Many of us live our lives in a reactive fashion rather than in a proactive way. Life happens to us and we spend most of our time and energy coping and responding to what comes our way. We accept thing...
Many of us live our lives in a reactive fashion rather than in a proactive way. Life happens to us and we spend most of our time and energy coping and responding to what comes our way. We accept things as they are and have no expectations that it could be better.
Working as a consultant and implementation coach, I see many shop owners and managers stuck in a rut of operating their business in a way that only react to the circumstances that come their way. In fact, some are still operating in a business model from the 1980s. What is your current reality? As an owner or manager, are you working six to seven days a week, 12-to 16-hours a day? Your answer probably is, “Yes, that is the only way I can make money.” Are you having a tough time finding good technicians, or do you have a high staff turn over? Is business slow? I’ve met a shop owner three years ago who said business was slow and he blamed the economy even though at the time the British Columbia economy was red hot. That truly illustrates the expression “Your perception is your reality.”
In my last article, I challenged many to take on the responsibilities of a shop owner. My challenge now is to take on the role of leader. Being a leader means that you are proactive. You take the time to think about your business, what is working and what is not working. Being proactive means having a plan, a picture of the future.
Start by asking yourself the following questions: 1) What kind of money do I need or want to make? 2) What kind of days and hours do I want to work? 3) What role will I fill in the company: technician, service advisor, or manager? 4) What kinds of customers do I need and want? 5) What kinds of vehicles do I want to service, or what kinds of specialties do I want to offer? 6) What is the image I want to portray in the marketplace? 7) In a perfect world, what kind of employees would I have working with me? 8) How will the work flow be structured? 9) How will I know if I am on track to reach the goals I have set for my self?
We could ask dozens more questions, but this gives you the idea. Once you have answered these questions you will have painted a picture of the future of your business. Now the challenge is to make it a reality. You need to break it down into lists and priorities, and create an action plan to carry it out. One of the biggest obstacles we face with implementing any change is that we are making changes while things are still in operation. Instead of trying to do everything you want all at once and becoming overwhelmed, start by making two changes a month that are successful and permanent. That baseline will give you 24 changes in one year. I promise you that many of those changes will actually solve more than one problem and you will end up with the effect of making 50 changes.
But, this means you have to make a commitment to making those two changes a month, no matter what. There will be circumstances that will get in your way of accomplishing those changes. However, the definition of success is the ability to get things done, in spite of obstacles. Everyone has obstacles, not everyone lets them get in the way.
Once you have created the vision for the future of your shop and broken it down into manageable but specific priorities and actions, you must share all of this with your team. Some of them may give you feedback that will cause you to go back and tweak the plan. But the main purpose of this exercise is to share the vision you have created for a better future with them. As a leader, it is your job to direct your team to actively pursue that vision. In many cases, team members will be so excited about the potential for a better future that they will actually provide some of the main motivation to get things done.
Let’s break this into steps: 1) Reflect on the current state of your business. 2) Create a vision for what your business could look like. 3) Get input from mentors, outside professionals, key employees, and respected competitors. 4) Break that vision down into manageable and actionable lists, priorities and action plans. 5) Communicate your vision and your plan to your team, your suppliers and your clients. 6) Assign action plans to yourself and team members and get to work.
Leadership, as I see it, is the ability to evaluate the current state of affairs, take responsibility for how things are, get over the regret for any failures that happen, create a vision for a better future and devise a plan to make the vision come to life.
There are times when we feel like we have no choices: things are the way they are and we have no control over our destiny. We have choices and one of the biggest choices we have and that we rarely use is the choice of how we are going to respond. We have a choice of how we are going to respond to adversity, to a complaining customer, to a disgruntled employee, to a quiet month, to a defective part and so on. What I am talking about is not easy; I have to work hard at this in my own life. But like anything in life that is worthwhile, it takes hard work and perseverance. Start by thinking of how you respond to adversity, or insults or complaints. What would it be like if you responded differently than you usually do? These choices that we have in how we respond to the world around us are the beginning of our leadership. By saying “there has to be a better way” you have taken the first step to becoming the leader of your organization. Finding a better way, starts with choosing to respond differently and choosing to look at things differently. Please take an hour this week, away from your shop to think about this article. This article comes from my own experience and I know it works. SSGM
Instead of trying to do everything you want all at once and becoming overwhelmed, start by making two changes a month that are successful and permanent. That baseline will give you 24 changes in one year.
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