In my 20-plus years in this industry, I’ve seen every type of employee you can imagine: fast employees, slow employees, good employees, bad employees, workaholic employees, workaphobic employees, and even phantom employees. You name it, I’ve dealt with it.
If there’s just one quality I could have in an employee, I’d take dedication every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
Dedication from a staff member typically means you never have to worry about motivating them to do their job – they want to succeed, and they want to contribute to a winning shop culture.
Obviously, no one is born with all the qualities you want from staff, but by creating a good culture at your shop, you can foster and cultivate a dynamic, dedicated group of employees who push themselves and one another to be better and better every day.
A shop’s culture is one of its most important attributes. When a shop’s culture is vibrant, and everyone is pulling in the same direction, it becomes easier for employees to be dedicated and productive.
Just like anything else in this industry and in life – building a winning shop culture takes time and effort, in addition to strategy. Good thing no one in the auto repair industry is afraid of a little hard work!
Measure Twice, Cut Once
The first step in creating a good shop culture is developing and implementing a system of measurement that lets you know where you stand and how you got there.
You need to have baselines in different categories. Everyone needs to be aware of what their productivity level is and how they compare to their coworkers. Technicians, service writers, even the receptionist if you have one – they all need to know where they stand and what they can do to improve their numbers.
Just like a football coach watches last week’s game to see how they can score more points or gain more yards, the team at your shop needs to be shown what they’re doing right, what they’re doing wrong and understand how they can improve.
This might be a hard pill for some “old school” shops to swallow, but it’s almost 2019 – you can’t analyze your shop’s performance with a pen and paper anymore. You need to have modern performance evaluation and measurement methods that go beyond a digital point of sale system to effectively understand where your shop is at and where it needs to be.
At Keller Bros. Auto Repair in Littleton, Colo., we use the state-of-the-art shop management program Shop4D and the RPM ToolKit to give us real-time data on all aspects of our operations. Everyone knows exactly where they stand every single day, and this has made a huge improvement on how we’re able to manage and improve our numbers.
However you decide to manage your shop’s measurement and the tools you employ, you need to have them firmly in place before moving on to the next step in building a culture of dedication – training.
Improve, Improve, Improve
Once you know where you stand, then you can start working on improving your operations and enhancing your culture through good old-fashioned training.
A lot of shops will see training as a one-off investment and endeavor, but, it is an ongoing process that has a direct correlation to your shop’s success and profitability.
This industry is constantly changing and evolving, and everyone on your staff needs to stay ahead, or at least with, the curve. Continuously seek classes or seminars that will give you and your team an edge on the competition in your market.
Training should be also tailored to the employee and the situation. A “one size fits all” approach to training simply doesn’t work. People learn in all kinds of different ways and your staff members will take in new information at different speeds and in different manners.
If a staff member is a kinetic (hands-on) learner, they’ll need to do things themselves to improve their skill level. Other staff members might learn better by visual (diagrams, videos) or audio (classes on CD) methods but they should all be constantly learning new-and-improved ways to get things done and contribute more effectively to your shop’s bottom line.
Managers also need to be involved with ongoing training – they’re part of the team and should be up-to-date on everything their technicians are up-to-date on.
Training is the very best tool to implement change and improvement, so be sure to make this a priority if you want to have a good shop culture.
Once completed, commitments need to be made by a trained staff member. What was gotten out of it, how it’s going to be executed and what the follow-up process is going to look like all need to be included as part of any given training session.
Whether it is policy/procedural-based or specific to various jobs, accountability is another important component in a winning culture.
If you don’t introduce the concept of accountability into your shop, you’ll end up having to micromanage absolutely everything in your shop.
When most people hear the word “accountability,” they think of being punished or reprimanded for making a mistake. But true accountability starts long before this type of scenario is even possible.
Creating clear expectations for your employees is vital to having a winning culture. Staff members should know exactly what they’re expected to do and what the guidelines are for them in terms of their job duties and their personal conduct.
Accountability also ties back into measurement – staff members need to be dedicated to hitting given numbers and meeting specific timelines to ensure your shop is firing on all cylinders!
Set the Example, Set the Standard & Raise the Bar
In my experience, good shop culture starts at the top. If you want dedication to be a mainstay in your shop, you need to be dedicated to making it happen. Owners and managers set the tone for success and therefore they need to be as dedicated to their jobs as possible.
Know your shop inside and out, know everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and understand what needs to happen to make things better. Just as important is to be a good coach and your team will be dedicated to helping you win customers and capture championship-level profits!