how we can accomplish some new things there.

From our practice, we work, as I said, with studio owners on a very specialized basis. We help make sure that all of the little nitty-gritty tasks of finances are taken care of for you. You can focus your efforts on growing your studio.

I encourage you to take a look at our blog. We’ve got a lot of tips and a lot of former webinars out there. Do take a look. Go to pyopaccounting.com. You’ll see the full range of our services and what we have to offer. You can also go to our blog there and visit all of our blog posts, which are specific to operating a studio. I hope you find them helpful.

I also hope that each one of you, as my personal mission, will make a really solid effort to go to the convention in September. I find that my studio owner clients, who go to that, come back so energized and so ready for growth, I think it is a great thing. I know it costs you some money. You will reap that back as soon as you return with all the new energy and new ideas that you find. It will pay for itself over and over again.

I will be there. I hope to see you there as well. I’m always looking for your questions as well. My contact information is here. I’m at donna@pyopaccounting.com. Email is the best way to reach me. If you’d like to call me and leave me a message, I would get back to that, but in most cases I’m on scheduled calls. I’ll be able to return the call in between others.

I’d love to talk with you about your questions and help you look at solving some of your challenges as well. I’m going to open up our calls now and unmute everybody. I hope you got some good information from this session.