Menefee: Handing Over the Reins

Jan. 18, 2024
Give your staff the freedom to spread their wings and implement all you've taught them

My goal for this year is to step away from the daily operations of the shop and instead to focus on managing the business. Although they sound similar, they are not. If you have ever dealt with any type of business coach, it is inevitable that at some point they told you to work ON your business, not IN your business. For the longest time I would say to myself, “That’s great advice, but I don’t have the capability to hire enough people to work in my business so I can work on my business.” So, I filed that advice to the back of my mind to be reviewed later. 

Well, that later date has come. I now have enough people who are trained to allow me to step away. The problem is letting go of the daily operations of the shop and letting my staff spread their wings and implement everything I have taught them. 

In the last few years, I have met many shops where the owner is getting ready to pass the torch to the next generation. My main takeaway has been that the owner will not let the reins go and let the new generation take over. The new generation has new ideas they want to try to implement to benefit the shop, but the old generation won’t let go, and there is a power struggle. I want to learn from this and NOT be that shop owner who can’t let go, but it is hard! I don’t want to be a detriment to my business.

I have started transitioning out of daily operations by staying out of the office. I still handle all the finances, but I have removed myself as much as possible from dealing with customers, supplements, and insurance companies. I now think of myself as a shop consultant. I come in and I let my staff run the production meeting and the general rundown for the shop for that day. I will ask them questions but only at the very end. I try not to tell them what to do or how to do something but instead present questions and let them work it out on their own. If they cannot work it out, then I use that as a teaching moment, and we discuss what I think should happen and how we can conclude in the future without me being there. 

So far, this has been extremely helpful to the office but really difficult for me. I have a strong opinion on how I think things should be handled and run, and I struggle with keeping my mouth shut and not telling them what to do and how to do it. I realize it may take my team a few months to really grow into their own and feel comfortable enough to make all the decisions. But if I don’t step back, it will never happen. I must learn to be okay with the idea that they won’t do everything exactly as I would.

The next step in my transition out of the daily running of the shop is twofold. I gave all my employees an accountability chart that breaks down everything that is done in the shop, from clerical tasks, to repair procedures, to cleaning of the shop. Each employee went through and marked who they thought is responsible for each task. I then reviewed the answers and found out all of us were not on the same page. I now plan to have an open employee meeting to discuss the accountability chart and help them decide on responsibilities. Note, I said “help them,” not “tell them.” 

I realize how I run and handle things may be different than how others would. Although we will still have set procedures, the second step of this is to let the employees tweak them to an extent. They understand I retain veto power; we have decided as a team that if they tweak an operating procedure, they will let me know about it. I will only observe how that modification is affecting the shop, and after one to two months we will discuss and review the modification. At that time, we will determine if we should keep, change, or simply scrap that operating procedure’s modification. 

My goal with all these steps is to give my employees some autonomy over the shop. My hope is they will feel more invested in the shop because they will have a hand in things and it is not just me telling them what to do. If I can get them to run the shop at 80% of how I would, I think I will consider this a success. I have to keep telling myself the goal is for me to step out of the daily running and managing of the shop so I can work on the business as a whole.

I realize mine is a small mom and pop shop and this may not work for larger shops or MSOs. But what I want to leave you with is this: Even if you don’t have the ability to step out of your shop and let your team run it, then at least an hour or two a week work ON your business and not just IN your business. Working ON your business to help it grow and succeed, working IN your business is very important but working ON your business is just as important.