The Ripple Effect of Professionalism

Trade Industry Silo

I’ve been in the trade industry for over twenty years. As an automotive shop owner and a coach, I’ve spoken with hundreds of people in the trade industry frustrated over the following.

  • Skill labor shortage/wages
  • Keeping current with technology
  • Outdated public perception

These men and women are business owners, technicians, vendors, suppliers, or are part of the training and educations space such as associations and schools. While most complain and blame, others (the achievers) attempt to do something about it. They realize change starts with them.

What I’ve seen over the years is the trade industry silo. Each attempting to better the industry.

  • EDUCATION (Associations/Schools)


  • Business owners have a challenge attracting and retaining quality team members.
  • Vendors and suppliers have a challenge working with struggling businesses.
  • Associations/Educational institutions have the challenge of membership and filling student and instructor seats

These challenges cause the trade industries to appear as unprofessional to the public. An example is that many consumers have a fear of being overcharged or ripped off. The reality is the average trade business isn’t making a healthy profit.


I believe the solution although simple, is not easy for many. I call it the Ripple Effect of Professionalism. It starts with the businesses who are the face of the industry to the public. Then the suppliers/vendors, followed by the education institutions and trainers. When each area is an example of professionalism every day, It will guide business decision making, your attitude, how you show up each day and impact the other areas of industry. Representing the trade industries as a high-tech profession and viable career option.

  • When a business owner doesn’t show up as professional, you won’t attract and retain the best talent. You won’t have a healthy business. One that is Enjoyable, Sustainable and Profitable.
  • Suppliers/Vendors need to understand the reality of low profits in the average busienss owner.  Advertising reflects your brand. Don’t depict men, women or the trades unprofessionally.
  • Associations, education institutions and trainers need to represent the value of continued learning. Embrace social technology as well as industry technology. Include leadership training. Encourage today’s students to engage. Share their accomplishments.

We’ve come a long way but there is more to be done. Each area of the trade industies has a responsibility to show up professionally. You represent the trades. It starts with the business owner and the ripple effect they have on the industry. The top 10% of owners are already doing this. The bottom 10% won’t read this article. The remaining 80% have a responsibility to your team, customers, community, family and the trades.

If you don’t know what you don’t know, here is your wake-up call. It takes a pro mindset.  As a professional (business owner) you’re capable of more than you realize.  I challenge you to start representing the industry as a professional today. (Achievers love a challenge.)  Reach out to another business owner, a supplier, vendor or association, school, coach or trainer.

There are scholarships to share in your local area, trainings to budget for and attend, podcasts to listen to, associations to join, schools and causes to get involved in. Think of yourself as a resource. Be an example of professionalism to attract and retain the team members who are looking to be part of a professional business and raise the bar in the trades.

SHOPS – You’re a resource to your team, customers and community

SUPPLIERS/VENDORS – You’re a resource to shops & education/associations

EDUCATION (ASSOCIATIONS & SCHOOLS) – You’re a resource to shops & suppliers/vendors

The way to solve the trade industry silo is for all areas of the industry to be part of the solution. If you complain about the industry, I will ask you what you are doing about it, because if you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.

How Not To Be A Micro-Manager

Episode 93 on Remarkable Results Podcast Micro-Manager

Micro-Managing happens when we feel that we don’t have control or are losing control of a situation or area of our business. It comes from FEAR.

  • Fear of not being seen as the expert
  • Fear of losing control of our brand
  • Fear from not understanding our role

The idea of allowing others to develop their skills sounds good, but to practice it is another story. It takes a mindset shift that happens when you (the owner) become more self-aware. Take note of how you react in different situations and how you show up each day. Then allow your team to be their best by giving them the resources needed.

Comment below or reach out with your questions or concerns.

5 Stages of Business

5 Stages of Business. Your GPS for Success

We use the technology all the time. The purpose of a GPS (Global Positioning System) is location. You need to know where you are to be successful getting to your desired destination.

You wouldn’t take a road trip without a destination, a map, and a vehicle. Business success is achievable when we:

  • have a destination (goal or target)
  • have a plan to get there (strategy)
  • stay flexible and adaptable for the bumps in the road during the journey (action items)

It sounds simple and yet many overlook this idea in business. You see another business further along and wonder, what you can incorporate into your business. You try what others are doing and get frustrated. For some reason it didn’t work. You wonder what you’re doing wrong. The simple answer is nothing. That other business is in a different STAGE of business.

Business success comes from focusing on the priorities at each stage. It’s about sequencing.  Taking the steps needed to do the right activities at the right time. In the end we are all measured and held accountable to RESULTS.

As a Certified Partner of Todd Herman’s 90 Day Year™, we talk about the Five Stages of Business, which is an extremely useful model to look at the journey to grow any business. When I’m working with trade business owners my job is to customize the stages specifically to our industry.

5 Stages of Business

START UP – No consistent sales. You’re doing it all and creating habits that will not always serve you or your business as you next level.

RAMP UP – Sales are coming in.  You’re trying to keep up with the work. You don’t have enough hours in the day.

BUILD UP – Building a team.  You’re putting out fires. Everyone comes to you for answers

SCALE UP – You need leaders.  You’re working on getting the right people in the right seats.

LEADER UP – Your business is a Leader in your market.  You’re looking for new ventures and or opportunities.

If we allow ourselves to go from a (doer) or technician mindset to an owner mindset, we begin to see the bigger picture as we go through these stages. Many will get to the BUILD UP stage on their own, but it can take years. Most will benefit from outside training, coaching, mentoring or an accountability partner.

Knowing what to focus on at each stage will speed up your success instead of getting stuck and spinning your wheels for years.

  • START UP – Focus on: Validation of your ideal customers, offers and services.  When we market to every vehicle owner, we market to no one. Stand out!
  • RAMP UP –Focus on: Automation of marketing and sales. Gain hours back by simplifying with tools, outsourcing, and delegating.
  • BUILD UP – Focus on: Systems/Process/Technology for a team. Be a shop that is consistent and efficient.
  • SCALE UP – Focus on: People /Leadership   Develop Leaders. Take time away from your business as you need to or want to without worry.
  • LEADER UP – Focus on: Market Share / Acquisition Keep up with industry trends, opportunities and the relationships you’ve built.

The most common question I get asked from clients or from an audience when I speak on the 5 stages of business is: Why do I feel like I’m in more than one stage of business?

The simple answer is you’re getting distracted by focusing on activities you think you should be doing or because another business is doing them.

A personal example as a new parent would be, bringing home a newborn and focusing on their first bike and the best way to teach a child to ride. It’s not the right activity to focus on because another parent you know is doing that. They’re in a different stage of parenting.

An auto shop example would be a shop struggling to fill their bays [START UP focus] and they decide to work on systems and processes [BUILD UP focus] because that is what they heard another shop is working on.

The first shop (START UP) is a one or two-person shop and needs to validate their ideal customer and market directly to them. The second shop (BUILD UP) has a steady flow of customers but needs to have consistency and efficiency in their team.

There was a reason you went into business. Something motivated you. That reason is your why and it will change as you build your skills as a leader. It may have started out simply as a paycheck or to have security for your family. It will evolve as you transform from a (doer) technician mindset to an owner mindset. My point is, you took the hardest step. You started and that takes grit.

At the end of the day we all want to be building momentum to reach our goals.  When you lay your head on the pillow each night, knowing that you’re making a difference for your family, team and community makes for a restful sleep.

Understanding the 5 stages of business will help keep you focused on the activities that are the most important at each stage. Keep in mind that many can get to the Build Up stage on their own. With help from training, coaching, mentoring and an accountability partner you can next level sooner and reap the rewards of years not spent, spinning your wheels stuck, and deep down knowing there must be a better way.