Closing Day of the Ratchet+Wrench Management Conference

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Aaron Stokes

Lombard, Ill., Sept. 26, 2017—The Ratchet+Wrench Management Conference came to a close Tuesday after a full day of information from leaders in the automotive repair industry.

The day started off with a networking breakfast which led right into the first sessions and Ratchet+Wrench Talk of the Day. During lunch, there was a sponsor giveaway, which was followed by the last two regular sessions of the conference.

The conference wrapped up with Aaron Stokes who delivered the closing session. Stokes' session, which can be viewed on the Ratchet+Wrench Facebook page, centered around the importance of changing your mindset to become a better leader. 

"At the end of the day, what matters is you—the leader," Stokes said. 

Stokes explained how he achieved the sucess that he has today and that he wouldn't be where he is today without the processes and people that he has in place. According to Stokes, he works less now with six shops than he did when he was starting out with just one shop because he's figured out a winning solution. 

Stokes says it's all about adapting a mindset of being successful and focusing on what will get you there. Moving up the ladder is all about keeping a balance between learning and doing. 

Stokes talked about a book that inspired him called "The Pumpkin Plan." The book tells the story of giant pumpkins that cultivate unique seeds that sell for $1800 per seed. Farmers plant the seeds in the ground and week by week, cut off the smaller pumpkins on the vine so in the end, all of the nutrients go to one pumpkin, which grows to be huge. To outsiders, it's difficult to understand how one pumpkin got to be so big. Stokes brings it full circle and explains that it's the same way that people in the industry are baffled by how certain operations grew so much. 

"Nobody understands looking at Mike Brewster how he got his shop so big," Stokes said. "He did the pumpkin plan. Why in the world was I able to grow so fast? The pumpkin is so big because it's given all the nutrients."

In his closing remarks, Stokes said that the only way to become the leader that you need to become is by dropping other roles in the business and developing a focus.  

"How good of a leader could you be if you dropped everything you knew about cars?" Stokes said. "I still know a lot about cars but I've forgotten a bunch because I've crammed it with business stuff. The only way you can become a master of something is if you drop one thing and pick up something else."

In his closing words to the audience, Stokes gave shop owners a call to action.

"Some of you out there need to stop reading and actually go out and do something," Stokes said. "Put some systems in place and make something happen."

The Ratchet+Wrench Management Conference is a three-day, hands-on educational event for owners and operators of auto service businesses. For more information on the event, and a full schedule of events, visit

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