Auto Service World
Feature   March 1, 2001   by Jim Anderton

Are we having fun yet?

As I write this viewpoint, I'm in the back row of a classroom at Federal Mogul's Toronto-area training facility among 35 members of our industry. Some are owners of service businesses, some are manage...

As I write this viewpoint, I’m in the back row of a classroom at Federal Mogul’s Toronto-area training facility among 35 members of our industry. Some are owners of service businesses, some are managers and service writers, and many wear all hats, including technician. This is the Toronto swing of the Partners In Training Tour 2001, the business management training program taught by Bob Greenwood, and sponsored by Federal Mogul, MAP, and Southam’s Jobber News, L’Automobile, and of course, SSGM. Right now, Bob is talking about stress management. Stress management in a business seminar? The program is full of issues such as return on investment, technology, finance, pricing and personnel issues, but surprisingly, there is also much about quality of life, stress, and attitude. In a business management seminar? Bob is describing scenarios that extend far beyond the bay or service writer’s desk. Hypertension, depression, divorce. The pressures of the industry are taking a toll on the people in it, and Bob is receiving subtle nods of recognition as he describes typical scenes from the personal life of a mythical business owner. It’s not a large part of the program, but it’s an interesting perspective on how many owner/operators of service businesses take the business battle home at night with damaging consequences.

It’s a little-discussed reason to invest in business management training, whether it’s Partners In Training, or another program, for that matter. A successful, smooth running business goes a long way toward a happy, comfortable home life. It’s not the only part of the equation, and maybe not the most important part, but if you’re not making a decent return on your investment, try raising kids or enjoying your marriage. I’m not suggesting that business management training will automatically lower your blood pressure or save your marriage, but when you go home tonight, try this: ask your family to count how many times you mention the business. I’ll bet it’s in the double digits, so it had better be a good news story.

Succession planning is a case in point. We all have to do it, but how many shops end up on the block because a son or daughter simply isn’t interested in joining the family business? I see it often, and the usual explanation is, “they have their own lives”, or the popular “they have good jobs”. It seems to me that spending a lifetime to build a business that’s not attractive enough to entice your offspring out of a corporate cubicle, then something is probably not going well. If you’re doing well, and enjoying your business, I suggest that succession will take care of itself.

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