How well will your tire dealership run without you? If you think it can't survive without your presence, it's time to re-evaluate your management style and philosophy.
Not only are you hampering the productivity of your employees, you're also digging yourself into a hole too deep to escape years from now.
First of all, I meet too many bosses who brag that their automotive service businesses cannot run without them. They crave culling sympathy from colleagues at trade events. They bray that they're risking their business lives by leaving their shops or dealerships to attend a trade show, seminar or association meeting of some kind.
I hate to break the news to these control freaks, but whining that you can't leave your business is no way to win respect and admiration from capable owners and managers. To the contrary, it's really an admission that you need help.
Typically, this whining signals that you're insecure-a control freak who's afraid to delegate. Your fragile ego prevents you from admitting that the crew could run the store without you.
What's more, it's downright inconceivable that your employees might actually run the joint better than you do. Heresy!
In previous columns, I've emphasized that a smart boss knows when it's time to leave the shop or dealership. A boss is truly mature and sharp when he or she recognizes that the managers and service sales staff make more customers happy and earn the business more profits when they're left alone.
This criticism may sound trite or trumped-up to some readers. But it seems that every time I turn around, I'm having another discussion with a store manager, service manager, technician or service writer about a controlling boss who won't let them do their jobs to the fullest of their abilities.
They resent what they perceive to be obsessive scrutiny from the boss, not to mention incessant second-guessing of their decisions and actions.
Sadly, many of these workers admit they've been looking for new jobs; others tell me they're about to begin job searches. Some also emphasize that the stress of coping with the boss' interference has become unbearable at any salary.
The situation is grim when I hear managers and service sales people complaining that the boss' meddling and scrutiny creates far more stress than their routine dealings with motorists does. Simply put, they can't be themselves-be their best-when the boss is constantly looking over their shoulders.
Second, the long-term effects of a controlling boss should be a cautionary tale. Over the long haul, a controlling boss usually attracts and then retains lower-caliber workers who are so desperate for work that they'll tolerate the boss' meddling and insecurities. Or, the owner settles for workers who really do need constant supervision because meeting this need makes him or her feel valuable and wanted.
The end result is a business that may survive but never comes close to reaching its full potential.
Remember that a service shop or tire dealership can't thrive when the unspoken, unwritten rule of law is to protect and nurture the owner's frail ego at any cost. Long term, this situation aggravates employee turnover in an industry that already has too many ``nomad'' workers.
To make matters worse, the combination of controlling boss and needy workers spells disaster when the owner finally decides to retire. Many owners who want to retire have carefully groomed a capable manager or managers to purchase the dealership or service shop and carry on. Suppose none of your children are interested in running the business. If so, the most logical person to take over the reins is a capable manager who's already in house and understands the business intimately. This would be the smoothest transition you could ask for.
However, you may ace yourself out of this option when you're stuck with workers you didn't keep on board based on talent and knowledge. Instead, you're stuck with people you kept around because you could easily intimidate them.
Yes, you're stuck with employees and managers whose greatest skill was their ability to make you feel needed!
Dan Marinucci is a free-lance automotive service writer and former editor of two automotive service magazines.