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Absentee Owner?

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Anyone else an absentee owner here? If so, how do you handle employees and daily work when you are not present? Things seem to be the complete opposite when I am not at the shop- cars are not check throughly, no motivation to sell additional services, cell phones used, techs sit around and relax when not busy, messy work environment etc.

 

 

Also, what do you do when the cash is short at the close of the day or when a tech renders service on a vehicle but does not charge for it- taking longer on the job than what we charge the customer?

 

 

Any thoughts or opinions regarding this matter are greatly appreciated.

 

 

 

Thanks,

 

 

 

John

 

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How many employees do you have? Do you have a service write and a shop manager? If so, I would start by replacing them because they are clearly not doing their job.

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It all starts with the leader, the boss. And if you are not getting the results you want, start looking at yourself and the people you have working for you. You will find that the problem is a combination of both.

 

This is one of those topics that will take more than one post to answer. First of all, for any business to truly be successful, the business must be built on system and procedures that allows the business to run without the owner. When you walk into any successful business, particularly a franchise, you don't ask for the owner. There are systems in place and the right trained people running the business.

 

Absentee or having the business run on its own are two different things. I know many absentee owner businesses that are a half a step away from being bankrupted. Again, that business does not have the right people, or the right systems in place. Having the proper systems allows the owner NOT to be tied to all the operations of the business every single day of the week and every single hour of the day.

 

If the business cannot run on its own to a point where you can’t take time off, that’s not healthy for you or your family life.

 

The first step is clearly define all positions in your shop, including yours, the owner. Build an organization chart that has a chain of command that has a manager, service advisor, technicians, office people and support staff. Build a system of reporting and accountability that allows the owner to see the progress of the shop and to insure that everything that needs to be done is done. And I mean everything: Profit margins are met; cores and returns are taken care of, end of the booking out with all cash is accounted for, shop clean up, payroll, etc.

 

This will take some time and a lot of work. Trust me, I have done this and it takes time and effort. But, the end result is that the owner will become more efficient and not wear all the hats of the business.

 

This is a start, hope it helps.

 

I also recommend reading the "E Myth", by Michael Gerber. It's a book that explains; Just because someone is a great mechanic or a great chef, does not mean they can run a business, the skills of running a business are vastly different.

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I am here almost everyday and sometimes find it difficult to run this type of business. I cannot imagine being an absentee owner and expecting someone else to watch over my business the way I do. With that said, many auto repair facilities are run in that manner and flourish. I think Joe give some good advice in regards to clearly defined positions and your expectations in regards to those positions. Make sure everything is written out, never assume, it is a killer~!

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I also recommend reading the "E Myth", by Michael Gerber. It's a book that explains; Just because someone is a great mechanic or a great chef, does not mean they can run a business, the skills of running a business are vastly different.

 

Thanks, Joe. Just ordered this off Amazon ($1.99 !!).

 

To add to your advice and franchise comment ... it's all about setting up systems and expectations. The reason that franchises and chains have taken off so well is that they have fine-tuned systems in place on how to do EVERYTHING. How to greet customers, how to answer the phone, how to move the work order through the system, how to sell additional work, etc etc etc.

 

One thing you may have noticed about franchises is that they rarely hire the best. Typically, they hire the mediocre. Not the best, not the worst. Just your average employee. And they make a TON of money this way. Why? Simply put, franchises have developed systems. They have expectations for their employees. They are not "winging it" every single time. Rather, they know their process and the follow it, day in and day out.

 

This means that an owner can have 15 different franchises and only spend 10 minutes a month in each one of them. They run themselves. I know a franchise owner with 15 different oil change shops that he calls his "mini oil wells." Whether he is awake or asleep, these little "oil wells" are always pumping money. His store managers know what he expects of them, and he gives them the freedom to do it.

 

I'll end this monologue with an example. I worked as a tech under the manager of a franchise who would go on vacations every so often. Every time he left, the front counter sales team would fall apart. The shop would get dirty. Techs would lose motivation. etc. etc. You've experienced it. Every time he came back from vacation and saw it all, he would say, without fail, "Man!! This place just falls apart without me!!" And I would always reply to him, "The mark of a good leader is how things run when you are not present." He didn't like that much ...

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