If you are like me, as the clock strikes midnight and the year begins anew, you stop to reflect on the past year. Evaluation of personal, professional and business habits is the norm for most people. The New Year is always a great time to start, adapt or eliminate a current behavior to maximize the upcoming 12 months.
Here are 4 thought-starters that are sure to help you have an outstanding year and beyond.
Using email to say thank you
In a day where everyone is looking to maximize time and resources, we’re all on the hunt to automate many of our daily tasks. And rightly so – every minute spent doing something manually that could be done automatically in the background is time lost on critical business operations. An email thank you is great, but how personal is it? Especially if it’s fully automated?
Consider this: for the most part, everyone communicates through text and email and some people actually consider any other method a waste of time. But, the sheer volume of email a customer receives threatens your email being lost or being considered a spam-like nuisance!
If you want to differentiate yourself and tower above the rest, grab and write a physical thank you card or pick up the phone and say thank you yourself. There is no better way to connect, get immediate feedback and stand out. It’s likely your competition is taking the email route also – so you’ll be remembered next time your customers need service, guaranteed!
I still have all the hand-written thank you notes I have received over the years and I use them to make the call when I need assistance.
Performance reviews and raises
Performance reviews are a critical tool for communicating with your team. Your staff relies on the leadership in your shop to bring out the best in them. How effective would your technicians be in repairing a vehicle if they didn’t have the correct scan tools and diagnostic equipment? Without the accurate feedback, your techs would be behind the 8-ball and less effective.
Reliable feedback is imperative to arrive at the desired results whether you are repairing a car or giving direction to an employee.
Take a proactive approach at the start of this year and schedule at least one performance review with each of your employees. Be prepared to compliment what they do well and give instruction on what needs to be improved or addressed. Remember to focus on the behavior you want to be replicated throughout the year.
Most importantly, make sure reviews are never tied to salary increases. Doing so actually takes the focus off of what a performance review’s essential purpose is, which is their professional development.
One practice that stems from the early days of the repair industry is financing a customer’s repairs. This practice harkens to bygone days when Model Ts ruled the carriage paths. The sophistication of the repairs was pretty low, considering all you needed was the same skillset to service a bicycle or horse-drawn carriage.
The advanced state of the industry requires a huge investment in training, tools, equipment and service information just to stay current, not to mention the investment needed to prepare for tomorrow.
So, why do some shops insist on carrying the note on a customer’s repair? Basically, it’s because we’ve always done it that way. But when most of the shops in the U.S. have a net profit in the single digits, can they really afford to act as a service facility and bank? Not really!
Promises to remain a loyal customer, who comes back regularly to pay off the bill start to fade as it gets further away from the day you made the last repair. In my professional opinion, it’s not worth the risk you subject yourself, your shop, employees and vendors to when you offer to finance the repairs.
There are plenty of options for your customer to receive financing, from credit cards to 6-month, no-interest financing offered by most major program groups. Ask your partners what’s available and eliminate that risk.
We have always done it that way!
As previously mentioned, “That is how we do things here,” is the sign of a behind-the-times company. I know business owners who had some amazing and talented employees but, because of this mentality of protecting the status quo, they lost each team member to another organization with a more open minded team. A company that stays static doesn’t grow, flourish and attract the best our industry has to offer.
As an owner and leader, one of your jobs is to attract skilled talent and put employees in a role where they will add to your best practices. Make sure you eliminate the “We have always done it that way” mentality – it’s a sure way to ensure you’ll grow and adjust to the fluid nature of this industry.
As you reflect on what has happened, and plan and set this year’s targets, review whether you need to address some of these outdated business practices.
Drop me an email and I’ll share my Shop Owner Coach S.M.A.R.T. goal worksheet to set you on a path to an outstanding 2022!
Happy New Year!