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Joe Marconi

A healthy repair shop business starts with a healthy mind and the right people

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The day to day operations of running a business can take its toll on anyone.  To be a business owner means to address problem after problem and finding the right solutions. Sometimes the decisions we make will be the right ones, sometimes not.  If we are not careful, this emotional roller coaster we call being in business, can make us focus too much on the negative, and not the positive things that happen in our lives.

With nearly 4 decades as a business owner, I can say with certainty that one of the basic building blocks of being successful in business is having the right team of people around you and getting yourself in the right frame of mind. 

You need to find and hire great people. But once you have them, you need to do all you can to take care of them, train them and make them successful in order for you to be successful. Is it easy? No. But it is essential.

Most important; you need to treat each day as if it were a gift from the heavens and base your entire perspective from a position of strength and remaining positive.  I know it’s not easy, but I can tell you, it works.

 

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  • Similar Content

    • By Joe Marconi
      As a young tech, there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do. I diagnosed every car with the accuracy and skill of a Greek god. My efficiency week after week was over 150 percent, and with no comebacks. As a shop owner, I sold every job, and at a profit. Each new day was better than the day before. Boy, when I look back, I was amazing. Those were days.
      OK, OK, perhaps I am stretching the truth a bit. The fact is my past was not a smoothly paved road to success, but rather an obstacle course riddled with emotional and financial potholes, with more ups and downs than the biggest rollercoaster. Was it amazing? Oh, yes. Amazing because of all the mistakes I made along the way.
      As the years have piled up in my life, I often find myself thinking back to the “old days” and judge people by how “perfect” I thought I was back then. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I was a good technician and somehow evolved into an accomplished businessman. But was I really as good as I remember?
      I was outside the bays talking with my manager when Nick, one of my techs, began his road test on a Chevy Tahoe. As he passed us I could hear that unique “squeaky” sound a seized, worn out u-joint makes. I yelled to him, “Hey, check the u-joints.” He nodded his head and drove off.
      About 30 minutes later, I walked over to Nick and asked him what he found on his multipoint inspection. He told me that the wiper blades were torn, there’s a little play in the right side outer tie road and he recommends a four-wheel balance with a wheel alignment. I asked him, “What about the u-joints?” Nick replied, “They’re fine; nice and tight.”
      I could feel the tension begin to rise when I continued with, “Nick, I asked you to check the u-joints because I could hear that something was wrong. How did you check the u-joints? Do you know how to check u-joints?” Nick was visibly upset, so I suggested another road test—this time with me.
      During the road test, I told Nick to roll down the windows and listen. I said, “Do you hear that squeaky sound? That’s a seized u-joint.” Nick listened closely and then said, “I never heard that noise before.” To myself, I said, “You must be kidding me! How in the world can this tech not know it’s a seized u-joint?” But, thankfully I paused, and replied with, “Nick, how old are you? He responded proudly, “Twenty-one, boss.”
      Nick is a recent graduate of a well known tech school. He comes to work on time, works hard, and learns every day. His production improves each month. He has a lot of raw talent and a great attitude. At 21, how in the world could he know what I know at 63?
      I often forget how young some of my employees are. I also need to remember that people will make mistakes and they need the time to hone their skills through years of experience. They don’t have the gray hair of knowledge that often comes with decades of experience.
      Allowing people to grow will mean making mistakes. A tech will make the wrong diagnosis. A service advisor will lose a sale or forget to sell the tire rotation. But, did you or I diagnosis every car correctly? Did we make every sale? Were we absolutely perfect in everything we did? Of course not. So let’s be a little more understanding. I am not suggesting we settle for mediocrity. People need to strive for excellence. But even the best home run hitter will strike out at times.
      As business owners, especially those from my generation, it’s our job to pass the baton, to teach others, to be a mentor and a coach. Don’t be too judgmental. If we are honest with ourselves when we look back on our lives, we will see triumphs mixed with a lot tough days.
      When you feel yourself losing your temper or getting upset over the mistakes or lack of knowledge from one of your employees, just think back and view your own past. Don’t look back with a skewed memory of your greatness, but with an honest recollection of your struggles and mistakes. And you never know, you just might help others avoid some of the mistakes you made.
      Oh, by the way, my approach with the way I handled the situation with Nick and the seized u-joint? Another mistake on my part. So even at 63, I am still making mistakes. Kind of humbling, right?
       
      This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on July 6, 2018


      View full article
    • By Joe Marconi
      As a young tech, there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do. I diagnosed every car with the accuracy and skill of a Greek god. My efficiency week after week was over 150 percent, and with no comebacks. As a shop owner, I sold every job, and at a profit. Each new day was better than the day before. Boy, when I look back, I was amazing. Those were days.
      OK, OK, perhaps I am stretching the truth a bit. The fact is my past was not a smoothly paved road to success, but rather an obstacle course riddled with emotional and financial potholes, with more ups and downs than the biggest rollercoaster. Was it amazing? Oh, yes. Amazing because of all the mistakes I made along the way.
      As the years have piled up in my life, I often find myself thinking back to the “old days” and judge people by how “perfect” I thought I was back then. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I was a good technician and somehow evolved into an accomplished businessman. But was I really as good as I remember?
      I was outside the bays talking with my manager when Nick, one of my techs, began his road test on a Chevy Tahoe. As he passed us I could hear that unique “squeaky” sound a seized, worn out u-joint makes. I yelled to him, “Hey, check the u-joints.” He nodded his head and drove off.
      About 30 minutes later, I walked over to Nick and asked him what he found on his multipoint inspection. He told me that the wiper blades were torn, there’s a little play in the right side outer tie road and he recommends a four-wheel balance with a wheel alignment. I asked him, “What about the u-joints?” Nick replied, “They’re fine; nice and tight.”
      I could feel the tension begin to rise when I continued with, “Nick, I asked you to check the u-joints because I could hear that something was wrong. How did you check the u-joints? Do you know how to check u-joints?” Nick was visibly upset, so I suggested another road test—this time with me.
      During the road test, I told Nick to roll down the windows and listen. I said, “Do you hear that squeaky sound? That’s a seized u-joint.” Nick listened closely and then said, “I never heard that noise before.” To myself, I said, “You must be kidding me! How in the world can this tech not know it’s a seized u-joint?” But, thankfully I paused, and replied with, “Nick, how old are you? He responded proudly, “Twenty-one, boss.”
      Nick is a recent graduate of a well known tech school. He comes to work on time, works hard, and learns every day. His production improves each month. He has a lot of raw talent and a great attitude. At 21, how in the world could he know what I know at 63?
      I often forget how young some of my employees are. I also need to remember that people will make mistakes and they need the time to hone their skills through years of experience. They don’t have the gray hair of knowledge that often comes with decades of experience.
      Allowing people to grow will mean making mistakes. A tech will make the wrong diagnosis. A service advisor will lose a sale or forget to sell the tire rotation. But, did you or I diagnosis every car correctly? Did we make every sale? Were we absolutely perfect in everything we did? Of course not. So let’s be a little more understanding. I am not suggesting we settle for mediocrity. People need to strive for excellence. But even the best home run hitter will strike out at times.
      As business owners, especially those from my generation, it’s our job to pass the baton, to teach others, to be a mentor and a coach. Don’t be too judgmental. If we are honest with ourselves when we look back on our lives, we will see triumphs mixed with a lot tough days.
      When you feel yourself losing your temper or getting upset over the mistakes or lack of knowledge from one of your employees, just think back and view your own past. Don’t look back with a skewed memory of your greatness, but with an honest recollection of your struggles and mistakes. And you never know, you just might help others avoid some of the mistakes you made.
      Oh, by the way, my approach with the way I handled the situation with Nick and the seized u-joint? Another mistake on my part. So even at 63, I am still making mistakes. Kind of humbling, right?
       
      This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on July 6, 2018

    • By Joe Marconi
      A few weeks back I had a problem with my refrigerator.  I got a referral and called an appliance repair company. I called three times and each time I called this is what happened: "C and E appliance, please hold."  I was put on hold three times for about 5 minutes. After being put on hold each time, a women would say, "What's the problem?"  No engagement, no sign of interest for me the customer, no signs of caring.  I gave the women a brief description of the problem and each time she told me someone would call me back.  Well, no one did.
      So, I called for the 4th time, and as the person answered the phone I said, "DO NOT PUT ME ON HOLD."  There was silence, so I continued.  I explained to her that she has spoken to me three times,  I left messages three times and three times you told me that someone would call me back.  She replied,  "You are talking to the wrong person, if you have any complaints, write a letter to my boss, after all he won't listen to me anyway."  I hung up the phone and called another company.
      The lesson and takeaway here is simple: Who's answering your phone?  The wrong people on the phone in your shop can kill your business.  Have meetings with your people. Make sure you review your phone skills policy. If you don't have one, create one.  Empower your people to people to handle issues. And make sure you log every phone call. If you feel you have a problem, start recording phone calls. 
      Your phone is your lifeline to future business.  So, please ask yourself....Who's answering your phone? 
       
    • By Joe Marconi
      Shop production is a hot topic these days.  High production results in higher sales and profits.  But there seems to be so many obstacles to overcome to achieve high production levels.  
      I was discussing production with a few shop owners, and one shop owner mentioned that he recently hired a shop foreman; an “A” tech in his early 50’s.  The foreman uses his knowledge and skills to organize the work flow.  For younger techs, it’s even more important that they know how to work and keep productive.
      What are your thoughts?   Does anyone else have a foreman or similar position?  And how does this role affect production?
       
    • By Joe Marconi
      Each year at this time I advise shop owners to set aside time to look back at the current year and start planning for the year ahead.  The more due diligence you perform, the more successful you will be.  Below is a short list of things you need to do.  Remember, the time you spend now, will pay off next year.
      Review all your numbers, year to date - Did you hit your goals?  Arrange a meeting with your accountant and review your projected sales and determine any tax implications Speak to your accountant about investing in any end-of-year equipment purchases or any other large purchases in order to save on taxes. Please do not listen to your tool truck guy or equipment reps. Sometimes having cash reserve is much more important that reducing taxes Have a meeting with your key employees; determine what you will need in the coming year and begin to create a budget Set your new goals for 2018 and beyond, both personal and business Create a Wish List, those things your would like to accomplish, both in business and personal - This will help keep you focused  Consider needed future training for all employees Review all insurances: Life insurance, liability, etc. Perform a facility inspection: Identify any needed work, upgrades, OSHA concerns, etc Create an emergency crisis plan in case something happens to you or a key employee; and make sure your loved ones and family have a copy of the plan 


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