Rethink Teambuilding

Jan. 23, 2024
Brandon Roy didn’t just think outside the box with his teambuilding. He threw the box out altogether.

In a time when the collision repair industry is dominated by tech shortages, supply chain woes and other challenges that make it difficult to do business successfully, having a cohesive team has never been more important.

In order for your shop to run as effectively as it possibly can, your team needs to buy in not only to your processes, but your leadership style as well.

Brandon Roy, general leader for the CARSTAR Halifax group, says his team has been focusing on reimagining their shop culture. The process has been unconventional, but Roy says the results speak for themselves.

The Problem

It’s no secret that shop owners are having to come up with creative solutions to industrywide challenges such as team turnover. Roy says his shops are no different, and after meeting with his leadership team to discuss possibilities to address those challenges, they decided shaking up their management style was their path forward.

“A lot of businesses are based off of vertical management, where you work your way from the top down,” Roy says. “You have a general manager, then a shop manager, assistant manager. We don't have any of that anymore."

The Solution

What they have now places employees at the center of the communication system. Instead of having to ladder up, employees can voice their opinions directly to the people with authority to make changes.

Some may call this an outside-the-box approach. Roy says they threw the box out all together and opted for a more circular model.

“One of the main things we do is a roundtable approach. Once a month, we meet at a roundtable where everybody is equal. After a year, it's created an environment where people aren't scared to put up their hand and ask questions or say they need help.

“It worked for Arthur and his knights, and it works for us, too.”

Roy says his shops have several different roundtables for different departments such as parts and estimating, and everyone is encouraged to voice their opinion on how the shop is handling business and how they think things could be improved.

While this is typically seen as unconventional, Roy says its an effective way for him to make sure that his employees feel valued and respected.

“A lot of people we've brought in here have said they've never been listened to so much or that they've never felt as part of a team as we do with this approach,” he says.

There isn’t one set way to make sure a teammate feels valued; Roy says his team does quite a few different things in an effort to show appreciation for their team, including team appreciation days, regular team building activities, and other large-group strategies.

They’ve also implemented something Roy calls "head checks." Rooted in the principle of servant leadership, Roy checks in with each of his team leads each day and encourages them to check in with each of their team members multiple times throughout the week.

During these check-ins, Roy and his team leads ask how each team member is doing, what they as a leader can do to help them as an employee, and what they need from leadership or the company to be successful.

That gives the employees a regular time every week where they can check in with their team lead and voice an opinion if they’re not comfortable sharing it at the roundtable. 

This, Roy says, is just one of many examples that proves the most effective way to create an atmosphere of trust in his shops is clear, open communication.

“We are a 100-percent-transparent company. Anyone in this company can view any one of our statements. We share our profits and loss statements with each of the team leaders,” Roy says. “Communication is No. 1 for us.”

The Aftermath

Roy admits that this style of leadership is not typical, and it requires buy-in from a vast majority of staff to make it work.

When Roy and his leadership team started implementing changes to the roundtable approach a little over a year ago, he said there was a lot of friction from people who didn’t agree with the style of management.

Over the course of the last year, Roy says about 45 percent of his original 38-person staff left. Roy says there were some speed bumps along the way, and he says he could have used some more help and material at first before implementing the system.

However, every time a staff member would leave, his shops would hire a replacement that bought into the new management style. That, plus improved financial results – the four shops combined pull in about $12 million annually – helped his staff turn a corner and really accept the new system.

“Once we started producing results, that helped a lot. I had a location that would try to fight me on every single thing that we tried to do,” Roy says. “But then when they started implementing those changes, they looked at the financials the next month and, what do you know, their bonus is bigger. Their staff seems happier. That's how we got buy in, was with results.”

The Takeaway

Roy says those interested in his roundtable approach can reach out to him for information on how to get started. And while a roundtable approach may not work for every shop, Roy says openly communicating with your team and taking their feedback to heart can go a long way in improving overall morale.

“Everyone is equal,” Roy says. “We feel that is the key to success.”