A few years ago I was called to consult with the owner of a transmission shop that wasn’t doing well. The owner was depressed. He blamed the economy for his troubles and believed that nobody had any money. He was doing about half the business that he had been doing a couple of years earlier. He didn’t know what to do to improve things.
I got right to work attacking his attitude. “With your lousy attitude, it’s no wonder business is so bad!”
I asked how much business he was currently doing each month. He said that he was doing about $20,000 a month. I asked him how many other transmission shops there were in his area. He told me that there were six other shops that did nothing but transmission work. After some rough calculations, we figured that there was about $200,000 a month in transmission work being done in his area, which was down from about $400,000 two years earlier.
Then I pointed out that his REAL problem was that he wasn’t getting enough of the business that was there.
I asked what his “break-even point” was. He said that if he made about $21,000 a month he’d be able to pay all the bills. I asked how much business it would take to really make money. He said about $27,000 a month. We figured out that all he needed was to get about two more big jobs a week to be really profitable.
Then I gave him my four-question Attitude Test:
1. Do you come in to work later than you used to? Do you want to go home earlier because it is slow?
2. Do you assume the customer is not going to buy or doesn’t have the money instead of taking the attitude that he is going to buy and you are not going to let him out of there until he does?
3. Have you stopped doing a full road check on each car and stopped using a diagnostic road check form and a complete checkout on the rack because you know he doesn’t have any money?
4. Do you set your daily target and weekly target and go after it?
He gave all the Bad Attitude answers (“Yes” on #1, #2 and #3, and “No” on #4) and, with a bad attitude, proceeded to tell me it was all impossible and nothing could be done about it. Then I broke the news to him.
I told him that it was easy to get two more jobs a week if he had the right attitude. I set a target for him to sell a certain dollar amount, enough to be profitable, for each day of the next week and gave him several other things that I wanted him to do.
The following week, he did about double the business of his average week. I asked him how much of the business was due to the difference in his attitude. He admitted that he got three jobs that he wouldn’t normally have gotten, ALL BECAUSE OF AN IMPROVED ATTITUDE! (By the way, he is currently averaging about $27,000 a month.)
But there is another, perhaps even more common way in which the owner’s attitude affects his income. Your attitude directly affects how your employees respond to you and the amount and quality of work they produce.
I used to start each morning in the shop by having a small meeting with the employees. I would go over what we had to accomplish for the day and what I expected. If we were busy, I’d tell them, “I don’t want anyone standing around–I expect things to happen!” If things were slow, I would say, “When everything is done and the shop is cleaned up, then you can relax.” If I needed extra effort from them that day, I would tell them this so they knew what I needed. If it was going to be a just a normal-flow day, I would take a few minutes to make them laugh and then tell them to get to work. No matter what, I made sure to set a positive tone for the day.
If it wasn’t too hectic, I would also make a point of going out into the shop once in the morning and once in the afternoon to talk to each guy and see how it was going, to make him laugh and to keep him pointed in the right direction. The effect that this creates is amazing. Some owners don’t realize how many employees are willing to work hard simply to get an “ATTA-BOY” from the boss.
When your attitude is good, you’ll remember to communicate with your employees and acknowledge the good work they do. When your attitude is bad and you only complain, it drags everyone and everything down.
Attitude is a big factor in success. If you’re tired of feeling bad or if you’re not accomplishing what you want to, maybe it’s just an attitude problem. If so, go ahead and give yourself an ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT–a “check-up from the neck up.”
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