The last two years have produced some incredible stories.
I’ve watched up close as some shops tripled their revenue and outgrew their single location, and others that are hunting for their fifth, sixth, seventh.
I’ve also seen shop owners who have locked down entirely and are committed to never making changes. I think about these owners every time I read about how many shops have closed down recently, and how many other owners have sold their businesses and walked away from auto repair.
There’s a chasm between these two groups of shop owners, and the stories they can tell about owning a shop. One owner is reaching higher highs each month, the other is paralyzed into inaction by fear and doubt.
In every single case, the difference between incredible success and debilitating inaction is due to the character and leadership of the shop owner. One has patterns of success, the other has routines of mediocrity.
This article is about how to break bad habits and establish successful ones, but before we dive in, I want to be clear. The words that follow aren’t me pretending to be a perfect superhuman. I am no more perfect than I am done growing as a man and a leader. I make mistakes, and sometimes I even repeat old ones.
This is a good thing, though. Because it’s crystal-clear evidence that routines of mediocrity can be broken and patterns of success can be established. There is nothing keeping you locked into destructive or unsuccessful behavior but you.
You are in control.
In this time of tech shortages, runaway inflation and looming recession, that’s an important truth to focus on. For all of the events and circumstances that currently feel out of control, so much more is absolutely in our control – most of all the habits we keep and patterns we create.
The key is to flash your internal computer.
Reflashing Is An Effective Tool
The ability to flash a computer and reprogram it is a pretty incredible tool in a shop’s toolbox. It allows us to change and improve many system operations in the vehicle including severe climate operations, fuel economy, braking and dozens of others.
It’s a fairly simple process to understand and believe in. Any good service advisor can easily teach a customer the features, benefits and value of flashing the vehicle computer for better performance in one or more systems.
This is basic stuff, I know. Most techs and advisors wouldn’t give this process a second thought. It works, and we hardly need to consider why. Wiping the stored procedures and installing new ones is a self-evidently obvious way to improve the functionality of the vehicle.
Our mind is like that computer.
It receives inputs, observes outcomes and follows stored procedures in very nearly the same way that a vehicle computer does, though instead of controlling cabin air temperature or fuel injection, it controls our relationships, our well-being and our business decisions.
So, the question that I’d like you to ask yourself is, if our minds operate like a computer and react to certain data to follow certain programmed procedures…can you reprogram that?
More importantly, can you reprogram that for greater success and happiness instead of what you’re experiencing now?
I’ll promise you that the answer is yes. But you need to believe it, because for those who believe that change is impossible, that’s also true.
If I accept full responsibility for something, I am empowered to change it. If I don’t, then I am powerless and a victim, unable to change or improve it.
There is an enormous, lifeless abyss between these two views. One is programmed for success, the other for mediocrity and eventually failure. But, the moment we believe that we can reprogram our internal computer, establish new patterns of success, and take control of the things that are controllable, we’re capable of so much more.
If you’re still reading, that means you believe this kind of change is possible. So, how do we get started on reprogramming our internal computer?
It starts with your goals.
What are your written goals?
If that seems trite or cliched, stay with me. I promise I’m not rehashing a self-help book.
But, are your written goals printed somewhere? Can you see them every day? I’m not talking about a mood board or something unobtainable like owning a jet or a deserted island. I mean the things you want to accomplish this week and this month. Goals that you can accomplish and that don’t set you up for failure.
As humans, we don’t get the benefit of totally wiping our experiences and knowledge like we can with a vehicle computer. We can’t start from a clean slate. But, we can overwrite our programming by establishing new habits. Getting into the habit of setting and hitting goals is a critical part of that reprogramming process.
Years ago, when I first took over operations at our shop and sent the owner, Terry Keller, home to spend more time with his family, this was my journey.
I had helped grow the shop by several million dollars by that point. I’d overhauled the marketing, the customers and the team. But, now I was responsible for the day-to-day operations and making sure that the shop I was entrusted with succeeded. More specifically, I was responsible for hitting gross profit targets.
At the time, I hated numbers and spreadsheets. Hated them. I considered myself a relationship, personality guy. I had built my reputation on delivering outstanding customer experiences and lasting, loyal relationships. And, now, I had to get granular on numbers and spreadsheets.
If I had stuck to my existing programming, I would have failed. Every habit and pattern I had established would have let me ignore the numbers and burn out in a cloud of failure.
But I couldn’t fail. I couldn’t let the owner down, let my family down. So, I got busy reprogramming. I broke the numbers into small pieces and worked on one target at a time until I found the key numbers I personally could understand, I could control and that had the greatest impact.
I started measuring each day, so I knew how we were performing against goals. I also knew whether my changes were leading to improvement each day. By writing out my goals, and focusing on what I could understand, control, and which would have the greatest impact, I was able to become a numbers expert. I was able to reprogram my internal computer.
That was more than two decades ago. The owner never did have to come back to the shop. And, not only does he still remotely own our shop, I now remotely operate it.
You can choose to reprogram your own internal computer. You can choose to be successful, to break bad habits, and grow your shop no matter how many obstacles appear in your path.
It all starts with your choice to be in control.
Start today by identifying your goals and then get to work achieving them! And, if you’re not sure how, there’s no shame in asking for help! You can choose to win!