Welcome to our Top Shop issue. I’ve had the pleasure of spending time this month with each of the tire dealers featured in the pages that follow – they’re an exceptional group of professionals. And this year one trait stood out beyond others – consistently choosing to do what’s right over doing what’s easy.
Our lives are shaped by aggregate of the choices we make each and every day. Good and bad, our small decisions accumulate over time. Finding ways to do the same job in less time means you can grow without expanding. Having “just one more” (piece, glass, bite, snack, etc.) adds up to hating the way you look in the mirror. Fractional improvements add up to big gains, just as easing up on your once-high standards can gradually damage your business (and your health). It’s not as if you decided to let things slide – they just did over time. It happens. Fortunately, you can choose to do better.
Becoming a Top Shop is not about the big wins – it’s about the smaller moments of doing things right. It’s about replacing wishful thinking with action, discipline, persistence, and consistency – an unwavering commitment to doing what you know is the right thing to do.
Sounds good, but as a former retail business owner, I know that when you’re in up to your eyeballs in the angst of running a business – the customer complaints, employee drama and simply making ends meet – sometimes all you want is a fast-track to better days. We quietly hope for that “one big break” or one big change in the marketplace that will propel us into the golden glow of success – like the competition going out of business, getting the financing we need, or new laws requiring people to buy new tires each year. But it doesn’t work that way. In fact, the seemingly small choices we make in moments of difficulty – to do what we don’t have the time to do, or to save what we prefer to spend – are those that will tip the scales in our favor over time.
I recently read an example by Darren Hardy that helps illustrate the nature of how small daily decisions can shape the direction – good and bad – of our lives and our business.
Let’s say have to choose between getting a lump sum of $3 million dollars right now or get one penny that doubles in value each day for 30 days (day one=1 cent; day two=2 cents, day three=4 cents, day four=8 cents and so on).
Which would you rather have?
At first blush, you might be tempted to jump at the $3 million – a bird in the hand, after all. For many dealers, $3 million may be more than one of your locations makes in a year. What a difference it could make!
But the better answer – albeit harder path – is to take the penny. On Day 10, you’ve got $5.12, a far cry from the $3 million you passed up. On Day 20 (about three weeks in), you only have a little over $5,000. But this is where the consistency pays off. On Day 30, your seemingly small choice of a single penny compounded over time has turned $10,737,418.24. Slow and steady once again wins the race.
Like that penny, your business outcomes are based on the tiny choices we make day after day after day.
With this in mind, look around your shop. Where are your pennies hiding? Consider how you do things, how well you take care of each customer and how easy it is to do business with you. Look for things that you can do better with increased consistency. Look at the choices you’re making and where you might improve. Every small decision made by both you and every member of your team in the moment – to do things well or to do them “good enough” – is like that penny over time. Small choices shape your destiny.
No one in the tire business is an overnight success. In fact, behind every “overnight success” you’ll often find years of patience and persistence. While it may appear that certain businesses have an unfair advantage over others, fortune favors the prepared who take action. In a world where so many hope for that lucky break, the smart ones are creating it for themselves.
At Alyeska Tire in Alaska, the small decision to treat their people like owners has been foundational to their increased growth and lower stress. At Monroe Tire in North Carolina, the seemingly small decision to treat the customer like they themselves would prefer to be treated has resulted in the purchase of the building next door and transforming it into a spa-like customer waiting area, helping them stand out in a competitive marketplace. At Waukegan Tire, the decision to keep a spotless shop has resulted in the “20 Rule” where their team works at detailing 20-foot sections of each location at a time, a small action that adds up over time. And Redwood General Tire made the small decision to raise the standards of both the industry and what a customer should expect from a tire dealership, which now includes employee uniforms color-coordinated by day of week and a strong code of conduct that promotes a culture of excellence.
These examples, along with the many small choices by so many others, are helping to elevate the profession. Their pennies have compounded into Top Shop honors. What about yours?
A penny for your thoughts – email me at [email protected]