Quantcast
Jump to content


Helming Your Ship


Joe Marconi

Recommended Posts

I will never forget the day I met Carlos. It was 13 years ago at a small business conference in New York City. The conference drew business owners from all types of industries throughout the greater New York area. Carlos was sitting next to me at orientation. The day was lined up with guest speakers, workshops and networking opportunities. By the third networking break, Carlos and I were hitting it off. We traded war stories, discussed business challenges and brainstormed new ideas. Carlos owns two Italian restaurants, one in Manhattan and the other in Brooklyn. His first restaurant was founded in 1986 when he was 27 years old. I finally asked Carlos, “What’s your background? Did you go school to become a chef? Did your family own a restaurant? Do you enjoy cooking?” Carlos turned to me, smiled, and said, “Joe, I am going to let you in on a little-known secret: I have never cooked a meal in my life.”

Unlike Carlos and his business venture, most auto repair businesses are started by technicians and use their technical skills to run their companies. I was one of them. I spent years honing my technical skills from the time I graduated high school in 1973 to my first day in business, Oct. 1, 1980. I worked hard at becoming the absolute best automotive technician I could possibly become. I also spent another decade after starting my business improving those skills. That is, until one day I realized that while I may have used my technical skills to start and initially build my business, it wasn’t enough.

In the first 10 years, I grew my business primarily with my hands, my strength and my determination. At the end of that decade, I hit a wall. Thankfully, that wall knocked some sense into me. My business was largely dependent on my abilities and what I could produce. After analyzing my business and realizing that it had plateaued for a number of years, I had to make a tough choice. It was time to put down the tools. I had to learn a different set of skills—the skills of running a company. This proved to be the right choice for me.

I’m not saying I regret what I did in those early years. I didn’t know any other way. I loved the auto industry and I loved working on cars. However, when the day came that I decided to become a business owner, my life changed. And, my awareness of how to build and run a business should have changed with it.

There are shop owners that were never technicians, and do quite well. It’s argued that they have an advantage over technician-turned-shop-owners. A technician’s brain is wired to look at the problem at hand, create a solution and move on. An entrepreneur looks at business from a different perspective: always looking to the future, at growth and what other greater things can be accomplished.

I remember many years ago meeting a very successful shop owner from the west coast at a trade show. We were both standing at a booth that displayed emissions-related products. I picked up a sensor, turned to this shop owner and asked what he thought of the new air fuel ratio sensors. He replied, “I wouldn’t know an oxygen sensor from a spark plug.” I kept silent. This shop owner was, and still is, well known in the industry—and very successful.

Here’s the bottom line: As a business owner, the skills of repairing cars have little to do with the skills needed for long-term business success. For many of you with a technical background, you may have come to the same conclusion. If you have not come to this realization, please take a long hard look at your life and your business. While you may love to be in the bays, your place it a helm of the ship. Use those technical skills, but understand that those skills may have gotten you this far, but they won’t get your business to where it needs to be. It will be your business skills and people skills that builds a sustainable company that continues to grow and becomes a source of enrichment for you, your family, your employees and their families.

Carlos and I still keep in contact with each other and he still owns and operates his restaurants. Carlos called me the other day and told me that he actually had the opportunity recently to work in the kitchen at one of his restaurants. Perhaps even entrepreneurs can cross over into the world of technicians. I’m betting it did a world of good for Carlos.

This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on November 1st, 2018

Ratchet + Wrench


View full article

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

    • By Joe Marconi in Joe's Blog
         5
      Typically, when productivity suffers, the shop owner or manager directs their attention to the technicians. Are they doing all they can do to maintain high billable hours? Are they as efficient as they can be?  Is there time being wasted throughout the technician’s day? 
      All these reasons factor into production problems, but before we point fingers at the technicians, let’s consider a few other factors.
      Are estimates being written properly? Are labor testing and inspections being billed out correctly? Are you charging enough for testing and inspecting, especially for highly specialized electrical, on-board computer issues, and other complex drivability work?  Is there a clear workflow process everyone follows that details every step from the write-up to vehicle delivery? Do you track comebacks, and is that affecting production?  Is the shop layout not conducive to high production? For example, is it unorganized, where shop tools, technical information, and equipment are not easily accessible to every technician?  Are you charging the correct labor rate and allowing for variables such as rust, vehicle age, and the fact that most labor guides are wrong? Also, is there effective communication between the tech and the service advisor to ensure that extra labor time is accounted for and billed to the customer? These are a few of the top reasons for low productivity problems. There are others, but the main point is to look at the entire operation. Productivity is a team effort.  Blaming the techs or other staff members does not get to the root cause in most cases.
      Maintaining adequate production levels is the responsibility of management to create the processes that will lead to high production while holding everyone accountable. 
  • Similar Topics

    • By Transmission Repair

      Premium Member Content 

      This content is hidden to guests, one of the benefits of a paid membership. Please login or register to view this content.

    • By bantar
      By Hunt Demarest.    I heard about this guy, but only vaguely.  He was on my eventual to-listen-to list, but it hadn't bubbled up.  Who wants to listen to an accounting podcast????    Well, the timing was right and I saw a new Podcast entitled "Accounting for Internal and Warranty Work".  I listened and was pleasantly surprised.   First, a shout-out to Hunt.  He's not boring.  This is very important as I normally listen to these while commuting.  I don't want to fall asleep while driving!  He's likeable, and he covers his subjects quite well    After listening to this podcast, I immediately revamped my Warranty Work accounting method.   I know knew WHY it was important to follow his process for dealing with warranty work.  Previously, we just ate the costs and didn't document them religiously.   I spent the time to fix up all of 2022 with some correcting journal entries.
      His CPA firm focuses on auto-shops.  It seems that he is crowd-sourcing his topics by asking for topics or creating topics from frequently asked questions.  There was a podcast on advertising.  How much should you spend?  Is zero enough?  Is 100K monthly enough?   There was another on Tax Tips and common questions, such as "Can I pay for my goomah with business funds?"  (OK, not really, but you get the picture).  Where are the legal boundaries with taxes?  What qualifies and what doesn't?  Is accelerated depreciation best?
      TLDR:  Great podcast.  Not boring, in spite of being accounting.  Auto Shop focused.   I recommend that you listen.
    • By carmcapriotto
      This week Hunt talks about incentivizing key employees with profit sharing and how to hold them accountable for the overall company and its profits. 
      How to motivate key employees to think like owners Pros and cons of giving key employees minority ownership What are alternative options for incentivization? Caveats for expansion and/or quick growth   
      The Show is sponsored by:
       
      Shop-Ware on the web at getshopware.com
      NAPA Auto Care Repair Shop of Tomorrow at https://repairshopoftomorrow.com
      Hunt Demarest, CPA
      Paar Melis and Associates – Accountants Specializing in Automotive Repair
      Visit us Online : www.paarmelis.com
      Email Hunt: [email protected]
      Get a copy of my Book : Download Here
      Click to go to the Podcast on Remarkable Results Radio
    • By ASOG Podcast
      Every New Auto Tech Needs To Hear This
    • By carmcapriotto
      This week, Hunt talks about ROI (return on investment) and how to use it in your day-to-day decisions.
      • What is ROI, and how can you calculate it?
      • How does time relate to ROI and can your decision be changed based on time even if ROI is the same?
      • How does your involvement in an investment dictate what the ROI has to be to make it a prudent choice?
      • How can you use ROI to make day-to-day decisions in your business and personal life?
      The Show is sponsored by:
      Shop-Ware on the web at getshopware.com
      NAPA Auto Care Repair Shop of Tomorrow at https://repairshopoftomorrow.com
      Hunt Demarest, CPA
      Paar Melis and Associates – Accountants Specializing in Automotive Repair
      Visit us Online : www.paarmelis.com
      Email Hunt: [email protected]
      Get a copy of my Book : Download Here
      Click to go to the Podcast on Remarkable Results Radio


  • Similar Tagged Content

  • By nptrb, in Automotive Industry,

    By nptrb, in Automotive Industry,

  • Our Sponsors



×
×
  • Create New...