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Don’t Sleep on the Coaches

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In the age of massive conglomeration in the collision repair industry, many shop owners are left wondering what they can do to keep a competitive edge. 

There are many solutions that could capture the attention of a shop owner, but a much slept-on option is hiring a professional business coach to help your organization. 

But is hiring a business coach still a worthwhile investment? Or has the time passed for this tool’s success?

This is where John Waters, CEO of Waters Business Consulting Group, enters the conversation. Waters offers his insight on the good that a business coach or consultant still offers a business owner. 


What are the Differences Between a Coach and Other Solutions?

While many other solutions aim to grow a collision repair shop, none quite compete with what a business coach brings to the table, says Waters. 

“Many solutions require the business owner to manage their own commitment to what they are working on improving,” says Waters. 

But in his more than a decade of experience, Waters has discovered that attempts to grow your shop often fall to the wayside without the proper accountability mechanisms in place.

“The greatest advantage that a coach offers you is how they will hold your shop accountable to your goals,” says Waters. 

Waters says that every client wants a roadmap of how to achieve their goals. But if you just gave them the map and left, most of the time they wouldn’t stick to it. 

Waters uses the DISC behavioral assessment to classify people that he encounters. Most times Waters finds that the entrepreneurial types are ‘high D’ or ‘dominant’ on the profile. 

“Simply put, this means that entrepreneurs get distracted easily, don’t focus on the details, and want to jump to the next things before the previous are done,” says Waters. 

Consultants and coaches are able to provide an objective and accountable voice that will keep business owners on the roadmap. 


What Makes a Coach a Good Fit for your Shop?

When a shop is looking to hire a coach or consultant, there are so many options that the process can become overwhelming. 

“An important part of this process is to find a coach that really meshes well with your organization,” says Waters. “It will make the process much easier.”

When looking for a professional business coach or consultant, Waters says that the most important thing is ensuring that their core values are aligned with your shops. 

If you have spent a few years building a particular culture, imagine what hiring someone who goes against the culture w do to your team. 

“Much of the decision should also be largely based on whether or not the personality and character of the consultant really meshes with how you want them to act,” says Waters. 

Waters also goes on to say that the experience of the coach is also very important. The coach or consultant should have an extensive history with entrepreneurship. 

“You don’t want someone who just worked a corporate job,” says Waters. “You want someone who has started businesses, failed, tried again, and experienced the ups and downs of owning your own business.” 


What Does the Process Look Like?

The process really only contains three steps, says Waters. The first step is working with the owner to identify their goals. The second is analyzing the business and the third step is creating a strategic implementation plan. 

“The first step is the easiest,” says Waters. “You just need to have a candid conversation with the shop owner about where they want to be in the future.” 

These goals can take on a variety of forms. They can be efficiency based, customer based, but most shop owners base them on achieving a certain amount of revenue, says Waters. 


Conduct an Analysis

“Any good consultant, before creating a plan to achieve the goals, will do a full analysis on the entire business they are working with,” says Waters. 

Waters gives the example of going to the doctor. If the doctor says that they need to remove the spleen only after talking to the patient for 15 minutes, how could they definitively know that? 

“But if the doctor conducts an MRI and then says the same thing, then the patient knows it is a good decision,” says Waters. “Working as a coach is similar to that process.” 

The analysis typically includes a look at financial performance, transactions, average repair order, or marketing strategies. Really anything that the business has been doing in the past. 

Only after these steps have been executed can the coach move on to creating a plan or roadmap to achieving their goals. 


Creating a Roadmap 

“This typically looks like creating a financial forecast model for the business, this is essentially a scorecard for how the business is doing,” says Waters. 

This step is essentially calculating the amount of transactions needed to get the business to their sales goal, says Waters. 

“Then it entails identifying the systems, processes, people, and marketing strategy to get them there,” says Waters.


What are the Benefits of Hiring a Coach?

“I can’t speak for other consulting firms, but I can speak to what my firm does for our clients,” says Waters. 

Usually clients sign up for services on a month to month basis. Waters typically sees that people who use his firm stay signed on for a couple of years. 

Very broadly, clients that use Waters’ firm will reap back 10 to 15 times what they invested in the coaching and consulting services. 

Anecdotally, Waters recounts a success story of someone who used his services. 

“We took on a client doing $2.7 million in sales and an 8 percent operating income,” says Waters. “When we were done with them, they topped over $10 million and a 16 percent operating income.” 

Waters’ firm boasts a large portfolio of businesses that accomplished the same success as the last one. 

The businesses they work with see an increase in efficiency, decreased stress on managers and owners, and much better margins, says Waters. 

“Typically our clients will double their businesses within 18 to 24 months of signing on with my firm,” says Waters. 


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