Beat Your Competition By Improving Performance Reviews

Beat Your Competition By Improving Performance Reviews

Shops with a solid formal review process continuously improve and look for ways to be the best shop in town.

On any given Sunday in the fall, you will find sports fans gathered around the TV watching their favorite football teams match up on the gridiron. Obviously, the outcome of the game is measured by the score, which is bound by the time limits of the game. Along with the score, a few of the other elements being gauged are the distance the QB can throw the ball, his reception percentage, incompletions, first downs and the speed of the running back, along with many more.

Following the game, coaches use the data they’ve gathered to evaluate individual and team performance, then establish a plan to improve. Without consistent evaluation and improvement, teams who dominate the bottom of the results are destined to always be at the bottom of the league.

The same applies to your place of business. You want your shop to operate at peak performance every day and applying an effective review process at your shop will ensure you have recognized the top performers of your team and shored up weaknesses before they become mission critical.

Size doesn’t matter. Shops with a formal review process, whether they are small or large, have an edge over their competitors because they continuously improve and look for ways to be the best shop in town. These shops also have a higher retention rate and happier employees due to the feedback received from “The Boss.” 

Here are 5 ways to maximize a performance review.

Establish the review process as part of your shop’s culture

Imagine running your shop without a scan tool. Well, the performance review is a lot like the scan tool, only it requires more effort and planning on the part of the shop’s management team. 


Effective reviews are two-way conversations. What most employees and management typically envision is time spent by the manager telling the employee what he or she did wrong and that it needs to change. In reality, an effective review is a chance to talk with your employees to get their feedback on how they think they are performing in key areas. 

When my wife worked for a large corporation, each year before her review the company would provide a form to seek her input. She was asked about what she liked about her role, areas she thought she could improve upon and what her desired career path was. Once completed, her supervisor filled in his portion of the form, then set up time to meet formally to discuss her position and areas where she was doing well and what needed to improve. 

How long should a review be? It will vary from 15 minutes to 45, but experts say any longer than that and the effectiveness of the review diminishes. The time becomes unproductive, which in turn leads to a lack of future reviews simply because it is looked upon by both parties as a real drag. Spend enough time, but not too much.

Employee development

It is essential to the growth of your shop that you develop the team you have around you. The review gives you the chance to hear the desires of each employee and manage them. You may have a superstar tech who loves working on cars and has immense people skills who might be a great advisor. Conversely, a tech who has only a desire to work with his hands might be the best shop foreman, given leadership and communication training.

Technician, advisor and management positions each utilize unique skills that require constant development to stay ahead of the curve. Prior to review time, your job is to assess their skills and assist them in acquiring and improving the current skills they have.

Raises and Reviews

For some reason, employers often steer away from giving reviews because they feel like wages are supposed to be part of the conversation. Nothing could be further from the truth. The essence of the review is to discuss their entire career, not just the immediate financial component. Here is why: compensation should be driven by productivity, quality of work and the success of the shop. When wages are part of the discussion, the important elements of the review will get lost if emotions relative to finances get involved.

Successful businesses will have raise time within a month or so of the review, near the employee’s anniversary date, or when they change roles, increase duties and add certifications.

Keep it Business like with a Dash of Personal

Where you have the review is crucial to setting the tone for a comfortable, open conversation that lends itself to getting the most out of the time together. Too businesslike and it will have the feel of a doctor’s visit, too personal and you’ll get in the weeds and waste time accomplishing nothing.

Remember to draw on your personal experiences as they relate to you rising to the position of shop owner or manager, use them to direct the conversation and build a connection with your employee during the review. Business expert John Maxwell said it best: “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” 

Be pleasant, firm and have your actions be more like a coach than a dictator. In the NFL, players’ coaches like Rex Ryan may have been loved by the players, but their records were always dismal. You can’t argue with the success of the Patriots and Bill Belichick’s cold-minded ways, but without the skills of Tom Brady they are just a mere mortal team. 

There is a reason your employees chose to and continue to work for you: that persona is what you should use when it’s time for their reviews.

Looking for a place to start or improve your review process? Email me your contact information and I’ll send you a sample performance evaluation sheet to use.

Investing time and effort into a quality employee review is worth the effort. Yes, it’s work but anything worth having usually requires work. Isn’t your shop worth the effort of putting together a killer review?

Shop owners, have you considered working with a business coach? Drop me an email or call and mention this article to set up a free, 30-minute, no obligation coaching session.

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