Running a Shop Setting Goals Leadership

Goal Setting to Get Ahead

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SHOP STATS: Elizabeth AutoCare  Locations: Elizabeth, Pa.  Operator: Dave Striegel  Average Monthly Car Count: 222  Total Staff Size: 8  Shop Size: 3,200 sq. ft. Total Annual Revenue: $1 million  

Fine-Tuning for the Future

A year from now, Dave Striegel, owner of Elizabeth AutoCare in Elizabeth, Pa., will be in Alaska. Or on a weeks-long camping trip. Or both. 

One thing’s for sure—he won’t be at the shop. He’s had his retirement date, Dec. 31, 2021, set in stone for years. “I’ve set this plan and I’m sticking to it,” he says. 

Striegel’s got a discipline for planning that’s guided him through his over 40-year career, setting goals for his shop and its eventual successor in five-year increments for 20 years and counting. 

After decades in the gas station industry, he set out to build his own automotive repair shop from the ground up. 

“I opened the shop just over 15 years ago and I always planned for it to be my nest egg. I designed it specifically for profitability and efficiency with that goal in mind.” 

Not long after launching the shop, Striegel asked his trusted service manager Mike Moeslein to become his successor and as the business has grown, Strigel’s built the business with Moeslein in mind.

Thinking Beyond the Finish Line

Now, as he pulls into the homestretch, Striegel plans to update and upgrade the shop inside and out.

From landscaping projects and a fresh coat of paint to maintain the shop’s pristine exterior to updates ranging from new LED lights and replaced lifts and scanners, Striegel will be working to set Moeslein up for success.

“[Mike’s] making the move from service manager to owner and that’s a big shift in mindset, so I’m trying to tackle all of the things that shouldn’t be on his plate in those first two years of ownership so he can get a grasp on running the business,” he says.

Striegel plans to replace all equipment used on a daily basis, a costly expense that he’s already budgeted for throughout the years, while approaching the shop’s needs with fresh eyes.

“I’m asking the questions I’d be considering if I were coming on as a new shop owner. Do we want to stick with our management system or try out a new one? If I were trying to put this shop on the market, what are the updates a new occupant would expect? It’s all top of mind,” he says.

Pro Tip: Change your mindset

“Reaching your goals happens in the present, one day a time—not in the far off future. Thinking of your goals in the here and now makes a goal a reality rather than a dream scenario.”

Embracing New Roles

Striegel will be working closely with Moeslein throughout the year to walk through operational tasks, behind the scenes paperwork, taxes and P&L statements, and workflow and delegation strategies, but he’s also budgeted time to work on soft skill strategies.

With a background as an automotive coach, Striegel plans to draw from years of past experience to help Moeslein hone his management skills.

“We’ve had a kind of good cop-bad cop dynamic that’s worked for us and he’s so good at what he does in the shop, but next year I won’t be here, so we’ll work on softening up some of those edges to and knowing when to guide with a gentler hand,” he says. “Employee turnover can be a big issue so building a solid relationship with the team is a top priority.”

The two will be working to hedge off potential employee and customer turnover throughout the year as Moeslein begins to transition from his role as No. 2 to shop boss. Over the last year, Streigel’s begun to leave space for Moeslein to step in and take ownership of that key relationship-building that’s so vital in business.

“It’s about allowing him to act in that leadership role and continue to gain the team’s trust and respect,” says Striegel. “Same thing goes for our customers. We don’t want anyone to think they’ll get a different experience with new ownership in place,” he says, describing the transition as more of a slow and steady climb than a band-aid rip.

“At the end of the day, the better care I can take of him through this transition, the better my retirement will be. It’ll all be worth it.”

Pro Tip: Give yourself a head start

“Setting a goal you don’t have time to reach doesn’t help anyone. Give yourself more time than you think you’ll need and break that goal down into increments with individual deadlines. Things are going to pop up that you didn’t plan for. A head start is the best way to stay on track.” 

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