Two AHA Moments That Changed My Business (and Life)

Years ago, when Tony and I opened our transmission shop, I wanted to learn more about the industry. I grew up respecting and admiring the good people in the skilled trades industry. My grandfather, then dad and brother had a small construction/remodeling business. I knew subcontractors and thought these people were the fixers of the world. There wasn’t anything they couldn’t do.

With my desire to learn more about the automotive industry, I decided to join industry associations to see what the industry challenges were at the time and learn from others.

I was surprised. Other than the stories the speakers used during their presentations. The topics related to the skilled trade industry. You could have had the same presentation with a story of a contractor, and it would have resonated with a skilled trade audience.

Tony was attending technical training classes. I was so excited to tell him what I discovered. I said all the people I sat next to in each class were friendly and helpful. He said that’s funny most people in technical classes don’t talk to one another. We had two different experiences.

I learned so much and I couldn’t wait to get back to implement the things I learned. I tried but got bogged down with the day-to-day. So, I created a list of three things I wanted to implement before the following year’s event.

  • Core Values – Get clear on our core values and non-negotiables.
  • Vision – Be a resource to our customers/community, team, and the next generation.
  • Formalized Systems and Processes – Get it out of our heads to empower our team.

Picture1 Croce May ArtMy AHA moment came when I was working on our core values. I realized “Business is Business” It doesn’t matter what industry we’re in, to be successful business must be separate from you. Otherwise, you created a job for yourself. If Tony and I can’t leave as we need or want to, while our shop still runs, then why are we doing this?

A business must be profitable, sustainable, and enjoyable for it to be successful. Sure, some shops can produce great revenue/sales but at the end of the day they didn’t make much money, or the owner feels like they need be on 24/7.

Try this exercise. How many people come to you for help? I’m serious. How many people need you? Make a list. Then make a list of the people you can go to for help or advice. If the list of people you can go to is small, it’s time to surround yourself with new people. Over the years I’ve met amazing and giving people both inside and outside of the industry, that I can go to for advice. I’m a coach that has a coach and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The next AHA moment is a more recent one. Because of the lack of people coming into the industry, I started looking at the industry from their point of view.

  • What’s exciting about the automotive industry?
  • How does someone move up in this field?
  • What kind of work environment can one expect?

Well, the answers will vary depending on who you ask.

  • Some shops keep up with training and technology and others do not.
  • Some have a plan to develop their team and others do not.
  • Some build a great culture and others do not.

I remember a time years ago when Tony told me that certain techs he knew were intimidated by OBD II and didn’t want to learn the new technology. As a result, the industry passed them by.

Today there are owners who don’t see the value of a website, a shop management system, or to take part in social media and they wonder why they can’t find good help or attract ideal clients. Well, the industry is passing them by. The world has changed and so has the workforce. Some think it’s for the worse. I believe it’s for the better.

Providing training for your team to keep up with industry technology is necessary today. But so is training for the owner/leader and managers. They need management and leadership skills to work with today’s workforce.

These are only two AHA moments that changed my perspective of my business, the automotive industry, and the time I spend working on my business versus in it. This made a significant impact on my life and relationships.

What about you? What are the AHA moments that changed your view of your business, the industry, or your life?

The world is changing. You can resist it or fight it, but today’s workforce will not tolerate working at a business that is run with an iron fist. The quicker you embrace it and learn to become a better manager and leader the better your business will be. You’ll have a competitive edge. Don’t let the industry pass you by my friends.


Maryann CroceMaryann Croce, a certified partner of Todd Herman’s 90 Day Year™, is an operations coach/speaker and creator of ‘3-Day Weekends’ CoachingHer company Small Biz Vantage specialized in performance and leadership development for automotive and skilled trade business owners. She has been an auto shop owner since 1999. You can reach Maryann at (203) 913-7741 or Maryann speaks on achieving goals and work-life fulfillment