Stokes: Onward and Upward

Feb. 28, 2022

The secret to achieving goals.

If you think of achieving a goal as a fulcrum, most shop owners are lifting the goal on their own without expressing their intentions to the team. If you can tell in the picture, the team is looking the opposite way. They're not looking at what the leader is doing. Because of that, the leader is in his own little cocoon—he is by himself and doesn't know that no one will help him. He’s going, “Man, I’m always by myself. No one will ever help me. It’s all up to me.”

Well, the problem is, these owners don't realize they're trying to be the best technician, the best advisor, the best manager, instead of being the best coach. What you really need to do is focus on giving your team the goal. They're strong enough. They weigh enough that they can lift this fulcrum in the photo. In fact, they are able to do more together than you could ever do. They'll probably look at your goal of wanting to hit $1 million in sales this year and go, “No, boss, we’re going to do $1.5 million.” They build a bigger box and make the goal bigger. 

This is where a transition comes into play: The owner is now speaking to his team as the team does the work to lift the goal, rather than the leader trying to do it by himself. This is really difficult for many people. What often ends up happening is the owner finds himself on an island, all alone, still trying to be the best technician or the best salesperson, while their team remains oblivious. They have no clue that you're trying to lift this goal and get this to move up!

Here’s the real ticker on it that I hope convinces you to stop putting yourself in that position: If you can lift the goal by yourself, the goal’s too small. It needs to be a goal that's so big, it takes a team of people to get it up off the ground. What you need to be saying is, how big can we get this goal until it challenges even this group? At the end of the day, you don't make the money in your shop—they make the money in the shop. They are the ones that do the work, the labor that costs success to launch and happen, right? Because of that, they are the only ones that have the power to lift that goal and give it flight and get something so successful that you never knew. 

That means you need to get to a position of coaching. You need to look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself, “I can do it. I’m going to go back out there to the shop and tell the team, ‘Guys, I know you can do this.’” Be fully transparent with the vision, and then act as the mirror, holding it up and going, “Everyone, this is where we are. This is the number we’re trying to hit, and we’re either exceeding, missing or right on target.” Those are the only three yard sticks you ever need to use to measure progress with the team.

But what you do need to be able to do is be upfront with them. You see, you don't screw it up in a day. You screw up over and over and over for six months—that's how you ruin a business. If the new habit is bad for the business, it's going to keep happening over and over. That’s why it's easier to coach just one big mistake where it's super obvious; it’s more schooling. But by that point, it’s too late. The real key is doing it consistently. If you continue to coach, your team continues to get better, the skillset increases, and your team increases, too.

About the Author

Aaron Stokes

A nearly 20-year veteran of the automotive repair industry, Aaron Stokes grew his business, AutoFix, from a one-car garage to a six-shop operation that is widely regarded as one of the top repair businesses in the country. Stokes, the founder of Shop Fix Academy, is an operational guru with a unique business and leadership philosophy that has led his business to great heights.

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