Auto Shop Coaching Blog

How To Grow When They Say It’s Slow

Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's a heaven for?Robert Browning

“My tool guy says that everybody’s slow!” Said “Katie”, the service manager of a local repair shop.   She was averaging $12,000 per week in sales which was a 16% decrease when compared to the previous year.

Katie went on to tell me: “It’s a tough economy, and we’re in the fall season,  but I’m sure things will pick up as we get closer to the holidays.”

My initial instinct was to believe her since she had a good reputation in her community and a track record of previous success.

She’d watched all the webinars, and had a wall in her office that was loaded with Industry training certifications.

Maybe we needed to look at the marketing, I thought.  Maybe adding a billboard sign, flying an overhead blimp, or posting the right banner, would make the difference.

The following week, Katie decided to leave the organization to pursue another job opportunity.  “Dan”, the General manager took over as the acting manager for the location.

Four weeks later, I reviewed his portal and noticed an interesting trend.  Dan was averaging $22,000 per week in sales, which was an 83% improvement over what Katie was averaging!  

“Dan, what changed? Did you get a billboard, blimp, or a banner in place?” I asked.  “No banners and blimps Eric.

We’re just saying yes to the customers and I’m in constant communication with the tech’s.”   

This left me puzzled because Dan was dealing with the same customer and local economy challenges as Katie. And that’s when it hit me:  Growing your business has more to do with your philosophy than the economy! 

Is there a result you believe to be impossible to achieve due to external factors beyond your control?

When you believe that you’re a victim of circumstances, the tendency is to stop taking the actions that can lead to achievement.

A big takeaway from the opening story is that there’s always a “Dan” out there who could come to your shop, and accomplish the result that you think is impossible.

The key to growing when they say it’s slow is to always be open to changing your approach.   Stay with me to uncover two strategies to help you with this process. 

Set Stretch Goals

Last December, I began my preparation to run in a twenty-six-mile marathon. Prior to December, I had never run for longer than four miles at one time.

I’m often asked why I didn’t set a more “realistic” target of running in a 10K event which is about six miles.

The reason I went for the marathon is because it’s a stretch goal, and stretch goals motivate you to take aggressive actions and push beyond your challenges.

My definition of a stretch goal is a goal that forces you to grow into a person who is bigger than your circumstances.

If it’s cold outside, I’m motivated to train, knowing that I must grow into a person who can run twenty-six miles.   Running six miles would be much easier to achieve, but wouldn’t inspire me to run when I didn’t feel like getting out of bed.

For example, having a goal to make payroll is realistic, but it won’t inspire you to take aggressive actions.

However, setting a goal to have six months of fixed expenses in the bank, would force you to stretch and motivate you to take actions that you wouldn’t normally consider.

Les Brown puts it this way: “Most people don’t fail in life because they aim too high and miss, but because they aim too low and hit.”  Aiming for the stretch goal will inspire you to overcome adversity and to adjust your approach.

Think on Paper

Dr. Gail Matthews, Professor at the Dominican University of California, conducted a study of a sampling of business professionals who had set goals for themselves.

She concluded that those who had written goals were 33% more successful than those who didn’t.  In other words, A stretch goal that isn’t written down is merely a “stretch wish.”

Writing down your goals activates your subconscious mind and helps you to see goal achievement opportunities, that were always there, but went unnoticed.

This reminds me of when I went to the dealership and test drove a silver Toyota Camry.

After leaving the lot, it seemed like every car on the road was a silver Toyota Camry.  I saw them everywhere!  It was as if, everyone went out and bought one.

There were always Silver Camry’s on the road, but buying the car caused a shift in my focus.  This is how writing your goals down works

It will shift your focus and cause you to see opportunities for success that have always been there but went unnoticed. 


So, there you have it.  Setting stretch goals and thinking on paper will help you to stay open to adjusting your approach, and cause you to grow when they say it’s slow.

Are you a victim of circumstances or a victorious goal setter?

P.S. Has setting stretch goals been a struggle for you?  Email me at to receive the 5 Rules for Setting Stretch Goals.

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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.