I have been at a bit of a crossroads with my company lately. I have an excellent network of clients. In fact, I rarely accept new clients because existing clients keep me busy with their new cars and referrals. But sometimes things get a little overwhelming.
Running the Show
I have operated primarily as a one-person show for almost 15 years and have had a small handful of employees come and go. There does come a time when you have to sit back and assess the need to add more operational capacity. That could be someone to manage phone calls and emails, social media, washing and prepping vehicles, cutting and prepping film or even installing.
Some one-person shows are perfectly fine staying that way, but you will be capped at what you can do and how quickly you can do it. If you want to grow your business or make more money (both happen together), you will have to make some changes eventually.
As you grow into your business, note your strengths and weaknesses. These will evolve, but writing them down brings them to reality so you can address them with as little bias as possible. Let’s be honest—it’s hard to admit our faults sometimes.
One of my weaknesses is sometimes complicating an easy task for the sake of being as thorough as possible (even though I have been doing this for years). Writing it down makes it real, and makes it something to work on. These types of introspective processes lay a better foundation for you to train new staff and help them avoid doing the same thing.
One of my strengths is analyzing what parts of the business are good and what I enjoy while also identifying tasks I do not enjoy. For example, I still enjoy installing film but don’t enjoy prepping vehicles and updating social media.
I believe that if you want to maximize the positive impact that your strengths have on your business, you should start by freeing up your time. Time is the most valuable thing a business owner can get for themselves (especially one-person shows). So if you can free some time in your operation by having others do tasks that do not require special skills, you can focus your core competencies on the things that make your business money.
What to Look for
Here are some markers to look out for when you are growing your business and thinking about hiring:
1. You are not getting back to inquiries and RFQs (requests for quotes) within 24 hours because you are busy installing;
2. You are not able to engage on social media consistently because you are busy installing;
3. You cannot book more jobs because you are too busy (this is a moving target and highly subject to your personal goals);
4. You lose time installing film because you are prepping incoming vehicles;
5. You feel that you are never caught up and always behind; and
6. You don’t have the time to follow up with existing clients about post-service feedback.
Eventually, you will need to delegate, train and empower team members to take the initiative and install while you focus on building the business. Getting to this stage takes time, and it’s a transition I find many younger companies tend to rush and execute poorly.
If you are lucky enough to get to this stage quickly (one to two years), it is good to have a plan based on what you want out of your business. Everyone wants more money—but that’s a long game. What do you want? More time with family and friends, more time to exercise/work out, time to travel, the ability to pursue other hobbies or interests?
The Bottom Line
If you are a single operator and thinking of hiring, list all the tasks you do not want to do. It’s okay not to like every aspect of your work. But if you do not like washing vehicles and would rather install film, find someone to prep vehicles for you and teach them how to wrap edges so they get a taste of where their prep work is impacting the operation.
Do not create operational silos in your business where employees have no idea what’s happening to the vehicle after they are done. This type of visibility will also help employees assess where they want to grow. Some are perfectly happy prepping cars, while some want to become installers.
I want to continue growing and evolving my leadership and training capacity. I also value my time to enjoy the fruits of my hard work—we all should! So I will endeavor to hire, starting with a prep and detail technician. If you can relate to any of this blog, I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences by leaving a comment below!
Until next time. – Kaval Vilkhu