As business owners and managers, we all want our collision repair business to succeed, but sometimes struggle with knowing how to accomplish this. So many factors can go into making a business work. When you strip away all the layers, you ultimately have a core consisting of a team of happy, hardworking and motivated employees and leaders. The other day I came across a very interesting TED talk with HR specialist and consultant Patty McCord. In this talk, she broke down happiness within a company into eight simple lessons. These lessons can give us an excellent guide to follow as owners and managers in the collision repair industry.
Lesson 1: Your employees are adults.
Employees, managers, owners, insurance company personnel, jobbers, etc. all are just adults trying to make ends meet. We all have our own set of joys and struggles. We need to understand and treat each other with this in mind. This also means treating them like they are capable of functioning and making decisions as adults. We should not micro manage them so closely that they feel like they are back in childhood again, with so many rules that they cannot make smart creative decisions on their own. You would be surprised what a little freedom within a company can do to employee morale.
Lesson 2: The job of management isn’t to control people, it’s to build great teams.
As a manager, I am always looking to build my team of employees into one where communication happens and motivation to accomplish outstanding work happens among the workers and not just from me telling them what to do. Every month we try to provide lunch for the team. During this time, I can tell them any changes that are happening within the shop and upcoming expectations. It is also a time where the whole team can get together and socialize for a bit. This sense of community leads to great teams and having a team that is better at all the intangibles customers look for in a collision repair facility. This is key to a strong business. As McCord states, “Customers are really happy and those are the metrics that really matter.” My goal when my shop provides customer service is not just to be good, but we strive to be great every time. Our customers know that we do not settle for anything less. You should not either. This lesson reminds me of the commercials that AT&T currently have on tv when “OK just isn’t enough.” We need to plaster this everywhere in our shops, because OK just isn’t enough! It all starts with great teams.
Lesson 3: People want to do work that means something.
The collision repair industry has a problem. The gap between experienced technicians and new technicians is growing increasingly larger. I feel like our trade is not shown enough respect. Children growing up don’t hear the words, “Oh, you should go into the collision repair industry.” They hear about the professions of doctors, lawyers and teachers. While these are wonderful professions, we need to reach into the community and let the future trades people know that jobs such as ours are meaningful, too. We make customers happy by restoring their personal property that they worked hard for. When a new technician is hired by our shop, we need to be the type of collision repair facilities that not just offers a job, we offer an experience into the ever changing and exciting world of collision repair. This can make our industry great!
Lesson 4: Everyone in your company should understand the business.
As managers and owners, we need to make sure everyone knows the goal of your company. After all, it is the cornerstone of your success. I feel this point is missed a lot. We focus too much on the how, what, and who. We forget the why. This lesson is very important because as a team we need to be on the same page. If we are all on the same page about the “why,” then we are going in the same direction to be successful.