Stokes: Reap the Harvest

Oct. 4, 2021

Now’s the time to plan for the future.

There's an old saying out there: Dig the well before you’re thirsty. It’s a saying I’ve repeated a lot lately because of the business climate we’re in. Now’s the time to get your credit lines set up, get your taxes in order, buy some life insurance—get all that stuff taken care of.

I know there are plenty of people who hear that and think, “Aaron, I can’t worry about that right now. I’m short staffed, I’m working the counter—there’s always something to where I can’t get to it.” Well, in my opinion, those people are all busy doing nothing. At some point, you have to pull your head out of the weeds, get a 40,000-foot view of your business and look around. 

I understand that’s hard. I understand you’ve got a lot going on. But, I would encourage you to take your schedule and put less on it. Just put three or four items on it, instead of eight. Because what happens when you put eight things per day on your Google Calendar is you’re always rolling something to the next day. Shoot, I didn’t get that done. So, you move it to tomorrow. Well, then that means something else isn't getting done tomorrow, so now you’re rolling that. The cycle just goes on and on.

You’ll get more done and you’ll get further ahead, trust me. You knock more out. Just get it done, off your plate, on to the next thing. 

You may go, “2ell, no, my business is so busy, I have to do this.” No, you don’t. You feel like you have to do it. You've trained people to depend on you. You've got Dad syndrome going on. They're all going, “Dad, dad, dad!” And that's what you're implying. Leave them alone and let them do it, regardless of how they’re doing it. 

A lot of owners won’t let the business screw up. They don't want anything to go wrong and so they see one little thing go wrong and run over to fix it. The problem, however, is then the team never learns. It takes a lot of courage to let a business screw up, see what went wrong and then go in and fix it. You’ve got to let something go wrong and then let it go wrong again and again, until they screw the whole day up. 

You need to find that tipping point. So you know where that advisor or technician cracks; you know where the problems are in the business. If you can do that and let things go to pot, you can fix your business and find every area it's broken. If you always jump in and you don't let it ever actually materialize, your business will never run without you, which you have to learn to do. 

Once it gets to that tipping point, you can jump in and save it, but while it's going wrong, you're sitting there with a yellow notepad, writing down everything because you're literally getting a tutorial on why your business is operating the way it's operating. From there, diagnose the problems, solve them, and even hire someone to do whatever it is you’re running around doing.

You've got to get all that stuff taken care of so that your company is set up to win without you. That's the best gift you can give your family and your employees. I’m going to get deep for a second: You have kids, wives, husbands, depending on you. You have the responsibility to get your life together. Whatever else you have going on is not as important as setting up your business for the long-term. That’s why I’m telling you: get that life insurance now, clean up your building, figure things out with the bank. Now’s the time to get the whole parking lot cleared out and get rid of those transmissions and engines you’re never going to do anything with. If you’re unhealthy or it’s too expensive to get some forms of insurance, build it into your business and raise your labor rate by $3 per hour.

Do what you need to do because money’s flowing right now and there will be a day where the seasons change. Everyone has to remember that. There is a winter, there is a spring, there is a summer and we’re all in the harvest right now. But what comes after fall? Winter. Don’t let it catch you off guard.

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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