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Carl Gerhardt

Business Sense & Sensibility

By Carl Gerhardt

About Carl

Carl Gerhardt is the chairman of Alliance Franchise Brands LLC, the parent company of Allegra Network LLC and Sign & Graphics Operations LCC, and a world leader in marketing, visual and graphics communications, linking more than 600 locations in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom. The company’s Marketing & Print Division, headquartered in Plymouth, MI, is comprised of Allegra, American Speedy Printing, Insty-Prints, Speedy Printing and Zippy Print brands of marketing, printing, mailing and Web services providers. Its Sign & Graphics Division, headquartered in Columbia, MD, is comprised of Image360, Signs By Tomorrow and Signs Now brands of sign and graphics communications providers.

Carl and his wife, Judy, owned and operated their own successful Allegra franchise for nearly 20 years before selling the $2.3 million operation in 2003. He is a PrintImage International/NAQP Honorary Lifetime Member and was inducted into NAPL’s prestigious Soderstrom Society in 2010 in recognition of his contribution to the industry.

 

Must Love Dogs...and Cats

 
I am a dog person but I married a cat person. I would guess you know the differences between dogs and cats. When you feed a dog, it looks up and thinks, “You bring me food and pour it out for me; you must be a god.” A cat thinks, “You bring me food and pour it out for me; I must be a god.”

What’s the point? I have had to learn how to deal with cats, and once you understand the difference, you learn to appreciate their differences and how you must manage the environment with them around. The same is true with dogs. There is a good lesson here in how we deal with employees.

Employees can have an attitude that “the owners are there to meet my needs.” Owners can have an attitude that “the employees are there to meet my needs.” That’s where the conflict begins. The better attitude for owners is to behave like the dog and treat employees like cats. Set the example by treating employees as you would like to be treated . . . employ the Golden Rule. When hiring employees, our tendency might be to look for dog-like attitudes when in reality we need some cats.

We should use testing to help uncover these predispositions. Personality profiling is very useful and, most often, will give you a good idea of a potential employee’s dog or cat frame of mind. We can’t change basic personality traits, and different jobs may require different profiles. However, knowing tendencies makes it possible to effectively manage employees regardless of their profile. Certainly, sales people will have different profiles than bookkeepers or production employees.

Knowing the difference and managing accordingly will give you the sensibility to be a more sensible business owner.

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