Ditch the Data
What I’m about to say may be contrary to common belief. I’m a firm believer in understanding the numbers of your business, but financial goals don’t motivate or inspire your employees.
As a business coach, I preach to all shop owners that setting financial targets is essential to growing your business. However, managing your business by the numbers alone, is not a long-term, sustainable plan. In fact, it could be a costly mistake.
In May I wrote about Matt, the dealership technician making over $125,000 a year, and not happy at his job. The dealership where he is employed has aggressive financial goals and hired Matt to lead the way to their prosperity. So why is Matt not happy? Aren’t they taking good care of him with an amazing salary? Shouldn’t he be grateful? The truth is, Matt is ready to leave that dealership. Why? Because the financial targets of the company have nothing to do with creating a workplace that has purpose and meaning for its workers. Morale is low and turnover at this dealership is high, and he will soon become a causality of that environment.
Running an auto repair business, like any business, is not always a stroll through paradise. Some years are good, some bad, and some are amazing. If you’re a longtime shop owner like me, I want you to think back on your best years in business. Think about how you achieved that success. No one reading this can tell me it occurred when you had the worst shop morale, multiple employee issues, customer issues, and incompetent people around you. No, you had a great team of people all rowing in the same direction. You had a strong team that shared in the vision and mission of the company. A team that worked for intrinsic reasons. And of course, all this helped your business hit its financial targets.
Obviously, hitting financial targets is a result of many factors. From having the right marketing strategy and developing the right processes, to employing the right people. Having financial goals is also a key component to a business’ success. However, merely having financial goals for your employees is not enough. Yes, every employee needs to know the numbers and goals for their position. A technician needs to know what a great production week looks like. Service advisors must know their sales target. Just like a sports team, knowing the score is a key component to winning the game. But we have seen countless times when a so-called inferior team beats a so-called superior team. The team with the biggest heart and highest morale usually comes out on top. When a team has shared values and purpose, they can attain greatness beyond what they think they can achieve.
As business owners and leaders, we need to be careful of where our focus is. A focus only on reaching certain financial targets can erode your long-term strategy. People need to have purpose. People have an innate desire to perform at a high level, do quality work, share, exchange ideas, and want to be included in the success of the company. A focus on hitting the numbers, without understanding the human needs of the individual, will eventually weaken how they feel about their role. It’s far better to focus on your people and their long-term development. When you have a unified team that’s engaged in a common purpose and when the team believes in the vision and mission of the company, that strategy will drive the behavior needed to attain your financial goals, along with business success.
Create a workplace environment that promotes and values the team. Spreadsheets alone don’t inspire employees. Look for reasons to praise, encourage and celebrate the accomplishments of the individual and the accomplishments of the team. Communicate often the mission and vision of your company. I’ll make a safe bet that it wasn’t the numbers of business that led you to start your repair shop. It was the passion you had to change the automotive world, help others, and to make a difference in your life and the lives of others around you. Focus on that passion, understand the needs of the individuals who work with you, and the numbers will fall into place.