Many times when I talk to Shop Owners, one of the things that I find is that many of them have total job security. In fact, some Owners are never going to be able to leave their business for long periods of time. They might as well build their homes at the shop, because they are never going to be able to leave it, unless they sell it.
One of the key elements of the Perfect Shop is the shop runs well without the Owner having to be there.
There are several levels of Owners being able to leave their shops.
- Some Owners are not able to leave at all. If they leave, the shop goes into immediate chaos.
- Some Owners are able to take some time off and be gone for a period of time, but then the shop starts to get into trouble.
- Some Owners are able to leave for quite a while.
- Some Owners are never there and don’t have to be.
Let’s break this down and really look at these points:
When this happens, it’s because there is no one left that has either the responsibility or willingness to take charge and handle the normal day-to-day problems. There are several reasons for this problem:
- The Owner doesn’t have anyone that is capable of handling the responsibility of directing the shop. Most of the time, this is because the Owner has been unable to hire the right person who has the capability of handling the job or wants the responsibility of running the shop.
- The Owner has never allowed anyone to be the Manager and thus when he leaves there is no one designated to be the Manager.
These are usually due to the Owner who is very good at being the Service Writer or is a top Technician and has difficulties getting people to do the job the way he wants it done. His solution is to just keep doing the job himself, because that is the only way he knows to make sure the job is done right. Of course, this is the trap. As long as he is the only one that can do the job, he will have the ultimate in job security.
The real solution to this trap is: the owner must change the way he thinks. He must stop thinking like a Manager or a Service Writer or a Technician and start thinking like an Owner. The Owner is always working toward achieving his goal of a Perfect Shop and is constantly striving to get his people trained and taking over areas of responsibility in terms of the day-to-day operation of the business.
This means that he must start training and developing programs to get people to do the key jobs of the business. Someone has to be the Manager of the business, but it is not suppose to be the Owner. Likewise, it is not the responsibility of the Owner to be the Super Tech or handle the Technician problems of the business or to be the Service Writer.
As long as the Owner is unwilling to train and give the responsibility of doing the key jobs of the business to other people, he will be stuck in the day-to-day operations of the business.
Oftentimes, you will find Owners who have people in the key positions of the business. He has a Service Writer and someone handling some of the Technician problems of the business. Because of this, he is able to come and go as he pleases to a degree. He is still responsible for some of the major actions of the business, but overall he is not required to be there on a day-to-day basis.
Unfortunately, he has not fully turned over the Manager’s duties or responsibility. Because of this, when it comes to taking a long period of time off, the business starts to suffer. Things tend to drift and problems start to creep up and things are not handled as well as they should. So when he gets back, he finds that the successful actions that were being done have been changed or dropped out: cars are not being checked out the way he wants them done, the customers are not being handled with the same care-factor that he gives to the customers. All kinds of little things have changed. The end result is it’s not the same as how he left it. Actually, the sales and quality of work has started to decline.
Fortunately, it usually doesn’t take him long to get it turned around and start to improve things immediately. The reason for this is that he is the force in his business. Because he is there and he is watching it, the key successful actions are being done and held in place.
But because he still has to be there in order to keep the place running the way he wants it done, he is stuck. While he is able to come and go pretty much as he pleases, he is still stuck there and occasionally he will lose either a key Technician or the stable Manager or the Service Writer and he is back into the day-to-day operations and is really stuck.
The solution for this problem is training for the owner on how to be an owner. He needs to improve some basic executive skills and be able to get others to take full responsibility for the day-to-day operation of the business.
It is the Manager’s responsibility to make sure the key successful actions are being done according to the policies or guidelines or operating basis established by the Owner.
One of the most important executive skills is the ability to hire and train the right people to do the work the way the Owner wants and have the same care-factor as the Owner in terms of fixing the car and handling customers.
The perfect shop is one where the Owner doesn’t have to be there and it keeps on running, growing and expanding. If he leaves for 3 or 4 months, it’s no big deal. The business is a self-fixing business and just handles all the problems which come up in everyday business.
- It starts with the Owner thinking like an Owner – not a Manager. The first step of this process is for the Owner to decide what his goal for the business is. What is he really trying to achieve? Does he want to have a successful business that he can come and go as he pleases and not have to be tied to the business?
- Once he has decided what he wants to achieve in terms of his business, he needs to sit down and figure out what that successful business is going to look like.
I am going to have a fully trained Manager to run the business for me on a day-to-day basis with a Service Writer in training who is capable of becoming the next Manager. Likewise, the business is going to have 5 Technicians fully trained and able to handle every type of problem or car that we work on.
It will be doing about $135,000 a month in terms of business and I will be making about 20% in terms of profit. The business will be capable of hiring and training replacement managers, Service Writers, and Technicians without me.
In other words, you need to fully describe the perfect shop in terms of your business so that you know where you are going.
- Next, he needs to write down what his current situation is.
I have a Service Writer who can sell the work, but I am not sure that he is capable of running the business. I have one really good Technician and a couple who need to produce more, etc. In other words, you need a good description of your current situation.
- You need to come up with a plan on how you are going to grow the business and how you are going to achieve this goal within 5 years.
One of the key attributes of a successful person is they have a goal and they have a plan to achieve that goal. One of the major steps of making a dream become a reality is the decision to do what it takes to make it happen. Writing down a fairly simple step-by-step plan to achieve your goal is the key.
This exercise will point out the areas that you feel confident in being able to accomplish and those that seem to be holding you back.
I am good at fixing cars and selling the work, but I really seem to have a problem finding and hiring good people who will do the work right and do it my way.
Note: I could use some training on how to hire and train the right people and be able to get them to do any job in the business with the same care-factor that I have and be able to turn this function over to someone else to do.
That is half of the battle. The plan keeps you focused on what you are trying to achieve. The plan should contain the key steps necessary to get to your vision of the perfect shop.
To eliminate the need to be there or be called back into the business at the wrong time, the owner needs to get a set of blueprints to build the perfect shop and the training to be able to handle any business from 3,000 miles away.
Wishing you Success!