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The magic bullet for auto shop success

Monday, July 15, 2019 - 07:00
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If you are looking for the ultimate magic bullet, then let’s listen to an ATI coach and former shop owner, Rick Johnson: Over the many years of owning and running my shop, I was constantly being approached by salespeople with their special one-of-a-kind solution. Whether it be the latest brake lathe, Freon machine, or shop management software — what they were selling was truly amazing and would certainly produce wonderful results. I was always left wondering would it work for me...could it work for me?

One great example goes back to 1992, a time when I was still using handwritten tickets. A salesman came knocking on my door peddling his new shop management system. He demonstrated the system wonderfully, showing me how it would automate so many of my processes and make my life easier. What’s more, I was so excited about his claim that my shop would soon be paperless! Wow, did that sound good! After years of handwriting tickets, copying and filing duplicates and triplicates of nearly everything, this was going to be a game changer! The reality is that after I bought and installed this wonderful new system (the latest “shiny penny”), I was now generating more paper than ever before! I began to wonder, was it me? Did I do something wrong?

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Three years later, here comes another salesperson selling a competing shop management system with more bells and whistles than the system I had. Thankfully, I didn’t buy it, but I did realize something about myself. Truthfully, I was looking for “shiny pennies” and “magic bullets” that would take my shop to the next level — and I must admit, I tried most of them. Some worked, while others failed miserably. For the ones that failed, I wondered what went wrong, or what didn’t I understand?

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It’s common to want the next big thing
I know I’m not alone in my line of thinking. As a coach today, I work with lots of different shop owners. I’m often asked what I know or think about this “widget” or that marketing tool, or vendor. They often want to try some exciting, new kid on the block that’s preaching radically different ideals that go against proven business practices. Shop owners try these “shiny pennies” and then get discouraged when they don’t get the results promised. It’s also frustrating when they know of shop owners that are using the same widget, service or advice and getting “killer” results. As we talk about these things and dig into why, I have the same answer I’ve learned many years ago at my own shop.

Before I give you the answer, I’m going to share a story that I was told many years before I ever bought my shop, and yet it still applies today.

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