RWMC Aaron Stokes: It's Time to Execute

Sept. 25, 2023
In his closing keynote address, Shop Fix Academy Founder Aaron Stokes offered shop owners a simple plan for raising the bar.

“Wisdom is being able to apply the right information at the right time to grow your company.” — Aaron Stokes

In his closing keynote address, Aaron Stokes, founder of Shop Fix Academy, told shop owners to sweat the small stuff, spend time with high performers and start executing

Stokes encouraged attendees to get better about getting feedback and to start using their customers’ journeys as the filter for which decisions are driven.

“If you want to make more, start borrowing from your customer’s mindset. Solve their pain points; sell from their perspective and not from your own wallet,” Stokes said.

He pointed to fear as the culprits that keep shop owners shackled to their comfort zones. When shop owners begin to taste some success, when they outperform what you think they’re supposed to do in business, their brain tries to knock them down a notch. To combat the imposter syndrome that comes with unexpected success, Stokes recommended shop owners change their circles of influence.

“You need to be around people who dream bigger. Find somebody who is doing what you want to do and copy it,” Stokes said, stressing urgency in the matter. “Money loves speed and success leaves clues.”

Sharing a comparison between a thermometer, which reacts to the temperature it comes in contact with, and a thermostat, which sets the temperature in the room, Stokes encouraged shop owners to become the latter and be careful who they let in their ear and what they allow to influence their thoughts and decisions. Sketching out a diagram that showed talent on one side and execution on the other, he drew a line to the top of the talent chart and a line midway up the execution diagram. The gap between them, he said, was where shop owners needed to improve.

“Everyone in this room has potential. Everyone in this room, God gave you a certain amount of talent,” Stokes said. “We have to execute. Some people have a lot of talent but cannot execute.

Using industry data, he charged attendees to have faith in their potential and not to fear the future. The size and scope of the industry shows the work is available for shop owners to capitalize on—if they execute on the small things, he added.

“Big doors swing on itty bitty hinges. Don’t focus on the door; it’s the hinges. The little practices you do make you all the money. It’s not the alignment rack or the software. They help, but the money is in the basics,” Stokes said, before illustrating his point with a question. “Do you call people back?”

He tasked attendees to focus on getting wisdom and then applying the knowledge they learn; to stop making the tiny mistakes and to get to work at solving them.

“Wrap your mind around why things are happening. Wisdom sets up the actions. Action creates results, results create money,” Stokes said.

Then gap between wisdom and applied knowledge, according to Stokes, is a lack of self-awareness. He said shop owners aren’t sure how people see them, and it’s important to know. He illustrated the point by saying it’s like a person getting out of the shower and trying to look at themselves in a foggy mirror.

“A lot of us have no clue what we look like. Some of us are not approachable. We need to know what the first image is that we portray to others. When you’re aware of yourself you can affect another. When you’re not aware of yourself, you cannot affect another,” Stokes said.

He told shop owners to make it a priority to make friends outside of work.

“Who are people in your life that you can learn from who can teach you people skills? You need to meet new people. All of your breakthrough comes from relationships. Many of us don’t go after that. Get in the right scenario and meet more people,” Stokes said.

Drawing three lines on his paper—a black line across the center, a blue trending up and a red trending down)—he said doing small things right and your shop will trend up, doing small things wrong, and your shop will trend down. Stokes conveyed that it takes time to see results, but that consistency wins. It may not look like it after 30, 60 or 90 days, but after 120 days or 160 days, you’ll see whether your actions are growing or harming your business. He said doing the small things well is a focusing on the hinges approach.

“I want to encourage you to pay attention to the execution. It’s the little things in life. Hang around higher quality people who say what they do and do what they say,” he added. “The only thing between winners and losers is consistency.

“Execution done the right way will create a level of wisdom and strategy you have not had in your life before to deploy things you’ve never had in your life before.”

About the Author

Chris Jones | Editor

Chris Jones is the editor of Ratchet+Wrench magazine and host of its companion podcast, Ratchet+Wrench Radio, a weekly show featuring automotive professionals across the auto care landscape.

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