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I have been a shop owner for many years. But now, I would like to focus on improving my skills in leadership and business planning. Where are the best places to obtain this type of training?

Bill Sefcek, president, Stan Mitchell Enterprises:

All shop owners should eventually get to a point where they realize they need to keep learning to make their business a stronger organization. You should never be satisfied with what you have. Always be thinking about what you can do to take your business to a higher level.

Shop owners should constantly be thinking about and planning for the following: succession management, project management, business structure, strategic business relationships, administrative efficiency, delegation, marketing, sales and overall management.

In terms of training, identify where your biggest weakness or deficiency is as a business owner. Go after training courses that will teach you those skills.

There are business training courses available specific to the collision repair industry. The Automotive Management Institute (AMI) is one example. That is a great training avenue for new shop owners because it offers basic, foundational leadership ideas to put together in your business.

However, those courses are not as beneficial for seasoned shop owners. When you’re focused on overall business improvement, it’s not necessary to enroll in training that is specifically designed for the collision industry. You need to learn about business, not industry-related business.

Enrolling in business or leadership courses at a college, community college or business school will offer the most value. Those entities provide high-level business courses on many subjects that will expand the way you think about your operation. Post-secondary schools offer great networking opportunities because you’ll likely meet and interact with other business people in your community.

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