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Atlantic Racing Scene

It’s Time To Take Responsibility!

The Atlantic Region has no choice - today, all staff and management must take responsibility for the business together. traditionally, many shop owners have looked at what staff requirements are needed to “fill a missing hole” in the business . . .

The search would then take place and the employee was hired with instructions delivered on what to do each and every day. The pay cheque was issued and the routine was in place.

Bob Greenwood

This format does not work anymore for a number of reasons, namely;

  • The complexity of running a shop today is tenfold to what it was even five years ago

  • Shops are in the knowledge business today as a “profession” and not the old break down and repair “trade” business of yesterday
  • Staffing requirements have changed in terms of individual expertise which means individual staff member depth of knowledge is much higher today
  • Mature staff have a career orientat- ed mind-set today desiring to stay in one place that fulfills their personal requirements rather than a job orientated mind-set of jump- ing from one shop to another over a $2.00 per hour in pay difference
  • Management cannot do everything itself so delegated duties and respon- sibilities must be entrenched within the business process

The biggest problem for Management to embrace the new reality is like comparing it to raising your own child and you having to let go of the protection strings attached. Too many shop owners are “control freaks” because they don’t trust their staff. They don’t trust their staff because they have never trained them and brought them into the “inner circle” of the business in terms of discussions on business decisions to be made.

Think about this for a minute. Why would Management hire someone and not get them involved in the working processes of the business? Traditionally Management justifies this by saying it is “confidential.” The question then must be asked; “If an employee does not understand the vision for the business, how the profit stream and mix works within the shop, then how does that employee picture their position within the shop?” Having Management stipulate just do as you are told and work hard does not cut it anymore.

Staff must be trained properly and with proper depth on the internal structure, business processes required and the financial workings of the shop. They must understand such things as the financial breakdown of 1 hour of labour, the importance of shop efficiency and how it is measured, how efficiency and the shop’s billing process affects their immediate pay cheque and long-term financial stability, how to measure and serve the client’s needs today builds career security over watching customer car count, and also how shop/employee profit sharing is a much better long-term format over the old individual bonus pay cheque schemes of the past. These issues as well as understanding where the Aftermarket is going and why is critical information all staff must understand. In most cases as well Management must re-learn the business on these issues. This means new training initiatives must be undertaken to reformat the shop’s business structure.

Consider a study by the Harvard Review which stated that $1 spent on effective advertising returns $2 to the business, however, $1 spent on effective education returns $40 to the business. Why have Aftermarket Owners and Managers at every level of our sector not built proper training/development budgets into their business? Is it because they consider it an “expense” and not an “investment?” Sustaining on-going education today is so very critical in obtaining successful bottom-line results of any Aftermarket business. Now once staff have been exposed to proper education it is imperative that Management follows up with each individual to review the information and how the employee’s role affects the shops business.

The employee then must take charge of their responsibilities. They must grow their position in terms of suggestions to Management how they could perform on behalf of the shop in a much more effective, efficient and professional way. Over time, this engages the staff and Management in a more professional relationship that results in less stress throughout the business and more satisfaction in every corner of the shop. The profitability of the business dramatically changes and everyone wins! Take time this week and plan the time required in 2009 to train everyone in the shop.

I have seen some shops in Canada actually close down for a 2 and 3 day period of time to allow 100% of all staff members, from the bookkeeper to the top technician, to attend specific training functions together. They marketed to their client base 30 days in advance that the shop would be closed from this date to this date in order to attend up-to-date critical training required today in order to serve you, our valued client, better. Clients were really impressed with the action. The results were incredible because everyone experienced the same knowledge and message at the same time which allowed for excellent discussions during breaks. When the shop re-opened, clients were so curious as to what everyone learned that a “buzz” atmosphere was created and the new team attitudes were now set in motion.

Step out of the box and look into your future. Are you prepared to make the investment and set new business processes in place to become a top pro-active shop in your marketplace or will you continue to settle for the same old, same old practices of being a reactive shop trying to find their way? The future truly is under YOUR control. Take charge of it.

About The Author: Mr. Robert (Bob) Greenwood AAM (Accredited Automotive Manager) is President and C.E.O. of Automotive Aftermarket E-Learning Centre Ltd. (AAEC), a technology company focused on sustainable Business Management Resources and Development for the Independent Sector of the aftermarket industry utilizing the internet environment.

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