Entrepreneurship & Business Success Explored
Article by Greg Lobsiger
Reaching out to others for advice can be a great help but it’s more important to learn from the right people. Shop owners should be cautious who to ask for advice.
In Proverbs it says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” It’s interesting to observe which shop owners run highly profitable shops and those who don’t. These two groups have very different characteristics.
The first group contains shop owners who are just stuck in their own world. They have a mindset that the collision repair business is just a very hard business, they work very long hours and hope there is enough money at the end of each month to pay bills. Many times, this group will have a high level of pride, which can be a huge barrier to their success and some even have a victim mindset. When I worked with my uncles from 1985–2000, we fit this group to a T. The cost of too much pride is incalculable.
The second group contains the shop owners who have been willing to suppress their pride and have become open to learning from others. There are many folks out there to learn from. One of the best ways is to consider joining a 20 Group. These groups are made up of approximately 20 shops from all over the country and are not competitors of our local markets. They usually meet at a different location every quarter someplace in the country. Most meetings last for two days and travel on each end. Time is spent just diving into the profit & loss statements of each shop, discussing industry issues, employee issues, etc., and often having guest speakers. Some of the shops are extremely successful and some are just learning how to improve their businesses. There are independent groups, and some paint companies have 20 Groups. For me, I have been a member of Mike Anderson’s groups for the last 12 years and the ROI has multiplied many times.
With most of these 20 Groups, you can go to the first meeting as a guest for free plus travel costs, just to see if it might be a good fit for you. Getting away from our shops to work on our business and not in our business is one of the best things we can ever do to improve. Many might be saying, “Greg, there is no way I can every leave my shop for three to four days.” Well, it’s kind of like prayer. When we say we don’t have time to pray, that is when we need to pray the most! Your shop will still be there when you get back, and when you return after a day or two, it will seem like you never left, trust me!
One thing for sure to consider: If you have never attended the annual FenderBender Management Conference, I would highly recommend it. Outside of COVID, I have gone the last five years, and even above hearing some great speakers, I have made some very close friends. Another group to consider learning from are specialty coaches. There are coaches who specialize in Lean thinking, better estimating/negotiations and even coaches who help us with the proper mindset with personal development. Most would be surprised at the number of professionals, whether that be business owners, world class athletes, wealthy investors, etc., who are ALWAYS trying to improve their game in certain areas by using specialty coaches. I personally have invested nearly six figures in Lean coaching and this investment alone continues to compound on an annual basis. I even have a buddy who has invested in coaching on learning how to sell (in a good way). Selling goes far beyond just scheduling a customer to have their car fixed. It can help with dealing with insurers, vendors, our employees and even our families at home. Of course, investing in selling coaches is now on my bucket list!
When it comes to mentors, coaches, and fellow shop owners we network with, we must be VERY careful. Picking the wrong ones can have a very adverse effect on our businesses. I have even seen some shop owners on many of the social media pages pushing their ideas, but after pulling back the curtain, it could just be a bunch of smoke and mirrors. At the end of the day, we must vet anyone we try and learn from. It’s kind of like hiring a Certified Financial Advisor (CFA). We find a person who talks a good game, and they present us with their products that will (possibly) be worth X in the future. They may even drive a new BMW, live in a big house and have an appearance of richness. The question lies in, do they have true wealth, and should we entrust our money with them? CFAs can be like some shop owners we may try to follow; one of the best litmus tests is to ask first for a copy of their financial statement.
Article Credit to Fenderbender.
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