I’d like to introduce you to James (not his real name of course). James is a grade A procrastinator. To most, James seems like he has his stuff together.
He’s owned his auto repair business for 10 years, he has 5 team members, and he has a 7-10 day wait list for customers to get in for a service or repair.
He gets to have the occasional bit of downtime with his family, and his financial return from the business is better than if he were working for someone else.
BUT….James stops his business from growing. On a daily basis, James makes thousands of small decisions as he goes about his day (the average adult makes thousands in a normal day whether they own a business or not), but James gets paralysed whenever he is required to make a decision that involves implementing a strategy to grow, hiring or firing a team member, buying new equipment that would improve workflow, changing software programs that would increase productivity, efficiency, cash flow, and profits, and when he needs to decide on how to handle a difficult customer or other situation that involves conflict.
On a daily basis, James buries his head in the sand rather than deal with situations or make big decisions.
To his business this means that James currently has at least one team member that isn’t a culture fit for the business, who regularly causes havoc, and the other team members notice James’s lack of action to correct the behaviour. This leaves the good team members disenchanted with James as a leader, and gradually overtime, James is losing their respect.
Because James still hasn’t updated his invoicing program from the dark ages, he can’t produce the reports that tell the true story of his business. Any financial decisions he does manage to make are made without evidence or facts to support them, because he doesn’t know any figures.
He doesn’t track his labour charged out, so has no idea why his team looks busy but don’t seem to be producing the additional profits he is expecting.
Customers wait 7-10 days before being able to bring their vehicles in because the workflow at James’s business is inefficient.
If James had continuous time clocking in place, he would quickly see that his team are 50% productive at best, meaning they could take in 50% more work, and see customers faster, if they only fixed the bottlenecks and work ethics.
James himself is a bottleneck because he prefers to fix all “problems” himself, as he believes he can just jump in and do it faster, rather than encourage his team to be solutions focused.
This means he will stop working on the vehicle he is on in order to deal with a problem on another car, or go and speak with a customer, rather than have his team learn to deal with these situations. Team members who come with solutions to problems, and just check that their solution is viable, are far more productive team members in the long run, but James believes he doesn’t have the time or patience to adequately train them to do this.
The poor productive output in James’ business means customers often leave with a less than ideal customer experience. They first wait more than a week, sometimes up to two, before being able to bring their vehicle in, and then because workflow and work ethic are poor, any additional items that are detected that need fixing will require another visit as the technicians can’t find the time to do all the work on the same day.
Because there are no recorded systems or procedures to improve workflow or customer experience, parts are often not ordered in advance for known jobs, slowing down jobs even further.
Visiting any auto repair business is already an inconvenience, let alone having to go back a second or third time in a matter of weeks.
James has known for some time that he could get professional business help to improve his leadership, business systems, processes, cash flow, and profits, but he just can’t bring himself to commit to what he knows needs to be done.
It really is a wonder that James’s business is afloat at all. There is so much he could do, simply and effectively, but he can’t get out of his own way to do it.
Does this sound like you? Even in just a small way? Are you the biggest obstacle to your business growing?
Even just acknowledging that you are holding your business back in one way or another is a start. However, the real change occurs when you can learn to trust your decision making processes, take decisive action when it is required, and can empower other team members to help themselves when it is appropriate.
How can you implement the type of change needed to grow, without being paralysed and full of fear or indifference? Follow these 5 steps:
1.Know where you and your business are going. You must have a good strategic business plan, and a clear vision and direction. You must be clearly able to communicate this to your team. If you can’t see or communicate the vision clearly, how on earth will anyone else understand it, and be able to help you attain it.
2. Let your team and those close to you know. Accountability is huge here. So many auto repair shop owners I speak with have a desire to grow their business, but don’t ask anyone to keep them accountable. Tell your team where you want to go, and ask them to help keep you on track. This will mean that everyone needs a clearly defined role, and need to be given permission to call you out on your bullsh*t stories when you claim you are too busy to do business growth related tasks.
3. Identify what will take you off task. What would you usually allow yourself to be distracted with instead of completing your tasks or making those big decisions? Is it getting back on the tools because you enjoy it or can do it faster and with more accuracy than your team members? Is it talking to customers or team members at length about things that are neither urgent nor important? Work out what the triggers are for you losing time, and put a stop to it.
4. Use the 5,4,3,2,1 Method : Been procrastinating over which software program to use? Has it been months? You’ve done all of your investigations, you know the costs and the requirements, so it’s time to just do it. Count down from 5, and make the decision!
5. Focus on your finish. Energy flows where focus goes…get super clear on your destination and you won‘t be able to avoid getting there! If you are only focused on the negative, you will indeed achieve a result that is less than satisfying. Focus on the positive, and you will achieve results far more desirable.
BONUS TIP: Surround yourself with those who will support you and fill you up. If the people you surround yourself with and take advice from don’t have the results in life or business that you want, be mindful that you will need to seek wise council elsewhere. You want to be surrounded by people who motivate and push you forward. Steer clear of the people who pull you down. Set positive intentions by writing a list of the things and people that make you feel good, then set about making time for more of them.
Rachael Sheldrick, The Workshop Whisperer, is the leading business mentor for auto repair business owners across Australia and New Zealand. Unlike a traditional business coach, Rachael owns a successful and award winning workshop and shares the secrets to its success.
Grab a digital copy of Rachael’s book “Turbo Charged – How To Take Your Auto Repair Business From Survival To Success” by clicking here http://workshopwhisperer.com/store/