Shop Life Columnists

Don't Forget Where You Came From

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This month’s issue emphasizes the leadership side of our business. As someone who has grown in the business from technician to franchisee, there is one thing that I have never forgotten that has helped me at each level: Do not forget where you came from. 

How many of you have made this mistake in your locations? Are you finding it hard to connect with your teams and to get the results that you are looking for today? It could be that you have lost focus on the operations level at its most simple.

As we progress in our careers, we find that our motivations and responsibilities have changed. Sometimes we get bogged down and we must remember to take time and step back. What we all want and need when we make operational decisions is to get buy-in from our field teams to put these in action. The way that this is done is being able to connect on the level of the employees, knowing what motivates them, and presenting in that way. 

For example, if I was going to introduce a new service or product, I am going to do it firsthand. Why is this important? You can show them how you would do it, how you would present it and more. Hey, you never know, doing it live might help you tweak it in a way to create even more positive results.

The biggest thing that most operators, at a director level or higher, should ask themselves is: How often do the teams see you in the store? How often are you pitching in or listening to your people?

When we discuss buy-in, many managers just expect you to do it because we say so. However, in our current employment market, it's just not that simple. Our workforce now wants to make an impact and feel like they matter. Take just one day per week to put on your work shoes and get in the stores. It will make a world of difference, because you are willing to do what they are doing and willing to listen and take your time. When you go to make a change, little things like this will resonate in their minds.  They feel like, “This guy is coming down here and getting in the grease with us.”

For some, this may be harder than others. Some operators did not come from this industry. How many owners are out there in this business that purchased a business as an investment or a cash flow opportunity? We know you are out there—and that is not a terrible thing!

In these cases, where you know that you are not going to be in the stores, hire an operator for your business that has been in those trenches. They will have a wealth of knowledge that will help you keep that positive cash flow and not allow you to make mistakes that will cost you in the end. The other advantage to this is that these guys know how to motivate entry level techs and managers working long hours. This is a tough industry that puts us in the elements each day.

Do not take my story as a slight on how you do your business. I don’t intend it that way. This is a way to understand what it takes to create a positive environment in your locations. Think about that operator that is nonexistent and does not come around. How do those operations look and feel? Many are not high-level culture places. The employees sometimes tend to have the attitude that if manager does not care, why should they?  Negative attitude employees do not get you the sales that you need, they drain your resources and lose your customer base. The negative cycle is complete. We can all say that we do not do this to lose money.

Remember to make yourself available and visible from time to time. I make myself available around the stores. I choose not to have an office or pod at our corporate location. I still see myself as a field employee, even as a franchisee, because that is where the business is made. 

You can get a lot done still with phone calls and Zoom meetings. Do not allow yourself to get so bogged down that you miss the camaraderie that is made in the stores. Make sure to be a part of it. You will be amazed by the impact that you will make by simply taking the time to get dirty with the guys every now and again. It is where you started if you have not already forgotten.

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