Bruce Howes’ View from the Helm: The value of peer-to-peer coaching groups

Bruce Howes

Over the last 30 some years I’ve been involved with and a member of a number of shop 20 Groups, coaching groups, mastermind groups.

You name it, we’ve done it.

Nothing wrong with that, all have their place. We start out in grade school, master principles, move to middle school, onto to high school, and finally college.

One of the challenges with most coaching groups is that by nature the idea pool becomes stagnate, ideas are bounced around inside, but little new to brought into the group, as too so would often require a rewrite of the group doctrine and teaching.

It’s like eating your own dogwood, you can do it for a while, but variety is the spice of life, and we seem to enjoy spice.

After I left my last coaching group, it was clear to me that I was receiving more value from my peers, my experienced peers, than I was from the group itself.

I bounced some ideas off my peers, and they seemed to have come to the same conclusion. So it was when I was done with the coaching group, with the aid of some fellow members, we formed our own peer to peer coaching group, saving us both the monthly consulting fee, but also tremendously increasing our knowledgeable, and accountability.

Because we were not teaching from the same doctrine, every new member brought in new ideas, ideas that were quickly disseminated through the group, resulting in a diverse and progression platform.

We also began regular weekly calls, often with an industry speaker, again bringing in new ideas and paradigms, and then in the second part of the Zoom meeting, working with individual members who had challenges or questions during the week.

I’ve shared the outline below, please feel free to copy and utilize this for your own group. A few notes, consider size, we could have grown to two or three times our current size, but we capped membership at 100 members.

Consider participation a condition of membership, members must bring something to the table, must be active, you have to give to receive is something that we oft quote.

Finally, think of a unique name that defines your group, we choose “The Super Appropriate Group Of Gentlemen Shop Owners,” with a focus on gentlemen, polite behavior. Yes we have female members and shop owners, but a cordial, supportive atmosphere was important to us.

Our information is below, please read, enjoy, and reach out to me personally if you have any questions.

The Super Appropriate Group Of Gentlemen Shop Owners

Have A Super Power – Reach Out, We’ll Talk

Task and Purpose

Designed intentionally with a very high signal to noise ratio. Cut through the static for laser-focused group discussions on practice management. Think of it has the double espresso of automotive social media. Quick, direct, on point. Your time is precious.

Shop & 20 Group Agnostic

We’re not affiliated with any coaching group, you’ll find many of belonging to more than one, some to none. What we’re really interested in is getting the best ideas and paradigms to improve our business, build our teams, refine our processes, and do some major good in the world. Consider this to be the finest in “peer to peer” coaching, where you will hear, learn, and be exposed to a variety of viewpoints, management, and growth strategies, from top notch operators. We believe that many is better than one, and speaking from experience are concerned when wisdom and knowledge are dispensed only from one thought leader.

Respect & Integrity

This group is centered on respect for all, and on trust, always trust. Members may and often will be sharing personal challenges, as well as successes, and it’s important that information remains within the group. To borrow a phrase, “What Happens In Fight Club, Stays In Fight Club.”, so too we ask that you respect and honor those boundaries. Nothing will earn the ire, and get you removed quicker from the group, then if you share member information outside the group without permission.

With that overarching tenet of respect, comes moderation of language, and response toward other members. Personal attacks, foul language (if you wouldn’t say it in front of your mother, don’t say it here), posting of overt political topics, and Tupperware Sales, will be be met with post removal, and then after the second offense, the size 13 work boot. Fortunately, this has only happened a few times, and only with repeat offenders.


We are a Band of Brothers, a small, tight cadre, with each member a Subject Matter Expert (SME) in one area. On the information superhighway think of us as the express lane of goodness, wisdom, and wit. Minimum static, zero drama, maximum value.

Roundtables – You’re Invited

We have weekly Roundtable discussions on practice management, and shop owner success stories Wednesday evening, via the Zoom platform. Check under Events.

Rules – Just One

Be Super, Be Appropriate, but above all, Be A Gentleman (or Gentlelady). Not everyone who applies we accept, we’re focused on chemistry and value, and Super Powers.

Bruce J. Howes is owner of Atlantic Motorcar Services, Wicasset, Maine. He also works in emergency medicine as a second career, and is a nationally registered Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (A-EMT). He serves as a board member at the Maine Maritime Museum, and various local nonprofit organizations. His shop’s website,, has been selected by AutoInc. magazine as a Top 10 Website on three different occasions. He can be reached at