Helping Shop Owners grow into the successful entrepreneurs they imagine themselves to be.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The Starting Point of Your Success As A Shop Owner

The Starting Point of Your Success As A Shop Owner


Eric M. Twiggs

“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,  that was 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 wantHis goal lacked clarity.

Get Clear & 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 Super Conference 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!


Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

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

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

My Biggest Regret As An ATI Coach

My Biggest Regret As An ATI Coach


Eric M. Twiggs

“The best time to fix the roof is when the sun is shining” John F. Kennedy

Imagine me pulling up to your shop in a shiny, black, 2018 Mercedes Benz CLS 550 Coupe.  It’s fully equipped to include the 8 cylinder engine, 18 inch aluminum wheels, leather bucket seats, a sunroof, and the leather upholstered dashboard.  As we begin to discuss the car, our conversation shifts to my warranty coverage.

“So what does your extended warranty cover?” You ask. Imagine if I replied with the following response:   “I decided not to go with any coverage, since I never had any issues with my last car.  As a matter of fact, I plan to call Geico today and cancel my auto insurance plan.  I’ve never been in an accident, so why do I need insurance?”    

If you were to fill out an ATI takeaway worksheet based on our conversation, you would probably write “Coach Twiggs has gone crazy!”  After all, it’s crazy to assume that nothing will ever go wrong with the car. It’s crazy to assume that I will never get into an accident.  

It’s crazy to not have a contingency plan in place for such a significant investment.   Well, you have more invested in your shop than I would have in my Mercedes, so what does YOUR contingency plan look like?     

What is the contingency plan for your shop that would cover you if you were to have an accident?  Do you have the necessary “extended coverage” that would protect you if you were to lose your best employee tomorrow? 

As you ponder these questions, I feel the need to share with you my biggest regret as an ATI coach, so here it is:  It’s that I didn’t push you harder to cover your contingencies.   

It’s Personal 

I take it personally when my suggestion to “always be hiringfalls on deaf ears, only to have the same shop owner who ignored my advice lose a key person and get stuck working IN the business.  It saddens me to see the loss of money and momentum that could have been easily avoided.

I take it personally when I see a shop owner suffer an unexpected medical emergency and have to be away from their shop for six months at a time.  My reaction is never “I told you so!”  Instead it’s “what else could I have told you?” 

My feeling of regret ends TODAY, because I am committed to push harder than ever to ensure that you have the necessary extended coverage.  My goal is to help you to embrace “The Blue Man Philosophy”

The Blue Man Philosophy

In 1987 three close friends decided to paint themselves blue and create music together.    Their show was a combination of rock music and entertainment.  Chris Wink, Matt Goldman, and Phil Stanton formed The Blue Man Group.

They worked IN their business for 14 hours a day performing over 1200 shows together.  One fateful night, Phil, cut his hand using a power tool and was unable to perform.  They were forced to create a contingency plan by bringing in a backup blue man to take his place.    

This incident gave them the idea to hire their replacements.  Today, The Blue Man Group can perform shows in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Long Island, simultaneously, while the three founding members are relaxing in Long Beach!  

 It took Phil cutting his hand to get the group members to change their philosophy.  What’s it going to take for you to change your philosophy?  What’s it going to take for you to start looking for your replacement? 

What’s it going to take for you to recruit even when you’re fully staffed?  What’s it going to take for you to create contingency plans so that your shop can thrive with our without you being there? 


So, there you have it.   If you commit to the process of covering your contingencies, I won’t have anything to regret, and you will have no reason to feel blue, when you unexpectedly lose a key person from your team.

You can use all the extra money your shop produces to buy yourself a brand-new Mercedes Coupe!


Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS.  Email to receive a contingency planning template to help you commit to the process.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

How To Avoid The Biggest Mistake That Shop Owners Make

How To Avoid The Biggest Mistake That Shop Owners Make


Eric M. Twiggs

The root cause of all anxiety is the unmade decision.” Kain Ramsey

“Joe” is a shop owner who works IN instead of ON his business.  His business has him in bondage to the point, that when he needs to consult with his ‘A’ tech, he doesn’t look out in the bays, he looks in the mirror!

I suggested that he contact a certain “head hunter” recruitment company that sources, screens, and selects, technician prospects for the owner to interview and consider for hire. 

He loved the idea of having someone find technicians for him.  He loved the fact that the technicians would be prescreened before he interviewed them.  He lost that loving feeling, when I told him that the total fee for this service was $1,500. 

“But Eric, $1,500 is a lot of money!” Joe said. I responded with the following question: “How much money is your current strategy costing you?”

Suddenly, there was the sound of awkward silence.  As I was reaching for my cell phone to call Verizon to complain about the phone line, he interrupted the silence with the following words: “It’s costing me more than $1500 a day!” 

Joe had made the biggest mistake that shop owners make:  He failed to account for the hidden cost of inaction.  In other words, he didn’t factor in the opportunity cost. defines opportunity cost as the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen.  Initially Joe believed that he would save himself $1500 by not taking the recommended alternative of using the head hunter service.

Based on the ATI technician efficiency model, bringing on a good technician to an understaffed shop can add an additional 15 cars a week to that location. 

If Joe maintains a $400 average repair order on the 15 additional cars, he would gross an extra $6,000 per week in sales. ($400 X 15 =$6,000) The alternative of inaction is costing Joe at least $6,000 per week.

The right technician would free him up to attend networking events and build relationships with fleet accounts, so his failure to act could be costing him more than calculated!  

How much is your failure to act costing you?   Keep reading to learn what you can do to avoid the biggest mistake that shop owners make.

Think Like A Master

If I were to go to the park and challenge a chess grand master to a game, I would be at a disadvantage, because he and I would be looking at the same board in a different way. Since I’m a novice, I would be focused on which chess piece to use and what the next move would be.

 The master would win, because he would be thinking two to three moves ahead.   When it comes to playing the game of automotive service, are you a novice or a master?  

The novice in the automotive service game is only focused on fixing the cars in the bay that day.  The master is focused on scheduling the next appointment for 90 days later.

The novice stops recruiting once the position has been filled.  The master is always recruiting regardless of the current staffing levels.

The novice blames low car count on the spring break season.  The master completed a marketing calendar, and has a spring break special that has already launched. 

The master doesn’t have to pay the opportunity cost since she’s anticipated her needs before they became needs.   If you commit to thinking like a master, you can avoid the hidden cost that comes with inaction.  

Ask The Hard Questions

In his book To Sell Is Human, The Surprising Truth About Moving Others, Daniel Pink explains the difference between positive & interrogative self-talk.  Pink points out that the purpose of positive self-talk is to encourage yourself.  “You can do it!”, would be an example of a positive statement you could make to yourself.

Interrogative self-talk happens when you ask yourself questions.  An example of this would be, “Can I do it?”  Positive self-talk is good, but interrogative self-talk is better because it helps you to plan and prepare.  The key is to ask yourself the hard questions. 

When you talk to yourself today, ask the following questions: 1. What would happen to my business if I were involved in an accident and suddenly became unavailable to work IN it every day?”  2. How much business would I lose if my best technician quit tomorrow.  3. How much business am I losing because I don’t have enough bays to satisfy the increasing demand for my service? 

Your direction is determined by the answer to the questions you ask yourself.  Asking the hard questions can keep you moving in the direction of becoming the master of avoiding opportunity costs!


So, there you have it.  Joe’s story has a happy ending.  He is taking action by using the head hunter service, and has several promising prospects to choose from.  If you think like a master and ask the hard questions, your story can have a happy ending as well!  


Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS.  Email to receive a succession depth chart to help you plan for worst case staffing scenarios.