How to Become a Successful Business Owner
Steve is the founder of SK motorsport, and then, expert, in becoming a successful, business owner in today's. Ever-changing, business, landscape Steve, knew is all about persistence and adaptation. In. Today's episode we're gonna be talking to this local business legend stick, around to, see exactly what steps Steve, took to, create a successful company. I mean. I attributer success to my employees I mean the honor you know you gotta have the right people in place what. Really helps a shop owner or business owner is if you have your business, in order and you have things in place you have systems in place that. Attracts good people you know they want to work for people that are organized they want to work with people that are productive you. Know you have to take, the mindset that you're gonna do whatever it takes to be successful you know it's a lot, of businesses fail early on and it's just one of those things that you, know when you realize that it's, nothing's, gonna be given to you that you have to work super hard twice as hard as anybody else that's you. Know you go just basically do whatever it takes, to get, to the next level you. Know that's the number one rule is when it's when it's slow you gotta promote so you gotta get, out there and do whatever it takes whether it's picking up the phone and calling customers you haven't heard from for a while you, still implement four things that work is if something works you know why change it before. We go in and talk to this guy guys make sure to LIKE subscribe and. Comment down below let's, go. It's. Up guys. Good. How are you Sergey with up flip TV we're. Trying to get to Steve, Steve, believer Steve yeah sweet. Okay. Right through the door and up into the last yeah all right. There's. The man the myth the legend, Steve himself, how. Are you sir gee it's nice to meet you how, did you get started in the business world in general like not even though this shop yeah like where were you as young. In yeah yeah just kind of growing up you know I've come. To call it genetics in a sense I mean my dad, always had his, own business never, really worked for anybody else and from, the time I was in high school I was always wheeling. And dealing and trying to you, know sell something whether it was at the swap meet or you know some, other way you know I was always really a busy. Trying. To make things happen you know what I called getting, my hustle on you know it's not for sure how it work but yeah, that kind of started back, then and then I always had. A customer service job where I was talking to people and both that's definitely. You. Know interacting, and getting to know just. That that side of a the. Economy and I met a guy at, church. That. Had. A business in Blaine, that, he. Needed help with and we hit it off real well and it working for him for. About. Six years so, six or seven years but the cool thing about that business was that I. Interacted. With all. Of our customers were business, owners so they were all Canadian. Business owners that used. Our address, for their for their business so I was a constant interacting with them with you. Know what they're doing every day and and what works for them and you get to know people pretty well so. And. One of our one of our customers, there was a Volkswagen, performance. Shop up. In Canada there and I. Kind. Of gravitated towards, that being a guy I love cars and stuff. We've. Done a lot of work out here this is a an. Existing, shop afford so. Transmission. Shop. For. About 10 years and it was another. Auto repair shop for about 20 years so I came in here probably. Out six months ago and I just gutted, the whole place basically so. We've done a lot of remodeling, getting. Room, we made another Bay here I lifted the office up about eight feet and. It, wasn't always this clean no. It wasn't like I can expect, with the transmission shop or some notes.
And Everything everywhere essentially, someone had been standing here yeah 30 years working action when we first walked in here this floor was it, was really gross it, was built like this originally, but it uh you. Know had some outdated siding, on it and whatnot but it it kind of was a weird building you know that just would, look dated and it just, the shape of it was kind of strange so you, know I really put. A lot of thought and passion, into the outside of this building I can tell I can tell a. Lot of physical, labor I did most of the work myself oh really yeah, oh so you're almost an auto guy and my son yeah well so. It, was you know I found, these these panels, that are, popular. Now and I decided I was gonna do the whole building in that so the bottom half of the building was what, they call t 111, which is an older wood and, it. Was yellow so yeah. And there, was signs all over the place from the old shop so, we went through and painted. These panels ahead of time and and, then painted the trim ahead of time oh just before you put them on yeah which is a lot more labor-intensive than we'll get to yeah than what you normally would do really most people when they install that they're just gonna paint over the top of it right we're gonna be done but then. We added all the little little rivets there to kind of give it that industrial, look so. So. This face is our customer waiting area and this is a, space that is really important to me because I, know that, our, customers have. An. Appreciation for our, level of professionalism. And originally. This room was was pretty rundown I mean it was uh I've, been before. You guys came in whatnot. So I really, put, a lot of time and effort into this room basically deaded the whole thing so we had a, drop, ceiling in here this was really. Old miss oh the one that had like meth tiles, or whatever in the roof yeah yeah fluorescent. Lights and, all the heating was over here so. Over. There we had to create kind of a flow for the customers, right to make sure that they were, comfortable in, here ya know it's a little. Bit smaller space than we had before but, you, know building this wall here and having the couch there kind of creates, a little bit of space there and some privacy for them walking into the bathroom oh yeah love, it's. Good got a TV here going and golf TV going say. Entertainers. And you, come in here and you just get this good feeling like you're not you're not really out of auto shop it's like these, people are ready to care for you I don't know especially, I like the wall color - yeah it's like a nice warm feeling yeah, you're not in here like like. For example if I'm just to do that cuz or like a lady, that has nothing to do with cars she doesn't want to come into like a super, dirty auto shop and be like looking, for the owner to ask him where to go you know yeah yeah that's, great yeah of it yes it's all about comfort yeah just creating a great experience for sure. And. Actually started my love for cars when I was 17. My dad bought. A 65, Mustang that. Was completely done up so I would spent my junior senior, here driving this car. That would literally, do burnouts. So. Yeah so that kind, of started the passion for cars and, then when I was, working at the freight place. Learning. About, different. Companies there one, was the, Volkswagen. And Audi shop. There and they you. Know they they, were doing they were doing really well it looked like to me so I was, doing all their shipping for him all the parts were coming you can tell they're doing good right yeah seem like it yeah you know and at, the time it was way back before the internet was around so, things. Were done in magazines and and, whatnot you do car shows that kind of stuff to kind, of move your product along but.
Then I. Started. Realized that you know this is something. I could do potentially, okay I bought a car and then fixing, it up as of 84, Volkswagen, Rabbit that I went. Crazy on everything. Every kid wants to do you know I did the suspension, the brakes the, you know engine swap I did the whole nine yards, and, that I kind of really started the thing for me and I. Was down here in Bellingham driving around one day and this, guy pulled, over on the side of the road and check, out your car he, pulled you over oh yeah yeah he's. Like where do all these parts oh yeah well you know I got, a connection up in Canada and get stuff for him so that. Kind of started it out honestly you know I kind. Of helped him out yeah, so, after that I pretty, much took, over a section, of the warehouse where I was working and we started. Buying, cars and parts anyway so this guy he had a warehouse of his own well, the place I worked hell yeah, so then you got to be in charge of that sexually. Yeah yeah and my boss at the time you know he was like I said really super cool with me and he let me kind of do whatever I needed. To do you, know during that journey with, him, there you know there was some other things that I was learning, to do as I was you know getting older about about business and I. Was able to you know broker some pretty good jobs. For myself that I could, I could start to see that I wanted, to be self-employed. So. I know absolutely, nothing about, cars basically yeah just I know they have an engine so yeah take me on the shop show me how everything, works yeah basically, we have it's called a work flow here and we're gonna a, customer, comes to the front counter they'll come in and they'll, call. Our. Dispatch, out here to the shop and. Basically. Each technician has their own tablet Yahoo, ice. Patch the work via the. Tablet oh okay, so it's kind of like a McDonald, someone places, an order and they have like their little task or something he can. Draw an order so they'll just grab, these keys hanging, on the racks there and they're all numbered so grab. The keys, that are out of order and get to work so I'll pull the car in here and the cars are heavy so you have to.
Safely. And securely and. Centers. We have to plan. Out where these lifts were gonna be position, yeah luckily, for us this building was was built for auto repair so okay, based in here is very well calculated. Yeah and we. Didn't have any problems especially with the cars we work on here there's definitely some we don't do big trucks or anything like that so you. Know the longer, vehicle, would. Have a problem in here where the shorter ones don't right right yeah it's a lot more efficient no you're not fixing limos in here no sorry. Here's a lift so you just have the arms that go under, the car and there's. Position, points on each vehicle that that. Made, by the manufacturer that allow you to lift the car oh ok so the car doesn't just, like fold in half well yeah and it doesn't ruin, the body oh okay yeah but not so is that so that's like somewhere yeah so like right here the position this is a pinch well they call it and, then sometimes they'll have a pad. Lift there yeah so we get the car secured here and then you just got to control. Operate. The lift up and down. And. Then you, are. Basically now. Not just working, in. The business but you're working on the business so you're you're up here you're in your office what is a typical day for you look like. Yeah. Every day I you know it's it's it's nice I mean lately it's been a little hectic with a new move and buying the new building and whatnot but you. Know everyday I can pretty much you, know come and go as I need to and you. Know but I get up early every day yeah that's one of my things with how, early I get the five five No Wow and I'm up at 5:00 and I'm at the gym for about an hour every, day and every day every day no except, we can take the weekends off but yes I feel like that's a very common. Thing amongst like really good business owners first, of all they're always up early they're always exercising. They're doing stuff with their body. Yeah. I was complaining today about getting up at 7:30 so. Yeah. So it becomes a habit you need of great habits and stuff so but yeah I just do that kind and I come in here and I go home and then I'll you. Know take care of my kids if they need to get to school or whatever I'll take that you know get. That handled if. Anything. Else needs to be done I can that can do, pretty much whatever I come here and then I'll, spend a couple you know a couple hours in my office in the morning kind of doing the books and yeah making, sure everything's handled, you. Know I still have some some tasks that I do during. The day bookkeeping is one of them and in the marketing which. I'm slowly handing off to Joe, Ryan here so that I can do that it frees up more time you know so I'm not like stuck down work on the cars anymore not stuck on the front counter anymore I'm not stuck doing the marketing you know you're just delegating, things and as. You go along so frees you up so yeah so I'm able to kind of take on big projects you know doing, this building was a big one I was I was gone from the shop for four, months I check in in the morning but I was, here every day grinding.
Away Getting this place ready for our move. Originally. This is a transmission shop so, the I had four. Lifts over there and then in here was their teardown room which, they. Did all the rebuilding, the transmission, although the old and dirty work yeah here we got him dumb he just went to town we had to create a place out about and we soaked the walls with. TSP, and we you know primer and cleaned. Up nice so yeah, we didn't have a good little lunch, room area for the guys so yeah, good afternoon he moved, in so some nice little seats made from oil yeah like, that yes see this is super creative those things it took us a long time to get those are yeah we saw him we were down in in. Vegas and. One. Of them in a car repair show and one, of our suppliers had this at their display out for, the show I love that and love that definitely, fits. About. 10 years of selling parts and working on the cars myself so you know the internet coming along kind of making it really challenging, I decided. Something had to change, you, know I had no experience with working at a shop I had no experience with being, a service writer and even really know what a service writer did, but. I you know got, some some. Some education, and some training and, started. Putting things to work that I was learning and first thing I did was I hired a master technician yeah and when. That happened that really was. A game changer for he first higher than that, yeah that was my very first hire but that was my my first qualified. Higher so it was a guy, that was very. Very good at working on cars more qualified, than yourself oh yeah, and, I had no idea anybody like that was even out there honestly, yeah because it's a blew, me away and I just saw instantly, that I was gonna have a totally, different business model and things are gonna change quickly, it's great yeah so they, did about, 2010. I think it was about, 2010, yeah yeah. In a different direction and, so, we were in a different location than, we are now and then we were before, but, I had a smaller shop and I think I had like two lifts or something like that you. Know we realized, real quick that we were gonna have to move that's, it that's a good problem yeah, cuz I was he, when he came in I was working on four cars and I couldn't, figure out some of the stuff with them and was really struggling here and there and yeah he came in and just said give. Me more cars to fix to my so loud. Someone. Could take so much off of your plate yeah yeah, so, that kind of started everything and getting getting, another business towards hat today guys yeah and then eventually, over time you've hired more people problem yeah okay, yeah. So over time you know that basically we haven't him in the in the in the in the back we call it freed. Me up to go to the front counter which is you know what I was better at or felt like I was better at so. When that happened you know I was on the front counter more and then I realized, I had to you know basically get. I got the shop running to where I didn't, have to be out there the actual work, itself yeah, with guys that I trusted that need way more than I did and that can get the job done right and quickly and Senate. Focused on the front when I was able to get you know do the same thing in the front where I would replace myself and, absolutely. Okay you thought like for a desk. Which. Technician, has their own toolbox, so it's a big investment for these guys to come in and, involved, in the industry that yeah, all their own tools and so you're saying this all this stuff is really expensive oh yeah oh yeah yeah so. Then you know it's a good. Way to keep things organized and it's, all part of working, as. An automotive technicians being efficient so you want to have the organization of your tools yeah and, be able to get to them quickly and know where things are and, it. Just makes things go a lot better so, nice okay so who's who's paying for all this stuff like this every single technician. Is basically their own person, that's a great question yeah there's, hand tools the obviously using caseware own hand tools okay um there's. Shop tools - you like them expensive - like we have over here the scan tools and the Diagnostics.
Equipment That's a shop, responsibility. That usually, pay for that yeah any of the oil. Totes. And containers, and Drano cutting that kind of stuff yeah just some more general stuff no no technicians, paying for their own lift and so no. Geez, cost by the way like I'm just curious probably, around 3500, bucks to 3,500, oh okay not, 35,000, oh no, okay I know that's not too bad I mean it's, definite probably gets up there yeah if, you count the install when we moved over here I did hire a company Gottman and you does install not the most simple thing I mean we could do it but it's not something you want to mess with for sure yeah you. Know we've cars dropping from 10 feet. Honestly, in our industry wouldn't say there's a ton of technicians, looking for work because and honestly my, mother I always say as funny as the, good ones are always working so what. Really, helps a shop owner or business owner is if you have your business in order and you have things in place you, have systems in place that, attracts. Good people you know they want to work for people that are organized in want to work for people that are productive so. You know as your reputation grows it just kind of perpetuates, itself. And, they know who you are so but. You know there's usually the good ones are working so there's a lot of crazy, tactics, nowadays that shop owners have to take to to. Get people, now. You know once. In a while you know you got to do what you got to do but it's a that's, how it goes but you know look pay for us I don't have a high turnover I'm most of my guys have been with me for several, years now so that's. Just the key you know you just got to make sure that you attract you can attract people. You. Hired first of all your master's technician and I'm guessing there's more than one now yeah I'm three what's the training look like for them like do they have to go through something yes ideally, you know there's a there's the process for them as well, you know when I'm when I'm looking at a new hire for a technician yeah you know I like. To see that they've gone to at least two years of school and, then honestly it's it's good for guys to have, training you. Know you know probably. Not the best environment but a real structure environment like the dealership or something like this so somebody's been at the dealer for a couple years they've got a two-year, degree then we can we can work with that so you have an open floor shop, right the people are interacting with each other and the employees all the time there's, attitude. Or mindset, like when you're when when you're going through the hiring process is that play a big role as well oh is, it mostly, just like your technical, skills or you say well. Yeah I mean it's you know in our industry it's really hard to find qualified. Technicians, so you. Know attitude is a big part because they're spending eight hours a day together and you know and then and honestly it's not the easiest work in the world because you know the cars are complicated, and it can get frustrating sometimes shiny tree here so you know you're gonna do you're gonna be a human being once in a while, but. Yeah it's it's really important to have you. Know outgoing, people that are that are happy and they get along and you can work well together that's, very very important. There's. A lot of tools you have to buy his, owner so I call these specialty tools yeah they're. You, know every. Size every engine has its own tools, all right here's a lot of specialty hand tools you know the techs aren't gonna buy these, necessarily, because we don't use them all the time yeah, to be honest I don't think I've seen any of these tools ever yeah, cuz they look very special to me yeah not every shop has. You. Know it's a good. Thing about our industry too is if you're if you're on good terms with most of the shops help, each other out and ensure that pools and their, stuff we don't have anyone so other stuff that you.
Probably Up to like them don't have it we order, it from like Bosnia. Or something so, yeah, there's. A lot of lot. Of stuff that goes into it it's always changing but that's one of the good things about being specialized, in, the European car so you have a handle. On that here officer for more efficient when working on vehicles but we're able. To have the tools ready to go so it's like it's important that you guys found your like your niche right yeah yeah, call. It general repair chopper you're working on everything yeah oh you're buying tools every day for sure you know it's, really expensive yeah here, you have like everything specific, cut out for each car yeah but okay. We've. Been talking about the auto industry, most of this video, to. The people at home that have, nothing to do with cars but they're they want to become a business owner doesn't matter what it may be you know. There's. A big there's a really big difference between an employee and a business owner yeah what is that difference you know what, do they need to do what, kind of person do they need to become yeah. You basically, you. Know you have to take, the mindset that you're gonna do whatever it takes to be successful you know it's a it's, a lot of businesses fail early on and it's just one of those things that you. Know when you realize that it's, nothing's, gonna be given to you that you have to work super hard twice as hard as anybody else that you, know you got to just basically do whatever it takes, to to, get to the next level yeah you, know that's that's that's what it takes you just have to have a mindset going in every day that you're you're. You know you're here for your employees you're here for your customers and you're, here to make it happen you know, a good, motivation, a good motivating, factor you know for. Me was my family and being able to support. Them doing this and then being self, self-sufficient. And self employed so, I'm. Finding that fire every day yeah I'm sure your family appreciates that when you need to take some time or emergency. Happens you can you, know you can take off the time of work right yeah oh yeah it's it's it's nice to be able to just kind of come and go and once things are set up and operational, they call it and doing your job you're, free to go so. What. Steps do you take for example let's say you're kind of running low businesses, just a slow season is, there some sort of like outreach some sort of technique I don't know someone, could use to like, what do you you know send out card or something like there's things we can do you know based off what we we see like last week we had a slow week so let's, let's send out an email blast but let's send out a you, know some. Some postcards or something like that but, you. Know that's the number one rule is when it's when it's slow you got to promote so you got to get, out there and do whatever it takes whether it's picking up the phone and calling customers you haven't heard from for a while or, like I said doing an email blast or doing some social media stuff but you. Know marketing, is funny in this business it's not like there's a magic, pill for one thing I mean you have to basically do at all you know if you want to stay busy so. Yeah. Like you can't yeah, I mean marketing's, changed quite a bit you know we used, to always only do print and that kind of thing and how things are more digital but you, don't ever want to like I found go away from from the old ways either you know I tried that there's, my one point and it wasn't, successful especially wonderwhat, interaction, a lot of. The. Digital world is expanding. The possibility, that they stopped talking to they stop calling their customers just because they know that they're constantly, being put, in front of them and then that, loses, you know the direction. Of and your customers just stopped coming like, I said I live one point and thought that it was the time to pull, out all of my what I've been being it's basically the printed portion. Of our marketing and that was not the right thing to do you know and I noticed a dip.
In In in sales and whatnot so I made. Sure that you know every year going forward that we have a plan for, marketing and that we still implement, the things that work because if something works you know why change it yeah. Why. Do you think the shop sticks is so successful I mean I attributed to, my employees I mean the other you, know you gotta have the right people in place you know not only yeah. Somebody they can you know like through with it fixing, the cars that's able to fix the cars better than me but also that's you know just that there have. A good flow a good good continuity with each other you. Know and then people that you, know that are trained, properly they, can get your, the job done that needs to get done so but. Just us being you know transparent, with with our customers, has really helped us be, successful. Yeah, you. Know that that's the big thing our industry is pretty challenged, with with. That and a lot of people don't necessarily, trust the shops that they have to take their cars to so sure yeah for us to be able or stories, about that yeah so I mean for us to be able to just be honest and transparent and, and just, let. Them know what they can expect it it really has gone a long way and it just it compounds itself so but, you know having a successful business takes time you know, you have to put in your put in your your, time and and get, your, reputation built up and you know repeat customers are big so you gotta make sure you take care of them and it all just kind of perpetuates, itself so like retention, right you want those customers to come be coming back to you after five years there you know repair goes wrong or something if possible, ya know so you go out of your way to make sure that you know the money they spend with you is is well-spent you know it may be a little bit more expensive but. You. Know then there's always somebody can do it cheaper but you know we have a warranty, that backs all of our work and and we've been able to really build a lot of confidence in the community with yeah. What. I'd recommend for you know an employee or a technician. That wants to have his own shop which is the majority. People that get into this business and our technicians, themselves, my. Situation is a little bit different, but. The majority of my technicians so they'll they'll. They'll see they'll be in that environment working for somebody else and they'll want what, the owner has it'll think, that it's you know it's it's it's much better and much greener they'll, get into it without the skills that, it takes to run the business that's the side of things that they don't understand they can fix cars really well but they can't fix their business really well they can't talk to clients right the can do sales they, might be heard too good at talking to clients but just the overall business cuz there's a lot more that goes into it than that as well it's just you, know creating, a good, a. Good. Flow for your customers to bring their cars in and out and consistency. And repairs, done right yes that's really really important, so you. Know there may be really good at fixing cars but then you know they're not very good at getting things done on time or they're not really good at you know their finances, and they're having financial problems, and that, kind of stuff so my, recommendation.
To Any shop. Owner that that. Wants to already a technician. Almost become a shop owner is to you have to basically, switch gears completely which. Is really hard to do but, you have to get you know training, and education, on how to run a shop you know because there's a lot more to it than just fixing, cars. Guys, thank you so much for watching this video I hope you enjoyed it I know I enjoyed, it I've. Never been in an auto shop, myself so, this. Was super cool, for me got to learn a lot about, what it takes to be a business owner this guy's super disciplined as you can tell just his way of speaking he's super, smart if, you guys have any suggestions. For what businesses, we should interview. Leave. Them in the comments below we really want to see you guys be commenting, we're, trying to get more feedback because, these, videos are for you guys they're not for, us.