Leadership Team Building Shop Culture How to Lead Strategy+Planning Organizational Management

Courage is the Conquest of Fear

Order Reprints

I’m not sure how you process decisions, but I analyze—way too often. I am always trying to make the experience for my customers at my auto repair shop better. That comes with a price. When I find things didn’t go as planned, I easily get discouraged and overwhelmed. I find myself in a spiral. What happened? what could I have done better or in a different style like that other person would have done?

I’m most comfortable when I am in my element. My parking lot is safe and familiar ground and in the auto shop, I am at home. I know the smell of a plastic bag melting on a muffler and the sound of bleeding the compressor. I know the turf.

No doubt looking from the inside out, we, as an industry, have “cleaned up our act” and made tremendous strides over the past decade to educate drivers in our community.

As an “all-in” industry person, I am so proud to be a witness to the industry transformation.

But sometimes it feels like it’s a never-ending battle. Maryann Croce and I were talking about this last week and she shared the new Vick’s NyQuil commercial. The scene takes places in a bedroom as a man restlessly tries to fall asleep, consumed with thoughts of his auto repair shop. The “grease monkey” roll out on a creepy crawler from under his bed and tosses a rinky dinky plumber’s toolbox on the bed and wipes his greasy hands on the white curtains. The commercial depicts us as the cause of his trouble. Sleep on that!

Even during incredible moments like Rachael Ray, Anderson Cooper and opportunities like Ratchet+Wrench, I often struggle to stay high on hope. But I push through it because I see the big picture is still about you and me providing an opportunity for service, for our community.

As a mission-driven person, so overwhelmed with wanting a better future, here are some principles I use daily to push forward:


1. See it from their perspective.

It’s no wonder people come into the shop over analyzing and paranoid, uncomfortable and defensive. We’re fighting against the “unseen” subliminal messages people receive every day because of companies like NyQuil using emotions of fear and threats to people‘s well being to sell their product. We have to be smarter. Being real and providing our service when people need our service will consistently prove the value of your service in real time.


2. Take the driver's seat.

Remember why you went into business? Sometimes that’s not so easy to do looking at the P&L/KPI reports all the time. But you and I went into business for a reason. I have this declaration in a heavy-traffic areas at the front desk where everyone can be reminded: “As professionals, we made an investment in our business and a promise to our community to keep drivers’ vehicles maintained, repaired and safe.” Tap into the feeling of what drove you initially. Write it down to remind yourself daily.


3. Keep your eye on the prize.

When I get discouraged or distracted, it’s usually because I’m not speaking what’s on my heart, I lost focus or I slipped into working in the business, and not on the business. This is a trap and a struggle.

By sharing my vision with my team, they’re more than happy to reel me in because when I interfere in their jobs, all I’m actually doing is messing them up. It’s also destructive to their self esteem and the role they play in our company. That’s destructive to the business.

Instead, stay on point. I use my staff meetings to keep me on point. Every Saturday we get together for 10 minutes before we close for the day to go over the week. Just 10 minutes. That’s it. We have an open forum where each person says something and feels comfortable bringing their week and contributions to the table.

It has changed the tone of the shop workflow and direction of the conversations we have at our meetings. You can see the excitement rise. If you’re looking for negative, you’ll find it.


4. Be the light.

Choose to smile. Set your sails up and lead the ship. Even if you fake it, eventually, after enough people smile back at you, you’ll start to feel it. Focus on what’s going well. You’re doing better than what you give yourself credit for.


5. Never give up.

I understand circumstances, but also believe that a major difference between those who stay in business and those who go out of business is your willingness to adapt to people’s needs and tenacity.

Keep pushing forward and continue to work with integrity. Your actions will dictate your direction. People these days are hypersensitive and will feel your intentions. That, my friends, is to our advantage in the auto service industry.

Related Articles

Desperation is the Mother of Invention

Can Fear Motivate Your Employees?

Best of the Best: Top-of-the-Line Manager

You must login or register in order to post a comment.