Lessons Learned

Climbing the Hill

How having someone to give you a fresh perspective can improve your relationships and your business. Recently, I was leading a trail run in Moab, Utah, and came to the first difficult part of the 4×4 rail. The Jeep I was driving had been set up with the best equipment that money could buy, complete […]

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How’s It Going?

If you answered, ‘Good,’ but it’s not, here’s why you should reach out to others. By asking for advice, you might help them even more than yourself. Most of us, as business owners, have “driver” personalities. We will work countless hours to achieve our goals and let nothing get in our way. We focus on […]

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An Inconvenient Truth

Are you adhering to the 300 Percent Rule? If not, here’s why you’re doing your customers a disservice. In the seven years that I’ve been in the automotive repair business, I’ve learned many lessons. One that really hit home concerns inspections. When I opened my shop in 2011, our inspections were not all that great. […]

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The Boss’s Kids

What it takes to succeed when you decide to bring your children into the family business. In a perfect world, as owners, we all dream of running a successful business. We strive to work hard, hire great employees, provide the best benefits possible, have great customers, make a profit, give back to the community, enjoy […]

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Expect the Unexpected

When Mother Nature gets angry, there’s no changing her mind. Common sense says: Be prepared. There are many “horror stories” that take place in the automotive industry. I mean, those that are fanned by media sensationalism. Just take your pick and run with a topic: “Woman accuses shop of stripping oil pan drain plug and […]

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The Need to Refocus

As technicians, you were trained to work on cars. As business owners you need a different set of skills. Being part of a family business offers some comfortable expectations, not least of which is the ability to be married and support a family at a young age. I owe this to the opportunities afforded by […]

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Are Your Customers ‘Family’?

Shop owner offers a poignant example of why his customers keep coming back. I’ve been in this business for a few years, and whether I heard it during a training event, picked it up while networking or just figured it out, I’ve learned that to retain or to acquire new clients you have to build […]

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Sync Up for Success

How ignoring problems in one area can sabotage your shop in every area. In 43 years of shop management and ownership, I’ve made every mistake possible. There was a year when my accountant had to prepare 102 W2s. Imagine how broken my systems and procedures were to go through that many employees in a single […]

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Turning the ‘Job’ Around

What’s the best tool for helping you work ‘on’ your business instead of ‘in’ your business? After selling my business in Buffalo, N.Y., in 2000, I moved to Maine seeking another business to acquire. I brought numerous businesses to the attention of my accountant, who, after reviewing the financials, hit me with a simple statement: […]

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Cheerleaders Welcome

As more Millennials enter the auto repair workforce, managers need to adopt a different leadership style. As a leader, I know a great leader’s traits must be learned. While there are many traits associated with effective leadership, I find that I struggle with one trait most often: the ability to “encourage the heart,” or, as […]

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Great Day in the Morning

How one shop eliminated the hassles of ‘getting in the door’ by setting up their jobs in advance. One of the biggest dilemmas I’ve faced, and solved, as a busy small-shop owner was the stress of getting in the door. This means opening the shop, assigning the work and getting the jobs started, while the […]

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