Life as a shop owner or manager can be very demanding. We face a constant barrage of distractions. Think about a typical day. A tech needs a minute to show you some marginal ball joints and then an equipment representative needs just five minutes to pitch you something that is the latest and greatest. Next, is your service advisor asking if it’s ok to take an out of town check from one of our best customers’ brother? Suddenly you hear a gut wrenching crash in the shop. It turns out to be nothing after all but it sounded awful. Being the reactive problem solver is like a drug. It makes you feel good in the moment. The long term effect is we spend all of our time in this mode and almost no time in the proactive mode of eliminating these distractions so we can plan the future and work on our business in the right way.
Begin by empowering you team to function independently. Show them that you trust their judgement. Part of their job is to make decisions and judgement calls. Start by telling them that they need to function independently. The best strategy to use is to ask them what they would do if you were unavailable. You can follow up with these questions. “Is it good for the customer?” “Is it good for the company?” “Does it fit with the company mission statement?” If you follow this process every time a team member asks you to “Call the ball”, they will eventually begin to rely on their own judgement and start to act independently. The primary job you have as a leader is to create other leaders. You cannot expect to grow your business unless you have other leaders who can function on their own. Eventually you need to delegate other responsibilities to them. This process begins with your encouraging them to be self-reliant.
We all want to say, “Yes”, when someone asks if we have five minutes. Vendors and salesmen know this and use it to their advantage. You can manage this type of interruption by giving them an alternative, “Yes”. For example; “I would like to hear about that new program, however, I simply do not have any time at all right now. I will be available Tuesday morning at 9:00am”. This puts you in control of your time without missing an important opportunity and without having to say, “No”. At that time you will also have the ability to focus on what is being presented because you have scheduled the time appropriately.
There are things that crop up every day, but most of the things you should be doing are predictable. Routine tasks that need to be done are often ignored because of the chaos that always happens. The way to stay on track with your responsibilities is to have a written plan. Put down your goals for the New Year. Break them down into monthly, weekly, and daily activities. Then do the same for everything you know you should be doing, like employee reviews, regularly monitoring your key performance indicators, paying state sales tax, renewing your business license, and any other essential functions. It is easy to get yourself organized with a bound desk calendar, a wall calendar, or a computer calendar, like Outlook 365. Begin with annual items and work your plan down to the daily level. Post each item with a date it must be done and put a reminder on your calendar for an earlier date.
Renew Liability and/or Property insurance policies, website hosting, renew business license, plan the company Christmas party, etc. As you post the dates for your events or items, think about when you need to begin working on each one. Post a reminder before each event. Planning the company Christmas party, for example, may require a reminder in early November, but your business license renewal may only need a week or so of lead time.
Think of things that happen quarterly. It may be paying taxes, or doing employee reviews. Take a look through a few months of bank statements to find other routine things that could be hard to remember.
These are the routine things that you do frequently. Rent is to be paid by the 5th of the month, the power bill by the 20th, website hosting due by the 1st, etc. Go through every month and mark each due date and back date an alert or warning that something is due over the next five days.
Develop a daily task list to help manage your time. Think about all the routine things you need to do every day. Write it all down on a sheet of paper. Organize it into a logical order for your daily routine.
Morning huddle. Review work in process with each tech, expected parts, needed completion time for each vehicle. Review and plan for the day ahead. Prioritize for new work coming in. Cover any company housekeeping items.
Read emails. Respond as needed.
Review yesterday’s business. Look at vehicle inspections, check on key performance indicators and formulate a plan to correct.
Review bank accounts.
Work on today’s TOP 3 priorities:
Walk through the shop. Look for problems with work flow and take note of any equipment problems, as well as housekeeping issues. Take notes to address situations as needed.
Read emails and respond as needed.
Review the list. Transfer items not completed to tomorrow’s list
If you follow this daily routine you will be able to implement improvement in your shop. Getting things accomplished will become much easier. You can finish the day and then look at your daily task list. Transfer incomplete items to tomorrow’s daily task list. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and completion. Put tomorrow’s list on your desk. When you go home in the evening you will be truly present with your family instead of rehashing the day in your mind. The next morning, go into your office, review your daily task list for a few minutes, make any adjustments, and go out there and “Accelerate Your Success” in the New Year!