Early-bird pricing for Repairer Driven Education (RDE) remains available until Oct. 17, and the pre-registration list is growing, the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) reports. The association says one significant draw to this year’s program is an evening headline presentation designed to take attendees’ businesses "to new heights" with lessons on "Flawless Execution" in business.
In between his numerous speaking engagements and his time spent defending our country, SCRSwas able to take a few minutes with Patrick "Lips" Houlahan to talk about the upcoming series and his experiences that qualify him for his role with the group on Nov. 3. Lips is not only a senior consultant for Afterburner, Inc., but continues to serve as a Marine Corps Reserves F/A-18 Hornet Instructor Pilot and is enrolled in the Marine Corps Command and Staff College studying the art of Strategic, Operational and Tactical Planning.
SCRS: We are really excited to have you come and join us in Vegas for the Repairer Driven Education series that SCRS is hosting at the SEMA Show this November. As a speaker that attends lots of these types of events, what is always your favorite thing to see at trade events?
Houlahan: My favorite thing about attending these events is to witness first-hand the new technologies of different industries and to see the excitement of the participants. There is always a lot of great energy as people gain new ideas on how to run their businesses and what products are available to them.
SCRS: Your seminar ‘Mission: Control – Flawless Execution in Business Combat’ headlines a series of educational classes being offered by SCRS at the SEMA Show geared toward the collision repair professional. As a fighter pilot, how does the information you share from your life experiences relate to the automotive repairer?
Houlahan: Flying an aircraft involves precise mission planning and must include many different organizational components to complete a mission. My father-in-law has owned his own custom auto restoration and collision repair business for 30 years (Perry’s Auto Body in Westminster, Calif.) With his work, there are many different steps that must happen on a defined timeline in order to meet his customer’s demands. Just like flying, if one component is delayed or falls off line, then the entire project may be delayed and the mission objective may be missed.
SCRS: That’s a great value you bring to our audience; the fact that you have this information which is so applicable to every business in addition to that personal connection to our industry.
Houlahan: Absolutely! A repair facility does not operate in a vacuum and neither does flying an aircraft. We have budgetary constraints, recruiting goals, maintenance and operations coordination, and coordination with external agencies that can support or enhance our operations. When we are all using common process and common language, that will break down the first barrier to success; effective communication. If the other segments can use and understand the Flawless Execution process, as a team they will be able to provide the end user with a quality product that is delivered on time and meet that customer’s expectations.
SCRS: I think it is interesting that both tactics and strategy are integral parts of that Execution. I think a lot of people confuse the two.
Houlahan: "You can have the best execution in the world…but if you execute against the wrong things you will lose." History is full of examples where we "won every battle" but in the end lost the war. The same holds true to businesses. A company can be marvelous at executing, but if their teams are not aligned on a common future picture of where the company is headed, then they often are often working against each other and not really moving the company forward. A well-defined strategy will give purpose, focus, and reason of what tactics are important and which will give you the biggest bang for your buck.
SCRS: In your opinion, what is the most over-rated focus point in most businesses today?
Houlahan: Business Plans that have no meat to them and are just a bunch of fancy words with unclear goals and actions to achieve those goals. A plan that does not drive action is nothing more than a paper weight. You always have to ask, "Does this plan drive specific actions that will produce specific results, which will assist my team in reaching our future picture?" If it doesn’t, then the actions are wrong and should be adjusted.
SCRS: What is the most under-utilized resource by businesses?
Houlahan: By far, it’s a lack of Debriefing and having a Debriefing culture. As Fighter Pilots, the greatest amount of learning comes from the Debrief. If we don’t Debrief consistently and with rigor, then people don’t come home. In business, if teams and companies don’t Debrief, then they are destined to repeat the same mistakes, lose market share, and eventually close up their shop. Too often it is said that there isn’t time to debrief. But I often ask if in the last 3-6 month; did you make the same mistake that has been made before? How much time was lost on rework? How much money was lost? How many clients? What if you could have fixed it the first time? What would that mean to your bottom line? Once people see the value of the Debrief and learn "how to" debrief, the results are amazing. Many of the companies that we have taught the STEALTH process to have had fantastic results.
SCRS: Your presentations have come with some pretty high acclaim for both the usefulness of the content, as well as the "explosive" style in the presentation; what can attendees expect to leave with after attending your seminar?
Houlahan:Tools they can use. I can tell Fighter Pilot stories all day. But at Afterburner, we pride ourselves on the fact that we are there to teach a well-defined, combat proven methodology for improving your company’s Future Execution. The presentation is "explosive", but where the rubber meets the road, is the information and Flawless Execution process that we teach. It can change and has changed the execution of many businesses for the better.
SCRS: My understanding is that each of the Afterburner team members has a moniker they go by. How did you earn the name ‘Lips’?
Houlahan: The politically correct version is that it matches my last name "Hotlips" Houlahan. The other story is a twelve beer minimum which we won’t get in to.
SCRS: Fair enough! You’ve received a lot of praise from speaking bureaus over the last few years and have a very impressive list of recognizable past clients; what drew you into working with businesses with a background in combat?
Houlahan: We like to say that "Business is Combat" and when you break it down, the similarities are impressive. We all work with high performing teams, which must incorporate many different organizations and units, which must operate in parallel and be synchronized to achieve a specific outcome. If they don’t then our missions or our company objectives will fail. I was drawn to Afterburner because it gave me the opportunity to teach a combat proven process that I knew could benefit businesses as well. The biggest component is the teaching aspect. If I can improve someone’s business by providing a process that they can use, then that is a successful day.
SCRS: If you had only one sentence to inspire someone to attend this event, what would it be?
Houlahan: "Afterburner is a team of men and women Fighter Pilots and Elite Military Professionals that teach Flawless Execution Methodologies to Fortune 500 Companies to improve their Future Execution based on the tools and techniques we used flying our high performance fighter aircraft in combat."
If I had a second sentence I would say…."You don’t want to miss this!"
SCRS Repairer Driven Education