Auto Shop Coaching Blog

The Fastest Way to Fail as a Shop Owner

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”Leo Tolstoy

The story is told of an eight-year-old boy named “Mitch,” who was out of control. He would do the opposite of whatever is mother “Molly” told him to do.

When she said, “sit down,” he would stand up. When she said, “be quiet,” he would talk louder. When she said, “stop running,” he would run even faster.

Molly knew Mitch liked to work with puzzles, so as a last-ditch effort to settle him down, she gave him a puzzle of the world globe to put together.

She gave him this advanced, adult-level puzzle, figuring that it would occupy his time and give her some much-needed peace and quiet. To her surprise, Mitch returned to her side five minutes later having solved the puzzle.

“How did you put that together so fast?” Molly asked.

Here’s how Mitch responded: “It was easy. On the opposite side of the globe puzzle pieces were the picture of a man. I turned the pieces over and focused on fixing the man. Once I put the man together, I could put the world together!”   

Most shop owners are seeking an external solution to an internal problem. The fastest way to fail as a shop owner is to blame everything and everyone except yourself for your problems. 

Are you like most shop owners? Stay with me to learn how to change your world, so you can avoid the fastest way to fail.

Start with Yourself

The best way to change your world is to assume that everything that happens is your fault!

If there is a puzzling problem like low car count, the natural impulse for the average shop owner is to point the finger at the customers, the economy, the weather, and the employees.

The Top Shops, on the other hand, start by focusing on themselves. When you encounter a problem in your world, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What is my desired outcome? (Be specific!)
  2. What are my actual results?
  3. What role did I play in the actual results?  
  4. What can I do differently to achieve the desired outcome?

Let’s use car count as an example as we apply the previously mentioned questions. I will play the role of the shop owner.

  1. My desired car count outcome is 45 cars per week.
  2. My actual weekly car count result is 37 cars per week.
  3. I contributed to the actual result by not listening to and coaching incoming phone calls, failing to do my Google+ & Google My Business posts, and by not holding my writers accountable to scheduling exit appointments.
  4. Starting this week, I will coach incoming phone calls, post on Google+ and Google My Business, and hold my writers accountable for scheduling exit appointments.

The bottom line is that you won’t be motivated to fix something that you don’t believe to be your fault! For example, why would you listen to incoming calls if you believe the weather is your real problem? Why would you bother posting on Google if you believe that your customers are all broke because of the local economy?

The starting point of your success is taking ownership of your failures. When you start with yourself, you will be motivated to take the actions that produce a successful outcome.

Find the Right “Birds”

When I was growing up, there was this kid in my 5th-grade class named “Matt.” He was cool and popular. My mother would always warn me to stay away from him. She would always say, “Birds of a feather flock together.”

My teacher would pull me to the side and warn me to stay away from Matt. When I met with the school’s guidance counselor, her only advice was to “stay away from Matt.”

My response to all of this guidance was to continue to hang out with him. Our friendship abruptly ended the following semester, as he transferred to another school. Recently, while watching the news, I learned that my old friend Matt is currently in prison serving a life sentence.

My mother, teacher, and guidance counselor knew the following truth: Birds that flock together end up flying to the same destination. 

In order to change your world, it’s critical that you “fly” with world changers. There’s a “bird” in your upcoming shop owner’s class who is changing his car count world in spite of the vendors saying, “everybody in the area is slow!”

There’s a bird in your 20 Group who has changed her hiring world by hiring her replacement even though “it’s hard to find good people in her town.”

There’s a bird who will be at SuperConference in March who has high margins in a low-income market.

Keep in mind the fact that you won’t be motivated to find the right bird until you take the first step of owning the problem. I challenge you to assume full ownership so you can fly into action!


As I conclude, I’m reminded of the following poem written by an unknown Monk that ties everything together:

When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world.

I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation.

When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.

Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family.

My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.

If you start with yourself and find the right birds, you can change your world and avoid the fastest way to fail!

P.S. Looking to take ownership of your car count problem, but don’t know where to start? Email to receive my latest More Cars from Google Checklist.

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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.