Envision Your Success, Then Plan on It
A step-by-step growth plan leads to a better business—especially when you broadcast it to your employees.
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Four years ago, Livonia Collision in Livonia, Mich., was a really small shop. About 15 cars a week were repaired, and annual revenues were $400,000. The shop’s owner, Bill Fernimos, knew there was room to grow.
So in 2006, he set the shop up for a breakthrough by creating a detailed growth plan that called for landing more jobs, becoming more efficient, and improving communication between his front office and the shop floor. “Setting these goals gave me a clear idea how to advance my business, and [pointed out] things I should be discussing with my employees,” Fernimos says.
The plan worked: Fernimos landed a contract with a large automotive dealer, increasing the shop’s business 300 percent to as many as 45 cars a week. He improved shop efficiency by implementing a full disassembly estimating method, which improved technician productivity and dropped cycle time 25 percent. Regular planning meetings improved shop communication, and that reduced the stress level in the shop and cut employee turnover by more than 50 percent.
or believe in, a culture will exist within your
shop—and it may not be the culture you want.”
—Sharon Gregory, instructor,
PPG’s MVP Business Solutions courses
With these improvements, Livonia Collision is set to break $1 million in revenue this year. Fernimos says he couldn’t have done it without a clearly written strategic growth plan, including strategies to get his employees on board with the changes that the plan required.
The wisdom of creating such a plan is not lost on Sharon Gregory, owner of Tega Cay, S.C.–based SBG Learning Strategies and instructor for PPG’s MVP Business Solutions courses. Without one, she says, shop operators tend to get stuck in the day-to-day operations, often overlook key changes in the industry, and lag behind competitors who mind the cutting edge. “The leadership of the business [works] really hard, [yet] never makes progress toward improvement,” Gregory says. But with a road map to the future, for you and your team, you’ll have a great driver for success.
Vision for the Future
Shop consolidation, technology, social media—it all adds up to big challenges in the industry, says John Martin, manager for PPG Industries Performance Learning, and author of MVP Business Solutions programs. Those developments have made it crucial for repairers to think about the future, and how their business will fit into it.
That’s not often an easy task, especially when you’re already swamped with work. So start small with a basic SWOT analysis: analyze the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of your business, and a vision for the future will “slap you right in the face,” says Sean Carey, owner of SCG Management Consultants.
• Identify your values. Think about the ideals your business is built on, and identify the important aspects to uphold—like honesty, integrity, customer focus or teamwork, Gregory says.
“If you don’t know what values you uphold or believe in, a culture will exist within your shop—and it may not be the culture you want,” Gregory says. And the wrong culture can breed low productivity and distrust among employees.
• Write a vision statement. A vision statement specifically defines and describes the future of your business. It should be a mantra that employees see and hear on a regular basis, Gregory says. Write and post your vision statement so every employee can see it every day.
• Write a mission statement. A mission statement describes the things your business will do on a daily basis to achieve your vision for the future, Gregory says. It’s different from the vision statement in that it drives your day-to-day activities. (For more on creating a mission statement, see “On the Same Page.")
• Set goals. Goals outline specific achievements that will help fulfill your mission and vision, Gregory says. Tackle three goals at a time. Make them specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound, so you can easily determine your progress toward achievement.
• Determine your processes. Once your goals are set, lay out processes and activities that help you to accomplish them. “Articulate your plan in writing,” Martin says. “Otherwise, you won’t have a clear picture of what you need to accomplish, and you won’t be able to effectively communicate those ideas to your employees.”
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