Finding Your Passion for the Business

Jan. 11, 2018

Day-to-day stress landed shop owner Henry Yach III in a state where change wasn’t an option—it was a must.

SHOP STATS: YACH'S BODY & CUSTOM  Location: WAUSAU, WIS.  Operator: Henry Yach III  Cycle Time: 10 Days  Staff Size: 13  Shop Size: 16,500 sq ft; Annual Revenue;$2.2 Million  

Henry Yach III has always been a bit of a workaholic. He worked tirelessly running production, managing marketing, overseeing a staff and much more. He was more than an owner. He was a businessman, estimator, CSR, manager—you name it, he does it.  He spent his first three years as the owner of Yach’s Body and Custom in Wausau, Wis., working himself to the bone.

And that’s exactly how Yach found himself hospitalized for a stress-related jaw infection.

It was the cherry on top of a fairly terrible year, and it was the first time in his years of working in the business that he turned to his wife and said, “I don’t know if I can do this.”

After hitting rock bottom, Yach knew that change was in order. After taking three critical steps that resulted in a 20 percent sales boost, happier staff culture and a better work-life balance, Yach got his groove back—and the love he had for his business.  

The Background

Yach has worked at Yach’s Body & Custom since he was a middle schooler. While there was never an expectation that Yach would take over the shop from his father, due to his great relationship with his dad, Yach realized he wanted to own the shop. And in January 2013, his wish came true.

Yach says the first 3–6 months of business were difficult for him as he was still trying to find his rhythm as an owner. The business was experiencing a monthly car count of 95 and certain staff members that didn’t fit his ideal culture left, leaving them at 16 staff members total.

“When you’re faced with being overwhelmed, you start to question what you’re doing wrong,” he says.

Despite the difficult times in the beginning, Yach managed to pull through. While he truly enjoyed operating a collision repair shop, it didn’t leave him immune from the day-to-day stresses of the business.

The Problem

In 2014, Yach wanted to grow his then $2.23 million business and further define his role as an owner instead of juggling everyone’s job at once. He knew he had a passion for relationship building and marketing outside of the business, so his original plan was to hire someone to oversee the operation and work with him or her to take over a managerial role.

But it wasn’t just about stepping back; he wanted all of his employees to “dial in” in on their roles.

Yach ended up hiring someone to oversee the operation, but his original idea didn’t work out as planned. A reduced deer population, which drives a lot of the business, and parting ways with a business relationship that brought in about 20 percent of volume, resulted in an overall low sales season.

In 2015, the shop’s sales dropped by 15 percent, with a revenue of only $1.9 million. Yach also had to deal with recovering from a concussion that he received from a skiing accident that year.

Because of the lack of sales, Yach had to lay off several technicians who did not fit the culture of the shop, including the recently hired manager.  

In 2016, Yach became disappointed in the way his original plans for the business were panning out. The plans that he had for growth and his staff situation were “out of balance.”

“I was at one of those points that it was very difficult,” he says.

That’s when the hospitalization occurred.

The Solution

After his hospitalization, Yach knew that he couldn’t let that happen again. Upon being released, it was time for him to change the way he was doing business.

He says that he had to reflect on his whole self—the physical, mental and spiritual. He asked himself what each part looked like and began getting back on track.

The first step, Yach says, was heavily relying on his faith for the leadership and will he needed to move his business forward.

Second was relying on and tapping into what Yach calls his “wise counsel and support”—those who will tell you the truth, no matter what. For Yach, that’s his wife, his faith, his C12 group (a group of non-competing business owners across various industries), and Jim and Brian, his “accountability partners” and friends.  

Then, it was about making business changes and delegating tasks to allow himself to be a better leader and have less on his plate. Among those changes included:

Switch accounting firms to keep financials on track. The shop was with its previous accounting firm for quite some time— about 20 years, and while Yach says they did a great job producing the reports he needed, he didn’t just want a report with numbers on it.

He wanted guidance on what to do with the numbers, something the original accounting firm didn’t give. He needed guidance on how to better his business and how to utilize the KPIs his firm sent him every month.

Because Yach knew the owner of another accounting firm, he decided to take “a leap of faith” and switch firms. The first project was looking at the shops budget. Yach says that the shop had had a rough budget that was created internally, but wasn’t accurate enough to follow confidently.

Yach and Zach, his new accountant, made a new budget which is now used on a monthly basis.

Every month, Yach meets with Zach about all the reports and then he takes those numbers back to his staff, where discussions of items like sales goals and hiring take place.

Meet consistently with the leadership team to stay on track with the business’s strategic plan. Every week for an hour, he meets with his managers, Travis (sales and estimating), Mike (parts) and Betty (customer service).

At each meeting, they review notes from the previous meeting to ensure that everything has been addressed. For example, at one meeting, they talked about concerns, such as lighting in the shop—who’s ordering it, who’s responsible for it, etc. Then, of course, they discuss goals at every meeting.

Once per quarter and once per year, they all meet for half a day to talk and further plan the shop’s strategic plan, make quarterly and yearly sales goals, as well as make other operational goals.

Delegate production tasks by having two of his managers take over and handle the meetings and work with technicians. Instead of Yach being fully responsible for production, both Travis and Mike now manage production together. Travis takes care of things such as disassembly processes, supplements and corrections. Mike is responsible for quality control of repairs and completed vehicles.

They both conduct production meetings and address any issues with techs as needed.

The Aftermath

After implementing some of those changes, that season was the best year his shop had from a business perspective, gaining back the 15 percent of revenue from its 2015 sales drop.

But Yach realized there are certain things every team and business needs. For him, being transparent with leadership and knowing what they needed was essential.

Transparency for Yach began with the simple things, like letting his team know what his daily schedule is.

In the last three months, he began working with the team in moving forward together and asking for honest feedback. He also made a scorecard for all of the members of the team that measures daily, weekly and monthly expectations.

Getting honest feedback from his staff made him realize his presence is important to them, and that if they’re short staffed, they would appreciate Yach to back them up and be more available.

He’s also hiring additional production staff on an ongoing basis to generate more sales. Since 2016, Yach has hired body technicians, a paint prepper and two apprentices. Yach is now looking to hire a detailer and an additional paint prepper.

The Takeaway

One of the biggest takeaways, Yach says, is that as the leader, he has to live a healthy lifestyle.

“I have to be a good husband and father,” he says. “I can’t control the circumstance, but I can control how I react to the circumstances.”

It always come back to the mission and core values of the shop, Yach says.

“Getting the passion back was a matter of realizing that some things are going to go the way they’re going to go,” he says.

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