Setting Long-Term Goals

Dec. 22, 2022

Play the long game with your shop.

Setting goals helps challenge us and push us to progress. Short-term goals create check-in points to break down big ideas into easy-to-achieve segments, and setting long-term goals is key to having successful and organized business. 

Greg Costa, owner of Safeway Oil Change and Automotive Services in Cranston, Rhode Island, understands this firsthand. After spending the first portion of his career as a franchise owner, Costa transitioned into becoming an independent business owner. Through his experiences, Costa has discovered the most efficient way to set, track, and celebrate goals to help grow his business. 

Educate Yourself  

The automotive industry is ever-changing. In order to set effective and realistic goals for your staff, you have to take the time to educate yourself on how to best prepare for upcoming changes in the industry.  

“You can only know so much, and the only way to keep on learning is to keep on putting the effort in,” says Costa. “Everybody's got different opinions, and if you listen to everybody's opinion, you make your decisions based on opinions rather than the facts.”  

With new vehicles, comes new equipment and new training. Costa tries to stay one step ahead of these changes and includes them when setting goals for his team.  

“The industry overall is changing with how they make cars and the different tools and equipment needed to fix these new vehicles,” says Costa. “We try to spot any hurdles that we might have with fixing these vehicles and we make goals to overcome those hurdles. Whether its buying new equipment, updating the equipment that we have or further training our staff.”  

Look at the Big Picture 

While shorter and attainable goals are important to keep your staff on track and motivated, taking a step back to look at the big picture helps guide your business plan. Costa works with a five-year plan which he breaks down into yearly goals. This allows him to take on large scale changes to his business while still presenting it in a way that is easy to understand and complete.  

When making these goals, Costa recommends bringing in an outside opinion to help find areas of concern that may have been overlooked by him and his team.  

“It's always good to have somebody from the outside to come in and provide constructive criticism,” says Costa. “When you're at a place every day, all day you tend to not see some things. Somebody from the outside will see things differently and give you a different perspective.” 

To help put things into perspective, Costa works with a coach from the Automotive Training Institute.  

“I can make any decision I want,” he says. “And I want to make sure that I'm making good, informed decisions.  Having a coach and supplying them with the information for my business that we utilize together gives me a chance to be accountable for certain decisions that we're making and whether they're good or bad.” 

Check In  

Consistent check-ins are crucial to staying on track with your goals. For Costa, he conducts weekly check-ins with his staff as well as meeting weekly with his own coach to make sure everything is running smoothly.  

“Before having a coach, I flew by the seat of my pants,” he says. “I didn’t make decisions as they needed to be made. Whether they were right or wrong, we learned from them. Working with a coach to go over goals on a weekly basis to see what's up and what's down and what changes need to be made helps out a lot.” 

Weekly check-ins help determine what is going well and what may need to be changed in order to stay on track.  


Costa knows the impact positive reinforcement can have on a team. Because of this, Costa does not take disciplinary actions when goals are not being met. Instead, every mistake is viewed as a learning experience both for him and his staff.  

When goals are met, the whole team celebrates by going out to dinner, all together.  

“When we meet our goals, we go out to dinner, the whole crew,” says Costa. “It’s good to bring us together to have fun because there's got to be some play with work and it’s important to show your staff gratitude for all the work that they do.” 

Costa has found that having a positive relationship with his staff actually increases productivity and makes it easier for them to meet their goals. To help foster this relationship, Costa does his best to take care of his staff both emotionally and physically. One way he does this is by purchasing new work boots for his staff every Thanksgiving.   

“You need employees that have good work wear to be comfortable and warm, we stand on concrete floors all day long,” says Costa. “You need your feet for the rest of your life, so you have to take care of them. A good pair of work boots makes the pain better and makes your job easier.” 

Final Words  

The process in which you identify, execute, and celebrate goals can be just as important as the goals themselves. Making sure that you are staying on top of trends in the industry and creating timely goals to direct your business plan can help you anticipate potential issues that may arise and properly prepare your team. Communicating on the progress of goals set can help you stay on track and learn form past mistakes.  

As we begin a New Year and look toward a new set of goals, make sure you have a detailed plan in place for how to identify, maintain, and celebrate your goals. A good process leads to good progress.