Auto Service World
Feature   September 1, 2006   by Bob Greenwood

Business Success is a journey not a trip

Over my 32 years in this industry, I have witnessed many shop businesses come and go, and I have also witnessed many people within the industry come and go. The saddest experiences are when you see an...

Over my 32 years in this industry, I have witnessed many shop businesses come and go, and I have also witnessed many people within the industry come and go. The saddest experiences are when you see an individual trying so hard to “make it,” executing their business the way they think it should work for them, and then time works against them and they die without enjoying any of the fruits they were trying to grow. Those are the tragedies of our sector of the industry.

The most exciting times have been when you witness a person who has the desire and drive to get to a much higher level. They want to learn everything and absorb it like a sponge, then implement in exacting manners. When you meet these people then actually have the privilege of working with them one-on-one, as I have, and see them achieve and enjoy the level they wanted to be at, well, to be very blunt with you, there is not a price you can put on it. It’s the same perspective as watching your child achieve their special personal goal after so much effort and pain was put in. It provided me with a satisfaction that re-energizes my desire to continue on and do the very best I can. I’m confident many of the readers of this article know precisely what I am talking about.

I would like to share with the independent sector a “Guidelines to Success” that I have put together. It comes from all my experiences over my career as to why an individual succeeded and, therefore in turn, their business succeeded.

A Guideline to Success

The largest obstacle standing between today and tomorrow’s successful accomplishments, of any endeavor, will always be your ATTITUDE. Remember this, and don’t be fooled into believing anything else. All problems are only challenges to be faced by you, and it will be your efforts and outlook as to how you handle these challenges, that will always make the difference in the outcome.

LEARN to practice the daily RITUAL of being aware of your state of mind.

TEACH yourself to see the positive, the good side in other people, rather than being one of the masses, who are always critics. When confronted by a negative, uncaring, unmotivated employee or peer, become the INSTRUCTOR — THE COUNSELOR. Encourage that individual to take pride in self accomplishments, and instill, by way of example, that he or she can enjoy a self-confidence that can overcome any obstacle when approached in the correct state of mind.

LEARN not to be too self-centered. Try to THINK before you speak. When you catch yourself verbally “attacking” someone, question your over-all motives. Remember, once you have communicated an idea, phrase, or thought to someone, you cannot retract the comment — it is permanently stuck in the other person’s mind forever. A non-thoughtful comment can instantly kill your CREDIBILITY with other people.

BE GOAL AND ACTION ORIENTED in whatever business transaction you undertake. SET the plan, then WORK the plan. No one individual, whether positive or negative, likes a person who is all talk.

WORK WITH and ACKNOWLEDGE the talents of the people around you. No one in today’s world, no matter how confident, can do it all or knows it all. Hire and use the talents of those individuals, to push them to their success, and at the same time, they will be helping you to your success. The concept of stove — stove give me some heat, then I will give you some wood –doesn’t work. You have to give to other people first, before you can enjoy true results that will help you. There will be circumstances when you get “burned” by other people because you acted in good faith, and they saw it as an opportunity for short term gain — don’t panic — learn to live by the philosophy “time is on your side.” You will outlast them, by far, in today’s CREDIBILITY-conscious world.

This guideline may have to be read three or four times to get all the depth that I have tried to imply, but it seems to be a very common denominator among successful shop owners. It has worked very well for me and my client base.

The challenges of running a shop today are so many, but when management can slow down and clearly focus on the tasks at hand in an organized fashion, so much can be achieved. This is truly a self discipline that is required today. I hope this article can help you a little as that is its intent.

This is my last column for SSGM Magazine. I have enjoyed an incredible relationship with the SSGM team for 15 years. They have taught me many things and allowed me the freedom to express my views on shop management and industry issues. For this I am truly grateful. I have watched this magazine develop, grow and become an important voice within the aftermarket industry; it has been a privilege to be allowed to have a column within its pages each and every month. I want to thank all the readers of this column who have kept in touch with me and sent me their comments on the words I have written and yes, over the years there have been some interesting comments good and bad, but that is the exciting character of the independent sector that I enjoy so much. Thank you very much to all!

Robert (Bob) Greenwood is President & CEO of E. K. Williams & Co. (Ontario) Ltd. and Automotive Aftermarket E-Learning Centre Ltd. Bob has 29 years of industry-specific business management experience. He has developed shop business management courses for independent Service Providers recognized as being the most comprehensive courses of their kind available in Canada. Bob is the first Canadian Business Management Consultant and Trainer to be recognized for his industry contributions when he received the prestigious Northwood University Automotive Aftermarket Management Education Award in November 2003. E. K Williams & Co. (Ontario) Ltd. offices specialize in the independent sector of the automotive aftermarket industry preparing analytical operating statements for management purposes, personal and corporate tax returns and business management consultation. Visit them at and sign up for their free monthly management e-newsletter. Automotive Aftermarket E-Learning Centre Ltd. is a leading edge company devoted to developing comprehensive shop management skills through the e-learning environment. Visit and take the free overview. Bob can be reached at (613) 836-5130, 1-800-267-5497, FAX (613) 836-4637 and by E-Mail: or

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