By Elite Worldwide Inc.
All successful companies need a leader that has a vision of the future, clearly defined long-term goals and a deep appreciation for people. These leaders also need the ability to bring out the best in others, have a deep-rooted commitment to ethics, and be able to withstand the challenges of leadership. When it comes to small businesses, even the best leaders often have difficulty finding others in their organization that are not only capable of becoming a successor, but that can also effectively lead others. I realize that there are countless books that have been written on developing leaders within, and the amount of information available on the web really is endless. Accordingly, I felt I could best help you by distilling this subject down to a step-by-step guide to creating leaders within your company.
Step #1. Communicate your values, mission and culture early and often - Individuals in leadership positions must realize that others will most willingly follow when they feel the leader shares their values. By having a deep commitment to ethics, by never putting money ahead of people, and by creating a culture that others want to be a part of, people will have a natural propensity to not only follow you, but emulate you as well. These are the principles of leadership that can’t be faked, or only applied when the time is right, because people will inevitably be able to tell if you aren’t genuine.
You may want to consider what we do at Elite, and have all new hires memorize your Mission Statement as soon as they come aboard. This will help them achieve a deeper relationship with your values. Then throughout their tenure with your company, make sure that you continually reinforce those values and the things that are most important to your brand. For example, since ethics are important to our culture at Elite, we provide every new employee with a copy of Ethics 101 by John Maxwell, and they are asked to share what they feel are the most important takeaways. Reinforcing your shop’s culture early and often will help ensure that you have buy-in from everyone that works with you.
Step #2. Start with the Right People - Regardless of how good your leadership skills may be, in order to create leaders within your business you need to start with people that have the right attitude, the aptitude to grow within your organization (or into the position), and the right ethics. Bear in mind that regardless of whether or not you are looking to fill a specific leadership role in management, each and every one of your employees will take on a leadership role to some degree. This is why you need to consider two different leadership paths; One for the individuals who will be assuming greater management/business leadership roles, and one for those who will less directly serve as role models for others.
Step #3. Identify the Candidates for Leadership Roles in Management Positions – In identifying the right candidates, you will need to ensure you are confident that they have the capacity to grow into the leadership position you are looking to fill. You will also need to assess their natural talent for engaging and dealing with people (including the management of others), their temperament, their ability to operate under pressure, and their ability to inspire others. These are all personality characteristics (not skills), so you will need to carefully evaluate not only the candidate’s strengths, but equally as important, any noteworthy weaknesses. In making your decisions, you may also want to consider having the candidates undergo professional assessments that are available through organizations like the Berke Group.
Step #4. Create a Path to Leadership – Once someone has been identified as a good candidate for a leadership role in management, you will need to provide them with them a list of the skills they will need to develop, a timeline for their completion, and the method you will use to judge their knowledge and ability to apply what they’ve learned. You will also need to have a clear understanding with the candidate regarding what will occur if for whatever reason either of you feel it is inappropriate to continue moving forward.
When it comes to the skills they will need, first and foremost, they will need to develop (or further develop) their people skills. One of the best ways of accomplishing this goal is by asking them to read How to Win Friend and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. I would strongly encourage you to have them read one section at a time, and then provide you with an oral report. During their reporting session they should tell you what they have learned, how they will apply it to their personal life, and how they will apply it to their role in your company. Always be sure to ask for their reasoning as well. This exercise will help you better understand how your employees process information, and will give you valuable insights into how they view their roles.
This learning path should help the candidate understand the value of having goals in place, the goal setting process you use, your key performance indicators, your financial statements (when applicable), how to effectively manage their time, and how to delegate. You will find John Maxwell has written many extraordinary books on a number of these subjects, which can be valuable tools for you.
Lastly, they will need to learn how to effectively manage your single greatest asset: the people that you employ. Although there are many books that have been published on managing people, I believe that the all-time best is The One-Minute Manager series by Kenneth Blanchard.
Step #5. Application of Leadership Skills – As you are developing your business management leader, you will need to provide them with opportunities along the way to practice what they have learned. Although there are many strategies available, here is a simple one that you can use: Start by having the management leader-in-training create a simple 3-5 page mini-business plan for any part of your business. For example, it could be for driving up sales, controlling costs, or bringing in more new customers. The plan needs to include the goals (ideally relative to your KPI’s), the strategy that will be used, the opportunities and the potential risks.
Additionally, they should be put in a position where they can take on a leadership role in your team meetings, and begin handling employee issues that are relative to the role they will be filling.
While creating leaders is by no means an easy task, I hope that you find these 5 steps helpful in building a company comprised of leaders that not only embrace your shop’s mission and values, but that serve as role models for every life they touch.
Since 1990, Bob Cooper has been the president of Elite (www.EliteWorldwide.com), 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 the industry’s #1 peer group of 90 successful shop owners, training and coaching from top shop owners, service advisor training, along with online and in-class sales, marketing and shop management courses. You can contact Elite at [email protected], or by calling 800-204-3548.
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There is a software package called Complete Auto Reports (CAR), based in NJ. Wondering if anyone is using this software or demoed it? I reached out to them a few months ago to see the software, had a very poor interaction with the representative I dealt with. I still haven't found the software that works best for me so I'm still evaluating packages. I'm thinking about reaching out again and hope my experience was just a bad apple and not representative to the company as a whole. Wondering if anyone else here has any experience with them
website : https://www.completeautoreports.com/
3 GALLONS OF TROUBLE It was shortly after opening time when one of my long time regular customers brought their teenage son into the shop for a little discussion and repair time. The father and I go way back, and he knew I'm not one to take a lot of gruff, especially before coffee. He looked at his son and told him, “Gonzo, probably hasn’t had his coffee yet so go easy on the old guy,” he said with a quick little nod and wink in my direction. He was right about the coffee, but that still didn’t prepare me for the story I was about to hear. The story started sometime earlier, apparently after I changed the fuel pump some two years ago. It had to do with his gas mileage. Apparently, his incredibly detailed fuel charts that listed every fill up, time, date, and the exact mileage there was always a 3 gallon discrepancy. All traced back to the very day I put the fuel pump in over two years ago. He was concerned, no, let me rephrase that, he was extremely upset and insisted that I was the cause of all this, and obviously, I must have done something wrong. His insistence that I was to blame was backed up by his anal retentive log book of every liquid that every entered his trucks orifices. Everything was tracked by way of his trip odometer. Before the new fuel pump he would get close to 400 miles per tank. His accuracy was to be commended. Not a lot of people go to this amount of effort to calculate the different seasonal fuel changes and how it affects the overall mileage with a cross reference to the previous year and then highlight long trips in a different colored highlighter with notations about wind speed and weather conditions, or which direction he was traveling, With all this cross checking, geological mapping, GPS location, and weather pattern charts there still was this 3 gallon gap. Each fill up averaged right around 23 gallons from empty, and never a drop more than 23 gallons. But now, his fuel tank was holding 26 gallons. His question, “So, where is the other 3 gallons going?” I tried not laugh, I’ve changed a lot of fuel pumps but I never have had anyone come in and tell me that there fuel tank now holds more fuel than before. The dad smirk was getting wider and wider as the story and his teen aged son's lack of making me believe his story increased his volume and temper. The whole time, good ol' dad just sat there with that look on his face as if to silently tell me, "You're turn... I'll just watch." “I’m pretty sure your gas tank hasn’t increased in volume since a fuel pump has been changed. I would imagine you’re probably mistaken as to how much your tank actually holds. Did you ever check your owners manual by chance? ” I told him, as I reached for my coffee. Nope, he wasn’t buying that. He knew how much his gas tank has 'always' held and he knew I was the cause of his lost mileage. The more I tried to explain, the more upset he was getting. He was quite sure (and demanding) that he was correct and that I wasn’t listening to what he was saying. By now he was quite loud and belligerent over the whole matter. Poor old dad, laid a hand on his son's shoulder, but the boy just shrugged it off and continued on his rampant dissertation of fuel mileage vs. fuel tank volume. At that point, I kinda figured dad had already had enough of his boy’s attitude and figured old Gonzo was going to straighten him out. (This is going to take a lot more coffee…better start another pot.) The aggravated son then began to tell me how good a mechanic he was, because he had rebuilt a few motors in the past so… he knew his way around under the hood. Then he added to his story with the usual, “I went to one of those parts stores that will read codes for you… they said the reason for the check engine light was because of a bad gas cap.” Now there's a new twist, oh wait I've got it now. As long as the fuel mileage was the only issue it's safe to say you would have kept driving around with this attitude that I must have screwed something up, but... as soon as the check engine light comes on and another scrappy teenager with a code reader tells you that it's caused by a gas cap you put it together... and what do you know... it's Gonzo's fault. I can see the whole scenario now, he was grasping at possible reasons why his gas mileage had dropped so much and now he's got some confirmation. What gets me is how something as important as the involvement of the service light wasn't brought up sooner into the conversation but what is important is to tell me how good a tech you are and that you have already made this seemingly incompetent decision that I was to blame. So at this point, we have a service light on, we have a supposed loss of fuel economy (sort of), and I’m sure there is more… there is always more… I had to ask, “Anything else?” On occasions the ABS light comes on… he had that checked too. This time he consulted the ever faithful internet. He tells me in a loud forceful voice… as if I couldn’t hear anything he was saying, “That always means it’s time to rebuild the ABS controller.” Oh yea, I do that every day… I take the controllers apart and remove the epoxy sealer over the circuit boards and remove the effected components on the board and then reseal the whole thing back together. Sure it can be done, but not cheaply, and it sure isn't going to change that 3 gallons of fuel in the tank. All this before my first cup of coffee? Finally, dad convinced the son to dropped the truck off. I went straight to the glove box and checked the owner’s manual for the fuel tank capacity. It had it in big bold letters… 26 gallon capacity… not 23 as he was so sure of. Just to be sure, I checked the tune up parts and the filters… all looked great. The next thing was to tackle the check engine light. Yes there was a code, well a code that might lower gas mileage… sort of… but not by 3 gallons. It was the evap solenoid valve code, P0449. After testing the circuit and the valve it turned out the valve was at fault. A new evap solenoid valve solved the problem. As far as the ABS… nothing, not a thing, no codes, no history codes, and the system was working normally. A drive test showed no problems but I gave him the benefit of doubt that he may have an intermittent ABS controller problem… however when I gave him the options of leaving it alone or changing it… he left it alone. After all the phone calls were made and dad and son arrived to pick up the truck there was never another mention of the so called missing 3 gallons or the fact that it was merely the original fuel sender that was reading improperly all this time. Or the fact that the loose gas cap had nothing to do with the service light either. I guess when you’re wrong you don’t have to admit it, at least when you're a teenager, and dad is paying the bill. But, you can be darn sure, if the mechanic is wrong, it's time to scream in his face, accuse him of incompetence, and let everyone else know about it, and write some review about, and then ask for your money back. Welcome to the world of auto repair and some of the strangest customer reactions you'll ever run into. Oh, and I apologies for being the mechanic in this story, and I guess I should apologies for one more thing….. Writing in BIG letters on his invoice… YOUR TANK HOLDS 26 GALLONS! !
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Has this ever happened to any of you?
We recently went out of our way to accommodate a customers' vehicle repair request. Though the customer was argumentative about pricing, hours charged, parts used etc, they ultimately agreed to the repairs. About an hour or so later, we receive notifications of several 0 or 1 star reviews on many social websites including Yelp, Google, Yahoo, Facebook....... you name it they had an account or made a new account to put their side of the story out there.
How would you handle this? Do you feel obligated to complete the said repair?
Thanks in advance for your thoughts and opinions.