Auto Shop Coaching Blog

Give Yourself a Raise by Saying No

As an independent automotive repair shop owner, you hold responsibility for the reputation of your shop. You are also responsible to keep your team motivated, productive, positive, and passionate about what they do. And you hold all the liability when something goes wrong. You deserve a raise!

We’ve talked about giving yourself a raise by increasing visit frequency and reclaiming your profits. Today we are going to talk about giving yourself a raise by saying no.

I can hear you already: “What?! I can’t say no, I need to take every car in that I can and make money!” But the truth is you don’t make money on every car that you bring into your shop. You end up making a very small amount of money on each car by doing twice as much work — working harder, not smarter. By saying no in specific situations, you, Mr. and Ms. Shop Owner, can give yourself a raise.

Ideas to grow your businessNon-ATI Members: Still looking for ways to optimize every dollar and reclaim profits? Discover more strategies on how to give yourself a raise in ATI’s latest non-member webinar.

Here are my guidelines for when to say no:

1. Say No to Overbooking

If your service advisor is in the habit of saying yes to everyone who walks in the door or requests an appointment, chances are you are overbooking your techs. They feel like they have to rush to get to the next vehicle, and the next, and the next. By rushing, they can’t take the time to identify repair and maintenance issues that the customer needs to be informed about. You can tell if this is a problem by looking for:

  1. Low Average Repair Order: your average sale is less than 5x your base labor rate.
  2. Excessive Comebacks: your technicians are not taking the time to QC the repair/service.
  3. “It Didn’t Do That Before” Calls: If we don’t educate the customer on any other issues the vehicle may have, even if we did the repair right, we get these calls because they now notice something they didn’t before.

2. Say No to Work Outside Your Technicians’ Skillset

If you don’t have a technician that can efficiently (i.e., within the billed/flagged time) do the necessary repair, sublet it to a shop that can. Too often I see shop owners and service advisors assigning work to technicians that are not trained to do a certain repair. Train your techs and keep them growing in their skills — but keep the money flowing by assigning them work they can successfully perform today.

3. Say No to Customer Supplied Parts

It’s not just about the loss of parts revenue when you let a customer bring their own parts. Too often the part they bring is defective, used, or the wrong part entirely. And when that happens, you have to wait on the customer to find time to bring you a working, correct part. Your tech is stuck waiting as well and that downtime costs you money. As a side note — even with a waiver, you’re still liable if that part fails. It’s just not worth it.

By saying no to these three situations, you can take time to thoroughly look over every customer’s vehicle for additional recommendations, keep your technicians productive all day, and avoid the sticky situations that can hold up a bay that should be making you money — to give yourself a raise!

At ATI, we help our members make great business decisions, increase profit, and build strong teams, all of which allow them to achieve their dreams. Want to learn more? Start by registering for a shop owner event at

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Charlene is an Executive Coach at ATI, a Certified Profit First Professional, a former shop owner, and has been coaching since 2014. Charlene helps clients find the right solutions to their challenges and encourages them to make the changes that result in having the life they dreamed about when they got into business ownership.