Keep Your Repair Shop from Holding You Captive
When's the last time you were able to take a vacation and not have to worry about getting phone calls from your diesel repair shop? You might feel like without your presence, the entire operation would fall apart. This isn't a good way to live, or to run a business. In previous post in the series, we focused on becoming a more profitable shop. Today's post is less about profit and more about creating a self-sustaining business—one that can run without relying on you for everything. Not only does this give you the opportunity to take time away from the shop, but you can also begin to refocus your energy where it belongs—on your business and helping it to grow.
Your time is precious, and I'm sure you feel as though you're being pulled in a million directions each day. Wouldn't it be nice to get a little breathing room and pass off some of the smaller details on others? Many things can help you accomplish this, including how you shop for parts, but it comes down to how you manage your shop and see yourself as a manager and owner.
This goes back to what we discussed in the first post in the series. You should be working on your business, not in it. This really requires a mindset shift. Odds are, if you're like many diesel repair shop owners, you started your career off as a technician and over time you decided you could do it better. However, to run a successful business you can't continue to think like a technician. Suddenly, it's not just yourself that you're responsible for, but all your employees as well, so you need to pay attention to the business itself, creating a future for yourself and the employees that rely on you.
This infographic lays out the ideas detailed in the post:
Setting Your Goal
With this, you might want to start with a smaller goal: I want to take a weeklong vacation from the shop without receiving any phone calls. If you haven't been able to do this, it's definitely time to reevaluate the systems in your shop. Once you've established procedures that allow you to meet this smaller goal, you'll be well on your way to what you larger goal should be: I want to have a business that can operate without my needing to be there directly managing every detail.
Who Has Responsibility?
For this goal, partial responsibility falls on your employees and their ability to follow the systems and procedures put in place. But you also share some of the responsibility. You have to be willing to remove yourself from directly overseeing the details of day-to-day operations in the shop. This sets an example for how you want your employees to act. You want them to become reliant on their processes and systems rather than on you providing them with exact directions all the time. This requires you to take a step back and force them to look to their processes. Make sure you have some kind of management structure in place, so that they know who to go to with their problems, but this doesn't have to be you.
Instead, you should spend time monitoring the success of the systems you have in place and the key performance indicators for your shop. This will allow you to focus in on what's working and what's holding your shop back—and it just might give you a much needed break.
Measuring for Your Goal
For this goal, besides keeping an eye on your shop's overall performance metrics, make sure you also pay attention to how your employees are doing without your direct oversight. Are things still getting done? Are your systems successful? Where do you still need to implement systems? Use questions like these to help you both create and revise processes for your shop. Are your technicians not completing jobs in the proper amount of time? Try and determine whether this is due to someone not following the process or a fault with the process itself. Then you can better decide how to handle the issue going forward.
Creating systems in your shop if the key to getting the freedom in your business that you want. Ratchet+Wrench published an article that confirms this idea. They interviewed a pair of shop owners who credit both their business growth and their freedom to having their shop completely systematized. They point to not only setting up systems for your employees to follow—both the office staff and the technicians—but making sure they know why these processes are in place. It helps not just your business, but the employees as well. They can have more confidence knowing they are doing their job exactly how you want it done.
Having a system for everything not only helps ensure the work gets done with little variation or problems, so long as everyone follows the process, but it also gives you a chance to step away from the business a little. Your employees won't need you to answer every one of their questions—they'll have their processes to refer to. The only problems that should come to you are when systems fail. That's what your job really should be about.
As we've discussed in previous posts in this series, you don't have to be the one who creates all these processes. Often, the most effective systems come from having the employees who will carry out them out assist in their creation. In the end, then, you'll come up with something that should work for everyone, moving you closer to having a completely systematized shop.
The Review Process
The review process for this goal is especially important, because if you want your shop to be able to run without you, all the systems need to be as flawless as possible. That's why it's important to check in on how each process is performing. Is it taking too long because of redundant steps? Are there places that cause your technicians problems because they are unable to use the equipment they need? These are the types of things to look for and revise. Try to make your systems as optimized as possible, to help your employees in the present and to prevent future headaches for you.
Having a business that runs itself can put you on the road to increased profits and give you a chance to envision how you want your shop to be in the future. You can also rest easy knowing that when and if you choose to retire, you have a shop that you could sell or continue to earn profits from without your having to be there each day.
Let us help you as you work on your business. Check out our Repair Shop Value Program and all the great benefits it provides!