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What am I missing to keep from falling behind?

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After 18 years as a technician, I opened my own shop. I now have three employees—two techs and a front-desk person. We’re busy, really busy, and we always seem to be falling behind. What am I missing here?

Gary Gunn, President, Turnaround Tour

The problem is that most people are coming in with the wrong skillsets—or at least, skillsets that haven’t prepared them to run a business. Personnel issues seem to be the most difficult.

For someone who comes from a technician background, there are four important pieces of being an owner they usually don’t have a clue about: leading, managing, mentoring and coaching.

You have to lead—inspire your employees, help them understand your vision for the company. You have to manage—keep them on track, keep your business on track. You have to mentor them, help them, teach them. And you have to coach them.

If you can learn those four things, and you can do them in your shop, you will be successful and your team won’t fall behind.

The problem is that people come in with a skill—fixing a car—and they think that’s what their business is. It’s that way in a lot of industries. Let’s say you’re really good at cooking bagels, so you open a bagel shop. Your business isn’t only about your bagels. It’s not about a product; it’s about the experience you’re giving customers. 

Your business is experiential. You have to think about what you’re doing in the marketplace—your branding, your staff, your customer service, your systems in place. Those are the things your customers see. Most people don’t know or understand what you just did to their car, but they see and understand all those other things, and that’s the reason they sought you out in the first place.

Making that shift from that technician mentality to becoming a real shop owner is difficult. But you have to make that switch, you have to turn it around.

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