One of the most important things auto repair shop managers must understand, if they want the businesses they run to be successful, is that management is what they must focus their time and energy on. Owners and managers are not techs, and they are not customer service. While every manager will occasionally have to step in and do work that is not in the job description to keep the shop running, day-to-day filling in or cleaning up after employees is a sign of ineffective management, not personal dedication.
Everyone in the shop has a job to perform for the repairs that come in to be assessed, sold, completed, and billed and collected. All employees are hired for the skills that they bring to this process, whether they’re customer service representatives, sales advisors, or techs. The goal of every manager should be to find the best employees for these positions and hire them in enough numbers that the shop can run without the manager ever selling repairs or pushing a broom. There are two aspects to this:
First, the manager has to be proactive in finding, training, and retaining good workers. To do this he has to be aware of his community, its human resources, human psychology, and the fundamentals of motivating people. It’s no mean feat. People are complicated, and workers are individuals with their own problems. If you do this well, you should be proud of the skills you have.
The second aspect is that the manager can’t fall prey to the temptation to micromanage employees. It’s crucial that every manager control what’s going on without being controlling. If you have to be hyper aware of what your employees are doing because otherwise they’ll mess up, you need to find more capable employees. If you have capable employees, they will not respond well to you hovering and commenting on everything they do. You will not retain good people if they feel you don’t trust them or respect them.
If you are managing well and effectively, the people who work for you will run your shop so that you don’t have to step in. The jobs that need to be done to keep the doors open and customers happy – they’ll do them. This will leave you time to brainstorm future goals for your business, develop a plan for further success, and do the work necessary to put it into practice. Management is about anticipating and planning for the future as much as it is making sure that today’s work gets done, and that is the special value a good manager brings to the team.