Stokes: Checking the Scoreboard

Sept. 21, 2023
It’s time for shop owners to review their 2023 progress against this year's goals in order to finish strong heading into 2024.

October is a great time to review the business decisions you made earlier this year and ask yourself if they were smart, and if not, to do something about it. If you made some great decisions and they're doing really well, now's the time to throw gas on that fire. If you made some bad decisions, now's the time to pull the plug; don't keep pushing it.  

Take Inventory 

Think about every new thing you've tried. If it starts doing well for your company, it does so with little effort. So, if you're trying something and it’s requiring a lot of effort, you need to pause and ask yourself is this what you need to be doing. Is this where you need to keep pushing the company? I would also ask you to review and say, "What was the goal?" If the goal was to do X revenue and X amount of profit in X amount of hours, alright, let's look back on the past nine months and truthfully ask ourselves if we hit that. As we've entered into October, if we were to really being honest with ourselves, can we see if that's what really has happened? Otherwise, if we look at October, and we go, "Wait a second. Here we are in the the fourth quarter. The first three quarters, we really haven't done what we wanted to get done. We're behind the goal. We wanted to do $2 million and racks are tracking $1.8 million.” So what do we have to do for the next three months to get back on course? How can we get back on the path to success over these next three months?  

Take Responsibility 

A lot of people will say that's too extreme. It's not possible. But people do it all the time. It starts by being honest with yourself and looking within and saying, “You know what, I screwed up this month. I did something wrong.” If you’re able to pause, dig deep and look inside to admit that, then you can say, “Alright, how do we do the right things to get back on track?” So the goal here is not to save this quarter but to set up next year for success. The only way that's going to happen is if we're focused on where we've gone wrong in the past. Let's not wait until January 1 and look at last year and go, “Oh, man. We missed it. This summer was supposed to be huge and it wasn't. We just couldn't tackle it. I don't know what happened." Instead, look right now and say, “It’s nine months in and the market has spoken. This ain't working. Let's stop doing this.”  

Take Off 

It takes a lot of courage to stop doing something. Most owners are always willing to try something new, very few are willing to stop things that aren’t working. The only way that happens is if we use the last nine months as a compass. Let's get our company back on track, whether it's marketing or accounting, by digging into QuickBooks and saying, “Oh, our technician costs went way up in May or went way down in March." That's how you're able to discover when you lost a technician. When you added a technician. When you added a service advisor. When you took one away. When you added a parts manager. When you took one away. You're able to see all these little changes, like when you added marketing or took it away. You can see how it affected the company. You’ll then say, “Oh, man. We pulled back on marketing and revenues dropped. That wasn't a smart decision. Let's crank it back up now.”  

We need to look within, see everything and admit either our failure or success—and then adjust. 

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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