Keys to Starting Each Work Day Right
Shane Hollas recalls when a peer told him: “Every car that leaves your shop is a business card.”
Hollas, owner and operator of MAACO Collision Repair and Auto Painting in Rockwall, Texas, says that advice stuck with him. He uses that idea as the motivation to do excellent work on every job. To achieve that standard at the shop, one must start each day off right. It’s easier than you might think, Hollas says.
Within just six months of its grand opening, Hollas’ 16-employee shop earned both I-CAR Gold Class certification and MAACO Diamond certification. MAACO has already appointed him to its corporate advisory council, and in 2020 it named him the rookie of the year.
Hollas accomplished these feats thanks in no small part to his years of executive experience. As the former vice president of sales for a software company, he entered the collision repair world with two important business skills: selling and how to make complex processes run smoothly. Hollas knows the technicians on his floor should work together seamlessly if they’re going to maximize his shop’s profits.
That’s why he and his crew begin every morning with the same routine.
As told to David Scheller
1: Remind yourself of what you value.
I know this sounds cheesy, but I’m a strong believer in positive affirmation. I start off every day saying a certain thing to myself which lifts my spirits and gets me in the right mindset. The first part of my daily affirmation focuses on my family. It then goes on to my business goals, which include how many cars our team needs to produce each week. It ends with a reminder of the learner and the leader I strive to be.
On most days, I only say my affirmation once or twice during my drive to work. But when things are going rough, I may have to say it about 50 more times before I truly start believing it. By the time I get into the shop, I’m the leader I need to be and we start the day right.
2: Keep a routine.
Routine is the key to running any business, because routine creates structure and predictability. Structure means everyone knows what to do without having to ask for directions. Predictability lets everyone mentally prepare for the task(s) ahead. When your team follows a routine, each of its members understands their personal contribution to the shop. They also build trust as they learn what to expect from everyone else around them.
3: Walk the cars.
The very first thing we do when we get to work at 7 a.m. is walk the cars. We are making sure they’re in the right stages of production, their repairs are getting done correctly and we’re doing the work our clients want. That’s an important routine solely from a managerial perspective, but it also prepares us for our team meeting at 8 a.m.
4: Hold morning meetings.
Our morning meetings are the most important part of our routine. Just gathering everyone together in one place underscores that we’re all on the same team. And gathering is productive, because some problems can only be solved when people put their heads together.
The meetings also prevent finger-pointing. No one can say, “I didn’t hear about that” if everyone in the shop heard it at the same time. But we don’t rely on the power of the spoken word alone. Our meetings revolve around a visual representation of our workflow.
5: Use a production board.
We don’t just go over our shop’s goal for the day during our morning meeting. We work out how we’re going to accomplish our goal. For that, the best available tool is a production board.
The big whiteboard in our shop is broken down into all the different stages of repair: sanding, masking, paint, buffing, reassembly and so on. Each vehicle in our shop is represented by its own magnetic note card with the details of its repair order written on it. Once these cards are laid out on the production board, each team member’s expectations for the work day become crystal clear.
Computerizing your shop’s workflow is essential for your estimators and production managers, but remember that your techs aren’t sitting on laptops all day. That’s why there’s no substitution for a huge production board: it’s easy to understand, it’s easy to update, and it’s impossible to miss.
6: Keep morning meetings short.
Our longest morning meetings take no more than 15 minutes. We try to shoot closer to 10.
That keeps our techs from tuning out, which I wouldn’t blame them for, because we all know what meetings are like. Ten minutes should be all the time it takes to go over everyone’s tasks for the day and get their input, and you don’t want to pay your whole team to stand around any longer than you have to.