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Friday, 31 August 2001 17:00

Re-channel mis-directed energy to de-stress for success!

Written by Tom Franklin

Are you stressed out? It could be said that stress is simply mis-directed energy. One shop owner struggles to shape-up a poorly performing body man instead of directing his full energy to getting a really competent worker and paying him well. 

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Another keeps hiring and firing estimators that perform poorly instead of biting the bullet and paying to get a really reliable worker trained to do the job right.

Another keeps hiring incompetent receptionists who handle people badly and drive away business, all because they will work cheap. He refuses to face up to the fact that paying a bit more would get a bright, friendly desk-person who builds business rather than loses it.

In each case, the mis-placed resources ultimately bring much stress on the hapless shop owner.

Examples of mis-used resources are all over the place: A shop owner trying to get by with an inadequate frame machine. A manager coping with poor quality jobs coming out of an antiquated spray booth. A guy trying to save $100 a month by using a cheap estimating system that lacks procedure-page logic when an additional $100 per month could pay for a system that would easily add $1000 a month to the bottom line. The energy spent struggling with inefficient equipment, systems or people -- if re-directed to building enough business to pay for the best -- would generally result in far less stress and much more success!

Wasted resources cause stress

I would venture to say there isn't a single body shop that doesn't have hidden and unused resources all over the place. I see thousands of dollars of parts stacked in back rooms or overhead areas, many of them simply un-returned new parts. I see additional thousands of dollars of paint and materials wasted and half-used. I see many shop owners literally giving money to insurance companies by not billing them for supplemental parts and damage missed on the original estimate. And I see shop owner after shop owner overcharged for parts by dealerships and other vendors because they don't bother to carefully check to be certain they're getting the discounts they were promised.

And I see these same shop owners complaining they don't have the money to hire more efficient personnel, or to mount a really effective marketing campaign. The lack of better personnel is causing them unnecessary stress, and the lack of an effective marketing initiative is losing them business and causing even more stress.

Lack of control causes stress

There is a simple formula that can be applied to increase control and reduce stress. I call it the "R.I.C." formula: Responsibility plus information equals control. Another way of putting it would be if you wish to control something, assume responsibility and acquire information. Responsibility can be defined as accepting the duties and obligations necessary to perform certain tasks, like accepting responsibility for the job of running your business, managing those details, or managing people who can effectively manage those details.

Letting that detailed information slip out of your control will cause a tremendous amount of stress down the line, but taking greater responsibility now to put efficient systems and people in place to manage that information will ultimately give you far more control and less stress.

Using information to reduce stress

Life is constantly forcing us to compromise, to restrain our primitive urges, to hold our emotions in check. How do we re-direct this powerful inner energy that gets bottled up and often eats away at us from within? Once again, responsibility plus information equals control. Sometimes all we have to do is introduce more information into the situation. Unfortunately, you must often educate the poorly informed insurance appraiser who lacks your many years of experience repairing cars. And by now you've probably informed thousands of customers about the realities of hidden and peripheral damage.

It may even be possible for you to re-direct the anger you felt at the injustice of arbitrary laws, rules and regulations. Groups like the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (S.C.R.S.) and your local autobody association are working to get pertinent information to law-makers and regulators. You may recall the state of California's effort to tax bumpers repaired off of the vehicle as re-manufactured parts! The California Autobody Association effectively fought this absurd rule with information and won. You may not care for everything about your local autobody association, but it does give a voice to the industry and an opportunity to vent some of your rage at the system. Consider it just another way to get a little more control over your fate and reduce stress.

Tom Franklin has been a sales and marketing representative and consultant for forty years and is the author of the book, "Business Battlefield Marketing for Body Shops," plus several collections of marketing bulletins. Phone (323) 871-6862; Fax (323) 465-22 28; E-Mail:


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