Auto Shop Coaching Blog

How to Put More Profit in Your Pocket

"You can have anything you want if you are willing to give up the belief that you can't have it."Robert Anthony

“How do I put more profit in my pocket?” asked “Jason,” a shop owner who heard about our upcoming webinar on the topic. I responded as follows: “Jason, you’re averaging a 32% parts margin over the last four weeks, so using the parts matrix would be helpful.” To which he replied, “Yeah, but it’s a down economy and my customers are feeling the pinch.”

“OK Jason, what about increasing your labor rate? You’ve been charging $70 for three years now.” “Yeah, but it’s an election year and people are uneasy about spending money.” “But Jason, many of our clients are having their best year ever.”

Since he felt challenged, he replied by using the classic response embraced by shop owners around the world who have negative gross profit dollar lift: “Yeah, but my area is different!”

Since I hear this so much, I wondered if he was right. I decided to check the median income levels of the customers in his zip code using a zip code demographics tool.

He was right, his area really was different! The customers in his zip code had a HIGHER median income than the average consumer in America, his state, and his county! The problem was his limiting belief, not his level of buyer. So, what’s keeping you from putting more profit in your pocket? 

The key is to make sure your beliefs and your bottom-line aspirations are aligned. Aspiring to achieve a high-profit goal but believing you can’t raise your prices is like driving from Baltimore to Boston using highway 95 going SOUTH. No matter how hard you drive, you won’t get there!

So how can you tell if a limiting belief is lowering your bottom line? Keep reading to learn two tell-tale signs.

Discover hidden profit in your shopWorking hard, but hardly making ends meet? Discover hidden PROFIT in your shop with tips from ATI’s shop owner events! Register today at

Learned Helplessness

One of the best illustrations of learned helplessness is the story of the circus elephant. Did you ever wonder why such a powerful animal can be contained by a small chain with a stick nailed in the ground? It all started when the elephant was a baby.

The trainers would tie the chain to the elephant’s leg and nail the stick to the ground and watch the infant to struggle to break free. This struggle conditioned the babe to believe it wasn’t strong enough to break the chain.

As a result, the elephant grows into one of the most powerful animals on the planet, still holding onto the limiting belief from its past. The elephant has learned to be helpless.

What beliefs are you still holding on to? Having the wrong perspective on your past experiences leads to learned helplessness. Instead of dwelling on your failure, focus on the takeaway. For example, remember “Mary” with the Mazda who declined the additional services you presented? Ask yourself the following question: “What could I have done differently to demonstrate the value?”

Answers like explaining the warranty, using the fluid trays, and showing her pictures from the tablets, would come to mind. Focusing on the takeaway will force you to get better instead of becoming bitter and help to overcome the learned helplessness habit. 

Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias is when you use a singular event to confirm what you already believe while ignoring evidence that tells a different story. Let’s use our friend Mary with the Mazda to illustrate the point. You implemented the labor matrix in your shop and Mary was the fourth customer you worked with yesterday.

If you suffer from this bias, you will use the fact that she questioned your labor pricing as confirmation that the matrix doesn’t work, even though the first three customers paid with no problems.

When shop leaders say: “My customers are complaining about the new pricing,” I usually discover that it was only one or two people and not everyone. If you want to put more profit in your pocket, use price objections as confirmation that you’re on the right track. This will change the confirmation from a bias to a benefit! 

If nobody EVER questions what you charge, it’s because you aren’t charging enough! This makes hearing objections a benefit because they give you the opportunity to increase your profits and to improve your communication skills. The more objections you overcome, the better you get at overcoming objections.


Please take note of this important disclaimer: Just raising prices without upgrading the level of service you provide will NOT increase your profits in the long run.

It’s been proven, however, that patrons who feel the value will pay the price. Overcoming the habits of learned helplessness and confirmation bias will position you to deliver more value and put more profit in your pocket!

At ATI, we focus on teaching and coaching shop owners on best practices to get the most out of your automotive repair business. Want to learn more? Find an ATI shop owner event near you.

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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.