Since I started in this industry I've been saddened by the lack of business training available. I've since gone outside the industry to get my fix. One of the things I do is attend a training expo that caters to the auto repair industry. That one trip yielded enough new insight into the big picture of my business that I went again this year. One of the biggest advantages that industry has over ours (aside from not having to keep a fleet of service vehicles) is that they regularly use 20 groups to hold each other accountable.
Here are some examples of 20 groups:
As the owner of the business I find that I can often use someone holding me accountable. Someone to ask WHY I doubled marketing expense, or WHY we had a terrible October. Probing to find answers and prevent repetition of mistakes, to grow the business and hold me accountable to the good and bad decisions I make. I have a friend and mentor who is a member of the top link above and I see the camaraderie and tough love the group gives each other, finding solutions and implementing them. A group of owners is infinitely stronger than one guy going it alone.
The typical features of a 20 group are:
composed of a group of non-competing members of the same industry, peers who can trust each other.
quarterly (ish) meetings, with completely open financials. The king shows up and stands financially naked in front of his peers, essentially.
Those meetings are near the site of a members office or shop, so the group can go in and help improve that operation while they are in town for the meeting.
A coordinator or trainer manages the group and provides financial composites to compare the businesses.
The members stay in touch very regularly to assist each other with their individual expertise throughout the year.
Sharing of forecasting tools and other accountability tools to runt he business.
There is much more to this as well, but these are the basics I see as an outsider.
Its not cheap to do this, the management of the group is a full time job practically, and the airfare alone is a big bite, but in our industry it doesn't even exist as far as I can tell. And I have no doubts of the results based on what I have seen in the automotive repair world. Just being mentored by someone in one of these groups has accelerated our growth considerably. We are now tripling our space for the second time and honing our SOP's to increase productivity, efficiency and profitability. The first half of last year we saw 19% net profitability.
The purpose of this post is to see if we can create a group or convince an established industry training group to create it. To see if anyone else has seen one within our industry. With ISC coming up, I figure it might be a good place for some of us to get together and if nothing else, create an informal version of this, though I have my doubts about how well it would work without a group coordinator.