The Best Business Advice Received Over the Past 10 Years That Improved Shop Operations.

1. Exceed customer expectations. Never say "We can’t get the job done" to a customer. Go the extra mile to make the customer happy. Work with the customer from idea to finished part. Offer your customers what no one else can.

2. Think outside the box. Reinvent yourself. Throw away the paradigms of how you used to do things and do the things that make the best sense. Get out of your comfort zone. Make changes. Put together a team and develop a plan.

3. Control your costs. It is not the price of the product you sell that is important, but controlling the costs to produce it. This thinking can help you streamline your business.

4. Invest in top performers. Groom your best employees to be leaders. Empower them to realize their full potential. Give them more responsibility and decision-making power. Allow them to make mistakes and learn from them.

5. Focus on the fundamentals. Create a “Don’t Do” list. Schedule your time around the activities and employees who have a
measurable influence on the positive health of the business and promptly dispose of the rest.

6. Spend money to make money. Do not be afraid to spend money on technology and services that will give you an edge. Take the time to learn the true return on investment for the purchases you wish to make.

7. Always accept help. Investigate the “free” help out there and use it. Learn how to accept support and aid when it
is offered to you.

8. Know your true costs. Determining your true costs will spell out how you need to run your business.

9. Stay within your core strengths. Your shop is only as good as the weakest process. Find your core strengths and stay there. Then identify your weakest link within that core strength and improve it.

10. Understand why things work. Do not to spend time trying to understand what is broken so you can fix it; instead ask, “What is working and why?” If you don’t understand why things work, you cannot keep them working in the long run. Discard the philosophy that what is working today will continue to work if you leave it alone. This limits opportunities to learn, improve and grow.

This list is compiled from the most popular answers to a reader poll.

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