Auto Shop Coaching Blog

The Reason Your Shop Meetings Aren’t Working

The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.George Bernard Shaw

I was all in, on-board, and “drinking the Kool-Aid!” As a new district manager of automotive service, I had just returned from a national meeting where our president clearly communicated the company direction.

What he said was good for the car, the customer, and the corporation. My next step was to have a meeting with my managers to get their buy-in.

I told them that the courtesy checks were a non-negotiable aspect of the business that had to be done on every car! I told them that I expected every service advisor to make a quality visit to the car with every customer, as they were checking in. I told them that I expected all customers in the waiting room to be updated on their vehicle status at ten o’clock, two o’clock, and four o’clock, every day without fail.

To seal the deal, I created a flip chart containing these three items and had all seventeen of my managers sign it, saying that they would get their teams to comply.

Several weeks later, “Gary” my regional manager, called to let me know that he would be visiting my shops with me and asked If my team was executing the three main items discussed at the national meeting.

“Gary, we are on it!” I said with a tone of confidence! I was looking forward to our upcoming visits.

Gary and I visited five of my locations, and we saw some interesting things. The employees at my shops were doing everything except the courtesy checks, quality visits, and customer updates!

If looks could kill, I wouldn’t be here today based off how Gary was staring at me. Here was my feeble response, “But Gary, I told them!”

Where did I go wrong? I’ll bet it’s the same place you went wrong when you came back from the SuperConference, your 20 Group, or ATI class filled with great ideas. I was unaware of the 70% Rule!

Have you ever been all in, on-board, and drinking the Kool-Aid, based on an idea you heard, but fail to achieve implementation at your shop? Keep reading to uncover why this happened and what you can do about it.

Ideas to grow your businessDiscover more valuable tips and strategies for how to have more effective shop meetings, improve your bottom-line, and grow your business. Register for ATI’s free webinar.

The 70% Rule

Based on twenty-six years in the business and thousands of coaching sessions with shop owners, I have become aware of the 70% rule.

When communicating a significant change, I’ve found that 10% of employees will refuse to buy in no matter what, 20% will execute with or without leadership oversight, and 70% of the group can go either way depending on how the leader follows up.

(Disclaimer for my “owl personalities” out there: these are merely averages; the results may vary depending on shop culture and the specific idea in question!)

Let’s say you have a shop of ten employees, and you come back from the SuperConference and tell them that everyone must do a goal poster.

Based on the math, one employee will refuse, two will comply just because you told them to, and the rest can go either way depending on how you follow up.

Since I was unaware of the 70% rule, I just “told them” and was surprised when it didn’t happen! So, the key to implementing change at your shop is always to inspect what you expect.

Inspect What You Expect

You can pay Tony Robbins to come in and walk on hot coals at your next shop meeting! You can show up to your shop wearing boxing attire with Rocky Music playing in the background! You can bring in Ray Lewis to yell at everyone!

But here’s the question: How do you respond when your employee isn’t doing what you mentioned at the meeting?

If there isn’t a response, it’s like the meeting never happened. At least 70% of your team will go back to business as usual.

You can’t respond to what you don’t see, so the key is to create systems that allow you to inspect what you expect. When you can see what’s going on, you are positioned to respond accordingly. The following are my favorite follow-up systems:

Daily RO Audits

This is the daily habit of reviewing a random selection of work orders, invoices, and courtesy checks and providing the appropriate feedback. If you discussed courtesy check compliance at your meeting, the RO Audit gives you an opportunity to provide positive recognition for those who are executing, and constructive feedback to those who aren’t.

Weekly One-on-Ones

The most effective one-on-ones are those scheduled on the same day and at the same time every week. If I work for you and I know that every Tuesday at 2pm you will be reviewing the Digital Inspection Report with me, I will be more likely to follow through with sending my customers the digital photos we spoke about at your meeting.

Regular Review Of Recordings

In years past, I would conduct phone shops and send the owner the feedback based on what I heard. Sometimes, the advisor would claim that I was wrong or deny even getting the call. The beauty of the recordings is that everyone can hear what happened at the same time. The most effective coaching method is to play the recording and have them tell you how the call went based on the standards you shared at the meeting.


So, there you have it. My shop meeting didn’t work because I failed to inspect what I expected.

If you happen to be part of the 70% that needs follow-up to execute the ideas in this blog post, remember that Tony Robbins and Ray Lewis don’t give refunds!

For more tips on how to achieve specific results and run a productive, profitable shop, check out our free webinar.

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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.