When did you first become involved with the training from Spader?
Glen Myatt: I worked for my father in high school and college and then came back and worked with him in 1998.
I was looking for some way to be educated. I was a physical therapist before in the Army, so I had no business knowledge whatsoever. I was looking for some kind of education, and I went to Duane Spader’s class. I guess that was TM1 (Total Management 1) in 1998. And then I went back again in about 2001 to his TM1 class.
I went to TM1 twice with Duane and twice with John now.
Do you find repeating the workshop beneficial?
GM: I need the reminders and I like to take someone new with me. You know, one of the managers. I need the refresher and I like to take someone new every time.
The format is real life. You know that the instructor understands what you’re going through and understands the different stresses that you have and the different ways you get pulled. And it’s a lot easier to commit to a week of intensive training versus having it spread out. So I definitely like the format of that.
When you started working for your dad, did he start you at the very bottom?
GM: Well, I was set up in assembly, at the bottom, in high school and college. And then when I came back, I was a salesman, a front-line salesman. And then I became sales manager and general manager and then basically dealer principal in training. We wound up getting another general manager and shared all the duties. For a couple years it was like we had three general managers, my father, myself and then a general manager that we promoted from within.
When you were put in charge, how did the dynamics change?
GM: My father and I were very different in the way we approached the business. But still, we were trying to keep things the same. At the same time that was happening, our business had grown to the point where you couldn’t micro-manage any more. You had to manage through the managers. That was during the time we were growing with Spader and growing the business.
Things just had to change. We had to change with it as far as our management style. The biggest thing was just having great people to work with, through Spader and through the people that work here with us.
What aspect of your business has your Spader involvement allowed you to appreciate more or prioritize more?
GM: We’ve learned to appreciate that it’s not just all about sell, sell, sell. It’s about managing the business, forecasting, looking ahead, having a plan, playing by the plan and then adjusting the plan as it needs to be adjusted. I feel it’s made us real business people versus before when we were just enthusiasts making stuff up as we went along. Now we see all the parallels with all the other businesses that have similar ways of doing business. It feels like we are real business people and can speak in real business terms and make better decisions.
We’ve had some recent months that have been our best, ever since we’ve been keeping records. It’s just going really well.
John or Duane would say when business is good is when people start to get sloppy. What are some tools that Spader has given you that you use to keep you on track?
GM: The incentive-based pay plan keeps a lot people on track. Spader taught us how to have people motivated by what they want to make and what they want to earn for their families.
There’s also the values-based decision making. Trying to think about what we’re doing long-term versus just trying to put out a fire. Changing the culture for a more long-term way of doing business instead of just stressing out over the day-to-day stuff. We are raising the professionalism of the managers and allowing the managers to manage their people and not always going in and trying to manage everything as an owner.
Sometimes that empowerment is incentive in itself, isn’t it?
GM: You find out that people are a lot smarter than you are and if you try to set a course, or set a goal, they’ll come up with an idea that is way better than you would have if you just let them.
How has your 20 Group involvement helped your business?
GM: We compare ourselves to our peers in the 20 Group. We talk to our fellow 20 Group members and ask John and Jerry for advice all the time. It’s hard to imagine trying to run the business without the Spader input now. It’s just kind of become how we do business.
Some of the clients of Spader have expressed that Spader is an extension of their office or part of their business. Would you say that’s true?
GM: Oh, absolutely. There’s no time that we’re making decision that we’re not thinking about “I wonder what John Spader would think about this” or “I wonder what my 20 Group members would say.” You know we’ve gotten so close to our 20 Group members that if it’s a decision of any consequence, you know I’m calling or texting those guys and saying “Hey, did you run into this?” or “What do you think about this?” “Would you do this?” It’s kind of like having a board.
What are some of the immediate benefits you’ve seen your staff members bring back from Spader training?
Some attended the parts and service 20 Group that we had. They came back after visiting other stores, and it kind of made them appreciate what we’ve got here. And [now they] are managing by the numbers instead of by emotions or instinct. It reinforced that. My service manager went with me to Total Management 1 as well, and he got a lot out of that as far as watching how one change affects other parts of the business and how it all interconnects. Plus he learned you can’t take too long to make a decision, but you’ve got to realize how that decision has larger affects.
Do you have any specific results you’d be willing to share regarding how Spader has helped your business or impacted your bottom line?
They taught us how to work smarter and not harder. That’s the bottom line. Now we take the time to decide how to do things. Before it was just sell-sell-sell. We would try to sell our way through any problem.
The biggest [impact is] managing expenses and playing out the year before it happens rather than waiting for the year to happen to us. That’s something Spader has taught us — to make a plan for the year and play it out. And, of course, you can’t control the market but you can control what you’re doing within the market. Specifically, we used to have terrible inventory control and now, according to our 20 Group and to our Spader guidelines, we’re very good at inventory control. That has had a major impact on our profitability.
We used to keep just 2 or 3 cents on the dollar and now there’s significantly more cushion there for volatility that we can plan ahead for.
We honestly didn’t think we could ever make money in the service department. We just thought the service department was a necessary evil. We would always lose money in there. Since we’ve gone with Spader, it’s become a profit center for us. We never imagined it could be.
We’re just so thankful that we became involved with them. The way the Spader organization has affected my business and my family is just hard to measure. It’s just had the most positive effect on our business.
How has it impacted your family?
Well, when the business does better, the family does better. That’s true for all of the families that work here. My wife and I work here, and my mom and dad worked here before they retired. When things go well here, it makes all the family dynamics work better, too.
I’m able to have something that I hopefully pass along something to my kids that’s going to be even better than when I got here.