Auto Shop Coaching Blog

Three Things You’re Missing By Not Having Meetings

“A small spark can start a great fire.”Emmet Fox

“I don’t need to have meetings, because I talk to my people throughout the day.” If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard this, I’d have about twenty-one dollars! But seriously, I’m amazed at the number of shop owners who resist the routine of regular meetings.

As I reflect on the importance of this habit, I’m reminded of an incident that occurred when I worked as a consultant for a national automotive service chain.

I was sent to visit a shop located in Paramus, New Jersey along with a team of company consultants, regional managers, and vice presidents. The employees were so unhappy with the shop leadership, they called the local labor union with the goal of starting a union drive. As I landed in New Jersey, I wondered how things got so bad.

Surely, it had to be a big issue that motivated the call. I figured it was either discrimination, a safety violation, or unfair termination. What I discovered motivated me to write this messageThe drive was initiated by a tire technician whose request for a flat repair tool went ignored!

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Since they never had shop meetings, the tire tech believed his only option was to vent to the general service techs. The general service techs were reminded of how they too were being ignored and complained to the master technician. The master tech joined in on the pity party by giving the tire tech the idea to contact the labor union.

The Paramus shop was like a wildfire that started out as weak flames but wasn’t contained, so escalated into a much bigger problem. Regular shop meetings would have extinguished the weak flame disguised as not having a flat repair tool.

Why Daily Meetings Are Important

In the book Scaling Up, Vern Harnish reports on what the most successful companies in the world have in common. He found that the overwhelming majority had the habit of holding regular team meetings.

Harnish sums up the value of these gatherings with the following statement, “If you only meet once a month, it will take years to improve, if you only meet weekly, it will take months, but meeting every day can cause you to improve in weeks.” The reason these daily huddles are so effective is the element of peer pressure.

The morning huddles give you the platform to publicly recap the previous day’s results. It becomes difficult for your second writer to blame the area for his low parts margins if the other writer is getting daily recognition for holding margin with the same customer base.

Your technician who “doesn’t have time to do the courtesy checks” will have to come up with a different excuse after seeing the tech in the next bay getting daily compliments for his documentation levels.

Your people will feel more accountable when they know their daily performance will be compared to their peers. When you don’t make time to meet, you miss the opportunity to leverage the power of peer pressure.

Your Time is Valuable

What if your favorite football team decided to do away with meetings? Instead of huddling up, the quarterback whispered the play one at a time to the other ten players on the field.

Instead of giving a halftime speech, the coach would talk to each player one-on-one encouraging them to do better in the second half. In both instances, having to repeat the same message over and over would cost them valuable time.

Just like the coach, you’re responsible for getting winning results, and having to repeat yourself will cost you time. If everyone gets the same message at the same moment, the extra minutes you would normally spend in the shop can be used to work on your business.

There is a place for having one on one meetings. I get it. The key is to combine them with the team meetings to help reinforce your message.

Using both types leads to less confusion and will save you additional time because you would be answering many of their questions before they would approach you to ask them. You will also receive fewer after-hours phone calls, which will give you more time with your family.

Extinguish the Small Fires

As for the shop in New Jersey, the union drive failed, and the shop manager was terminated. A new manager was hired who embraced the idea of having team meetings, and this small spark ignited a large improvement in profits.

The failure to have regular meetings will keep you from containing the small fires, cause you to neglect the power of peer pressure, and cost you precious time.

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.

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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.