Auto Shop Coaching Blog

The Hidden Secret to Growing Your Car Count

"You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read."Charlie Tremendous Jones

Hard work doesn’t pay off. I know Shop Owners who work around the clock but still have low car count. They arrive early, stay late, but have a low retention rate.

They work hard to fill their racks, but their customers don’t come back. These examples lead me to believe that hard work doesn’t pay off.

Now, before you work hard to close this post, allow me to clarify my point.

Hard work alone doesn’t pay off. Your network can determine your net worth!

What Kind of Shop Owner Are You?

When it comes to building a network, there are three types of shop owners. First, you have “Pete,” who’s shop produces quality work, but he doesn’t do anything to promote his services or build his network. When asked what he does for marketing, his standard answer is “word of mouth!”

Next, you have “Paul.” Paul is great at promoting his shop, but his quality of work is below average. He has so many comebacks his shop could be called “Boomerang Automotive!”  

Then you have “Pam.” Pam is great at promoting her shop and produces quality work. Her customers refer her and leave five-star reviews even when she doesn’t ask them to.

All three shop owners work hard. Which of the three is most likely to grow their net worth the fastest?

Pete does great work but being unknown outside of his loyal club of customers will catch up with him.

Paul has the shop you drive by and wonder how they stay busy with such a bad reputation! His promotional savvy may result in short term gain, but he’ll experience long-term pain as the word about the customer experience gets around.

Which of the three shop owners is most like you?

Since Pete is your final answer, keep reading to discover The Hidden Secret to Growing Your Car Count so you can become like Pam instead!

Ideas to grow your businessFor more car count advice and other shop growth tips, join a shop owner event coming to your area soon.  Contact us now for details. 

Never Eat Alone

In his book “Never Eat Alone,” Keith Ferrazzi reports on a study that was done at Harvard University to determine the most common trait of a successful student. I figured that work ethic would rank at the top of the list. Surely, their hard work is what paid off. I was wrong!

The study concluded that the tendency to create and join study groups was the most common trait that great students shared.  

In other words, these students became great by networking and building relationships. Are you a great shop owner?

The great students can maintain the right grade point average (GPA). If you aspire to be great at maintaining the right car count average (CCA), pay close attention to the next sentence:

The hidden secret to growing your car count is to network with your great customers. Great students create study groups. Great shop owners create focus groups.

The Focus Group

Start by creating a focus group with your top five customers. These are the people you would clone because they visit three or more times a year, have a high average repair order, and leave you with raving reviews.

Schedule a meeting and ask the following questions:

  1. What do you like best about my shop?
  2. What do you like least about my shop?
  3. What are the first words that come to mind when you hear the name of my shop mentioned?
  4. What clubs or associations do you belong to?
  5. What magazines/online publications do you subscribe to?

The answers to the first two questions can help you improve the quality of your work. The final three questions can assist you in promoting your services to the right people.

ATI Fundamental #21 reminds us to be a source of acknowledgment and appreciation, so remember to show them your appreciation for their participation with a gift card they can use at your location in the future.


So, there you have it. The focus group will put you on the road to becoming great at both promoting your shop and producing quality work.

Seeing the business through the lens of your customer will allow you to leverage the hidden secret to growing your car count!

Ideas to grow your businessFor more car count advice and other shop growth tips, join a shop owner event coming to your area soon.  Contact us now for details. 

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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.