Thriving During the Great Resignation
The Great Resignation has taken a massive toll on business owners, and in 2021 Texas was no different, with quit rates nearing 450,000 according to statistics provided by the U.S. Department of Labor.
As owners scrambled to keep their current employees and track down new talent, Shane Hollas’ Maaco Rockwall shop thrived amidst the chaos. Many might think Hollas has a secret to his business’s success, but he insists that a few valuable strategies have made all the difference.
One of Hollas’ favorite sayings is that behavior in your professional life must always align with your values in your personal life. Hollas says although plenty of people can successfully pull off two separate identities between work and home, he believes those who are the same at work as they are at home can lead a business to new heights.
“I think restaurants are a great example of this because I think you can see it coming easier as a customer,” he says. “Let’s say there’s an issue with something in the restaurant and the general manager comes over and they’re very nice and friendly and help you out, and then they run into the back and turn into Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and they start berating their people, although oftentimes the customer can see or hear the change in personality.The person you are down to your core is what your brand will be over the long run.”
In his career, Hollas says he’s seen countless occasions where that style of leadership always comes back to bite that person, reinforcing his belief that’s it’s important to always be your true self.
I”f you’re the same positive person at work as you are at home, you’re team is going to see that, they’re going to believe in you and you’re going to pull the people who align with your values and who you are, much easier than when you’re pretending to be someone you’re not,” he adds.
Hollas also knows it’s human nature for everyone to lose their cool now and again, and he admits he’s not immune. What’s important, he stresses, is to understand that within your team, it’s OK to get heated over an issue as long as any anger is the result of passion, not something unrelated.
“I tell my team that crimes of passion are easily forgiven if your heart is in the right place and you intended good things but made a mistake, it’s OK. We’re a family and I tell them that sometimes families disagree, or yell and scream at each other,” he said. “The key, however, is that like any family you come back, you hug it out and apologize.You make up, move on and it makes you an even more tight-knit group. It’s OK to get fired up if you’re trying to do the right thing and someone else isn’t living up to their side of the bargain. As a staff we’re in this together and we need to hold each other accountable.”
One area Hollas says many business owners ignore is getting involved in the community your business serves. For him, that meant joining the local Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club, and more important being an active member in both.
“I knew I needed to get involved in the community because I was opening a brand new business. I don’t live in the community I have the shop in, so I’m an unknown person with an unknown business, and none of it is proven to anybody,” he said. A self-proclaimed salesman at heart, Hollas knew it was important to gain the trust of the local business leaders around him before his business would be taken seriously, and that meant selling himself.
“I have to get out there and show people who I am. And first I need to have them know and trust me, then know my business, and if they trust me they’ll take a risk and try to give me an opportunity to show them what my business can do, and hopefully develop trust with them to where they become repeat customers and I become a known entity in the marketplace” he said.
The idea to join the Chamber and Rotary Club came from a friend of Hollas’ who’s a successful public figure and entrepreneur in the area. Hollas quickly learned that by being members of these organizations you can establish your brand very quickly. And you can’t just sign up and then be a wallflower. Hollas, who is now on the board for both organizations, says he sees first-hand the number of new members who think just showing up will lead to bigger and better things.
“I see people sign up, especially with the Chamber, and they just expect business to come to them. Nobody’s going to trust their business until they trust you. Same with the Rotary; I see people sign up and then they barely come to meetings, etc., and they’re not connected with anyone there. So they’re not building trust and good relationships with people and that’s where it falls apart. So if you do sign up for something, you’re going to get out of it what you put in,” he says.
Being in these leadership positions has not only helped grow Hollas’ business, but it’s also assisted in expanding his personal network of business and other senior leaders who can offer him valuable advice.
“When I have a bad day I can call these people and sometimes commiserate, but also get feedback and coaching. In many ways it’s like an owners group or a 20 group.” he said. “If you’re having a tough day or a tough week and you feel like you just keep getting kicked in the gut, sometimes it’s very healthy to call one of these other small business owners or a senior lead and just admit to them that you’re struggling. In many ways you have an emotional support buddy.”
Finally, and maybe most importantly, Hollas understands that being a member of a community means more than just attending board meetings. To him, it’s a chance to give back to the community that’s providing him with steady business.
“I want to be a contributor. If I’m going to own a business in this community and these people are going to be my customers, they’re giving to me, so I always ask myself how can I give back,” he says.
Hiring for KASH
The key to any great work environment is ensuring you’re hiring someone who is more than just a fancy resume. Hollas has come up with his own hiring system he calls KASH (Knowledge, Attitude, Skill and Hard Work). Hollas uses this system not only on new hires, but to evaluate himself from time to time as well.
“Of those four things, you can teach knowledge, you can teach skill, but I don’t believe you can teach a positive winning attitude, nor can you teach work ethic,” he said. “So when I evaluate candidates, I look to see who has that positive attitude and hard work ethic, because if they have those two things they’ll put in the time to learn the knowledge and they will continue to practice on the skills side until they get it right.”
Lead by example
Team well-being and a culture of fun
Hire the person, not the resume
Good pay and opportunities for advancement
Leadership By Example
One value that was instilled in Hollas at a young age is that you should never ask anybody to do something that you wouldn’t do yourself. That’s why it doesn’t bother him for his staff to see him taking out the garbage. Hollas adds there’s no need for “rah-rah” speeches when you can literally show them that no person is above anyone else, and that includes the leadership.
“I’ll sand cars, I’ll mask cars; you don’t want me painting but I’ll do everything I can to support the painter,” he says. “Anyone on my team who tells me they can’t do something, that’s a great opportunity for me to say to them, ‘hey I have zero experience in that area but let’s go figure out the problem together.’”
Hollas has had employees work for him who previously came from a negative work environment where they’ve had a terrible boss to work for, working in a beatdown culture and philosophy, they’ve learned to put up these walls and they get very nervous about approaching the boss.
“In that case one-on-one communication is important, but communicating with your team by telling them here are what our goals are, here’s what we’re trying to accomplish, and here’s my expectation of you,” he said. “In the body shop business that’s very difficult sometimes because each car is unique and one week you’re busier than you know what to do with and you get them all out, and the next week you’re searching for five new cars to work on. So there’s a lot of communication where you might say to a team member ‘hey, I know this isn’t your role but can you help out to get us through this sanding job, etc.’”
Hollas admits he’s terrible when it comes to his own work/life balance, but says like any small business owner you have to live it. Despite his busy schedule, he has set hours for the shop so his workers can get home to their lives, and he says he’s always trying to improve on that.
In the end, Hollas says that treating your employees with respect and following through on promises made, make all the difference when it comes to workers enjoying their time at the shop and making the maximum effort to do their best at their job.
“There will always be more money available somewhere else if that’s important to an employee,” he said, “but empowering your employees and letting them know daily how important you are to not only the business, but yourself as well, makes all the difference in creating an environment where you’ll have workers who will want to stay.”