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Keeping Busy

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How do you handle a busy schedule? How do you take on more responsibility and find time for it? How do you find time for volunteer efforts? How about industry events? Training?

I often hear such questions, particularly from people in shop management roles. It’s especially relevant as one considers growing their business, such as adding locations, insurance relationships, staff, OE certifications, business diversification, or volunteering for industry leadership positions. As a person with many management responsibilities in an MSO of 10 locations, which has diversified into other areas such as mechanical repairs, glass and paintless dent repair, I also involve myself with a number of association board positions, advisory board participation and serve on a number of committees.

I attend most Collision Industry Conference (CIC) meetings as well as NACE and SEMA. At times, the scheduling challenges are daunting, but overall I seem to be able to maintain some modest level of balance and sanity. There are other industry leaders who similarly devote time for the good of the industry, yet maintain jobs with a lot of responsibility in growing businesses. Many have become good friends whom I admire and respect. Based on my knowledge of how others handle it as well as my own experience, I will offer some ideas and suggestions.

1. Attitude

A positive attitude makes all the difference in the world. I believe there is little you cannot accomplish if you put your heart and soul into it. Be resilient and persistent. Avoid making decisions based on fear. Consider failures and other negative experiences as learning and growth opportunities. Continue to seek something greater.

I understand such rhetoric sounds a bit euphoric, perhaps Pollyannaish. So what? Being optimistic is OK. We know life is imperfect. We cannot always control what comes our way, but we can control how we react to it. Two rules to remember: 1. Don’t sweat the small stuff. 2. It’s all small stuff. In other words, don’t let it get you down. Don’t take yourself too seriously. None of us walk on water. Maintain a sense of humor. Laughter is like a powerful medicine to make things better and put things in perspective.

2. Delegate

I see many business people who have a hard time letting go of some duties and responsibilities. They want to know and control nearly every aspect of their business. They often believe that if you want it done right you have to do it yourself. That’s not necessarily a bad business strategy to maintain performance, unless you wish to grow your business.

Understand that you can’t do it all. Hire the best talent you can get and delegate responsibilities to them. It can be a leap of faith to put trust in other people. Understand they may do things a little different from you. It’s OK. Ironically, we sometimes find that their way is better. Measure performance so that you know the outcome of their work is what you desire. Adapt a servant management philosophy and help those people grow. Eventually you may realize that helping other people advance themselves and improve their lot in life can be one of the most rewarding aspects of management.

3. Manage by Exception

The higher you are in your business’s management, the more you should work on your business versus in the business. The more your business grows, the more areas there are to manage. The more there is to manage, the less of an opportunity you have to be closely involved in all aspects.

The need is to focus on those areas that matter most and where you can have the most positive impact. Managing by exception can be a great philosophy in many areas. In other words, measure performance and establish an acceptable range. If in any given time period the performance is within the acceptable range, move on and focus your attention in other areas. If it is not acceptable, dig deeper and find the source of the problem. Fix it and then move on. Reports and performance measurements should be tools to help you manage your business. Don’t let them become overwhelming and thus control your life. Limit the number of reports you really pay attention to.

4. Give of Yourself

As much as many of us like to complain about our industry, there are many wonderful aspects to it. We provide a valuable service that is worthy of respect and dignity. Most of us make a good living that sustains a good lifestyle for our families. It’s only appropriate to give back in some form.

Volunteering to participate on various boards and committees is a great way to do so. Even attending various industry events is a way of demonstrating support. Playing a role in improving our industry is a noble effort. Even though it may seem like a pain to give up time and expense to participate, it always has its own way of giving back.

The people you will meet and get to know can be worth the effort itself. You will always learn as you participate. I personally believe it is part of my mission in life to help others in our industry. As a result I have been blessed well beyond my expectations.

Hopefully these suggestions are helpful to you. As much as I try to live by my words I won’t pretend to have achieved perfection. I am far from it. Yet I know that when people say, “If you want to get something done, give it to a busy person,” that there is a lot of truth in that. The difference is in how busy people approach it.

Darrell Amberson is the president of operations at LaMettry’s Collision in the Twin Cities and a highly engaged, longtime industry volunteer and advocate. Reach him at

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