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By Joe Marconi
One of the toughest things to do as a business owner is to step away and let the people you have put in charge make key decisions and take control of your business. Business becomes part of your life, maybe not your entire life, but a big part of it. You still value family and friends, but for shop owners, business becomes an integral part of one’s life. As a shop owner, your thoughts are never far from family and from your business.
This is not the first time I have spoken about how hard it is to let go, and it will not be the last. I have put people in levels of management and built systems to take care of the tasks that should not be done by me anymore.
But, in order to have real control and to keep moving the business in the right direction, we need to ignore certain things, and trust not only the people we employee, but the systems that we have put into place.
The other day I walked into the shop at 11:50am and saw two techs having lunch, while the other techs were working. Normally lunch is a 12noon. I was annoyed and visibly showing it. My manager made the decision to have these two techs take an early lunch since their ordered lunch had arrived early. I made no comment, just walked away.
While I may not be in agreement with his decision, it is his decision. I must not and cannot undermine, prejudge and take away his authority by stepping in and forcing my opinion on this matter.
As business owners, we need to build the systems, polices, and the procedures that will allow our businesses to run and grow with or without us. We need to put into place a system of checks and balances to insure success. Most of all, we need to hire the right people, assign them to the right position, train them, mentor them and then leave them alone and let them do their job.
Curious how many other shops are paying attention to their 'effective labor rate' in their shop. I heard that industry standard is 90% of your 'standard flat rate'. That sounds great, but I wonder how realistic that really is. Also, how do you personally go about raising effective labor rate at your shop? Did you cut hours paid to technicians for certain jobs? Raise labor rates on menu items?
By Joe Marconi
I walked into an electronics store the other day and on the walls were large posters of sale items. On the service counters at the register were more sale offerings. There were sale tags on the items on the shelves. I instantly got the feeling of “information overload.”
This got me thinking, many of us (me included), flood our customer waiting areas with brochures, posters, flyers, menu boards, etc. How effective are they? Should we narrow our focus on fewer items at a time? Is less, actually more, in terms of how we market our shops?
For starters my shop is in a very busy metro area. There are cars everywhere, over 100,000's of people within 5 sq miles. I have a German specialty shop so my target market is a bit limited comparatively speaking. There are a lot of nice German cars around the neighborhood and the surrounding area. I have always toyed with the idea of placing flyers on cars or my business card. I feel awkward going up to someone's vehicle and snooping around it, possibly putting my hands on it to leave a flyer. Most people in my area can be hostile towards strangers so this has always put me off a bit. Also it seems most people don't like things being left on their cars.
What would you u guys do? How would you approach this? From the sheer volume of potential customers, I think its worth it to find a way to make this work. Thoughts?
By Joe Marconi
Are You The Boss, Or A Leader?
Legendary Green Bay Packers Football coach Vince Lombardi was more than just a coach, he was a leader. Lombardi made average players great and great players even greater. He understood the principles of leadership and how to motivate people beyond the ordinary. Lombardi knew that if he could get his players to think as a team, and focus as one, he would be successful. He accomplished this strategy, wining 5 national championships and the first two Super Bowls before retiring in 1967.
Vince Lombardi preached more than football. He preached discipline, integrity, respect for authority and to always strive to be the best. He was tough on his players, but dedicated his life to them. Lombardi lived by many rules; among my favorites: “Chase perfection. If you settle for nothing less than your best, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish in your life.”
We are Shop Owners. We are the bosses of our companies. But we are more than that. We are leaders. And with that comes a responsibility to ourselves and the people we employ. As the leader you need to bring out the best in people. Inspire them to work hard to achieve excellence. Create a philosophy of teamwork where everyone knows the vision of the company and all are unified by the same cause. And above all, understand that as a leader you must always do what is in the best interest of your customers and the people that work with you.
Vince Lombardi was also a man of character. This one attribute is crucial for us as business owners. Moral Character dictates our culture. It’s who we are as a person. Our moral character will ultimately determine how effective we are as leaders and consequently how successful we become. By the way, the only true way to attain success is to help others around us become successful.
I will end with another favorite quote from Vince Lombardi: “Improvements in moral character are our own responsibility. Bad habits are eliminated not by others, but by ourselves.”