Auto Shop Coaching Blog

“I Can’t Get Out” — When Your Shop Feels Like a Prison

There are two main reasons an automotive repair shop owner decides to work with ATI: either they are not making the profit they should, or they have no freedom. First, we find areas to make more money quickly and improve profitability immediately by working with the owner. We then focus on the areas of opportunity that may take more time to get in line. The harder one to fix is the second one, helping the owner change their role in the business.

Changing the owner’s role is tough because most shop owners are great technicians or great service advisors. They see themselves as a necessary hinge pin to the shop’s success. The problem is, they’re right. They built the business around their strengths and didn’t realize that they were building a prison for themselves in the process. There’s good news, though — you have a sledgehammer in your hands if you want to get out.

Ideas to grow your businessNon-ATI Members: Discover more valuable tips and strategies to improve production, increase your bottom line, and get more free time in ATI’s shop owner events. Register at

The Path for a Head Technician

If you are your head technician, the best way to sledgehammer yourself out of that role is to develop a training program to bring your next-level technician up to A-level (diagnostics) technician. And then repeat the process, developing training from a general service tech up.

You will need to charge enough to pay excellent wages and benefits along with quality training. And we want to replace you without you taking a pay cut.

The Path for the Primary Service Advisor

If you are your primary service advisor, hiring a replacement is the best way to sledgehammer yourself out of that role. That does not mean an experienced service advisor; it may mean someone with great sales experience or customer service experience. And yep, you have to have a great training program to get them onboarded and successful in selling your services very quickly.

Again, you will need to charge enough to pay this person well and provide great benefits along with ongoing training — replacing you without you taking a pay cut.

Yes, You Can!

I can hear you saying, “I can’t do that. I can’t afford to hire someone. I can’t afford to pay more. I can’t afford to replace myself.”

Shut those thoughts off for a minute. Thousands of shop owners across the nation felt the same way and did it anyway.

They built a great team that can work independently.

They trained people to do the job as good or better than themselves.

They built their pricing structure to pay great wages and benefits and still be profitable.

And they didn’t do it alone — ATI helped them find the fastest and most effective path to that freedom.

You can do it, too.

Non-ATI Members: Want to learn more? Start with a shop owner event at We have virtual and in-person events, fee-based and free, for both auto repair and collision repair shop owners. Find one near you today!

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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.