There seem to be so many advantages to being involved in industry 20 groups; I am sometimes surprised when I realize that not every business owner or manager has found their way into a 20 group. I have had the good fortune to participate in several 20 groups in several industry segments. For those not familiar with the concept, there are a few common-ground rules that most groups seem to have:
- Must be in a similar business model. While this may sound like common sense, there is a little more to it. Being among your peers brings more value to the meetings. A shop owner with one location doesn’t share all the same issues with a multi-location shop covering a couple of states, or a fleet/heavy duty shop.
- Must not compete directly with other group members. No one wants to share their financial information with a potential competitor or worse yet expose a perceived weakness.
- Must attend regular meetings (agendas should be shared in advance)
- Must participate openly in discussions and provide valid data
- Must be accepted (voted in) by the group to become a membership. This is primarily to avoid direct competitors and insure that everyone is invested in the group’s growth and improvement.
In addition, there are three main components to a 20 group meeting:
- The content, subjects, speakers and materials covered
- The participants
- The leader or facilitator
Selecting the right 20 group
Twenty groups are not all the same. While most body shop 20 groups will likely cover similar topics, KPIs and financial comparisons, they each have their own tempo and dynamic. This will be an investment in time, personal effort and should challenge you. If you’re not challenged to improve and are not part of driving improvements for your group, why attend? Ask yourself what are my main goals of being part of a 20 group: Is it growth of financial acumen? Keeping up with technology? Finding a mentor or peers to work together with? Do you want to improve your numbers but are not making progress as fast as you would like? Do you want to be able to call on a fellow member and ask about specific reports from your management system? If you answered yes to several these questions, and you’re willing to invest the time and be part of the solution, then 20 groups are for you!
In addition to what you want to get from a 20 group, ask yourself what are my (my company’s) strong points — what do we do really well and what can we contribute to the group?
The content should include current industry issues and concerns, but it also needs to have a continued review and discussions about business basics. Right now, every body shop 20 group is or has spent time on ADAS, scanning, photo estimating, etc. These are great topics and need to be part of the discussion, sharing and learning. Others include website presence (on all platforms, including mobile) as will other topics and issues that we may not even be aware of talking about … yet.
The comradery can’t be overstated; being among peers and other business leaders either facing or having faced similar challenges can be a great support system.