In It… On It… Through It…

Written by mitch on. Posted in Uncategorized

There is an entire universe of things I should be doing right now not the least of which is sleeping…
Yes, Sleeping!
You see I didn’t get quite enough sleep last week. It seemed like I moved directly from my chair at the service counter to my chair in my home office with just a few minutes spent eating and in quiet conversation with my wife at my chair at the dining room table. That’s a lot of sitting. But, more that that, it was a lot of working: especially, when there is a lot more Have To than Want To involved.
It was busy the week before and for that I am truly grateful. It’s the summer and ‘busy’ in a weak economy is a blessing. However, ‘busy’ is always better when it is manageable. Unfortunately, the problem with ‘busy’ is that it isn’t always manageable and it was anything but manageable last week.
When the dominoes begin to fall and things feel like they spiraling out of control it’s hard to do much more than default to what you know will work. I say that like it’s a conscious decision. It’s not… It may as well be an autonomic nervous system response: something you don’t think about, something that occurs without conscious thought or control.
Your days are filled with crisis management and damage control and your evenings with all the paperwork that didn’t get processed while you were busy doing everything else it takes to keep three technicians engaged, involved and productive.
Running a quality shop with a real commitment to “High Touch:” intimate communication with your clients throughout the process, is a contact sport. Anyone who has done this successfully knows that: anyone who doesn’t know or realize it, hasn’t done it or hasn’t done it successfully. Trying to achieve that level of performance when you are short-staffed and while you are breaking in a new office support person is self-destructive if not just plain suicidal, and that was my week last week.
When you are fully engaged working in your business it’s all but impossible to work on it. When you aren’t working on it the only thing you can be sure of is that no one else is working on it either. Long range planning grinds to a halt and the “Crisis Du Jour” is all there is.
Where are the parts you ordered for Infiniti? They should have been here thirty minutes ago!

What do you mean you can’t get a new dual mass flywheel for that ’01 Lincoln LS? How can that be possible? And, where in the world are we going to get it resurfaced if we can’t replace it?

Oh, my God! The automotive literacy clinic you’ve been planning, promoting and talking about for the past six months is this Saturday! How can that be? Are we ready?
The tapestry we weave every day is incredibly intricate. The pattern more complex than any of us realizes because we stand too close to recognize the detail.  I see it only because I’ve trained myself to see it. As a writer, it’s a big part of what I do. And, as a writer it’s my job to reflect on what I see. The problem is, we – any or all of us – can only process so much information at any given moment. That means we either disengage and back away or let the chaos wash over us hoping somehow we won’t drown in it.
I’ve learned to back away in order to at least try and gain perspective, attempt to recognize any discernable patterns and then formulate what seems like an appropriate response. The problem is when I do that, I detach almost completely: from just about everyone and everything. That’s one of the reasons that with the exception of the deadlines for my July columns for Motor Age and Aftermarket Business, I’ve been off the grid for the past couple of weeks.
That’s the bad news… The good news is that as a result of all that contemplation and reflection, I’m back and there lots to write about: lots to share, not the least of which is what has to feel like a dysfunctional process (Any process that allows the weight of all the responsibility to fall on the shoulders of just one person in a business that employs many people is dysfunctional in my opinion!).
Any process that leaves you drowning In It: wrestling with ten or twelve or thirteen hours of To Do’s and Have To’s in a ten hour day, instead of working On It, which as the Chief Executive Office of Chaos, Inc., is your job, is a problem.
And, anything that leaves you hoping for little more than getting Through It is certainly a lot less than any of us should find ourselves looking forward to.

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I am a fourth generation, forty-sixy year veteran of the automotive aftermarket: an ASE Certified Master Technician, Service Consultant and Approved Automotive Manager. I grew up in this business with a passion for all things mechanical, particularly those things relating to performance. That passion grew to include all aspects of management, leadership and personal development with a special focus on every day shop operations which resulted in an eight-volume series on automotive shop management published by Cengage Learning and Thomson Publishing. I have been a trade journalist writing to the aftermarket for almost thirty years, devoting my professional life to improving both the image and experience of everyone struggling to succeed in the service industry and I've worked diligently to improve communication and increase understanding between all segments of my industry. This site and everything on it is both an extension and a continuation of those efforts

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