This is a guest post by EMyth client, Morgan Spradling.
When I started Highland Cycles in 2007, I wanted to change the way people thought about the motorcycle industry. Over the years, motorcycle repair shops have lost their appeal and have earned a poor reputation. Everyone told me it would be impossible to make money in this business, but I was determined to prove them wrong. Motorcycles are such a wonderful form of recreation that teaches people about responsibility and gets them outside. I’m always preaching the “Gospel of Two Wheels”—that life is better experienced with less in your way and outside instead of in front of a screen!
I started my business before the financial crash when it was easy to get a bank loan and, before I knew it, I had $150,000 and a set of keys to the building. I finally had my own business. I had no fear—I felt ready to conquer the world and bring the soul back into the industry.
For the first few years I was working like crazy trying to make my dream take off. I slept for maybe three or four hours a night and wasn’t making enough money. I thought that the way to actually make money was by opening 30 stores. But I had no clue how I could actually do something like that. I didn’t have any examples of a well-run business to draw from. My father is a successful attorney and owns his own practice, but I couldn’t relate his business efforts to my own because I was trying to do something wildly different.
I was constantly doing all the work in the shop myself and trying to make ends meet, never really getting a break. Finally, a friend recommended that I read The E-Myth Revisited and as I started reading it I thought to myself “whoa, this is me!” I felt like I was actually reading about my own experience. Almost subconsciously, the book helped me start making small changes in my shop. I hired a few people to help me run the business day-to-day and was even able to start taking Mondays off during the summer to spend time with my kids. That might sound like it was just a small thing, but to me, it was huge. I was able to step back and start looking at the bigger picture instead of always turning wrenches. It was such a huge relief to see that the employees I hired could keep things running without skipping a beat while I wasn’t there. But, I wanted more of that.
While I was able to make a few small changes on my own, the truth is that when I started looking for coaching help, things were still a mess and about to get worse. I had just opened a second store and one of my employees at the new location had an accident and broke his leg pretty severely while test driving a customer’s motorcycle. I’d never dealt with worker’s compensation insurance before. And then on top of that, I had to commute back and forth for an hour and a half each way between the two locations, working nine hour days just to keep them both running. It was terrible. I wanted to have more time, more of my life back and I just couldn’t see my way through it. When I told my wife that I wanted to spend money on a coach, she was both thrilled and relieved. I remember her saying, “Thank you! You’re killing me.”
My coach, Eric, took me through the EMyth steps, starting with my vision for the business, which was so easy for me to think about. I can think about my vision all day long. What wasn’t so simple, though, was the work that we had to do on my finances. Eric helped me determine which metrics I should be using to track my progress towards my goals for my business. We discovered that I wasn’t in a good position financially, which I didn’t know because I wasn’t actually monitoring my money. I had to learn not to be afraid of finance and to recognize that there’s nothing ambiguous about it. Now, I’m checking Quickbooks and looking at my accounts every day and it’s such a point of pride for me to able to do that. To think that I of all people actually have a cash plan—it’s incredible.
From the first time I talked with Morgan, I knew that we were going to have a lot of fun. Morgan has the “it factor” when it comes to leadership and coach-ability. His unique sense of self-awareness, willingness to face areas of discomfort, and commitment to do the work allow him to effect real change in his business and his life. —Eric Coet
One of the first systems that’s had such a big impact on my business is the customer satisfaction system, which Eric helped me build. Now, we call all of our customers two weeks after their service with Highland Cycles to evaluate their happiness and the quality of the assistance they received. We can see how we need to improve and our customers feel really cared for. It’s also helped us keep our reputation because I get to talk to every customer to find out if they had a bad experience and fix it before they have a chance to talk with anyone else. They know the kind of service we provide and that’s so important to me.
What excites me about the work I’m doing in my business now is that I’m finding a path to the vision that I have for Highland Cycles. I feel so optimistic about my business now. I’m so excited to work with Eric and to have the accountability that comes from coaching. That’s the biggest thing. It’s being held accountable to someone who is helping me own this business. If I can get these two stores working and make them profitable with working systems, then I can scale. What I thought I’d never be able to figure out—this idea of growing to 30 stores—seems like it could really happen.
Morgan is building a solid foundation by working on his business and I can’t wait to be there when he opens his 30th Highland Cycles location.—Eric Coet —Eric Coet
I started this business because I wanted to change the way people relate to the motorcycle repair industry. I love motorcycles so much and I want to resurrect this form of recreation and share it with more people. It’s my dream and, with Eric’s help, I’m actually making it happen.