Snr VP Business Dev
There was a time when having good mechanical skills, some common sense and a dose of good luck was enough to have a successful auto repair business. That time is gone forever. To have a successful business today requires strong management skills, and these skills can only be obtained through solid training in the area of management.
What Does Management Mean?
First off let’s clarify what is meant by Management Training. The dictionary definition of manage is: organize; regulate; be in charge of something. A good technician needs to be able to organize and regulate their tools, equipment, time, and work space in order to successfully get the job of servicing and repairing vehicles done. This ability is different from the ability to actually perform the repair or service, but no less important.
Technicians go to school for years and continue their technical training to keep up with the ever changing modern vehicle. The management skills needed to be a professional technician is fairly easy to learn and does not take a long time. But these skills do not translate easily to the task of managing a business. Yet it is only these management skills that most owners are relying on to manage their businesses.
Managing employees, finances, customers, flow lines, advertising takes a much higher level of education in order to be successful as a business person. To have a successful business, business management skills are needed.
Goals and Planning
Before anything can be managed there has to be an overall plan of attack. Planning a business requires having a know goal or objective that is trying to be achieved. What is the purpose of the business? Where does the owner want the business to go?
Once this is known then planning can occur. There are three basic areas that require planning: Organization, Finance and Marketing. By far organization planning is the most complicated as this involves the proper use of space and employees.
To be successful a true team needs to be developed yet employee management is one of the trickiest areas. Knowing how to recruit and hire good people, how to compensate them correctly, train them to do their jobs and when they don’t how to correct, discipline and motive them? There is a tremendous amount an owner needs to learn about people.
In order to get the most out of the employees in a business the business has got to be organized. But what does that really mean. Organizing is the act of lining things up in a logical sequence so that at the end we have something done, and done in a smooth and efficient manner. Twenty-five percent of an owners day needs to be spent on this process and this includes training. To get the maximum production out of an area the people in the area must be trained in the jobs they are doing.
Financial planning is more than having an accountant that can be trusted. Financial planning requires that the owner of the business knows how to set up the finance area of the business in order to get accurate information quickly, know what the numbers mean and then steer the business into good financial condition. That means the owner has to know how to read the reports, control expenses, create solvency and invest wisely. An owner of an auto service facility needs to have the same level of training and skill in this area as in any area of the business. It can not be left to someone else to do.
There are many theories and opinions regarding marketing and advertising an automotive service facility. What works in one part of the country does not mean it will work in another. In fact, you can have a successful campaign in one part of a town, and have it do nothing in another part of the same town! Understanding the principals behind why this is is critical for any business owner to understand. The people in our industry tend to copy what someone else is doing without any knowledge as to what works and what doesn’t. It gets to be a bad case of the blind-leading-the-blind. Advertising is not cheap, and an owner needs to know what will and will not work in his or her market.
Marketing planning has to be thought through completely with true information at hand, and it needs to be done well out into the future. The success of any business relies on knowing and having the knowledge of marketing basics.
I have touch on three key elements in this article. They are by no means the only areas that an owner has to be skilled in handling. So when we look at the modern day automotive facility and the emotional and financial investment most people make in their businesses it becomes clear that knowing how to diagnose and repair vehicles, although important, is not where the money is for the owner. Get trained in the techniques that will help you be successful: Get Management Training!