Running a Shop Leadership Operations

It’s Spring Time

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Are you excited yet? This is the time that your shop should step up to the next level, when all the efforts you have put in over the wintertime—all of the new systems and hires—should manifest this spring through summer as we come into the busy season.

The changes you made last year should reveal themselves here in the coming months, and, as things really start to take off, you should be seeing higher numbers. You should see higher car counts and better profit margins. If you don't see higher numbers, then you need to stop and reflect on the decisions you have made over the last 12 months and ask yourself, “why?”  

What did you do during those slow times, in the winter when things weren’t as busy (although, this may not apply to extreme cold climate shops)?

Our businesses should always be building, and each building block is a step to the next level.

If you see yourself jump $20,000 per month in the summer, you are probably not going to fall as bad in the slower months—our highs are higher and our lows are also higher. We need to take advantage of those slow times and make sure we put in the effort to grow our company.

Slow times are when you should employ new people, roll out new systems and ideas—not when you're blown out. When you're blown out, you're leaning those systems to keep the wheels on the bus.

So, the question remains: How do you take advantage of those busier times and grow your shop?

At the end of the day, you have to make sure that your capacity matches the budget you have spent on marketing. If the capacity of your shop and your current team is maxed out, and you increase marketing, you’re going to have to also increase payroll and hire more people.

The cheapest way to grow and make more profit is to not hire anybody and only do more marketing while your company grows. But that also shows that your shop has lots of current capacity, and that you're not really getting everything you can out of it.

The most expensive time to grow is when you're at that sweet spot, when your shop and team are maxed out and there's no more room. You go and market your shop and grow until you think, “Oh, crap, there is no way to do the work,” whether it be service advisors or technicians,  and then you have to go and add those people. You’ll end up in a spot that’s not as profitable, but you have to go through this period to get to the next level.

Once everything is rolling and you've gotten going, at that moment, that's when you are able to look back and say, ‘OK, that was a good idea,” or, “That idea I had? That was horrible.” It’s important to pause and think that way, to avoid tunnel vision.

When trying to track your business, you want to compare this month’s performance to the same month’s numbers of last year. This is how you compare to see if all of your decisions compounded have helped you to grow and to get better.

You will also want to compare your current month’s performance to the previous month’s, considering that’s what sets the stage of what's going on during the current year. You may have had a bad snow storm that rolled over in the current month, or a technician quit. So, you need to know last month’s numbers, as well.

These comparisons can help to predict your shop’s performance going forward.

If we can all reflect and remember that it's a two-fold deal whenever we're trying to grow, and really look at last year versus this year, we’ll be able to see if we made good solid decisions. We can grade ourselves honestly as a leader and as an entrepreneur.

If we didn't, we need to look at ourselves in the mirror and say, “This year’s going to be different.”


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