Posted on April 26, 2021 by Dennis Snow
I was talking to an auto repair shop owner recently as I prepare to speak at a conference of independent auto repair shops. I was ready for a quick call focused on getting some specific material to include in my presentation. I was NOT prepared for how enthusiastic this shop owner is about auto repair. It was obvious through his words and vocal inflection that he is passionate about auto repair as well as passionate about his team.
After I hung up from our call, I found that I was passionate about his passion! I was charged up to get things done for MY clients. All from a 30-minute conversation about a potentially mundane subject like auto repair and maintenance. Well, things are as mundane or as exciting as we make them. This owner had obviously made the decision long ago that he was in an exciting business – it didn’t matter what anyone else thought. And it clearly works for him because the reason the conference organizers sent me his way is because his car counts and revenue are off the charts compared to other, larger repair centers.
So how does his passion shine through?
How He Talks About His Customers
He clearly loves his customers. His repair center has a “whatever it takes” attitude toward making customers happy. He talked about “meeting customers where they are,” and trying as hard as possible to make things right for them. He spoke of one customer who was insistent on this repair center doing the job even though his broken-down car was several miles away and a closer option would have been much cheaper. His trust was in THIS repair center.
How He Talks About His Employees
He clearly loves his 30 employees. He’s proud of the fact that he has four employees who have worked at the repair center for over 30 years, and he’s just as proud of his newer employees who bring new ideas to the operation. He spoke of how he thinks of his people as family and while this can sometimes sound like a cliché, I could tell in this case it was genuine.
How He Talks About His Leadership Skills
He spoke honestly about a recent employee survey he conducted and how he was surprised by some of the results. There were areas of his performance he thought were strengths, but his people thought could be improved. He outlined to me exactly what he’s doing to make those improvements. I have no doubt he’s making great strides at this very moment.
How He Focuses on Continuous Improvement
While improvement has always been a focus for him, it went into overdrive when COVID-19 hit. Suddenly he had to worry about things like touchless car drop-offs, touchless pay options, etc. He worked with his team in coming up with no touch car drop-offs via a podium set up in front of the center, ways to pick up and drop off cars at customer’s homes, no touch pay options, and other ways to delight customers and keep them coming back even during a tough time. They’ve also instituted scheduling the next maintenance at the conclusion of the current service, much like a dentist office. That sure helps when it comes to predicting future revenue.
He also spoke about how he discusses best practices with other independent auto repair shops and industry experts so that he can keep moving forward. He even has a coach to keep him focused and hold him accountable.
I hope you can see why I was charged up after our call. Nothing about it was fake – his sincerity and passion were consistently on display throughout our call. My guess is that he could write a very good book about his business if he chose to, and that book could apply to just about any organization.
Here’s something to think about: If I were talking with you about your business, would your passion shine through in such a way that it would be contagious?