Running a Shop

The Top Three Industry Challenges

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It’s not often that I start writing without a fairly well-defined subject line. In fact, from a purely journalistic perspective, I write backward, starting with a headline and then filling in the story that supports that headline.

Realistically, I’m hoping that subject line will reveal itself as I try to work my way through this idea that keeps bubbling around in my head. The problem is that hasn’t happened quite yet.

Instead, I’ve been haunted by what is quickly becoming a new, loosely formed project focused on the needs of the repair community and the role we—all of us—can and should play in the future of the industry we serve.

This is not something I’ve just started wondering about. Our lack of unity has haunted me from the moment I first picked up an end-wrench. It’s something I’ve been obsessed with my entire career.

Rather than recognize our failure to affiliate, instead of speaking with one voice, we raise our voices as individuals or through our countless affiliations. Everyone wants what everyone wants, and the result is babble. The air is filled with noise and as a result nothing gets accomplished.

Let’s try something new. Let’s identify the three critical challenges you feel we face both as individual shop owners and as an industry. The three critical challenges that, if addressed, will forever change your current reality.

I’m not sure there is a difference. I’m not sure the challenges we face as owner/operators are different or can be isolated from the challenges facing our industry.

I am trying to determine if there is a de facto, generally accepted and agreed upon hierarchy of issues plaguing our industry, inhibiting us from achieving our fullest potential. Are there three things we can all agree are significant enough to warrant our time, our energy and our effort? And, are there three things that can be fixed?

I believe we can identify three things all of us can agree needs to be fixed. If I’m right, one critical challenge will float to the top. It may be first on your list and third on mine, but it will appear somewhere on the majority of responses we receive.

Can you imagine the power in that? Can you feel the energy and resources we could bring to bear on that one singular challenge?

I’m starting here because this is the most accessible community available to me and because it is the most diverse and, yet, the most singular of purpose. And, of course, because it is mine.

I’m hoping that you will respond with the three single most bothersome, most distressing, most critical challenges, issues or obstacles you feel must be addressed before we can move forward as individuals or as an industry.

My guess is, regardless of the number of specific issues you are able to identify, three will ultimately bubble to the surface and, of those three, one will give us the focus we will need as an industry to come together and address them.

I believe those three issues will help clarify where our industry and our associations can and should focus their resources to provide the most value and achieve the greatest benefit for the greatest number of shop owners. Perhaps it’s a way our associations can provide a clear and obvious reason to join

I’m starting here hoping to involve those of you who are not now affiliated or have never been affiliated.

We need to know if there is a disconnect between what we know or believe we know (as those who are affiliated and involved) is best for the industry and the challenges the great majority of unaffiliated shops believe they are facing and where they need the most help.

If there is, we need to align those beliefs to attract the greatest number of individuals to join together under one banner.

If the three challenges that float to the surface are universal to all, we must identify exactly what it is we have to do to attract and include the greatest number of shops we can in the future of our industry.

So, here it is: What are your top three concerns? What are the top three nightmares keeping you up at night? What are the top three things that if removed would change your life: your future, in a host of powerful and positive ways?

Share your top three with me and I promise to share the three that float to the surface with you and the rest of the industry as soon as a pattern emerges.

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