Auto Shop Coaching Blog

What About About Your Legacy?

“We are faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now."Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

After many months of struggle, “Mark” was finally turning the corner. The year was 2012 and he was the owner of a Midas in the Midwest. Making payroll wasn’t a problem, and he was no longer consumed with the concept of cost-cutting.

Mark believed that time was on his side and confident of the direction things were moving in. There was a light at the end of the tunnel, and it wasn’t an oncoming train! I was looking forward to our upcoming Monday morning coaching call.

I called the shop and “Steve” his service advisor answered. I greeted Steve and asked for Mark. There was silence on the line. I asked Steve again to find Mark for me. Once again, there was no reply from Steve.

In a loud tone of frustration, I asked, “Hello, Steve, can you get Mark on the phone?” To which he replied “No Eric, Mark won’t be coming to the phone. On Saturday, he suffered a massive heart attack and passed away!”

This threw Mark’s family and employees for a loop. His wife took over the business and struggled with the day-to-day operations.

The following questions kept coming up:

“Who did Mark call for building & equipment maintenance?”

“How and when do the employees get paid?”

“Where do I find the bank account passwords?”

Since Marked worked in instead of on the business, he handled these tasks himself. As a result, all the information was in his head and not on paper. Within a year, the family decided to close the shop. This was not the legacy that Mark intended to leave.

Ideas to grow your businessWant tips for how to work on the business, improve your bottom-line, and grow? Discover valuable, easy-to-implement ideas and strategies in ATI’s shop owner events. Register today at

Legacy defines a legacy as anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor. In his hit play “Hamilton,” playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda describes a legacy this way: “Its planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.”

Here’s what you should know about your legacy: Your decisions today will impact your family and employees tomorrow.

What about your legacy? Keep reading to learn about the two decisions you need to make to ensure you leave the legacy you intend to leave.

Decide on Your Replacement

Over the past eight years, I’ve met shop owners who have achieved consistently good results. I have also met those who have achieved great results and made the ATI Top 12 on a regular basis. In most cases, the good and great performers have had a similar level of “know-how” when it came to fixing cars and running the business.

So, what separates the great from the good you ask? There are two factors:

  1. The great have a bias towards taking action (for more details, read my previous blog post)
  2. They have a strong second in command, who can produce exceptional results with or without them being there!

As a shop owner, you won’t experience true greatness until you decide on your replacement.

Mark was starting to achieve good results at his shop, but he never decided on a replacement. As a result, there wasn’t anyone to maintain the momentum after his passing. His decision not to hire a second in command impacted his family and his employees.

Have you decided on your replacement? The first step in the process is to build a job description based on the tasks and duties you would expect this individual to perform.

Second, you would look at your current employees to determine if anyone meets the qualifications. Lastly, I recommend reviewing a current Wonderlic personality test for the candidate you are considering.

Create a Succession Plan

A recent study, known as The Legacy Project, was conducted by Dr. Karl Pillemer at Cornell University. He surveyed over 1200 senior citizens living in an assisted living community. He asked them to reflect on what the biggest regret of their life was.

You may be surprised by what they recorded as the number one answer: The amount of time they wasted worrying about the future. By creating a succession plan, you can minimize the amount of time you spend worrying about those worst-case scenarios.

When you have a solid plan, you can fearlessly face the future. As we have seen from the opening story, just having a plan in your head, isn’t enough. The key is to create a written plan that gets communicated to your family members, second in command, estate attorney, accountant, 20 group members, and your ATI coach.

For more information on how to create your plan, I invite you to attend the ATI Shop Owners Part 5 course on Succession Planning. You can also consult with your Coach.


If Mark had decided on his replacement and created a succession plan, he would have left a different legacy. Are you happy with the seeds you’re planting today for the garden of tomorrow? Sounds like you have some decisions to make.

At ATI, we focus on teaching and coaching shop owners on best practices to get the most out of your automotive repair business. Want to learn more? Find an ATI shop owner event near you.

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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.