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180BIZ Webinar Focuses on Making Change Stick in Collision Repair Shops

Printed in Autobody News

In August, Rick White of 180BIZ presented an informative webinar on “Making Change Stick” in collision repair shops.

He began by asking, “How many times have you put something in place in your shop, thought you had it going, and then realize it’s gone right back to where it was before? This is one of the most frustrating things you go through as a business owner. Often, owners blame their staff, but I’m going to show you it’s not their fault and explore how to get change to stick.”

White defined change as “to make the form, nature, content or future course of something different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone; to alter,” and he identified two types of change: reactive change which occurs as a result of a situation, such as a new shop opening nearby, and proactive change which results from taking advantage of an opportunity, such as the chance to obtain new business when a nearby store closes. “The overlapping area is where you watch for trends and proactively react to growing trends,” White explained.

The five change drivers are situation, crisis, improvement, opportunity and trends. White shared some truths about change. Change is inevitable, but it can be a good thing if it’s intentional. Still, people will always resist change, but collision repair shop owners can anticipate this and proactively work to overcome those issues.

Owners expect to train their staff on a new process, and then their staff will get good at it; however, White said this is why many fail because, in reality, people regress and then require feedback and more training, often multiple times before reaching the desired level of proficiency.

The main reasons that people don’t implement change are that they forget, they’re afraid of the hassle, or they suffer from what White calls “analysis paralysis.” He explained, “Perfect is the lowest standard you can set for yourself because perfection is an illusion created by the devil to rob men of their dreams. It’s better to get something together, get people on board, and get started than to get stuck waiting for perfect and nothing ever changes.”

“Instead of setting unrealistic expectations, give yourself permission to fail and to learn,” White continued. “You have to go through suck to get to great. You’ll never grow as a business from a place of fear.”

When it comes to implementing change, a shop’s team members are going to fight change, especially if the owner or manager attempts to change a bunch of stuff at once, White said. White recommends mastering one change at a time. “The age of compliance is gone; we are in the age of commitment – you want their involvement emotionally, intellectually and physically.”

Sometimes, attempts at change in a collision repair shop fail because the owner declares victory too soon, doesn’t own it, and doesn’t follow up. According to White, “You’re responsible for this and need to give feedback to make it stick. Your team will try and regress, but their proficiency is better than when they started, though not where you want it. You have to have commitment, follow up and accountability to make it work.”

White identified a five-step formula for making change work, emphasizing that each step takes time and is equally important. First, collision repair shop owners must create a vision by developing a picture for the future that goes beyond the numbers. They should identify what happens without change, what objections they may encounter, and what their staff gets out of the change. “Creating a vision focuses on your team and creates a sense of urgency.”

The second step is to develop the process by outlining a step-by-step game plan, including what will be measured and how it will be monitored. Third, owners must communicate the vision and the process, providing staff with consistent communication about the plan that makes staff feel valuable. Next, remove obstacles, which will occur and can be internal or external.

The final step is to implement the process which includes structured training, measurements and consistency. White said, “You have to do the right things, the right way, at the right time, EVERY TIME. Implementing change requires providing feedback and training on what to get better at, and you keep going until you get the desired behavior. This is the investment you have to sign up for when you are implementing change – that’s the key.”

When it comes to convincing staff to buy in to change, collision repair shop owners must build up the reason to do it, but don’t make it about profits. Instead, focus on how it improves your staff members’ lives and your customers’ lives. “Measuring progress gives you an opportunity to celebrate and holds staff accountable.” White added, “Communicate every day for the rest of your business life.”

Lack of consistency is a major problem when it comes to implementing change. “When you’re not consistent, you have to start over, which takes a lot of effort and becomes frustrating, so eventually, you give up,” White warned. “Hold yourself accountable by being consistent, never giving excuses, being patient, and keeping staff focused.”

“Going through the process with your staff makes all the difference in the world,” White continued. “Follow the process, and you’ll end up with change that sticks.”

So when are you done? White advised that change must be anchored to the company culture. He also cautioned against declaring victory too soon and said to avoid micromanaging which is all about activities, not results. Management under stress shows up in one of three ways: the dictator, the pushover or the evangelist, and White encouraged, “Be the evangelist – believe so deeply in what you’re recommending that you’d die for it … It’s not our actions that create success in our lives, it’s our habits.”

Concluding his presentation, White quoted Joel A. Barker: “Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.”

For more information on 180BIZ and its future webinars for collision repair shops, visit 180biz.com.