A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats

As a shop owner and as a technician I have benefited so much from the goodwill of others in my profession.

I have had many mentors who have taught me both how to be a better manager and how to be a better technician.  This is an interesting industry because technology is constantly changing both what we need to do and how we go about doing it.

I think 10-20 years ago a good mechanic could still largely exist by him/herself.  Learning newer technologies and the latest vehicle models could be done from shop manuals and the occasional training class.

Today this is just not so.  No man/woman can be an island.  In our shop we rely on technical networks like iATN and BIMRS as well as Autonerdz and several others.  Additionally Alldata is a technicial information system containing repair procedures – it is constantly updated and we rely on it every day.  Running an automotive shop today, especially one known for handling the tough probems, would be near impossible without a good high-speed internet connection.

What’s interesting though, and more the source of inspiration for blogging, is the real synergy that results from shops and technicians sharing beyond more traditional bounds.  Near our shop, for example, are several ‘mom and pops’ shops that have been in business for a long time and have a different business model than our’s.  We have tried to extend a hand of friendship to them and they have recipricated.  Together now we know we have more resources at our disposal and our shop and theirs have really gained from the friendship.  Certainly there are those that tell us “that’s your competition” and we shouldn’t be sharing like this.  We have found we’re better off this way.  And, what’s even better is, our clients are better off because we share in solving their problems.

Jason, one of our very talented technicians, is constantly contacted by people from all over the country to get his help on custom-tuning engine management systems.  He is very sharing with his talent and, I believe, has become better at that speciality because of it.  He gets to play with more custom engine management systems than just about anybody.  This builds his talent and his willingness to share opens the door to give him this exposure.  Pretty neat and everybody wins.

I am personal friends with Cecil Bullard, an automotive training guru and owner of Automofo.com.  I have heard several shop owners rave about how Cecil literally saved their businesses and their livelihoods.  One such case he never charged a cent for.  Cecil has been huge in helping our shop keep on the right path and I’m certain without his help, help he willingly gives, we would have had a much harder time building a successful business or any business at all.

I hear people fearful of the modern world we live in and the instant access we have to millions of people.  Certainly the internet has brought some bad things into our lives but I sincerely believe that the strengths brought to us by the power of networks far outweigh these bad things.

An interesting book to read on this topic is Wikinomics:  How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything.

Pick up a copy and read it – I think it’ll reshape your attitudes about sharing and collaboration.  I can certainly testify that collaboration in my industry, even with so-called competitors, has always resulted in win-win.  I think paradigms are shifting and this kind of attitude towards sharing is going to be required (if it isn’t already) to be the very best in any field – it’s happening in our’s.

How cool is that?