Greenwood: TAP into your future

How to instill in your staff members a positive belief in the opportunities for change.

Progressive shops employ a special business-building process. They possess a positive culture that will create the top 10 percent of shops in the industry and provide careers for the owners and staff that are second to none in the automotive aftermarket.

Do the members of your staff understand and believe that concept is possible?

Today, everyone working in the aftermarket is in a position that’s akin to traveling on a bus moving along a highway to the future. Progressive shops know what is required of them and their teams to reach the destination. However, even many of these forward-thinking shops still have work to do.

Why? Because the body language of some of their staff members and their tone of voice suggests they’re uncertain about the destination or how long it will take to get there. Yet if a team member doesn’t believe in the journey, then you have to let him, or her, off the bus.

The possibility of losing a quality staff member because of a weak one is real, and this is why you must always be on the lookout for top people to join your team.

However, management inertia often slows the journey. In the beginning, when the foundation for future progress is being laid, management tends to focus, with excitement, on what is required. But toward the one-year mark of reinventing a business, owners get discouraged by what it takes to achieve the intended results.

That’s normal, especially when the business is under financial pressure. But management should recognize that it takes time to set the foundation, raise the first floor and then finish out the structure. Realistically, this process requires a two- to three-year time frame. Quick fixes don’t exist.

The key point is that management must fully comprehend, going in, what will be required for the long haul and install a comprehensive support system to get the shop where it needs to go. Management also must serve as a strong role model for the staff to follow every day by communicating the vision, the process and the time frame.

In addition, management must regularly report to staff the progress the shop is making toward its future. It’s important to establish daily labor objectives and billed-hours-per-invoice targets each year. Such information sets a clear structure for the staff to follow.

When management reports to staff in the morning scrum, before the shop opens, and then visually posts results for the previous day and progress for the month-to-date on white boards, employees can better understand the shop’s business objectives.

Daily repetition of those results creates belief in the opportunities for change, as you praise everyone when the team exceeds an objective or discuss why it was not reached and revisit the process to identify solutions. At this point, you can more easily tell which staff member (or members) is not on board.

Implementing those procedures will create what’s called “TAP”: team, accountability and perseverance. Make these three words the foundation of your shop’s journey toward the future as your destination becomes clearly defined.

The bus has left the station. As the driver, it’s your job to ensure that your team is engaged every mile along the way.