“I try to use the lessons I learned in a very hard way to prevent other people from having that happen,” said Newton.
Newton presented his seminar "It Happens! But Will Your Business Survive It?" during the 2016 NACE | CARS Expo and Conference, which was held in Anaheim, CA from August 9-13.
On December 30, 2014, Newton, owner of Educational Seminar Institute (ESI), crashed his motorcycle while having a small stroke, also known as a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA). He broke his left collar bone and seven ribs. Only days later, on January 2, 2015, he suffered from an Ischemic Stroke in his occipital and temporal lobes. The doctors told his wife and two children that he may not make it through the night, and if he did, he would most likely be a “non-functioning person” for the rest of his life. Newton defied the prognosis, and after spending a month and a half in the hospital, he was finally released on February 14, 2015. He endured four more months of strenuous physical therapy and recovery before speaking about his experience at trade shows and conferences across the United States.
“Even though a TIA is extremely preventable, it causes 180,000 deaths per year in the United States and is the number one cause of adult disabilities,” explained Newton.
He said the stress, along with the nature of his job, caused him to put his health on the back burner. The business owner started out as a technician, before “accidentally” becoming a service writer in the early 80s.
“I complained to the shop owner about the service writer we had at the time, and the next morning he fired him and hired me,” he explained. “Even though I have no problem talking to people, I knew I still needed to be trained on how to make and close a sale along with other formalities."
Newton began training with the late owner of Educational Seminars Institute and started working for him full time in 1983. After the owner died from a heart attack in 1998, Newton took over his business in 2000.
“My job required a lot of traveling, and when you’re on the road, eating right and exercising is very difficult,” he explained.
While in the hospital, Newton’s wife said something to him that changed his life.
Maylan and his daughter during his hospitalization.
“She said, ‘My number one fear has happened,’ and I asked, ‘What was that?’ to which she responded, ’I have a business I know nothing about that I’m responsible for and it provides income for my family.'”
Newton said that was when he realized, “this is the biggest failure I ever could’ve had for my family.”
So how exactly do you prepare for a catastrophe of such epic proportions?
“You have to recruit people whom you can trust,” Newton stressed.
While he was in the hospital, his wife would bring him his cell phone. He would talk to his employees for 30 minutes daily, which left him physically exhausted.
“I told them, I trust and love you guys like family, so just make the right decisions and we’ll figure it all out later on,” Newton said. “During that time, the company actually gained clients, and did not lose a single one.”
There was only one other person in the company who did presentation work. During that six month period, he covered all of Newton’s presentations along with his own, causing him to travel twice as frequently. The only presentation he wasn’t able to cover was one that he and Newton were supposed to do together.
“I hired a young man to cover that presentation; I had never met him before and only had one hour-long phone conversation with him to go over how I usually conduct my seminars,” Newton explained. “He ended up doing a phenomenal job.”
Educational Seminars Institute did not miss one presentation commitment during that six month period.
“The biggest problem I see amongst small business owners is EGO,” Newton said. “You have to let your employees take the lead and make mistakes.”
Other pointers that Newton went over in his presentation included:
* Share your business philosophy with employees and provide training
* Set clear expectations for every position through operation manuals that include processes and procedures
Another question business owners should know the answer to is: What do employees need in order to operate the business?
A list of the following with contact information:
* Rental cars
* Repair information sources
* Hotlines for technical assistance
* Passwords, usernames, secret questions and answers
* Accounts payable
* Accounts receivable
* Who does what?
* Who's in charge of payroll?
* When is payday?
* What do we / do we not work on?
* What methods of payment do we accept?
* What is the end of day closing process?
* Individual strengths and weaknesses
* How are they compensated?
* What are their job duties / responsibilities?
* Any unique circumstances agreed upon?
Newton ended his presentation by reminding attendees to think about their family and business first, and how much both entities would be affected by their temporary, or sometimes permanent, absence.
“Every time I do that presentation, either by the end of class or the next day, four or five people email me, hand me notes, or call me and say that the class changed their life,” he said. “They think about business differently, and they’ve started making personal health goals.”
Newton also shared that he now walks six miles a day to stay active and maintain his health. He has also developed a workbook for shop owners to have on file in case employees need to run the business. Those interested can receive a copy via email by contacting email@example.com.
For more information on Education Seminars Institute Automotive Management Specialists, contact (866) 526-3039 or visit their website at www.esiseminars.com.