Auto Shop Coaching Blog

I Just Don’t Have Time

Being an ATI coach, I hear this phrase a lot from my shop owners: “I just don’t have time.” It stems from trying to maintain an ownership/life balance combined with issues that haven’t been 100% resolved. With the “Great Staffing Shortage of 2021,” the desperation is compounded with the inability to fill position vacancies that we know are costing money, affecting customer satisfaction levels, and putting stress on the existing staff. Add to that: administrative duties, highly-held business tactics that haven’t been implemented well, and other outside factors. If you’re in a mental rut due to these combined stresses, the new directives you brainstormed with fellow owners, coaches, or family aren’t going to be put in place effectively unless you do something new.

Ideas to grow your businessNon-ATI Members: Discover more valuable tips and strategies to create efficiencies, delegate tasks, and focus on the things only you can do in ATI’s shop owner events. Register at

Identify Time-Wasters

The first step in trying to grab some of your time (and sanity) back is to create a list of those tasks that tie up your time. It can’t be a mental list — it has to be in writing. From there, you can prioritize these items that you solely perform and take up the most energy. Using an Eisenhower box will assist in organizing these functions since it makes you categorize tasks based on urgency and importance into four different quadrants.

Delegate Responsibility

Regardless if you use the quadrants or a plain Jane list, now you can decide what to train your staff to take over. As a result of the employment frenzy out there, you most likely ramped up your employees’ pay to make sure you hold onto them. You need to ask: are they performing at a higher level or taking more on in exchange for the increased pay and benefits? If so,  great! If not, use this task list as a tie-in to their increased pay. Take the remedial tasks and start handing them out. These items don’t take much effort or training but can be removed from your lap and spot-checked when necessary.

Do you have inventory that is auto-replenishing or takes active effort to maintain the correct stock levels? With a clean and organized inventory area, you can train an existing employee to take on this process. Is there a current procedure to ensure equipment is maintained and functioning safely? Although this may include outside vendors and an important documentation process, it too can be passed on.

Identify Time-Fillers

There should be understood time-fillers in place for any employee to undertake when they have any downtime like cleaning, organizing, customer callbacks, etc. In addition to those items, you can schedule specific days and times (most likely when you took on these duties) to keep them busy. Let them understand the importance of doing each of these tasks individually. Then as they get better acclimated, take more tasks off your list and continue the process until you get to those items that either require your direct input or an additional hire/position.

Get Back to Priorities

Now that you gained back some time get those high-level directives put in place. Update your want ads to improve your “Always be Hiring” effort, including interviewing when you don’t have a position open. Get your accounting straightened out, or address anything else you’ve been stressing out about, knowing it was delayed too long.

The lesson here — you’re not going to have time unless you make a conscious effort to make some. You can’t add more hours to the day, but you can control what you spend your time on.

Non-ATI Members: For more tips on how to effectively work on the business instead of in the business, check out our shop owner events at

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Koole Bolina is a Performance Coach at ATI and has been in the automotive industry since 1998. Starting with a personal interest in automotive repairs, he continues to be part of car clubs, drag racing and keeping up with industry trends. Koole loves to positively influence those who want to do better, be better. If the industry we happen to do business in is the automotive field, that makes it all the better.