Getting the Business Organized

By Bob Spitz

Management Success!


There’s an old saying that goes, “I’m to busy to get organized!”  I’m sure that was originally said in jest, but that’s exactly what goes on in too many small businesses.  The owner/manager is extremely good at what he or she does but the idea of stopping long enough to organize the business seems to be impossible.  The end result is management gets overwhelmed trying to get the machine (the business) to produce anything profitably.  Too many times the real problem is the person responsible for running the business doesn’t know how to organize.  Here are some tips on how to tackle this problem.


Let’s first take a look at what organization means.  Organization is the action of lining things up in a logical sequence in order to get something done, and done efficiently, in other words, getting it done in the most economical manner without wasted time or motion.  Management means controlling some activity so that activity can operate smoothly and productively.


Management’s job is to ensure the products of the company are being produced profitably. When we look at the above it’s easy to see why management can have a very difficult time.  It’s hard to manage an area and get things done when organization is lacking!


Never Organize for Organization Sake

When embarking upon the task of getting organized it is important to first look at what it is one is trying to produced or accomplished.  What the goal here?  It is easy to get lost in the woods if the destination is not clearly defined and known.  So the first step is to name the thing you want to accomplish.  A complete understanding of what products the business produces and/or could produce is the starting point for any organization project.


Make a List

Start off with a list of say 10 things you would like to improve about the business.  Now narrow the list down to 3 items and then pick one.  Hopefully it will be the one that if done now will quickly improve the overall performance of the business.

Name what you Really Want

Name what it is you really want.  If you do not completely name what you want to accomplish you can end up with weird unworkable solutions.



Example—Doing it Wrong


Improvement wanted: Speed up the production line


Situation: Production is being slowed down due to waiting for replacement parts.


Solution: Keep a large inventory of parts on hand.


Problem with this solution: Ties up my money in inventory—drives up my assets—drives up my taxes.  Parts are hard to control and start walking out of the shop—lost revenue.


Solution to Inventory Problem: Hire a parts person.


Problem with this solution: Increases inventory and payroll.


See how nutty this thing can get?  What went wrong?  What really is needed is not named completely.


You can see by this example that it is not enough to just name the problem; you have also got to name what you want in order to come up with a solution that makes sense.  By naming the thing you really want now you can start walking backwards from that point to come up with the actions needed to organize the area.


Example—Doing it Right


Let’s go back to the original situation that needs addressing:


Improvement wanted: Speed up the production line


Situation: Production is being slowed down due to waiting for replacement parts.


Now name what you really want:  The right parts at the right time without an increase in inventory or payroll.


What does it take to get the right parts at the right time without increasing inventory or payroll?  What do you need to do to accomplish this goal?  Now let’s work out a solution.


Walk Backwards

Now with this one area of the business look at what steps are needed to be done in order to get this area into the condition you imagine.  Make a list of these actions that have to be taken.  Look it over carefully and ask yourself, “If I do all of these steps will it get me what I want?”  Make sure that each action makes sense and that there are not any needless or redundant steps.


Possible Solution:  Look over appointment book the night before for all the vehicles that are scheduled to come in and pre-order the parts that will most likely be needed.  Now work out the rest of the steps needed.


Getting Others to Understand and Use New Systems

A great tool for management to use when organizing an area is Flow Charts.  A flow chart allows you to put down on paper what is being visualized.  Flow charts allow you to see where there might be a flaw or a bug in your thinking.  Once again start with the thing you want and then start working it out from there.  When you have it worked out on paper now you can easily show it to others to gain agreement that this will not only help the shop but it will also make their lives easier.  Go through any new procedure with those people who will be involved.  Do dry runs and drill it until the new procedure is smooth and everyone’s questions are answered.  You can come up with great new organizational plans and systems, but if you can’t get the people that need to use them engaged and in agreement your efforts will go to waste.  But when you take the time to do it right and train people on any new system, well life is good!  Good luck in your efforts and here’s to a more organized business!




Management Success!, is a company that specializes in training and consulting the independent automotive repair shop owner. Bob tours the country as an educational speaker and writes numerous columns and articles for trade publications. Additional articles on management can be read online at



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