Auto Shop Coaching Blog

Who’s Holding Your Ladder?

“Surround yourself with those who bring out the best in you, not the stress in you.”

My wife is the ultimate accountability coach. During the holidays, she was holding me accountable for the completion of several household projects. My first assignment was to change the light-bulb in the basement bathroom. Based on the size of the room, I could do this by myself using a three-foot ladder.

My next task was to change the light bulb located in the living room. This was a larger space, so I needed to use the ten-foot ladder. Since I was climbing higher, I needed additional support to keep me from falling. I enlisted the help of my six-year-old daughter and three-year-old son to secure the ladder base.

At times during this assignment, the kids would wander off, leaving me at the top of the ladder. After changing the living room light bulb, it was time to clean the gutters at the top of the house, by the roof. This required a thirty-foot ladder and depending solely on the kids could prove to be hazardous to my health!

To accomplish this tall task, I needed to upgrade my level of support. I called my handyman and he brought in his two helpers to hold the ladder and complete the task.

So, what does the completion of my “honey-do-list” have to do with you?

The Supporting Cast

Here’s the big takeaway: You can’t get to the top, without upgrading your supporting cast. When I was in the basement, I could succeed on my own. Advancing to the higher levels forced me to depend on others to accomplish my goals. Who’s holding your ladder?

The Top 25 shops in the ATI program have made it to the top by upgrading their supporting cast. I have studied them to determine what specific things they have in common. Keep reading and you will learn about two specific takeaways I discovered.

They’re Always Hiring

I spoke with five of the Top 25 shop owners this week and discovered a weird trend. They’re fully staffed but still hiring. They each have good people in the key positions but still have hiring signs up and ads running. What sense does it make to post an ad for a technician when you already have the right techs in place?

It makes perfect sense. According to a recent Fortune magazine study, the average millennial expects to stay with their employer for three years. Not to mention there’s always the likelihood that one of your employees may get sick, get injured, or make a decision that forces you to terminate them.

For example, I’ve had to terminate good performers who decided to charge parts for their personal vehicle to the company without my knowledge. It was a tough decision, but tolerating theft would have sent the wrong message to my crew.

Moving forward without considering these factors, is like climbing a thirty-foot ladder with nobody to secure the base! It’s a set-up for a fall.

Do you have a current ad running? Do you have a hiring banner in place? Do you know who the top performers in your market are? An answer of NO to any of these questions is a sign that it’s time to refocus on your supporting cast.

They’re Always Networking

The second trend I noticed with the Top Shops is they are actively involved in a 20 group. Coincidence? I think not!

Financial expert and author Thomas Corley conducted a study of 233 wealthy entrepreneurs to determine what they had in common. He found that 79% of the wealthy spent five hours or more each month networking. Why is this the case? The following analogy will help to explain it.

Networking is like your local gym. Those who appear to need it the least, use it the most. The guy with the six-pack abs and thirty-two-inch waist never misses his appointment with the personal trainer. The gym is a big reason he looks the way he does.

As with the gym and the fitness buff, the 20 group relationships are a big reason that the Top Shop Owners are successful. It looks like they already have the answers, but their true gift is having a network of the right people to answer their questions.

Struggling to hire your replacement? There’s someone in your 20 group who has the one idea to help change your results. Struggling to hold margin? There’s someone in your 20 group with high margins in a low-income area. Active participation in your 20 group can give you the supporting cast you need to climb the ladder of success.


In summary, the best advice I can give you is to never ask my kids to hold your ladder! The next best advice I have is to always be hiring and always be networking with your 20 group. Who’s holding your ladder?

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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.