Success Strategies - January/February - 2020

2020 Vision

I predict that journalists everywhere will soon be writing articles about “2020 Vision.” It’s just so convenient to think about the year as a metaphor for “perfect vision.” What this means to you is the calendar can become your daily reminder to see what you most need to see.

For instance, here are some things you need to consider for a more accurate, 20/20 vision of your company.

  • Where are your energy and resources paying off, and where are they wasted?
  • Which of your people are contributing the best, and what do they need to help them do better?
  • Where are your profits coming from, and where are your expenses being incurred?
  • Which times of day and stages of the work cycle are the most productive for you and your shop?
  • What other options do your customers have, and how can you compete against those alternatives?
  • How many jobs are you losing even though you can do them better than your competition?
  • What can other people tell you, but they don’t?

Optometrists tell us that 20/20 vision is the ideal. It’s not near-sighted nor far-sighted; it’s just right. Having perfect vision would undoubtedly help you run your transmission or auto repair business better; wouldn’t it? We need to see what’s there for us in order to take part in the available opportunities. The trouble is, we think that we do already see things as they are, and we blindly plow ahead without realizing our vision was out of whack.

For instance, Eye Doctors tell us that everyone has blind spots. These are portions of our eyes where we literally don’t always see what’s there. Check online, and you’ll probably find half a dozen “blind spot self-tests.” Here’s one you can try for free: www. Once the image being viewed falls into the blind spot, our brain literally tricks us into thinking that the images or patterns aren’t there!

We often experience blind spots with our businesses, as well. This most commonly occurs within routines It’s when we get used to our work cycle; we get comfortable with our coworkers and suppliers; we establish habitual patterns, and then we make assumptions. That’s where the danger lies. Once we think we’ve figured things out, we lose focus. When this happens, we stop paying attention to the details, and we fail to recognize crucial elements that guide and protect us from just blindly pushing forward. We just keep doing it the same way we’ve always done it and wonder why we aren’t getting better results.

If you get the same printed production reports every week, you probably have a habit pattern of what key indicators you look at, and if they’re reasonable, you just set them aside and go on with the rest of your week. By not looking for alternatives, it would be easy for new information to be right before your eyes but in your blind spot. Or, on your monthly financial reports, you may be following the work in versus work out ratio or the profitability per job, but completely missing a developing problem that doesn’t show up in those numbers.

I’m partial to sales reports. In sales, we look at many factors and ratios. Here’s a sample list.

  • Number of new prospects acquired,
  • Number of new contacts made,
  • Number of calls required to book an appointment,
  • The number of inquiries from advertising, from referrals, from signage, from former customers, etc.
  • The ratio of appointments to scheduled jobs,
  • The hours required per job for the work, for customer communications, for ordering parts, etc.
  • The profitability per repair order.
  • The number of reworks or second appointments,
  • The number of positive online reviews or testimonial letters.

The numbers can tell us much more than we typically ask them to reveal. If you know what to look at, you’ll wonder about different things, and then you’ll ask better questions. That’s how you get better information.

  • Challenge yourself to think about things differently. As we enter a new year, maybe it’s time to rethink some of your daily patterns and routines.
  • What time do you get up in the morning?
  • What’s the first thing you do every day? How’s that working for you?
  • When you get to work, what do you do first, next, etc.?
  • Can others predict what you’ll say or do when you first see them each day?
  • Are you too entrenched in your ways?
  • Should you reconsider the workflow in your shop?
  • Where do you keep your records, your tools, other important and valuable stuff? Is there a better place that is more convenient and safer for your needs?

Now’s a good time to rethink and maybe improve your patterns. Interrupt your routines to see if there’s a better way. You can always return to the old ways if they turn out to be the best.

The second part of 2020 Vision is seeing forward. What you see in the future is what you’ll need to prepare for. If you expect a shortage of something, you’ll begin to accumulate it. If you expect abundance, then you might cull out the extra, but don’t become wasteful. If you see new opportunities or threats, prepare for them.

Get clear on how you want things to be and describe your ideal future next year and beyond – in writing. If it’s not written, then it’s just a dream. Only written goals have the full power to compel us to achieve them.

Cultivate the habit of talking about the business you’d like to have. Discuss it with your team, your stakeholders, your family, and your advisors. Encourage your team members to daydream with you about how good it could be if the breaks go your way and you do what’s needed. Make this a vital part of your culture, like Disney does when it claims to be “The Happiest Place on Earth.” The more it’s talked about, the more it’s acted upon, and the more likely it is to actually happen. Ask daily, “How would the shop we want to be, do the things we’re doing?”

Stephen Covey observed, “Successful people don’t do things differently, they do different things.” You’re the person who must provide the vision and leadership to make 2020 whatever it will become. Your thinking and your vision must combine to bring it into focus. You and your team can make your 2020 Vision a reality. Have a great year, you deserve it.

Jim Cathcart is a long-time friend of ATRA and a regular contributor to GEARS. He helps people succeed by keeping them focused on the Why in what they do, and by showing them better and better ways to get things done. Jim is a professional speaker and seminar leader on the subject of How to Grow Your Success. He can be contacted at His latest book is The Power Minute and is available wherever books are sold. ISBN: 978-1-62865-633-6.