Efforts Above and Beyond

Jan. 1, 2020
Meet Brian Canning, a leadership and management coach with the Automotive Training Institute (ATI). Canning's experience includes managing parts and service operations, including multistore organizations. Each month, he'll discuss the role leadership
Editor's Note: This month, we launch a new column and introduce a new monthly columnist. Meet Brian Canning, a leadership and management coach with the Automotive Training Institute (ATI).Canning's experience includes managing parts and service operations, including multistore organizations. Each month, he'll discuss the role leadership plays in managing a successful operation.We welcome your comments and topic suggestions.
Please click here to send Brian a message.
TAKE THE LEADEfforts Above and Beyond
If I were to mention Maximo Yabes, Rocky Versace or even Euripides Rubio, it is very doubtful that you would have heard of any of them. Their accomplishments are noteworthy, but it was only in death that we even noticed them. 

Their efforts were worthy of honor, but none of them lived to see fame, fortune or recognition for their actions. However, I am confident in saying that none of them would have changed a thing about how they lived their lives and how they are remembered.

Our job, as leaders, is to accommodate our customers' service and repair needs and to look out for the welfare of our employees. As basic as this sounds, and as often as we claim to adhere to these standards or principals, we only rarely achieve them. Too often, in the search for profits, we lose sight of what actually drives our business and forget what assures our long-term viability. To put it simply: We begin to see our customers as revenue streams and our employees as tools. 

A Case In PointI have an exceptional client out West who is absorbed with providing his customers with extraordinary service, and matches this with heartfelt care and concern for his employees. He goes to great lengths to educate and train his employees, and sets expectations for them so that his customers always receive exceptional service. 

He is rewarded with a very reliable customer base, very efficient, courteous, professional employees and loyalty from both groups. He suffers very little turnover and is rewarded week in and week out with reliable car counts, strong sales and very high technician productivity. This client communicates every day, in every conversation, that he loves his customers and that he loves his employees - and thereby reaps a huge benefit every day. 

As business owners, leaders and managers, we have the opportunity to make our work environment exceptional. In every procedure, in every communication, in every standard, we can demand excellence or settle for ordinary. We can provide a work environment that promotes initiative and appreciates hard work, or we can do something less. 

Effective leadership and good communication will go a long way toward setting the tone and determining what kind of shop we operate. A little thought and a lot of attention to detail will make your business everything you ever dreamed of - but more importantly, it will make it a place where customers love to come and employees are happy to work. What kind of shop do you want yours to be? 

When I go into a shop, I always watch to see how willing employees are to go above and beyond in their daily activities, and how willing they are to show initiative. Owners and managers who empower their employees, allowing them to use their knowledge and experience in solving problems and in addressing a customer's needs, very often benefit from the trust and respect implicit with the loosening of the reins. 

It is important to have specific job descriptions in place, and for business owners to set explicit expectations for performance. However, there are always situations that fall outside the norm. Encouraging our staff members to be solution-oriented, and providing them with an environment that encourages creativity and initiative, will go a long way toward making your shop one of those very special businesses that rarely has staffing problems and enjoys a reliable customer base. Being flexible and allowing employees to use their own judgment does not lessen responsibility or accountability, but it does reward the reliable performance they demonstrate. 

Paint the picture, create the vision, live your dream.

Shop owners must continue to enforce standards and ensure that their customers are not only being taken care of, but that their expectations are exceeded. Allowing staff members to spread their wings and use their own judgment is encouraging their growth and communicating our confidence in them. There are always those few hardheads that cannot handle freedom and need constant supervision, but many employees will thrive, prosper and be motivated to new heights in their efforts.

You have the opportunity to shape your business through the perceptions of your staff members and through your customers. With customers, make sure they also see and hear the effort you make to ensure their experience is exceptional. If you go to extreme lengths to make sure a repair or service is correct, let your customers know all that you did and why. Let them know that you appreciate their business and that you appreciate the confidence they show in you with every visit. Elevate the relationship to the extraordinary, and benefit from a lifetime of loyalty. I can assure you that these customers will be willing to forgive an occasional mistake because they know that in the big picture, you are among the very best, that you genuinely care and that you always try to serve their needs. 

Happy customers serviced by happy and motivated employees would seem to be an assured recipe for success. It requires hiring the right kind of employee, setting expectations for excellence and being unwilling to settle for less. In other words: Paint the picture, create the vision, live your dream. The tenacious pursuit of excellence is time and effort well spent. 

And who were Maximo, Rocky and Euripides? They were each exceptional Americans posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor "for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his own life above and beyond the call of duty." Each willingly sacrificed himself for something or someone else. Each willingly laid down his life for a buddy, the team or the cause. Though most of us never knew them, we are all better off for their having been among us. 

We welcome your comments and topic suggestions.
Please click here to send Brian a direct message.

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