Monday, February 17, 2014

The Adventures of MACH TWO – Chapter 2 By Mike Lee

Mike Lee
Management Success!

(MACH TWO gets his name from the fact that while at work, he is constantly going MACH TWO with his hair on fire).

In the continuing adventures of MACH TWO, a once mild mannered technician turned automotive shop owner, he now confronts the fact that while he seems to have developed a stable business with a bright future, he can't seem to find employees that will do the work on the car with the same thoroughness that he does.

Every time MACH TWO asks an employee to do a job, it is not up to the standard that he sets for the shop.  Also, he can't seem to find anyone that is willing to go get the training necessary to stay up to date on the new cars, even if he pays for them to do this.

Chapter Two:Handling Employee Problems

MACH TWO finds that when he tries to train his people they don't seem motivated enough to learn and don't seem to be able to do the jobs the way that he wants the jobs done.  Eventually, he ends up doing most of the complicated work himself.

It is very important to him that everything that is worked on in his shop be done to his standards.  He is unwilling to settle for less than perfection.

The Effect of Not Being Able To
Adequately Train Employees

Because MACH TWO cannot depend on his employees to complete a quality job he is sometimes forced into hitting Mach Three.  To his credit, MACH TWO is a super technician that insists that the jobs be done right in his shop.  But because he can't seem to get his guys to do the work the way that he wants, it is negatively affecting himself, his personal life and his ability to run his business successfully.

For example:

1.  It is a good thing MACH TWO is young or he would be a good candidate for:

A.  "I am forty-five and I have just had my first heart attack."  OR
B.  "I am getting married for the third time, gee!  I hope this works."

So how do you know if you are having these problems or if you meet the MACH TWO status?  Here are some of the major qualifications and/or symptoms.  These are all qualities that our MACH TWO hero in the story possesses.

1.  Your business has grown to about $10,000 to $25,000 a month.  You have two or three technicians working for you.  You have been at this level of sales for one or more years.

2.  You suffer from the DAD SYNDROME.  You, like our hero MACH TWO, are the only one that can really solve the tough problems in the shop.  You are so busy handling everybody else's problems that you don't have time to run the business.

3.  It used to be fun fixing cars, but lately it has become more and more frustrating because you never have time to do all of the things that you want to do.  So you have become MACH TWO with your hair on FIRE and with a SHORT FUSE.

At this point you and our mild mannered MACH TWO shop owner are no longer mild mannered.  You become known as "A TICKING TIME BOMB ON THE MOVE".  Customers, employees, wives, children notice that you have become a "GRUMPY BEAR."

If you meet some or all of the qualifications of being MACH TWO, here is the PROBLEM:
MACH TWO knows how to fix cars.  He is the best at fixing cars, but he doesn't know how to fix his business and handle his employees.

1.  The only business school that he has attended is the school of HARDKNOCKS.  Of course, he graduated CUM SUMA HEADACHE and is now working on his MASTERS DEGREE in MIGRAINES.

2.  MACH TWO lacks management skill on how to train employees.  He gets frustrated because he cannot teach his employees what he knows. Mostly the problem is that he tries to teach his employees what took him ten years to learn in just two days and then wonders why his employees don't get it.

3.  He lacks the management skills necessary to get his employees OPERATIONAL.  OPERATIONAL means to work well without attention.  He doesn't know how to effectively deal with employees.

Here is the prognosis for our MACH TWO shop owner and for you if some of the above scenarios sound familiar:

A MACH TWO shop owner has got himself stuck in the Stage One of a business.  This is a common problem in the automotive industry.

In Stage One, the owner is doing every job in the shop.  He is the service writer, bookkeeper, legal department, advertising executive, employee director, quality control.  But he spends most of his time fixing cars.

As long as he continues to run his shop this way, he will never grow big and he will not make lots of money and will not have lots of time off.  He has 60 to 70 hour a week job.  He doesn't know it, but he is just an employee of all his customers.  They get great service and a super technician and he gets all the headaches.


MACH TWO needs to learn how to run an automotive business.  It is just like fixing cars.  If you know what you are doing, it doesn't take long to find and fix the problem.  If our mild mannered MACH TWO shop owner doesn't change his way of doing business, he will still be doing it the same way twenty years from  now.

Management Success!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Adventures of MACH TWO – The Mild Mannered Automotive Shop Owner By Mike Lee

Mike Lee
Management Success!

This is a story about a guy who is in the automotive business.  His nickname is MACH TWO.  He has red hair.  The reason for his nickname is that he works hard in his shop all day and always seems to be going MACH TWO with his hair on fire.  But, I am getting ahead of myself.  Let me start at the beginning.

A number of years ago, MACH TWO was a technician at somebody else's shop.  He had been working as a mechanic for about seven years and was considered to be a pretty sharp technician.  He was a good guy who worked hard and seemed to get along with everyone.

MACH TWO had always dreamed of opening his own shop.  Over the years he had build a pretty good reputation during the day at the shop that he worked for and had developed a small clientele of people who he was doing work for out his garage at night and on the weekends.  He had put away quite a bit of money, so when the time was right he decided to open his own business.

Chapter One:
The Beginning

In this first chapter of the continuing adventures of MACH TWO, the mild mannered technician, he has decided to open his own shop.  He has found a nice two-bay shop that he can rent cheaply enough to start his new business. 

The first nine months pass by quickly and MACH TWO is doing well.  Of course, there are many things that he has to deal with that he had never thought about before, like all of that government red tape.

I Am From the Government – Give Me Your Money

It all started with the phone call from the City which indicated that he was not allowed to run a business without a business license.  So MACH TWO went down to the City offices and was asked to fill out all kinds of paperwork that he did not understand.  Although, he was beginning to understand, after paying for his business license, that this being in business was going to cost him some money.

Of course, he needed someone to help him with his paperwork, he knew that.  So he hired a friend as a part-time bookkeeper to help him keep up with the paperwork.  He quickly found out that there sure was a lot of paperwork involved with running a business.  At the garage, he handled everything out of his pocket, not a problem.

And there was that little matter of not having a resale number.  MACH TWO was surprised to see how excited the people from the state sales tax office got when they found out that he had not been charging sales tax on his work.  Luckily, he had enough cash in the bank to handle their bill.  Gee, those city government people just don't seem to have a sense of humor.

But, they seemed calm compared to those guys from the IRS.  When they found out that he hadn't been paying employee taxes, things were a little tense for a while.  Something about going to jail, taking his house and a bunch of other unpleasant stuff.  After all of this, he decided that this was definitely not a fun group to have to handle.  All of these government people seemed to have graduated from the MORTICIAN SCHOOL OF COMEDY.  They were a group that was absolutely too serious.

Many would have been discouraged by now, but not our mild mannered MACH TWO.  All of his money that he had put away was gone, but his business was thriving and he decided that if he could just be left alone to work on the customers' cars, he would be able to make all of his money back rather quickly.

However, just as things start to look up, he has a meeting with his friend, part-time bookkeeper a week before the April 15th tax deadline.  At this meeting, the bookkeeper informs him that he has done real well in his first year in business and he is going to owe the government about $9,000 in taxes.  Which, of course, is just about $8,900 more than he has in his savings account.

Now MACH TWO is really in confusion.  His accountant is telling him that according to what he had worked up from the paperwork that MACH TWO gave him in a PARTS BOX at the year-end, it shows that he has been very profitable and owes the government $9,000 in taxes.

Now MACH TWO is really confused.  His bookkeeper is telling him that he has had a very profitable year and yet he owes the government $9,000 in taxes that he does not have.
MACH TWO having operated his finances for years on the BIG POCKET THEORY of finance, is totally beside himself.  (For those of you who are wondering about the BIG POCKET THEORY, it is a theory which states that if a shop owner has lots of money in his pocket, he has made money and if he has no money in his pocket, he ain't made any money.)

So, finally the mild mannered MACH TWO begins to lose his patience and demands that his NOW ex-friend and SOON TO BE ex-bookkeeper, explain how it could be that he owes $9,000 in taxes when he has no money in his checkbook.

The accountant takes the financial statements and shows MACH TWO the figures which indicate that he has made lots of profit and explains that the government wants its share.  At this point, MACH TWO goes ballistic.  MACH TWO has his own idea of what the figures should be and they do not match at all the figures that the soon to be ex-accountant has worked out.

After much discussion, about the only thing that MACH TWO understands is that somehow he, supposedly, owes the government $9,000 in taxes that he doesn't have.  The bookkeeper says that he might be able to borrow the money from the bank, because his shop is doing so well.

MACH TWO goes home in total confusion.  He had worked so hard to develop a respectable business.  His business was already doing between $10,000 and $15,000 a month in less than a year.  He has 1 – 2 mechanics helping him.

Even with his one or two mechanics helping him he was still working more hours than he has ever done in his life and felt as though he were going backwards.

Before going into the automotive repair business, MACH TWO had put quite a bit of money away in savings and now it was all gone.  Worse yet was the fact that the government wanted $9,000 in taxes that he did not have.

MACH TWO Solution:  MACH TWO decides that this whole government game is horse feathers.  He is not going to give the government money that he doesn't have, so he decides to get a computer and have the wife do the books and he going to run his business on the industry famous NRU method of accounting.  (NRU stands for NEVER RUNG UP.)

Real Solutions:

1.  MACH TWO needs to get a good accountant.  One that doesn't work for the IRS.
2.  MACH TWO needs to learn to quit fixing cars and start learning how to run his business.

In the next chapter of The Adventures of MACH TWO, MACH TWO runs into employee problems.