Shop Life Columnists

Boggs: Truth and Cliché

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Time flies when you’re having fun. 
What goes around comes around. 

Are you the type of person who throws out clichés all the time or the person who replies “that’s so cliché," when someone else mentions one? Either way, oft-repeated statements become cliché usually because there’s some truth in them. It’s difficult to go an entire day without hearing at least one cliché. Here are some of my favorites: 

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. The last year and a half gave our industry more lemons than we’ve ever seen. But here we are, halfway through 2021, drinking our lemonade.  As Mike Anderson has said, “If there were a nuclear war, the only two things that would survive are cockroaches and body shops.” We should take a moment to be thankful that we are in an industry that is such a necessity. Most shop owners I’ve talked to recently say they are in a far better position than they were at the beginning of 2020. They either got some overdue building improvements done, right-sized their staff, or hustled to find new work sources. All that and more makes for some refreshing lemonade.  

God made us with two ears and one mouth. The art of listening is dying a slow and painful death, which makes it a skill of increasing value. In the age of social media, it’s easy to want to spout off our opinion on all and every subject. Heck, here I am sharing my opinions as I type! Yet listening is so much more rewarding. A quote by Andy Stanley gives weight to the dangers of not listening: “Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.” Our team, our customers, and our partners all have had some great insights to offer over the years. Without listening to them, we would not have been able to make the small pivots that were necessary to keep growing.  

Haste makes waste. As an industry, we are hounded by all stakeholders do our job faster. I have written at length about how inefficient our industry is and that without a doubt we have room to improve our cycle time. However, we must remember our industry’s top priority, which is making the vehicles we repair safe for passenger travel. If we race through these repairs to move our cycle time down by .1 hour to get a better “report card” grade, we might find ourselves paying a far bigger price. The time to research and plan how we are going to repair a vehicle is increasing; it should not be done hastily. 

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What passes as an acceptable repair in our industry is embarrassing. We’ve all seen vehicles come into our shops that have been poorly repaired before. We should not allow that to influence how we perform that current repair. The customer obviously didn’t go back to that shop. Considering that most people don’t feel their vehicle will ever be the same after an accident, what happens when we deliver a vehicle to pre-accident condition? The answer: You win a customer and their referrals, which are far more valuable than cutting a few corners to save on cost. The competition in our industry is fiercer than ever—don’t let your quality be the reason you lose a customer. Remember, the owner of the vehicle is the beholder. 

Don’t put the cart ahead of the horse. OEM certifications have been a big topic of conversation in recent years. You will need to commit plenty of resources in order to achieve these certifications. If you haven’t investigated them, the time is now. The lesson from the cliché is to make a plan of what certifications your shop should get before diving in. You don’t want to start applying for them without doing the research first. Look over your work history to see what manufacturers you are repairing more of, make a tool-requirement list for each OE, research what tech training is required, and determine the financial investment required. Certifications will likely play an important role in your future work volume and, without a plan, you could waste precious capital in the process. 

Teamwork makes the dream work. There’s been so much written about how difficult it is to find help that it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that our teammates are irreplaceable. I’ve made that mistake more than once. Several times throughout my career, I’ve had a skilled tech on a team with a bad attitude. After pouring many hours into attempts to correct that attitude, I made the difficult decision to part ways with a skilled and proficient tech. Every time I’ve made that decision, I’ve never regretted it. As a matter of fact, I realized I waited far too long to make that decision. I’ll take a good attitude over skill any day of the week, and twice on Sunday. As for this month’s column, the fat lady is singing. 

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