Auto Shop Coaching Blog

The SURPRISING Secrets of Moving from Manager to Owner

Are you a service manager who dreams of taking the wheel and becoming the proud owner of your own shop?

While the journey may seem daunting, there are some surprising secrets that can make this transition smoother than you might expect.

First, let’s explore why managers might want to shift to becoming an owner. Ownership provides a greater sense of control and autonomy over the business. As owners, they can shape the direction of the shop, make key decisions, and implement their own vision and strategies.

Additionally, ownership often comes with the potential for higher financial rewards, as they would directly benefit from the shop’s profits rather than receiving a fixed salary. This can be a strong motivator for someone looking to build wealth and financial security.

KUKUI | Google Partner

Finally, owning a shop can also be a fulfilling personal goal, allowing them to take pride in creating and running their own business, which can be a deeply rewarding experience.

Keep reading to discover 10 strategies to help you achieve your dream of becoming an automotive entrepreneur!

1. Save Strategically for Your Dream

One of the first secrets to making this transition is to start saving strategically. While you may have a steady income as a manager, owning a shop comes with significant financial responsibilities.

Create a savings plan that includes setting aside a portion of your earnings for the future. Consider opening a separate business savings account and explore options like individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and investment opportunities to grow your capital.

2. Learn the Business Side of Auto Repair

As a shop manager, you’re likely well-versed in the technical aspects of auto repair. However, owning a shop requires more than just mechanical expertise. You need to understand the business side of things, including financial management, marketing, legal requirements, and customer relations.

Invest time in learning about accounting, budgeting, and financial forecasting. Take courses or workshops to enhance your knowledge of business management. Familiarize yourself with local regulations and licensing requirements for auto repair businesses. Building a solid foundation in these areas will set you up for success.

3. Network and Build Relationships

Building strong relationships with others in the industry can be a game-changer. Attend industry events, join professional associations, and participate in local business networking groups. These connections can provide valuable insights, support, and potential business opportunities.

Consider reaching out to established shop owners for mentorship. Their guidance can be invaluable as you navigate the transition from manager to owner. They can share their experiences and offer advice on common challenges you may face.

4. Develop a Solid Business Plan

A well-thought-out business plan is essential for any aspiring shop owner. This plan should outline your business goals, target market, marketing strategy, financial projections, and operational plan. Creating a detailed roadmap will not only help you stay on track but also make it easier to secure financing if needed.

5. Secure Financing

Unless you have substantial personal savings, you may need to secure financing to purchase or start your own shop. Explore different options such as small business loans, lines of credit, or investors. A strong business plan will be instrumental in convincing lenders or investors to support your venture.

6. Build a Strong Online Presence

In today’s digital age, an online presence is crucial for attracting and retaining customers. Invest in a professional website and establish a presence on social media platforms relevant to your target audience. Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews and testimonials online, as positive word-of-mouth can go a long way in building trust and credibility.

7. Embrace Technology

Technology is rapidly changing the automotive industry. Stay up-to-date with the latest tools and software that can improve the efficiency and quality of your repair services. Invest in diagnostic equipment, scheduling software, and inventory management systems to streamline operations and enhance customer satisfaction.

8. Focus on Customer Service

Outstanding customer service can set your shop apart from the competition. Train your staff to provide exceptional service, communicate effectively with customers, and prioritize transparency. Happy customers are more likely to become repeat clients and refer others to your shop.

9. Plan for Growth

Your journey doesn’t end once you’ve become a shop owner. Plan for the long-term growth and sustainability of your business. Explore opportunities to expand your services, consider opening additional locations, and adapt to changing industry trends.

10. Don’t Fear Failure

Finally, one surprising secret that many successful shop owners share is the willingness to learn from failure. Not every decision will lead to immediate success, and setbacks are a natural part of entrepreneurship. Use failures as learning experiences, adjust your strategies, and keep moving forward with determination.


So, there you have it. The transition from service manager to shop owner may seem like a challenging endeavor, but with the right preparation and mindset, it’s entirely achievable. Save strategically, learn the business side of auto repair, network, and build relationships, develop a solid business plan, secure financing, and embrace technology and outstanding customer service.

Remember that success often comes to those who are willing to learn from their mistakes and persevere through challenges.

With dedication, hard work, and a commitment to excellence, you can turn your dream of owning an auto repair shop into a rewarding reality. So, buckle up, take the wheel, and drive towards your goal of becoming a successful shop owner!

Non-ATI Members: At ATI, we focus on teaching and coaching shop owners on best practices to get the most out of your automotive repair business. Want to learn more? Find an ATI shop owner event near you.

Print Friendly
Related Articles:
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.