Service Shop Owners: Are You Still Doing What You Love?
Take inventory of your business and your passion
The end of the year is a time when oil service operators take stock of their business. It’s a good time to reflect on what went well this past year, what could be improved, and what you might do differently in the year ahead.
Along with a health check on your business, it’s equally important to check in on your own state of mind. Are you still loving the business and feeling the same passion as when you started?
It’s a valid question to ask yourself. Think about why you got into this business in the first place. Is it turning out to be everything you hoped it would be? Do you have a healthy work/life balance, or is the business all-consuming?
Running your own business can be strenuous and stressful. It’s easy to get bogged down in things you don’t particularly enjoy. It’s common to think you have to be responsible for everything. You might feel obligated to be the first one to open the doors in the morning and the last to turn out the lights at night. Who will keep the place clean if you don’t? Who will look after the daily cash flow?
A lot of people get into the auto installed business because they love working on cars. Suddenly they have to develop expertise in finance and start worrying about things like the balance sheet, bank relationships, purchasing, payroll, and other matters outside their core skill set and passion. They have to figure out how to market and generate business. Soon they’re spending more time working on administration than on cars, and it dampens their enthusiasm.
On the other hand, some owners get into the business because they have that entrepreneurial spark – they love being their own boss. They have a knack for management and a head for numbers. They experience a taste of success and want to grow the business. Or maybe they enjoy the people aspect of the business, interacting with customers and motivating employees.
The point is, whatever your reasons for getting into the business, ask yourself if you are really doing what you enjoy – and if not, what can you do about it. How do you get back to what you love?
Change starts with making optimal use of the people around you. Some operators find it difficult to delegate, but it’s essential if you want to take back control of your own time and focus on what you do best. Delegating allows others to have an expanded role in the daily operation, which can be empowering. For example, every employee should understand that, in addition to their main job, they also have a responsibility to help keep the work environment clean and orderly.
If keeping the books is not your passion, hire someone to handle finance and administration so you can focus on supervising the service side of the business. Conversely, if you really enjoy marketing or planning for growth, but you are uncomfortable managing people, hire a shop manager to make sure the work is being performed up to your standards and customers are satisfied.
Try to lift your head above the day-to-day details of the business and give yourself some space to think about the future. Maybe your goals have changed since you started and it is time to redefine them. Are you in a position to expand the business? Do you want to put in another service bay? Or perhaps even launch or acquire another location? Setting realistic goals and a plan for achieving them can go a long way toward re-energizing the business – as well as your spirit.
Each of us defines success differently. If you are making a comfortable living but not enjoying what you do, or feeling your time is not your own, it’s time for a reset. As you start making the new year’s plan for your business, make sure your personal happiness and well-being are part of it.