Three Things You're Missing By Not Having Meetings
Eric M. Twiggs
“A small spark can start a great fire” Emmet Fox
“I don’t need to have meetings, because I talk to my people throughout the day.” If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard this, I’d have about twenty-one dollars! But seriously, I’m amazed at the number of shop owners who resist the routine of regular meetings.
As I reflect on the importance of this habit, I’m reminded of an incident that occurred in 1998 when I worked as a consultant for a national automotive service chain.
I along with a team of company consultants, regional managers and vice presidents were sent to visit a shop located in Paramus New Jersey. The employees were so unhappy with the shop leadership, they called the local labor union with the goal of starting a union drive. As I landed in New jersey, I wondered how things got so bad.
Surely, it had to be a big issue that motivated the call. I figured it was either discrimination, a safety violation, or an unfair termination. What I discovered, motivated me to write this message. The drive was initiated by a tire technician who’s request for a flat repair tool went ignored!
Since they never had shop meetings, the tire tech believed his only option was to vent to the general service tech’s. The general service techs were reminded of how they too were being ignored and complained to the master technician. The master tech joined in on the pity party by giving the tire tech the idea to contact the labor union.
Recently, the state of California has had some issues with wildfires. Like the Paramus location, these wildfires started out as weak flames that weren’t contained. Regular shop meetings would have extinguished the weak flame disguised as not having a flat repair tool.
This is just one thing you miss by not meeting. You may be saying: “Eric, my shop isn’t on fire so this doesn’t apply to me!” Stay with me to learn two additional things you may be missing by not having meetings.
In his book Scaling Up, Vern Harnish reports on what the most successful companies in the world have in common. He found that the overwhelming majority had the habit of holding regular team meetings.
Harnish sums up the value of these gatherings with the following statement: “if you only meet once a month, it will take years to improve, if you only meet weekly it will take months, but meeting every day can cause you to improve in weeks.” The reason these daily huddles are so effective is the element of peer pressure.
The morning huddles give you the platform to publicly recap the previous day’s results. It becomes difficult for your second writer to blame the area for his low parts margins, if the other writer is getting daily recognition for holding margin with same customer base.
Your technician who “doesn’t have time to do the courtesy checks” will have to come up with a different excuse, after seeing the tech in the next bay getting daily compliments for his documentation levels.
Your people will feel more accountable when they know their daily performance will be compared to their peers. When you’d don’t make time to meet, you miss the opportunity to leverage the power of peer pressure.
What if your favorite football team decided to do away with meetings? Instead of huddling up, the quarterback whispered the play one at a time to the other ten players on the field.
Instead of giving a half time speech, the coach would talk to each player one on one encouraging them to do better in the second half. In both instances, having to repeat the same message over and over would cost them valuable time.
Just like the coach, you’re responsible for getting winning results, and having to repeat yourself will cost you time. If everyone gets the same message in the same moment, the extra minutes you would normally spend IN the shop, can be used to work ON your business.
There is a place for having one on one meetings. I get it. The key is to combine them with the team meetings to help reinforce your message.
Using both types leads to less confusion and will save you additional time because you would be answering many of their questions, before they would approach you to ask them. You will receive less after hours phone calls, which will give you more time with your family.
So there you have it. The failure to have regular meetings will keep you from containing the small fires, cause you to neglect the power of peer pressure, and cost you precious time.
As for the shop in New Jersey, the union drive failed, and the shop manager was terminated. A new manager was hired who embraced the idea of having team meetings, and this small spark ignited a large improvement in profits.
Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach
PS. Looking for a tool to help hold your technicians accountable for their productivity? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you my latest productivity tracking spreadsheet, to help you leverage the power of peer pressure!