Friday, November 6, 2020 | November 2020
At the beginning of 2020, I worked five of the six days my shop was open each week. I alternated Saturdays with my three front counter team members. My wife was seven months pregnant with our first child, there was no pandemic and I had been gearing up to start having a part-time presence in myshop. I had already been talking about it with my team and my family, and I was setting up my home office and completing my game plan.
Getting buy-in from my team and staying organized were my largest concerns. I started planning my days and weeks in advance in great detail. Getting out of my shop was critical due to not having room for my own office (or head space) in there, and I was constantly pulled into production and it just could not be avoided. Like many owners, I made many calls and conducted many meetings from less than ideal circumstances, like in my car. I was overwhelmed with administrative tasks that I couldn’t make time for.
Most importantly, I was one year into acquiring a shop that was over three times larger than my previous one and wasn’t at all sure how I was going to solidify my plans. Luckily, 2020 had amazing plans made for me—as my wife got closer to giving birth to our son, I started taking an office day here and there. I was able to use my wife’s needs as an excuse as well as my need for administrative office time. My son was due at the end of February, so I announced I’d be taking a few weeks off to be present for this wonderful milestone. He was born February 29th, the same week the pandemic was made official worldwide.
Over those few short weeks, we all learned of the potential dangers of COVID-19. My wife and I were already hypervigilant to the dangers to our son's infant immune system, so we decided self-quarantine was the best thing for our son.
This meant a lot of time working completely remotely—in fact, I went about two months without stepping foot into the shop. This really paved the path for me to be part-time upon returning because my team stepped up and did a great job. Now I am promoting one of my service advisors to be my first general manager and I hired an additional service advisor, allowing me to back out of the Saturday rotation. I don’t ever open or close the shop and now work two mostly full days as well as one half day. I only jump on the front counter production when people are off or when I’m caught up on the day’s task list.
It may not arrive how you imagined, but as owners, the most important thing to do to reduce your time in the shop is to plan ahead as best you can. By doing so, I was able to work around the pandemic, support my team and keep business hopping.
And you’ll be able to do the same when the time is right.
Devin Kelley owns All Star Automotive in Columbia, Missouri.
He is the MWACA Central Missouri Chapter Vice President.