RWMC Keynote Brian Moak: Authenticity, Vulnerability is the Path to Success

Sept. 22, 2023
Brian Moak, owner of Heart Certified Auto Care in Illinois, captivates Ratchet+Wrench Management Conference attendees with his speech on how being authentic changed the direction and culture of his shops.

The 2023 Ratchet+Wrench Management Conference kicked off on Thursday, September 2, with keynote speaker Brian Moak, owner of Heart Certified Auto Care.

Moak delivered an impassioned address to the attendees about leading auto repair shops from a place of authenticity, starting with themselves. Framing his speech around the masks people wear every day, Moak talked about how he led from a place of ego, coldness and with an iron fist because he believed that’s how leaders lead.

The climax of his speech came when he shared with the attendees that he was an openly gay man and that learning to accept himself as such and allowing others to see him with his mask off was the turning point in his life and business.

“I stopped leading with blame and fear. I stopped believing I had to be a certain way to be successful. I stopped using the word “spouse” when I referred to my husband. I’m a gay man—and a husband, a father, a son, a good boss, and a very successful business owner—across multiple industries,” Moak said.

Once he put down his façade, he restructured his business, hired differently—for traits and not skill—and started to see the masks those in his shop wore. He told the attendees that everyone has something they’re insecure about and that our job is to find people who can help them find footing and get them through.

“People’s differences are not a bad thing. Embracing my team's differences and giving them the freedom to embrace mine actually made us more successful, not less,” Moak said.

Moak challenged shop owners to embrace vulnerability as a strength and not to see it as a weakness. In doing so, they would learn to see their business more strategically and have a different perspective of their team. He encouraged shop owners through his story to choose setting standards over goals because goals have deadlines and standards are ever-evolving and people can continually rise to them as the shop grow—Moak has three locations and 45 employees.

Referring to his team as his most expensive asset—$3 million in annual payroll—Moak said shared how he measured KPI specific to his shop and that he incentivizes his people constantly to get the best out of them.

“We do weekly store competitions for best performance, and the winning store gets a high-value lunch ordered from wherever they want. We incentivize getting name-dropped in reviews by a customer, sales targets, tech production targets, growth targets, and gross profit targets… we bonus on every single lever that gets pulled to generate the outcomes we’re after. This way, the employee feels the success before I do,” Moak said.

He encouraged shop owners to meet with their team members and learn to understand them. Sit next to them at the table and not across from them to remove the feeling of opposition and to do whatever you can to help them reach their potential in the shop and within.

In closing, Moak shared a quote from Abraham Lincoln “Whatever you are, be a good one!” and challenged shop owners to be the best at what they do; if they are, he dared them to keep showing up.

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