Auto Shop Coaching Blog

3 Things Top Shop Owners Focus On

I recently searched online for “Washington Commanders” football jerseys to purchase. As you prepare your jokes, please know that my choice of football teams is a different topic for a different blog, so let’s stay focused!

Now, after I completed my online search, I noticed something weird. Whenever I logged onto my Facebook page, I would see all these promotions for Washington Commanders regalia in my newsfeed.

Later that day, while doing an unrelated Google search, I saw a banner ad for a site that sold these same jerseys! I asked myself, “Why is this happening?” And then it hit me.

The internet works off an algorithm designed to give me more of whatever I’m focused on.

By now, you may be thinking, “Thanks for sharing and hail to the Commanders, but what does this have to do with me?”

Well, your mind is just like an internet algorithm in that you will see more of whatever you are focused on. This explains why Top Shop Owners are careful to concentrate on three primary areas.

Ideas to grow your businessNon-ATI Members: Discover more valuable tips and strategies for how to reach goals, grow your business, and increase profits in ATI’s shop owner events. Register at

1. Their wins

If I asked “Tom,” the typical shop owner, to tell me everything that went wrong over the past week, it would be an easy conversation starter.

“First, I got stuck in traffic on the way to the shop. Then I got this one-star Google review. Can you believe it? After everything we tried to do for him, he gave us a one-star Google review, and [blah blah blah].”

If I asked Tom to tell me about his wins, I would be met with a combination of filler words (umm, uhh) and awkward silence!

Why does this happen?

According to the American Science Foundation research, 80% of our thoughts are negative.

In other words, we have a natural tendency towards negativity.

The Top Shop Owners overcome this by focusing on their wins.

A win is defined as any event that promotes your personal or professional health. For example:

  • You went to the gym this morning like you said!
  • You received a healthy report from the doctor after your last visit!
  • You read ten pages from your 20 Group book of the month!
  • You completed each of your scheduled employee one on ones this week!
  • You did at least one thing yesterday to improve your skills as a Shop Owner!

The Top Shop Owners take things a step further by using a win log to track their wins as they notice them. This habit keeps them looking for the positive instead of dwelling on the negative.

Warning: The more you write down your wins, the more wins you’ll have to write down!

2. Their Words

When my son was four years old, he had this habit of falling and looking for sympathy. After each fall, I would first verify that he was ok. After I confirmed that he was good, I would say, “Be tough, son. Be tough.” I felt like my words were falling on deaf ears until one fateful day.

On this day, he fell and was about to cry. But suddenly, he gathered himself, stood up, and said, “I’ve got to be tough, Daddy. I’ve got to be tough!” and kept walking!

Here’s the big takeaway: My external words became his internal words.

Your external words will become your employees’ internal words as well! This explains why the best of the best are careful with what they say. They choose words that inspire and uplift.

The top shop owners focus more on a person’s potential than their problems.

Have you ever felt like your words at the shop were falling on deaf ears? Hopefully, the story of my son will remind you that what you say is having more of an impact than you think.

Using words that focus on your employee’s potential can inspire them to gather themselves, stand up, and move towards the shop’s goals!

3. What’s Possible

My friend Kris owns a digital marketing company. Her husband was diagnosed with cancer, so she spent two years away from her business focused on his health.

Unfortunately, her husband lost his battle with cancer and passed away. After his funeral, she was afraid to reconnect with her business since she had been out of the loop for so long.

After speaking with her bookkeeper, she was surprised to discover that the business was doing better financially than when she left two years ago. Things were handled so well that her clients didn’t realize that she was gone!

When the typical shop owner hears this story, their response begins with two fatal words: “Yeah, but.” For example:

“Yeah, but she’s in a different industry. Automotive is different.”

“Yeah, but she has wealthier clients. Gas prices are impacting my customers.”

The top shop owners respond to Kris’ story with the following fruitful words: “What’s possible?” For example:

“If Kris can leave her business for two years, what’s possible for me?”

“What’s possible if I set my shop up to succeed with or without me?”

The best leaders study people who have the results they want and implement their strategies. They spend time around them finding out what they’re doing and then duplicate it.

Focusing on what’s possible opens the door to possibilities while responding with “yeah, but” will keep you stuck where you are.


So, there you have it. The tops shop owners focus on their wins, their words, and what’s possible.

If you apply these ideas, your name will come up everywhere when I do an online search for “the best of the best.”

Non-ATI Members: For more tips on how to achieve your goals and run a productive, profitable shop, check out our shop owner events at

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Eric, the Accountability Coach, is an Executive Coach at ATI and has coached since 2009. Eric came to ATI having managed over 60 different automotive repair facilities and having supervised over 500 employees at a given time. He loves seeing members progress beyond what they thought was possible and improve their shop to the point where they can leave for weeks at a time and come back to a business that's better than when they left.