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How Do Auto Repair Shop Owners Win the Pay Raise Battle?



Battle by Rick White, President 180BIZ (Estimated Read Time 4 minutes 54 seconds)

We've been talking about pay plans and increases and when to do them. I just did a Pocket Business Genius webinar about When Should You Give a Raise that was well-received and if it's something you want to get ahold of, click on the link.

I can't tell you the number of shop owners that I talked to that have problems with what they're paying people. And it's not that they're paying them too much. The battle is this. Maybe you feel like you should be giving a raise. Maybe you're saying, “It's been a few years and I really haven't done much.” Or maybe they're asking for more money. The problem is that you're not happy with the results you're getting from your staff. You feel like you're paying more than what you're getting back.

I had this interesting conversation a few years ago with a shop owner in Illinois. He said, “Rick, I'm really upset. I have a tech that spends 45 minutes in the bathroom and it's driving me nuts.” I said, “You're not upset about the tech being in the bathroom. Let me ask you a different question. If your tech was producing 65 hours a week, would you care how much time he spent in the bathroom?”

And his answer was an immediate NO. I said, “Then you're not upset about the bathroom. You're upset at the lack of hours. And you haven’t communicated it. You are trying to micromanage what is going on.

If you are not happy with the results that you're getting or with the effort that you're getting from your team, then you need to sit down and talk about it. This is the battle. You want to pay more. You feel like you should pay more, but you’re not getting what you should be getting and having trouble paying the bills. That’s the real issue. It really is. You must communicate about what it is that you're going after. So, really what this is about is clear communication on three things.

  1. GOALS. What should they be striving for? Where are they going? That is incredibly important.
  2. MLAP. There are some shops out there that do a great job talking about goals, and they're still having trouble. I was one of them at one point. I was showing people what a win looked like. But I didn't show what a loss looked like. And that's what I figured out one day watching a football game. This guy got tackled in his end zone and the other team got points. That's a loss. That's what's missing. I'm showing them a goal, but I'm not showing them what the loss is. So, I came up with Minimum Levels of Acceptable Performance or MLAP. Not only do you need to share what a goal looks like, but you must also share the minimum that is acceptable in key areas for each position in your shop. When you do this, you have created a guideline, a framework, a ruler that will allow not only you but them to measure their performance. They will know immediately how things are going.
  3. FEEDBACK. You must give people feedback. You can't be afraid of people leaving. If you are afraid of people leaving and that's stopping you from giving honest feedback on how they're doing, you are in trouble. You are bending over so far backward that you should probably buy a T-shirt that says Welcome on it because you become a welcome mat. You have a business to run. You need to take great care of your people.

You need to do a great job with them and for them. But they have to help you. Most of the time, the reason you're having problems with your team is not that they don't care, and it's not that they don't try. It's because they don't know. They don't know what you have in your head.

There's this psychological term called the illusion of transparency. It’s where you feel like everyone should know what it is you need. Well, I'm here to tell you they don't. I had this talk with my wife when I first met her.  I said to her, “Brenda, I'm a two-by-four guy. If you think it's obvious, you should grab a two-by-four and hit me upside of the head with it because I'm not seeing it.  It's a fact. We can't presuppose that people understand what it is we want and need.

Step back and get rid of your emotional baggage. Get rid of your anger, the hurt, the betrayal, whatever it is you're feeling. Let go of it. Step back and ask yourself, “What do I need from this position?” Set a goal and then set a minimum level so that you're at 10% net profit. This will keep you out of trouble.  Now, a 10% net profit is not great. You will still have cash flow issues, but it is better than what you probably have right now.

 And then use this framework for your goals and minimum levels on these key indicators.  Give daily feedback.

  1. Celebrate what they did great.
  2. Talk about what could have gone better
  3. Discuss what will be different today
  4. And then ask how you can support them.

That's what you need to be able to give increases freely. When your team is in the same boat as you are and they're rowing the same way you are, it's going to be amazing what happens. It's not money that makes that happen. It's communication. It's feedback.

The strongest four words you will ever say to someone are “I need your help.” Say that to your team. “I need your help. This isn't working. I know you want more. I know you deserve more, but what we've got going right now isn't working. Let's figure it out.”

I want to thank you so much for listening. God bless. Stay safe and go create some abundance.

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