We just celebrated Valentine’s Day, but as a collision repair business owner, just like in a relationship, you have to share that passion and enthusiasm all year long and inspire your team members with that same spark.
As the owner of two CARSTAR locations in the San Francisco area, I’ve put my heart into building my business and my team. As leaders, we need to let our employees know how they’re doing on the job. You need to understand what motivates them — beyond just their wages. You have to create a progression path for them. And, most importantly, you have to create a culture where everyone embraces doing his or her job with the highest quality and providing excellent customer service — with the same passion that you as the owner have.
Fitting the Culture
First, we try to hire people that fit in our culture. I can train someone to be a technician or an estimator, but I can’t instill passion or spirit if that person doesn’t embrace that mindset. We want employees to be honest and upfront with their desire to succeed. We want employees to have a passion to grow with the business, and that will be reflected in their work ethic.
When someone joins our team, we set the correct expectations with that person from the beginning of the hiring process. We create performance-based agreements with all employees, and the expectations and goals are fully transparent to the team: estimators, managers, technicians, parts specialists and detailers. Their work is graded by individual performance metrics on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Employees need to know how they’re being measured and when they’re performing well.
We also work to understand what inspires them: money, other rewards, promotions, training and praise. I would say the single most important inspirational tool to use is to show employees that they’re valued. I think money is not the main motivator for our employees. If you show employees that they’re appreciated and valued, they’ll take more pride in their work. That pride translates to higher-quality work, and that is rewarded with promotions and more opportunities, along with increased compensation.
Everyone is Equal
We have the same approach for all of our team members and treat everyone the same. All positions within the company need to understand their roles and other departments’ roles, which helps promote efficiency with the work flow. All team members have to rely on each other in order to “push” a repair through the shop. This can be the front office pre-marking areas of damage and unrelated damage to prepare for disassembly or the body department finishing in finer-grit sandpaper so the paint department can spend less time prepping. If we’re all working toward a common goal and embrace our tasks with the same passion, it makes the job easier for everyone involved.
To successfully own and manage a collision repair facility, you have to be passionate about what you do. You’re dealing with customers at challenging points in their lives, so your compassion and caring clearly comes through to them. You’re also guiding the lives of your team members, who aren’t just hourly employees but part of your family. Inspiring them with your passion and positive attitude not only helps them succeed in their jobs today but sets the path for them to prosper in the future. And as they prosper, so does your business.
5 Ways to Motivate Your Team
- Lead by example — because leadership sets the tone of the shop and culture.
- Ensure each team member has set goals that can be monitored and measured. For example, weekly production hours produced, career progression through educational coursework such as I-CAR training or learning a new skill set through on-the-job training.
- Encourage collaboration and working together to strengthen teamwork.
- Conduct temperature checks with employees to gauge company morale.
- Create a positive work environment: clean floors, properly stored tools and parts, and properly maintained equipment. A clean shop equals a happy shop — which sets the tone for productivity.