Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Care Factor (The Perfect Shop Series) By Mike Lee Management Success!

Mike Lee
Management Success!

Getting Others to do it Your Way

Many times I have gone into really successful shops and found that the owner doesn't feel that he can leave for long periods of time, because he can’t seem to get his technicians and service writers to handle people and the problems of the business the way that he wants them handled.

The owner is often reluctant to turn over complete control of the operation to his manager or service writer because of concerns of how the business will run, how the customers will be treated and if the cars will be fixed to his standards.

This reluctance shows up in various forms. The following is a list of common complaints that I have heard from many owners on the problems they are having getting their employees to do it the owner’s way:
  1. “ I've told them how to do it a thousand times and they still do it wrong!”
  2. “I have to check every car myself in order to make sure that they are done to my standards.”
  3. “ I've hired service writers that can really sell, but they’re too aggressive.”
  4. “If I’m not here, things do not get done correctly.”
  5. “I can’t find good people who will do the job the way that I want.”
There are many other versions of this basic problem, but these are most of the common responses that I've heard.

I've Told Them A Thousand Times

This is a very popular response to the problem of getting others to do the job the way the owner wants. The owner tells the service writer or the technician over and over again how he wants it done, and can’t understand why nobody is able to get it. They become very agitated and upset on this problem. For some owners, it really drives them crazy.

Unfortunately, that is the problem. They have told the guy over and over again how to do it, but not exactly the same. The real source of the problem is the owner knows 57 separate pieces about handling the problem, but to him it is all just one concept.

One day, he tells the employee pieces #1, #5, #13, #23, #32, #47, #55, but leaves out the rest of the data. The next time, he tells them differently. He tells pieces #1, #7, #9, #17, # 21, #27, etc. The point here is that he never tells them all of the data and never tells them the same way twice. Is it little wonder that the poor employee gets confused and is unable to do it the way the owner wants?

I Have To Check Every Car

I visited this extremely successful collision shop where they worked on exotic foreign cars; Ferrari Testarossas, etc. The owner is an extreme perfectionist. He has only one standard in terms of working on the car and the results that he expects his shop to produce: To him every car has to be perfect.

As a result of this standard, cars from all over the world are shipped to his shop to be fixed. He has no shortage of work. To him one of the biggest problems is getting the guys that work for him to do the job the way he wants it.

My Service Writer Makes Me Nervous

I have talked to several very successful shops where they were doing really good numbers, but the owner was never comfortable with their service writer. Their complaint was that their service writer was a “little too good.”

Their problem was they were unable to get their service writer to sell with the same care factor they had. This is especially true with the owner; he was a very good service writer and was very successful at handling customers

Most owners know that their business was built on customer trust and satisfaction. They really were able to communicate and demonstrate to their customers their honesty and integrity and most of all, their care factor.

Customers left their shop with the sense that they could trust the owner and the people that work for him would take care of their car and treat them honestly. The owner was able to know which customers needed what and were able to give each the correct handling. They were never perceived to be “too aggressive” by their customers.

Unfortunately, they seem to have problems finding people that will handle their customers’ problems and will treat their customers the same way that they do.

Usually this problem is caused by bad experiences with having other people handling their customers in the past. When it happens, the shop owner decides to make sure that it never happens again. As a result, they are stuck in the shop, unwilling to turn it over because they can’t find the right person.

When I Am Not Here, Things Are Not Handled Like I Want

Oftentimes, I talk to very successful shop owners about the ability to come and go as they want. Some owners complain that some things just do not get done the way they want when they are not there.

I listen to them complain that they can be gone for a couple hours or a couple days and when they come back, a lot of things are not getting done right. This can be from not keeping the place clean or doing a full check out of cars or handling some customers correctly.

I knew one shop owner that was very good at handling upset customers and couldn’t seem to get anyone to be able to do it the same way. So he would sit in his shop all day, fooling around waiting to handle that one customer for the week that had a problem or upset.

I Can’t Seem To Find Good People

Yikes! If I had a dollar for every time that I heard that statement from a shop owner, I would be one of the richest men on earth.

This problem usually shows up in areas that the owner is really good at. Usually when I hear this one, I find that the owner is a perfectionist and tends to not have a lot of patience with untrained people.

Really, it tends to boil down to the fact that the owner is very good at some or all of the major responsibilities of the business and has very high standards. Training new people drives him crazy. He usually decides that he is better off doing the job himself.

Sometimes, the owner has been burnt so badly by hiring the wrong people in the past, that he becomes very reluctant to hire anyone.

Cement On The Feet

Little does the owner with the above problems realize, that when he gives up and decides that he is better off doing it himself or overseeing the operation on a daily basis, that he might as well be pouring cement on his feet. He is sentencing himself to permanently being stuck in the shop.

The Real Solution

All of the above problems can be solved and handled by the owner learning some very important management tools.

1. How to document the successful actions or procedures of key jobs or hats. Most of their problems would be solved if they would do this.

The biggest problem is that most owners have large amounts of experience and knowledge on how to do everything, but most of it is in their heads. They become overwhelmed by the thought of having to document all of this stuff and oftentimes, do not see the value in having it written up in a job description or hat.

The real problem is they don’t know how to document the job description or hat correctly. They think that it is impossible and it will take 7 years to do.

In reality, it should take less than 2 or 3 days to write up and get their job transferred successfully to their employees. If they only knew how, they would have been free a long time ago.

2. Getting others to have the same care factor. There are three parts to this step.
  • Hiring the right guy for the job.
  • Knowing how to quickly train someone to do the job.
  • Getting the employee to duplicate the owner’s way of doing things and doing it with the same care factor.
It starts with the ability to hire the right guy. It is very hard to train a person who does not understand the relationship of the customer and future business. This is one of the key pieces of being an executive. You must know how to evaluate employees correctly.

Next, it is important to know how to train a new employee quickly. Most owners know too much and try to cram 15 years of experience in a two week period, with disastrous results. The basic rule on training new people on a job is: Teach them to do the job first and then teach them why you do it that way.

The last one is the vital one, if you are ever going to leave the shop for a year. It consists of transferring the care factor. Most owners concentrate on the mechanics of the job. They teach the new person how to do this and how to do that. That is not the trick. The trick is to get them to think like you would when handling a problem or customers. You really want them to run it like they own it and it was their shop.

If It Was Your Business Would You Do It That Way!

I remember talking to a guy who was working on a new home. I watched him installing a pipe and then asked him what he was doing. After he told me, I asked him if it was his house, would he do the job that way. He responded “No”. Obviously I would not have left this guy in charge of my business and probably neither would you.


Achieving the goal of freedom from the business is near-and-dear to most owners. Getting there requires the right plan or blueprint for success. At Management Success! we have the blueprint and the tools that will allow you to achieve your dreams if this is what you want. So the only question is: do you want it? I invite you to fill out the simple Shop Owners Free Online Analysis and visit us at

Wishing you Success!
Mike Lee

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