By Bob Cooper
Over the years I have met hundreds, if not thousands, of shop owners who are suffering from burnout. They either tell me they have it, or it clearly shows in their behavior. Ironically, dealing with burnout is no different than fixing cars, in that in order to accurately solve the problem, we have to first identify the cause.
So, let’s start by taking a good look at the cause of burnout. The reason most shop owners have burnout is because they spend most of their day doing a job that’s not necessarily aligned with who they are. Look at it like this: technicians and service advisors spend most of their day working in what I call “the moment.” They spend the majority of their time dealing with customers, and vehicles, that came in that very same day. To put it another way, they’re solving current problems.
On the other hand, “managers” spend most of their time reviewing the past. They look at past productivity, past trends, past results, etc. By the way, this is all good, because we need sharp people who have a good understanding of past performance, and we need people who can quickly and professionally solve the problems that are at hand.
Yet the job of business owners is to spend most of their time in the future; not in the past, and not in the moment at hand. Unlike managers, techs and service advisors; business owners are responsible for setting the company goals, developing the plans, hiring the stars, etc. Ironically, when most shop owners first start their journeys in the world of business they actually do spend the majority of their time where they need to: thinking about the future. They’re busy securing their locations, getting their signage, putting their marketing plans in place, etc. Yet when their businesses become relatively established, and they’ve reached their initial growth goals, they then find themselves spending most of their time “managing” their businesses rather than building their businesses. To put it another way, they start off as entrepreneurs, and end up doing something they never imagined they would be doing: working as managers, and spending most of their time reviewing the past rather than building their businesses.
If this sounds all too familiar to you, then here’s the guaranteed cure for you: simply put, you need to re-evaluate the goals of your company. If you look to the future and set some worthy long-term and mid-term growth goals for your company, not only will those goals get you excited, but they will give you a better sense of purpose. Add to that, your day-to-day decisions will be that much easier to make, and your new-found goals will put that spark back in you that will be seen by all of your employees.
Clearly one of the roles of every business owner is to lead by example, and what better example can you set than by having clearly defined goals that will benefit you, your employees, your customers and your community. I’ve shared these conclusions and this recommendation with hundreds of people over the years, and I can tell you without hesitation that the people who have taken this advice to heart have seen their burnout literally disappear overnight, and in many cases, their businesses have grown well beyond their wildest dreams.
In closing, I’d like to say this: If you are suffering from burnout, and if for whatever reason you decide to pass on this recommendation, then it’s time for you to pick up the phone and call your local business broker. Otherwise, as time goes on you’re going to struggle in business. True entrepreneurs like you all have one thing in common; they have what it takes to build really great companies, but as strictly managers for any length of time, well, with all due respect, they usually become fair at best. On that, you have my promise.
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