Mr. Shay shakes his head when a shop owner tells him he's in the business "because I like what I do."
"That has got to be the dumbest thought I've ever heard," he said to a laughing audience at the SEMA Show Nov. 3. Enjoying a job is not an excuse to run a business poorly. He added that having a well-run, profitable, growing business will make the job a whole lot more enjoyable.
If you don't have a business plan, write one out. It will help drive your business.
"As a business owner, I need a vision," he said. "Where will you be in five years? Where in 10?"
He advises those who don't have a solid plan to write one out with specifics and discover their true "bottom line" of what they want out of the business.
He said you will sleep a lot better if you have a cashflow plan.
When it comes to the future, he said, create a 12-month plan covering what your purchasing will be and your profits and loss expectations.
"It is called a budget," he said with a smirk.
Finding good workers is hard to do and retaining them is even harder, but don't just hire anyone off the street, he advises. Spending quality hours training someone who isn't going to be a good hire is a waste of resources.
"The worst mistake you can make right now — in tough hiring times — is being desperate," Mr. Shay said. "If it doesn't meet your mission statement, then don't hire them."
Look for "carrot" people, not "stick" people, and create an incentive plan.
When it comes to building and running a team, communication goes a long way. Mr. Shay said failing businesses often make the mistake of not being straightforward with employees.
If you don't give your employees clear guidelines for how your business operates and what you expect from them, then you are going to have a lot of trouble achieving the goals you have set for your business, he said.
He advises telling your employees in writing how they are doing and ask them for a self-evaluation. It will create a good situation to have a real conversation with your employee about your business.
Communication also is key when it comes to customers. Ask them how you can do better. Do something special for them.
For example, reaching out to previous customers about deals you have coming up or service you know they may need goes a long way to becoming a "my guy."