Friday, November 6, 2020 | November 2020
How to encourage your staff and optimize short team meetings during busy days By Nora Johnson
“Without scorekeeping, football would be more like figure skating. Nobody would be standing up, no one would be screaming and hollering—everybody would be sitting there, quiet, waiting for the judge,” explains Mark Foppe, owner of Autotech Auto Center in O’Fallon, Mo. “Would that football player fight, kick, and scratch to reach out and drop the ball across the goal line if he didn’t know where the goal line was?” It’s not often that football, figure skating, and owning an auto repair shop get compared. But for Foppe, this analogy reminds him of why communicating goals during full team meetings is vital to his shop’s success. But when days are busy and the line of cars is long, necessary daily meetings have to be short. Foppe shares how his team is able to successfully optimize the little time they have to discuss daily and long-term goals.
Find the Time
As a result of expanded training and a new coach, Autotech Auto Center has reached record numbers during the summer months of this year. Because of the growth in sales, Foppe has had to change how his shop has team meetings. Previous to the higher numbers, Foppe would lead his team in weekly hour-long lunch meetings.
“When you're running 300-plus cars a month, you can’t stop the shop for an hour in the middle of the day—it’s just not possible,” he says. Now, Foppe’s team has to perfect their daily 10-minute morning team meetings to ensure each employee knows how they are performing and what the upcoming day looks like. In order to have some extra time with the team, and create a strong company culture, one hour-long team meeting is also now scheduled on the first Monday of each month. “We've got a good group of people in here, and a positive culture inside the shop. Everybody gets along every day, and each person seems to be more than willing to help each other out,” Foppe says. “I don't want to go backwards and lose any of that. I want to make sure that we can keep some of that free time.”
Pass on the Lead
The daily team meetings start at 7:50 a.m. sharp, exactly 10 minutes before the team gets to work. Before the recent sales growth, Foppe would lead the weekly hour-long lunch meetings—but with the need for shorter, more concise meetings, he has his lead service writer take over. The service writer first discusses how the team plans to take care of the waiting customers of the day—in order to get them in and out quickly. Next, he discusses the scheduled vehicles that need to be diagnosed, and lastly, the cars that were dropped off without an appointment. Blended throughout the day’s schedule of operations are the parts plans for each. After the service writer presents the plan for the day, other team members are encouraged to ask questions or pose any concerns about what has been discussed. “You have to let everyone have a voice—if it isn’t a team thing, it doesn't work,” Foppe explains. “You can go out there and bark orders if you want, and it'll work for a while. But soon, you'll end up having a higher turnover rate and a less loyal group of people.” Outside of the day’s schedule, the other most important areas of discussion during each quick morning meeting are the numbers and shop goals.
Be Transparent and Open
Foppe strongly believes in the sentiment, “that which is measured will improve,” and is what encourages the transparency at his shop. Every important metric, including productivity and closing ratio, is measured at Autotech Auto Center and shared with all team members. During the morning meetings, the team will take a look at their performance in each key metric and make sure that they are in line with the shop’s goals. “If everybody knows the goals, it’s a whole lot easier for them to reach out for the goals themselves,” Foppe says. “ It’s far better than waiting for the week to be over, and letting the team know they didn’t make it, or just telling them to work harder.” The openness and transparency allows for employees to speak up when they are having trouble reaching a goal, and allows for Foppe and the rest of the team to help the individual improve.