How To Break Through a Plateau

Shawn Goldthwaite

As a business owner you have probably experienced a plateau in your shop before. You can guess the signs: sales stagnating or slowing down, less customer retention, and even a lack of progress toward your goals.  It might even seem like business has flipped on a dime, one minute your busy and the next your bays are empty. If you notice this happening to you, don’t worry. Continue reading to hear about the 4 tactics shop owner Shawn Goldthwaite of Bunting’s Auto Body and his business coach Cassaundra Croel of DRIVE have to offer. Shawn Goldthwaite has been in business for 19 years and has recent experience in breaking out of a plateau.


1 – Examine Your Current Business Practices

Shawn describes his plateau, he says “It felt like we were just going through the motions. We were riding on autopilot and getting too comfortable in the ways we have always done things.” To combat this, he looked at the way he was running his business. What were his practices like? Could he change them? When rearranging his shop, he focused on efficiency. Making his shop more efficient allowed for his team to take more cars in and finish working on them faster.


As a shop owner, you know you have to be focused on a multitude of things at once. This is why when you notice your shop slowing down it can be a good time to go through the details of how you run your business. Cassaundra Croel, DRIVE’s Manager of Professional and Program Development, says there are many ways a business owner may need to reorganize. Whether that be through “more training, personnel restructuring, or a better definition of the shop’s goals”. Doing these seemingly simple tasks “could help them to break through a plateau. All of which can be addressed by leaning on their DRIVE team.”


2 – Switch up Your Marketing Tactics

If you notice less cars are filling your bays, it might be time to spend more money on your shop’s marketing or even try marketing in new areas. Examine where your current marketing budget is going to and which area is bringing in the most sales. Once you have figured out which tactic is least profitable, find a new place to spend that money. Maybe partner with another local business in your area to run a promotion with one another or maybe you need to rearrange your budget to add more money into your marketing.

You should also look at what you’ve done in the past to see if there’s specific tactics you can reimplement in your plan. This could be mailers, Google ads, or phone calls from your staff. There’s something that has drawn a crowd to you before and can do it again!


Cassaundra Croel

3 – Set Yourself up for Slow Season

Cassey has seen many seasonal slows during her time at DRIVE. There are various ways she has helped her clients combat these in the past. She shares, “Many of my shops are impacted by seasonal changes. At DRIVE we coach to create a marketing plan that includes efforts to get customers in immediately and others that result in consistent patronizing of customers.” Shawn noticed that his shop always slows down in December, so he created a special he promotes around Christmas to combat it. Stay on top of your marketing and plan your moves in advance!


4 – Talk to your fellow shop owners

Being able to talk to your colleagues is one of the best parts of being connected to other professionals in your field. Your fellow shop owners have gone through the same or similar things to what you are currently dealing with. Cassey shares how this helped Shawn break through his plateau, “he decided to elevate the shop by asking to sit in on Top 20 Collision. There, he learned from shops that had gone through the challenges and successes that Shawn had experienced and were able to give him a helping hand. Shawn took the opportunity to ask questions, listen, and share his knowledge. From there, Shawn increased his sales in both collision and mechanical while working on attaining Master of Shop Certification, which he received at the most recent  DRIVE EXPO. He is now a member of Top 20 Collision and a major contributor.”

DRIVE’s Top 20 Group was created in an effort to provide the guidance needed for successful shop owners to connect, network, and share what actions they take. This is all in a setting where companionship and life-long friendships are built to promote and provide support in all things shop related. This isn’t the only group a shop owner can join to get in touch with other professionals, but it was created with today’s shop owner in mind. You can also join networking groups on Facebook or connect with the other shops in your area.


Check out Shawn’s Master speech CLICK HERE


To be published in MOTOR AGE Magazine


Prepared by Chase Clough