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Auto Repair Shop Owners: Helping May Not Be Helping


Helping by Rick White, President 180BIZ

I want to talk about helping people. There are basically four ways to do that. So let's talk about the first way of helping, which is not to help at all. Believe it or not. For some of us old folk, that is the way we were taught. We didn't get help. We had to figure it out all by ourselves. And that was both frustrating and liberating because when you finally did figure it out, you felt like a million bucks. But the thing is, and I think there's some validity to this. I think not jumping in right away is a good thing. So, I will suggest using this thought process where you're not jumping in but giving them a time limit. For example, I will give you this diagnostic and I want you to come back in 20 minutes. Give them 20 minutes, half an hour, 45 minutes, whatever you feel is good for your tech.

The same goes for your advisors. I want you to step back and really get that in the beginning. When you think they need help, don't jump in right away. That's the first thing, give them some space to figure it out on their own. But don't give them what I call a fishing license. That's where you put the hook in the water and it doesn't matter how long it takes. You're going to get a fish. Don't give your tech or your advisor a fishing license in a situation. It can take hours and hours and hours and will not help the situation, the technician, your advisor, or the shop.

The second thing is to jump right in and do it for them. That is the worst thing you can possibly do for someone. If you jump in and do something for someone, what you think you're doing and what they think you're doing are two different things. You think you're going in and showing them how to do it. The only thing you're teaching them to do is when they have a situation come up, they will come to you quicker and ask you to do it for them. When you start jumping in and giving them the answers, doing the work for them, what you're creating is what I call “Daddy Syndrome.”  That’s when they have a problem and instead of figuring that problem out on their own, they immediately come to you. You trained them that way.  You showed them you will fix it for them.

I had a sign on my office door that said, “if you're coming in with a monkey, you should plan on leaving with the monkey.” Because so often they come in with this monkey on their back expecting to give it to you and have you take care of it. This is all about monkey management here. So, the worst thing you can do when you're helping is to do it for them.

The third thing you can do is when you do help them you do it from your perspective. In other words, they have a situation, and you show them your path and how that path goes. I think that shortcuts things and it hurts you in the long run. Because again, we're not allowing them to control this situation. We're not allowing them to own it. We're not allowing them to take responsibility for it. We watch them struggle. Maybe we give them a little bit of time, but then we jump in, and we start giving them information and techniques and tools so that they can do their job. This is what I call “Helping Your Way.” And it doesn't always work. Each and every one of us are a little bit different.

Ultimately I think the best way to help someone is to help them their way,. Let’s think this through for a second. It's to help them their way. It's to step back and ask, how can I help you? Or even better. How can I support you? That’s where you step back and say to them, what are you doing? What's the goal? How are you getting there? How can I help you with it? Give them the opportunity to learn. It's all about empowering. Give them the power to make the decisions, to see the path, and let them learn from it.

We want our team to learn, but we don't want them to make mistakes. But the reality is, if you just keep doing it for them or showing them how to do it, they don't develop the diagnostic legs they need to get through a situation. You know, for a technician, it might be a diagnostic with an advisor, it might be how to deal with a client.

When they come to you, ask what they’ve done so far. How do you see the situation playing out? What would be an acceptable outcome for this? What would be the desired outcome? What would be a blow their socks off their feet outcome? This is what you're looking for. It's their Nirvana, but here's the problem. The problem is ownership. As business owners, as leaders, we have a hard time not being in control. And I'm here to tell you now that as an effective leader, you're always in charge, but you should never be in control all the time. Because if you're in control all the time, you have nothing, but little drones working for you. But if you stay back and let them control it, you end up with a self-directed self-motivated team who knocks it out of the park for you.

Take care. God bless, stay safe, have some fun and go make some money of money.


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