The Freedom of a Turnkey Business

Turnkey business freedom

Do you ever feel like you’re ‘winging it’ every day at your business? As an owner or manager do you show up every day and do your best to control the chaos while still feeling you are not making the headway you would like? If this is you, don’t feel bad because you are most definitely not alone.

My first collision repair business was like this. I was chained to Luehr’s Auto Body seven days a week and it not only contributed to an unhealthy lifestyle, it created major problems in my personal relationships. This lesson, as painful as it was, forced me to search for a better way; to discover the path to entrepreneurial freedom.

Freedom can mean many things to many people, however in this context, I am referring to the kind of freedom that causes people to become business owners and managers in the first place. Freedom from an oppressive boss, freedom from a dull nine-to-five job, freedom to use our time the way we want, and, especially, the freedom to use our God-given gifts to create something meaningful.

Sadly, most collision repair business owners never find these ‘freedoms’ and instead find they are trapped by their business like I was back in the early 1990’s.

In my opinion there are two primary reasons business leaders get trapped. The first is a matter of people. Not enough people, the wrong people, or people who are not sufficiently trained. The second reason, and the purpose of this article, is the business’ lack of a defined operating model. They lack written procedures, known standards, roles and responsibilities which keep them feeling stuck in a world of chaos and inefficiency. And it should be no surprise that when there is an absence of a defined operating model, shops also experience people problems. A defined operating model is impossible without good people and good people rely on an operating model.

The good news is that any collision repair business can indeed have a well-defined operating model, most just choose not to take the time to create them. I also know a few owners who have bits and pieces of various business processes, but the employees either don’t know they exist or, if they do, they aren’t held accountable to adhering to them.

When my team and I coach shops to implement an operating model, we have a saying that holds true in life and business, “You get what you tolerate.” So, if you tolerate mediocrity and deviations from business standards, that is what you get!

“In life and business, you get what you tolerate.” 

What Is a Well-Defined Operating Model?

When I think about a well-defined operating model, the word ‘turn-key’ pops into my mind because the business could literally be sold or handed to someone else and be immediately and successfully run by the next guy or gal. For this reason, franchise businesses have become all the rage because many of them require zero industry experience to become a successful owner. What the buyer is really purchasing is a proven operating model.

When I coach people to build systems, I ask them to act as though they were going to sell their business for the highest possible amount, even if they have no intention of selling it. If they do this correctly, they will have optimized the value of their business while making it highly efficient and profitable. They will have created a ‘turnkey’ business.

Elements of a Defined Operating Model

A defined operating model is a blueprint outlining how a business operates and delivers value to its customers. It is an important tool for ensuring a business can operate efficiently, effectively, and consistently across all its functions. Some key elements of a defined operating model in a business may include:

  • Business strategy: The business strategy is the overarching plan that outlines the goals and objectives of the business. The defined operating model should align with the business strategy and ensure all operational activities are geared towards achieving those goals.
  • Organizational structure: The organizational structure defines how the business is organized, including reporting lines, roles and responsibilities, and the hierarchy of decision-making. The defined operating model should ensure the organizational structure is designed to support the business strategy and deliver value to customers.
  • Processes and procedures: Processes and procedures are the specific steps employees must follow to complete tasks and deliver products or services. The defined operating model should outline these processes and procedures, and ensure they are designed to be efficient, effective, and consistent.
  • Performance metrics: Performance metrics are the measurements used to track the performance of the business and its employees. The defined operating model should define the key performance metrics and ensure they align with the business strategy and support the delivery of value to customers.
  • Technology and systems: Technology and systems are the tools employees use to complete tasks and deliver products or services. In collision repair centers, the primary technology is the estimating system, body shop management system and the accounting program. The defined operating model should ensure these systems are used in a manner that supports the business strategy and enables employees to work efficiently and effectively.
  • Culture and values: Culture and values are the shared beliefs and behaviors that shape the way employees work together and interact with customers. The defined operating model should ensure the culture and values of the business are aligned with the business strategy and support the delivery of value to customers.

Overall, a well-defined operating model should provide a clear and consistent framework for how a business operates and delivers value to its customers. By aligning all these key elements with the business strategy, the operating model can help ensure the business operates efficiently, effectively, and consistently over the long term.

Where to start

For most collision repairers, these elements of a turnkey business can feel daunting because owners and managers feel like they simply don’t have the time or the skills to put these things together. This is unfortunate because, as I said earlier, without a business strategy and an operating ‘playbook’, shop leaders and their employees will always feel chaos and reactivity. They will be chained to the business instead of experiencing the entrepreneurial freedom that is possible. For this reason, often the best place to start is by asking for help.

At Elite Body Shop Solutions, we specialize in helping shops create and implement an operational playbook that will help build a better culture, help everyone understand their roles and responsibilities and finally build the kind of turnkey business that will provide the freedom shop owners seek.

If you would like some advice or assistance, just reach out!

Are you ready to experience turnkey freedom in your body shop? Schedule a free 1-on-1 consultation with me, Dave Luehr, and let’s outline your next few steps! 

During our strategy session, we will work together to clarify your goals, identify obstacles, and create an action plan to move forward. Let’s get you clear on what your path to entrepreneurial freedom looks like!

Click here to schedule your free, no obligation strategy session! 


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About the Author:

Dave shares his experience from over 30 years as a collision repair industry leader in leadership, lean and Theory of Constraints. Once the owner of a body shop himself, Dave draws on the realities of a real world collision repair shop in his consulting, writing and keynote speeches.

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