Auto Shop Coaching Blog

How To Get More Done With Less Effort

Charles Schwab was the Jeff Bezos of 1918. He was one of the richest men of his day, and the president of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, one of the largest producers of Steel during that time. Yet, despite being the “top shop” of his time, he felt something was missing in his business.

He scheduled a meeting with Ivy Lee, a well-known productivity consultant. He asked Lee to show him how to get more done with less effort. Lee agreed to meet with each of Schwab’s key executives for 15 minutes.

“How much will this cost me?” Schwab asked. To which Lee shockingly replied, “Nothing, unless it works. After three months, you can send me a check for whatever you feel it’s worth to you.” Three months later, Schwab was so happy with the progress that resulted from Lee’s meetings that he wrote Lee a check for $25,000.

A $25,000 check in 1918 would equate to $400,000 in 2021 currency! (Which is just enough to fill up your SUV gas tank!) This story proves that there’s value in the ability to get more done with less effort.

Motor Supply Co | Driven to Save

What’s Important?

When I ask a shop owner about updating the portal, the number one objection I get is, “I don’t have time.” When I ask a service manager about sending the digital inspection photos to the customer, the number one objection I get is, “I don’t have time! “When I ask a service advisor about making follow-up calls, what do you think the number one objection is? That’s right, “I don’t have time.”

Here’s what’s interesting: Some of these individuals are cigarette smokers. A survey concluded that smokers in the workplace spend up to five hours per week taking cigarette breaks. So, how is it that they have an extra five hours per week to smoke but no time to follow your processes?

It’s because smoking is a priority for them. So, the Twiggs Translation for “I don’t have time” is, “this isn’t a priority for me!” Here’s the cold, hard truth: You will find the time to do whatever is important to you.

Ivy Lee helped Schwab’s team to establish priorities and find time to do what’s important. Keep reading as I explain exactly what Lee taught the executives. If you apply what I’m about to share, you’ll get more done with less effort.

Your Big Six

Lee instructed Schwab’s executives to make time at the end of each day to write down the six most important things they needed to accomplish the following day. They were then instructed to prioritize the six items in order of importance. Finally, any unfinished tasks were moved to the next day’s list for completion.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Great information Twiggs, but this isn’t 1918. So, what priorities should I establish in my shop today? “I’ve discovered that the best shops in America are strong in the following three areas:

  1. Finding great employees
  2. Improving gross profit
  3. Networking with new and existing customers

The key is to identify and execute at least two tasks per day every day in each category. (2 tasks X 3 categories = Your Big 6)

Your Big Six in Action

At the end of your day today, identify two tasks from each category to be done for tomorrow. For example, to find great employees, you’d write, “update technician ad” and “schedule interview with the technician applicant.” (Yes, I do recommend doing this even if you’re fully staffed!)

To improve gross profit, write, “Do the RO Audits” and “update the ATI portal.” (You can’t manage what you’re not measuring.) Under customer networking, write “Update the Google My Business post” and “make five follow-up calls to existing customers.”

In one week, you will have taken ten specific actions to find great people, improve gross profit, and network with your customers (2 actions per day X 5 days.) In three months, you will have taken 120 specific actions in each of these key areas of your business (10 actions per week X 12 weeks =120).

Initially, you may find it hard to identify your big six items. However, once this becomes a routine, it will require less effort, and you will get more of the right things done each day.

Do Not Stress

Have you ever met a stressed-out farmer? The reason you haven’t is that he knows that he’s planted the right seed into the right soil during the right season. He is responsible for the sowing and not the harvest. Therefore, if he does his part, he has no reason to be stressed.

Executing the big six is like planting the right seed into the right soil during the right season. Over time, you will get more done at your shop with less effort and experience less stress. Your customers will be so happy with the experience they will treat you like Ivy Lee by writing you a big check!

Non-ATI Members: At ATI, we focus on teaching and coaching shop owners on best practices to get the most out of your automotive repair business. Want to learn more? Find an ATI shop owner event near you.

Print Friendly
Related Articles:
Eric, the Accountability Coach, is an Executive Coach at ATI and has coached since 2009. Eric came to ATI having managed over 60 different automotive repair facilities and having supervised over 500 employees at a given time. He loves seeing members progress beyond what they thought was possible and improve their shop to the point where they can leave for weeks at a time and come back to a business that's better than when they left.