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[Podcast] RR 410: Tom Ham – Running Your Business Remotely


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Tom Ham, with the help of his wife Deb, is the creator and owner of Automotive Management Network a 12,000 plus member website dedicated to the exchange of vehicle service management information. Tom got his start in the auto service industry pumping gas in the late ’60s. Tom and his wife operate Auto Centric, an import specialty shop in Grand Rapids, MI. Tom and Deb have five children including two sons and a daughter who served in the Iraq War as U.S. Marines.  He writes extensively on industry topics.  Discover Tom’s previous episodes HERE.

 

Key Talking Points:

  • Runs business remotely winter from Florida  
    • Need to have the right employees in place- a culture of the company
    • Systems to follow to keep everyone on the same page
    • Would be extremely difficult to accomplish if you are a micromanager- be focused on the results than methodology  
    • Self-discipline- create to-do list, regular schedule to stay on task
    • Dedicate a room to be remote office- able to set boundaries
    • Try one day a week to start
    • Employees tend to be more relaxed- the boss is out of office but still able to communicate digitally   
    • Cameras in a shop- used to get feel for what is going on in shop and security, peace of mind and stay in touch
    • Slack- app to communicate with business remotely
    • Computer hardware- SSD (solid state drive) for faster speed with high-speed internet, no laptop, use a desktop computer to keep the feel of being at the shop, duplicate
    • Can’t sit in a chair all day- need to take breaks to walk and move around since you are not commuting to work

A Blue Print: REMOTE OFFICE CHECKLIST

  • Much of this will apply to any office

Staff

    • Excellent manager – help to become one
    • Thorough systems, policies, procedures
    • Inform everyone
    • Interact frequently with employees the same as at the shop
    • Use both video chat and messaging

Office space

  • Duplicate office same as shop
  • Able to close office to rest of house
  • Room with window and as much sun as possible
  • Minimal stuff in the office area
  • Layout
  • Great lighting
  • Décor
  • Practical desk with enough room
  • Anything needed to improve comfort
  • Anything needed to match all capabilities other than physical presence
  • (Beach house in the Caribbean is a plus!)

Equipment – high quality

  • Newer desktop computers with SSD (no laptop)  CC: Why No Laptop???
  • Multiple monitors 2 + 1
  • Camera monitor – to the side to prevent distraction: Always ON?
  • Super-fast internet
  • Hardwire everything – PC, keyboard, mouse
  • UPS, surge protection
  • External hard drive for back up
  • Audio – better than built in your PC
  • Headset for when noise is excessive, noise canceling
  • Mic – better than built in your PC
  • Phone
  • Chair
  • Chair mat if carpeted
  • Scanner
  • Shredder

 

Shop

  • High res cameras – as many as needed to see anywhere you want to see
  • Slack or similar
  • Easy to use SMS: CC: On-line connectivity or cloud?

 

Working

  • Welcome access for anyone remotely and physically
  • Normal daily routine
  • Create a schedule to follow – day, week, month
  • Paperless – prevents distracting clutter and paper handling
  • Word, sticky notes, spreadsheets
  • Regular visits – one day a week, one week a month
  • Be available – but need not be tied to the remote office physically
  • Activities – walking, biking, swimming, etc. daily
  • Go out frequently – dinner, etc.

 

Good checklist – especially for portable remote office

 

Resources:

  • Thanks to Tom Ham for his contribution to the aftermarket’s premier podcast.
  • Link to the ‘BOOKS‘ page highlighting all books discussed in the podcast library HERE. Leaders are readers.
  • Leave me an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one of them.

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This episode is brought to you by AAPEX, the Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo. AAPEX represents the $740 billion AAPEX_logo_CMYK_with_tagline-1440x621.jpglobal automotive aftermarket industry and has everything you need to stay ahead of the curve. With 2,500 exhibiting companies, you’ll see the latest products, parts, and technologies for your business. The event also offers advanced training for shop owners, technicians, warehouse distributors (WDs) and auto parts retailers, as well as networking opportunities to grow your business. AAPEX 2019 will take place Tuesday, Nov. 5 through Thursday, Nov. 7, at the Sands Expo in Las Vegas. More than 48,000 targeted buyers are expected to attend, and approximately 162,000 automotive aftermarket professionals from 135 countries are projected to be in Las Vegas during AAPEX 2019. For information, visit aapexshow.com

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