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How’s Your Shop Morale? Not Good? Look in the Mirror!


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  • 2 weeks later...
You can learn a lot about a shop’s spirit from a simple phone call. As chairman of a local automotive shop-owners business council, I call members to remind them about future meetings. This one call in particular, to a local shop, really got me thinking. I decided to write about it because it relates to our role as leaders and how our actions trickle down to every member of our company.

 

So, here’s a replay of the phone call to XYZ Auto…

 

In a flat, monotone voice the service advisor picked up the phone and said, “XYZ Auto, this is Tom”. I responded by saying, “Good Morning Tom, this is Joe from Osceola Garage, how are things going today?” He replied by saying, “Going today? How do you think things are going? I’m stuck working in this place.” To avoid any further confrontation I quickly asked if I could speak to Jim, the owner. After 5 minutes on hold and with a huff as he picked up the phone, I hear, “This is Jim”. I said, “Jim, good morning, this is Joe from Osceola Garage, how are things today?” Jim replied, Ok, I guess. I’m alive. If you call being stuck in this place, alive”. In an instant it hit me, the service writer’s emotions and actions mimicked the emotions and actions of the owner.

 

Jim went on to tell me that business stinks, his employees don’t care, the customers don’t want to spend any money, his overhead is too high, he works too hard, he can’t take any time off, the weather is lousy, and his kids and wife are driving him crazy. I was tempted to drive over to his shop to take away his shoe laces and belt, in fear he might hang himself.

 

After listening to his depressing statements, I couldn’t help thinking that his negative attitude IS the reason why his life stinks. His focus on everything negative is not only killing his life, but also killing his business. And, every person in his company probably has a negative attitude because of Jim. In fact, I have no doubt that the air of negativity is also affecting his customer’s actions.

 

Remember, you are the leader of your company. How you act and feel will trickle down to every member of your team. If you are upbeat and positive, your people will follow the same. If you walk around with your head down, drowning yourself in sorrow over all the things that can go wrong, things will go wrong. Your people will follow you as you head down that slippery slope to depression. People don’t like to work in a place that’s depressing. Productivity will suffer as a result.

 

We all know the state of the economy and that this may not be the best of times. But trust me, things will get better. History has proven that this recession will not last. Plus, shop owners are among the most resilient business people. Our ability to solve complex problems puts us in a class of our own. There may be some casualties along the way, as some people will give up. But the majority of you will make it through, and you’ll be stronger because of what you endured. So keep your head up and give your people a reason to go on. Shop owners that maintain a positive attitude and find ways to stay alive will thrive when the economy bounces back. The next time someone asks you, “How are things going?” You respond by saying, “Great! I can’t wait for what the future has to offer me!”

 

Employee perception is very important. If you let out a negative vibe, others will pick it up.

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

         3 comments
      Got your attention? Good. The truth is, there is no such thing as the perfect technician pay plan. There are countless ways to create any pay plan. I’ve heard all the claims and opinions, and to be honest, it’s getting a little frustrating. Claims that an hourly paid pay plan cannot motivate. That flat rate is the only way to truly get the most production from your technicians. And then there’s the hybrid performance-based pay plan that many claim is the best.
      At a recent industry event, a shop owner from the Midwest boasted about his flat-rate techs and insisted that this pay plan should be adopted by all shops across the country. When I informed him that in states like New York, you cannot pay flat-rate, he was shocked. “Then how do you motivate your techs” he asked me.
      I remember the day in 1986 when I hired the best technician who ever worked for me in my 41 years as an automotive shop owner. We’ll call him Hal. When Hal reviewed my pay plan for him, and the incentive bonus document, he stared at it for a minute, looked up, and said, “Joe, this looks good, but here’s what I want.” He then wrote on top of the document the weekly salary he wanted. It was a BIG number. He went on to say, “Joe, I need to take home a certain amount of money. I have a home, a wife, two kids, and my Harly Davidson. I will work hard and produce for you. I don’t need an incentive bonus to do my work.” And he did, for the next 30 years, until the day he retired.
      Everyone is entitled to their opinion. So, here’s mine. Money is a motivator, but not the only motivator, and not the best motivator either. We have all heard this scenario, “She quit ABC Auto Center, to get a job at XYZ Auto Repair, and she’s making less money now at XYZ!” We all know that people don’t leave companies, they leave the people they work for or work with.
      With all this said, I do believe that an incentive-based pay plan can work. However, I also believe that a technician must be paid a very good base wage that is commensurate with their ability, experience, and certifications. I also believe that in addition to money, there needs to be a great benefits package. But the icing on the cake in any pay plan is the culture, mission, and vision of the company, which takes strong leadership. And let’s not forget that motivation also comes from praise, recognition, respect, and when technicians know that their work matters.
      Rather than looking for that elusive perfect pay plan, sit down with your technician. Find out what motivates them. What their goals are. Why do they get out of bed in the morning? When you tie their goals with your goals, you will have one powerful pay plan.
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