Shop Life Columnists

Growth in Many Forms

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Growth is something you’re reading about a lot these days in National Oil and Lube News.

From where we’re sitting, covering the quick maintenance industry, it seems to be everywhere. At times, the daily news feed on the NOLN website might show multiple brands that have acquired new locations, held a grand opening, or petitioned a local government to begin the planning process. Those stories are great barometers for the industry. They’re our meat and potatoes, in many ways.

In the magazine, there are many ways to go in-depth on the topic of growth. In July, I wrote about three operators and their expansion strategies from an operational perspective—examining the logistical hurdles that many operators might face when moving to a second location, or a fifth, or a 50th.

 This month, the magazine takes a look at growth from a more personal perspective. How do owners internalize growth? What does that mean for the roles that they play in their businesses? Those are important questions. 

Most operators might think about growing a network, their revenues, and geographic reach as a collection of power in the industry. What I’ve found is that in most cases, owners have to give up a bit of power and control to get there. They must delegate to their managers, and above all, trust that others will get the job done.

That brings us to The Next Stage of Leadership, as this month’s feature story is called. It explores the ways in which operators create their foundations at the one or two store levels and then adapt their roles to oversee a larger picture in their organizations. This is the key to successful growth; you can’t run 10 stores like you did with one.

“Business ownership is the act of replacing oneself, right?” franchise expert Rick Bisio told me during an interview for that story.

That’s an idea I held onto through the story. If you’re the owner-operator of a single location, you’re likely fulfilling the roles of technician and manager. If you grow to three locations, you might replace yourself by hiring store-level managers. You become the regional manager.

Ultimately, if aggressive growth is your goal, you’re overseeing a network of managers and stores. Those managers are filling the roles that you once did. Where do you go from there? It can be a daunting thought at first, but one thing Bisio told me was that when you’re at that point, you’ve taught yourself the essential skills to take leadership to the next level. It’s the cultivation of talent in your organization that makes all the difference.

“You have to get out from behind the desk and morph into a manager of people, and empower managers to run their locations,” Bisio told me.

Elsewhere in the magazine, longtime industry expert Pete Frey lays out the siting essentials that operators need to consider when looking for a new location. Plus, you’d better have a good attitude if you’re going to lead an aggressive growth strategy. For that, we’ve brought you shop owner Matt Webb, who has a tried and true method for setting value-based goals and adjusting your leadership approach for a healthy work culture.

Of course, business growth doesn’t have to be into new geographic regions. Businesses are growing and evolving all the time within their own footprints. That idea is explored in this month’s profile story about a small operation in Washington state. It’s about a shop manager named Glen Schmitt, who became the central force in the family business after his father died. 

What Schmitt found was incredible growth in carrying on the family name—and the ethics that Schmitt’s father laid out years before.

 As usual, I hope that you’ll take away some great strategies, whether you are interested in growing geographically or building on success within a single shop. 


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