Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Road to the Perfect Shop (The Perfect Shop Series) By Mike Lee Management Success!

Mike Lee
Management Success!
Most owners in the automotive industry would agree that the following list is what the perfect shop would be for them:

1. It would be a very profitable and expanding business.
2. It would produce high-quality service for the customers.
3. The employees would treat the customers with the same care factor as the owner would.
4. It would run well without the owner having to be there.
5. It would be "A Self-Fixing Business," meaning any problems would be easily handled.

But, there seems to be different levels of success in obtaining their vision. In talking to them, it becomes apparent that, while most are sure they are on the right road, they don’t seem to know exactly how to do it. This is because there is no agreed-upon method of getting there. If you talk to 15 shop owners, you will tend to get 15 different answers on the route to achieving this vision.

The answers for each shop are different. It is because each owner has different strengths and weaknesses and each shop is in a different overall condition.

The Road to the Perfect Shop

The problem is similar to having 15 people in 15 different locations spread out over 3,000 miles all trying to arrive at the same location. Each person is going to take different routes to arrive at the perfect shop. However, if they all are going to be successful, there are some basic things each person needs:
  1. He would have to own a car (a shop).
  2. He would have to know how to drive (run the business).
  3. He would need a map (need to have a plan).
  4. He would need to know exactly where he is located (know what his current situation is).
  5. He would need to know exactly where he is located on the map  (know where he should start on the journey).
  6. He would need to know exactly where he wants to go (has the vision of the Perfect Shop).
  7. He would need to know where the final destination is on the map (know what the Perfect Shop is).
  8. He would need to know how to navigate correctly to the Perfect Shop (has a system to know where he is and know which way to go at all times).

Where Are You Located?

It is important to correctly assess your current business situation. This assessment will give you a lot of insight on what you have to do in order to achieve the perfect business.

The trip to a Perfect Business is going to be much different for an owner who has recently opened his shop and is currently working alone than an owner who just bought a shop that is already successful and is doing over a $100,000 a year.

There are several key factors that determine how long it will take and if the shop owner actually ends up at his final destination. However, none of these factors have anything to do with selling work or fixing cars. In some cases, it is better if the owner has never fixed a car or sold a job.

What Job Are You Doing?

The following is a list of jobs that some owners are doing:
  1. Mechanic: This person is working in the business. He is either being the Service Writer or involved in fixing the cars.
  2. Driver: This person is managing his business. He has others handling customers and fixing the cars.
  3. Navigator: This person is directing his business. In a multi-store operation, this person would be the General Manager. He has a manager to drive the car (run the business).
  4. Owner: This person has the perfect business. He just monitors the progress of the business from whereever he wants to be.

Being the Mechanic

The owner that is still heavily working in the business, either fixing cars or handling customers or both, is limiting his growth and expansion. I have never seen a one-man band do $50,000 a month in sales.

He is doing too many things at once and there is a limit to the amount of cars that he can handle. Also, he never does any of these jobs as well as if he was just being a mechanic or just being the Service Writer.

Likewise, I have never seen a shop do $80,000 dollars a month with the owner being the Service Writer without any assistance, either in the form of a receptionist or an assistant Service Writer.

The problem with the owner working in the business is he is not doing the job of the owner. He can’t concentrate on the big picture when he is busy fixing cars. So an owner who is being a mechanic is working on getting his own car (the business) ready for the trip to the Perfect Business.

As long as he continues to work on the car (in the business), he won’t be able to become the driver and get the car (the business) on the road toward the Perfect Business.   He must work on the car only from the viewpoint of getting someone else to do the job, so he can start operating from the big picture.

Being the Driver

When the owner turns over the job of handling the customers or fixing the cars to someone else, he is able to expand and concentrate on driving the car (the business) on the road. So by becoming the manager, he is better able to start looking at the big picture. The car (the business) will continue to expand so long as he doesn’t work on the car.

Eventually, the car can only go so fast with the owner being the driver. The problem with being the driver is, as the owner, he is going as fast as he can and will tend to take the wrong exits and the wrong turns and sometimes end up heading the wrong way. It is almost impossible to drive and navigate at the same time.

I have never seen a shop successfully do $180,000 a month consistently, while the owner continues to be the manager.

Being the Navigator

In the big long-distance races, they always have a driver and a navigator. They work together as a team. The driver’s job is to drive as fast as he can and not worry about the things coming up in the next five miles.

The Navigator (the Owner or General Manager) tells the driver (the Manager) which way to turn and what is coming up. The driver’s job is then to make it happen as fast as possible.

The Navigator has a map (a plan) where he has already laid out the best way to get to the finish line. He uses his Global Positioning System (the statistics) to tell him where they are at all times. This way he is able to monitor their progress and give the driver the key instructions of what is coming up next so all the driver has to do is to execute the new order.

Actually, there is no limit to the size of the operation when the owner assumes the role of the Navigator (the Owner) instead of being the Driver (the Manager).

The Perfect Business

The last step for the owner is being able to make the shop self-fixing and stable. There are several important factors necessary to accomplish this successfully:

  1. The Owner must have the blueprint of the Perfect Business.
  2. The Owner must have the right people in place (needs a good driver an/ or navigator.)
  3. The Owner must be able to get them to handle the customers and the problems and fix the cars with his care factor (drive the car the way he wants).
  4. The Owner must have either a strong desire to further expand the current business, or a driving urge to start new, different and exciting games (must have strong desire to win).
So where are you on the road to the Perfect Business?

Wishing you success,
Mike Lee

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