Work on, Not in the Business
In 16 years, Rusty and Tina Warren, owners of Warren’s Automotive in Ridgecrest, Calif., had not taken a vacation. Within one year of working with Elite, they were able to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary with a nine-day trip in Europe.
“They were too busy working in their business that they didn’t have time to work on their business,” says Kevin Vaught, their Elite coach.
Tina says that ever since they opened their shop in 1983, they had been working with a coach or a consultant in some capacity or another, but they felt that there was a threshold that they couldn’t cross. Tina was stuck up front writing service and handling the bookkeeping while Rusty was constantly helping out in the shop. This didn’t allow a lot of time for the Warrens to focus on the bigger picture.
“We needed something different and exceptional in our back pockets,” Tina says. “The thing that sets Elite apart is that all of the coaches are owners and have been in the trenches. They know what it takes.”
At the very end of 2015, the Warrens signed on with Elite and were paired with Vaught. Within a year, the shop hired two service advisors and increased their net profit 900 percent. That large of an increase must mean that they were performing poorly before, right? Not the case at all, says Vaught.
“When I was paired with them, I was actually worried there wasn’t going to be much I could do for them,” Vaught says. “They had a good operation. However, she was working the front desk and he was turning wrenches in the back. When I was able to pull them away from that, they were able to see the bigger picture and we were able work on tightening things up. Before, they had a job. Now, they have a business.”
Getting there wasn’t always easy. For weeks leading up to the vacation, Vaught says he wasn’t sure that the Warrens would actually leave. However, after a few test-runs, Rusty and Tina were confident that the shop would do just fine without them. The reason they were able to do this was because of the confidence that they had in their team, and the systems that Vaught helped them implement.
At one point during the year leading up to the vacation, the shop had a service advisor that just wasn’t working out. Tina took it to heart, but through Vaught’s nagging, she kept searching and was able to find the right one.
“He said to look for the exceptional and to look for passion,” Tina says.
By conducting multiple interviews, issuing aptitude and personality tests, taking their time and doing their homework and following Vaught’s guidance, the Warrens assembled an all-star team that they could trust with their business. Not only are they trustworthy, but that team has helped increase sales 45 percent from January of 2016 to January 2017.
“He taught us better management skills in the areas that we needed to work on,” Rusty says.
Not only did working with Elite help the Warrens improve their business, Tina says it also helped her become a better leader.
“There was a time that I was really stressed out talking to Kevin and he said, ‘Tina, I want you to make sure that you’re having one-on-one meetings with your staff. Make sure you’re making eye contact, otherwise you’ll sever those ties. Remember to compliment them.’ He was right; I hadn’t been doing that,” Tina says.
A few weeks leading up to the European vacation, the Warrens decided to test out whether or not the shop could run without them. They put their senior tech in charge and would randomly leave to run various errands. The shop survived, which gave the Warrens confidence. But was it enough for them to truly unplug during their vacation?
“Not only were we away, we were in a completely different time zone,” Tina says. “We didn’t hear anything the entire time we were away except for how great things were going!”
Vaught says that for the Warrens, it was all about putting together the right team. In order to do that, they had to hire the right people, give those people the tools and systems that they needed and then get out of their way.
The Warrens say they’re already planning their next vacation.