Auto Shop Coaching Blog

The One Thing You Never Hear from Employees

“Time is what we want most but use worst!”William Penn

“Traffic was really bad!”
“There was a bad accident on the beltway!”
“I was pulled over by a state trooper!”

If I had a dollar for every time someone has made one of these statements, I’d have about 327 dollars! 

ATI Fundamental #20 instructs us to Be Punctual.

While I’ve heard the previously mentioned reasons for being late, here’s one I’ve never heard: “Sorry I’m late Twiggs. It’s my fault. I need to leave my house earlier next time.”  

How many times has an employee said this to you?

Extenuating circumstances are factors beyond your control that may hurt your desired outcome (traffic, weather, dog eating your homework, etc.). We all have them. I get it!

The problem is that most people are blind to their responsibility for punctuality despite their extenuating circumstances.


The root problem is in the planning. When you estimate how long it takes to get to your destination or to meet a deadline, the tendency is to assume the best case scenario.

For example, the shop is twenty minutes from your house. You assume there will never be a traffic delay along your way, so you leave twenty minutes before your scheduled time, and arrive late!

Or, you had thirty days to complete the shop tour video for your 20 Group. Shooting the video only takes thirty minutes, so you plan to do it the Friday before the meeting.

What you didn’t plan on was working in the shop because your best technician suddenly got sick. As a result, you never get around to shooting the video.

In these scenarios, who was to blame for being late and missing the deadline? I made this question multiple choice in case you wanted to use a lifeline or phone a friend:

  1. The Traffic
  2. The Technician
  3. The Reflection in Your Mirror

If you chose option “C” you’re right on time! Keep reading to discover a simple step you can take to be on time every time.

The 50% Buffer

Since we now agree that you are responsible for being on time, even with your extenuating circumstances, you are ready to implement the 50% buffer.

This idea comes from Greg McKeown, who introduced it In his book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.

You simply multiply 50% by the time estimate to account for the worst-case scenarios.

For example, if it usually takes you twenty minutes to get to your shop, multiplying that number by 50% would allow you to leave 10 minutes earlier! (20 minutes x 50% = 10 minutes)

If it normally takes you an hour to drive to your ATI class, using the 50% buffer would allow you to leave your house 30 minutes earlier! (1 hour x 50% = 30 minutes) 

If there were traffic on your way in, the extra ten minutes and the additional thirty minutes would be your buffer to ensure you arrived on time anyway!


So, there you have it. By taking responsibility for your punctuality, and implementing the 50% buffer, you can be on time every time!

I normally start writing this blog on Monday morning, but due to extenuating circumstances, I didn’t start this week until late Monday afternoon!

I take personal responsibility for my punctuality and will implement the 50% Buffer so that I can start on time next week!

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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.