The auto repair business is filled with talented, gifted and generous individuals who day-in-day-out give their blood, sweat, tears and hard-earned cash to make their part of the aftermarket a much better place. You’ll find service center counters and bays, the aisles of parts stores, warehouses and delivery drivers filled with dedicated and caring individuals just like you!
We love what we do so much that, in many cases, the reward of fixing and delivering a well running car to a happy customer is all we care about – often, in fact, that we might lose sight of why we are REALLY in the business.
Yes, you get the fulfillment of a job well done, but there is so much more that you and your business require to make it operate successfully.
In his best-selling book, Start With Why, Simon Sinek lays out that key element to success: WHY are you doing something? To help illustrate this idea, Sinek recalls a story of differences between U.S. and Japanese car manufacturers. While touring Japanese assembly plants years ago, U.S. manufacturers noticed something missing from the door installation station. Domestically, an assembly line worker with a rubber mallet helped align the doors after installation. Yet, in Japan, this worker was nowhere to be found. How, they asked, could the Japanese manufacturers ensure each door fit perfectly? Their Japanese guide looked at them and smiled sheepishly. “We make sure it fits when we design it.” Rather than engineer a solution to a poor design like the U.S. did, their approach was to engineer the outcome they wanted from the beginning. Simply put, they asked why they needed to make adjustments when they could just improve the process from the start.
To benefit your shop, start with the “why” you are a shop owner. The answer is, in many cases, revealing. Some of us ended up in the role because we didn’t want to work for someone else. Others saw a great opportunity to have a prosperous career. Whatever your “why” is, there is no wrong answer.
The genesis of my shop was a financial need, as the economic circumstances in our market were challenging at best. I had lost my job in the oil field, an industry that wouldn’t rebound for years to come.
One of the prime tenets of our business model was a female-friendly shop, and this was way before the industry adopted a similar attitude. I had unknowingly tapped into a much-needed opportunity and, because of this, our shop stood out among the crowd.
I hadn’t given much thought to my “why” until several customers asked. My mom, who was widowed when I was really young, faced significant hurdles dealing with service providers as a single woman. Seeing this over the years reinforced something in my character and laid the foundation of our approach. Our shop’s philosophy was simple: purchasing automotive service should be no more challenging than going to the store to buy a dozen eggs or a gallon of milk.
Searching for and understanding your ‘why’ will be beneficial to your success in a lot of ways, including these:
Leadership is essential to operating an effective organization. What’s your view of leaders? Do you admire or steer away from them? Do you think the loudest voice in the room is the leader? John Maxwell says identifying a leader is simple: “A leader is influence; nothing more, nothing less.” Given that definition, everyone is a leader as we all influence someone in some way.
A relevant “why” you should embrace toward improving as a leader is this: how you lead your shop WILL ultimately determine the level of its and your success.
A purpose-driven company stands for and takes action on things that are much bigger than itself. Why your shop embraces a particular need or cause in your community helps to define who you are as a shop. It also brings your team together, and a bonded team can weather a lot of challenges and elevate your place as a true partner of the community.
This one is more of a “what” than a “why.” What is it about the work that makes you and your team happy, or is there something that lifts the atmosphere in the shop? Why is this important? Well, because a happy team does more and higher-quality work. On top of that, your customers feel the vibe your shop puts out and let’s face it – we’re all attracted to happy, friendly people.
- Vitamin F = Fulfillment
What fulfills you and your team and causes you all to come back day in day out? Money is merely a measure of work performed and it can be made in any shop. Why does your team show up every day and what adds to their sense of fulfillment? Fulfillment is the pursuit of what you are passionate about.
When you or your techs are deep into a diagnostic challenge, time simply flies by. This kind of work isn’t a drag, it fulfills you! Working at a shop where the team members are fulfilled is a great feeling and a shop like this attracts talented candidates. Work is still work but it isn’t a drag – it fulfills you and adds to your purpose!
Leaving a legacy is a personal choice, but one that helps your decision-making process each day. A decision made today can have long-lasting ramifications and, if you are leaving a legacy, you’ll be mindful of the long-term effects of each decision.
Legacy is about leaving behind everything, from process, career tools, transfer of knowledge and innovation. It’s about adding or leaving something unique at the table when you decide to sell your shop and pursue other interests.
Understanding what your “why” might be is relevant to so many things in your journey as a shop owner. It impacts everything from the authenticity of your marketing to how you lead your team.
As we wrap up 2022 and open the book on 2023, take some time to reflect on the foundational reasons of your “why.” It will not only be enlightening, but helpful as you begin another journey around the sun!