Tips for Creating a Cohesive Team
When Dan Mantei purchased Complete Auto Repair in 2010, it was not known for being Lakewood’s go-to auto repair shop. In fact, the Colorado shop was struggling financially and the staff of three was not making the most out of working with one another.
Mantei worked at the shop for a year as a technician, so he saw the inner workings of the facility and when he purchased the shop, he knew what he needed to change. In short, he hired an entirely new team. Shortly after the previous owner sold the shop to Mantei, the only other remaining employee left, so Mantei was able to build his team from scratch. The shop now has a staff of eight, including Mantei’s brother and daughter, with four working in the front office and four in the back. He says the culture of the shop has done a complete 180 and the neighborhood has noticed.
Since Mantei took over, the shop has increased its car count from 187 to 275 per month and the shop has increased annual revenue by 51 percent. Mantei’s daughter and manager/bookkeeper of the shop, Shaunda Hosier, says in her Ratchet+Wrench All-Star Award nomination that her father has improved the quality of work life for his employees and brought back many previously lost customers by earning their loyalty and trust. One of the most significant things that he does, and what makes him an All-Star Award nominee, is the care that he shows his employees.
“As a boss, he shows every day how much he appreciates our efforts and that he truly cares about each employee as an individual,” Hosier says. “He treats everyone with respect and like they’re an extension of our family.”
By treating customers with respect and creating a positive culture within his shop, Mantei has been able to establish his shop as a staple in the community. Here are his tips for building the right team.
Hire Like-Minded People.
Mantei started hiring his new crew the day he took over. On his very first day, Mantei made a call to an industry peer that lived across the street from a shop at which he previously worked.
“I knew his personality and his demeanor,” Mantei says. “I knew he had similar ethics and so I reached out to him to see if he’d be interested in making a change. Luckily, he was. Now, he’s my best guy.”
Besides Hosier, Mantei’s brother also works in the shop as its service manager. By hiring people that he knew, Mantei was able to plan ahead of time the type of culture that he wanted to build. Mantei says that it’s important to him that everyone that he hires is honest and does what is in the best interest of the customer.
“Our family is close knit and we have the same morals,” Mantei says. “We all do what it takes to make the business work. We all understand that it’s each other’s livelihood. This gives everyone the incentive to keep our customers happy.”
Take Care Of Your People.
The biggest piece of advice Mantei has for shop owners that are looking to turn around their culture?
“Treat your employees well,” he says.
In Hosier’s nomination, she points out that Mantei provides medical, dental and vision insurance, IRA contributions for employees, flexibility for time off, further education courses, as well as high earnings.
“I think many employees are unhappy because they’re not making the type of money that they deserve,” Mantei says. “All of my employees make close to the same amount of money as I do. If they need to take time off, we’re flexible with that.”
In addition to benefits, Mantei has also made an investment in improving the working conditions for his employees. The previous owner was not interested in spending money on new equipment. As soon as Mantei took over, he immediately invested in new equipment. He continues to make investments in the shop and encourages his staff to let him know if there’s a new piece of technology he should be looking at or something that needs to be replaced.
Take Time To Bond.
A team that works well together doesn’t just happen overnight. Even if everyone on the team has similar personality traits, building an actual relationship is important to the overall success of the shop.
Mantei frequently buys his staff lunch and says that it’s rare for anyone on his team to leave the shop for lunch. Most days, they’re all interacting and eating together. Hosier adds that Mantei also throws company outings for the staff. Past excursions include paintball, go-karting and bowling.