Succession: It’s for employees too

If you think succession planning is only for the owners and their heirs, you’re wrong. Just as important is creating a plan to develop employees. This ensures there is always a qualified pool of successors to choose from, should any of the positions at a business become open.

Such a strategy is pursued by many of Boating Industry’s Top 100 Dealers. At Florida’s Quality Boats of Clearwater, for example, cross training is heavily utilized to ensure any employees who are out, or who leave, can be replaced with minimal disruption. In addition, a succession plan for each key employee is discussed on an ongoing basis.

“A plan for each has been formalized and successors from within our organization have been appointed to take over their position in the event that key person is no longer available to the company,” says Dan Bair, the dealership’s CEO. “This is a perpetual effort, and appropriate training for the successor of each position is exact.”

Strong’s Marine, based in Mattituck, N.Y., puts clear organizational charts and process flow maps in place for all employees so that when one goes on vacation, becomes sick, or leaves the job, there is little to no interruption in workflow. Company president Jeff Strong says the dealership actively trains its managers to be able to assume the day-to-day responsibilities of running the business, which gives him more time to spend planning the company’s future.

“Cross training has and will continue to be a very important aspect of how we do business,” Strong says. “In an effort to keep costs in check, cross training has become essential.”

The policy at George’s Marine & Sports in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, is that all new employees must cross train, where applicable. But George’s has taken a slightly different approach to employee succession. It implemented a plan last year to guard against the loss of four long-term managers the dealership decided would be hard to replace due to their experience and longevity with the company.

A life insurance policy was purchased for each of the four, with the company as the beneficiary. Those funds would be used to hire a replacement using a headhunting firm, as a signing bonus, or to train a current employee with the new skills necessary to assume the new role.

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