Nobody likes to fire their manager, and this is as true for RV park owners as any other group. When you get rid of your manager you set in motion having to find, train and hire their replacement, as well as the unhappy act of letting someone go. It’s perfectly natural to have an aversion to firing an employee, for a multitude of reasons. There’s an old saying “it’s easier to change people than to change people” and that basically means that a failing employee should simply be replaced rather than investing time and money in trying to redeem them. And with most RV parks, your manager is your only representative and you simply can’t afford to carry on with one that is not getting the job done. So if you have to fire your RV park manager, then here is a simple action plan.
What does the law in your state say?
Every state has its own employment laws and before you can even think about firing a manager you need to make sure you have done everything before, during, and after that event correctly. For example, in some states you have to give an employee warning of your unhappiness with their job performance – sometimes in writing – as well as the ability to improve their performance so they don’t lose their job. Other states have a far lower hurdle. The key is to be knowledgeable on what you are required to do so you don’t end up in a lawsuit with a disgruntled ex-employee. You can get this knowledge from a number of sources, including the internet or calling the state’s employment commission or even hiring an attorney for an hour to tell you what’s required.
What does your common sense say?
Before you fire an RV park manager, there are many things you need to accomplish:
- Find, hire and train a replacement. You cannot fire an RV park manager until you can seamlessly replace them with a new one – otherwise your business will suffer greatly. Having an RV park without a captain at the wheel is, if even for one day, can lead to tremendous financial risk in ranging from lack of collecting rent to loss of positive customer reviews and even liability. Until you have a replacement in-hand – or are willing to self-manage in the interim – you simply cannot even think about getting rid of the manager you have.
- Have a plan to secure your office and equipment. It’s only natural for a fired manager to try and steal everything they can get their hands on, whether it’s cash, office equipment, or tools in your shop. In coordination with firing the manager, you need to take control and protect these assets. Even though you have a new manager on-hand when you take over, there’s always the issue that the old manager still has a key to the office, shop and any other building you own. So you’re going to want to have a locksmith on hand to change the locks literally at the moment you fire the manager.
- Notify existing customers of the change. The last thing you want is for the fired manager to go through your property trying to collect money from those who are unaware of the management change. So you are going to want to have the new manager have as their first order of business. And this means that you have to have the new manager in the office seconds after firing the old manager – if not before (based on when you fire them).
So you must have a strong offensive and defensive posture before you can fire a manager, regardless of the laws in your state.
What do you say and when do you say it?
What you tell the manager you are firing is not that critical, as long as you don’t violate any laws in what you say. The typical sound byte is “I have some bad news for you – we’re taking the RV park in a new direction and we don’t need you as manager any longer starting now”. Nobody what you say, they’re going to be mad. What’s more important is when you say it, as having a mad ex-manager on your property is not always a great idea. When you fire a manager, you need to have a witness there so the manager cannot later claim you said anything that violates labor law (as well as to give you moral support). But even better, why not fire them while they are not in the office so they can do no damage to your business? That means firing them over the phone. You could do so on days they are not in the office, or even when they’re out of town. It sounds cruel, but you have to protect yourself and your business. If you can fire a manager at the same time the new manager is already in the office with all the locks changed, then that’s a very safe transition.
What if the manager lives in the RV park?
Sometimes the manager lives in the RV park in a residence that you provide. In those situations, you hopefully address this possibility in your employment agreement (typically giving the manager a week or so to move out if they lose their job). In that event, while they are packing up to move you will need to house the new manager in a nearby motel or even in a cabin or travel trailer inside the property. That’s just a cost of doing business.
Nobody wants to fire their RV park manager. But if you’re going to do it, make sure to do it the right way. Always focus on what’s best for your customers and the business.