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Acquiring a Growth and Possibility Mindset

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​Earlier this month, I attended a CARSTAR event designed for single shop owners who wanted to expand beyond one shop and multiple shop owners who wanted to continue expanding. A couple of things stood out to me at that gathering.

First, I was grateful to be part of a larger network. As an independent, I never had the opportunities that I have now. For two days, I was treated like royalty! We stayed in a very nice hotel, played golf on a very prestigious course in Georgia that I could never have afforded on my own and then enjoyed a day watching professional golfers play in a PGA event. Even though golf is not my strong suit (and that is putting it mildly!), it was fun to be in an environment like that for some rest and rejuvenation. Secondly, the opportunity to be around strong shop leaders who have a growth mindset was refreshing.    

A growth mindset

During the event, we spent some time brainstorming all the reasons why shop owners don’t make the decision to grow to multiple shops. And frankly, there are some good reasons not to.

This exercise surfaced what my coach Michael Hyatt calls “limiting beliefs.” Limiting beliefs are those obstacles that make growth or progress in any area of our life seem difficult or even impossible. This is where we confronted the most common obstacles in our industry. 

I can’t grow because: 

  • “I don’t have the time to run multiple shops! I barely have the time to run the one I have!” (The time fallacy)
  • “There aren’t enough techs in my area to expand.” (The talent fallacy)
  • “I can’t acquire another shop because the bank will never loan me the money!” (The treasure fallacy)

What I loved about this particular gathering is that the owners, as well as the CARSTAR development team, were not willing to stay there. We certainly didn’t leave with all the answers to the many perplexing challenges that surfaced, and the three above were just a small sample and summary of the many real obstacles that we face as we set out to grow. But, what I appreciated was the willingness to tackle these challenges head-on. We left with a clear resolve to develop a playbook for owners who want to continue to expand. 

Overcoming limiting beliefs

Turning to Hyatt again, he says we replace those limiting beliefs with liberating truths. This is a new framework for me but I want to try to tackle the above limiting beliefs with some liberating truths. Are you with me for this thought experiment?

“I don’t have time to run multiple shops! I barely have enough time to run the one I have!” 

I met a multiple shop owner years ago who told me the hardest thing he ever did was own and operate two stores but the easiest thing he ever did was run 13. How is this possible? What he learned through the process of scaling his business to 13 locations was that he actually had less to do after each acquisition because he was forced to depend on other people. He also had to install processes across his entire enterprise so that the daily operations of any one shop would not depend on him. Once he did those two things, he was actually free of all daily operations and that was when he could scale it to almost any size. Once you have a dependable team and predictable processes in place, scaling is actually the easy part. 

“There aren’t enough technicians in my area to staff an expansion.” 

This limiting belief is an almost constant, nagging companion of mine! I fall prey to this one all the time. What do we do about the tech shortage in our industry? It’s a common theme and lament at almost every body shop conference I’ve been to over the past 10 years. The answer is simple though. We have to recruit and train more technicians. That’s it. Simple but not easy! 

Training can be time-consuming and costly. We can blame “millenials” for not being interested in the trades or point a finger at the vocational schools for not doing their part. But the reality is we, as shop owners and leaders, have to be the ones to solve this issue. If we want more technicians, we have to produce them. 

And it’s possible! After going for many years with no progress in training complete newbies, our shops have produced three new techs who previously had no experience. They came into our shops looking for an opportunity and now all three have become good techs with the potential to become great in the years ahead as they continue to hone their skills. Now that I’ve seen that it’s possible to grow a tech from scratch I’m eager to do it again. And again.  

“I can’t acquire another shop because the bank will never loan me the money!”

A potential investor I met with quickly dispelled this one for me. He said that, for shops that are profitable and have strong operations, money is not the problem. Commercial banks, the SBA, and even private investors are happy to loan money when shops are tuned up and running well. I’ve also experienced first hand that many shop owners who want to sell are willing to carry some and, at times, all of the financing. 

Another source of capital for many shops is their paint company who is sometimes willing to invest in acquisitions in the form of a “pre-bate” where money is given upfront with the understanding that it will be paid back through paint sales in the years ahead. 

What limiting beliefs are holding you back? How might you replace those limiting beliefs with some liberating truths? As Henry Ford famously said, “Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.” 

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