One of our senior coaches, Brian Canning, told me that there is no doubt that in writing this we are going to upset many of you. But if we can get you to take a close look at your shop operation, I think a little of your wrath is well worth my effort. I would apologize in advance to those very rare shops that are doing the things they should be. But for many of you, I am truthfully hoping that the truth hurts enough to get you to act and to correct what is going on in your shop, because that will put you in the best possible position to thrive in this challenging market.
Every day, I have the honor and privilege of coaching great shop owners from across the U.S. and Canada. Many of these shops are hugely successful and are among the very best out there. But most are just regular repair facilities with regular owners, regular service managers and regular inefficiencies.
Lead or Get Someone Who Will
Before I get into the several operational issues I need to discuss, I would talk to you about leadership and accountability. The other items I would talk about are little more than process, but they cannot occur until you take on the role of leader or until you pay somebody to take it on for you. Having the best, most effective procedures will mean little if your people are not doing the things they are supposed to be doing. That can only happen if we have leadership and accountability and somebody insisting that our staff do the things we ask and if we are holding our people accountable for the result.
Most of you, certainly most of the shop owners that I talk to, are reluctant and even scared to take on that role. I would say it again: The best people performing the best plan will fail in their efforts unless somebody is leading them to the promised land of accomplishment. They will not go by themselves and if we are not leading, they arrive as a pack, usually far from where we would want them to be. Leadership ensures that our people perform and makes sure they are doing the things we want them to do and that they are doing it as we would have it done.
Too many of you spend your time developing that perfect process and forget about the leadership and accountability part. Excellence never happens by accident, and you have a much better chance of getting there even working a marginal plan than you do if you leave a great plan to happen all on its own. Do yourself a huge favor and lead.
Stop making the assumption that your people are doing and saying the things you think they are as they interact with your existing and your potential customers. We in the automotive repair industry, and just like everyone else in a service industry, we live and die by the relationships we have with our customers and how well we use the telephone. You would be amazed and likely embarrassed by how poorly our customers are being treated and likely angry at how unwelcoming and unfriendly we are on the phone.