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Roundtable Discussion: What Have Been the Greatest Lessons You’ve Learned?

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Industry leaders share their biggest takeaways from managing vehicle repair businesses.

Shop ownership is a learning experience, and it can take a while to break those bad habits that might be holding your facility back. “Getting [the person in charge] to ask for help on how to diagnose or repair their operation is the first obstacle to overcome,” says Jim Anderson, owner of Anderson Automotive Service & Repair in Marion, Iowa.

Jim Anderson shop owner

Photo courtesy Management Success

Jim Anderson, owner of Anderson Automotive Service & Repair in Marion, Iowa.

While no one likes admitting when they’re wrong, identifying the flaws in your business is essential for growth, according to Anderson, who also serves as a certified shop inspector and workshop instructor at Management Success (a firm in Glendale, California, that provides training and consulting for shop owners and service advisors). “The biggest thing for me was my resistance to hire my first service advisor,” he says, “because ‘My gosh! No one takes as good care of my customers as I do!”

However, once Anderson decided to bring extra
help on board, sales increased by almost 30 percent
in the first month, and he laid the foundation for what has become an autonomous repair business. “Getting that through my thick skull was the most difficult aspect, because growth in any organization is limited by the person at the top and their willingness to delegate responsibilities to others,” he says.

Of course, shop owners deal with much more than their own stubbornness. From recruitment strategies to leadership tips, our experts share the greatest lessons they’ve learned to boost their bottom lines.

Shop Owner Peggy Lawless“Never be comfortable and always look to the future. You must be flexible, adapt and overcome in order to move forward.” Peggy Lawless, co-owner of Professional Fleet Services in Wichita, Kansas

Shop owner Shawn Fitzjarrald“All people are willing to follow a good leader. Some are better followers than others. Dump the unwilling and take care of the willing.” Shawn Fitzjarrald, co-owner of Reliable Professional Maintenance in Effingham and Palestine, Illinois

Shop owner Stacy Conner“Always learn, always grow and always confront.” Stacy Conner, co-owner of Equipment Experts in Tacoma, Washington

Shop owner Amber Pinkleman“Continue setting higher goals. If you keep raising the bar, you’ll do better.” Amber Pinkelman, co-owner of Pinkelman Truck & Trailer in Norfolk, Nebraska

Evan Lang of ELM Repair“Hire people who are smarter than yourself. They’ll make you look better, and you’ll also strive to come up to their level.” Evan Lang, co-owner of E.L.M. Repair & Refrigeration in Edgar, Wisconsin

Holly and Eddie Lawrence of MTRA low-toned tech is doing more damage than you’ll ever know. Once the worker is gone, you’ll see the harm he or she was causing internally.” Eddie Lawrence, co-owner of Mobile Transport Repair in Colorado Springs, Colorado

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