Auto Shop Coaching Blog

How to Raise the Bar at Your Shop

“You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.”Henry Ford

Are you looking to raise the bar? One morning I came across a video from John Taffer, the host of “The Bar Rescue” reality show. I was surprised to hear that he’d been working with bar owners for over 31 years.

His next statement really grabbed me. Taffer concluded that in all that time there were three words that he’d never heard from a failing bar owner.

The reason it grabbed me was that in my 27 years of working with technicians, and automotive leaders, I’ve never heard these words either!

If more shop owners would just say it, there wouldn’t be as many failing shops. If you make the commitment to recite the magic words, you will Raise the Bar!

I know what you’re thinking: “Twiggs, I’m on the edge of my seat! I want to raise the bar, so tell me the three words already!”

Keep reading because saying these three words represent the first tip to raising the bar at your shop! In John Taffer’s world, the more “tips” you receive, the better!

Ideas to grow your businessWant more tips for how to grow your business and improve your bottom-line? Discover valuable, easy-to-implement ideas and strategies in ATI’s shop owner events. Register today at

Use the Magic Words

Here are the three words that neither John nor I ever heard:

“It’s my fault!”

I’ve heard so much about the economy, the trade war with China, and the weather, that I could write a book about each.

The book would be titled, excuses!”

ATI Fundamental #16 teaches us to Practice Blameless Problem-Solving.

Practicing blameless problem-solving helps you to own the problem. When you own the problem, you also own the solution!

The problem with excuses is that they excuse you from responsibility. Once you become responsible, everything changes.

For example, once you become responsible for your staffing, you will stop blaming the millennials, and start changing your approach. (Are you registered for the Employee Engagement Class yet?)

Once you become responsible for your parts margin, you will stop blaming your customers and start sending them digital inspection images. (An edited picture is worth a thousand words!)

Once you become responsible for your car count, you will stop blaming the fall season, and start applying The Rule of 5. (What Five things will you do this week to improve your car count?)

The starting point of your success is taking ownership of your failure. Using the magic words will get you started in the right direction.

Make Implementation Your Priority

Allow me to introduce you to a shop owner named “Pete.” Pete attended the SuperConference and heard the idea of setting up multiple bank accounts from Mike Michalowicz, the author of the book, Profit First.

As a result of implementing this idea, Pete has accumulated over $100,000 in his accounts since then.

At his most recent 20 Group meeting, he was recognized for making the most progress with his gross profit performance since the previous meeting.

When asked what drove his success, here’s what he said, “I just implemented the ideas I heard from the last meeting.”

Other shop owners who sat in the same SuperConference session and 20 Group meeting heard the same ideas as Pete.

When asked about the state of their business, most attributed their results to the economy, the trade war with China, and the weather!

Why did Pete experience different results after receiving the same information? He made implementation his priority.

When you’re at the training meeting, it feels like the world is filled with possibilities. It’s all sunshine and rainbows! Within six months, however, you will default to making excuses if implementation isn’t your priority.

The great idea doesn’t count. What you do with the great idea is all that matters. You will be more likely to make implementation your priority after you admit that everything happening in your business is your fault!


So, there you have it. If you commit to using the magic words, and making implementation your priority, you will Raise the Bar at Your Shop.

I should warn you: Taking more responsibility can lead to better profitability.

Make sure you don’t help John Taffer’s owners by spending all your extra cash at the bar!

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.