The Cornerman by Chris West
by Chris West
February 2nd, 2022

What is Your Road Map?

I am excited to be a contributor and share insights I have garnered over my many years in our industry. Seeing as we’re kicking off 2022 with New Year’s Resolutions, I thought a good start would be talking about road maps.

When visiting and consulting with shops across the country, I liked to sit down with the owners and talk road maps. Just like it takes us from point A to B on vacation, it does the same for our businesses. The first step in creating your own is deciding the final destination. The final destination can be a goal or target, like $2 million in revenue or having multiple locations. It also can be a broader goal, such as creating a self-sufficient business that’s run “hands-free.” Once we have decided our end destination, we now pencil down the path to get there. The path consists of defining metrics and solutions that enable us to arrive at our destination.

Your road map is determined by your goals.

Light the Way

First, let’s look at the destination. When I ask, “What is your goal with your business?” most—if not all—respond with “make money.” Although this is a valid goal and a destination for your road map, I think we need to qualify the statement of “make money” and be more specific. Do we want to be able to support our family comfortably? Do we want to be a multi-millionaire? Do we mind working all day at the shop for 20 years or are we hoping to step away at some point? These more detailed answers may lead to entirely different road maps.

Now that we have a more specific goal as our destination, we can pencil out our road map. I am a visual learner and like to pencil ideas out and frequently use a flow chart (see below) to direct my answers and find the best path. Let’s say I want to have a “turn-key business.” This means my business will be self-sustaining, so I do not need to be present and can even sell for the right offer.

So this is my broad road map. It says that to have a turn-key business, I need employees that will allow me to step away, and then I need sales to provide revenue to pay for said employees and generate profit. The vast majority of us don’t have sales right off the bat and therefore lack employees because they cost money. Many of us start as owner-operators until we drive sales enough to the point where we need—and can afford—employees. Now I can define my road map a little more.

We can see that I am slowly mapping out my path but remember that it can be ever-changing and evolving. Maybe an opportunity to open a second location came up, or maybe we decide to add some more services. We want to be sure that, as we evaluate the next steps, we ask if it still aligns with our final destination or if we are changing the final destination to a different goal.

Building a self-reliant staff might be in your plans.

A perfect example of evaluating the steps in your road map would be to consider the level of work you’re doing and how that translates to an apprentice installer. If your goal is stepping away from the business, but you cater to a very high-end clientele that demands perfection and your skillset, how will you train or hire someone to match that same proficiency?

The road map might need to include that the business isn’t solely dependent on high-end clientele. Maybe that includes normal, everyday cars that can still generate revenue and don’t require a perfect install. If you only want to cater to the elite high-end, we might need to change the end goal and destination from a turn-key business. You can see in this example that by asking questions and looking at the steps to accomplish the end goal, the road map can be created or changed appropriately.

In closing, having a road map and a path to follow can keep you aligned with your end goals while also cutting down on the time of “figuring it out as you go.” Had I laid out a more precise road map in the beginning days of my business, I could have become turn-key (my goal) much earlier than I did. Once you have your end destination and how to get there, you focus on the path, which I plan to talk about in future blogs. I will discuss scaling, setting expectations and empowering for the win.

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  1. You da man Chris! Great write up. Absolutely on point. I just had this 2hr convo with my nephew. Road map along with your desired time line. Short, mid-term goals/markers to assure you’re on track and an exit plan, once you get there. Btw, I’m in DFW, all next week. Hmu, if you’re out that way.

  2. Thanks Mel! Great to hear from you! Hopefully we link up sometime soon!

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