Most of us sleep with a great coach; however, if you won’t listen to him or her, let me give you some suggestions before you hire a coach. I can save you time and money when you choose a coach, so let’s begin with “why?” Whether you want to stay the best shop owner or the best athlete, remember you are in the game, and you can’t see the whole field or the big picture when you are in it. As the famous Earl Weaver, manager for the Baltimore Orioles, once said, “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”
We all have blind spots, and a good coach will enhance your strengths and reduce your weaknesses. Successful athletes, shop owners, CEOs and actors all have coaches.
If you want to increase profits, the right coach could decrease the time it would take you to achieve greater profits while reinforcing what many owners need to hear, which is that it is OK to make money in your business. If you are comfortable and just want more free time, a coach can work with your employees and keep an eye on your money while you are on vacation, plus help you grow your second in command. Most owners have difficulty transferring their own skills because they have never been trained to teach. If you are in a slump and stressed out, a coach can help you make the right decisions, which might be impossible for you at the time. A good coach has been sitting in the middle of a bunch of shops talking to owners, making him or her a great clearinghouse of information.
If you don’t like change and just want things to stay the way they are, you really need a coach because this industry is changing rapidly. I know, based on my 40 years of working in it! If you don’t like change, you might have developed a bad habit of not taking anyone’s advice, including the coach you sleep with, who probably knows you better than anyone.
I can tell you that I would never have been able to grow my business to where it is today if it were not for my three coaches. I am guilty of all the above and fought hiring my first coach until about 10 years ago. I rarely listened to my wife, and that was a big mistake as well! Today, there is not any important decision I make without asking for advice. I also have seen tens of thousands of shop owners accomplish things with a coach’s help that they never thought possible and in less time than they ever imagined. We just don’t know what we don’t know!
What Kind of Coach Should I Hire?
You want to hire a coach who works for a company that guarantees results. Then you want coaches with at least 18 to 20 years of automotive management experience. They need to have walked the talk and understand what exactly it takes to be successful in an independent repair shop.
I have seen many well-intentioned accountants that understand accounting extremely well but know nothing about automotive service, so they make many mistakes on operational practices. Because your problems might move from finance to sales to hiring to advertising to marketing to management to leadership, what do you think the odds are a coach could be an expert in all of them? Slim, right! So, you want a coach that works with coaching and training specialists in the same company so they can fix your entire operation, not just one part of it. This way, your coach can seek advice from their specialist or head coach to bounce strategy off of, before you implement a strategy.
Don Shula, the coach with the most wins in the history of the NFL, was a proponent of overlearning. He made his players constantly practice until they were perfect. Because you need hands-on training to become perfect, you want a coach connected to a school where specialty trainers can teach you accounting, finance, sales, marketing, recruiting, advertising and leadership, just to name a few. One of the greatest football coaches, Vince Lombardi, said, “Leaders are made, they are not born.” You can’t practice over the phone and there are too many distractions on your shop floor.
Most importantly, because you will need tune-up training in every category every year for you and all your people, make sure the training is unlimited and all-inclusive. If you pay a la carte, you never will buy enough training and you will overpay for the training. Classroom training also should include food so you don’t have to waste time finding it on your own. Plus, without a coach to hold your people and you accountable to the training, your training dollars will be wasted.
You also want a coach with lots of experience coaching, not just success fixing their shop. The Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback, Joe Flacco, is a great athlete; however, he has no experience coaching other quarterbacks. Most professionals do not realize how they do things and therefore cannot transfer their skills. Successful shop owners are like successful quarterbacks, they might not make great coaches. New coaches need to shadow successful coaches for six months, implementing more than 40 different strategies a week before they are allowed to fly solo. Unless a coach has worked successfully with at least 80 clients, don’t let them learn on you.
You also don’t want a coach with the same personality as you! If you are a directive leader and act fast under pressure, it is extremely important to have a strategic coach to slow you down to make sure you are making the right decision. If you are a strategic leader and overthink everything, causing you not to change very much, a directive coach would hold you accountable and make you take action. So, even though we like buying things from salespeople like us, when it comes to coaching, an opposite personality will be more effective at getting you to make the right decision. A good healthy debate is almost always productive.
Finally, you want to hire a coach with a proven track record of success in the field both as a practitioner and as a coach. They should be coaching lots of clients, so talk to as many of their clients as you can to ensure they will fit you and your business.
What to Look For in a Great Coach
You want a coach that is assertive and will hold your feet to the fire. A good listener, one that cares about your success and can think outside the box to help you. A good coach will always tell you the truth even if you don’t want to hear it. So you want someone that you can trust with the keys to your business, or you will make very little progress. Someone that will believe in you more than you believe in yourself. One that keeps you in balance and focused, gives direction and encouragement but stands on principle, knowing what works and is workable for you. Duke University’s basketball coach, Mike Krzyzewski, once said that the thing he liked the best about coaching was when he got to see a person exceed their limits.
Sometimes a coach has to be a confidant and a friend because 50 percent of the time the problem can be more of a personal nature, and we all know what those problems can do to us on the job.
Because coaching involves change and change contains seeds of fear of the unknown, your coach must be fearless and infect you with that fearlessness.
Also, look for a coach with a boss, a head coach and interview their head coach. Your coach needs to be held accountable for your satisfaction and return on investment. You might want a second opinion or want a coach change to someone stronger in the area you lack the most, so work with a company that has lots of coaches to choose from.
This leads us to your board of directors, which every successful business has in place. You might not think you are big enough. But if you join a 20 Group of successful shop owners, they can give you advice like a board of directors. In Napoleon Hill’s book “Think and Grow Rich,” he comments that highly successful people spend time with highly successful people. The problem with many training companies is that they sell twenty group memberships to anyone who can pay the fee.
But you only want to be part of a group that is highly successful; otherwise, you will get lousy advice or none at all. And the 20 Group should be included in the coaching fee. Great 20 Groups are made up of shop owners that have been trained and coached and are successful. If this doesn’t describe your group, you will wish you had never joined when you realize you are not growing, unless you just like to teach others and your growth is not important.
Finally, you need a training and coaching company that will create a five-year roadmap to get you where you want to go and will help you make the investment monthly in a total plan, so you don’t have to shell out the money all at once or load up your credit card.
In summary, coaching can be an effective tool for accelerating learning and dramatically improving performance across a wide range of skills that benefit both the individual and the organization.
Are You Coachable?
This leads us to the ultimate question: are you coachable? As much as the coach you sleep with would be in doubt based on their futile attempts, most of us are coachable by the right coach. The question is, are you ready to make change happen, and by that I mean change yourself. If not, save your money until you are ready to change.
I have seen shop owners that are not coachable at this time in their life. Either they won’t change or they only implement part of the coach’s suggestions and then blame the coach. Most of us don’t want to take the blame even though we have the ball, so we blame the coach. The trick is, can you break out of that pattern, take responsibility and keep trying until you get it. Remember, coaching is “a we do it with you, sport, not for you.” If your coach has hundreds of successful clients, yet you failed, do you really think it’s their fault? I bet the coach wouldn’t give up on you if you would just admit you couldn’t or wouldn’t do it. A great coach would hang in there with you!
Download Free Bonus Training Offer
Most of us are sleeping giants, and with effective coaching we can accomplish everything in life we have not yet succeeded in. So, if you want to see whether you are coachable, for a limited time you can download an “Are You Coachable?” test at www.ationlinetraining.com/2014-01e and find out for yourself or for your manager whether an investment in a coach is for you or not. This test could make you or save you a lot of money. You could also give it to someone that you think needs coaching to see if they are coachable at this time in their life. Everyone needs a coach. The question is, are you coachable, or have you decided to stop growing?
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