Bunch: Why Margin Matters

Aug. 29, 2022

Busyness can leave you with little room in your schedule for the ebbs and flows of life or time for yourself and others. Learn to add margin into your schedule for a more fulfilling life in and outside of work.

If you are reading this article, congratulations! You have some degree of margin in your life!  I am not talking about profit margins, labor margins, or parts margins, although those are very important when it comes to running a successful business. I am talking about margins in your time. Thousands of shop owners have a stack of Ratchet+Wrench magazines in their office but never have time to read the articles. They know there’s a better way, but they don’t have the margin in their lives to explore what those options are. 

As a busy shop owner and coach in our industry, a common question arises, “How do we reach the folks working so hard ‘in their business’ that they don’t even know that help is out there and there’s another way?” 

Seven years ago, I remember driving in Denver with my wife and my vice president. We had just left the building where we were looking to open our fifth location. The question came up of how we were going to find the time to complete all the tasks needing to be done when you open a new store. I remember thinking Warren Buffett has the exact same amount of time in his day as we do, yet he accomplishes so much more in his day than anyone else I could think of. We then began to shift our conversation to who we would need to help with the tasks, and how we were going to train them. 

Everybody knows Warren Buffett is a masterful investor, but I have never heard anybody expound on the fact that he must be an excellent delegator. Warren Buffett can only have accomplished what he has in his life by mastering the art of delegation, training, and accountability. 

A Different Take on a Well-Known Parable

I once heard a teaching on the story of the Good Samaritan that completely blew me away because it highlighted an aspect of the story I had never considered. I continue to think about it on a regular basis. The story is about a man that had been robbed, stripped, and beaten, and was left on the side of the road to die. Multiple people, including a priest and a Levite, walked by on the other side of the road on the way to their next destination and did not help him. He finally got help from a Samaritan who bandaged him up, took him to the next town, and housed him in an inn. The next day, he paid the innkeeper some money to take care of the man until he was recovered, promising to pay any additional costs accrued when he would return at a later time. 

Most people have heard this story and count it as an example of religious people being hypocritical and not helping somebody in need, when the Samaritan, who was not religious, helped a fellow man. Another interpretation is that the Samaritan had a better margin in his life than the other folks. When the Good Samaritan was traveling down that road, he had to have margin in his schedule in order to stop and help somebody. I know I don’t leave very much margin in my schedule when I am headed to an appointment. I would be the one to drive by somebody changing a flat tire and not stop to help, not because I wouldn't want to, or I don't know how, but because it would make me late for an appointment. The Good Samaritan obviously built margin into his schedule, so he had time, and was willing to help somebody. 

Evaluating Your Life

How often do we pack our schedule so full that we don't have any margin to take someone to lunch, pick up the phone, rekindle a relationship, and call to thank our best customers and vendors? The Good Samaritan must have had margin in his life because he had a relationship with the innkeeper and had built trust. The innkeeper would probably not have extended credit to a complete stranger. 

Do we ever create enough margin in our lives to sit in silence, without any electronic devices or outside stimulation, and dream about what we want our lives and businesses to look like in the future? I’m sure I'm not the only one struggling to create enough margin in my life to stop and think rather than continuing to grind day after day and not slowing down enough to think about what we're really trying to build. 

The Good Samaritan also had to have margin in his finances. If he, like most Americans, spent every dollar he ever made, plus some, he would not have had any money to pay the innkeeper to take care of the man he rescued. Do you have any margin in your bank account for your business or finances that would allow you to help somebody, or have money for an emergency?

The parable of the Good Samaritan goes way beyond the idea of a religious and a non-religious person navigating their way through life. I can certainly see myself being one of the people in the story who walked by because I would be headed to some important meeting that I could not be late for and not have time to stop and help somebody in need. 

There are certain seasons when the situation dictates that we work longer hours and grind it out in order to get what we need or meet a deadline. If we’re not careful, that will become a way of life, and we will look back and potentially live with some serious regrets. 

Taking Action

I challenge you to evaluate your schedule and see where you're spending your time. For some of us, we need to train people so that we can delegate. If you're a business owner who wants to create margin in your finances and time, learning the art of time management, training people, empowering them, and holding them accountable is the only way you will ever get the freedom you need. 

Some of us need to delete social media apps and bookmarked news channels and limit how much time we spend in front of the television. Some of us need to make a list of people we know we should spend some time with, then open our calendars and set time aside to call them or visit them. We need to open our calendars for next year and schedule some weeks off. 

I wrote this article for me as much as I did for my readers. I know that I need to be way more proactive in creating margin in my life, primarily within my schedule. I will keep you posted on my journey, and I would love to hear your thoughts. Please e-mail me at [email protected]

Now go pick up that phone or send that text and schedule that lunch you've been putting off.  

About the Author

Greg Bunch

Greg Bunch is the founder/CEO of Aspen Auto Clinic, a six-shop operation in Colorado, and the founder/CEO of Transformers Institute, a training, coaching, and consulting company for the auto repair industry.

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