Blog (Maryann Croce): Solution to the auto industry ‘silo’

Maryann Croce

I’ve been in the auto industry for over 20 years.

As a shop owner and a coach, I’ve spoken with hundreds of people in the industry who are frustrated over the following.

  • Technician shortage/wages
  • Keeping current with technology
  • Outdated public perception

These men and women are shop owners, technicians, vendors, suppliers, or are part of the training and education space such as associations and schools.

While most complain and blame, others (the achievers) attempt to do something about it. They realize change starts with them.

What I’ve seen over the years is the auto industry silo. Each attempting to better the industry.

  • EDUCATION (Associations/Schools)


  • Shop owners have a challenge attracting and retaining quality technicians/team members.
  • Vendors and suppliers have a challenge working with struggling shops.
  • Associations/Educational institutions have the challenge of membership and filling student and instructor seats

These challenges cause the industry to appear as unprofessional to the public. An example: Consumers have a fear of being overcharged or ripped off. Reality Check. The average shop isn’t making a healthy profit.


I believe the solution although simple is not easy for many. It’s what I call the Ripple Effect of Professionalism. It starts with the shops, who are the face of the industry to the public. Then suppliers/vendors, educational institutions, associations, and trainers.

Be an example of professionalism every day. It will guide your business decision making, your attitude, how you show up each day and impact the industry. Representing the auto industry as a high-tech profession and viable career option.

  • When a shop (owner) doesn’t show up as a professional, you won’t attract and retain the best talent. You won’t have a healthy business. One that is Enjoyable, Sustainable and Profitable.
  • Suppliers/Vendors need to understand the reality of low profits in the average shop. Advertising reflects your brand. Don’t depict men, women or the industry as unprofessional.
  • Associations, education institutions and trainers need to represent the value of continued learning. Embrace social technology as well as the industry technology. Encourage students to engage. Share their accomplishments.

We’ve come a long way, but there is more to be done.

Each sector of the industry has a responsibility to show up professionally.

You represent the automotive industry. It starts with the shops and the ripple effect they have on the industry.

The top 10% of shops are already doing this.

The bottom 10% won’t read this article.

The remaining 80% have a responsibility to your team, customers, community, family and the industry.

If you don’t know what you don’t know, here is your wake-up call. It takes a pro mindset.

As a professional (business owner) you’re capable of more than you realize.

I challenge you to start representing the industry as a professional today. (Achievers love a challenge.)

Reach out to another shop owner, a supplier, vendor, association, school, coach or trainer.

There are scholarships to share in your local area, trainings to budget for and attend, podcasts to listen to, associations to join, schools and causes to get involved in.

Think of yourself as a resource.

Be an example of professionalism to attract and retain those technicians and team members who are looking to be part of a professional shop and raise the bar in the automotive industry.

SHOPS – You’re a resource to your team, customers and community

SUPPLIERS/VENDORS – You’re a resource to shops & education/associations

EDUCATION (ASSOCIATIONS & SCHOOLS) – You’re a resource to shops & suppliers/vendors

The way to solve the auto industry silo is for all areas of the industry to be part of the solution.

If you complain about the industry, I will ask you what you are doing about it, because if you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.

Maryann Croce, a certified partner of Todd Herman’s 90 Day Year™, is a business coach and owner of Small Biz Vantage. Her company specializes in leadership development for trade business owners. She is an auto shop owner since 1999. You can reach Maryann at (203) 913-7741 or Maryann speaks on leadership and mindset.