Monday, September 23, 2013

Why You Need Management Training By Bob Spitz Management Success!

Bob Spitz
Snr VP Business Dev
Management Success
There was a time when having good mechanical skills, some common sense and a dose of good luck was enough to have a successful auto repair business.  That time is gone forever.  To have a successful business today requires strong management skills, and these skills can only be obtained through solid training in the area of management.  

What Does Management Mean?
First off let’s clarify what is meant by Management Training.  The dictionary definition of manage is: organize; regulate; be in charge of something. A good technician needs to be able to organize and regulate their tools, equipment, time, and work space in order to successfully get the job of servicing and repairing vehicles done.  This ability is different from the ability to actually perform the repair or service, but no less important.

Technicians go to school for years and continue their technical training to keep up with the ever changing modern vehicle. The management skills needed to be a professional technician is fairly easy to learn and does not take a long time. But these skills do not translate easily to the task of managing a business. Yet it is only these management skills that most owners are relying on to manage their businesses. 

Managing employees, finances, customers, flow lines, advertising takes a much higher level of education in order to be successful as a business person.  To have a successful business, business management skills are needed.

Goals and Planning
Before anything can be managed there has to be an overall plan of attack.  Planning a business requires having a know goal or objective that is trying to be achieved.  What is the purpose of the business?  Where does the owner want the business to go?
Once this is known then planning can occur.  There are three basic areas that require planning: Organization, Finance and Marketing.  By far organization planning is the most complicated as this involves the proper use of space and employees. 

To be successful a true team needs to be developed yet employee management is one of the trickiest areas.  Knowing how to recruit and hire good people, how to compensate them correctly, train them to do their jobs and when they don’t how to correct, discipline and motive them? There is a tremendous amount an owner needs to learn about people. 

In order to get the most out of the employees in a business the business has got to be organized.  But what does that really mean.  Organizing is the act of lining things up in a logical sequence so that at the end we have something done, and done in a smooth and efficient manner.  Twenty-five percent of an owners day needs to be spent on this process and this includes training.  To get the maximum production out of an area the people in the area must be trained in the jobs they are doing.

Financial planning is more than having an accountant that can be trusted.  Financial planning requires that the owner of the business knows how to set up the finance area of the business in order to get accurate information quickly, know what the numbers mean and then steer the business into good financial condition.  That means the owner has to know how to read the reports, control expenses, create solvency and invest wisely.  An owner of an auto service facility needs to have the same level of training and skill in this area as in any area of the business.  It can not be left to someone else to do.

There are many theories and opinions regarding marketing and advertising an automotive service facility.  What works in one part of the country does not mean it will work in another.  In fact, you can have a successful campaign in one part of a town, and have it do nothing in another part of the same town!  Understanding the principals behind why this is is critical for any business owner to understand.  The people in our industry tend to copy what someone else is doing without any knowledge as to what works and what doesn’t.  It gets to be a bad case of the blind-leading-the-blind.  Advertising is not cheap, and an owner needs to know what will and will not work in his or her market.

Marketing planning has to be thought through completely with true information at hand, and it needs to be done well out into the future.  The success of any business relies on knowing and having the knowledge of marketing basics.

I have touch on three key elements in this article.  They are by no means the only areas that an owner has to be skilled in handling.  So when we look at the modern day automotive facility and the emotional and financial investment most people make in their businesses it becomes clear that knowing how to diagnose and repair vehicles, although important, is not where the money is for the owner.  Get trained in the techniques that will help you be successful: Get Management Training!

Management Success!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Are You Operating Your Business for the Problem Customer? by Mike Lee Management Success!

Mike Lee
Management Success!
One of the most commonly asked questions at any type of sales or management seminar is "How do I handle problem customers?"  The problem customer tends to drive most automotive shop owners crazy. What is a problem customer? A problem customer is someone who demands special handling and unusual solutions. Here are ten indicators that you probably have a problem customer in front of you. Problem customers say (and do) things like this:

• “I have my own parts, but can you put them on for me?”

• “I called the dealer and found out that I could have bought the exhaust output muffler bearing for less than what you charged me.”

• “Can you tell me what the firing order is for my 1989 Chevrolet?”

• “Don't worry about the fact that the brakes won't stop the car, just do that ‘special’.”

• “Since you worked on my car, I can't seem to tune in to Radio Moscow anymore.”

• “You opened the door and my engine fan flew off and destroyed my radiator. What are you going to do about it?”

• “Can you put an Allison Transmission in my Toyota?”

• A customer calls you from Outer Mongolia about his failed fan clutch that you once worked on. He insists that you give him $800, the amount it cost him to tow his car to the nearest shop. He also says that he wants $1500 for his hotel bill from his three-day stay at the if-you-got-to-ask-the-rate-you-can't-afford-it hotel. He also mentions that he intends to collect for his loss of wages and at least $1000 for emotional distress.

• A customer with a name like Mr. Super Critical-Jones, owner of the car from hell, demands that you completely redo the job on his car because it is still not working right. Of course, you can't find anything wrong with it. You have worked on his car six times and he has never once been satisfied.

•  A guy calls you and says that he is the boyfriend of a woman whose car you just fixed. He claims that the car didn't need that much work and that you have ripped her off. He threatens to sue you.

Even dealing with a few of these types of customers a week is enough to increase your blood pressure to well over 400. Unfortunately, the tendency is to start creating unusual company policies to make sure that you NEVER have this kind of problem again. You start running your business to handle the problem customer.  This is a mistake. You tend to remember only the troublesome customers, and not the majority of really nice people that come into your shop, who go along with the way that you do business, and refer their friends to you. The right way to run a successful operation that makes you lots of money is to pay attention to those quiet, non-troublesome customers that are fairly easy to deal with and who are the real reason you are in business.

Quit running your business for the problem customer! You would be better off if you would refer all of them to some other shop in town. When you recognize that you have a problem customer in front of you, be polite and indicate that, unfortunately, you are probably not the one that can best handle the customer's car problems. You can, however, recommend a shop down the street that would be better qualified to service his/her needs.
Management Success! Auto Shop Analysis