I understand why most auto shop owners start with the doing. Most are used to getting things down. As vehicles come into your shop, getting them serviced / repaired and back to your customers efficiently as possible is key to business success. The more you understand what tools work best for a job and how to use them, the better a job will go.
There are the obvious tools and software to run your business.
- Shop operation/management platforms
- Digital vehicle inspections
- Customer retention
- Point of sale system.
And the list goes on…
What about a toolbox for leaders?
I’ve spoken with many other shop owners from across the country since 1999 when Tony and I opened our shop and we started attending industry conferences and training. The ones who seem to achieve personal and professional success have a few things in common. They use tools to grow both personally and professionally. At first, they might not seem like tools, but I can assure you they are high level tools.
- They invest in themselves – They challenge themselves by investing money and time into training, mentoring and/or coaching both inside and outside of the industry. Always learning to grow personally and professionally keeps your eyes open to opportunities to serve that you otherwise may not have noticed.
- They understand leadership vs management – Leadership is being an example of your vision. If you do not have a clear vision it’s difficult to convey it clearly to you team, suppliers, vendors and customers. Management is about managing the people who are now responsible for the outcome. Providing resources and support as needed for them to be their best.
- Leaders are both accountable and vulnerable – Not only in their business but in their personal life as well. They see not only a ROI (return on investment) but also a ROE (return on effort). They do what they say they will do, and they ask for help.
- They lift and empower others – They collaborate and share: lessons, tips and advice that has helped them. They see themselves as an example in the industry to help better the industry. They are willing to lift others as they climb and grow.
You are the foundation of the business, but you are not the business. The business is a separate entity serving your customers and community. It should work whether you are there or not. If you think of yourself as the business it will hold you, your team, and your business back. Allowing your team to develop is key. As you take on a leader role and start to own it you realize you are responsible for the vision of your business. Sharing that message with your team and finding team members partners, suppliers and vendors who align with that vision to get the work done. You are now responsible for the people who are responsible for getting the work done. Make sure they have the resources needed to do just that and then get out of their way.
Success goes beyond you and the four walls of your shop. The business owners who seem to have a thriving business, one that is profitable, sustainable, and enjoyable, have defined success for themselves and experience true joy personally and professionally. They don’t tie their self-worth to their net-worth and they don’t view others that way.
The industry has its challenges. Many believe that is has become commoditized to the public and that there still is the outdated perception of the industry. I can assure you that there are many who feel they need to put their emotional boxing gloves on when they contact a shop, in-order to protect themselves. The shop owner who remains aware but focuses on the good they and their team are doing will make the biggest impact for their customers, community, and the industry. It’s that simple. They focus on legacy and their goal to make a difference personally and professionally.
- Become a better listener and communicator.
- Stay grounded in your core beliefs and vision.
- Understand why you do what you do.
- Be an example of professionalism every day, even when it is challenging.
These tools will change your perspective of your business. You’ll confidently make better decisions and gain a competitive advantage.