Opportunities, Challenges, and Ego in the Auto Industry

I’ve been in the auto industry since 1999 and there are many good things about it. Through associations and community involvement I quickly learned of the many good people in the industry who want to make a difference. I admire their grit and drive to impact not only in their own lives but to better other people’s lives as well.

Realizing the opportunities in the industry develops when you look beyond the walls of your shop. I know for Tony and I what started out as wanting to be a resource to our customers and community, quickly grew into wanting to be a positive influence on our team and industry peers.  Soon supporting the next generation of men and women coming into the industry became just as important.

The lesson here is your vision can grow, and as it does, you will realize opportunities that are in front of you.

As shop owners, it started with getting involved in the community to know the needs to best serve our customers. Then we saw a need to develop our team with continued training, benefits, and a great culture where everyone is valued and appreciated for what they bring to the business. Eventually, we decided to get involved with supporting and encouraging the next generation by reaching out to schools and associations to help.


Opportunity Maryann Croce Article

This is a great industry to be in. There is plenty of growth opportunities.  There is lots of support to gain clarity and get guidance through coaching, mentoring, associations, and local business groups.

Be the shop of choice:

  • Be a resource to your customers and community to best serve them. Learn the needs in your area and be the solution. People trust people they connect with.
  • Be a resource to your team. Create an environment and culture that allows team members to feel appreciated and valued to attract, develop, and retain top talent.
  • Be a resource to the next generation. Get involved. Job shadowing, career nights, mentoring, and advisory boards are a few ways to encourage and support them.

Your business can’t be an example of professionalism if it’s not profitable, sustainable, and enjoyable. You can do only so much alone. Your greatest asset is your team. Choose wisely and develop them. Achievers want to grow. Be seen as the professional you are.


Many owners know all about fixing vehicles but not running and growing a business. This is a skill to develop, and you don’t have to go it alone.

The skills gap is real. There is still an outdated perception of the auto industry, when it comes to culture, pay, benefits, education, and career opportunities. Don’t buy into it and get stuck there. It’s a trap.

Just because some shops aren’t operating professionally doesn’t mean all aren’t. There are shops that offer great culture, pay, benefits, continued training and career opportunities to the right people.

These are the shop that realize that you can’t wait for things to change. You must be the change that you want to see to attract top talent and the best customers.


Many owners can’t get out of their own way. Ego shows up when your pride takes control of your reasoning and common sense. Defending your actions or decisions when they clearly aren’t working, instead of going back to the drawing board and tweaking or adjusting to improve, stops growth.

Many things can cause ego to show up. As a coach what I see often, is owners believing things are happening to them. It comes from what I call “If ONLY” beliefs. Believing once you have all of these boxes checked, things will be different for your business.

  • If only I had better customers
  • If only I had better help
  • If only I had better suppliers and vendors
  • If only I had better ___________ (Fill in the Blank)

The problem with this kind of thinking; it’s external and seems to be happening to you without a sense of control. When ego happens and it will for everyone from time to time, don’t get stuck in it. It’s not good for you, your customers, team, or business. It can become toxic.

Three tips to help you realize and take action on the opportunities

  1. Assess Flcus Lead Maryann Croce ArticleAssess. The next time you’re feeling overloaded with activities as an owner/leader, take a step back and assess where you are and where you want to be. Ask yourself what you want. This will help you get clear on the owner role/goal activities, so you can stop going 24/7.
  2. Focus on what you can take off your plate to delegate or outsource. Keep in mind the impact you want to make as the shop of choice for your customers, community, team, and next generation. Allowing them the opportunity to grow, so you can step away as you need or want to.
  3. Lead: When you’re speaking keep in mind you are representing the industry. Take the lead and lead by example. Communicate with professionalism and transparency to connect with others. Many are making a great living in the industry and have a fulfilling life.

Keep in mind that money is the result of what we do. Owners can get stuck and miss what is driving it.  “Business grows as owners and leaders grow.” Assess, Focus and Lead. It’s a simple yet powerful repeatable system that will guide you to build a rewarding business and life that works for you. I call it ‘3-Day Weekends’ System.  I’ve included a link to the ‘3-Day Weekends’ Checklist to get you started.

Maryann CroceMaryann Croce, a certified partner of Todd Herman’s 90 Day Year™, is an operations coach/speaker and creator of ‘3-Day Weekends’ Coaching. Her company Small Biz Vantage specialized in performance and leadership development for automotive and skilled trade business owners. She has been an auto shop owner since 1999. You can reach Maryann at (203) 913-7741 or maryann@SmallBizVantage.com Maryann speaks on achieving goals and work-life fulfillment SmallBizVantage.com