Answer Any Business Question With Confidence

Answer Any Business Question With Confidence

Whatever comes along, confidence that you'll overcome it will help you come out on top.

There was once a wise old man who lived high up in the Himalayan Mountains and, every so often, he would make the long, rough trek down to the village in the valley below. The villagers looked forward to seeing his stooped-over body as he hobbled into the town square. Many speculated on his age as he was rumored to be well over 100 years old. There he would entertain a huge crowd of passersby while he performed their favorite magic tricks and other feats of wisdom he had mastered over his many years. 

The villagers looked forward to one of his tricks more than any other though; the wise old man had an uncanny ability to identify the contents of their pockets and boxes, and even what they were thinking.

In all of his years of coming to the village, he was never wrong in his predictions. Some of the young boys in town knew this, and they were determined to trick and discredit the wise man the next time he came to town. As part of their plan, they trapped a small canary.

As the wise man was in the middle of the villagers’ favorite trick, one of the young boys stepped out of the crowd ready to embarrass him. The man gazed at the boy and invited him forward. The boy had the canary cupped in his hand, so the wise man could not hear or see the little bird.

The young boy had devised a plan, and he was sure it would trick the wise old man. He stepped up confidently and said, “Old man, what do I have in my hands?” The old man replied, “It is a yellow canary.”

With a feigned smile, the boy responded, “Yes, you are right!” The boy now knew that his plan was going to work. He asked the old man, “When I open my hands, will the bird be alive or dead?” His plan was if the old man said it was alive, he would crush the bird before opening his hand revealing the dead bird. If the old man said it was dead, he would open his hands and let the bird fly free. In the boy’s mind, he had him.

The old man appeared to be stumped. As he stroked his beard, he stared at the ground as the crowd looked on. The old man then looked up and gazed back at the boy and spoke to him softly, “Whether the bird lives or dies, it will be as you wish!”

And so be it. The “it will be as you wish” should be your point of reference for the upcoming year. 

At the end of every year, I reflect on the events that transpired over the previous 12 months, both business and personal. Reflection can have a powerful impact on how you act in a similar situation you may encounter in the future. 

As you replay the events in your mind, you get the opportunity to insert different actions, words and potential outcomes. I look at reflection as an essential part of the planning process for the year ahead.

Let’s look at a few areas that will have a major impact on you, your shop and bottom-line in the coming year. Keep in mind that, in each area, the outcome will be as you wish. 

Attitude

Attitude, a key component of your behavior, can complement your reflection efforts or detract from them, steering you toward smooth or rough sailing.

As I reflected back on the year, I looked at some of the opportunities and challenges I had, along with how I responded to them. I thought about my attitude during the challenge and the overall outcome. As I did this exercise, I was reminded of a parable which, after thinking about it, has helped me to adjust my course.

“It will be as you wish” can be that rudder that steers you away from conflict with an employee, customer or vendor. It can also steer us toward a new business opportunity, or maybe a new employee or other opportunities that will impact our shop’s bottom-line!

This story reminds me that my attitude and the environment it creates are my choice. While I may not have control over a certain circumstance, I do have a choice regarding how I handle it and how I can influence the outcome. You, too, have a choice in the example you set for your team, the behavior exemplified and behaviors you want replicated around the shop. The attitude projected has a huge outcome on everything and everyone around you; do you want to be known as the one to go to when someone needs answers?

Efficiency, productivity and billable hours

With an industry average of 4.2 billable hours per technician per day, most shops have a lot of room to grow. Is your shop one of them? Are you using timekeeping to measure your shop’s performance? Do you consistently review these numbers with your team and seek to improve them or do you just let things happen? No matter how good your shop is, there is always room for improvement. Remember, it will be as you wish. 

Leadership and personal growth

Leaders aren’t born, leadership is learned, developed and honed over time. Surround yourself with leaders who have stronger leadership skill than you do. In doing so you can learn how to take yourself to the next level. Reading books relevant to personal growth, no matter how slowly you read, will expand your vision. You’ll be a better boss, owner and leader. Will you improve as a leader in 2024? It will be as you wish!

Profitability

Profit, to some shop owners, is a dirty word. We tend to steer away from this part of the business at our own expense. Without a sound profitable business model, you are simply working at your shop collecting a paycheck, hence you have a job not a business.

There are many ways to impact your profits: increase sales, lower costs associated with these sales or reduce expenses. 

The easiest and quickest way to increase profits is to lower your expenses. Perform an expense review, look at uniform costs and utility rates – heck, even the tax rate you are assessed at can be improved upon. But don’t beat your parts supplier up for a better price on a part – buy the highest quality part at the going rate. Let your parts matrix apply the appropriate margin and bill the customer. 

Focus on your fixed operating costs. A dollar saved in expenses equals a dollar which goes directly to your bottom-line. Can you improve your profitability? It will be as you wish!

Staffing

Most shops are understaffed, overstaffed or simply have the wrong mix of employees. Too many high paid, low output team members equal a high salary load, reducing profitability. Review your workload and where your sweet spot is. Do you need two diagnostic specialists when one may do? Could you use an undercar specialist or mechanical specialist? How about diesel? Your market will dictate your staffing model, don’t follow the latest trend at your shop’s expense! Will you put the right player on your field of battle in 2024? It will be as you wish!

Customer satisfaction and customer experience

No matter how talented your team and how good the work is performed, if the customer experience is subpar, you will lose clients! Take time now to review and improve your customer experience. Set the goal at your shop to deliver the best product and experience in your area – doing so will ensure you have happy customers and employees, cars to work on and profits to bank.

For 2024, my motto continues to be “It will be as you wish,” and my plan is that, no matter what comes my way, I’m capable of overcoming it, and I will come out on top.

How about you? What will your 2024 look like? It will be as you wish!

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