Auto Service World
News   May 2, 2024   by Greg Aguilera

From the Magazine: The real source of your shop’s issues

Many shop owners will look at the business as the source of their problems when they really should look inward first

If you’re an owner who is putting the blame for issues in your shop elsewhere rather than starting with yourself, you’re not alone.

I’m going to be sharing some experiences over the past years of being a business consultant and later a leadership coach in the automotive aftermarket.

I would estimate that in over 80 per cent of the cases when working with shops, the initial conversations are all about the problem being somewhere else other than the owner of the business itself. This can cause some deep-rooted problems and some businesses that end up being quite confused and dysfunctional.

“That’s not me,” many of you will say. Well, read on and then take an honest look at your situation.

In the relentless pursuit of business success, the role of an auto shop owner is paramount. True leadership involves shouldering the weight of both success and failure. Remember, you can’t be a mere spectator; you really are the commander-in-chief of your enterprise.

Let’s delve into some reasons why you as a business owner must unapologetically take responsibility for every facet of your venture.


Great news: Failure is inevitable in the world of entrepreneurship. However, when you deflect blame or make excuses you will hinder your ability to adapt and lead your team through adversity.

Taking responsibility for outcomes demonstrates decisive leadership. Your choices shape the destiny of your business. Whether those choices lead to triumph or tribulation, owning them fosters a culture of unwavering leadership that your team will feel and respond to.

Recognizing when you fail as an opportunity to learn and for growth is a lens that only the very successful do. Get this right. Sharing these lessons with the team means that you will all take a step toward your goals as a unit.

This mindset shift you take will encourage a culture of innovation where setbacks are seen as stepping stones to success, not roadblocks.

A small tip for you: Communicate setbacks as a part of a face-to-face meeting, not as a memo or e-mail. We want to support our teams through this and not just have them read the news.

Great news: Failure is inevitable in the world of entrepreneurship. However, when you deflect blame or make excuses you will hinder your ability to adapt and lead your team through adversity.


The lifeblood of any business is trust. Owners who admit to both success and failure earn the trust of their teams. Transparency and accountability build a reputation for reliability.

Successes become collective victories, and failures are viewed as challenges to overcome together.

This dynamic creates a cohesive and empowered workforce.


There is no success in your business without vision and direction.

Quite often, we are blinded by the daily operations and we forget to see the direction that we’re heading in. When you embrace a strategic vision, communicate it and actually live it, then you will see your team rally around you.

An automotive shop with no vision is like having a convenience store with its doors open and hoping for the best every day. Over the years of coaching, I’ve learned the world has changed. People want to belong to something. Give your team that something through your vision and show them the direction to get there.

Remember to make decisions that don’t focus solely on immediate wins, but on the enduring success of the business.

Work to be done

Let’s say the message of addressing accountability, failures, trust and vision has resonated. That’s great. But understanding the message and doing something about it are different things. There’s still work to be done.

So where do you go from here?

Keep this tip in mind: The way you do one thing is the way you will do everything. I say this for a very good reason — if you feel overwhelmed and frustrated at work, you are going to bring that into other areas of your life. Your stress will be felt by your loved ones. This is not what many of us signed up for.

It’s a simple piece of advice: Get a coach. In the same way that Wayne Gretzky had a coach for his entire playing career, so should you.

You need a coach with whom you resonate and able to be open and honest. That’s how you will get open and honest feedback to improve yourself and your business.

I demand full honesty from my clients because that is the only way that change happens. I refuse as many clients as I take on because I know that I can’t help everyone. Without this connection, true change doesn’t happen.

Don’t tell yourself the story that old dogs can’t learn new tricks. It’s only a case of how much you desire the outcome.


In the cutthroat world of business, ambiguity and challenges are constants. Auto shop owners who develop true vision and unflinchingly accept responsibility for the outcomes of their ventures not only demonstrate strength but also fortify the foundation of their enterprises.

True leaders don’t shy away from the tough moments. They confront them head-on, building a legacy of resilience and triumph in the face of adversity. Success or failure, business owners who embrace responsibility are the unwavering pillars upon which their businesses stand.

Greg Aguilera is a director of IAC Canada, an organization dedicated to the management development of  repair shops in Canada. He can be reached at

This article originally appeared in the March/April issue of CARS

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