Making Measurements Matter
I’m not a “numbers” guy. Statistical analysis doesn’t excite me. It never has. To be one hundred percent honest with you it isn’t likely it will ever be my thing. My pulse doesn’t quicken nor does time stand still while I’m analyzing a spreadsheet… Honestly, time doesn’t even slow down while I bury myself in the numbers! At best, it’s tedious and time consuming when I have countless other things I’d rather be doing.
I’m pretty good at recognizing and understanding relationships, however. Especially the cause and effect role variables can play in all the causal relationships we deal with both under the hood and in the office. And, if I’ve had any success understanding the numbers that are my business and all of the complex relationships they represent—and, I have—that’s the well from which that understanding springs. You see, somewhere along the way I realized that the same tools that led to success in the shop and under the hood could help me with all the drivability problems I was having in the office.
An insatiable curiosity is certainly one of those tools, coupled with the constant wonder of how and why things are the way they are that walks hand-in-hand with becoming a pretty good diagnostician. A fascination with “If this/then that” doesn’t hurt, either. And, when you put all that together, confronting the “serial stream data” that flows through your business is no different than allowing the metrics on your scan tool or PC to tell you what you have to do and where you have to go in order to bring the vehicle you’re working on back into spec.
The relationship that exists between the numbers you’re confronted with while taking that long, hard look at your business metrics and the number you have targeted: the ideal key performance indicators (KPIs) for your business, is a recurring theme you will encounter both here in Ratchet+Wrench and whenever you begin to analyze the path other successful auto care center operators have walked. But, recognizing and understanding what you have to do has never been the difficult part of achieving success in this or any other industry.
In fact, it would probably be safe to say that no matter where you are in the evolution of your business, you already have a pretty good idea of what it is you have to do to get from where you are to where you need to be. Getting there is simply a matter of confidence, courage, knowledge and experience: Confidence that comes from all of the small victories experienced as you develop as a manager and leader, knowledge that results from working your way through what you have to do to implement all of the action steps necessary to make it happen, and the courage required to actually pull the trigger and execute.
There are endless combinations of KPIs for you to analyze and experiment with. Almost any business operation, action or result can be transformed into a ratio and then analyzed and almost every successful business operator has a group of “critical” KPIs they look at both carefully and often. One of the operators highlighted in this issue has three. I have what I lovingly refer to as my “dirty dozen.”
The number of relationships you are monitoring doesn’t really matter. What really matters is the realization that changes in any of these relationships will have an impact on almost every other KPI. What really matters is what you do with those relationships: how you use them to make the adjustments you need to make in order to accomplish your objectives and reach your goals.
You see, counting matters almost as much as it matters what it is you’re counting; but, neither matters as much as what you do with what you’ve learned. Nothing matters more than using what you’ve learned to ensure your current reality is more consistent with your vision than it is with your past.
What really counts is knowing that we’re all here to ensure that journey is a success!
On a more personal note, there are other things to count, other things that count beyond KPIs and business metrics. One of those things is the personal relationship I’ve shared with all of you over the years, a relationship that I’m proud and excited to announce will continue here at Ratchet+Wrench.
Mitch Schneider is a fourth-generation auto repair professional and the owner of Schneider’s Auto Repair in Simi, Calif. He is a longtime industry educator, trade journalist, author and seminar facilitator. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.