New Year’s resolutions to improve your sanity and your business

The new year is upon us, and with that comes the weight of responsibility to completely turn our lives around. That’s right – New Year’s resolutions.

We’ve spent the last year – or more likely, our entire adult lives – nurturing bad habits that we intend to undo thanks to Ryan Seacrest’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve and the delusions created by too much celebratory champagne in the wee hours of the morning.

The commitment to improving your personal health can go a long way to improving your life, but don’t overlook the health of your business as you set goals to get better in 2016.

Lose some weight. How often do you look over your inventory offerings? No, I mean really look over it. Being “that guy” who has those hard-to-find parts is great, but is your bloated obsolescence collection taking up valuable shelf and warehouse space that could otherwise be occupied by parts with a higher turnover?

Stop smoking. Parts and service is a competitive business and turning away a customer is rarely a viable option, but forcing a blistering pace on your employees just to keep a customer away from a competitor is not a business strategy. If your technicians are turning wrenches so fast they’re hot-to-the-touch, and parts reps are selling parts they haven’t had on the shelf for weeks, you’re overworking them. Look at your turnover. Did it trend higher in 2015 versus 2013 and 2014? Are employees being poached because someone is offering more money, or are they moving on for a better, more livable working environment?

Travel more. We all have a comfort zone and yours is probably defined by trade area. What could stretching yourself an extra few miles do to your business? Maybe an extra 25 miles could pick up a new Top 25 customer. It’s also possible a new business sprang up inside your trade area this year that you didn’t know about. If you’ve already got your area covered like a blanket, think about a customer survey. There are tons of free sites, like, that will help you develop one you can email to your customer database. You may be surprised where a customer satisfaction survey can take your business.

Spend more time with your kids. There is no better or faster way to lose a good employee than abandoning their training. Whether it is an outside sales position, parts counter rep or technician, they thirst for training and knowledge. You probably hired them because you needed them to fill a specific role, but they took that job looking to advance their careers. Once you’ve identified someone as a good employee, commit to them as they have committed to you. And that brings us to our next resolution …

Enjoy life more. Happy employees lead to happy customers, which leads to happy managers and owners. It’s the business Circle of Life. What are your employees’ professional goals? Is there anything the company can do to help push them where they want to go? If your new hire wants to be a manager in the next three years, set them on a training path. When a problem crosses your desk in their area of expertise, hand it off to them. Get their feedback and let them try and solve it. This frees up your time to fight larger fires.

This year is expected to be a pretty good business-year for the aftermarket, but you can make it even better by setting, and keeping, a few resolutions to improve the health of your business.

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