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Are You Working ‘In’ or ‘On’ Your Business?

How you answer that question might determine the future of your store.


They’re just two little words: ‘on’ and ‘in.’ But oh, what a difference they make.I’ve seen Donald Cooper speak before, and each time I listen to him, I find nuggets of information that I think should be passed on to Counterman readers. I was again reminded of this when I heard him speak at the recent Automotive Parts Associates group meeting last month in Las Vegas.


During his presentation to the program group members, Donald asked a very simple question: How much of your time is spent working in the business and how much of your time is spent working on the business? The two questions are similar, save for the two little words ‘on’ and ‘in.’ How you answer that question might just determine the future of your business.

At least in this case, it’s much better not be part of the ‘in’ crowd; those business owners who spend the majority of their time working ‘in’ the business are merely treading water, running in place. As a business owner, you should be working to expand the business, generating new revenue streams and strategic planning for the future – not working the counter, making deliveries, pulling orders or sweeping the floor.


Conversely, those people who spend the majority of their time working ‘on’ the business are busily engaged in the very important business of building the business.

Can’t get away from the counter to work ‘on’ the business, you say? Perhaps you’re just very short staffed. In that case, hire someone. But if your store processes and employees just aren’t efficient enough to allow you to work ‘on’ the business, then you need to consider an investment in employee training.

This neatly leads me to the theme of this month’s issue. This month, we present several articles that address training needs, from both your employees’ and customers’ perspectives. Also be sure to check out our special section on vendor training programs that begins on page 70.


By working ‘in’ the business, you’re not doing yourself or your employees any favors. Work ‘on’ the business to build it for the future – both yours and theirs.

* * * *

On a somewhat related note, Counterman is very pleased to announce that WIX Filters has become the official sponsor of our annual Counter Professional of the Year honor. We’ve been awarding this very prestigious award for two decades, and we’re excited about WIX’s participation. Start thinking about the real stars in your company – every distributor has them and they deserve to be recognized. We’ll begin seeking nominations in June.

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