Set for Success
There is a time to work on your business, a time to work in your business, but some neglect the time to work on behalf of your business – behind the scenes initiatives that create clearer paths for prosperity. Compiled by Caryn Smith
Going into a new year, we sometimes make a list of all the ways we’ve gone off the path to success, or at least what we think has caused the unwanted detours. Then we create a checklist of all the ways we are going to change behaviors to get back on track. Then we file the list, and forget where we put it! Usually on the list are ways to sell more parts, get more exposure in your local markets, or decrease expenses. But protecting your business with fundamental actionable items is just as important as a grand outward gestures on the to-do list.
This year, we are going to save you some time on your list. We’ve asked the experts to chime in on one thing they think you can do to protect your business. Add them to your plan for 2018!
REIGNING WITH TRAINING
From Ginny Whelan
Why is training necessary? There are many reasons people require training in the workplace. Every year most organizations budget money for training – over 100 billion dollars in the United States alone. The volume of money and effort suggest that corporations believe training is important. What do they know about training that justifies this much investment? For starters, training plays an important force in developing a productive workforce and finely tuning processes to increase profits. Training also helps people and organizations manage change. Because organizations are continuously changing techniques, goals, equipment, people, and locations, all member of a workforce require training to support these changes.
There are four critical aspects of a coordinated comprehensive training approach. In the most efficient auto recycling organizations, these four are aligned toward the same business goals.
1. There is a business need or requirement. For example, business needs include increasing customer satisfaction, increasing market share and improving quality of processes and procedures.
2. There is a need to improve or change performance. Performance is tied to a specific job and a task or set of tasks within that job. For example, each employee must know what process to use to ensure delivery of a part or service.
3. There is a need to gain knowledge or to learn new skills. This learning may take the form of coaching, classroom training, online training, on-the-job training and self-study.
4. There is a need for change in the environment. For example, if an organization’s goal is to improve quality, there will be little change if the reward system focuses on quantity, not quality.
What do businesses expect to accomplish by investing in training? They desire change in performance of the employee in order to:
• Reduce employee turnover
• Maintain current customer
• Create new customers
• Increase customer satisfaction
• Reduce errors
• Reduce expenses
• Save time
• Add dollars to the bottom line
There is at least one thing on this list that resonates with your company objectives for the new year, so take time to invest in starting, improving or increasing your training programs.
– Ginny Whelan is the Executive Director of the ARA Educational Foundation and ARAUniversity.org.
CREATE A SUCCESSION PLAN
From Ron Sturgeon
Do you have a succession plan? Well over half of my consulting assignments end up being about succession. It’s always the same story, the business isn’t doing as well as it used to, the leaders, many times the father, are getting older, and haven’t made enough transitional business changes, and are waiting for things in the industry (and marketplace) to return to the way that “they used to be.”
Business owners, again, mostly men, almost never sell at the top of their business success (ego usually prevents them from doing so). This leads the business to have only one way to go: down. Slowly but surely.
Many who consider selling usually have unrealistic expectations about what the business is worth. It is human nature to value your hard work higher than market worth.
If you own a business, when should you start talking about succession? In my opinion, you should at least put thoughts on paper about ten years before you expect to turn the business over to your successor. But, in harsh reality, you should always have a plan in place as a business owner, written down and legally solid, because you never know what the future holds.
When I get a call for consulting about succession, usually, it is at a critical time. The business is headed downward and the older owners have figured out that they don’t have a succession plan. If there are kids, the parents are convinced their kids aren’t ready to run the business. This is why I recommend having a talk about succession long before you think you need to. With a decade ahead, you can do quite a bit to mentor those succeeding to ensure that they will be prepared. Of course, successors are going to make mistakes. But, a mature business insulates them more from failure than you were insulated when you started from scratch.
So, what does a perfect succession look like for a current owner? Write a succession plan at 50. Prepare the next generation for a decade. Sell it when you are 60. Get a 20-year note that provides income and a comfortable standard of living for you in retirement and that offers your children an opportunity to carry on your legacy through the business that you started.
Another way that can work well is selling the business first, on a shorter note, and renting your successors the land with an option to buy the real estate later, with little or no down payment and financing over a longer term. You may want to add a modest salary for staying around and doing whatever needs to be done (administrative tasks, helping with banking and community relations, etc.) during times when you are not out traveling and enjoying life.
No matter where you are on the journey in succession planning, it is also wise to have more than one source of income. Don’t rely solely on your business. Before you get to 60, make sure you are investing some of your profits in rental property or other assets that will produce income for you after you sell the business. Put your eggs in a few different baskets. That will also make it easier to pass the business on, when the right time comes.
– Ron Sturgeon is a longterm industry entrepreneur, author of many books, speaker, coach and automotive recycling advocate, as well as President at MrMissionPossible.com.
GET CLARITY TO MAKE GOOD DECISIONS
From Amy Schulz
Get out of your own way! Clean out those cobwebs! Take a step back! Are you showing up in life every morning and hitting repeat? If you push play every day and never pause to question the decisions in your personal life or business, you will get bogged down in repetition of what’s comfortable and familiar.
Do you know what energizes your brain? I know some people who find fishing is where they can connect with themselves and what’s happening in their life. For others it may be reading, quiet time in front of the fireplace, but for myself the energy I put into taking care of myself and my family gives me great energy. Whether it is exercise, grocery shopping or eating a yummy nutritious meal it sets my mind in motion. I have found that once I feel good about taking care of myself, that I can look outside at how I can grow what is around me. Making everything better becomes a mindset as I look critically at what I can do to help make our companies grow or how I can help my children become even more successful.
When people put value in themselves first, including their physical mobility and overall health, they have the capacity to serve others which includes their own business. Where is your business now? Are you changing with the industry? How can you serve your changing customers? Building and maintaining a business is exhausting. Light a fire in yourself and watch it spread, as when you are happy others will want to be happy too! Most of us cringe at a fire, but this is a fire to celebrate!
– Amy Schulz is owner of AAA Auto Parts & U Pull R Parts, and a Health Coach for Intentional Living.
GET BUSY IN YOUR NATIONAL AND STATE ASSOCIATION
From Sandy Blalock
If I had to narrow it down to the top five reasons you should be a part of your state and national associations, the following would be my top five. Being an ARA Past President and active ARA member before I sold my business, I have since been working in states with no local association representation. It has been my goal to get them to see the value of organizing, participating and expanding grassroots, state-wide and national support of industry initiatives.
Networking – We are all in this together. Find your allies and support them by joining forces. It may mean the difference between survival and extinction. More importantly, find your voice and let it be heard. Great things can happen for you, your business and your industry because you dared to challenge issues and offer better solutions. You will never know what impact you can have unless you try.
Inspiration – Some of your fellow recyclers have some great ideas and are not afraid to share them with you. United we stand! Despite the size of our facilities or the ownership status, we cannot afford to let outside influences divide the industry. If we allow this, they will create change for their advantage, not ours, and the weakest of us will fall first.
Strength in Numbers – You are not in this alone. Together we are stronger and more influential. Some of you have heard me say (a lot) to get out of your office, attend your state and national association meetings and get up to speed with what is happening. Don’t just pay your dues. Get active and make your voice heard and be part of the solution. The few professional auto recyclers out there fighting on your behalf deserve to know that they are have strength of numbers behind our industry. Look at the faces of those fighting on your behalf – they are just like you.
Education – Our associations are geared towards keeping members informed and updated on the latest changes in business, technology, design etc. We are also vested in helping to develop leadership skills for future leaders of our industry.
Political Connection – Groups of your peers have a stronger influence in the political arena. ARA and your state recycling associations are valuable resources for the information you need to help educate policymakers and community leaders about our incredible industry.
Bottom line is get outside your facility into your state activism. Get outside your state and join ARA, to preserve your hard earned marketshare!
– Sandy Blalock is an automotive recycling industry consultant, working to grow state associations where there is need and also is an past ARA president.
ADAPT TO MULTI-GENERATIONS IN THE WORKPLACE
From Amanda Zmolek & Amanda Matlock Moncrieff
These are exciting times! I’m not just saying that because I’m an overly-optimistic millennial – I say that because many of us go to work each day with three or four different generations of workers, all with different perspectives and lessons we can teach each other. So how can we adapt the workplace to keep all generations working together effectively and happily?
At Copart, we have two company values that everyone seems to appreciate, no matter what generation they’re a part of. One is “Be an Owner.” This means that everyone, in every position and seniority level, is welcome to speak up when they have an idea to make things better. This creates a culture of mutual respect and open communications.
Another important value is “Celebrate our People.” Much has been said about how younger generations need rewards in order to feel satisfied in their work. But I think it’s safe to say that people of all ages like to be appreciated and told when they’ve done a good job. The trick is to find out how each individual likes to be ewarded. Some people enjoy being the center of attention, while others may prefer a simple “thank you” note. Bringing in breakfast or allowing a little flexibility in schedules (where possible) are techniques that can also work well.
Values like these show everyone that they matter, they’re respected and we’re all part of the same team. When we win, we win together, and that’s something that every generation can appreciate.
– Amanda Zmolek is an Industry Relations Analyst at Copart, an online auto auction with over 125,000 vehicles for sale each day.
With advancements in technology and just different upbringings, there has been a divide created for different age groups in the work place. On one hand, you have the hard working baby boomers who like to have job security and believe in raises that are based on tenure. On the other hand you have millennials who like change and new challenges, and a faster pay track. Then you have generation X in between, striving for the work-life balance and like a lot of feedback, especially from the boss, and value time off over money. Now how do we get all of these to work together. The biggest key is acceptance to change. However, the kicker is how to communicate these changes.
While at the 74th Annual ARA Convention & Expo, I had the opportunity to sit down and talk to Mike Meyers from PAM’s Auto Inc. and Erin Koepp Johnson from Morrison’s Auto Inc. They both shared insight on how to talk to other generations from a millennial point of view. One thing they recommended we millennials do is to learn to slow down, sometimes, and just talk about the other person’s day. As a millennial, we think we know everything about everyone through Facebook, so we sometimes just cut to the chase instead of cultivating conversation that other generations thrive on.
Boomers like to feel needed and prefer to communicate in person. Gen Xers are independent workers with low levels of communication. To millennials, the ideal communication is through technology. To us, it is how you survive in business. I do feel a sense of obligation and responsibility to encourage and train the older generations to adapt. This is hard. From what I have learned, the best thing to do is to write processes down and use pictures. Technology has started a whole new jargon. We will find that once the older generations learn, they will become adapters like us. Completing a transition for my delivery drivers to switch to tablets for keeping track of deliveries, they have gone from “how do I turn this thing on,” to now engaging in social media and sharing different posts on Facebook.
To learn about technology, boomers and Xers must first want to learn and also trust us to teach them a few things. I bet Herb Lieberman did not expect 20 years ago to be sharing images with captions to engage with Future Automotive Recycler Leaders Facebook group. However, from what I can see, I think he does enjoy this new technological change. I also bet that Scott Vatcher’s parents of Vatcher’s Used Auto Parts at one point in time thought that Yellowpage ads would always be worthwhile and not that their son would be creating client profiles to set targeted ads to potential new customer’s on Facebook. Both of these examples accepted change and have added more success to their work lives.
While we love our technology, millennials do enjoy talking. We really don’t mind boomers approaching them in their comfort zone of face to face communication. You have wisdom that we need. But with Xers having a “need to know” mentality about communication, a millennial might need to work a bit harder by asking them questions to engage conversation.
Because millennials go to technology first, approaching people in conversation can feel awkward, and small talk and meeting new people can be intimidating. Just come talk to us even if we have a phone in hand. We appreciate the gesture.
If we all learn how to communicate we will be able to create a huge success with the wisdom of boomers, the life balance of gen X and the technology of millennials. Can you imagine what we can accomplish together?
– Amanda Matlock Moncreiff is the HR Manager at Matlock’s Used Car and Parts Inc., her family’s business and serves as Chair of the ARA Gold Seal committee.
GET LEGISLATIVE KNOWLEDGE
From Norm Wright
I have been in the auto recycling industry for over 46 years. I have witnessed many issues that were critical to our business due to legislation or regulations. Many of these required extensive changes and investment into our infrastructure. I have also witnessed proposed legislation and regulations that had the potential to put us out of business.
My motto has been, “If you are not at the table you probably will be on the menu!” For instance, the Denver City Council had proposed an ordinance to make our industry illegal in our area. A group of auto recycler’s attended the committee meetings. After inviting several of the Council members to tour our facility, we now have a special license, “Automotive Recycling Facilities,” and use by right in industrial zones.
As Chairman of ARA’s Governmental Affairs Committee, I have witnessed significant ways ARA has changed legislation and regulations. If not for ARA’s involvement with Cash for Clunkers, all those vehicles would have been sent directly to the scrap processors, leaving us out of the process. NMVTIS legislation was supported by ARA, who was directly involved in its formation and operations. We were involved in the Clean Water Act having input on how the program works for our industry. More recently, the FAST Act that passed during the Obama administration, contained a provision to force OE’s to provide information on recall parts. A current bill in Congress, if passed, will force the OE’s to give us build parts data. The list goes on and on, both nationally and locally.
Can you imagine doing business if auto recyclers were not involved in legislation and regulations? Get involved in your state and national association’s legislative efforts. Every voice in our industry matters, and your business needs to be at the table.
– Norm Wright is CEO of Stadium Auto Parts, and is the Chair of the ARA Governmental Affairs Committee.
MARKET YOUR BUSINESS WITH ARA’S NEW CAMPAIGN INITIATIVE
From Jim Davis
Take advantage of the new ARA Marketing Campaign! If you didn’t attend the 74th Annual ARA Convention & Expo, you may not know that ARA launched a new advertising campaign that is customizable for your business. As you know, advertising is a surefire way to raise awareness for your business.
The ARA, in conjunction with the Automotive Recyclers of Massachusetts, has just unveiled the new advertising campaign aimed at millennials (ages 18 to 30). The campaign shows young adults explaining the benefits of choosing recycled auto parts.
Why millennials? According to JD Powers, by 2020, millennials will make up 40 percent of the buying public and it’s a market you can’t afford to ignore. The language used in the campaign is spot-on because it was developed with the input from millennials themselves, so it’s sure to resonate with these potential customers.
The campaign consists of three television commercials, three radio spots, six print ads, and six billboards – all of which can be customized with your yard’s logo and contact info. The effort also includes a new ARA-branded website, ChooseRecycledParts.com, that you can use to link to your social media and as a resource on your website.
The strategy behind the entire campaign is to generate awareness and curiosity in the minds of these car and truck owners with a simple message and a positive payoff. In essence, we are asking them to be part of this nationwide movement – Choose Recycled Parts – to save money and help the environment.
Not able to afford running television or radio spots in your market? Then use them digitally on your website or your social media sites. Once it goes viral it will be your facility’s name that is associated with this powerful message. And the best thing is, the campaign’s complete creative materials are free! To request the marketing materials and to answer your questions, contact Kelly@a-r-a.org at ARA today and begin to raise awareness for your business and the industry. – Jim Davis is the owner/creative director of Mind Spark Creative, Inc., and worked to develop the new ARA/Massachusetts collaborative campaign.
BACK UP YOUR DATA
From Luis Canisalez
Backing up your data is essential to protecting your business. None of us like to consider that we may be the victims of a disaster – but fire, flood, theft, and computer problems happen to businesses every day. If something happens that destroys your computer, it is vital that you have a second copy of your business data saved somewhere else. Think about how much information you have saved in your management system. You have invested years of work inventorying parts, taking photos, and creating customer records. Your system has information saved about your customers, sales history, current orders, and accounts with outstanding balances. What would you do if you lost all of that with no warning? You would really struggle to get back on your feet and get back to selling parts!
The good news is that it’s fast and easy to get in the habit of backing up your computer every day. With a solid backup routine in place, you will have a copy of your data on something like a flash drive or a DVD. If disaster strikes, you will have everything saved and you will quickly be able to get back to business as usual. If you’re not sure how to make a copy or backup of your data, the best thing to do is to contact your support rep for your inventory management system. They can tell you everything you need to know about saving and protecting your data.
– Luis Canisalez is the Director of Systems and Information Security at Car-Part.com, a software company that provides recyclers with the fully-integrated Checkmate inventory management system and that hosts recycled parts marketplaces serving $5 billion in part searches per month.
CHECK YOUR INSURANCE COVERAGE
From Bill Velin
No matter how much you spend on safety and security management for your business these days, none of this equipment can prevent certain things from happening – lightning strikes, fires, tornadoes, wind and hail, cyber attacks, etc. Additionally, you are subject to claims caused by other people such as employees injured on the job, your drivers being hit by other drivers, etc. A severe claim can and will result in huge dollars having to be spent to repair the damages, replace key employees, legal expenses, and loss of business income loss if your business is unable to operate due to the claim. The only reasonable method for handling these situations is to purchase insurance.
What you purchase and from whom are the two most important items you need to think about when it comes to buying insurance. Nowhere in your business is there more of a lethal combination of both opportunity to save money on the front end when purchasing insurance and the cost of uncovered expenses on the back-end after the claim occurs. This combination of paying too much for the wrong insurance initially, and then not having the proper insurance (or no insurance) on the back end can and does result in financial ruin for many businesses.
The very competitive nature of the insurance marketplace today has led insurers to offer coverages that were not generally offered in the past. However, it has also led to additional exclusions and limitations that remove coverages you may have thought you had! The smart insurance buyer knows what his or her policy contains and where to look for coverages he or she knows are needed to protect the business.
The policies written for today’s automotive recycling exposures are particularly tricky to construct and read due to the myriad of exposures found in a typical recycling operation. These exposures can range from the common dismantling and recycling of cars and trucks to the sale of used and new parts to the sale of used cars and trucks – not to mention self-service yards and the crushing and recycling of scrap metal. The coverages for these exposures all have idiosyncrasies that, if not written properly, could mean the difference between a claim being paid or denied outright.
Additionally, each of these exposures require different coverages including but not limited to Property, General Liability, Auto, and Workers Compensation. Due to the number of coverages you are exposed to, if they are all not covered properly, you need to make a decision whether you want to try to learn everything you can yourself about insurance or use the services of a professional agent that specializes in insuring your type of exposures. Either way, you are becoming a “smarter” buyer which will save you money when you purchase the coverage as well as maximize your coverage when you do have a claim. This may be the difference between your business surviving a catastrophe or not.
– Bill Velin is Vice President at Insured Insurance Group/Lee F. Murphy Insurance, one of the largest Insurance companies in the country.
OFFER UNIQUE EMPLOYEE INCENTIVES
From Caryn Smith
Thinking outside the box on how to incentivize employees can be difficult because the line of thinking can be “this is the way we’ve always done it,” as well as “what will it cost the business.” But sometimes added incentives are the very things you can do to inspire loyalty. In the age of job hopping millennials and independent generation Xers, attracting and retaining top talent is a priority.
One idea I came across was to offer equity to all employees, not based on their tenure with the company but based on the company’s performance. As in sports, winning is a team effort. The higher the company is valued, employee agreements include increased equity and bonuses. This also keeps employees accountable to each other, rather than a top-down structure of management.
Another interesting perk was encouraging meaningful “time off.” The idea of offering a certain amount of paid time off for employees to do volunteer service in the community or take a class in an interest they have, not necessarily work related, inspires them to be well-rounded people. It also shows that the employer is more concerned with their character than their performance. Occasionally, doing community service as a team, possibly quarterly, also offers team building aspects.
Providing some extra-curricular activities at the workplace could be an added-value your team would enjoy. Allowing employees a daily “blow off steam” break to get a quick game of pickup basketball in, or putting in a small gym with a shower on premises could allow them the brain break they need to be more productive.
Another idea I think is a winner is offering an “idea bounty,” where you encourage employees to bring good/creative ideas to team meetings. Ideas could be anything from a new process, a new piece of equipment needed to suggesting a team outing. If the idea is embraced and implemented by the team (by voting), they get cash, like $20, on the spot.
If you like these ideas, but they are not the right ones for you, simply Google “creative employee incentives,” and you can find hundreds of ideas that won’t break the bank but are invaluable to improving moral and creating loyalty for employee longevity!
– Caryn Smith is editor of Automotive Recycling and an entrepreneur with several family-run businesses.