Goals vs. Wishes

Dec. 4, 2017
Mike Anderson on how to create a true action plan to drive change.

It’s nearly the end of the year, a great time for all of us all to take a step back, reflect, chart a new course, and get ready to make great strides in 2018.

Maybe your hope is to pick up an OEM certification for your shop, or to increase your brand awareness in your market. Maybe you want to reorganize your shop floor, adopt additional lean practices, overhaul your estimating—the possibilities are fairly endless.

We all strive to improve each year (and if you don’t; why are you still in business?), but here comes the big question: How do we do it? Let me rephrase that, my friends: How do we take that hope—that endpoint we want to get to—and work toward it?

Well, it’s actually simpler than you might think; just set a goal—a real, tangible, actionable goal that can lead to real change.

Sounds simple, right? But I’ll tell you the vast majority of people I walk through this with aren’t setting actual goals; they’re listing out wishes.

There’s a difference between setting goals and making wishes. It seems obvious just typing that last phrase, but let’s spell this out a bit: A wish is when you just say it and try to speak it into existence. I want to improve my X. You tell your team you want to improve it, you get everyone fired up, and then … you just sit back and hope it happens.

That’s not realistic, though, right? How often does that work out for you?

If you truly want to improve performance in any area—whether in your business or your personal life—you need to set goals. To do that, you need to create a very specific action plan.

I have a goal-setting sheet that I work on with all my clients, and you can find it here. But I’ll give you the rundown of how it works, and why you’d do well to follow it.

The sheet is made up of seven basic questions:

1. WHAT is your goal?

This seems simple enough, but it needs to be as detailed as possible. As I mentioned earlier, true goals are tangible and actionable items. For instance, instead of saying you want to “improve workflow,” you might say that you want to “reduce cycle time by 1.5 days” or “increase touch time by 2 hours per day” for 2018. See how those would accomplish the same as the first but can actually be tracked and measured, and provide a true benchmark for your team? Keep your goals very clear, both for yourself and for anyone else who may be involved in the changes needed to achieve them.

2. WHY is this your goal?

For some this would seem very obvious, but in the end, it’s a necessary step to evaluate and understand that goal you want to achieve—and for your team to get onboard. Let’s say your goal was to implement a process where you perform a diagnostic scan on every vehicle that comes into your shop. Well, why would you do this? It’s about safety, and doing “the right thing” by the customer; hey trust you to be the expert and do your due diligence. It would also limit your risk of liability. Clearly, that’s one example of a goal, but you get the idea as to answering the “why.”

3. HOW will you accomplish this goal?

Here’s where you create your actionable steps for change. With the scanning example, the first step might be training your techs to perform the scans—maybe taking specific I-CAR classes. Maybe the next step is purchasing the needed devices, or partnering with a third-party system. Plot out exactly what steps you need to take to get from your current state to that end goal, and put it in writing.

4. WHO will perform the task(s) to accomplish this goal?

Write it out—list the names and exactly what responsibilities they have in this process. And think about these smaller questions: How will you inform everyone of their to-do list? When will you inform them? How long will they need to prepare?

5. WHEN will it be started?

Create a timeline that’s realistic, but also pushes yourself or your team. And ask, How long should it take? When it’s a larger goal or requires a lot of legwork in the leadup time, you need to give your team plenty of warning if they’re involved. Also ask, Will it be completed? Some goals are ongoing, particularly those centered on leadership or self-improvement. If your goal is to meet with your managers, one-on-one every month or week, that’s ongoing, right? Keep that in mind.

6. WHERE will you do these tasks?

Some goals that require training might mean travel, or staying late after hours. Others might require off-site meetings, or take up space in the shop already allotted for something else. Plot it out.

7. WHAT will the financial impact be if you accomplish this goal?

Let’s put this a different way, What will the result be if you achieve your goal? You should have this in mind from the beginning, not just in terms of the benchmark or target to hit, but also in terms of the overall impact. Each change and improvement in your business will have a larger effect on the operation overall, and you need to find that tangible result when mapping out your plan.

A lot of this might seem redundant or obvious, but trust me, my friends, not many out there approach it this way. Too many of us sit back and wish for things to get better. It isn’t going to happen that way. You have to create change, and you need to take a very focused approach to do that. Please, take the time to do this. Plot out how you will change, grow and improve in 2018. Make it your best year yet.

About the Author

Mike Anderson

Mike Anderson, the former owner of Wagonwork Collision Centers in Alexandria, Va., operates CollisionAdvice.com, a training and consulting firm that assists shop operators nationwide. He is also a facilitator for Axalta Coating Systems’ 20 Groups in the U.S. and Canada, and is an Accredited Automotive Manager. Reach Anderson at [email protected].

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