What Top Service Advisors Can Learn From the NBA

What Top Service Advisors Can Learn From the NBA

When it comes to best practices and ultimately “winning” in auto service, there’s a lot we can learn from other markets and industries. One such industry is professional sports and specifically the NBA. The ties may not be obvious to everyone, but they’re definitely there and worth looking at. To start, there are a number of lessons we can learn about leadership and how it impacts the whole team’s success. This past season, there was a lot of publicity about how teams are going to great lengths to acquire better coaches

I recently had Service Advisor Coach extraordinaire Mario on the Service Drive Revolution podcast to talk about it and how it relates to the auto service industry. Mario’s a huge NNBA fan–even named his kid after Michael Jordan–and a serious pro when it comes to auto service. We started our conversation by talking about the league’s best players and why, but you’ll have to listen to the episode to hear that part. We’re here to talk about the lessons we can learn from the NBA’s strategy. 

According to a LinkedIn article from April 2019, “In a close-fought series, the difference between winning and losing may hinge on if they get the right players on the floor at the right time with the right plan. So while it’s mission-critical for NBA teams to find and field the best players in the world, club owners and executives will also go to great lengths to land the best coaching talent anywhere, employing many of the same tactics that recruiters use. Like many of you, they put a premium on finding leaders with skills such as adaptability, collaborative problem-solving, and, especially, effective communication. As a result, many NBA team have embraced an approach of hiring for skills over experience and promoting from within.”

In the auto service industry, most of the service managers start in the shop and work their way up from there. When you’re a tech in a shop, you get a flat rate per hour so your results are really dependant on your ability to turn hours rather than on working as a team player to push things forward. Even though you’re working with advisors or dispatch, your outcomes don’t really change as a result of that collaboration. What matters is managing yourself as effectively and efficiently as possible so you get things done and 

The game changes when you move up to shop foreman. Instead of your outcomes being based solely on your own work and efficiency, it matters how well you can get other people to perform. This requires effective communication, solid leadership, and collaborative problem-solving the manager’s job isn’t to just tell people what to do, but to say:

“What does championship look like for this team at this at this dealership? Our goal is to win that championship.”

So the first step for the manager is to define what championship looks like. Do we want to be number one in CSI? Do we want to be a certain percentage net to gross in profitability? Once the whole team knows what it means to win the championship, the service manager’s job is to devise a plan for how to get there. It’s just like the NBA in that way. It doesn’t matter if you have the best players in the league on your team if your plan to get them all working together is ineffective. Maybe one player will do really well, but the team certainly isn’t going to win the game and certainly not the championship. 

There are a lot of things that service manages can learn from the top NBA coaches. The first is the importance of adaptability. So many service managers out there don’t want to change, even when the industry is evolving. Instead of thinking about how they can adapt to the changing industry the focus on being right. They want to argue about how the way they learned from their manager, who learned that way from the manager before them, is the right way to do things. When really, the “right” way doesn’t necessarily exist and if it does, it’s always changing and evolving. In order to stay on top of the game,  

To take it back to the NBA, let’s think about the 1985 Bulls. That team was stuck in the way they had always done things. It was what they were comfortable with and instead of looking for a system that would get the best outcome, they continued to do things the way they’d always done them. Really, coaches (and similarly, service mangers) leave because their methods are no longer working, whether they admit it or not. So when a new coach or manager comes in, it’s on them to look at the industry and their own data and come up with a plan that will actually work, not to keep using and passing on old, ineffective strategies. 

As Mario put it, “I believe that a lot of managers don’t feel they need to do much changing, because, at the end of every month, they still have a paycheck, regardless if their dealer made money or not, they still get a paycheck, so they feel, ‘I’m making money. The dealer must be making money.’ But they don’t know that they’re not, and changes need to be done yesterday.” For service managers, there is no real incentive to try to find the best way to do things because they are still getting paid regardless. Then, they get fired because their numbers just aren’t cutting it. If you want to know more about it, pick up my book The Irreplaceable Service Manager. I talk a lot about the critical importance of adaptability when it comes to keeping your job and thriving as a service manager. 

The next skill both NBA coaches and service managers need in order to win the championship is effective communication. effective communication comes in many different forms. It’s not just talking to somebody. Effective communication is so much more than just talking to people. It’s how you set up your systems. It’s how you carry yourself. It’s how you hold people accountable. Everything you do is communication when you’re the boss because people are watching. Whether you like it or not, they’re watching how you dress, how you talk, how you show up, if you’re on time, your body language, who you’re within the office with the door closed, what you do all day, how you handle customers, whether or not you follow up… all of it. 

Effective communication requires systems. If you have a system, you follow the system no matter who is in your office or who is underperforming or over-performing. When we don’t have a system, we go off of our emotions. We communicate with people based on how we feel about them or their performance in that particular moment or let our personal bias get in the way of good leadership. And we listen with the intent of learning and understanding, rather than focusing on proving why we’re right about the topic at hand. 

All of this leads to a negative company culture and makes it really challenging to attract and retain talent. 

When it comes right down to it, winners attract winners. So when you have solid leadership, you get solid candidates coming in to apply for your jobs who want to succeed, which often means they are open to coaching and want to be challenged in order to level up. They want the championship just as bad as the service manager does. This kind of talent will only be attracted to environments of performance that YOU create as a leader. Create that high-performance environment where the best will thrive and then manage them in a way that you know will yield the best results–or win the championship if you will.

So, to recap: It’s high time we take notes from the NBA when it comes to winning. Winning starts with good leadership, which requires adaptability, effective communication, and collaborative problem-solvingFrom there, a strong team of winners will come to you and thrive in the environment and under the strategy that good leadership has created. 

We dive even deeper into the topic, the NBA, and Beyonce (ye, Beyonce…) on this episode of Service Drive Revolution. Give it a listen here

Questions? Thoughts? Want to talk about the Beehive? Let’s do it in the comments below.

Service Advisors Should Stop Following the Golden Rule – A Conversation with Glenn Lundy

Service Advisors Should Stop Following the Golden Rule – A Conversation with Glenn Lundy

Millennials have been getting a bad wrap since the day we started calling them millennials. They have been labeled lazy, entitled, self obsessed and so involved with social media that they hardly look up from their smartphones to see what’s going on in the real world around them. Now I know plenty of millennials that fit that description (and to be honest I know a lot of people like that who aren’t millennials) but they are also an extremely innovative and industrious workforce and whether you like it or not, they are changing just about every industry out there – even the automotive world.

They are finding new and highly profitable ways to use social media, their demand for transparency is creating a more “open door” culture, they are using their tech savvy to push for new and better in-car technology and because they have been raised in an age of convenience like we’ve never seen before they are making the car buying experience easier and more direct. I’m sure I’m beginning to sound like a broken record at this point but if you are not open to these new changes and rethinking the way you sell cars then you will find it extremely difficult to stay relevant in the coming years as car sales start to dip.

One of the most interesting ways and I think the most impactful ways that millennials are changing things across all industries is the introduction of online shopping and direct delivery. You can now have groceries, prescriptions, dinner and almost anything else you can imagine delivered directly to your doorstep. A recent article on Auto News talks about this very trend in the automotive industry. Every year they release a top 100 list of the highest selling used car retailers across the country and this year a new name made the list – Carvana. Not only did Carvana get on the list but they were ranked #8! They sold 94,108 used vehicles in 2018 – more than double their 2017 sales. And the company’s CEO, Ernie Garcia, is predicting sales in the 2 million-unit range.

So what is this brand new company doing to bolster their sales miles ahead of veteran dealerships? It is all online. And in some markets, they even offer next day delivery. You can search for a car on their website, apply for financing, trade in or sell your old car and they even offer a 7-day “test own” when you’re car is delivered to make sure it’s the right fit for you. Their slogan is “Because car buying shouldn’t suck. That’s why our process is 100% online. We give you the power to control how you by a car. Not the dealership.” Wow. Is that really how this smart, tech savvy generation thinks about car dealerships? And if so, what can we do to change that? In a world where brick and mortar shops are being replaced by online retailers, we have to focus on customer service and giving our clients a reason to come in to our sales rooms and service drives.

To help understand how millennials think and how we can adjust as an industry to stay relevant and profitable, I had Glenn Lundy on Service Drive Revolution. He has been incredibly successful in the auto industry and is known as the “millennial whisperer.” After a series of very unfortunate events (tune in to hear his whole story, trust me its good) he found himself selling cars in Paris, Kentucky. But while he was working there he really began to hate the culture and fought to create an environment that was great for the employee as well as the customer. By implementing his new philosophy, he took their sales from 120 cars a month to almost 1000 in a town with a population of only 9600. He became the face of the dealership because he knew how to capitalize on social media and branding online. He also understood that the current culture demands transparency and by letting the customer in “behind the scenes” at the dealership he was able to build trust. He started hiring millenials and would mine the local bars and restaurants for people he saw potential in. He figured out how to work with the younger generation (and he’s not that old himself) and says it was best move he ever made for the company.   

Glenn is not only a deep well of car sales know how but he has amazing street smarts and knows how to connect with people which is crucial. During our conversation, he said something that I have never heard before that hit me hard. When I asked him what we should be doing as an industry to stay ahead of the curve, he said we need to stop following the golden rule. What? As a missionary kid who grew up on an orphanage in Mexico, this was a hard one to wrap my mind around. This was the ONE RULE everyone is supposed to follow, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” That’s what makes the world a happy place…what happens when we throw it out the window?

Well Glenn doesn’t just throw it out the window, he reinvents it. He says that in order to win customers and keep them coming back you have to “treat others the way that THEY WANT to be treated.” We no longer live in a world where everyone wants to be treated the same way. How I want to be treated is very different than the way a single mom would want to be treated or a 16 year old buying their first car. And in a world where social media has become a part of our daily life, being recognized and appreciated for what makes you different is more important than ever. In addition to treating your customers well by catering to their individual needs, you have to make the car buying experience easy and convenient. Millennials demand transparency and the old strategies of talking to your advisor behind closed doors to get them a better deal doesn’t work. Whether or not you run the most honest dealership around, customers now come in thinking you’re going to try and pull the wool over their eyes and hit them with a deal that’s only good for you and the bank. And with Google at their finger tips, your customer can search for a better deal while they wait on the salesroom floor so you have to be upfront and honest. Make your customer feel like they are a part of the process, that they have power in the decision.

What I learned from Glenn is if you want to keep up with how millennials are changing our industry then you have to start thinking the way that they do. You have to think outside of the box and push your team to connect with customers on a deeper level. Hire millennials and give them the platform to influence what happens on your sales floor. We really in our industry are stuck on skills and things have moved to ideas. And so we’re stuck on the skill of sales, the skill of putting a car deal together, the skill of the mechanic fixing the car, and the younger kids are fascinated by ideas. And so you have to think about that, you have to figure out a way to start telling stories instead of selling cars and if you hire millennials, they can help you do that.

And with the doom and gloom predictions of massive drops in car sales expected in the next few years, it is more important than ever to build trust and relationships with your customers because even if they aren’t buying cars, they are still driving cars and they will need to be serviced. Train your service team to make every single customer feel special, to be honest and transparent with your customer and to make him or her feel like they are a part of the process.

I want to leave you with one last nugget of advice from Glenn. As someone who works closely with millennials, he’s seen the negative effects that social media and online convenience can have on all of us and in response to what he’s seen, he has come up with a great 5 step morning routine to help anyone get started on the right foot. As a morning person myself, I totally resonated with what he said and wanted to share it with you here. From Glenn Lundy’s “Change Your Life With These 5 Morning Routines.”

  1. Don’t press the snooze button – just get up and get after it
  2. Stay away from your phone – no matter how busy you are, you can give yourself one hour in the morning before stressing out about an email that came in over night
  3. Write a gratitude list and your goals
  4. Attack the physical and get active – whatever gets you going go do it, walk around the block, go for a run, stretch, just move!
  5. Send someone an encouraging message – in a world where we hardly stop to sit down and eat lunch it can be easy to forget about how important it is to connect with our friends and family so send someone a nice text or email – call your mom!
How to Dominate a Big City DJ Scene

How to Dominate a Big City DJ Scene

I recently connected with Megan, aka DJ Ree, an Atlanta-based DJ and promoter, and she had questions about insurance coverage for the DJs she books for certain venues and how that would impact her tax-wise.

A lot of the time, DJs and promoters end up doing contract work, which can get tricky when it comes to important administrative details like insurance and taxes. DJ Ree shared one example in which a hotel she recruits DJs for needs a separate certificate of insurance for each DJ they bring on. It’s a huge hassle for the hotel and it would help her business a lot if she could take it off their shoulders. But how?

One of your best options is to get incorporated. This way, you can get your own insurance coverage that the DJs can use, so the hotel doesn’t have to handle it. Because you’re taking a huge inconvenience off of the hotel’s shoulders, I’d be willing to bet that you can ask them to pay you more too–so your margins will increase.

You can also pay the DJs you book yourself and it’s a tax write off for you, so it’s kind of almost like a wash through in a way. You’ll only pay taxes on what’s leftover after you pay the DJs, not off the top line. You can also deduct more expenses when you’re incorporated. So, there are some major tax benefits.

Plus, being incorporated protects your personal money. If someone ends up being unhappy with something you or one of your DJs does and they want to sue you, they can only get at the money that is a part of your corporation–not your personal finances.

If you want access to more business advice, check out the full episode of the Business Whisperer episode that this came from on iTunesSpotifyStitcher, or right here.

What Does It Take to Build an Irish Dancing Empire?

What Does It Take to Build an Irish Dancing Empire?

First of all, you gotta start with an entry point. You want to make sure that people who are considering taking Irish dancing lessons know what levels they can come in at. Does it require any experience? Most of the time, the answer is yes, but that’s up to you.

Then, you need to give them additional levels they can aspire to. It’s a lot like karate–someone can come in with zero karate experience but know that what they ultimately want is to be a black belt. When you set up levels, you ensure that the person isn’t going to just sign up for one round of lessons and then hit the road. If they enjoy it or even just feel driven to reach that next level, they’ll be back again and again hoping to progress.

I would recommend breaking it down even further to get as many people in the door for lessons as possible, no matter how new or advanced they are. It could look something like this:

Pre-Competition Beginner: For people with NO dance experience. — You could even offer this one for free to get ‘em hooked.

Pre-Competition Novice: For people who have danced before, but not specifically Irish dance.

Novice: For those with less than 1 year of Irish dance experience — this would be when they start competing. This is where it really gets good.

Intermediate: For those with over 1 year of Irish dance experience, but not quite expert level yet.

Expert: The instructor would determine who goes into these classes–might be a pretty small bunch, but you can charge more at this level.

Whether you’re working with adults or kids, setting up a level system that you can share with participants or parents right when the person starts will get them on track to stick with the practice over time.

That’s where marketing materials become really important. You need videos that tease the lessons–giving those away for free will get people in the door like you wouldn’t believe.

You need flyers that explain the levels and really dig into the reasons why Irish dancing is such a great activity to pursue. When you’re working with kids–and even adults, to a degree–you’re selling kids being active, fighting obesity, not playing video games, social interaction with other kids…that’s the stuff that’s important right now to parents. Include success stories about past participants who have crushed it in competition. Help people see that they can also become an advanced and accomplished Irish dancer if they take your classes.

Once they’re indoctrinated into the dream you’ve established, you won’t have to re-sign them every 4 weeks–they’ll come to you. Once someone makes it to a competitive skill level, they aren’t there just for fun…they’re there to win. So they’ll keep showing up and wanting more.

If you want access to more business advice, check out the full episode of the Business Whisperer episode that this came from on iTunesSpotifyStitcher, or right here.

Taking Your Auto Detail Business to the Next Level

Taking Your Auto Detail Business to the Next Level

When you’re always working for the business, how do you find time to work on the business?

In the automotive detailing business, it can be easy to get caught up in the detailing itself rather than building out the business. If all you’re doing is detailing and not selling your services, your growth is going to go stagnant pretty quickly. So what do you do to keep your business expanding?

First, you gotta look at your company’s specifics. Do you service individuals or businesses? What does your pricing structure look like? Are you charging by the vehicle or by the amount of time it takes to complete a detail?

Then, you gotta find your sweet spot for hiring really good detailers. What are the crosshairs between what you’re able and willing to pay a detailer and the amount that would actually attract a good detailer to work for you?

Say that number is $20 an hour–that’s how much you can pay and it’s enough for good detailers that will do the job right with little to no supervision to want to work for you. That supervision part is key…if you have to stay on top of this person all the time and you can’t fully trust their work, it won’t work out. And let’s say that it takes about an hour per detail, so you’re paying this person $20 per car.

Next, consider whether you’d be able to go out and get enough new business to cover that $20 per hour if you passed the detailing off to someone else so you could go and sell. You’d go to used car lots and dealerships to sell rather than spending all of your time actually doing the detailing. If you can say that you’d feel confident that you can get new business if you have more time, which most people could, then you can totally justify paying someone $20 for each new car you bring in, because you’ll be bringing in so much new business.

And it’ll be good for that person too, because they have a steady stream of work at a good rate…all because you’re out there selling. So you could keep doing it that way until you need to hire another good detailer cause you’ve got so much business coming in…and so on and so forth.

If you run into the issue of finding and retaining good detailers, you might be structuring your payments wrong. If, for example, you’re offering a lower hourly rate with a commission or bonuses, that can get confusing. People want to know upfront what they’re making, even if the commission or bonuses would have ended up being more than the flat-out hourly rate.

When it comes to auto detailing, quality matters. I have yet to see a detail shop that’s really good that isn’t booked out. It’s just how you go about it as the business owner–you have to step back and get solid people doing the labor so you can curate the culture and the feel and the sales of your business. It might take you a month where you’re paying somebody else to do what you would normally do yourself, but if you spend two or three hours a day going out and shaking hands and kissing babies, and really listening to potential clients about their needs, and just keep checking in with them, eventually they’re gonna throw you a couple cars. And then if you and your team does a great job, you’re gonna get their business.

Your job is a, as the owner of the business is to be a marketer and a salesperson. The best entrepreneurs out there that I know get good at sales. So get good at selling it. And hire detailers. Your weakness is gonna be that you are a detailer, so to you it’s easier and more comfortable to revert back to detailing. But where your freedom and the money is at is in selling and marketing. Don’t do the easy thing. Do the hard thing.

If you want access to more business advice, check out the full episode of the Business Whisperer episode that this came from on iTunesSpotifyStitcher, or right here.