Auto Shop Coaching Blog

How to Become an Irrelevant Shop

"When you're finished changing, you're finished."Ben Franklin

Now that I have your attention, imagine that you’ve just landed in an unfamiliar town where you don’t know anyone, and you lack access to a rental car. To make matters worse, your hotel doesn’t offer a shuttle to pick you up. What would you do? Catch a bus? Catch a train? Hitch a ride?

This was my predicament while vacationing with the family in South Carolina. Since I got outvoted on the idea of exploring the adventures of hitchhiking, I decided to use my phone instead of my thumb to get us a ride! This was my opportunity to experience Uber.

I downloaded the app, submitted an electronic payment, entered the name of the hotel, and within five minutes, a young lady named Tina in a tan Toyota pulled up and said, “Hi Eric, I’m here to pick you up!”

What’s interesting is that, several years ago, my first choice would have been to call a taxicab. As Tina was dropping us off, I wondered why catching a cab never came to mind for me as an option.

And then it hit me. Uber has changed the game while the taxis cab services have failed to change. I still have to call a cab, but with Uber, I simply touch my phone.

With a taxi, I don’t know exactly how much I’m paying, but with Uber, my fare is the same, even if the driver takes the long route! With a taxi, I have to pay while I’m in the car, but with Uber, I pay electronically before I ride.

The taxis have taught us the following takeaway: over time, a business that fails to change will become irrelevant.

When it comes to auto repair, are you changing the game or failing to change? Stay with me to learn what you can do to avoid becoming an irrelevant shop.

Revisit Your Traditions

There’s a story of a young wife who was preparing a ham for dinner. The husband noticed that she would cut off one inch from either end of the ham. “Why are you wasting good ham by cutting the ends off?” the husband asked.

“It’s a family tradition!” she replied. “That’s the way my mom always did it!” The husband’s questions sparked the wife’s curiosity, so she called her mom to find out why she cut the ends of the ham off.

“It’s a family tradition!” replied her mom. “That’s the way my mom always did it! Why don’t you ask her yourself?” So, the young wife called her grandmother and asked, “Grandma, why did you always cut the ends off of the ham?”

Grandma paused for a moment and then said, “Baby, the baking pan was too small, so I had to cut the ends, to get the ham to fit in the pan!”

The young wife’s outdated tradition of serving ham, inspires the following question: what traditions are you maintaining that are no longer serving you? 

Examples from Your Shop

Presenting the estimate and hoping for the best, is an outdated tradition. The shops that are staying relevant send digital photos of their findings and verify that the customers have reviewed the pictures.

If “what you’ve always done” is called your customer a cab, then it’s time to revisit your traditions. The relevant shops offer loaner vehicles to allow their buyers to get back to work.

They take things a step further by offering a “whistle while you work program,” where they will pick up the customers car from their place of employment, and drop it back off when done!

Failing to ask for the email address is like cutting the ends off the ham without knowing why!  Unlike in your grandmother’s generation, giving out an email address in 2018 is a non-issue.

Speaking of email addresses, keep in mind that the average lifetime value of a regular automotive customer is around $7,000. Every email that you fail to collect from a new customer is costing you $7,000 in potential revenue! Now that’s an expensive tradition!


So, there you have it. The key to staying relevant is to consistently revisit your traditions to make sure they’re still serving you.

I look forward to the day when I can fly to your town, catch an Uber to your shop, and personally congratulate you for changing the game in your market!

P.S. Email me at to receive an example of the “Whistle While You Work Program,” which can help you to stay relevant in your market!

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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.