“I’m looking for somebody looking to learn and grow in our office!”
Standing in the alleyway of the Reno Rodeo six years ago, this was a pivotal moment for Shari Pheasant as she called after the woman riding away on horseback. Back then, as the owner of A Master Mechanic, Pheasant was caught up in the day to day of her shop. The bills, the phone calls, the tax audits, the payroll—it all kept Pheasant from focusing on the areas that would elevate her shop.
And she knew the woman trotting away could be the key.
When Gina Stammers stopped, backed up her horse and responded, “Really? Because I’m looking for something like that,” the shop’s turnaround began. Right then and there in that alleyway, Pheasant decided to forgo her usual three-stage interview process because Stammers embodied everything Pheasant desired from the administrative position. From the six years Pheasant knew Stammers, she had seen her new office manager build relationships on the Reno Rodeo flag team, display kindness when coaching children with special needs on how to ride horses, and exhibit administrative knowledge in payroll law, QuickBooks and human resources in past jobs. Stammers agreed to start immediately at the Sparks, Nev., shop—and six years later, Pheasant can still recall the moment with absolute clarity.
“I said, ‘It’ll be tough at first, but I’ll teach you to run a business from the back end,’” Pheasant recalls.
Today, Pheasant has attained the executive-level leadership she set to achieve by hiring Stammers. The shop owner now manages her shop off-site as Stammers handles a seemingly unfeasible workload for a single administrator, from customer communication to safety procedure write-ups to tax preparation to payroll. It’s a level of work that blows Pheasant away—and a level of work that comes naturally to Stammers.
“I’m very organized,” Stammers says. “If it’s not in the right spot, I freak out. My mom was like that, so I am, too.”
That innate organizational mentality allowed Stammers to immediately begin systematizing everything back in 2012. While Pheasant felt overwhelmed by a 200-line monthly financial report, Stammers came in and not only met Pheasant’s standards, but exceeded them by instituting a cash flow system, organizing the shop’s billing system and gaining control over accounts receivables. Whereas Pheasant got the basic numbers on page, Stammers presented the shop owner with packets, folders, filing systems organized with every number Pheasant needed to gain control over her business financially.
“I have started a binder with everything I do in it and instructions on how to do it,” Stammers says. “How I do QuickBooks, how I do monthly reports, payroll, expenses, details on the P&L. It shows us where the money is going.”
That preciseness has gone on to impress more people than Pheasant. During a sales tax audit last summer, the auditors claimed the organization, preparation and thoroughness was not only the most impressive they had ever seen from an automotive business, but from any business they had ever stepped into, as well.
You can credit that kind of foresight to Stammers’ undying dedication to training and accountability. The biggest critic of Stammers is Stammers herself, so she constantly pushes her capabilities as an administrator by regularly attending customer service training from Pryor Learning Solutions, reading up on QuickBooks updates and strategies, and even taking service advisor classes to help out whenever the service advisors are busy and need help up front.
That level of preparation extends beyond regular items into spur-of-the-moment tasks, such as an OSHA audit that hit several automotive repair shops earlier in 2018. The second Stammers was informed of the visit, she immediately began to research OSHA requirements to prepare the shop. Not only did the shop get everything in working order for the physical inspection, but Stammers compiled every document required by the safety administration to help A Master Mechanic pass with flying colors.
The most impressive part of it all? Stammers not only helped her own shop pass the audit, but several other shops in A Master Mechanic’s NAPA Auto Parts group scheduled with a visit, as well.
“So, the shops that didn’t get hit before we did, they contacted me and asked to come by and know what to expect,” Stammers says. “They looked at our safety and policy plan, and then they all passed, too.”
The day-to-day work is crucial for A Master Mechanic’s bottom line, but perhaps even more essential, in Pheasant’s eyes, is the grip she now holds over her business. Financial reports aside, the kind of organization and confidence Stammers brings to her role has empowered Pheasant to become a better leader for her team.
“I was able to set up standards at our shop,” Pheasant says. “Now every employee can get a handbook and understand our culture and the opportunities we offer them.”