Running a Shop Leadership

Why Aren’t You Growing?

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There’s a saying at Shop Fix Academy: “Fix the owner, fix the shop.” 

Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for shops to hit a wall. Owners often see their business stagnate, and it can be difficult to pinpoint why. 

TJ Roberts, a member coach with Shop Fix Academy, routinely works with owners looking to break that wall and get their shop growing again. Here’s a few tips Roberts says can help the struggling business owner turn their business around.


Get back to the Basics.

Owners tend to overanalyze their business when they hit a point of stagnation. But sometimes the solution might be simple. Roberts’ biggest piece of advice? Get back to the basics. 

When owners are looking to reboot their business, they often try and do it all at once. Roberts likens it to a New Year’s resolution—one of the most common being to lose weight. When someone approaches the new year, they tell themselves they’re going to hit the gym seven days per week for an hour, and then they’ll finally reach their weight loss goal. 

But a few weeks later, they’re no longer at the gym, the goal is quickly forgotten, and when another new year comes around, it’s back on their list of resolutions. Why? Because it was never a habit in the first place, and they never built a foundation. 

It’s the same concept when you’re looking to reboot your business. When you haven’t set those habits, when you haven’t built that foundation, it’s going to be difficult to completely change your way of operating. 

“They don’t keep the habit of doing one thing over and over, and basically, they just set themselves up for failure,” Roberts says. 

So, start with nailing down the basics. Set your goals. Build the foundation of your business. Come up with processes to accomplish your goals. If you set that standard before trying to tackle anything and everything that could possibly be wrong with your business, you’ll have a greater chance at success moving forward. 


Build a Foundation.

The first step in building a successful business is building its foundation. Roberts says a starting point can be as simple as setting expectations for your employees and holding them accountable.

Make sure your employees understand what’s expected of them. A well-functioning organization has everyone working in conjunction toward its shared goal. 

That starts with training. It’s not uncommon for businesses to hire employees, throw them feet first into the fire, and send them off with a “good luck.” That’s not putting anyone in a position to succeed. 

Instead, invest in your employees. Make sure they’re well-trained and prepared to tackle the challenges of their position. Make sure they understand your expectations. Hold them accountable to those expectations. 

Roberts says that’s the first thing to focus on before analyzing the rest of your business. Once that foundation is built, then focus on the basics of your business. 


Focus on Three Things That Tell A Story.

Expectations are set, employees are well-prepared, and you’re ready for the next step: focusing on the basics of your business. 

What are your costs? Where’s revenue? Are your technician quotes coming back the way they need to? Are you burning through cars? Are advisors selling what they need to be based on your technicians’ quotes? Analyze your technicians’ quotes, your advisor close ratio, and your average repair order.

“Those three things will tell you everything you need to know about your shop,” Roberts says. 

Start small, nail down one thing at a time, and, once you’ve pinned down all the basics, then focus on things like car count. 

“Too many people go straight to: ‘I need more cars,’” Roberts says. “Well, that’s not the case normally. Normally, they say they need more cars, and they have a $200 average repair order.”


Know Your Numbers.

Roberts has encountered very happy shop owners, but, when they do their taxes at the end of the year, they suddenly realize not everything adds up. He says it’s eye-opening for them. 

According to Roberts, the one thing every shop owner can do better is knowing their numbers. Too many shops just run their businesses out of their shop management software, which doesn’t always tell the entire story. Others don’t truly find out where they’re at until the end of the year. 

In addition to staying on top of your technicians’ quotes, your advisor close ratio, and your average repair order, it’s crucial to stay on top of your costs; what your overhead is, where your parts costs are at, where your labor costs are—knowing these key figures are crucial in tabulating an accurate P&L. 

“It’s crazy how many shop owners don’t have an accurate P&L,” Roberts says. 

Once you’ve accurately nailed down your P&L, you have the information you need to improve your standing next year. Roberts often has owners tell him they’re, “not good with numbers.” That’s not an option. 

“If you’re not good at numbers, then you better get good at numbers because you need to know where you’re at,” he says.  


The Buck Stops with the Owner.

Roberts says when things aren’t going well at shops, owners will run to the back of the shop and hide their heads underneath the hood of a car because it’s where they’re comfortable. 

But that requires a mindset change. When you run a business, you have processes, and when they’re not working, you fix them. When you see issues, you correct them. In Roberts’ coaching, he starts with videos and courses that teach good processes. 

Roberts says too many times owners are hesitant to change and improve their processes until their backs are against the wall, they’re at the bottom, and there’s no choice left but to try and fight for their shops. 

“It’s not all shop owners, but most shop owners. What we’re working on is what’s keeping them from taking plays from the playbook and implementing them,” Roberts says. “Coaching a lot of times is counseling.” 


Stop Making Excuses.

In business and in life, there’s always going to be excuses. 

That’s not a philosophy Roberts lives by; he says you either make it happen, or you don’t. Owners can get comfortable, maybe they want growth, but they’re comfortable. Or maybe it’s just easier to blame something—COVID, parts shortages, etc. 

There’s always going to be an excuse for why you aren’t growing, but if you want to grow, if you want to succeed, you need to leave those excuses in the past and focus on making it happen for your business. 

“You may need to find a new way to make it happen in your shop, maybe things are going to change a little bit,” Roberts says. “I think too many shop owners settle for the excuse. And that keeps them stagnant.”

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