I am going to keep this simple: if you're not in business to make a profit, you're not in business. We all know that your business involves repairing and servicing cars. That's how your company generates income. But where is your true focus?
Think about it. As the owner of the business, are you too consumed with the daily operations and finding yourself putting out fires all day? Here's another question: Could you walk out the door tomorrow unexpectedly and tell your staff you'll be back in a few weeks?
Does your business run itself or does it run you? If being in business is nothing more than owning a job, you are not in business for the right reasons. Even though you may love what you do, there needs to be more. You need to be profitable and build your legacy.
To be profitable, your business needs to run on its own without you. I am not suggesting that's easy, nor am I suggesting that you should be inactive in your business. What I'm saying is, your daily focus must be on growing the business and being profitable. I say this often: If your business is not growing, it's dying.
For too many years I wore all the hats. I did everything. I was the service writer, lead tech, shop foreman, bookkeeper, dispatcher and even cleaned the bathrooms. I did this until I burned out and nearly lost my company, not to mention what I was doing to my health.
By 1990, after 10 years in business, I was nearly broke. There were weeks that I did not take a paycheck home to my wife. As a married man with three kids and old fashioned values, that was a humiliating experience for me.
I made a promise to myself never to be that person again.
I began to build systems and hire the right people to run the business with me. I took management courses, read countless books and learned about the world of business. I have remained active in my company, but my role has changed.
My primary role today as the owner and leader of my company is to ensure its success and to work on continued growth. How I lead the company will determine this. Putting the right people in the right positions and training them continuously will help to secure the success I strive for.
Business owners are leaders. All leaders need to have vision and goals. These goals and visions cannot be found under the hood or out in the shop. They're found deep inside your entrepreneurial mind when your focus becomes business.
Once you decided to have your own business, you took on the challenge to build something from nothing and accepted certain responsibilities. And whether you like it or not, you are responsible for the success of your enterprise. This responsibility is not only to you and your family, but also to the people who work for you and their families.
When your focus shifts to working on your business, things start to fall into place. Creating marketing programs and systems, and improving your customer service becomes of utmost importance.
Remember, if you want the best equipment with the best techs performing quality repairs, you need to generate a profit.
The automotive repair business is tough. You need to be compensated for your years of hard work and for your accomplishments. Is it all about profit and money? Of course not. Quality of life, family and building your legacy is what it's all about, and earning a well-deserved profit will help you achieve that.
Joe Marconi is owner of Osceola Garage, an automotive service and tire shop with two locations in Baldwin Place, N.Y. He also operates AutoShopOwner.com, a networking Web site where repair shop owners and personnel can share ideas.