Today’s collision shop owner is faced with so many challenges that he can no longer consider meeting them alone.
On the one hand, the path within the company is unique to each individual. Sons or daughters of the founder, technicians who have climbed the ladder to finally take over a company with no one to take over, or investors from outside the collision industry, our workshops are run by people with diverse backgrounds.
On the other hand, a sector in effervescence, jostled by technological advances and performance expectations in a context of labor scarcity.
All these factors lead me to conclude that the era of the omnipotent boss is well and truly over. Successful shops are increasingly businesses where the owner has realized that no matter what his background is, he can no longer be the best at everything.
Build the future
This requires a good dose of modesty, I agree. Nevertheless, an entrepreneur who wants to position himself for the future is well advised to stop and identify his strengths and admit his weaknesses. Knowing how to surround yourself is, in my opinion, the key to success. A body shop should not be spending time troubleshooting in the paint room or making calls trying to find a missing part. His role is that of an orchestra conductor, able to supervise all operations.
Welcoming clients, estimates, electronic diagnostics and calibrations, communications with insurers and suppliers, are specialized tasks that require skills he may not possess. It is up to him to identify the elements in his team that are capable of taking on these responsibilities, to coach them and then to give them all the latitude they need to shine.
Empowering staff is also a proven approach to workforce retention. In this period of high worker mobility, showing them that you trust them by giving them certain decision-making powers, regardless of their tasks, is a lever for supporting the feeling of belonging to the company.
In addition, this strategy instills in the entire team the rewarding feeling that it is possible to develop their career within the company.
Take the time to talk and learn about your employees’ aspirations. There is nothing more frustrating for them than to appoint someone from the outside to a position they would have liked to hold, had they been bothered to ask.
Obviously, and I will come back to this in more detail in another column, training is essential to ensure that the people in place have the necessary knowledge and skills to do their jobs. Stop thinking that you will lose your good people if you train them for competing companies. Recent studies show how much an employee, especially of the new generation, will attach to a company that offers a structured training program.
Everyone wants to be relevant, everyone wants the chance to improve.