The Building Blocks

Aug. 1, 2023
This month's issue of NOLN is all about creating good habits and maintaining relationships.

The origin story for Bill Brown's shop is about as straightforward as it gets. He couldn't find a decent quick lube in his small town, so he started one.

There's a lot more to the story, which you can read about in this month's profile. But with Brown's giving spirit as the building block, it's easy to see why he's seen success at his Grease Monkey location. He's quoted in the story as saying that he wakes up every day energized and happy. How many of us can say that?

This August issue of NOLN is truly about building blocks. They are the basis of the rest of the business, upon which your growth rests. Even in a franchise system that offers some tools of the trade to help get shops on the right foot, there are operators who make it and there are those who don't. That tidbit comes from "The Franchisee Handbook," one of this month's articles.

Of course, the automotive service business is about relationships. You can also read about working with distributors, which is one of the most crucial relationships out there. This month's case study is all about maintaining great supplier relationships.

A building block that all shops have, whether they know it or not, is culture. The feature story this month focuses on that dynamic and features perspectives from both the multi-shop network and the single-shop owner. In both setups, company culture sets the tone for staff each day. It can be tough to know how involved a business owner should be with the rank-and-file staff in daily matters, but it's crucial that the business owner shows up and sets that culture. Absent that first step, a shop's culture will take root nevertheless, as an operator told me once. And in that case, it might not be the shop culture you'd prefer. After reading this month's feature, you'll find that an open-door policy of sorts is a thread that appears in most successful cultures.

As a building block, shop culture can provide a backstop during challenging times. Right now, in the summer travel months, hopefully your shop's main challenge is a constant line of cars in queue. That's one of those good problems. But when your team has practiced habits—like good communication, helping out during downtime, and keeping a cool head—then those are the actions they will take when the shop is busy. It's automatic.

My father always told me not to talk bad about other people in private, because that's a path toward creating a bad habit. Practice keeping that kind of talk to yourself as a good habit, and maybe in a tense conversation, it becomes your automatic response. That's a foundation, a building block.

The tough thing about a building block is that it's tough to rearrange those foundational elements. But don't fret; it's never too late to make a positive change.