Failure � This Roadmap Will Lead You There

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Establishing and building up a detail business either as a separate location or part of a car wash operation is always a difficult process.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) reports that four out of five new business startups in this country never make it beyond the first three years. Considering that statistic � even if you are diligent in the planning of your detail business and in watching your costs of operation � the odds are simply stacked against you before you start. Given this information, it is really puzzling how cavalier business people are with regard to operating their business. For some it has to do with bad decisions, for others it is the lack of decision making. In either case, they are systematically destroying their business' ability to succeed.

ROADMAP TO FAILURE The following are some of the things that detail business owners and car wash operators � who add detailing to their car wash � do to ensure the failure of their venture.

Keep Control of Everything They operate the business in an autocratic manner, never asking anyone � especially employees � for suggestions. This decreases employee morale and productivity, and increases employee turnover. In businesses that operate like this, employees are not committed to doing the best job or even correcting mistakes. They certainly have no dedication to customer service � why bother? These are the type of employees who will "cut and run" if they can make another 25 cents an hour more somewhere else. Sometimes they leave for less money, if they think they will get some respect at another detail operation. But what do autocratic bosses do? They rationalize that employee turnover is part of the business � nothing you can do about it, it is the employees' fault.

Treat Your Employees Like Employees Well, are they not my employees? Isn't it my money that set up the business? Don't I make the key decisions and take all the risks? Why shouldn't my employees act like employees and do what I say? Who's the boss, anyway? An attitude like this tells the employees that they are nothing but a tool to accomplish a task for you, and that they can be discarded if they break or wear out. Let's face it, "you just cannot trust an employee to care like an owner." Do Not Develop Relationships Why would I want to develop a relationship with an employee? They are only working here for a paycheck and if they could make more at my competitor's shop they would leave in a minute. They are self-centered and do not care about my business �only for what they can get out of working for me, usually a paycheck. They resent the success of my business and want to take the credit for the success. There's no basis for relationships here.

Put Off Important Decisions Being in business � especially the detail business � is stressful in itself. Add to that creditors wanting to get paid, unhappy customers, disgruntled employees, and more stress-related issues you do not need! So, you ignore them, sweep them under the rug so you can avoid them. You know � out of sight, out of mind. Anyway, in most cases they will resolve themselves.

Big Risks, Small Rewards The real excitement in the detail business is having the best shop/business in town, doing the most cars of any shop in town, having all the dealers wanting to bring their vehicles to your shop. That is what it is all about! Volume, volume, volume � that's the way to make money. That might be true in the car wash business where you have paid for the land, the building, the equipment, and you have labor available. In the detailing business, though, you have overhead that you have to cover and if you are not charging sufficient money for the details � if you are sacrificing margin for volume � you will soon be out of business.

Forget the Competition You are so busy running your business you simply do not have time to pay attention to what the competition is doing. Anyway, we are better than they are and we don't have to worry about them. I can only control what I do, not the competition. I just have to focus on what I do and do it better than they do. But how do you know what they do, or if they do it better if you do not know what they are up to? Use Untrained Employees Business is so good I have to get people in here to get the work done, now. The dealers will not wait, neither will the retail customer. We've got to get the cars in and out. The work is not that hard to do anyway, so the employees can learn on the job. Anyway, if the customer is not satisfied we can fix it when they come back to complain. Unfortunately, far too few come back to complain, they just do not come back.

CONCLUSION While this article is somewhat of an exercise in reverse psychology � having readers succeed by doing the opposite of what they are told to do � I believe it does deliver a message that those who are willing to hear can benefit from. They say that if you keep doing the same thing over and over, you will get what you have always gotten. Hopefully, you can see yourself in some of the points I've raised. If you do, you have taken the first step in the correction process � that is, you are now aware of something that could be wrong in your business. The next step is the key one � "acceptance." Just becoming aware of a problem is not enough � you have to be willing to accept this as a failing in your business. If you fail to accept, then everything stops there. What comes after acceptance is the most important � taking action to make some corrections.

So, you are now aware � but will you accept, and will you take action?

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