As with any business, the better your auto shop is organized and structured, the better it will run overall. It will also be significantly easier to manage. Why is this? Think of your auto shop as a clock. A clock has many parts and each of them must work for the clock as a whole to function, but if a part breaks, that part can be replaced and then it will work again without too much intervention.
Unfortunately, most auto shop owners do not structure their businesses like clocks and instead hire people haphazardly or to perform a number of unspecified jobs or positions. Often owners will plug in the gaps themselves to keep things running and the doors open. The problem with this approach is that:
- It will exhaust both energy and morale.
- It will make your business less functional.
- It will keep you chained to your auto shop until you die or close your doors.
- It will hamper you from selling your business when it comes time.
Many owners like to maintain control of their entire business, keeping a finger in every pie, but one secret to greater success is finding competent people to fill important positions within your company and allowing them to do so. It may take some doing to find and retain capable responsible people to be your manager, your sales advisors, and your technicians, but it is worth it to invest time and money to do so.
The first step is evaluating the staff that you currently have. If you are an owner who can’t leave his auto shop for any significant period of time without things falling apart, look at where you are spending your time. Whose job or jobs are you covering? It’s alway tempting to think that a problem is just temporary, but when month after month or year after year passes and you can’t take time off, it’s time to pinpoint where the problems are.
The second step is to let less competent employees go and replace them with people who can do their jobs without a great deal of supervision. What’s more, you should make sure that the people you hire are invested in and capable of training new hires or of moving up within your business. Always be looking within your hierarchy to see who could move up if necessary. That way if your manager leaves or retires, one of your sales advisors who knows the business can be ready to step in and fill his position, minimizing any difficulties of transition.
It may be tempting to find someone – anyone – who can do the job today just so that the doors can open, but a opening the doors tomorrow should also be a priority and for that you have to prepare. Make a five-year plan for where you see your business going, and break it down into achievable goals that you can measure for success. Build in checkpoints so that you will periodically evaluate how the business and you as an owner and manager are doing and make adjustments.
Remember, if you can’t leave your business, you are not the one in charge of it – your business controls you. What’s more, when you go to sell your business, any prospective buyer will see what is likely to happen when you leave: the business will collapse. A business that hinges on one person is inherently unstable. If this is your auto shop, begin taking steps today to ensure that it can operate independently of you or any other one employee. The best part of this plan: it will help your business be more profitable now and it will allow you more freedom to live your life, pursuing whatever opportunities come your way.