Running a Shop Shop Life

Being All In

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Anyone who knows me personally knows that I am possibly the biggest Clemson Tiger fan alive. I grew up going to games, went to Clemson as a student (got too many worthless degrees), was a professor for many years and still fly across the country on a red eye just so I don’t miss a game! My love has grown even more for Clemson’s football team, not just because we are currently the national champs (sorry, I have to point this out), but also because of the great man that heads up this amazing team. Dabo Swinney had the right relationships to initially get his first chance as interim head coach at Clemson in 2008. His philosophy was all about a team mentality, servant leadership and having a genuine appreciation for every person’s role. His mantra became “All In” by giving everything you have with what you’ve got.

This is what I love about Mike and Eric, who are the owners of Prestige European Auto Service in For Lauderdale. When you ask them what makes a successful shop owner, they will tell you it’s about relationships and being “All In” with everything you do. Eric first came into this business as a 10-year Master tech with BMW and then with Audi for four years. He knew he wanted to own a shop and, through relationships, was able to purchase his first business. He bought an existing Land Rover shop with a mentality that “customers are lucky to have us work on their cars” and that hired low-grade technicians. Eric immediately changed that to bringing the best of the best A-techs to the shop, renovating the shop to create more comfort for this team and customers and, finally, by providing the best customer service possible. Eric was all in as shop owner and technician.

One day, Eric was approached by a parent on his daughter’s softball team who asked, “How hard is it to run an automotive shop?” You can imagine the response that he gave to Mike, who was a successful marketing executive and entrepreneur. Mike started researching new business to branch into that had a strong GP, smart competitive stance and made sense for the changing world in which we live. He had a light bulb moment when he took his car to a shop one day. After the shop spent four hours diagnosing his car, he saw the line of vehicles waiting for service outside and he knew this was a business that needed another look! He found a shop that was for sale and instantly thought of Eric. He knew he wanted a successful relationship with an industry expert to go all in. They looked at the shop together and found that they made a perfect combination for a multi-shop chain in Florida.

Eric realized he needed to get out of the back of the shop and learn more about running a business when he first heard me speak at a Ratchet+Wrench Management Conference and I talked about numbers, percentages and successful business ownership with little talk about actually fixing cars. That was when the light bulb went off for him to know these were skills to be further developed. Next, Mike and Eric jointly decided to go to a coaching program with Aaron Stokes’ group. They tested the group first but quickly realized that this group not only fast tracked them to an even more successful shop, but it was also about the caring relationships formed along the way. Next, they were introduced to Tim Ross the president of Mudlick Mail. Tim introduced them to successful direct mail programs and then to mobile advertising.

What Tim and Aaron provided to them was a true relationship with successful results with fellow business owners and executives who were all in. Due to these relationships, Eric and Mike are all in when Aaron or Tim recommend trying a new way of doing things. That’s part of the success that they have seen with Mudlick’s new mail to mobile campaigns that targets their customers’ phones and increases the times their customers see them. Repetition is the secret to success. If customers see you online, on their phones and then in the mail, you are top of mind. That repetition creates a view that, “They must be great and successful because I see that shop’s name everywhere”.

Mike and Eric again went all in when trying this new program and the results have been amazing. The lesson is that when we create true relationships with employees, vendors, coaches and customers and then pair that with an “all in” philosophy, amazing wins and championships will follow!

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