Never ever, ever hire a friend. You’ve heard it before. I’ve heard it too. Three years ago, I thought ‘I was different, therefore that rule didn’t apply to me’ and I’ve made the mistake of hiring friends. Eighteen months ago, a friend I hired and I had to have a very difficult and awkward conversation to inform him that the new business that I formed and hired him to run wasn’t working out, so I had to let him go.
A few years back I partnered up with my best friend to form a new company. Originally it seemed to be the perfect union, but you guessed, things went bad and a very difficult decision had to be made and we dissolved the company (and our friendship too).
Then, last year, I hired yet another friend to head up a new venture because I was so cocky that I was sure that these two previous experiences were nothing but flukes and the ‘don’t hire a friend’ rule still didn’t apply to me. Two weeks ago, again, I had to have another very difficult conversation with my dear friend that I had to let her go too. Gut wrenching to say the least.
The same goes when hiring new auto repair shop employees. Finding new technicians, and KEEPING them as well. I have a fairly new client, who is in need of getting more customers in their auto repair shop & who’s auto repair shop has taken a pretty severe nosedive over the past year. Car counts are down. Auto Repair Sales are way down. And because of the loyalty that he has for his large staff, who have been with him for several years, he refuses to let anyone go. To keep them busy (since he’s paying them hourly anyway), he’s spending thousands of dollars every month to advertise cheap $12 oil changes to attract and get more customers in his auto repair shop that he already knows are low quality and will not spend any more money on their cars.
How about you? Is there a business venture that’s not working out? Are you over-staffed? Is there that ‘problem employee’ that you still haven’t gotten rid of? If so, why? Look, as a auto repair business owner, you take huge risks. You pour your blood, sweat and tears into your business. You make the difficult decisions. Auto repair marketing decisions. You get the blame when things go wrong. You are the one who spends the sleepless nights worrying about your business. And your reward for all of this… PROFITABILITY! If there is anything standing in the way of your rewards, get rid of it. Grow a pair. It’s the job of a business owner to make difficult decisions. Have that difficult conversation.
Today marks the tenth anniversary of the first day I ever had to pick up the ax and fire an employee. It came 11 days before Christmas which, as you may realize, is a really crappy time of year to let someone go. No, I’m not a scrooge, I’m a realist. You may be wondering ‘when is the right time when firing friends?’ There will never be the ‘right’ time to let someone go. If they gotta go, they gotta go NOW – regardless of what time of year it is.
Am I being too hard-hearted? Am I exposing my ugly underbelly and revealing the ruthless profit-seeking businessman that I really am? If so, I’m sorry.
Forget that you ever read this weeks message. Go ahead and keep that employee that’s causing all those problems or sucking all your profits away. Revel in the fact that you’re keeping him happy, putting food on his table, putting his kids through college, and putting lots of goodies under his Christmas tree – even if you may be struggling to the same for your own family.
I’d love to hear your comments. Please write them below.
Ron Ipach, Repair Shop Coach