Always Be Prepared!

We’ve all heard this phrase ever since we were kids. In its simplest form, the understood takeaway was if you plan for unseen circumstances, it won’t catch you off guard, and therefore won’t be an emergency. In the automotive repair industry, this could mean ensuring the onboarding of a new employee includes how to conduct themselves safely without risk of injury to themselves or others. It could also mean having emergency contact numbers of contractors for when drastic issues arise — the aftermath of bad storms, equipment failures, or losing internet connectivity. But what about what we can’t foresee? What do we do in those times?

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How to Plan for What We Can’t See Coming

You may be thinking, “What could arise that I haven’t thought through or planned for?” Local news and social media are more than happy to fill us in on those situations. Over-the-top customers who are having their worst day while in a retail environment is one example. Employees whose personal situations have gotten the best of them, and now you’re living their tribulations with them.

How about things we’d never see coming — a passerby losing control of their vehicle and taking out a wall, windows, doors, or anything else. Finally, let’s not forget about acts of violence. All of these require our best composure and ability to handle the situation at hand, regardless of how off-the-wall it is.

Control Your Emotions

We’ve all seen videos on the internet of a situation made worse by someone with the wrong attitude or inability to calm the situation down. The not-so-obvious downside of looking at that scenario is we weren’t there, and there is a high probability that those involved didn’t see themselves being in that situation either. Emotions, for better or worse, will come over us. Keeping those emotions at bay, especially when our employees are right there to witness what the outcome will be, is paramount. Much like kids are affected by parents in an argument, and then an explanation of what transpired and what went wrong (including taking ownership of what was negatively contributed), the same is true in your auto repair business.

Our staff looks to us as leaders for answers on how to handle the situation. If we give off a vibe of being in a frenzy, not being able to collect our thoughts calmly to produce a plan of attack, we’re not the leaders the team needs. This position calls for the same mentality first responders must have when arriving at a catastrophic scene. They don’t go running into burning buildings off the bat. The team leader assesses the severity of what’s going on, who goes where, and what gets done in what order, and keeps the team on task the entire time.

Use Your Resources

It’s not a bad idea to use your resources by seeking out literature and maybe even courses on how to diffuse situations in today’s world. It will give you a leg up when the time arises, and again, preparedness is key. Teachers, psychologists, first responders, and others all have some degree of training in this area. If you know someone in fields like this or others, I recommend asking them what resources are out there. If you perceive the importance of seeking out training such as this, it will be no different than scheduling a class to learn about CPR.

In the end, the best thing we can do is plan for as much as we can forecast but understand we can’t predict everything. A calm, level-headed approach to whatever we may encounter, prepared or not, will dictate what outcome we have as a team. From there, you set a precedent of how everyone is to conduct themselves and hopefully turn them into leaders as well.

Non-ATI Members: Want to learn more leadership best practices? Start with a shop owner event at www.atievent.com. We have virtual and in-person events, fee-based and free, for both auto repair and collision repair shop owners. Find one near you today!