Sincerely - A Letter to the Top
Today marks six years since my first day on the job at your place. You know I’ve worked a few other places in my day, but I don’t think I’ve ever told you why I decided to build my career here at your quick lube. It’s no secret, I’ve told plenty of other newbies who’ve shown up here for work over the years. Whenever a new guy or gal arrives for their first day of work, I tell them if they’re willing to put in the time and work as if they want to run the company themselves one day, they will never wonder where they stand with you, feel insecure in their position or fear for their job. It sounds simple, but it’s amazing where personal responsibility will get you — you taught me that.
In fact, you’ve taught me a lot of things along the way, some things more directly than others — like how to use the new wheel alignment system, ring somebody up or make sure Mrs. Lockney gets the exact same service she’s been used to getting for the past 15 years — but you’ve shown me even more. I think that’s what I’d have to say makes you the most different from any other boss I’ve ever had — you lead by example. You’re the one who starts the pot of coffee in the morning and rolls down the final bay door at night. You don’t expect entitled respect without earning it, and you’re slow to anger when a situation gets heated. You’re a selfless servant. I watch as you treat every customer the exact same way. It doesn’t matter if it’s their first time in the shop or if they’ve been bringing their car to you since you opened in the 1990s — you treat everyone like an old friend.
When the occasional situation has arisen and the patron’s vehicle needs more repairs than they bargained (and budgeted) for, I’ve witnessed you handle the situation with grace and humble understanding. I’ve even been on the receiving end of your generosity. Remember in 2012, when my car was out of commission for three months and you let me borrow that old blue Camry you had? Because of you, I didn’t have to miss a single day of work, and, therefore, my family didn’t have to go without anything, either. You were not only a blessing to me, but you were a blessing to my family, too.
However, it’s important for people who work for you to understand just because you’re a nice and empathetic person doesn’t mean you let things go awry. You’re far from a pushover. You’ve got a business to run. You lead with a quiet, certain confidence that makes people want to fall in line and do their best. On the few occasions people who have worked for you have not wanted to do that, you haven’t let them poison the well and infect the entire staff. Instead, you’ve isolated those incidents and handled the situations on a one-on-one basis. I admire that kind of leadership. It’s easy to know what to do when everything is going well, but a leader’s true colors show when they have to navigate waters of conflict. You recognize the value of a motivated, happy and positive team, and you make a point to preserve and protect those qualities when you feel like they could be threatened. It’s a good thing you recognize the importance of a cohesive team. It’s probably because you know it is very easy for customers to recognize when we’re having an “off” day out in the bays. Occasionally, when that has happened, customers have gone as far as asking us, “What’s wrong?” We are generally known for being a positive and happy group. I think there are a lot of things that have attributed to the success of your shop, but I imagine knowing what motivates your team to want to work for you is a huge part of it.
I imagine, another big contribution to the success of your shop is your ability to never get too stuck in your ways or too attached to an idea. If there is a better way to approach something we’re doing, you’re always open to try it out and see if it works. If it does work, awesome, and if it doesn’t no harm, no foul, we’ll try something else. You also like to stay ahead of industry trends and changing standards placed on the automotive industry. That’s hugely helpful when it comes to knowing what is coming down the pipe. We all know, this is a competitive market, and staying relevant in an industry that’s constantly changing is hard but oh so necessary to our success.
Lastly, (but only because it goes without saying) you’re smart. I admire your intelligence and your desire to consistently pursue knowledge both personally and professionally and to encourage those around you to do the same. Because of you, I am looking forward to going back to school to further my certifications.
I know this letter is the last thing a person like you expects. Knowing you, it probably makes you a little uncomfortable, but I didn’t want these things to go without being said. I’ve heard it can get pretty lonely at the top, and I just wanted you to know you’re doing a great job up there!
Employee of the Year (hint, hint)
If you’re a reader of the National Oil & Lube News blog (noln.net/blog) you may remember a post we published in March of 2015 called “Dear Service Writer.” The letter was written from the customer point-of-view and gave a nod to hard working service writers. The response NOLN received after publishing that letter sparked us to launch this series. Don’t forget to subscribe to the NOLN blog to get the latest industry news, trends and bonus tips from industry experts. You never know, you may just stumble on our next idea and spark your own!