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Auto Repair Shop Owner's Daily Dose 25: Communicating


Communicating by Rick White, President 180BIZ

Today, I’ll talk about communicating. Here's what tends to happen if you start to get stressed out.

  • You get worried
  • You get nervous
  • All you see are challenges
  • You withdraw
  • You get self-reflective

All of this combined puts you into “Just do it” mode. But… while you're busy doing it, everyone around you is freaking out and nervous.  Understand that for all the noise that the news is creating, you need to communicate a message above that. Talk to your team. Talk to your customers. Talk to your community more than the news is talking to them.

Get out there with a consistent message.  And I don’t mean say it once; you must say it every day.  People need to hear reassurance.  They need to see calm. They need to see somebody with a picture of a future that's close by and has hope. You will never be able to communicate too much. Once is not enough. Do it over and over and over and over again.  Communicate every day and multiple times each day.

So, what’s the message?  The message is four-fold.

  1. Communicate EMPATHY first. And this goes for the people that you had to lay off or furlough. Make sure you're staying in contact with them.  You could set up a bonus program for furloughed worker. For example, when they start back to work, you could give a bonus for each course completed while furloughed.

    Don’t mistake empathy for sympathy.  Sympathy is when you go for a pity party and join in.  Empathy, on the other hand, is where you understand how it feels, but you guide toward a solution.  When someone expresses how difficult it is, you can ask questions to guide them toward a better place.  For example, you can tell them that you understand how tough it is.  They ask them what they can be grateful for today.  Ask them how they can make a difference in someone else’s life.  Give them comfort that things will be okay and will work out.
  2. The second thing you communicate is AUTHORITY. Authority is not telling people what to do. Authority is knowing what to do. Remember, I talked about being a leader and what you need to bring to the table the other day. You need to bring a high level of certainty (stability and security) and clarity.

Express your authority with your future vision.  It’s being able to describe what you believe is going to be happening down the road and what your plan is to get there.  Don't be worried if your plan changes. Things change and that's normal. Remember to keep your plan clear and simple. When you get into this long 30-page plan or 15 point item plan, it's too confusing. That doesn't make people feel better. It makes them feel worse. Keep it simple. Keep it to two or three or four things. That's it.

In addition to communicating empathy and authority, you should also communicate, in my opinion, ENCOURAGEMENT, and APPRECIATION. By doing it that way you're going to be upfront, out in the center, letting people know that together you’ve got this. Ask what you can do to help. Let everyone know that this is hard, and you believe in them. They can do it and get through it. When you're talking to people, if they're overwhelmed, get them thinking about today.  What they can do today and what good happened today.  So, follow those four tips, empathy, authority, encouragement, and appreciation.

Tip of the Day.  If you've been following my tips up to this point, you've really been pushing other businesses in your area. You've been tagging them on Facebook; you've been really giving them shout outs. You've been taking videos of yourself going to get food for the team or buying a bunch of pizza pies for the fire department or something like that. Those are all great things to do. Make sure you're tagging the restaurant and you're tagging the firehouse. But as you do this, allow these people to help you. What are some things that they could do for you? What if you had a referral card with the pizza store's name on it and you asked them to give one with every delivery? Just tape it on the box.  What do you think about that? It could work, right? It doesn't have to work for everyone, but someone might see that and come to you instead of another shop.  It will make your shop more well known. So, reach out to the people that you've been supporting and ask if they can support you. It's okay. It should be reciprocal, and you should feel completely comfortable doing it.

Lastly, please share this video. We need more leaders talking. Trust me, I talk all day long about it's okay, we're going to get through this.  Let's figure it out together with empathy, authority, encouragement, and appreciation. So, let's keep going with that.

If you have people that are laid off, you need to be talking to them. Talk to them every day. How are you doing? What can I do to help? Whatever you can do, and let's make it rock.  So, communicate, communicate, communicate!  Right now that's what you need to do. I guarantee what you think is over-communicating is going to be just right for them.

God bless.  Make it an amazing day.


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