Marconi: Shop Owners, What Keeps You Up at Night?

Jan. 28, 2022

When you leave at night, you may have locked the door to your shop but you haven’t locked out all the emotions and issues that are still stirring around in your brain.

It’s 6:15pm, Friday night. As you lock the door to your shop, you reflect on the week and happy that it has come to an end. The events of the past few days consume your mind: Employee issues, expenses going up, and every other detail about running your business. You get into your car, turn on the radio, take a breath to relax, put the car in drive, and you begin your ride home. All is good. Or is it? 

While you may have locked the door to your shop, you haven’t locked out all the emotions and issues that are still stirring around in your brain. A few hours later, it’s time for bed, you’re tire and your body needs sleep, but that becomes an issue too. The hours pass and now it’s the middle of the night and you find yourself staring at the ceiling. Sound familiar? You’re not alone. 

Only a shop owner knows how it feels to be a shop owner. The challenges and struggles of running a business are ongoing, even after years of working on the business to get every detail dialed in just the way you want it.  This can lead to a condition that plagues many shop owners; the dreaded 2:00am unplanned wakeup call.    

There are many reasons why shop owners have a tough time sleeping. Worry about their business, the feelings of being responsible for so many people’s lives, the second-guessing yourself if you made all the right decisions, and perhaps the most harmful of all are the “What-ifs.” What if Larry, my manager, leaves? What if my lead technician decides to quit? What if we don’t hit our sales goal?  All these what-ifs increases brain activity, and while you are desperately in need of sleep, your conscience mind is in high gear, wondering and worrying, sometimes until the sun comes up. I know it’s aggravating, and while I don’t wish it on you, not being able to sleep at times means you care.

As business owners, you are committed and responsible for not only the success of your business, but for the success of others around you. The worry and fear that things make go sideways at any time can haunt you. So, your brain continues to review and relive all conditions and situations that have occurred and wonder about the things you think may occur. Your body gets stuck in fight or flight mode, a natural human response to perceived or real threats. This condition overcomes you and prevents you from getting a good night's sleep. 

What do we do about this condition? First, we need to recognize it as part of who we are and then identify the reasons why we can’t shut off our brains. It usually boils down to issues and problems we feel we are not in control of. For example, you feel something isn’t right with your staff. You feel there’s a morale issue. Then the thought of losing employees enters your mind, and that scares the hell out of you. 

The best way to approach this fear, and any fear, is to confront the issue head on and do something about it. Make it a top priority to sit down with your employees. Find out if your fears are true, and if so, deal with them head on. Getting employees engaged and improving morale will and calm down your fears of people leaving you. However, you should also consider a recruiting plan, to build a pipeline of potential future employees. The point here is to be proactive with any issue that’s bothering you and not sit on your hands hoping and praying that things don’t go downhill.  

There will always be challenges in business. Have faith that you can overcome those  challenges. Build a company with a strong culture and with great people around you. Also, learn to rely on your employees to take some of the load off of your back. I know you feel that it’s your shop and that the buck stops with you, but trust me, your employees want to help, and they can help.

One last word, make sure you have clearly defined goals. Goals give you purpose, a clear direction, and provides a sense of accomplishment for you and your team when they are reached. This will go a long way in keeping you in a positive mindset, which will help with getting a good night’s sleep.  

Tonight, when you mind begins to shift to business issues, remind yourself that this is a normal reaction. However, it’s also important to be thankful for all the good in your life. It’s far better to focus on positive thoughts about family, friends, and accomplishments. Remember, your business should never consume your life, your business should enrich your life. Now get some sleep!  

About the Author

Joe Marconi

Joe Marconi has more than four decades of experience in the automotive repair industry. He is the owner of Osceola Garage in Baldwin Place, N.Y., a business development coach for Elite Worldwide, and co-founder of

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