Success Strategies - July - 2020

The Virtual Era

One day, when my grandfather, Clarence Earl Cathcart, Sr. was courting my grandmother, he rode by her house, standing on two horses, riding them in tandem down the road. I guess he was a show-off sometimes like I am now. Earl Senior grew up at the end of the Agricultural Era. Even though he worked for the railroad and later for the telephone company, most of the world was still farming, and it seemed that everyone had a horse or two – or at least they wanted one.

When my father, Earl Junior, was born, our country was fully engaged in the Industrial Era. Machines were taking over many aspects of almost every business. Thomas Edison and his friends, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, and Charles Lindbergh collaborated to create the greatest advancements known to man. Like my grandfather, my dad worked for the telephone company and became a lineman, installer, repairman, and then a technician – a “repeater man.”

I was born at the end of World War II and reached adulthood as we entered the Information Age. When I joined the workforce, I specialized in what you might call the exchange of information. It was thrilling to come along at just the right time for the explosion that occurred in my chosen field. I became a trainer, author, and professional speaker. I’ve written over 20 books, delivered over 3,300 paid speeches and seminars around the world. Recently, I’ve also become a University Professor and a Mentor to High Achievers.

My son is also a product of the Information Age. He chose to specialize in human resources, training, and management. However, his children (my grandchildren) arrived early in the 21st Century, and into what we can now call the Virtual Era. Sure, Edison had the lightbulb, Ford had the automobile, and Steve Jobs and Bill Gates had computers, but my grandchildren have smartphones and virtually unfettered access to learn about any subject easily and instantly.

Schools no longer fill the vital role they once did. The virtual classroom has arrived, and many families have chosen to homeschool over public schools. Hey, when YouTube can teach you more than the so-called teacher or classroom leader at your local schoolhouse, why not?

Even ATRA has created and launched the virtual classroom with its VTS – Virtual Training Solutions platform. If you haven’t already done so, you should check it out on the ATRA Members Website at

Recently, I’ve shifted my business from its 43-year old model. While I still do live keynote speaking and training events, now I’m doing mostly online small group mentoring. I work with high achievers from around the world and help them Think Like A Start-Up, Again.

So, how do you repair a transmission in a virtual world? You don’t, of course. But many other aspects of your business will become virtual – diagnosis, customer updates, photos and questions posted online, collaborations with other technicians about special situations, shipping updates, and more. All of these can be done without face-to-face contact. In fact, cell phones are already used more than laptops or desktop computers.

That brings up another issue. What is the most important thing that people care about in a virtual world? The answer is in the question – it’s “virtue.”

On the internet, with all its glitz, whistles, and bells, it’s easy to appear impressive and credible even for businesses operating from a closet – unfortunately, even for companies with bad intentions. We’ve become skeptical about just about everything – even about each other. What we want to know, above all else, is, “Can I trust you?”

If you’re a person of virtue, running an ethical auto repair business, then I can relax and place my car and myself in your hands. If you’re not virtuous, then I can never relax lest you take advantage of me.

So, folks, the bottom line is right where it’s always been. We want to do business with people we can trust – good people who do the right thing, even when they might be able to get away with doing the wrong thing. We want to know, “Does this person care about me and my vehicle?” and, “When I turn my back, will they still be trustworthy?”

Demonstrate that your shop solves those concerns, and you’ll have the trust, loyalty, and affection of everyone who does business with you.