I once had a technician tell me, “I don’t understand why you get so wound up; all you do is order parts and talk on the phone. What’s the big deal?”
Most of you reading this know that the average employee has no idea what we really go through as business owners.
This is not your typical article about how an automotive shop became successful or how to track your KPI’s, this one goes out to the struggling or newer shop owners wondering if they are ever going to make it. To start off, I’d like to share some of the many challenges I have faced during my journey as an owner.
We started in March of 2010 in a 3-bay old gas station called Tire Brokers, and were in the business of new and used tires. Even though our numbers went up during the first few years, we never got a steady paycheck.
In 2013, we got away from our “all tires, all the time” model, and changed our name to Jammin’ J Automotive. We started to rebrand and grew from our humble beginnings—or so we thought.
A few years later, we met a man who looked like the building landlord, only younger—he came to our shop to inform us his father had passed away, and he needed to see a copy of the lease. We had been talking with his father for years about a lease and/or buying the building, but nothing ever materialized—we had a problem.
We tried to buy the building, but the bank would not lend on property suspect to environmental concerns. So long story short, we had to move.
We spent the next eight stress-filled months rehabbing a 7-bay, 5000-square-foot building during evenings and weekends, while still keeping the old location. Our shop was now on a major street in St. Louis, and we were finally going to make it! But at around 9 a.m. on our first day, two of the lifts would not pick a car up higher than 24 inches, and our toilet had backed up and begun to run out into the shop.
We were able to survive a sales tax audit from the state in 2019. The auditor thought we were so nice and ran such a good business that he referred his coworkers to us—after giving us the bill of course.
Then, this year at VISION, I was used as the poster boy on how not to run an automotive shop in front of an entire class, since my shop ran through seven service writers in less than 14 months.
On our 10 year anniversary at the shop, my wife bought balloons for the lobby costing $40, total end-of-day receipts was $24.
Enter 2020, with the rise of COVID-19—our city was placed on a Shelter-in-Place order. On top of that, in late April, a random car drove through our lobby almost killing me (thank you to all my shop owner friends who reached out, your help and support was instrumental while navigating the next few days after the accident).
So what keeps me going after 10 years of what I call mediocre success?
First and foremost, my faith. Every morning I pray for just a few minutes to help get me moving in the right direction.
Secondly, I learn from others. I am a big fan of the book “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill, and I have read it several times. Hill has spent a lot of time with successful people which has helped him to realize what success looks like and how to achieve it for himself.
As I write this, I can think of eight shop owners who I call and text regularly, and every one of them is a MWACA member! If you need help, ask for it! I have found successful people are more than willing to help, because at one point in time, someone helped them. However, you have to listen and be coachable.
Lastly, don’t quit! If you are struggling with your business, you need to know that it’s part of the process. If you have stepped out and decided to do your own thing, you need to understand that it’s part of success. I have read many books and studied many successful people and none of them have made it without adversity, you have to pay your dues!
The success of any organization rises and falls on leadership. If you strive to just get a little better each day and just don’t quit, you greatly increase your chances for success.
I can tell you this article has been good therapy for me and has made me look back at when we started and where we are today. We have really come a long way, and we could not have done it alone.
Doug Jacquot purchased his shop in March of 2010, and is now the owner of Jammin’ J Automotive in Overland, Mo.