Operations

Take The Lead In Discovering Hidden Talent

Lexi Tucker
Posted on January 7, 2020

Anuj Patel, director of strategic development for Pontarelli Companies, talked about the importance of instilling leadership qualities in your managers.

Anuj Patel, director of strategic development for Pontarelli Companies, talked about the importance of instilling leadership qualities in your managers.

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Leadership is a buzzword that’s thrown around a lot. But do you truly understand its importance in running a company you can be proud of? Anuj Patel, director of strategic development for Pontarelli Companies, gave a presentation in November 2019 on why it needs to be a focal point of any business hoping to grow at the 2019 LCT East Show.

Leadership Vs. Management

Some managers can be leaders. Most leaders have been through management. Managers have good ideas. They hold the ship down. They're representing your company. They take care of everything. “But at the same time, we always wonder, ‘why isn't this happening? Why are we showing up late? Why are we dropping the ball here?’” Are you teaching them to be leaders? Do they have leadership skills instilled in them? Are they developed on a daily basis?

“You have to understand everyone's different; you're going to run your company differently from the guy down the street. Finding leadership is the most difficult part in all of business, period,” Patel said. “We are no longer in the world of micro-managing. We want to macro-manage. We want to trust our leaders, our managers to make the right decisions, and empower them to do so. But you must instill it at every level. You must hire for leadership, now.”

In a time when the U.S. unemployment rate is extremely low, you may be tempted to hire just to put a butt in a seat. But the truth is, you need to be hiring for leadership capabilities, Patel says. “To be completely honest, I don't really look for experience — I look for leadership skills. I look for someone wowing me at the interview.”

It doesn’t matter what position they start out in if you are willing to work to help them develop the qualities you need in a leader. “We make sure even the car washers have leadership skills, because that's where we're going to recruit from first. I cannot tell you how many of our car washers became successful reservationists and dispatchers in our company. They had the most knowledge. They had natural built-in leadership skills, because we're leaving them alone with our fleet of 30+ vehicles. They're intuitive. That's more important to me than someone who's been on Hudson, Limo Anywhere, or Livery Coach for 20 years. That doesn't mean anything. It's not relevant. You've got to teach them that. Teach them the business.”

Remain Hands-On

Just buying products or attending shows to help your business run more efficiently won’t help. You can't just turn away after you spend money and hope someone will make sure it’s well spent.

“You can't just hire, pay, and go away. If you are too busy picking up phones and working in and not on your business, I understand. All of us have to pick up calls from time to time. But your job is to lead or instill leadership. Always remember that affects the bottom line. If your management doesn't have leadership skills, they're blowing rides, things are getting messed up left and right… but it's your fault.”

“Leadership is a science. It's the easiest way to trim fat, improve processes, and make money without a dollar of sales.” — Anuj Patel, director of strategic development for Pontarelli Companies

Don’t Be Cheap

Part of being a leader means taking care of your people. “It's okay to pay someone $20 an hour. It's all right. If they're that great of a candidate, trust me: It's worth every single penny. Find the leadership skill in one of your dispatchers and grow that.

The fastest way to recruit is through your existing team. When you find that leader, it can be very difficult to keep them if you don’t pay them what they are worth. “Throwing money at them is okay. It's not that bad. If you're properly analyzing everything and looking at your statistics, you're actually saving more money by paying more for great talent and leadership. That's just a fact.”

Play To Your Strengths

You need to know what you’re good at, and then develop a team that complements your strengths. At the end of the day, you must realize everything starts and ends with you and the mentality you project.

“You might not be an inspiring guy. You might be a negative person, but a good businessperson. If that’s the case, put yourself in an office or work from home. Don't show up in person all the time; it's okay. Some owners, maybe because it's an old school mentality, think, ‘I've got to be at the office all the time.’ These days, sometimes if your attitude isn't correct, and you're not inspiring, or you're not being a good leader, and your body language is no good, just stay home. You're affecting the business negatively. You've got to change the way you're thinking. Everything's changing. Everything is disrupted. Everything is messed up in every single industry, so it's okay for you to change your style a little bit, too. There's nothing wrong with that.”

Watch For Bad Apples

Patel spoke of a dispatcher he once worked with who was amazing at what he did. However, he's wasn’t a people person. Chauffeurs didn’t like him. In the end, all he was missing was some leadership training. You may find yourself in a similar “should he be fired?” dilemma, but don’t jump to conclusions before trying to bring out his latent leadership qualities.

Patel stressed the need to hold yourself to the same standards you do when you evaluate those who work for you.

Patel stressed the need to hold yourself to the same standards you do when you evaluate those who work for you.

“You've got to figure it out. He was someone who did the 9 a.m.to 5 p.m. shift with us, and now he does a lot of different shifts. He fills in and is an amazing guy. But he'll be the first to tell you, ‘I can't change the way I am.’ I sit with him every time I see him and try to talk leadership. It affects your bottom line. If you're not looking at what he's doing and how he's doing it, you'd never know that.”

Evaluation And Assessment

Many CEOs spend money on leadership retreats, and then when they get back don’t instill what they learned. They may get too busy, forget, etc. “That's your fault. You're the leader. You messed up. Why were you there, to party?” You need to hold yourself to the same standards you do when you evaluate those who work for you. And if you’re not evaluating your employees, you need to start.” 

Hiring and forgetting them isn’t going to help them grow and it could eventually cost you money. “You should be looking at the decisions of all of your leaders and managers. That's your job. You must attack it every day when you're at the top. You can't just sit behind a screen. You've got to coach all the bad stuff out, so you stay fluid, green, and are not letting mistakes affect your bottom line.”

Your manager meetings should not be about general issues, but about fixing problems. Patel suggests having two different manager meetings: An operational one and a leadership one.

Related Topics: 2019 LCT East, Atlantic city, business management, casinos, chauffeur training, hotels, industry education, industry leaders, LCT Events Education Series, LCTFast40, leadership, Millennials, staff training

Lexi Tucker Senior Editor
Comments ( 1 )
  • Anthony

     | about 3 months ago

    Good article !!!! I was one of those hidden talent guys I was the one the krystal coach guys called when they needed a limousine for the night outs I was the one that would have the krystal mechanics come down on sundays and fix any issues with limo fleet I re designed the companies advertizing and focused on corporate Advice taxi limo owner what vehicles we needed Adviced taxi limo owner what drivers to what customer and what vehicle tobwhat customer Grew the business from 4 junk vehicles to 23 at 2002 Owner had promised me 15% of vegas operation no contracts Owner only paid me 1,920 payroll even though i was making 3k 4k 5k To hold for me to buy a house.. it was all a lie in the end I was at his home for thanksgiving and xhristmas Thats one shady operator that really took advantage of my talent :(

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