RV Park Mastery: Episode 84

How To Disarm Bad Managers

A good manager can really push your business forward – and a bad one can wreck it. And since even good managers can go bad over time, it’s important that you don’t provide your manager with the ability to cause you harm even after you’ve replaced them. In this RV Park Mastery podcast we’re going to review smart tactics to make sure that you can focus on your business and not the aftermath of a bad employee.

Episode 84: How To Disarm Bad Managers Transcript

Let me start off by saying there are very many great RV park managers out there, but there are also some bad ones. And when you encounter the bad manager, the one that will sink your RV park and ruin your investment, you have to take action swiftly, and you have to be very smart at how you disarm the bad manager. This is Frank Rolfe with the RV Park Mastery Podcast. We're gonna talk about, first, why managers go bad. And most of the time when your manager goes bad, it's not because you've asked them to do something that's impossible. Running an RV park is not rocket science, it's not that difficult to understand the basic drivers of profitability. It's not hard to always greet your customers appropriately and friendly and enthusiastically. And so there's really nothing you're asking of someone to do that you certainly couldn't do yourself. But a lot of times what happens are that people just aren't cut out for the job, they're not just manager material. But you don't know that until after they're already in place as the manager, or maybe after some period of time is elapsed. So the first thing to do to disarm bad managers, since many managers do turn bad, is to put them on a probationary employment agreement.

So check your state laws, see if you can do it or not, even though I know we're the United States of America, we're really not anymore, we're like a European nation of basically 50 different countries that are all next door to each other, except for Hawaii. So see if you can do a probationary employment agreement. That, number one, gives you the ability to test the manager out real life in the field to see whether they work out or not. Because if you have probationary employment agreement, it's a whole lot easier to part ways than if you've actually fully hired the person without any period review of their work. Now, what do you do once you get them in there though, and they're running the park, and now we know that they're really not going to work out or not working out properly. Well, you have to, number one, know what your state laws are regarding the hiring and firing of employees.

Because again, every state is different. So you need to reach out either to someone who handles HR or research yourself online, what are the rules of engagement? If someone is not working, what do I do? In some states, you have to give them notice, formal notice that you don't like the job they're performing and giving them the ability to correct themselves, and in other states, there's no notice required at all. You can just do anything you want, you're free to hire people and fire people, however you want to do it, as long as you abide by and don't cross over the line of discrimination and those fundamental rights that we all pretty much know by heart anymore. But you need to find out what the steps are you are to do.

And often, you gotta keep a paper trail, if you're gonna get rid of a manager, you have to fully document it in writing every step of the way. Because the last thing you want in America today is to have anyone who tries to sue you or go to court, and you don't have it on paper. Verbal discussions are worthless because they rely on someone honestly stating this is what was said. And often, if the manager is bad, they're also gonna be kind of bad in court or in discussions, is making up all kinds of things that you supposedly told him, none of which actually existed. And they're even willing to testify that under perjury. So make sure you keep a very eloquent and firm paper trail of everything you do with that employee from the minute you hire them to the minute you get rid of them, if you must you rid of them, because you've got to have it in writing throughout. Now, it's also important, if you're going to fire your RV park manager, you've got to already have the back-up hired, you cannot have the RV park with nobody at the helm, that's not going to work.

I'd rather have a bad RV park manager than no manager at all. Your business will crash and burn. So before you can take any of the steps required to remove the RV park manager, you must have a suitable replacement. Now, let's cover a few other items that many people don't think about regarding RV park managers that could really blow up in your face later. These are things that some people do that they should not do, and when they do these things, they get themselves in real trouble. Number one, when you pay your RV park manager cash under the table, in other words, you don't document, you don't have a formal relationship, you don't take out withholding or any of the things you're supposed to do, but instead, you decide you're just gonna pay them cash. They typically ask you to do that because who knows what, they are already are on disability and aren't supposed to be managing an RV park. Maybe they owe child support, taxation, who knows what. But sometimes, a potential RV park manager will say, "Hey, I'll do the job and I'll do a great job, and I'll do it cheaper than anyone else. But the deal is, you gotta pay me in cash." Do not hire that manager under that basis.

What's gonna happen is, down the road, when you get rid of the manager, they're going to then blackmail you, that oh, they're gonna go to the authorities and say that the entire time you've been paying them under the table to avoid employment tax etcetera. And they're going to then say it was all your idea, that they begged you to run everything through ADP appropriately, and you said, "Nah, I don't like to do things officially, I like to just pay people cash under the table." So don't do that. Next, make sure you document their hours, because right now, a very rampant problem in employment law are employees that you fire who then come back claiming you owe them a ton of overtime. Now, in America, people are only allowed at work so many hours a week, and after that number of hours, it's overtime.

And overtime can add up quickly, it's at a multiple of typical hourly rates. So if you don't document the hours or have a system to document the hours, then who's to say that they didn't work overtime? Once again, it's your word versus their word, and we all know that's just a really bad idea in America today to be in a position where it's all just left up to one person's word against the other. So make sure that you have a track of how many hours they work and make sure you've done everything legally necessary in writing to let them know, when they hit that number of hours they have to stop. Put their pencil down. It's over. Can't go any further. Some of the RV park manufacturing plants build RVs, most of which are now carted in Indiana.

The way they get over the whole risk of overtime is, they only turn the electricity on at the factory at a certain time each day. And when that day is over, based on how many hours the person is supposed to work, the power to the entire factory turns off. That way, no one can claim, oh, no, I worked an extra four hours a day, that evil manufacturing company, they made me work extra hours. They couldn't have worked, there'd be no lights on in the plant. Kind of the same thing with your RV park, you cannot have people ever have the ammunition to claim that somehow they worked overtime.

Next, there are all kinds of federal and potentially even state notices that you have to post. Why? I don't know. They're kind of stupid. We've all seen them anywhere you go. If you ever go to a restroom, for example at a Home Depot or a Lowe's, there are all these posters printed on the walls back there because they must be posted in the workplace, and no one ever reads them. And the only companies that care about them are the ones that sell them, because every company must buy these things. But if you are in a state that requires that you post these, you must post them. Don't get a new environment where you don't post required notices, because you're employee, the day after you fire them or the day of, they're gonna take pictures of your workplace, and they're gonna say, "Aha, see, they never posted the official notices. If I had only known, if I'd only read these notices, my life would have been completely different. I would have ended up the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, and now you evil RV park owner, you deprived me of my God-given rights to be the greatest living quarterback of all time.

So, don't do that. Make sure that you post everything you're supposed to post. Also, don't get in a position ever where there might be any verbiage of an inappropriate action by you. So when you meet with the manager, do it openly in public, don't go meet your manager at some dark secluded place. Make sure that everything is on the above board with complete appearance of that. You wanna have basically witnesses around whenever you're around people today. Particularly, bad managers, because you know that people love to claim that, oh, you assaulted them or tried to assault them, or whatever the case may be. Because of course, it's complete hogwash, you didn't do anything of the type. But once again, we're back in... And a one person says this, the other person says that situation. And in America today, that is definitely not where you wanna be. Also, just make sure throughout the process of employment that you keep meticulous written records, how many hours a person worked, which is then tied to how much they earn, which is then tied to your ADP or other check stubs with all the proper withholding.

Because at the end of the day, he who has the best paper trail, typically prevails. And don't be depressed when that RV park manager that you thought would be wonderful doesn't pan out. That happens all the time. You see it throughout America, every day, businesses that suffer because they can't get good talent. It's just the way it is. Why is that? I don't know. You can say that they just don't make people as good these days as in the olden days. I don't know if that's entirely true. But there's no question the American work ethic has declined enormously. I don't think we any longer, the country people think of when they think of really hard working employees. But the fact that one blew out, doesn't mean you're a bad person, doesn't mean that you were bad at hiring, doesn't mean you did a bad job of training them, and it doesn't mean you did a bad part of supervising them. It simply means they didn't work out, they didn't fit that job. But it means it's time to move on to the next person. One of the sayings I got when I first got in the industry was, "It's easier to change people than to change people." Which means, it's a whole lot easier to swap people out and get a new one. To get rid of the person who's failing rather than try and retrain them not to fail.

RV parks traditionally cannot afford to have redundancy. You typically have just one manager and that's it. We don't have the luxury like IBM to have an HR department that retrains people who are bad on the job. When they start going bad, the best thing to do is to go ahead and fire them and replace them with someone new, someone who has a better shot of success. This is Frank Rolfe, the RV Park Mastery Podcast. I hope you enjoyed this. Talk to you again soon.