Auto Shop Coaching Blog

The Starting Point of Your Success as a Shop Owner

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”Lewis Carroll

What’s the starting point of your success as a shop owner? As I ponder this question, I’m reminded of a video series I watched recently done by Dr. Rhadi Ferguson who wrote the book, Coffee With Rhadi, Herculean Conversations with an Olympian.

In one of his videos, he tells the story of his quest to make it to the Olympic Games in the sport of Judo. Every day, he would look in the mirror and say to himself, “I’m going to the Olympics.” He would take out a 3 x 5 card and write, “I’m going to the Olympics.”

He created a poster with a picture of the Olympic circles and written under the caption were the following words: “I’m going to the Olympics.”

Several months later, his wish came true. He went to the 2000 Olympic games! There was one small problem. He went to the games as a spectator, NOT as a competitor! Since he didn’t make the team, he had to purchase a ticket and pay his own way!

Where did he go wrong? Why didn’t he get what he really wanted? The one thing that held him back may be the one thing that’s keeping you from getting what you REALLY want. His goal lacked clarity.

Get Clear and Specific

Clarity is the starting point of your success as a shop owner. Setting a vague goal will leave you with vague results. For example, setting a goal, “to hire a technician by June 1st” sounds like a good idea, right?

But how good would it be if your new hire refuses to do courtesy checks, never completes jobs ahead of book time, and has more comebacks than Brett Favre?

We learned from Dr. Ferguson’s story that going and competing in the Olympics are two different things. Just going to the Olympics is a vague goal while competing in the games is clear and specific.

Likewise, just “hiring a technician” is a vague goal. Hiring an ‘A’ technician who is ASE master certified and 100% efficient is clear and specific.

Setting a goal to “improve net profit” is vague. Completing the Win # Drill and then setting a goal to average $3,000 per week in net profit is clear and specific.

If hiring the right people and generating enough profit are your problems, then developing clear and specific solutions should be your priority.

Always Begin with the End in Mind

Imagine if a lost stranger stopped by your shop today to ask for directions. He says, “I’m lost and need directions.” You respond with,” No problem, where are you trying to go?” Picture him replying with the following response, “I’m not sure exactly, but I want to go somewhere that’s better!”

I speak with many shop owners who are like the lost stranger. They want to do better, but they haven’t defined where “better” is or what “better” looks like. The solution is to always begin your business-related interactions with a specific end in mind.

Before you attend your next meeting, ask yourself the following question, “What is my desired outcome?

For example, asking this question before you go to the next SuperConference may result in you doing business with a specific digital tablet vendor. Asking this question before your next 20 Group meeting may result in you coming back with specific strategies to hire your replacement.

Asking this question before your upcoming Chamber of Commerce meeting may result in you getting a new customer with the specific fleet of vehicles, that you like to service.

It’s ok to have more than one desired outcome in mind. The key is for each outcome to be clear and specific.


Dr. Ferguson’s story has a happy ending. He set the specific goal of competing in the Olympics and in 2004 he represented Team USA in the games that were held in Athens, Greece.

If you get clear and specific, and always begin with the end in mind, you will position yourself to compete at the highest levels. Your story has a better chance of having a happy ending if you visualize the specific outcome from the beginning!

P.S. Email to receive a special goal-setting worksheet that will help you set clear and specific goals.

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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.