Management Basics Part 1 - Crawl, Walk, then Run

By Gary Hart

Gary Hart, chief executive officer of eDirectGlass, starts a 10-part series of articles in which he discusses basic management techniques for a more successful business.

The title sounds easy enough. In fact, the concept is a learned mechanism that each and every one of us has had since conception. So why is it that when it comes to applying this simplistic evolutionary practice that most business owners and managers want to just run and do they know where they are running to?

Recently, in many posts in the various message forums I have seen the terms "take back," "take responsibility," "we are our own worst enemies," and similar sentiments and the truth of the matter is these are all good terms to use when it comes to describing the state of most of AGRR shops. But how will you turn things around? And when you begin to turn things around, where are you going and are you going to run to get there?

Let's crawl, shall we? First you need to start by stepping away from you business and evaluating what the real business issues are. The first area you need to look at is organization. Organization is imperative when it comes to efficiency, customer service and making a positive net effect on the bottom-line. I will discuss organization in part 2 of this series.

Once you complete your organization evaluation, you need to analyze your vendor management. This is part of the process that you can do little to change; however, through better management and organization, vendor management can be transformed into less of a threat. I use the term vendor management to define the relationships you have with the networks, insurance companies, third-party administrators and your wholesale suppliers. Vendor management will be discussed in parts 3 and 4 of this series.

In part 5 we get to finally stand up and walk. In this part we will go beyond the basics of your business, automotive glass repair and replacement, and establish short-term and long-term business objectives based on what you would like to see your business become. Once we establish these key goals, we can then begin to bring the transformation.

Part 6 will take the information we have gathered from parts 2-5 and create an efficiency report that will allow us to see where the business breaks down. Chances are, the break down, as it applies to most businesses today, occurs in the department of technology. Here I will discuss the type of technology you should be using on a daily basis and the type of reports you should be looking at to help you build a roadmap to your goals. I will show you how to take the information from these reports and apply them to your short- and long-term goals.

Are we running yet? Almost! Now that we have identified the "who, what, why and where" it is important to write a plan. In parts 7-8 I will discuss the importance of a business and marketing plan and I'll even show you how easy it is to write and manage these key documents. These documents will become part of your breathing and living business on a daily basis. They will be your guide, your reminder that you have a goal in sight and this is the plan that will take you there. I will show you new ways to market products and services that complement your AGRR business; those that have far better margins than repair and replacement. Think of this for the moment, your greatest advertiser is the networks and they have already paid for all of the upfront marketing!

Finally, we are running. In part 9 we tie it all together and discuss how you manage your new business on an ongoing basis and how to benchmark your business to make sure your vision stays on track.

Part 10 will be my final thoughts and some house cleaning. I'll share some additional success stories from shop owners and managers I have met over the years and share my thoughts on the industry as consolidators begin to reshape the AGRR landscape.

Congratulations on making it this far, you have already taken your first crawl. In the next installment we'll really get you moving.

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