Lead Fearlessly

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Here’s the lesson of the month on what it takes to be the best of the best: As owners, we have to make decisions that are not always popular with others and we need to stop making these decisions out of fear.

This lesson came to me while I was attending an industry meeting with successful owners. While there, I kept seeing examples of decisions that were made based on fear of how it would affect others. 

One example was many owners talked how they were making the necessary increase in labor and shop supplies, which resulted in needed increases in revenue and no issues with customers. After multiple statements of the big difference this change had made in their businesses, I heard kickback statements like, “I can’t charge that much in my area or my customers won’t buy at that price.” These are fear statements. These were said by owners who had not even implemented or tested it. As a leader, the questions you ask should be about how to make it happen now, and not whether or not it will work for you. Figure out how to make it work—stop trying to think of ways it won’t work.  

Another case of this was shop owners discussing what they were doing to cause huge car counts. This brought up questions about how to get customers to come in. The owners who were successful with this laid out their advertising plans that created the needed car count and improvements in call conversions. Then, owners with low car count started offering reasons why spending more on advertising would hurt their profits. Really? I guess that means they’re happy with the number of customers they currently have. They had rebuttals for reviewing calls and training on call conversions, too. “My manager won’t follow that phone procedure,” or, “I know my managers answer the phone right away.” These comments came from people that don’t listen to calls every day, so they don’t really know what’s happening. 

The third example that blew my mind was employees controlling the decision on pay or equipment because owners were afraid their employees would leave if they didn’t do exactly what they wanted. I heard actual conversations where shop owners say that they wouldn’t buy a cost-effective piece of equipment because their techs “wouldn’t like it.” Instead, they were buying top-of-the-line equipment that cost thousands of dollars more because of their technicians’ preferences—even though the cost effective piece works just as well. The issue here is not the equipment, or the cost, it’s the mindset. 

Who is the owner of these shops? Shop owners need to start making the best decisions for their shops and stop making decisions in fear. Research and find the truth. Then, once you’ve made your decision, find out how to sell your team on your decision and how to provide training and proof.  

I’ve been in situations like this myself, trust me. Last month, a manager threatened to leave unless he was paid a certain way. I did some research to see if there was a valid point but decided not to change, since it wasn’t the best call for the business. Guess what? The manager is still there and is now happy because we figured out what really needed to be addressed.

Sometimes we have to make tough decisions that are not popular. The best owners take time to research, find the truth and make a decision without fear of what others will do or say. If you’re having trouble doing this, talk to others that have gone through a similar issue. Surround yourself with successful business owners that have figured out how to make things happen. You became a business owner by having the tenacity, confidence and risk-taking that few humans can replicate. Don’t lose it now! 



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