The Perfect Promotion

If there are not enough hours in a day to get everything done, it’s time to bring in some help. If you want your shop to keep growing, you will have to learn how to scale up your team. One of the hardest transitions you’ll make as a shop owner is hiring your first manager.

My recommendation: promote from within, don’t hire someone new.

Here are three steps outlining how to effectively promote one of your existing team members into a management role:

1) Identifying the right candidate

2) Preparing and executing the promotion

3) Post-promotion support

Identify the right candidate

I believe that everyone has more leadership potential than they think. How do you bring it out and help them access that potential? Give them leadership challenges. You have the opportunity to test out many of your team members in a short amount of time by putting certain shop responsibilities on rotation.

Do you have a daily meeting to discuss workload? Have a different person lead it each week.

Do you typically do all the vendor management and ordering of inventory? Have a different person handle it every couple weeks.

Do you do all the allocations of work and coordination of deadlines? Let somebody else handle it for a week.

Use these short opportunities to see how quickly each person picks up new skills, thinks on their feet, and handles the additional responsibilities and pressure. Be prepared for things to run less than perfect – it’s ok, you are there to back them up, for now.

Make sure to relieve them of some of their existing workload while they handle these new responsibilities.

Don’t expect perfection. This is crucial to using this opportunity to successfully evaluate your team members for promotion. Instead, see who has the potential to grow into a leadership and management role quickly and take full ownership of the new responsibilities you give them.

Preparing and executing the promotion

Get infrastructure in place so that your new promote won’t fall on their face on day one. Document processes, access codes, and responsibilities to help bring that person up to speed as quickly as possible.

Even if this person has worked for you for years, go overboard with the documentation. Write down every job responsibility that you’re passing on and how you do it. Paying bills? Give them bank access and tell them payment due dates. Talking to vendors? Give them phone numbers and send an email intro to set them up. Managing your workflow? Write down how you do it, or record yourself thinking through it, and then do it with the promote a couple times.

When it comes time to make the promotion official, make sure you set expectations with the individual and your team.

For the individual – are they getting a raise? How much? Are their hours changing? Do they understand all of the new responsibilities? Are they ready to accept the role with humility? This is crucial for a smooth transition into the role.

For your team – do they acknowledge and respect the promotion? Do they understand the new way that things are going to operate? The promotion cannot be successful without the support of the team that just got a new manager.

Post-promotion support

Once your promote is officially in their new role, they have about a 0% chance of doing it perfectly from the start. Even if you’ve prepared them completely and given them bulletproof documentation, it will not be perfect. That’s ok – on the road to growth you will have to make some mistakes along the way.

Be ready to step in and prevent or mitigate the biggest mistakes, but let the little ones happen. If a customer car is a day late, let them handle it. If a bill is paid a day late, let them handle it. Yes, it’s costing you money, but if you’ve made it to this point, you have a few dollars to spare. Think of it as an investment in their learning and growth.

Schedule a regular time with them every couple days to cover any questions they have. Make sure they don’t bother you outside of these times – you’re busy now handling bigger tasks. These appointments are a must-have. They show everyone in your shop that you are supporting your new manager and helping them do their job well.

In conclusion

Promote from within, create responsibilities, and be prepared to train.

Let me know how it goes – email me at

Driven Performance Advisors

Driven Performance Advisors creates profitable, efficient, and stress-free $5M automotive aftermarket shops. Schedule a consultation at Subscribe to DPA Weekly at


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