With this last edition of Eagle Talk for 2018, I am pleased to introduce you to a gem of a man, a friend, a leader, and an excellent businessman. Greg Jarossy is our contributor this month, and shares a wealth of wisdom relevant to every endeavor of life. I believe you will enjoy reading about his leadership experience and core values, which have truly brought about personal success.
Wishing you a Very Happy Holiday Season and a Very Merry Christmas
For over four decades Greg Jarossy has successfully managed and lead teams primarily in the area of semiconductor manufacturing and automation. Holding two associate degrees, Greg quickly advanced into management positions throughout his career. Having transitioned on to a new career path, Greg is currently a successful business owner providing services entirely apart from large scale manufacturing.
To all of my friends who have worked so hard over the years, it is my hope you are realizing the rewards; that you are at peace with the paths you have taken. Everyone’s path is slightly different, yet, in my view, the principles of success are shared. We do not give up. We nurture those in our professional and personal lives. We lead by example towards success. We embrace challenges and the desire to learn more. To me, being complacent with the same tasks everyday weakens the soul. Simply put, there are two types of people. Those who aspire to do more and those who do not. Because you are reading this, it is likely you surround yourself with positive people. Without a doubt, this is the best foundation for a positive life.
Beginning at a young age, I could fix or build almost anything mechanical. I did not focus on my studies like my brothers did. As a teenager I chose to fix my own car, having little trust in auto repair shops. I valued every dollar I made. Somehow, I was accepted to several first-rate colleges, but I underperformed at the university of my choice. I decided to join the Navy, because I always liked airplanes and aircraft carriers. My parents were very upset with the path I was on. I felt like the black sheep of the family. In fact, the first night in boot camp I wondered to myself, “How did I wind up here? I am not sure if I belong here?” The very next day something about me changed. I began displaying leadership qualities I did not know I had. Being told I could not succeed going down this path literally drove me to turn doubt into determination. I became a model sailor. After extensive electronics training, I was assigned to an F-14 Tomcat squadron in San Diego and served aboard the USS Constellation. This military experience allowed me to be surrounded by successful people. For that, I am eternally grateful.
After military service I spent 25 years working in the semiconductor equipment industry and gained the title of “Engineer.” The trials, tribulations and politics in the corporate culture are well known to many of our readers. Resistance is ever present for those who respectfully speak their mind, are willing to support change, and are willing to take a chance and the responsibility that comes with that choice. When those attributes and behaviors are not valued, successful people have the courage to make a change.
In 2012, I decided to buy my own business. I was told by the person closest to me the risk was too great, that my paycheck would no longer be guaranteed, that it was too difficult to succeed. Fast forward to 2018, and I am now managing a successful business. But I did not accomplish this alone. Far from it. What kind of business is it? One of the most difficult businesses in which to succeed – an auto repair shop, located in Boise, Idaho. Many customers ask me, “Why in the world would you want to do this for a living compared to what you used to do?” That is a good question I will answer later. But for now you may ask, what are the most challenging aspects of running your business? How did you build your successful brand?
Building trust with your customers is number one. I still question some of my peers in an industry that has always been highly suspect. There ARE many good men and women owners out there. Here are some of the leadership behaviors I used, drawing upon my own experience for avoiding the stigma and gaining the trust of my customers, who in turn, became clients. Whether in person or on the phone, I always greet people with the utmost respect. Always listen to them first and then talk to them as if you were a caring uncle or brother. This is not a coffee shop. Customers are very worried about what value they will gain from perhaps spending thousands of dollars. Do you hire just any old painter, electrician or plumber? Do you go to just any doctor?
I have a knack for putting them at ease as soon as possible. I tell them we usually do simple things at no cost, that we will not charge them premium diagnostics costs, especially if they approve a substantial repair. And when they do leave their vehicle with me, I tell them I will never, ever, repair anything without their approval first. There will never be any additional financial surprises. Their response is ALWAYS a big “Thank You.” Also, always consider addressing the little things as a nice surprise to the client. You may not make money at it…but you likely just gained a client for life! I never knew I was a good salesman, perhaps in the sense that I just make people feel comfortable. I have been told on many occasions, “I trusted you the first time we spoke.” That, my friends, will make your day and is the key for success.
The next step to building trust with my clients is to call them to discuss whatever we have determined to be of issue with their vehicle. This is typically a priority list. I never try to sell them everything at once. Because that is not honest. “Upselling” is a tactic used by dishonest repair shops. Our clients and I will decide together what may be most important today. Then, what items should we monitor going forward. This approach builds trust and is what keeps the clients coming back. We watch out for their safety and we let them make their own decisions.
The next challenge is to build teamwork within the organization. The foundation for teamwork is surrounding yourself with great employees. In today’s world, all skilled labor businesses are struggling to find the right people. This is a long-term problem that won’t be going away anytime soon. Yes, it took me a few years, but now all of my team members are top-shelf people. And, I treat them as such. They are all compensated very well. They have the freedom to come and go and they know not to take advantage of trust. I have an open-door policy. I talk to them as friends and partners. One day I may be a financial counselor, the next day I may be a family counselor. They come to me when they want to. I never raise my voice. Past employees always seem to be surprised when I have had to let them go. This is because I am a nice guy. But they initially forgot they had been warned multiple times about adherence to our company values and rules.
Always create an environment for growth for your employees. Encourage change for the better. Encourage new and challenging tasks. Provide paths for achieving higher certifications. And always thank them for a job well done. Thank them when they go home every night. From day one, create a clear vision for your team. Discuss the moral standards that must be upheld. And discuss what shared success can do for everyone. Lead by example! When someone says we cannot fix something, I say, “Are you sure about that?” Remember, never give up easily.
Back in 2012, I purchased a poor business with a bad reputation. I changed the image and I changed the culture. I created a Brand that adheres to capability, honesty and value. I have improved revenue by 250% and enjoy good profits by industry standards. I was willing to take chances and learn from my mistakes. I have kept myself surrounded by positive people. I have built a Team of Teams. This is what creating a Brand is all about. I care for my clients and I care for my community. When people ask why I chose to switch careers in such a dramatic fashion, I can answer why. It is because I love to help people. Imagine having a client thanking you with tears in their eyes. It absolutely does happen. Always protect your reputation to the best of your ability. Most of all, never listen to anyone who tells you that you cannot make a change which can be better for your soul.