What Are You Doing Today to Better Your Business?
Collision Repair Association?
I have been privileged to speak at many performance groups and Collision Repair Associations around the country this past year. Many of my clients and friends have no idea what I’m talking about when I mention performance groups, so let me tell you about my experience and how I think these groups can improve your business.
I spent more than a decade working for Enterprise Rent-a-Car. During that time, one of the most incredible things we did was take the entire management team, at its peak around 7600 people, to Orlando, Florida for meetings. Of course, there was plenty of fun and celebration. However, the essential part of the meeting was two days of breakout sessions with peers from around the country. I saw firsthand the power of these performance-focused peer groups. Knowing others are facing the same challenges can be uplifting and eye-opening. Peer groups allow all participants to learn from each other’s successes and gain insight from their failures.
Companies like Enterprise are large enough to facilitate performance groups themselves, within their organizations. However, sizeable, connected organizations are not the only ones who can benefit from performance groups. After Enterprise, I had the opportunity to work for Larry Baker, owner of Baker Collision in Columbia, South Carolina. In addition to being a collision repair operator, Larry was an executive facilitator for a paint company’s performance groups. I attended many of these groups and experienced firsthand how like-minded collision repair operators benefit from sharing challenges and successes among the group. Is your business big enough to bring together people from around the country to network and share ideas? Most people in collision repair would say no. So, where does that leave you?
First, with a modest investment, join your local Collision Repair Association. I’ve spoken to many around the country, allowing me to see the good these kinds of trade organizations can do for the regional collision industry. These associations do an excellent job of bringing in expert speakers to expose you to new ideas and technology in the industry. They also provide the opportunity to network with other collision repair operators in your area who face some of the same challenges. If you’re not involved in a collision association today, why not? Collision Repair Association membership fees vary, but I’ve seen annual dues from $300-$1,000/year. That’s money well spent.
Second, let’s talk about mastermind groups. Mastermind groups are peer-to-peer mentoring groups. Basically, a group of like-minded people meet regularly to discuss how to tackle common challenges. These groups have great value as they often include CEO/Owners from other industries along with those in your field, providing key insights and perspective. Getting involved in a mastermind group alleviates some of the challenges of running your business alone. You’ll have a group of trusted advisors that don’t look at your business the same way you do. Often, the other members of the group turn into business consultants of sorts and vice versa. These groups typically range from $2,000-$5,000/year and can be looked at as an investment in the future success of your company.
Third, and what I see as the best way to improve your business, is to join a Collision Industry Performance Group. These peer-to-peer groups are composed of non-competitive collision operators. Since these groups are non-competitive, members have more freedom to openly discuss specific challenges within their business. They can share performance numbers such as net profit, margins on labor and parts, and best practices in their operations. Unlike a mastermind group, in a collision performance group you are talking only to peers in your industry. The cost of membership in these performance groups can vary widely. Some groups start at $5,000/year plus travel for quarterly meetings, others can cost upwards of $20,000/year (including travel), depending on how many people are included. While that may seem like a significant investment, it may be worth considering the potential ROI in comparison to other investments you typically make in your business.
Choosing the right group is paramount. Select a group where the businesses are of similar size and structure. When you join a performance group, you’ll be comparing your company to others, so look for a group that will challenge your conventional thinking. Others may be further along in their journey; don’t let your ego get in the way, learn. It helps to be thick-skinned. Your peers will give you feedback on what they are doing vs. what you are doing, and yes, sometimes they will call your baby ugly. You have to go into it knowing that everyone is there to help one another and to improve the group.
There is no better investment of your time as a CEO/Owner than to be involved with a group of your peers that challenge you to get better.
What next? Join your local association to continue to improve and educate yourself. Take a moment and consider investing the money to be involved in a performance group. If you don’t know where to start, call me on my cell, I would love to talk to you about it: 312-802-2455. By joining a performance group, you’ll make great friends and rapidly elevate your returns. There is nothing better a business owner can do than to step outside the business and gain the perspective required to focus on its challenges.
Work on your business rather than in your business.
John Reeves is PartsTrader’s
Key Accounts Holder.