Trust the Process (But First, Create One)
Daily work in the shop is all about the formal process. The customer service rep has a check-in process for new vehicles. The techs perform service based on a formal checklist so that the job is done right. In the quick lube world, there's often a call-and-response system to vocalize that process.
Why should managerial processes be any different?
One thing that Cecil Bullard teaches is making things formal. Write it down. He says that if it isn't written, it doesn't exist. Bullard is the CEO of the Institute for Automotive Business Excellence, and he says that the creation and documentation of a formal management system is one of the first steps to getting on track.
One big result? Employee retention.
“We have a lack of available people to fill jobs," he says. "If we have a system and a process in play, then my employee is more likely to be successful than if we wing it, because they're getting the feedback, and they're getting the management that they should to help them succeed.”
The system includes a written vision for your business, as well as managerial strategies to keep employees on target. But it doesn't stop there. After meeting with employees, document that interaction and review it with the employee to make sure everyone is on the same page, Bullard says.
Even have the employee sign it, signifying that there's no miscommunication.
“We assume the other person knows what we want from them, and that’s a huge mistake that causes a lot of anguish and a lot of problems,” Bullard says.
It's an exception for managers and owners to "wing it" with their management style and expect growth, he says. This is true for the same reason that automotive service follows strictly guidelines. It makes sure everyone is being accountable and following the steps.
“If you’re flying by the seat of your pants, you’re more likely to be inconsistent in what you expect and what they think you expect," Bullard says. "And you'll have a lot more frustration and therefore a lot more anger and you’re less likely to keep that employee over time.”