Strategic Planning is Important for Businesses of All Sizes

By Mike McLynn, AASP-MN President

Over the past six months, the AASP-MN Board has created a new strategic plan and started to put it into action.

During the process, the thing that stood out to me was how important this sort of business analysis and planning is as important for our members as it is for the association. We hired Cincinnatus, the same consultant we brought in for the executive director search, to lead the strategic planning workshop. Here are the reasons we, board members and staff, were told a strategic plan is important and what to expect from one:

  Powerful strategies to drive the organization forward
  A foundation for organizational communication
  Synergy between leadership/board and staff
  A roadmap for dealing with change
  A doable amount of work for leadership/board and staff
  A framework for allocating resources (human and financial)
  Benchmarks and accountabilities to assess progress

Don’t these all sound like they would be very helpful in any business? As a small business, it is so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and forget to step back and ask questions like:

  Is the company growing or shrinking?
  Are we doing the things we are doing on purpose and are they going to serve us in the future?
  What do we need to start doing now to be ready for change, both anticipated and unanticipated?
  Are we doing things that are unsustainable?
  Is scaling up through shop size, staff size or taking on another location critical to deal with new technology and relevant business models for today?

As I look at my own business, I think about what it takes to fix the range of vehicles we have been accustomed to working on and wonder if I should be doubling my team and equipment to accommodate the same range moving forward or if I should keep the same size team but specialize in a smaller range of vehicles. It seems to me like it is all too easy to have a business shrink on accident or to unintentionally keep fixing the same sorts of cars and then suddenly find the shop isn’t capable of, or prepared for, taking on newer technologies.

My hope is that as the Alliance executes its strategic plan, we can also model for members what this looks like in real-time and inspire them to consider similar planning. As the incoming President, I’m grateful to have a plan in place that I can look to when evaluating if we are on track and heading in the right direction. So, what is in the plan? Here are the top-level goals:

1.  Tackle Workforce Shortage Issue with Broader Lens
2.  Build on the Alliance’s Tenure as a Leader
3.  Lead by Amplifying Member Voices

In action, this means things like continuing our existing workforce programing with MNCARS while also looking to the data for where shops might find employees right now outside of technical schools, expand our current legislative work to include workforce development and position independent shop ownership as a workforce issue.

We all make so many little decisions every day in our business that impact if we are moving toward or away from our long-term goals. I hope more shops carve out some time for business planning to make sure all those little everyday decisions are actually taking them where they want to go.

I look forward to serving the membership as the President over the next year and welcome any feedback on what you would like to see from the organization.


Want more? Check out the April 2023 issue of AASP-MN News!