Boggs: Change Your Perspective

Nov. 15, 2022

When things get tough, it helps to change up your thinking.

The end is coming soon. At least that’s what I thought, if I believed everything I hear on the major news networks. Putin is going to launch nukes and end the world. Climate change is going to get us before cancer does. One political party, whichever one you don’t support, is going to run this country into the ground. And if none of that gets you, then focus your attention on either China, Iran or aliens. Either way, if you look at things with a narrow focus, you’ll likely find yourself depressed or anxious about our immediate future.

While you may believe one or more of those things above, the reality is the media has been predicting impending doom for a while. Remember Y2K? Or how about the several stock market crashes since 1987? There was no way we were going to recover from any of them.

The news in the collision industry can sometimes sound similar. We will never find any techs, the labor rates will never go up, getting parts will get more difficult, etc.

If you are worried about the immediate future of your collision shop, I would suggest taking a step back and looking at the 30,000-foot view. There have been times in the past where people were predicting a major downturn in our industry for one reason or another. The implementation of DRPs caused people to exit the industry in the 80s. Rear view cameras were going to eliminate so many minor crashes. The large consolidators were going to put most shops out of business by now. I’m sure you can add to the list if you think for a few minutes.

Reality has proved most of those things have been a positive for our industry. Some companies have grown exponentially due to their DRP relationships. I think we can all agree that rear view cameras have increased minor crashes, not decreased. I recently spoke to a shop owner who said he loves when one of the big boys buys another shop in his area as he gets more of their customers coming to him after the acquisition.

After the last two-and-a-half years of dealing with COVID and supply chain issues, you might find yourself being one of the doom-and-gloomers. If you do, take a day off and reflect back on the positives over the last few years. Think about how many industries got rocked by the effects of COVID. How many restaurants do you know that went out of business recently? I don’t know of a single shop in our area that closed during COVID. I will never forget Mike Anderson’s quote at a past FenderBender Management Conference, “If there was a nuclear war, the only two things that would survive would be cockroaches and body shops.”

Maybe it’s time to take a history lesson from your own company. Think back to where your company was 10, 15 or even 20 years ago. I challenge you to make a list of all the positive signs of growth you’ve experienced over that period. There were a few times in my career where I was feeling down about how we were performing and wasn’t excited to come into work each day. When I got out of the building and cleared my mind of the current day’s clutter, whatever that happened to be at the time, and would think back about where we had come from, it always cheered me up.

There’s some psychology behind why bad news is interesting. The same psychology can seep into our thoughts and play out scenarios where all we focus on is the bad stuff. It takes an intentional effort to stop those thoughts and get on a track of thinking positively.

The easiest place to continue negative thoughts is on an island by yourself. I’ve spent some lonely days on the small business owner island. It’s not a fun place. Of course, vice versa tells us that the best place to be to generate positive thoughts is in a group of peers. It could be a group of small business owners, a 20 group, or a conference like SEMA or the FenderBender Management Conference. When you get around others who want to focus on growth, new ideas, and discussing best practices you will find that your outlook on the future of your business will inevitably improve.

If you don’t know of a group to join, start one yourself. In the mid 2000s I asked a few local business owners I was friendly with if they would like to start meeting every other month to discuss issues going on in their companies and helping each other where needed. Every one of them said yes and we developed what mirrored a board of directors for each company. It’s amazing what a few hours away from the daily grind can do for your energy level.

The world isn’t ending anytime soon, and certainly not for the reasons we see in the news. And the collision industry has a bright future ahead of it. Sometimes all it takes is a different perspective to see it for yourself.

About the Author

Jason Boggs

Jason Boggs ran Boggs Auto Collision Rebuilders in Woodbury, N.J., for nearly 25 years. He has attended the Disney Institute and Discover Leadership, and has studied lean manufacturing processes.

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