written by: Ramsey Njire
Sometimes life is pretty straightforward; you know exactly what to expect. “A” leads to “B” with very few surprises along the way. Other times life throws you a curveball and you’re knocked down before you can even ask, “what happened?” It’s these twists of irony which make great stories, however. One such irony defined much of our guest’s career path; it set him up on a journey of self-discovery that undoubtedly provided a wave of wisdom.
The Seeds of Passion
We all expect our parents to shape us and our view of the world, but it doesn’t always happen in the way we expect. Sometimes seeds of passion are planted in unconventional ways. For Tim Murphy, the seeds of his passion for cars were planted by a father’s hate for his car-related job. Tim Murphy’s father would complain every evening when he came home. The more he complained, the more wide-eyed Tim became. Looking back, Tim realized his father didn’t really hate cars in general, he just hated selling wholesale auto parts for a living.
During Tim’s High School Years his favorite class was vocational auto mechanics. As a senior he was obsessed with this class. In his own words, “I failed one class in high school; it was English and I failed because it was the first class after my auto mechanics class…”
Courage to Take the First Step
Tim Murphy took his first step at the ripe young age of 20; when he signed an agreement with Mobil oil to lease one of their service station on 46th and Nicollet. He reminisces “In them days you had your car repaired where you bought your gas, and they were called service stations”. Since Tim was below the old age of 21… His father had to sign off on the lease for his first service station. This is a moment Tim will never forget.
Tim, had no grand design; no master plan. We like to think of great achievements as well-orchestrated works of art. The entrepreneur sits down and charts a route from point “A” to “B” with all of their “i’s” dotted and “T’s” crossed, but this isn’t always so. In fact, it isn’t so for most entrepreneurs. The best stories unfold before our very eyes. The best stories are ones even the storyteller can’t predict. At every point, the entrepreneur’s guess is just as good as ours.
Tim never saw himself as an entrepreneur when he was starting out. In his own words, “Like every young adult I had a huge spark to be an entrepreneur but didn’t realize it. I thought my spark was a passion and a love for cars…” So, Tim just did what he did best and the rest fell into place.
The Importance of Hard Work
We like to imagine successful people find a great idea and let it run on autopilot. All they need to do is conceive a great idea and give it a little spark of actualization. The rest is guaranteed. Truth is, it takes a lot of hard work! Luckily, Tim didn’t skimp on hard work and made many sacrifices from the get-go. “I was a workaholic… Worked 6 days a week, you know 10, 12, 14 hour days…” Tim said. Tim’s hard work started paying off as his station grew and showed amazing promise.
Before long, Tim was presented with remarkable business opportunity. Mobil vacated their training center on 54th and France and offered Tim an opportunity to lease it. This was his chance to have an Edina car repair shop. The catch, he had to sell the old station on 46th and Nicollet. This meant Tim had to start over with a new station and there was no guarantee this business would obtain the same level of success as his previous one. Tim, being the adventurer and opportunist he is, took it! Within a year his first Edina service station showed a profit.
Tim’s Greatest Life Lesson
Tim has an incredible knack for attracting the right people. He can spot someone with more talent than him from a mile away. He gets such people and he empowers them. Then he takes a step back and lets them do their thing. But he wasn’t always like this.
Tim says, “My claim to fame today is empowering people… Finding people smarter than me, empowering them and getting out of their way… My friends in the Edina Rotary will tell you that’s a really easy thing for me to do. It wasn’t for the first 20 years and I paid a huge price… with turnover.”
Tim liked to micromanage when he started out. He simply wouldn’t let go. That’s the thing about running a successful business; you need to learn to let your employees do what they are good at. Define the rules and policies your team needs to follow, educate them on the principles your business embodies then get out of the way.
Tim got his epiphany when he attended a talk by a friend about halfway into his career. The talk was about Dale Carnegie’s teachings and the particular theme was letting go. Tim was so taken by the talk he made a vow to himself after it was over, “…I told myself that day, 20 years ago, within 10 years I would not be involved in the day-to-day operations of our locations… I did that in 5 years.”
Tim’s business thrives on good people; people who excel at what they do. These people understand it’s more important to focus on the relationship than the transaction. It is this kind of attitude that has contributed the most to his business’s success.
The car repair industry is notorious for up selling customers. Whenever you think “I need to find an Edina and Minneapolis mechanic near me that I can trust” you’ll probably immediately feel some apprehension and anxiety. Finding a good auto expert isn’t easy. Most of them will push things on you that your car doesn’t need. Many have the uncanny ability to make them seem urgent. This is where Tim Murphy’s establishments stand out; building trusting relationships with their customers.
Tim says, “if you give the customer freedom to make their own decisions, they will appreciate your services more and are more likely to come back your way. Our goal is to develop our relationship so you’re really comfortable… A simple way of doing that is by rating the needs of your car… There’s a laundry list of things you could do to your car. But it isn’t imperative, and depending on your driving habits it may or may not be necessary… We have a rating system here… First, this is dangerous and you should really consider taking care of it now. Second, There’s other needs you’re going to have to do… If this isn’t the time, let them go.”
By building a relationship with his clients, he gets clients who use services in a single family and across generations. His customers do his marketing for him. By moving away from the transactional attitude to the relationship one, he managed to take his business to the next level.
Helping the Younger Generations
Tim has a strong belief that young entrepreneurs aren’t getting enough mentorship and wisdom from older ones. He believes the Edina Rotary gets a bad reputation from the prevailing stereotype that it is an organization for 70 year-old white males, and advocates for more young people to join so they can improve themselves in the process, ”… I don’t feel we’re capturing young professionals the way we should. Young professionals tell us they want to join an organization like Edina Rotary to get their hands dirty… To rub shoulders with… People of significance to better themselves in their lives and their careers.”
Tim also says that he has grown over the years and has come to understand the true purpose of business isn’t selfish accumulation of profits but serving people. In fact he asserts that the whole purpose of life is serving people. He believes businesses and people with this approach see the most success in life.
Listening to Tim’s story, I couldn’t help but reflect on his wisdom with age. The Tim sitting here in from of me was a stark contrast to the brass and passionate 20 year-old who needed his father to sign that first lease for him over 40 years ago. The lessons he learned have not only made his business a better business, they have made Tim a better man. The true lesson today; wisdom is received from those who’ve already been there. Realizing this, saves you a ton of unpleasant experiences. Having the right attitude from the first step shortens our individual paths to success. Not every road has to be the road less travelled. Meeting a fellow wayfarer who has braved the thickets and worn the grass before, makes the journey all the more familiar; the obstacle all the more surmountable.
So, Come on down to MurphyAuto.com where you’ll find people you can trust.
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