Business coaching & mentoring: Is your business ready for the next important step?
By Bob Greenwood
There are shop owners across the Atlantic region who have worked diligently on their business for years compared to in their business, and as a result, many proprieters have found themselves trapped.
These silent minority owners understand the difference between cost and investment into the business; that working on the business means that “net income” is a term they embrace. They understand the business must provide a professional income for their own family and staff, build a great loyal clientele and customer base. They understand the need to develop a historical record that the business has a “progressive system” in place to sustain profitability and grow through on-going evaluation procedures so it can be sold down the road. Everything appears to be on track for those progressive shops but how can an average shop reach that level when the path for the next five years is far from crystal clear? Perhaps you are one of those shop owners who is ready for the next step in your business.
Coaching as a next step
The next step, which many progressive shops don’t talk too much about, is the understanding of having a personal business coach and mentor working behind the scenes with them on their business. This is a very humbling process to go through. It’s very private and confidential; it’s personal; it’s focused and it makes people throughout the shop accountable. Everything is measured monthly in the business, and most important, if you truly are an entrepreneur capable of taking direction, it brings incredible results. A professional coaching and mentoring service is not something you sign up for. It is service that you must apply to.
The best quality and proven coaching and mentoring services specialize in the automotive service shop business. That is all they do. They evaluate the business continuously viewing the business from the outside at that 10,000 foot level that is required today to see how the aftermarket is evolving and what issues will affect their clientele. The business coach supports the owner completely through accessibility and provides the necessary management and staff business training to move things forward.
The coaching/mentoring service has a procedure and process take before they are accepted as a client because it will become a three-to-five year contractual relationship. In all cases there will be a minimum prerequisite of having attended certain business courses within the past year-and- a-half to ensure the owner has a thorough understanding of today’s business realities.
Coaching will always involve a complete in-depth analysis of the business’s financial statements for the past two-to-four years. The reason for this is because the service company wants to know that a minimum of an additional $75,000-to-$100,000 in gross profit per year is buried in the current business which, when extracted, provides an excellent return for the business for the fees being paid for the service. Interviews with the owner are also completed to ensure the owner is committed to the business changes that the coach knows will be required and most importantly, the coach/mentor and owner’s personalities can work together. Too many shop owners think the coach will “do it for me” which means they don’t get it, compared to the understanding of what the owner is really looking for, which is “what should I do, where do I direct my time and efforts and how do I do it” to get the results?
The service is in-depth, but when you think about it, the coaching/mentoring service must be in-depth as running a professional automotive service shop, because this is the most complex retail business in the marketplace today. This is why a quality coaching/mentoring service can be in the area of $1,800-to- $2,500 per month for a three-to-five-year term. Most shops would automatically say “I can’t afford that”, but that means the owner is not thinking like an entrepreneur and has closed the door before the owner even looks into the next room.
When the coaching service is a quality service, their fees turn out to be equivalent to a cheap, part-time employee.
The coach/mentor is not going to take the shop on if the service does not provide a proper financial return. No business coach will accept a client that is set up for failure, and that is why they are very specific as to their processes of evaluating potential clients. An entrepreneurial thinking shop owner understands that and will be looking for the return on the investment to be made before the service is going to be accepted.
The business coach is looking at the owner’s capability, attitude of being able to do what he/she said they would do as well as the true desire to grow their business. You can have all the systems, procedures and quality advice available to you but if the owner can’t follow through with his/her responsibility and do what they said they will do, the coach will not allow that owner onto his team.
Once the business coach has at least six and maximum eight clients, he will organize a confidential focus group because then like mind-set owners can get together, with the coach as the facilitator, to share valuable marketplace experiences and information, evaluate each other’s businesses using the same measurement criteria (comparing apples with apples) and analyzing internal business processes. This provides more accountability for each member to ensure things are on track to getting done. Talk is cheap. It is the results that are important.
The aftermarket must move into the 21st Century and start embracing modern techniques and services that move their business forward. The shop owner can no longer do it all him/herself , like being on an island, thinking they know it all and are aware of all the changes coming down the road that will affect their business. This is an in-depth profession today, and the business capabilities must be put in place to ensure the success of the enterprise.
So I ask again, “Are you ready for the next most important step in your business to ensure its survival and prosperity?”
Slow down and investigate the opportunities. It may be the best exercise with your time that you ever do for yourself and your business.
Much, much more in the print addition of Auto Atlantic.
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