By Bob Cooper
Over the years I have had the pleasure of watching hundreds of shop owners go to the top, and truly become industry leaders. I have also seen thousands of shop owners that struggle from day to day until they finally either try to find someone that is willing to take over their business at any price, or they simply close their doors and walk away. There are many reasons why shops fail, including lack of business skills and the unwillingness to reach out for help before it’s too late, but there is one silent killer that I have seen take even the best shops down. It preys on every small business owner, and if not caught early enough, inevitably puts them out of business. The good news is; if you are aware of it, you can not only side-step it, but you can turn a good business into a really great business at the same time.
Some shop owners started their careers as technicians, and others are simply entrepreneurs, but interestingly enough, all shop owners have a number of things in common when they first open their shops. They are excited about what they will be building, and they are filled with passion and energy. They secure a location and equipment, they hire a tech or two, and they get the word out in their communities that they are now open for business. These are the guys and gals that work six to seven days a week, and they happily put in the long hours, because they are making their dreams come true and building a business they can be proud of.
But then Father Time steps in, and these entrepreneurial shop owners find that they are no longer building their businesses. Instead, they are dealing with customers, ordering parts, working on cars and putting out fires. Unbeknownst to them, they have transitioned from being an entrepreneur to being a manager, and find themselves managing repair orders, managing checkbooks and managing people. Not only are these tasks uninspiring, but they are the furthest things from the role of an entrepreneur. This is when the excitement and challenge of building a business transforms into a job, and burnout sets in. If this sounds like a place where you reside, or if you feel it’s a place you are headed toward, then I have some good news for you: Not only is there hope, but the bright future you envisioned when you opened your shop can still be yours.
The first thing you will need to do is take a good, hard look at where you are with your business, and then set some long-term business goals that will get you excited again. I have counseled hundreds, if not thousands, of shop owners on this process, and after seeing the results first-hand I can tell you with confidence that taking this step will not only have a dramatic impact on your business, but it will have a life-changing impact on you as a person. When you set those long-term goals that are 3 to 10 years out, you will find that you are invigorated again, and you will reignite that entrepreneur inside of you.
In closing, all successful businesses are aware of this silent killer, so they never stop growing. I can promise you that ensuring you always have a vision and clearly defined goals will keep that spark of passion alive in you, it will give you a sense of purpose, it will inspire your employees, and it will keep you well ahead of your competitors.
Since 1990, Bob Cooper has been the president of Elite, a company that strives to help shop owners reach their goals and live happier lives, while elevating the industry at the same time. The company offers coaching and training from the industry’s top shop owners, service advisor training, peer groups, along with sales, marketing and shop management courses. You can learn more about Elite by visiting www.EliteWorldwide.com.