Auto Shop Coaching Blog

How to Think Like a Top Shop Owner

“Never surrender to your own satisfaction.”Tim S. Grover

When I was growing up, one of my favorite basketball players was Earvin “Magic”Johnson, who played for the Los Angeles Lakers. He could look in one direction while throwing an accurate pass to a teammate on the opposite side of the court. But that’s not why I liked him.

He had the guts to take the game-winning shot, with the championship on the line. But that’s not why I liked him.  He was a leader on the court whose presence made everyone better. But that’s not why I liked him.

The reason I admired Magic, was because of his relentless pursuit of excellence. He was always looking to improve a different aspect of his game.

When he started his professional career, he wasn’t a good shooter. He eventually developed a consistent three-point shot. Initially, he wasn’t skilled at making free throws.

He worked at this until he had the best free throw percentage in the league. One year, Magic noticed that his teammate Kareem Abdul Jabbar had a special hook shot that was impossible to defend.

The following year, Magic developed his own, “Baby sky hook” and used it to hit the game-winning shot that sealed the championship.

For me, it wasn’t his skillset, it was his mindset that set him apart from everyone else. He had the mindset of a champion.

I’ve spoken with several ATI Top 12 award-winning shop owners over the years and have found that they tend to think this way.

By now you’re thinking, “Twiggs, I’m on the edge of my seat, what does it really mean to think like a Top Shop Owner? Stay with me and I’ll explain.

Refuse to Get Comfortable

I had an interesting experience while attending the most recent SuperConference. After the awards ceremony, I was approached by two shop owners that had just been recognized on stage for winning the Top 12 award. These particular owners had won this award multiple times.

After exchanging high fives, the conversation quickly shifted. They wanted to know why they didn’t win Shop of the Year, how many points away they were from first place, and what they could do differently to “win it all” next year.

They were doing more calculating than celebrating! Initially, I was surprised at how fast their focus shifted. But then I realized that it was the refusal to get comfortable that contributed to their success. 

Examples from Your World

Bad things can happen when you get comfortable. For example, if you get comfortable with your hiring success, you’ll get blindsided by an unexpected resignation.

Setting up your careers page on your website and committing to the minimum number of candidate interviews you will conduct per month is how you would refuse to get comfortable in this area.

If you get comfortable with your car count success, you’ll end up crying the car count blues during back to school season, blaming the results on your demographics instead of your disciplines.

Staying disciplined with your coaching of incoming phone call recordings and presenting the exit appointment to every customer will keep you focused on this category.

If you get comfortable with your bank account success, you’ll wake up one day wondering why you have to use your credit card to make payroll.

Staying diligent with your daily repair order audits, having weekly one on ones with key personnel, and a monthly review of your profit & loss statement will keep you from surrendering to your own satisfaction. 

The interesting aspect of the Magic Johnson story is that he had already experienced success before making improvements to his game. He had already won the NBA championship and Finals MVP award in his rookie season!

Like the Top Shop Owners, he didn’t rest on his laurels. Instead, he refused to get comfortable!


So, there you have it. The best way to develop the mindset of a champion is to refuse to get comfortable with your success. 

Unlike the Los Angeles Lakers, I don’t have any Magic to offer you, but I do have the following promise:

If you refuse to get comfortable with your success, you will be thinking like a Top Shop Owner.

Thinking like a Top shop Owner is the first step towards becoming one!

P.S. Email me at to receive the 7 Characteristics of a Relentless Shop Owner!

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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.