Rise to the Challenge

Feb. 17, 2023

Setting goals to improve your shop. 

Whether you want to increase customer care in your shop, maximize shop efficiency, or improve your tech skills, setting a goal is a common way to achieve your dreams. Everyone can set goals for themselves but what many people struggle with is meeting them. It is a common misnomer in our society that if one does not meet their goal then they have not achieved success. This is not true. Even if the goal that one has set out for themselves has not been met, the discipline and lessons that are learned along the way are what truly enhances performance.  

As the new year starts many people seek to better themselves, but many don’t know where to start. To help others with the goal process, two successful shop owners in the industry share their experience with goal setting and the lessons they learned along the way.  

Jason Berry, owner of the Havoline xpress lube Locations in Alabama 

Berry and his wife, Crystal bought his first xpress lube store in Herstal, Alabama, in 2019. With no previous experience in owning an auto-shop they set out with a very simple goal in mind. 

“To be extremely fast and efficient in what [they] did and produce as good of a product as [they] possibly could,” Berry says. 

Berry quickly realized that everything was already running smoothly, and so he decided to focus on a more specific goal: to increase the car count by 10 per day within five years. As he sought to meet his new goal, Berry discovered important objectives he wanted to prioritize within the shop.  

“We found that we wanted goals that would help... put us into a better financial position and we wanted to make sure that we could provide the best workplace that we could for [our employees] as well,” he says.  

Berry and his team worked diligently every day to achieve their 10-car increase while still upholding the values that mattered: a positive workplace. By 2021, the shop met their goal, and Berry was named NOLN Operator of the year.  

Even after beating his 10-car goal, Berry still feels that his initial goal of increasing shop efficiency has not been met. 

“It's a goal that in my opinion, you never fully reach,” Berry says. “Because every single day my motto was, we want to be better today than we were yesterday. And better tomorrow than we were today.”  

Although he doesn’t feel like they will ever meet his first goal. He does feel that always striving to be better has led to a positive improvement in the workplace.  

“What you do in the workplace becomes contagious...you have people buying into [it] and next thing you know, they're starting to be that way in their personal life,” says Berry. 

Berry now defines his success not by whether he has met a goal but rather by whether the goal has improved him as a person.  

“I define success as being the best person that you can possibly be to your coworkers, to you, and to your family,” Berry says. 

Melissa Vail, Owner of VP Racing Fast Lube in Jonesboro Louisiana 

Vail’s goal looked a little different than Berry’s. In order to be successful after her and her husband acquired the VP Racing Fast Lube shop in Jonesboro. Vail set the goal to learn as much as she could about the automotive industry as quickly as she could.  

“I didn't know anything about the automotive industry at the beginning, or how to build a company, “I had to ask the question, Is this possible? Can I do this?” Vail says. 

At first Vail felt intimidated by the goal that she had set for herself. 

“I struggled with how to reset, how to manage employees,” Vail says, “It was just a lot of you know, a lot of stuff for somebody that didn't know nothing about nothing.” 

Having no idea how to meet her goal she decided the best thing to do was to jump right in. Her employees were all very happy to help her learn. Any questions that she had as she was learning; they were willing to answer. 

“You just had to ask, you know, ask questions. You know, don't be afraid to ask,” Vail says. 

As she went about learning about her auto-shop she found small issues in the computer system that were restricting the shop from being as efficient as it could be. 

“I had to tweak it how [I wanted] it to be and make it more user friendly. And by [changing] the system, [I could] jump on there every day and be happier,” she says. “You know, being around it all day, you say things like, oh, I wonder if I could tweak this, and I wonder if I could tweak that in that.” 

By setting a goal for herself and going into it headfirst she was able to become slightly knowledgeable about the automotive industry in a short amount of time. Not only that, but Vail was able to find where her shop lacked in efficiency because she was going through the experience herself. Even though Vail has not met her goal because she is still learning new things every day, she is very happy with what the goal setting process taught her. 

“It was tough at first, but I can honestly say that I enjoy it and I like it,” Vail says. “It's nothing that I thought that I would ever be doing but I enjoy it. You know I enjoy it and it's still a learning process.”  


Both Berry and Vail found that there was no specific step-by-step plan for achieving goals as big as theirs. They met their goals by jumping straight into them. 

The not knowing anything stuck with me better, Vail says. 

By going in without any prior plans or knowledge Vail was able to immerse herself fully in the process and learn where the holes in the shop lay through her own experience, rather than through word of mouth. Berry knew that he wanted to increase the efficiency of his shop but had no clue how to go about it. Instead of hesitating or laying out a plan, he jumped in immediatelyIn the end, his hasty actions were what helped him find out what the shop specifically needed in order to improve, as well as, where his own priorities lay. 

Berry and Vail are still continuously working on the original goals they set for themselves, but they have learned it’s not about meeting the goal, but the process that occurs along the way. 

Courtesy of Glenn Ables
River Underwood Photography
Photo 90925830 | Auto Mechanic Team © Vadimgozhda | Dreamstime.com