The Importance of Drawing out a Plan
SHOP STATS: E&M Auto Body Repair Location: River Grove, Ill. Operator: Emil Falek Average Monthly Car Count: 30 Staff Size: 8 Shop Size: 10,000 square feet (between two buildings); Annual Revenue;$1.2 million
Emil Falek believes that what’s not written is not real.
Throughout his day at E & M Auto Body Repair—the shop he owns and operates in the Chicago area—Falek carries a pen and paper on him almost everywhere he goes. From mapping out the day’s schedule to writing down his future goals, physically drawing things out is what keeps him consistent in his business practices.
“I would say that I am consistent. I am a consistent person,” Falek says. “The consistency in our work, and the consistency that I have in running my shop on a day-to-day basis is what really makes us stand apart in the area.”
Falek came to the U.S. with a few hundred dollars in his pocket, only some knowledge of the English language and a dream. Beginning to work on cars at just 16 years old in his home country of Poland, Falek has moved his way up the ranks and has illustrated his version of the American dream.
Falek has been able to make his dream of opening up his own auto body shop come true through fostering genuine relationships with his customers, employees and other operators in the industry. But what’s one thing that has been a large contributor to his success? Drawing out his plans and ambitions on paper.
With goals to expand his $1.2 million business, improve cycle time, and increase profits over the upcoming years, Falek plans to rely on his system of drawing out detailed plans to accomplish his goals.
Every day I wake up at 5 a.m., get dressed and get ready. I’m in my shop by 6 a.m. to start opening things up and doing all of the typical prep work. But before my technicians arrive, I always grab my notebook and a pen and start drawing out a plan of what I want to accomplish that day.
At 8 a.m. sharp, I run meetings. We have a meeting every single day, and in these meetings, everyone participates and contributes to the discussion of what we have to tackle for the day. I draw a plan on a board in front of everyone and from that, every technician knows exactly what to do.
We break it down person by person, so that every individual has his or her day laid out in front of them. We also talk about new or exciting things in the industry that everyone should know, or issues that may have come up the day before.
I think these meetings are vital, as we talk through every single car in the shop. I have my suggestions, but in this meeting, we all bring ideas and the technicians share everything they know about a car, express any concerns they may have, and get to ask questions before they get started working on it. Our morning meeting only takes about 20 minutes, but it’s extremely important in order to keep everyone on the same page.
After our daily meeting, I go back to my desk and I take notes on everything. I draw everything out. I have a strong belief that what’s not written, is not real. Whether it’s how many cars we have in the shop, deliveries we have coming in, paperwork I have to prep—it doesn’t matter. I need to write things down to help keep me efficient and keep all of my employees on the same page.
Usually around noon, I’m able to wrap up most of my office work. After a quick lunch, I go back to my office, walk the shop again and take some more notes. My work day is full of repetition to ensure that everything is running smoothly. I’m constantly checking in with my team to see if anyone needs anything.
I believe that there are a lot of owners out there who don’t talk with their technicians. I’m friends with my employees. I’m family with my employees. I truly believe that we’re all working as one team. An auto body shop isn’t made up of individual people working for themselves, and the only way we can run a business like this is to work as one family.
Of course the bulk of what I do is shop management, but I occasionally work as a technician. I work on cars, wash cars, do anything to help out. If my body guy needs me, I’m there. If my family needs me, I’m there.
I dedicate a lot of my time in the afternoon to marketing. About two days out of the week, I schedule at least two hours strictly for marketing efforts. I do my best to pay attention to what’s happening on Facebook and on our website. Like in every other area, I draw out a plan and write down exactly what I want to accomplish in terms of advertising and how I want to do it.
Our shop also offers services in three different languages—English, Polish and Spanish—which often plays a big role in our marketing. The possibility of getting more work is so much greater. Our region is dense in different cultures, so this has really helped set us apart in the Chicago market.
A lot of this energy is connecting with some of our key customers and stakeholders. I’m always thinking, Who do I visit today? Who do I want to drink coffee with?
The most important people for me to stay connected with are those who constantly send work to our shop. It’s often just grabbing a donut and saything thank you for the opportunities they give my team. If their business is really significant, I usually give them gift cards as a token of appreciation.
The time that I leave the shop varies from day to day, but I try not stay later than 6 p.m. I have a family and kids, and they’re my most important reason for why I do what I do. My family is what drives me every day.
But as an owner, of course, the work carries beyond being at the shop. I am constantly creating goals for my team to work toward. Setting goals is extremely important to me, and all of my goals directly relate to my efforts of trying to build the best life possible for me and my family.
My current goals that I have written down are to become an aluminum certified collision facility, get on Allstate’s DRP and reach I-CAR Platinum certification.
My career has been quite the journey. I saw things in my head, I had a picture in my head, and I wanted to hold it in my hands. I am so happy with where I am at now, being a citizen of the U.S., and I’m proud that I live here and have been given great opportunities.
I believe in the law of attraction. If you are a good person, you will attract good people. And I always make sure to draw this law into my plans.