By Vic Tarasik
Vic’s Precision Automotive
Admiral Richard E. Byrd, one of the world’s greatest explorers, once said, "Few men during their lifetime come anywhere near exhausting the resources dwelling within them. There are deep wells of strength that are never used."
He had a lot of time to reflect on life and who he was during his long stay at the South Pole Advance Base weather station in 1934, where temps averaged -60 degrees in the winter. He was alone and the closest human was 123 miles away.
Segueing from that example, in this article I’d like to show you how to determine where you excel and how to maximize your strengths which will take you and your company to the highest level.
In The Shop
You’ve already discovered what your employees are good at, right? You know who to give the most difficult vehicle or customer to in a particular situation. Like me, you probably found this out over time while observing their failures and successes.
Personally, I know where my technical strengths lie, and I also know what to stay away from. Throughout my 30 years in the business, first as a technician, I found that I enjoy all things related to the driveline and, as a result, I’m pretty good at servicing these areas. I’ve also found that when it comes to solving driveability issues, I just stink. Honestly, I just don’t groove to retrieving codes and watching oscilloscope patterns. So, I’ve always had a good driveability tech work for me.
Let’s move away from the technical aspect for now. As the manager of the shop, I’ve also had to find out how to navigate the dynamic customer and employee people maze. I had to discover what I was best at and delegate tasks where I was weak to staff members who were better skilled in those areas.
This can be a painful process because failure in the soft areas that deal with people can have a far-reaching effect. If you break a part when you’re removing or installing it, it’s not too big of a deal; you just incurred a financial setback. But, make a people-related mistake and you may have days of setback. The people side of any business can be a minefield. If you know how to navigate that field, you will ensure your opportunity for success.
Most of the time our natural talents are ignored and we focus on fixing our weaknesses, rather than improving upon what we are good at. Day in and day out we cruise along and really don’t give thought to what we do well. In actuality, most of us don’t really know in which areas we are the strongest.
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to discover my Top Five strengths through a book put out by the Gallup organization, called StrengthsFinder 2.0.
Within it was the StrengthsFinder assessment test — probably one of the coolest tools I’ve used for both personal and company growth. Along with the test is a description of the upside and downside of each individual strength you possess. Each of us has 34 themes or individual strengths, the top five of which are our strongest or more dominant themes. The top five themes should be the areas we focus on improving, and, by doing this, we increase our chances of success if we build upon who we already are.
What I found most revealing about the results on my top five themes is that they were “dead on” accurate. My top five themes are: Arranger; Self-assurance; Responsibility; Realtor; and Learner. In the StrengthFinder 2.0 book, there is an explanation of each strength and how to work with a person who has this strength. After reviewing each strength, I could clearly see why I excelled in these areas and that my job now was to continue to work to improve each strength.
You and Your Team
How cool would it be if your entire team took the assessment and afterward you reviewed each of your team member’s results in a one-on-one session? While you may have an awesome team now, think about how much better it could be if everyone knew each other’s personal strengths, and how to utilize those strengths for the betterment of the customer experience.
This has helped us at Vic’s; my staff “gets” me now and I understand how I can put them in situations where they can be more successful. This makes for a better working environment, a healthier bottom line and happier customers. After all, isn’t that why we chose to be in the automotive service industry, to make a good living and serve the motoring public to the best of our abilities?
As Admiral Byrd said, you have a deep well of strength, so isn’t it time you found out exactly what your strengths are?
Vic Tarasik is the owner of Vic’s Precision Automotive, The Woodlands, TX; a 30-year industry veteran; and long-time 20 Group member. His 10-bay, 7,000 sq.-ft. shop specializes in customer service in addition to expert vehicle repairs. Vic can be reached at [email protected].