Auto Shop Coaching Blog

The Best Shop Owners on the Planet Have This in Common

"Focus on the possibilities for success, not on the potential for failure."Napoleon Hill

I’m always amazed at how two shop owners can look at the same opportunity, but see something different. This reminds me of a movie I recently watched titled The Founder, starring Michael Keaton, which tells the story of how Ray Kroc started the McDonald’s franchise.

Early in the film, The McDonald’s brothers are visited by Kroc, a struggling milkshake machine salesman. Kroc was so intrigued by the operation, he asked Dick and Mac McDonald to give him a tour of the restaurant’s kitchen.

After the tour, he met with them to communicate his idea of franchising the restaurant. The brothers reluctantly agreed and signed a contract that granted Kroc the rights to grow the franchise, and them the authority to make final decisions on each location.

The franchise had grown to have landholdings in 17 states with Kroc as the President & CEO. He eventually buys the McDonald’s brothers out of their contract assuming complete control of the operation.

There’s a pivotal point in the picture where you can see the key trait that Kroc possessed that made him successful. The best shop owners on the planet have this trait as well. During one of the final scenes, Kroc is speaking with Dick McDonald.

Dick asked Kroc why he didn’t just steal their system, and use it to start a business under his own name after they gave him the kitchen tour.

Here’s what Ray said: “It’s not just the system, it the name. The name ‘McDonald’s’ sounds like America. The first time I saw your name, it was love at first sight. I knew I had to have it.” When the McDonald brothers looked at their business all they saw were sandwiches, systems, and struggles.

Ray looked at the same opportunity and saw a name that could grow into an international franchise. Both he and the brothers viewed the same opportunity but they saw it differently.

Ideas to grow your businessWant more tips for how to see the possibilities in your business during COVID-19? Discover valuable ideas and strategies in ATI’s FREE webinar Beyond COVID—Restoring Confidence, Car Count & Cash Flow.

Possibilities Versus Problems

This is what separates the best from everyone else.

Both the best and the rest can look at the same opportunity. The difference is that the best focus on the possibilities while the rest find the problems!

For example, the best view the “always be hiring” philosophy as an opportunity to find great people. The rest focus on what to say when they interview someone but don’t have an immediate position to offer them.

The best focus on the eight customers out of ten who will say yes to scheduling their next appointment.

The rest dwell on the two out of ten who might say no. When presented with an idea to improve your shop do you focus on the possibilities or do you find the problems?

This is an important question to answer because whatever you focus on tends to expand. If you aspire to expand the possibilities and become like the best shop owners on the planet then keep reading to learn about their two key areas of focus.

The Big Picture

Several years ago, I was working to complete a jigsaw puzzle. I reached a point in my pursuit where I was stuck. I became frustrated because I couldn’t get the pieces to fit. To my surprise, no matter how many times I tried to connect the wrong puzzle pieces together it still didn’t work.

When I turned the puzzle box over on its opposite side, I saw there was a big picture of the completed puzzle. Once I shifted my focus to the big picture, I could see how all the pieces fit together and I was able to accomplish my goal. What do you see when you turn your puzzle box over?

In will be easier to hire your replacement, when you focus on your big picture of being an absent tee owner. It will be easier to raise your labor rate, when you focus on your big picture of having the revenue to retire in style.

It will be easier to register for the SuperConference when you focus on your big picture of becoming an ATI Top Shop.

Unlike the McDonald’s brothers, Ray Kroc was focused on the big picture. This level of focus empowered him to pursue the possibilities, while the brothers remained puzzled by their problems.

The Best People

Your environment has been described as the invisible hand that shapes behavior. I didn’t believe it at first glance but then I became aware of the following studies:

  1. Author & researcher Brad Stulberg reports that you are 57% more likely to become obese if your close friend becomes obese.
  2. Gallup research has concluded that you are 30 times more likely to laugh when you are with someone else than when alone.
  3. The Eric Twiggs research center has concluded that if you spend enough time around three pessimistic people, you will become the fourth! (OK, there is no Twiggs research center, but you get the point!)

This “invisible hand” inspires the best shop owners to intentionally associate with the best people.

For example, if you called your unsuccessful shop owner friend and told him that you wanted to become an absentee owner, he would try to talk you out of it.

He would tell you how hard it is to find good people, how you can’t afford to pay the right person, and blah, blah, blah! You would hang up the phone feeling discouraged, and begin to second guess yourself.

If you were to call Eddie Cleveland, the 2016 ATI shop owner of the year, he would encourage you and tell you specifically what he did to accomplish this goal. Talking to your friend would keep you focused on the problems, but speaking with Eddie would inspire you to pursue the possibilities.

Both your friend and Eddie would be looking at the same opportunity but seeing something different. Therefore, associating with the best people is a key area to focus on.


So, there you have it. Focusing on the big picture and hanging out with the best people will allow you to expand your possibilities. This will leave you smiling as if you just ate a happy meal!

For more tips on protecting your business, staff, and customers during these challenging times, check out our FREE webinar Beyond COVID—Restoring Confidence, Car Count & Cash Flow.

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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.