Auto Shop Coaching Blog

How to Conquer the Car Count Paradox

"The greatest gift to give yourself is the willingness to change your mind."Marianne Williamson

Have you ever seen a fight break out at the dentist’s office? Let’s think about your last visit. The receptionist handed you a card and said, “Your next appointment will be on May 1st.”

She didn’t ask, “would you like to come in on May 1st?” or, “You don’t want to schedule your next appointment, do you?” She just told you the date and assumed you would accept it.

The customer in front of you was handed a different card but told the same thing. There were no problems, penalties, or predicaments.

You both accepted the reality that this is how it’s done at the dentist’s office.

Why then are there so many problems, penalties, and predicaments at your shop, when it’s time to exit schedule? It boils down to beliefs.

ATI Fundamental #14 states that it’s important, “To recognize the power of beliefs to Influence actions.”

I believe the exit appointment works at the dentist’s office because the receptionist doesn’t know that it’s not supposed to!

In automotive, we’ll take that one customer out of ten who says no and use him to justify our belief that it doesn’t work. In other words, your beliefs are influencing your actions.

Would the dental receptionist be influenced to stop making appointments at her full-time job, if she took a part-time job with you?   

This leads me to what I call the car count paradox:  “The shop leaders who complain the most about low car count, have the least amount of buy-in to exit scheduling.”

Before we can conquer the car count paradox, it’s important to understand what a paradox is and how it’s affecting you.

The Paradox Problem

A paradox is a scenario that combines features that contradict each other. For example, you need more gross profit, but don’t believe in charging correctly for your services. This would be a Gross Profit Paradox.

You need to hire the right technician but won’t start looking because “There aren’t any good techs in your area.” This would be a hiring paradox.

You need more cars, but don’t believe in the exit appointment. (The least expensive and most effective solution to your car count problem!) This is an example of the count paradox. 

We live in a world of cause and effect. The root cause in all three scenarios is a limiting belief. The low gross profit, low staffing, and low car count experienced are the effects.

The bottom line is that you won’t change what you’re experiencing until you change what you’re thinking.

Keep reading to discover what you can do to conquer the car count paradox.

Focus on the Facts

Studies in the automotive industry show that the customer with an appointment is twice as likely to come to your shop when compared to one who doesn’t have one.

That’s a fact!

Unlike other car count strategies, every shop on the planet can afford to implement an exit appointment program. (FREE is in the budget!!)

That’s a fact!

Your employees and bill collectors don’t care about your reasons for not believing in exit appointments.

After listening to what you say, they will still expect their pay!

That’s a fact!

The teller doesn’t accept “reasons” as a form of payment at the bank, and you can’t deposit excuses!

That’s a fact! 

By now you may be thinking, “This is better than last week Twiggs, but I need more! If only there were a tool to help me focus on the facts!”

The tool you seek is known as “The WIN Number Drill.”  

Your WIN Number

First, take out a sheet of paper and write down how much net profit you need to average each week to feel like that week was a “WIN” for you.

Next, take that number and add it to your average weekly fixed expense amount. Take this total and divide by your average weekly gross profit percentage.

This will give you the total amount of sales needed to generate the profit that you desire.

For example, if you need $3,000 a week in net profit to “WIN,” average $3,000 a week in fixed expenses with a 42% gross profit margin, you will need $14,285 in sales to generate the $3,000 in net profit.  ($3k+$3K / 42%= $14,285)

The final step is to take the sales needed and divide by your Average Repair Order (ARO) to determine the necessary car count.

Let’s say you have an ARO of $400. By taking the $14,285 and dividing by $400, you would arrive at 35 cars per week. 

In this scenario, the facts of your situation state that you need 35 cars. Knowing your WIN number will make it easier to buy-in to the method to accomplish the result.


So, there you have it. You can get mad at me, but you can’t get mad at math! Knowing your WIN number will keep you focused on the facts.

Focusing on the facts can help you to conquer the car count paradox!

P.S.  Email etwiggs@autotraining.netto receive a spreadsheet of the WIN Number Drill to help you focus on the facts!
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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.