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EDITOR’S NOTES: Make It Your Mission

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Jason Stahl has 28 years of experience as an editor, and has been editor of BodyShop Business for the past 16 years. He currently is a gold pin member of the Collision Industry Conference. Jason, who hails from Cleveland, Ohio, earned a bachelor of arts degree in English from John Carroll University and started his career in journalism at a weekly newspaper, doing everything from delivering newspapers to selling advertising space to writing articles.

Do you have a mission statement? You should. If you don’t, it’s like trying to steer a rudderless boat.

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You might say, “It’s just words on paper.” Not really. It’s words on paper that prove you sat back, took a break from the hustle and bustle of your business, and reflected on what your business is all about. That in and of itself is a magnanimous achievement.

That leads to the first point. Don’t just scribble something down for the sake of just doing it. That’s pointless. Think deeply about your mission statement. What is your business all about? What is its primary objective? What are you trying to accomplish? What kind of mission statement can all of your employees read and, as a result, become fortified and united to endeavor toward a single purpose? It should provide “the framework or context within which the company’s strategies are formulated,” according to the book, “Strategic Management,” by Charles W.L. Hill and Gareth R. Jones.

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So what is your goal? Don’t say, “To perform the highest quality repairs possible.” Sorry, that won’t work. It’s too vague. Plus, I’ve yet to hear one shop owner tell me he or she does poor quality repairs. You must be as specific as possible. How about one of the most famous examples, the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

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That pretty much says it all, right? It’s very specific, plus it’s short and sweet and to the point. Let’s face it, a mission statement shouldn’t ramble on forever. It needs to be comprehensive but also as succinct as possible. That’s why word choice is all-important.

Still confused? According to Hill, a mission statement consists of:

1. a statement containing the reason for using your product;

2. a statement of some desired future state (vision);

3. a statement of the key values the organization is committed to; and

4. a statement of major goals.

Okay, so let’s try to write one for ABC Collision Experts:

We at ABC Collision Experts strive to return vehicles to pre-accident condition, treat customers and employees like family, and exhibit the highest ethical behavior in all of our business dealings with the goal of becoming the most trusted collision repair center in the state.

Not bad for a first stab, if I do say so myself. It’s pretty specific, states goals and values, and it’s not overly long.

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A couple other notes: Don’t just slave over this baby by yourself. Have a sit-down with your top management and some of your key employees and invite them to discuss the essence of your company. Imagine the process like working with Play-Doh: You’ve got this shapeless ball to start with, but once everyone gets their fingers on it, it slowly forms itself into something discernible and identifiable.

Also, lest you think you don’t need to “write” something down, know that you really do need to “write” it down. There’s something about putting pen to paper and seeing what you’re talking about unfold before you in black and white. It gives it a sort of permanency and gravity. Then, when it’s polished and you’re really ready to give it permanency, you can stick it on the wall in your reception area.

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Why not share it with the world? Something that you’ve put so much time and effort into and something you believe in so greatly and dedicate your business life to so wholly should be on display for all to see.

Create a mission statement and put a rudder on your boat. I guarantee it will result in smooth sailing.

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