Auto Shop Coaching Blog

What’s In It For Me?

You probably interpreted this question as coming from an employee, but I will change the viewpoint to represent the business owner. This perspective is not uncommon when we consider the stress, anxiety, and final straws that broke the proverbial camel’s back. But just like any situation that gets the better of us, there were warning signs and setbacks that should’ve triggered a course correction, but we ignored them. So next time, let’s be prepared.

Ideas to grow your businessNon-ATI Members: Discover more valuable tips and strategies for work-life balance, growing your business, and increasing profits in ATI’s shop owner events. Register at

The Source of Exasperation

The number one reason an owner will pose this question is a feeling of exasperation. “This hasn’t worked, that hasn’t worked, and I’m tired.” Those last two words — “I’m tired” — drive the poor perspective here. Further, the most common item lacking in an owner’s life is personal time. To produce a great working environment, we lookout for our staff, give them appropriate time off, and more. But sometimes, we don’t reciprocate that care and concern to ourselves.

Regardless of the industry, if we’re owners or employees, the one item the current staffing world taught us is that work-life balance is essential. It was equally important pre-COVID, but the change from an employer’s market to an employee’s market caused a power shift. Much like in a flight emergency when the masks drop down and we’re instructed to supply ourselves with air before those around us, the same applies to how we handle our work-life balance. It does us no good to extend courtesies to those around us just to foster ill will or, at a minimum, create envy from the inability to do the same for ourselves.

Who’s to Blame?

Who is to blame for our conundrum? Us. We didn’t plan, make time, or prioritize these items like we did our business plans, and now it’s gone on for so long that we’re fed up. It doesn’t matter what aspect of our lives we feel we miss out on — family time, sports, even the bar — we have to recognize what we’re sacrificing in lieu of having the perfect work-life balance we need. We must have surefire ways to prepare for time away from our shops to make this happen. It could be as simple as writing items on a paper calendar that is checked up on every so often. It can be purchasing something related to preplanned trips, like tickets or rentals, to show we’re committed to making this plan happen. It could be as simple as time away from the business in growing increments.

How to Fix It

Start with something small like taking longer lunches than usual, which can turn into one day away from the business, then multiple days, then a vacation. An incremental approach to taking time away exposes gaps in the business that we have to address. For example, we need to train someone on tasks that only we did, delegate to someone else, or move the tasks to a different day. If our staff repeatedly asks the same questions on how to do something, have them jot down the questions and corresponding answers so they can help develop SOPs to refer to instead of us. We can’t just cold disappear and expect others to make up for it. Preparation for these gaps is critical.

When the end of bulletproofing these processes equates to us being able to make time for ourselves without worrying about what’s going on when we’re not at the business, it will all have been worth it. But we will never get to that point if we don’t start planning now for how to remove ourselves from the business. If you procrastinate the planning, you procrastinate the results.

Non-ATI Members: For more tips on effectively managing how to work on your business instead of in your business, check out our shop owner events at

Print Friendly
Related Articles:
Koole Bolina is a Performance Coach at ATI and has been in the automotive industry since 1998. Starting with a personal interest in automotive repairs, he continues to be part of car clubs, drag racing and keeping up with industry trends. Koole loves to positively influence those who want to do better, be better. If the industry we happen to do business in is the automotive field, that makes it all the better.