The Longview

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Since we launched Ratchet+Wrench a little more than eight years ago, there are a lot of sayings that our team has heard on repeat in interview after interview, training session after training session. Some, though oft-spoken to the point of cliche, are valuable, helpful and true. 

Know your numbers. Work on your business, not in it. You have to get up early to catch goose eggs.

OK, that last one is from D3: The Mighty Ducks, but I know you’re familiar with the other two. And here’s the one you’ve likely heard more than any other, the one that seems to be the gold standard preamble to any set of business-related advice anyone has ever received or given: There are no silver bullets.

And similar to the other phrases, this one is true. Apart from the Lone Ranger and various werewolf hunters, there really is no evidence of anyone using silver bullets. Trust me, I’m a journalist. I googled it.

Also like the others, this is a valuable and helpful phrase; it reminds us that solutions require planning, strategy, hard work and, maybe most importantly, time. Patience is the key here. Personally, it’s something that I struggle with, as has been well documented by all who are close to me in life. But having patience and taking the “longview” to improvement seems to me to be an unintended—and very much needed—theme in this month’s issue of Ratchet+Wrench

Our cover story takes a deep-dive look into three shops who are working to create unique, long-term approaches to team building (“Attracting an Apprentice,”). And we have additional stories on the strategy behind opening a second location, developing and crafting your company’s culture, and a column from Aaron Stokes about saving for the future. 

It’s August now, and so many of us are still struggling to find a semblance of normalcy in our lives. I’ve heard dozens of stories now from many of you who have seen your businesses start to rebound. There have been year-over-year gains in June. All of a sudden there are positive outlooks for August and September—as in actual, real, tangible growth in business. Some (including Aaron) predict this summer and fall will be true busy seasons for the industry.  

I love hearing that, and I hope everyone is right in that prediction (numbers and trends we see certainly seem to indicate that). But I’m sure I don’t have to remind you that it wasn’t as simple as a switch being flipped and cars starting to pour back in. All of you have spent the last several months pushing through, tightening processes (and budgets), rethinking marketing, reinvesting in your communities and teams—you’ve put in the work and you’ve now created this opportunity for yourself. You were the ones who did it, and you did it in so many different ways. 

Success stories aren’t so enjoyable to read about (or experience firsthand) because of the final result. It’s the journey that makes them fulfilling, satisfying and motivating. For those of you who have started to see things turn around, I’m guessing that’s very apparent to you at the moment. For those of you who haven’t seen those results yet, keep pushing. There are no silver bullets, and that’s a good thing.


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