Tony Lynn, owner of Advanced Auto Clinic in Delavan, WI says that “Advanced Auto Clinic will always be a work in progress. I have grown to love doing what I’m doing and I will always be looking for the next game. When one goal is achieved the next one will be set and achieved. It’s a very rewarding cycle.”
Business owners can be pretty tough on themselves. And while it’s important to recognize the milestones you’ve hit, it’s also true that the most successful shop owners never have a sense that there is nothing more to achieve. It’s the sign of an outstanding owner always striving to achieve further successes. Reaching for that next level of accomplishment is an important trait of a person that is always striving…always looking beyond where they are that particular day or year…and not just dreaming about goals but putting together real and attainable actions to get there.
Tony Lynn has owned his shop since 2003. “I have never felt that the business has reached it’s full potential and I will always feel there’s more to get done. I have set high goals and achieved things that I never thought possible but even then, I felt I can get more out of it”, says Tony.
It’s natural for anyone to get frustrated with thoughts of never completing everything needed. But a successful owner should embrace that ‘push and pull’ of being a bit anxious about getting everything done at the shop. The fact is, you’ll never be completely done. There will always be more to do and achieve. No matter the phase your ownership is, that feeling should be used as a business tool to get more done – but here’s the trick: the plans and goals need to be organized in a way so that they can get done. The last thing you want is to get so frustrated about all the work to be accomplished that you end up not getting anything done – and end up being stuck. If used correctly, it can be that push someone needs to accomplish everything they want from the business no matter the phase of the shop.
“My goals have changed numerous times and continue to change. When I started, my goal was to survive, now my goal is to thrive. In the beginning I hoped to provide for my family, pay my bills, take some vacations, and hopefully own a few toys. Now my goal is to continue to grow, build a new shop and own multiple locations. When these goals are met who knows what is in store for me. I just keep resetting my goals and achieving them.” adds Tony.
Here are some basic phases an owner experiences. See where you are at the moment and put your plans in place now for getting to the next phase. Accept the fact that there will always be more to do – that’s a sign that you’re a great business owner!
THE “IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME” PHASE
You always wanted to own your own business. And you always were great at fixing cars. Put those two things together and owning a great repair shop is a terrific vision for the future. After all, you can fix anything. Why not open up a shop? So sure, open a shop and tell your friends and family. And in your excitement, you imagine the cars will be backed up just waiting for your expertise.
THE “CAN I?” PHASE
This is when it starts to get serious. You found a space for the business. You’re just about to sign on the dotted line, and it hits you – “Can I do this? Can I really put everything on the line and open my own business?” But you move forward and start your own shop. And there is an overwhelming amount of work that needs to be done. From marketing to production to profit & loss to even the signage out front. Each and everyday you can’t stop thinking about everything you need to get done. You’re thinking that if you can just get past the first year, that everything will settle down and all of these issues will be resolved. It’s THEN that you can step back and enjoy owning a business. Well, not so fast.
THE “PUSH” PHASE
You’re three years in, maybe five, of owning your shop. Things are going OK. A mix of good days and not so good. You know there is more to achieve. You wanted this to be the time where you could settle in to the benefits of owning a business. But you’re not there. Getting comfortable with the issue of not finishing everything on your ‘list’ is important. But don’t forget to celebrate the wins. For both yourself and your team.
THE “YOU’RE THERE. NOW WHAT?” PHASE
Things are going really well. You have a great crew and a great customer base, with new customers coming into the shop every week. It’s even possible to take a vacation with no big issues back at the business. You have all of your shop policies and procedures set up and moving forward. The marketing plans you put in place are successful. And possibly the most important aspect of a successful business, the training for yourself and team, is on-going and the crew loves that you invest in their future. All good. Congrats! But you’re starting to think about a second shop. You’re starting to think about what more can be done to propel your profits even further. You’re starting to think “what am I not doing?” Even at this stage of owning a shop that feeling that there is more to do is still there. It’s still part of your thought process every day. But here’s the difference between this point of being an owner and where you were at the initial start of your shop. You’ve come to accept that there is more to do. It’s what has pushed you over the years to get where you are. And it’s what will push you forward to open that second (or third) shop.
“I don’t worry about getting through the weeks, I’ve got staff to handle that. My time and focus is spent on our new project and being involved in the community to help others. We are in the process of planning and building a fourteen bay shop with a day spa attached to it. Something unique that allows us to provide even better service to our already pampered customers. Right now I am spending most of my time planning for our new building and making sure we are prepared for expansion.” says Tony.
Comparing the phase of the shop when he opened to now, Tony says “If someone would have told me ten years ago that I would be building a new, much larger shop I would have never believed them. This industry is constantly changing and it is exciting to keep up with those changes. I love being able to help people, our community, and the industry. Providing my staff with great opportunities and watching them thrive in their lives is also very rewarding and important to me. Having the time to focus on success and helping others succeed is priceless.”
Is Tony happy? Yes. Is he content? No. “I am very happy with the state of our shop but I am not content. I am proud of my staff and the success of this shop but none of us here are content, we all want more and that helps create a great culture. I think it is great and necessary to be happy but being content can be dangerous and unrewarding. If your not growing and thriving, your dying. To be content you are just existing and I feel it’s important for all of us to contribute to life, not just exist in life. In my opinion being content in business will result in going out of business. Being a business owner you need to be a leader and no successful leader will ever be content. We always need to prepare to win the next game. I will always push myself and everyone around me to be better and push hard to achieve the next goal and succeed. I really enjoy pushing myself and others to be successful, success is contagious!”
After all, being content with the phase of your business, is no way to run a shop….OR GROW A BUSINESS!