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Boggs: Provide Direction at Your Shop with Small Steps

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If you could take your business back to any date in time, which date would you choose? Perhaps back to 2019, when things seemed “normal”? Or maybe a certain period of time when you were clicking on all cylinders and experiencing dynamic growth. Maybe you’d go all the way back to the beginning so you could catch that once-in-a-lifetime excitement of starting a business. 

After dreaming for a moment, we realize time machines don’t exist and the only direction we can go is forward. And with the current parts shortage, some of us might want to leap forward to the point in time when our industry returns to “normal,” but for now all we have is today. 


So, now that reality has set in and we know we are going to march forward methodically, one day at a time, what do we do?

Mike Jones of Discover Leadership writes in Change Your Mind, Change Your World that we can either choose to be the flag or the wind. The flag is going to move in any direction that its environment decides. Heck, if there’s no wind, the flag might just sit there lifeless. And there are other days when we might feel like hurricane-like winds are blowing and it takes all we have just to hold on.


The other choice, some might call the more difficult one, is to be the wind—the force that is driving the movement or direction of your business. This option takes more effort and planning but is far more rewarding and less stressful.


No matter what, we are going to spend our energy on something. If we are the flag, then we will choose to hold on and hope the wind blows us in the right direction. We wait in anticipation that the OE’s will get their parts supply under control and we can expect normal delivery times.  We wait for the days when insurance companies realize we are more valuable and they start paying us a fair labor rate. We wait for the day when two technicians knock on our door, asking if they can start working at our shop today. Being the flag doesn’t sound like much fun does it?  We’ve all seen that battered American flag all frayed at the end. Stop and look in the mirror for a second—does anything look familiar? 


Being the wind is a lot more fun. It’s exciting to plan out details for future events. How easy is it to get lost researching which Airbnb you are going to stay at on your next family trip? Or decide which attraction to hit first when you arrive? Do you know that most people spend more time per year planning the details of their vacation than they do on their career path? When was the last time you took some time to figure out where you want your business to be next year and mapping out the details on how to get there? If you don’t know the answer to that question, you should start referring to yourself as Mr(s) Flag.


If you want to stop being the flag and start being the wind, the best thing to do is sit down and write out a list of things you want your business to be in an ideal situation. You can pick sales goals or the ideal number of techs you want. Perhaps it's time to create a new marketing program. All you are doing here is creating the destination you want to get to. Make it a realistic wish list, but I'd encourage you to aim high.


After you create the perfect picture of where you want your business to go, it might seem like a daunting task. Yet we all know how you eat an elephant—one bite at a time. You don’t need to create all the steps today. Start by creating the first few steps. If it’s techs you need, maybe it’s time to write a uniquely creative Help Wanted ad. Or better yet, talk to some people to see where the best place is to post an ad. If you create a sales goal, you can begin with figuring out how many more vehicles you need to repair per week to achieve that goal. When you break it down into small steps, you will find that getting to your desired destination is not as daunting as you first thought.


For most people, 2021 has not been an easy year. There’s no time machine to take you back to better times. The best thing to do is start mapping out your route to getting to wherever you want to go. Create your own roadmap and start taking the first steps that are necessary. I think you’ll find your energy picking up and you will enjoy the journey a lot more. Before you know it, you won’t be wishing to go back. Instead, you’ll be enjoying the road ahead as Mr(s) Wind.


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