Shop owner secrets to achievement

Jan. 1, 2020
I have been blessed to be able to hang out with some of the most successful shop owners in North America over a 40-year work history in the automotive repair industry. It isn't one thing, but about 15 things a successful shop owner has to do in conce
Profit Matters top shop Chubby Frederick business management automotive aftermarket leadership repair shop management repair shop repair shops

I have been blessed to be able to hang out with some of the most successful shop owners in North America over a 40-year work history in the automotive repair industry. It isn't one thing, but about 15 things a successful shop owner has to do in concert to truly have the most successful shop in any given market and have enough free time to enjoy life. I won't bore you with the 15 things, but the most important one is to have a definite purpose in life and the power to achieve it. If you are reading this article, you made it through 2010 and some of you may have made a few New Year's resolutions for 2011. What do you suppose the odds of achieving those resolutions would be? Slim to none? Many of us have given up on New Year's resolutions because we know they don't work for us. Why?

Last year, I personally got involved with a veteran shop owner, who had more than 25 years in the business, and his family. We were having dinner, and his wife was sharing with me the challenges they were experiencing in the business. She was very dedicated to the business and to her husband, but she was very frustrated that they worked so hard and didn't see the business ever giving them enough free time to spend with the family.

Even though everyone would have called their shop successful, they felt it was not paying them enough money for the time they invested weekly in their business.

The husband and wife were at the shop all the time except for the time they spent taking care of their family. They were stressed and didn't see the light at the end of the tunnel. There was no way they could work harder or longer, so something had to change before their lives could improve.

They had tried setting some new goals to change their lives and their business, but after a few months the hectic reality of life seemed to overtake them. They went back to doing what they had always done: simple, hard work. Over a few months' time, they forgot about their new road map to success! They forgot what they needed to do to change their life and slipped back to their old behavior. Why?

They both admitted to me they had determined what they needed to do both in business and personally to fix their lives, but it never happened for very long. I asked if they had written it down, and the answer was no. I have to admit I have written down a lot of goals that I forgot about as well. You may have seen that only 3 percent of the population writes down their goals and the other 97 percent works for them.

Well that may be true, but if you write them down, stick them in your desk drawer and never look at them again, that doesn't work. So how can the 3 percent become even more effective in achieving change?

Secret No. 1

The answer is you have to see your goals every day to motivate and redirect your behavior to achieve the goal. Because most of us don't know what to do with our goals and objectives after we write them down, we simply stop focusing on them.

I asked the owner and his wife if they would complete an exercise that just might remind them every day of their goals. I shared with them that they could enlist help from their kids and it would be a wonderful family experience. As a matter of fact, the kids are more apt to buy into the exercise, because it might sound a little bit silly.

The simple secret is to make a poster by cutting out pictures from magazines that best describe what it is you want. It could be a picture of a new car, motorcycle, baby, building, technician or a pot of cash.

They agreed to create a goal poster with the family and hang it where they could see it every day. It really helps to have the family's involvement if you want permission to hang it in the house. Worst case, I told them to put it in a closet they open every day to get dressed.

One year later I received a phone call from this shop owner, who shared with me that they had crossed off five of the goals on their poster. He was shocked at what they had all accomplished. They thanked me and told me they never would have accomplished these goals without me.

I was flattered, but the truth is they never would have accomplished all the goals without a goal poster. You have to constantly redirect your brain to stay on track to achieve your objectives. I have received calls from hundreds of owners and service managers crossing things off their goal posters. This really works! So, go get a poster board, glue sticks and your favorite magazines.

Secret No. 2

What is it you want? If you asked 10 people to write down a list of 10 short- and long-term goals, most of them would look at you like a dog hearing a high-pitched sound. So, you need a question to get you thinking.

We all need to grow financially, mentally, physically, socially, spiritually and emotionally. In addition, we want to improve our relationships, living environments and maybe even our careers. What if I asked you, "Where did you see yourself five years ago in these categories? What does it look like today and what do you want it to look like in five years?"

What most of us find out from doing this exercise is we are doing worse today than we were five years ago in many categories. This exercise makes it easy for you to determine what you want to have happen over the next five years. All the goals for these critical areas of your life can be accomplished much faster when you focus on them.

Several years ago, I worked with a large family business in Long Island, N.Y., that was a sleeping giant. The family had been in the business for a long time, and some of them had lost that aggressive spirit that we all need to grow. When they were doing this exercise, one of the family members recognized he had picked up a bunch of weight, wasn't exercising and was too tired to implement much change in the business. He put a before and after picture on his goal poster to motivate him to start exercising. The after picture was not of him, rather of a body builder he cut out of a magazine.

He called me six months later thanking me for his new energy level and sharing how great he felt chasing his new goals. The business flourished once again like it had in the past. Let's face it. If you don't feel energetic you are not going to be able to change much in your life.

Party, Party, Party

Start early and have a meeting after work with pizza for you and your associates. Pizza is my favorite food and a must, but you can improvise here! A cut and paste party is a lot of laughs, and we can all use that these days. After the posters are finished, have everyone explain their goals. Also have them give you the questionnaire form so you know what you need to do in order to motivate your people for the next five years!

Send an e-mail to [email protected] with your contact info and I will send you the questionnaire. Now go out and have fun!

Chris "Chubby" Frederick is CEO and president of the Automotive Training Institute. He is thankful for assistance from George Zeeks and Brian Canning in preparing this monthly column. Contact Chubby at [email protected]

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