Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Blog: Bobby Knight, Revisited

July 30, 2013
Though he has been out of the national spotlight for many years, Bob Knight is no stranger to the car wash crowd.    

Indeed, I was quite surprised when the very successful but highly controversial basketball coach was the top vote getter in a recent Professional Carwashing & Detailing Reader’s Poll.

Readers were asked “Which Keynote Speaker would you most like to see next year at The Car Wash Show™ in Chicago?”

By a very wide margin, Knight garnered more votes than a CEO of a company which is globally famous for its logo, branding and customer service, a high-profile state governor, and a possible 2016 Presidential candidate, and a universally respected entrepreneur, business consultant and writer.

Knight is best known as the last coach to field an undefeated NCAA National Championship basketball team in 1976.

Now, he has added to an already impressive resume the publication of a new book, provocatively entitled The Power of Negative Thinking.  An Unconventional Approach To Achieving Positive Results.

Knight is a compelling and motivating communicator.  His amazing staying power and unambiguous appeal is supported by a firm conviction that he is totally right in his proven and unassailable views of how to succeed in any hostile environment.     

In business and in basketball, Knight’s governing thesis is a simple one: teams and companies succeed in intensely competitive arenas because they display the fewest bad habits, and continuously strive to reduce their errors in execution.

“Before you can inspire your team to win,” Knight says convincingly, “you have to show them how not to lose.”

Knight notes that failing basketball teams share six fatal characteristics: poor ball handling; poor shot selection; slow recovery from offense to defense; poor foul-shooting and committing stupid fools; ineffective blocking out of opponents while rebounding; and go-it-alone, uncoordinated defense.

Taking a similarly “big picture view” of our industry, what are the three most important lessons operators can take from this quick-read book?

In effect, using Knight’s world view, how can all operators achieve best results?

First, strengthen your team.  Train and condition your team members and employees to be diligent, error-free, top producers.  

Next, develop positive relationships with your key suppliers.  Their impactful products and services at your wash can help you better differentiate it, and allow you to surpass your major competitors.

Finally, be supremely proactive and resourceful in getting your message out, and then follow up smartly to stay out front of other washes.  Never assume that finicky motorists will routinely and repeatedly patronize your business.

Many coaches and business leaders have emphasized the characteristic trait of a champion and a top producer to possess a tremendous desire to succeed. 

It is, however, the daily, intentional and intense desire to prepare for success which ultimately separates good athletes and businesses from the truly great ones.