Auto Shop Coaching Blog

How to Thrive Under Pressure While Presenting an Estimate

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act but a habit.”Aristotle

During a recent television interview, Michael Jordan was asked what his secret was that allowed him to consistently thrive under pressure and lead his teams to “come from behind” victories.

He responded by telling the story of his rookie year practice sessions when his coach, Kevin Loughery, would divide the Chicago Bulls into teams that would scrimmage against each other.

Whenever Jordan’s squad jumped out to a big lead, Loughery immediately stopped the session and switched him to the losing team, leaving Jordan with the uphill challenge of leading his new squad to a come from behind victory, with the game on the line.

When the Bulls were losing during the real games, Jordan was prepared because of all the practice sessions. Practice was his secret to thriving under pressure.

While presenting the estimate, most service writers are feeling the pressure, because their only practice is in front of the prospect. Are you feeling the pressure? The following scenarios will help you to decide:

When you must come from behind to overcome an objection, you don’t know what to say.

When the customer becomes irate and the sale is on the line, you don’t know what to do.

When the recommended maintenance is declined, you call a time out because you don’t know what to prioritize.

When you’re prepared, you know what to say, what to do, and what to prioritize, so you will feel less pressure. I know what you’re thinking: “But Eric, I’ve been writing service for 15 years!”

According to a recent study conducted by the Twiggs research institute, (😀), if you only practice on your prospects, 15 years of writing service is the equivalent to 1 year of experience repeated 15 times!

Keep reading and you will learn one idea that will help you thrive under pressure while presenting an estimate.

Practice Like a Champion

In his book, How Champions Think, Dr. Bob Rotella attributes the following quote to golfing legend Phil Mickelson: “The Birdies are in the woods.” Scoring a birdie means the golfer scored under par and won on that hole, so getting a birdie is a good thing.

Hitting the ball into the woods is a bad thing! So, what does he mean when he says, “the birdies are in the woods?”

After hitting his ball into the rough, Mickelson, unlike most golfers, responds by hitting an amazing recovery shot to get his ball back on the fairway. He is known on tour for being confident and optimistic when his ball lands in the woods during high-pressure situations.

The reason he thrives under pressure is because of his practice habits. While the average golfer is practicing their putting, Mickelson works on hitting his ball out of the woods!

He places hundreds of balls in the wooded areas and swings for the green fairway. He can perform with confidence in public because of how he practices in private. So, for him, the birdies are in the woods.

What’s in It for You

When you hear an objection to your estimate presentation, it feels like your ball has landed in the woods. The objection is just an opportunity for you to clarify your message. The key is to practice your recovery shot by role-playing your response to the most common objections.

For example, during your role play, have the customer respond with “I don’t have the money,” so you can practice offering her your “six months same as cash, financing program.”

When the customer says, ”I’m getting rid of the car,” you can practice showing her the true cost to own site that spells out all of the costs relating to the purchase a new vehicle, in comparison to maintaining what she has.

When the customer says, “I don’t have time,” you can practice reminding her that she can use your loaner car while she’s waiting for the service to be completed.

By practicing your response to the most common objections, your response in a real presentation will come across as confident and optimistic.


So, there you have it. Both Michael Jordan and Phil Mickelson are champions in their sports. If you know how champions think, you can practice like a champion. If you practice like a champion, you can thrive under pressure while presenting an estimate.

Email to receive some role play examples on video to help you practice like a champion!

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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.