With two months to go before the grand opening, I reflect back to 7 years ago when I first had the vision to expand. It took a few years to actually begin the process. There were things I needed to learn and a tremendous amount of fear to overcome. I can tell you honestly that the fear never goes away nor does it get any easier to handle. It’s there and I accept it. The hardest part was to pull the trigger. Once you make the decision, only look forward. It makes no sense to look back and second-guess yourself. Mistakes will be made, but that’s how we learn.
The past 4 years were filled with countless hours talking to engineers, bank loan committees, town planners, general contractors, site engineers and architects. But that’s only part of the story. I spent almost every minute that I wasn’t working doing research on the auto industry, quick lubes, franchise models and other large companies. I also studied other companies like Toyota, Star Bucks, GE, General Motors, Disney, South West Airlines, McDonalds, Apple and Microsoft. Thank God for the Internet.
I read books on leadership from great people like Winston Churchill, Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln. In addition, I studied the works of Dale Carnegie, Jack Welsh (former CEO of GE), Jim Collins (the author of Good to Great), John C. Maxwell and The Art of War by Sun Tzu. Not a day has gone by in the last 4 years that I did not work toward my goal. And reading was a big part of the process.
So once you acquire knowledge, what do you do with it? The answer? You give it away. By sharing knowledge, you make the poeple around stronger, which will only make your stronger.
We hold short meeting at my shop almost daily. These meeting only last about 10 to 15 minutes, but in these meetings I slowly share the knowledge I acquired. My goal is to share every aspect of the project and what is needed to be successful. I share the entire process including the numbers. It’s like a baseball team or an orchestra: although a team or orchestra is made up of individuals, they all work in unison toward a common goal and all the players know each other’s job.
Power point presentations were created and after-hour training sessions were held and will continue to be held on all aspects of the business. From procedure, to policy and basic training on topics such as understanding charging systems, starting systems, ABS brakes, wheel alignments, steering, suspension and other service procedures.
Probably the most important thing I learned the last 4 years preparing for the expansion is that every member of the organization must fully understand our goals and implement the plan.
If the knowledge I gained, remained only in my head, that knowledge becomes useless.