About mid-morning, I received an email message from a shop owner, someone I don’t know well but have crossed paths with a few times. He’s a very nice young man who honed his technical skills at a dealership and ventured out on his own about six or seven years ago to start a business.
The first time we met was at a seminar I presented for a local association he belongs to. We connected because we have a lot in common. Our career paths have been similar in that we left dealerships to open our own stores. We also have strong technical backgrounds and enjoy the challenge of solving difficult problems. He’s still working on car problems; I’m focused on solving business problems.
The reason he contacted me that particular day was out of frustration with problems in his business. His message started with, “As I was planning my day and trying to figure out how to get everything on my list accomplished, I realized I’m probably not utilizing my time correctly.” He went on to describe the things on his list for the day:
Sounds like a busy day to me. And not on his list were all the unexpected “fires” that he’ll have to extinguish throughout the day. His message came at the start of a Wednesday, and he had already been putting out fires. The previous day he’d had to apologize to two upset customers – one because work on the car was not completed when promised, the other because the customer was not contacted with an update as promised.
The frustration in his message continued because of several diagnostic jobs that had not been looked at, a truck waiting for the correct parts to be delivered and two prior deliveries of parts that were incorrect. He also had three vehicles on the lot waiting for major repairs, and the shop already was scheduling work for the following week. He concluded the message, writing, “There isn’t much we can do to control the workflow, maybe it’s just the way it is?”
All of what this shop owner described is the result of a lack of process. Processes prevent these points of frustration. Anything in your business that frustrates you, frustrates your team members or disappoints a customer is an opportunity. Identify the points of frustration, and you’ve found your process improvement opportunities. Implementing processes in your business allows you to manage the tasks necessary to deliver a consistent outcome.
Oh, and my reply to the shop owner? “It does not have to be that way.” Don’t miss my next blog on how to start working on processes for his store – and yours.
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