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Adopt-A-Shop: Paying Success Forward

Recently, I had the opportunity to present at the 2012 ASCCA Summer Meeting, June 22, in Orange County, where I brought up a concept I’ve talked and written about in the past. That concept is: Adopt-a-Shop which is all about paying your success forward. 

Gene Morrill, Owner of Certified Automotive Specialties in Glendora and a member of ASCCA Chapter 5 came up to me after the presentation and asked if I would put something together explaining this idea in a little more detail, either for the members of his Chapter of for the Board of ASCCA. 

In thinking about what to do and how to do it, I decided create a short video first so I could see what I had to say about this idea of Adopting-a-Shop, before


attempting to write it all down.The video is available here and on the YouTube Channel I'mbuilding. If you have a moment, actually about sixteen moments, take a look and let me know what you think. I think it’s an idea worth sharing.


The first thing you need to know is that this is not a new idea… And, second, it isn’t really just mine. I was first exposed to the concept of reaching out to another shop owner in a very intimate and personal way by Ben Caswell, owner of Ben’s Transmission, in Santa Barbara, California, more years ago than either Ben or I would like to remember. 

It started shortly after Ben attended a Terry Greenhut seminar and was exposed to Terry’s philosophy of automotive shop management: his concept of successfully running an automotive service business, and it had a profound impact on both his life and his business…

Ben took those concepts to heart and made them work and in so doing turned his business around. In what was perhaps one of the first demonstrations of “Paying it Forward” I was ever exposed to, he chose to share what he’d learned with other shop owners in order to ensure they had the same opportunities he’d been given. In other words, he became an evangelist. But, unlike a lot of other evangelists, Ben chose to put his money where his mouth was!

The way he chose to practice his special brand of ‘paying it forward” was by personally choosing a shop owner he believed could or would benefit from being exposed to Terry’s message, and then paying for that shop owner to attend a subsequent seminar with a “You can pay me back from the additional profits you generate after you’ve implemented what you’ve learned and you can do it whenever you can….”

In many ways, this was the ultimate “Unconditional, No Risk, Money-Back Guarantee!” All the other shop owner had to do was show up with an open mind, which in many cases was asking a lot more than that statement might imply, and then just execute.

I know… It sounds a lot easier than it is, but difficult doesn’t necessarily mean impossible either!

The ultimate goal here is to elevate the repair community and build a stronger, more resilient, more profitable and successful service industry for us all. The goal is to increase association involvement and, perhaps, more important, commitment.

Having shop owners – especially, successful shop owners who are also active members of our associations- adopt another shop: a shop whose owner might be struggling, just might be the shortest and most direct way to accomplish both goals.

It certainly seems like the easiest way to accomplish them simultaneously.

And, that’s pretty much it… There are really very few among us who have not struggled: who have not left a lot of their own skin in the game while working their way toward success. There are few among who have not paid a significant price for those lessons in dollars, time and effort. And, there are few among us who would not or could not benefit if that experience was shared openly and willingly.

There are shops in our industry desperately in need of help. Shops and shop owners, struggling to survive every day. There are shops within our association that have an incredible amount of experience, wisdom and knowledge to share: enough experience, wisdom and knowledge to all but eliminate that struggling. Our job is to connect the dots

It sounds simple enough, but let’s not kid ourselves. This will not be a simple or easy fix. We have to overcome a number of issues, not the least of which are our own insecurities, the insecurities of those we hope to help, our natural resistance to change – any kind of change: positive or negative, issues of trust on both sides of this inter-personal equation, the false notion of somehow losing your “competitive edge” – whatever that means, and a stubborn unwillingness to accept help from anyone – least of all someone who might be perceived as a competitor. But, nothing will ever change for any of us unless or until we overcome any and all of these obstacles and muster the courage to do something different, something bold, something decisive.

We have the knowledge base. We have members within our associations, within our industry, who have the knowledge and ability to change the lives of those marginal shop owners out there who are interested and willing to accept help. If successful, we can effectively double the size of our associations if we can get past the natural reluctance to share what we’ve learned.

We can double the size of our institutions if we can just get past the kind of ‘Scarcity Mentality’ that suggests there is only one pie with a finite number of slices which are getting smaller and thinner all the time. 

I believe there is a technology for everything… Adopting-a-Shop included. But, this isn’t the time or place to discuss the details of how best to accomplish this strategy or these goals. It is, however, the time and place to decide whether or not we are satisfied with the way things are and what we are willing to do about it if we’re not…

Albert Gray, in a speech entitled “The Common Denominator of Success” delivered before the National Association of Life Insurance Underwriters in 1940, suggested that successful people are successful because they form the habit of doing those things people who are unsuccessful are unwilling to do… I might add that not all those who struggle for success are unsuccessful because they choose to remain that way. Some may be incapable due to a lack of understanding, education or experience. 

Those of us who are affiliated have already done at least one of the things the majority of unsuccessful people in our industry are either unwilling or unable to do, and that is JOIN… We can double the size of our organizations by doing one more thing many people are reluctant to do and that’s reach out to another shop owner to help them reach the next level of their success. 

Don’t get too excited, at least not yet. While it might double the size of our organizations, it would still leave us with the vast majority – more than seventy percent - of the shops out there, unaffiliated, isolated and, perhaps, even struggling!

Whether you are an association member or you are unaffiliated, I’d like to know what you think about this concept: How it could work… Why you think it won’t. 

I’m available to discuss this idea further if there is an interest… You can reach me here, at: mitchs@schneidersauto.net or very shortly, through http://www.mitchschneidersworld.com (which is under construction and not quite ready for prime time yet). 

Until then, stay well, take care, make money, have fun and don’t do business with anyone you don’t like… 

There is probably a very good reason you don’t like them and you don’t really need to find out what that reason is…




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