One of the most dangerous things going on in our current economic situation is the large number of folks, many in our industry, who are waiting for the white knight or silver bullet to bail them out. I propose a different approach. Assume no help is coming and rely on the one thing you can control, YOU! A victim mentality seems to be infecting our great country; sometimes we all need reminders that we have the ability to change our thinking and change our world. Let's give ourselves a tune-up.
Though usually found in physics textbooks, the term inertia is not uncommon to car guys. Basically, inertia means objects in motion tend to stay in motion, while objects at rest tend to stay that way. A lot of times just getting yourself in motion will help to create a better mental state that will help you feel in charge of your world. Plus, inertia is viral; it spreads. Once you get going, it's easy to grab your co-workers and get them to go along for the ride.
It is important to build on our successes. But real growth comes from overcoming our failures. Consider these steps to redefining a failed process or initiative.
1. Be sure that you have truly identified the problem you are trying to solve.
2. Consider going outside of your normal social circle for input, a.k.a., think outside the box.
3. Create a plan that follows a S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) approach.
The most crippling thing any of us can experience is fear. Retrospect is the best fear fighter, and you might not always get a second chance. If you need to make a change at your business, ask yourself, "What would I do if I weren't afraid?" and then come up with a plan to deal with your reservations. Think about the actual risk involved. What is the worst thing that could happen if you fail? Does the reward outweigh overcoming your fear?
Recently, U.S. airways pilot Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger III had to land his A320 in the Hudson River after a flock of birds took out both engines. He used the steps above to solve his problem. He thought outside the box to land in the safest place available utilizing his available inertia. On the flight tapes it was apparent that fear was not in charge of his cockpit. He very calmly told air traffic control that he would be landing on runway Hudson. You know the rest of the story. Be the hero of your shop. Don't be afraid. A happy landing will follow.
Donny Seyfer is a second-generation repair shop owner and ASE Master Technician. An active industry educator, Seyfer hosts two automotive radio shows, serves as chairman of the Automotive Service Association of Colorado, works nationally to help repair shops with IT and service information utilization and writes for Motor Age, a sister publication of Aftermarket Business.