Auto Shop Coaching Blog

How to Regain Your Swagger at The Shop

Skill and confidence are an unconquered army.George Herbert

The year was 2012, and I was frustrated. I was frustrated by the fact that I couldn’t move “Jack.” Jack is a shop owner who was failing to achieve his profit goals. He and I would speak every week, but the results didn’t change.

We improved his pricing, but never experienced the payoff. We implemented new processes but failed to see the performance. We hired new people but didn’t enhance production. What was I missing?

My frustration had reached its boiling point. On one of our coaching calls, I said, “Jack, I coach 80 shops, and you rank 79th, out of 80, in Gross Profit Dollar Improvement!”

His response revealed what I was missing: “Great! At least I’m not in the last place!”  

Clearly, Jack had lost his “swagger” at the shop!

Ideas to grow your businessRegain your swagger and grow your shop. Discover valuable tips and strategies to improve your bottom-line in ATI’s free webinar.

What is Swagger?

The dictionary defines swagger as, walking and behaving in a very confident manner. For example, when I ask you to name the best professional athlete in America, who comes to mind? The typical answer is Tom Brady. (Yes, get over it!)

Now, when I ask you to name the best shop owner that you’ve ever been around, who comes to mind? You may name one of the ATI Top 12 Shop owners that you met at the Super Conference on in your 20 group.

I don’t know who you thought of in either scenario, but I do know this: Whoever you named, has tons of swagger. I know this because it’s impossible to become the best of the best without it! 

The root cause of swagger is a confident expectation. For example, if you asked Tom Brady, who he thinks will win the upcoming Super Bowl, he’s not picking his opponent, the Rams!

On the other hand, Jack’s greatest expectation was to avoid last place! What about you? What results do you expect from your shop? Swagger is important because over time, what you expect, will show up in your experience.

By now you may be thinking: “This all sounds great Twiggs, but how can I have ‘swag’ with everything that’s going wrong at my shop?” If you can resist the urge to press that delete button, you will discover a key idea to help regain your swagger at the shop!

Document Your Victories

During my coaching calls with Jack, I would begin by asking him, “What’s on your mind?”  He would respond by telling me all about the shortage of good technicians, the major fleet account he lost three years ago, and how “these millennials just don’t want to work!” 

It was always a lengthy conversation with him doing 80% of the talking!

One day I decided to change things up. I started the call by asking, “Tell me about your WINS since we spoke last?” I was met with awkward silence, followed by a series of filler words! (Err, Um, Uh…) He was at a loss for words! It was hard for him to speak about the positives because he was focused on the negative.

What are you focused on? When you think about the wrong parts deliveries, irate customers, job applicant no-shows, and the financial pressures that come with owning a shop, it’s easy to focus on the negative. The solution is to document your victories. 

Start by grabbing a notepad and making a daily list of your victories. For example,when you complete your morning exercise routine like you said you would, write it down.

When you have that difficult conversation with the employee you’ve been avoiding, write it down. When you convert that irate complainer, into a referring customer, write it down.

The more you commit to documenting your victories, the more victories you’ll have to document. This will cause you to develop swagger because now you expect to have victories to write about!

When you have those days when everything is going wrong, you can review your victories list, and shift your focus!


So, there you have it. By focusing on his wins, Jack started to experience better profit results. Today, Jack can leave his shop for weeks at a time and return to a better business. He regained his swagger!

If you commit to making a daily victories list, you can regain your swagger at the shop! You may never win the Super Bowl. You may never make the ATI Top 12. But with swagger, you can get better!

For more tips on how to bring customers to your shop and plan your shop’s comeback, 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.