We’re a couple days away from what is probably the weirdest Christmas of our lives so far, but at least that means an excuse for us to have a Christmas show for you today! Speaking of weird Christmases, both Christian and I are in ugly sweaters, but his deserves special mention. It has a hood with antlers on it, but it also lights up.
Today, we’re going to talk about Santa’s naughty or nice list in the service drive, but first, we need to talk our industry, because it’s in peril… It’s headed off a cliff at 110 miles an hour.
Everything’s changing really, really fast. Now, I hate consultants, but you would still think that it’s their job to tell people the truth and help them avoid peril. If you were paying a consultant, wouldn’t you want them to tell you the truth?
I believe that, just like the politics in our country, people’s agendas are easy to see, and the truth is secondary to whatever narrative they’re trying to push. And so these consultants get paid by Ford and GM and the Big Detroit Three, and they’re trying to placate them by not telling them the truth.
On the show, we play a clip from an Autoline Network discussion on the future of electric trucks. You can watch it here. Skip to 6:37 for the clip we’re talking about.
One thing I’d like to say is that I have no dog in this fight. I’m not in the market for an electric car or truck. The outcome I want is for our clients to succeed and navigate the next five years and gain more market share, be more successful, have more fun, and enjoy the journey! I don’t want anybody to be blind to the fact that there’s going to be some challenges.
The truth is the truth!
So those consultants in the clip are saying that Tesla and Rivian, combined with all SEVEN manufacturers of electric trucks, will only sell 40,000 trucks by 2024, and that fleets aren’t going to buy them.
Let me tell you guys something… First of all, Amazon’s already ordered 10,000. We’re still in 2020 and they’ll be delivered by 2022.
But sure, no fleets want electric trucks. Yup, they don’t want customizable trucks with low maintenance costs and low operation costs. No fleet is going to pay $20,000 more for that.
What is he talking about?! I’m not a consultant and I know more about this than you guys! You could easily Google this!
They’re already buying electric trucks because the companies are more flexible. I don’t understand how you can get away with lying about stuff like this. I don’t understand how Fox News does it, I don’t understand how CNN does it, and I certainly don’t think we should be lying to people to this degree in the car business!
It lacks complete common sense. In fact, Tesla has 1.2 million pre-orders for their pickup truck. Let’s say 80% of those fall through, you still sold more than 40,000 trucks…
If you watch this whole interview, it’s nuts. I don’t understand who the target audience is, and I don’t understand what the motivation is to be so dishonest about the landscape of the marketplace!
It reminds me of NADA, the National Auto Dealers Association, years ago when I used to try to speak at their events. I could care less about them now. They never brought me business anyways. In my honest opinion, it’s the biggest waste of $100,000 you could ever spend going and doing that event, but they make you present your keynote or your workshop to them and their panel. I present mine and they tell me two things:
I can’t say Satan in my Pet the Dog story
You can’t talk about Tesla
You might remember this story from our first show this year, so it’s all kind of come full circle, but I ask them, “Why can’t I talk about Tesla?”
Their answer is because it’s not a popular subject with the dealers, so I’m like, “Are you guys here to help dealers navigate the future or are you just trying to be popular?”
It’s like being the worst parents ever. Eat all the candy you want. Stay out as late as you want. Get pregnant when you’re 13.
There’s no fundamental truth! It’s not a ‘popular subject’? It’s the world today. It’s what’s going on.
I should be checking my blood pressure with how much this drives me crazy! How do these guys get away with this? It’s straight up lying!
I expect this kind of stuff from Fox News, but for the life of me, I don’t understand how half-rate consultants can go around saying stuff like this. And these aren’t even the big consulting companies.
Let me tell you something that isn’t outright lie: do you know what you should get good at in a market that’s shifting towards electric cars?
Tires and alignments, because electric cars will still break and have problems, but they don’t have as much maintenance. Tires and alignments are how we’re going to retain them because that’s the maintenance they do have. That’s what we should be telling people.
We should be honest with people on how they navigate the future, not that, “Oh, no. That’s a boogeyman that doesn’t exist!”
No! Electric cars and trucks are coming. They’re going to come and people are going to buy them. And the other thing that everybody leaves out of the equation is that China is going to be fully electric by 2026.
They sell twice as many new cars a year as we do. They are the driver of why Volkswagen and all these manufacturers are making half their lineup electric. It has nothing to do with us. We’re going to get it because that’s what they’re making. They’re going to make it popular because that’s what’s coming off the line!
When a country as dominant as China is in new car sales (literally twice as much, if not more than us a year), that’s what they’re building factories to make! And they’re going full electric by 2026 so you’ve got to look at the whole landscape!
Anyways, that’s why I hate consultants. It’s almost like there’s some sort of conspiracy going on. Are the CEOs of the manufacturers out there really that naïve that they need these consultants telling them this? They know the truth. They’re looking at the real numbers. Is it the dealers they’re trying to brainwash?
Before my blood pressure gets any higher, let’s move onto today’s topic: the service drive naughty and nice list for 2020. Well, it’s more of a naughty list, but here’s a neat little trick: If you want to make it a nice list, just do the opposite.
Managers wearing their seatbelt
No shortage of seatbelt inventory in manager offices, and that’s not just parts managers. It can be service, too. What I mean by that is that they never take their seatbelt off: they’re never leave their office chair.
CND: Could Not Duplicate
Not taking the time to do quality control and just blowing the customer off. What you’re basically saying is, “You’ve got nothing better to do than bring your car in and tell me you have an obscure problem?” We’ve got to be better than that; not just the techs, but everybody with how we collect information and communicate with the client.
Customers not being updated
This one is pretty self-explanatory.
Customers not being safe and dependable vehicles
So one thing that I like to do when I go into a service department is I’ll go pull their declines and I’ll just call customers and ask them, “Hey, why did you decline brakes?” and most of the time, they’ll say, “Oh, they didn’t tell me about it until I came to pick up the car.” We can’t keep customers in safe and dependable vehicles if we’re not communicating with them instantly while the tech still has it on his rack. Give them techs the chance to do the maintenance or repair first. It’s more efficient for the tech, it’s better for the customer, and at the end of the day, it’s better for the business!
It’s interesting that with all the things that happened this year with COVID, politics, and the economy. Some cities were just completely shut down, but the difference between the departments that set records and made this their best year ever and the ones that didn’t was just their mindset of being a victim or not. That’s it. They might have even been within 20 miles of each other!
Now it’s time to move onto our questions.
“Hey, guys. A question for you. I recently became a service manager of a small operation so I’m still a service advisor, especially if the other advisor is not there. I want to be in more of a traditional manager role in an office with two or three advisors so I’m not actually writing up the customers every day. Is your advice sticking with the same company and waiting for opportunity? Or would it be just keeping an eye on the area for another opportunity and kind of working your way up. Maybe hopping to a different company if they have an opening for – we’ll call it – the higher up position or something involving probably more money as well as more of a traditional manager role?
What is your opinion, stay with the company and ride the wave and hopefully everything works out and an opportunity opens up within the company? Or do I keep searching for outside opportunities and then interview for that outside opportunity if it sounds more like the role I’m looking for? Just looking for advice. I know you always say with advisors you’d recommend sticking with the same company, obviously because of the customer base, but where a manager is more – it’s not necessarily – you’re not dealing with customers every day so I don’t think it’s as important. Just looking for your opinion. Thanks.”
Something Christian immediately got from the question was that it’s not, “I want to be the manager.” It’s, “I don’t want to talk to customers every day anymore.”
As a manager, you have to love the customers even more. A little more information would also be helpful, but what I would say is I would go about it two ways:
One, let’s aim this at a different target. Let’s say you want to be a general manager someday because that’s how I would think. Your end goal is to be a service manager with two or three advisors. You want to get better, build your toolbox, have some real tangible results that you can be proud of but also show that you are a leader and that you can take a challenge, use that challenge to your advantage, and turn it into a positive outcome. You can put that orange in the juicer and out comes juice, right?
The other is I would go sit down with your dealer or general manager and tell them, “Hey, my goal is to someday be a manager like you and I want you to mentor me. I want you to show me how to read the financial statement. I want to learn. I want to be really good.” Meanwhile, grow your service department. You need to get good at marketing and driving traffic. It doesn’t’ matter if you do it there or at the next place. You need to add some things to your toolbox that allows you to hit the sales button.
It’s really important is that if 10 cars come in, or 10 cars and trucks come in, or 100 cars or trucks come in, that the outcome is customers love us and we have very high dollars per RO. The outcome of the process in the system we have in place is happy customers that are maintaining their vehicles and fixing whatever there is, and that’s not an easy thing to do. We’ve got to inspect every car, check history, and make customers feel at home and trust us.
So I would focus on hitting the leather off of the ball, like getting really, really good where you are and expressing your need and want for advancement, learning, and opportunity. If the dealership you’re in doesn’t want to offer that, then go find somebody who does AFTER you hit the leather off the ball.
Basically, my answer is that I’ve rarely seen anybody be successful long term by jumping for the opportunity instead of learning how to fix things and get really good at maximizing traffic.
“Hey, Chris and Christian, what’s going on? Huge fan. Just wanted to ask a question about how to gamify a body shop. I just wonder if that’s something you can help me with. I’m just wondering, what happened to Jeremy? Where’d he go? He’s hiding after the election?”
Is that a Trump joke?
Well, anyway, Jeremy’s just been busy. He hasn’t had the time to be on the show. It’s a big commitment for him to drive a couple hours and then do this show in LA with COVID and all that. We love Jeremy.
Now, to answer your question, I guess there’s two things I would do:
I would probably gamify how many work plans they wrote, maybe within the first couple hours. The whole key is how soon can we get the car in, get it broken down, and write a work plan, not just an estimate.
Then, I would probably gamify the turn; how quick they come in and out.
The biggest thing that I find with body shops is that they’re just dust. The good body shop operators that I know go out and grease pencil every day, like they do a lot walk. Who’s the advisor? Why is this still here? They figure out which advisors and techs have the quickest turn and they drive that.
In fact, I’d probably make it all about turn because that’s what the insurance companies care about. That’s what keeps their rental car expense low. I would involve the techs, too. Maybe split the advisors and techs in half and do a competition or something. Two teams against each other and let them pick names for the other team.
Well, that’s it for the questions for today… and I guess the rest of this year. I like this new format where people call in because you get to hear their voice and get a feel for it. Remember, if you call us at (833) 3-ASK-SDR and leave a voicemail and it gets played on the show, you’ll get some cool swag. That’s (833) 327-5737.
From our family to yours, we wish everybody a happy holiday!
And I just want to mention that we’re going to take a little bit of a hiatus with the show, but we’ll be back on January 11th so we look forward to seeing you then!
We hope that you have some time to enjoy the loved ones around you and reflect on this year, and think about next year and what you can do. And remember, don’t be a victim. The commonality between the winners and the losers this year were who owned the outcome, who stepped up and took the challenges, and who made the best of them.
It’s very naïve of us to think that things are going to be easy and that everything’s going to be handed to us so I would just expect that the beginning of next year is going to be a challenge, but we can make it fun. We can have a good time. So thank you, Merry Christmas, and we’ll see you next time on Service Drive Revolution!
I personally hate, consultants. I know people might think that we’re consultants, but those people would be wrong.
Today, we’re going to go through the 4 Reasons Consultants Can’t and Won’t Save You. It’s a fun list, it’s going to be informative, and we’re going to tell you some inside industry secrets for sure. You might even get a laugh or two out of it.
If they fixed you, they’d be out of work
As Christian puts it, it’s a total conflict of interest. The better they make the client do, the better their chance of unemployment, right?
For us as a company, we don’t have contracts because that’s what our competition would do, and people have an apprehension to getting help because it’d be like, “Well, what happens is I’m locked into this contract. There’s no value, and I can’t get out of it.”
And so, if they have a long term contract, if they’re trying to tie you up for a year or two, they’re probably not any good. If we aren’t earning your business, we don’t want your business. If we’re not providing value, you can walk away.
It’s funny, but I worked for a consulting company really early on and that was their whole thing. They called it spinning plates, and they would try to spin as many plates as they could to always keep you feeling like you were never good enough or never fixed, that you always needed more. And then, they would also bring up these subjects that they would make a huge deal out of, like proficiency. I remember proficiency was all they would talk about, which it never made any sense to me because I didn’t help anybody.
I know in the truck world, proficiency means efficiency, so let’s just define those real quick:
Efficiency is if there’s eight hours in a day and the technician flags eight hours. He’s 100% efficient.
Proficiency was how long the technician was clocked on NRO because that showed how long they were standing at parts, how long they were taking a break, how long it took them to pull a car in and out, but none of that really made sense.
I remember this one time, I went back to one of their clients on my own and the shop was like 120% proficient and 80% efficient because the technicians were really good at managing the clocking on and off. They were all bonused on it. They made so many dollars more if they were proficient, but they weren’t efficient.
As soon as I switched it, they were over 100% efficient and they weren’t managing the clocking on and off of NRO anymore. They were managing the production and getting cars fixed.
We used to argue about that because I would tell them that’s not the best thing for the client, and they were like, “Yeah, but you know, it’s a new thing.” There were a couple of things like that, like they would try to get rid of the back parts counter, which I thought was funny.
Christian and I talked earlier about putting up a kiosk, and they would spend months planning out how to put a parts kiosk in the shop. They would have a parts person in the shop, and I did it three times in three different service departments. It’s funny because the dealers would go to their 20 group and they’d be bragging to everybody like, “Oh yeah, we closed our back parts counter and we have a parts person actually in the shop.”
I don’t know why, but for me, I always go to this weird place where I’m like, “Well, I’m just curious. What has happened to our efficiency?” And the efficiency every time I did it went down about 5%.
It’s not weird, though. It makes total sense because I kind of looked into it. I would tell them something like, “Every time we put your inspection software in, our hours per RO go down,” and I figured out why and I’d tell them, “If you want to pay me, I’ll fix it for you, but there’s glitches in your system, in the process. You don’t really understand what’s going on.”
But having a parts person at a kiosk, they don’t really have parts. When you have a back parts counter, a lot of times what happens is techs walk up, hand them the filter, then they type it in and a parts runner goes and gets it. But in the end, it’s not any quicker than the tech just ordering it from the store. And most of the time, what those parts guys would end up doing is BSing with the techs and talking. Them walking a little bit further to a back parts counter doesn’t help!
In every situation where they’ve eliminated the back parts counter, I’ve put in at least one. Even in big shops with 70 techs, they’ve got to have a place to ask a question or actually interact with a parts person. If you can get a shop to 80-90% ordered through the computer, that’s pretty good, but there’s a 10 or 15% anomaly that you’re hurting the efficiency in the shop if you don’t have some sort of parts counter.
I think the lesson is I was actually looking at the results and they were so caught up in this new thing that consultants would come in and suggest, but nobody tests it out to see if it would actually work. They’re just paying consultants to come in and do these quick lubes but the cost doesn’t outweigh the investment.
Consultants are between jobs
They’ve never really accomplished anything professionally themselves.
The team we’ve had? Everybody’s a Rockstar. They’ve accomplished great things so they don’t have the idealized version of things, because I think when you have never accomplished something yourself, your mode of communicating is to communicate an idealized version of something because you’ve never actually done it. And you have a different respect for things when you’ve actually done it, because it’s harder than you think.
The consultant leaves and you do the work
One thing that I think we are very aware of is that we’re teachers and we’re coaches. We call ourselves coaches. We want to be your personal coach and we want to coach you, but we don’t have any false premonition that we’re doing the work.
You’re doing the work. You’re emotionally committing to it, just the emotional work. It’s not easy to change. If you’re doing things this way today, and you’re getting less-than-amazing results and you want better, you’re going to have to change!
We understand that coaching you through that change isn’t easy, and it’s mental as much as it’s emotional. I think that’s one thing is that consultants want the credit because then it’s them and they are important where a coach wants to see the person they’re coaching or the player be successful.
They’re not attached to the results
They’re compensated for their time, not the results. You’re paying this big dollar amount and then they’re not giving you your money back.
They’re not attached to the result whatsoever. They’re trading their time for money or their knowledge for money, but the connection to the result does not exist. It’s on you to get the result or figure it out where our coaches are actually compensated and bonused on the result and the important measurables, too.
That’s the other thing: your proficiency doesn’t matter. What matters is your net and your customer satisfaction. Those two things matter. Efficiency in the shop will end up having an effect on your net so it’s a measurable, but not the most important measurable, and I think consultants like to hide in the early numbers, right?
The final number and the final result, which is your net, and the customer experience is what really matters, and that’s the thing we’re coaching you through in helping you navigate and fix your systems. I think that most consultants are very, very scared of the net conversation. In fact, when you interview consultants that have worked for other places and you ask them, Well, what was the average net to gross of your clients?”
They’re like, “Never saw a financial.”
And I’m like, “What? We wouldn’t even take a client if we didn’t’ see their financial!.”
It’s all about your financial. That’s all we care about: your ROI. They don’t even know how to read a financial sometimes!
Christian never viewed consultants as actually giving a crap about him or his employers back when he was working dealerships. He never felt like his success or wellbeing mattered to them. That’s another difference: you have to care first about the people as individuals, and then the rest of the stuff kind of comes back to you!
Before we move onto our questions, let’s cap this off by reading our little thing from our morning meetings about what we stand for as a company. I know this is kind of turning into a commercial, but we’re coming up on the end of the year and if you want to do better in 2012 and be effective, you’re going to need a coach. And we want to be that coach. The best thing that can happen is you raise your hand and we’ll help you and we go some amazing places that you didn’t think were possible on your own. But here’s kind of the manifesto I wrote for us probably a year ago and I called it ‘Training’:
“Training, it only exists while the person is taking it, but just like someone will enjoy a specific piece of art at a gallery, most of the time when they leave the art, it becomes past tense. It only was real when present, and it’s hard to recreate in its entirety in one’s memory. Our training will have the opposite effect. When someone is taking it, ingesting it, it should be delivered in a way that has a lasting effect. It should inspire ambitions. It should make the impossible obtainable, pull off the veil, and reveal the recipe for the desired outcome. It should leave with them. It should change them. It should anoint them and empower them. Hence, every tool available should be used appropriately; manipulation at the highest level, psychological magic.
Weaponize the ones, the self-made underdogs that wear the disguise of the entitled. Understanding that life-changing, empowering knowledge is contagious to other aspects of life. When someone takes a new tool, implements it, and gets positive results, they gain confidence and believe. We have all witnessed a manager have success, then become a better father, a better husband, a better citizen, no longer feeling left behind or irrelevant. It’s not just training. It’s ROL and ROC: Return On Learning and Return On Community.”
That last part I think matters the most. When someone takes these tools and they implement it and they get positive results, they gain confidence and then they start to believe in themselves. And then, when you start to believe in yourself, you start to attract more positive things. You start to win more and then winning becomes more of a habit.
Again, we’ve all witnessed somebody who comes in and they become a better father, mother, husband, a better citizen because they have confidence. And then, they’re spreading that positivity around with everybody else around them, right? All ships rise. And so, that’s our motto that we live by; our manifesto. And it’s not about consulting. It’s not about us. It’s not about you needing us. It’s about us providing you with tools that make you better.
And so, going into 2021, let’s do some great things. Let’s change the industry. Let’s hit some big numbers and some big goals, and we’d be so lucky if you’d allow us to be your coach and to help you through that journey.
And for everybody that’s already in our coaching group, we’re hitting some amazing numbers and having a lot of fun, but I will tell you hands down, coming up to the end of the year and the holidays and everything, I think the thing that we’re all the most grateful for is seeing people become better citizens.
That’s something that we need right now because there’s been a lot of negativity over the last couple months, and focusing on becoming better citizens will change the world.
Now, let’s move onto our question for today. Remember, if you want a question answered on the show, you want our professional advice, our insight, our years and years of wisdom and knowledge at your disposal, all you have to do is call (833) 3-ASK-SDR and leave a message. That’s (833)-327-5737. If we play your question on the show, we will send you some swag, but more importantly, the advice is priceless!
“Hi, I’m a shop foreman in a small input dealership in Rio, New York. Customer service scores are constantly in the 80-85% range, and the service manager doesn’t seem to care about anything. He’s content where we are and never makes any attempts trying to improve customer service scores and profits. It’s bad leadership. It’s making good employees want to leave. I want a service department to thrive. How can I improve our department with the manager who doesn’t care? Thanks.”
Personally, I think the CSE is going to work itself out. If it’s consistently bad, what typically happens after a long time is that it comes back to haunt the manager after a while.
The thing is, you’ve ever got to be really good at profitability or really good at taking care of the customer. If you’re going to complain about leadership, your other option is to either become part of the solution or shut up. You’re already shop foreman. Maybe you need to hop in the chair or at least volunteer in letting somebody know that you’re interested in making it better.
Christian’s way of doing that would be to learn as much as you can about the job. Find somebody to teach you about financials, teach you about the ins and outs of the department, maybe start to game plan with the team on how to make CSE better. Those kinds of things. When the time comes, you’d go to ownership and be like, “I’ve got an opportunity to try and take this department to the next level.”
I would go to ownership right out of the gate and say, “Hey, my aspirations are to become the manager. I’m doing my goals for the next couple of years, and I have a five-year plan. What do I need to do to become a manager?” And then I shut up.
If you ask somebody to mentor you and teach you what they know, it’s rare that somebody wont’ want to help you, especially if you do it with humility and real intention to learn and be good at it. People are going to root for you.
Well, that was good stuff. We hope everybody makes some big goals for 2021. Let’s be a part of that and help you achieve those by being your coach. Have a happy holiday and we’ll see you again next week on Service Drive Revolution!
I don’t normally repeat Christian’s jokes on the blog – I think it’s way better to hear them yourself by watching or listening to the show – but this one was way too good for our readers to pass up, mainly because it has to do with today’s topic:
So he heard a story once that there was a lawyer sitting in an office, and death came down and took him. And the lawyer was like, “Wait a minute. Why are you taking me already? I’m only 40 years old!”
Then, Death says, “Not judged on the billable hours.”
The joke is that lawyers bill more than they’re actually doing, and it’s fitting that today’s topic is time management.
The funny thing about time management is that we can talk about it for a long time, but we won’t… for obvious reasons.
There’s a whole chapter in Irreplaceable Service Manager on time management, and while I typically don’t go back and read my books after I write them, the chapter on time management was just too good.
I remember when I wrote it, that chapter was very close to my heart because, a lot of the times when you’re teaching something, you’re also organizing yourself to be better at it. I definitely figured out some things that were working for me and I couldn’t wait to share them.
I kind of double down at the beginning of the chapter with a quote at the beginning:
“Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment. In either of these ends, there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose as well as perspiration. Seeming to do it, not doing. – Thomas Edison.”
So in the book, number one is to focus on the right things.
That’s what I wrote back then. Now, I would say it’s to have value for your time. The thing that I’ve found about time management is how you feel about yourself is how you value your time, and then that drives what you do. If you have no perception or value of your time, you’ll give it away to any dumb clown that wants to take it!
People will steal your time and you give it away freely because you don’t have any value. Your self-esteem for yourself is so low, you’d rather just feel busy because being busy feels like you did something, but you go home every day and you have no clue whether you won or lost.
That’s basically summarizing 80% of people out there!
Having a certain value to your time is going to drive how you interact with everybody else and your expectations of them. An example of that is in Chet Holmes’ book, The Ultimate Selling Machine. He talks about how he worked for a billionaire and was basically running companies for him. He ran the MGM Grand in Vegas and turned around like six or seven different companies for this guy, and if he needed to meet with them to talk about something, there were a couple of rules:
Whatever he wanted to talk about had to fit on one piece of paper and he had 20 minutes. That was it because this guy’s a billionaire and his time is important. He’s not going to sit there and hang out with you for three hours and BS. You get in, you get out. There’s a value to his time. So Chet thought, “Wow, I don’t do that,” so he started changing how he interacted with his people and he became way more effective.
People would do ‘got-a-minutes’ to him all the time, like when people would wander into your office and be like, “Hey, you got a minute?” They’d just open the door, and it makes you stop whatever you’re doing.
Focus on the Right Thing
There’s this analogy of getting the big things done and having priorities where you have a bucket that’s half sand and you have a pile of rocks but they both need to get in the bucket. If you pour the sand in the bucket and then try to put the rocks in, they won’t fit because the bucket’s half full of sand. But if you have an empty bucket and you put the rocks in, and then you pour the sand over the rocks, everything fits.
And so, if you’re clear about what your big items are that you need to accomplish every day and you write them down or review some sort of list every day, then you’ll get those big items done because they’re a priority. So the priority and your intentions will drive your behavior. What we see a lot of times with procrastinators is they might get to a point where they do a to-do list, but they get really good at doing the little stuff and leaving the big stuff for last.
Like, you could be busy just checking email like a typical parts manager, right? You could get busy calling back customers for advisors that don’t actually do their job, but the secret is to hold people accountable more than anything else.
Christian’s favorite is when you hear the phone ring on a service drive and all the advisors are putting key rings on their tags instead of answering it. It makes me want to throw stuff! Isn’t it legal in some states to shoot an advisor for that? I don’t know, HR laws are tricky from state to state…
Take Control of Your Calendar
One of the ways I eliminate ‘got-a-minutes’ is I have somebody else manage my calendar which works really well because it forces me to stick to it. Jordan Peterson kind of talks about this and I like the way he explains it: why don’t you plan out your calendar so that it’s set up for you? I think a lot of times, most people go into their day and they’re the victim of the day. Instead, why don’t you plan it like, “Hey, this is what I want to do. I’m better at writing early in the morning so I’m going to do that in the morning.” Then, when do you want to call people back? Just plan out your day and then add in something fun or leave early once in a while or take a two hour lunch and take somebody with you.
Why don’t you take control of your calendar and make it work for you and make it fun instead of just going through the day, plotting along. I’d look at your calendar as 60 minute intervals, and if you’ve got eight or nine of those in a day, then plan it out. And don’t make every day the same. What I do on a Monday isn’t what I do on a Wednesday or what I do on a Friday. My Fridays, I keep pretty open, but on Monday, I’m doing strategy sessions. I’m on any sort of business calls. But a lot of days, Monday and Tuesday, I’m on some sort of call or talking to somebody every hour. Then, the rest of the week, we’re doing the show, but I’m setting it up so I’m not doing things throughout the whole week that are more like work.
I do a lot of work early in the week so that I can enjoy and have the more creative stuff later in the week, so that’s for me. But for you, you should set it up how you’re going to be most effective instead of just letting the business dictate. It’s your calendar. Don't be a victim!
Another thing to be effective in your time management is to schedule in time to walk around. Literally put it in your calendar, “For this half-hour or this hour, I’m going to just go walk around and listen to advisors. I’m going to go into the shop and talk to technicians, and I’m going to walk the lot.”
You know how many times a manager never knows what cars are parked out in the lot? The open RO list is the only time they know that a car has been there for two months. Go look at the parking, go walk around, schedule that in your calendar. You’ll be way more effective because that time is dedicated to that. You’ll NEVER get to it otherwise.
It’s also just good to get out of the office and get a little bit of fresh air. It’s good for the soul. On top of that, I would schedule some one-on-one. Take key people to lunch. Use your time and your lunches to make a connection or have an intention with it. Not just lunch.
Value of Yourself and Your Goals
If you have a higher value of yourself, and you have real intention behind your action and real goals, then time management will fix itself, because you won’t want to waste your time doing things that aren’t getting you closer to your goal. A lot of times, people that struggle with time management either don’t have value for their time or they let people waste their time or they don’t have a clear goal. If you have a clear goal, you’re going to focus on the big rocks and not the sand. You can just train your mind to pay attention. Just think, every 10 minutes, is this thing that I’m doing getting me closer or further away from my goal? If it’s getting you further away, get mad and change it. Don’t let it happen. Stop it.
I love talking about time management. There’s an art to it, for sure, and it’s a requirement to be an effective leader.
But for the sake of time management, that’s all we have for today. Since Soprano asked us to talk about it on the show, the show itself was the question for today, so that was all a really efficient use of time.
Don’t worry though, cause we’re still taking audience questions through our voice mailbox. If we can help you with anything, just remember: the number’s 1-833-327-5737. Call and leave us a message on there. If we play it on the show, we’ll send you some swag, and give you some ideas. There’s not much we haven’t heard about. There’s not too many things out there that will stump us.
Hopefully, you were taking notes and learned something about time management. We’ll see you next time on Service Drive Revolution!
Welcome back to Service Drive Revolution, everybody! I hope we all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Today we’re talking about throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I think that’s something that’s very common in our industry, and Christian and I have compiled a list of those situations just for you… But first– some car news!
So I read the other day that they raised the price of the autopilot feature on Teslas. When Christian leased his Tesla, it went for almost $9,000, and then it went down to $4,200 for a while for a promotion. Now it's selling for $10,000!
And he was showing me that you can literally just buy stuff from inside of your car on a dashboard menu. You don’t even have to go to a service department. You don’t have to call anybody. Literally, with the press of a button, you can spend 10 grand!
They even have a karaoke app you can buy for a couple hundred bucks!
When I had my BMW 650 convertible, I couldn’t even get my iPhone to sync up with it. Then, if you plugged it in, then the Bluetooth wouldn’t work. And it never showed the actual song that was playing. It was a disaster.
I think it’s interesting that car manufacturers don’t give service departments the ability to sell upgraded software because I would have paid $200 for sure just to get that to work right. It’s interesting, in the Jeep truck I’ve been driving, the Uconnect software’s perfect. You can text on there, everything. Never had a syncing issue, no issues whatsoever, but it’s interesting in a BMW that maybe is a $100,000 car compared to that Jeep which I think was $55,000-56,000.
The technology is so much better in the Jeep than in a BMW, but don’t you think it’s interesting that Tesla is selling that direct-to-consumer from an app store and the other manufacturers aren’t catching onto the fact that maybe people would be willing to pay for an update?
And they update from a satellite! You just have to park the car outside and have an internet connection.
I think that service advisors can sell that all day long. I don’t know about BMW and other manufacturers, but I’ve got to imagine that consumers would love it. And it’s a way to not cut the service departments out, but actually pull them into the transaction.
At this point, though, Christian leases his Tesla, and he doesn’t feel like he uses it enough to warrant the cost of the autopilot. That and he’s a bit stuck in his ways and doesn’t trust it, which is ironic because even though he likes to drive, he’s not a good driver.
I also like to drive, and I feel like that’s a hard disconnect because as cars progress and they’re driving themselves, you’re going to feel different about the car. It’ll feel more like public transportation and you’re going to want wi-fi.
We talked with Jeremy before about what we’d do in a self-driving car, and imagine having a 45 minute commute and just doing work the entire time. What can you get done on the way to the office?
So Christian also rents out his car through Turo, which is like an Airbnb app for cars. It’s great because when I fly to other cities, instead of renting a car through Hertz for a hundred a day, I’ll rent a pretty cool car on Turo for less than that, and it includes insurance!
A while back, I bought this VIP package where I got to take an Elite group to the Tesla factory, and one of the first things that the guy said on the tour was that Elon’s vision for Tesla is that the car will go pick up the kids, bring them home, go pick up dad, and then go out doing rideshare for money while everybody’s eating dinner. That’s why he believes that the value of Teslas will go up over time, and it’s interesting that Christian can make money with his Tesla on Turo.
Now, back to throwing out today’s topic: throwing out the baby with the bath water. If you don’t understand what that means, it’s a term from… I don’t know however long ago… On Wikipedia, it says the 1500s, so before Jesus. The term was used to mean throwing out everything when you just wanted to get rid of one thing.
We’ll start with a couple easy ones, but the basic premise here is that a lot of the times, we tend to overreact to things that we should not overreact to, and we throw the whole thing out instead of just fixing one issue.
Places that don’t take checks
So a couple that I’ve seen a lot is places that don’t’ take checks anymore because somebody bounced a check… once. That’s always really funny to me because there’s so many ways to protect yourself, and you’re just making it harder to do business with you because of the maybe 1 out of 500 checks that might have bounced.
Same with American Express
Whenever I would go in to fix a service department, especially in a Mercedes, Rover, BMW, a higher end service department, the advisors would always say, “It’s a huge complaint that we don’t take Amex and our customers hate it.” And I always just raise the price.
Do customers come in and ask the labor? Most customers don’t even know. They’re buying a water pump. They’re buying a service. I can make more money by just raising the price and absorbing the Amex into it and letting the customer pay for it, right?
It’s an easy fix, but it always seems like you’re losing that brand recognition, too, because people that have their Amex Black Card want to be acknowledged for it, and they don’t get to show it off. All my friends that have Amex Black Cards can’t wait to pull it out.
The customers can come in, we do software upgrades on one car, we have an issue with the ECM, and then we’re like, “Nope, we’re not doing software upgrades anymore. We can’t do it. We can’t afford it.” That’s throwing out an entire revenue stream because of one bad issue.
We’ll accessorize something and then we’ll sell it without accounting for it, especially in a car dealership.
Or the customer wants to buy, but they don’t want the wheels and you don’t have a tech there on Sunday to take them off, and instead of just writing a wheel for it to be done on Monday, you’re just like, “No, we don’t want that.”
Meanwhile, in most markets, if you sit in the service drive and just look at the cars coming in, probably half of them have some sort of upgraded wheels or something to personalize. And dealerships choose not to participate in that because it messes with their identity or something like that. Especially with BMWs and Jeeps, people are doing really cool stuff to them and the dealers just aren’t taking part in it so they’d rather go to an independent and get a lift kit. It doesn’t make sense…
And probably because of one car that had a warranty issue from having aftermarket parts on it and they didn’t want to deal with the hassle, even though it’s easy to fix it by having them sign a release for the warranty.
Also, customers aren’t idiots. They know that if they modify their car, there could be concerns about warranty later down the road. Customers that do those sorts of things to their Jeeps and modify them are more loyal, and you’re in their club. So by not doing it and letting them take it to the local independent instead, you’re saying, “We don’t care about you.”
Speaking of warranties, what we’re talking about is when you have an extended warranty come in and there’s a problem with collecting payment or authorization or something like that, and then you just go ahead and make the decision, “We don’t take any aftermarket extended warranties.”
In cases like that, they’re just doing away with that revenue stream and making it harder to get money!
I’ve never ran into it in my experience but maybe Christian has where it’s an extended warranty that didn’t do a credit card anymore. Most of the time, when that rule is in place, I just say, “No car leaves until we’re paid.”
So yeah, the advisor’s got to be on the phone for an hour to get paid, but it’s still worth it. And you can delegate that to warranty or a cashier, too.
No car washes (because we’ve broken antennas)
What happens is the service director goes to NADA, they get sold a car wash by a bunch of buffoons, and then it breaks a couple antennas, and then they’re like, “We’re not washing cars anymore.”
Most of the time, it’s better to wash by hand anyway…
They drop off with the shuttle
So a service department will drop customers off, but they don’t pick them up. It’s like, “We half-care about this. We’re half into it, but beyond that, it’s your problem. Go around the office and beg somebody to drive you to pick up your car.”
Because one time, a shuttle driver got stuck in traffic at 4 or something and was late picking up the customer so they do away with it. They’ll just get you out of here, but they won’t bring you back…
I’ve seen people completely go away from the whole valet system because they’ll have one valet pickup that doesn’t go right where the customer doesn’t meet them or they don’t get there on time because of traffic. And they’ll be like, “We’re not doing valets anymore because we had this angry customer.”
I know there’s some stuff missing on our list so do us a favor and post some in the comments because Christian and I like to laugh at this sort of thing, whether it’s something you’re guilty of or you’ve worked a department where they threw the baby out with the bath water. Like the questions, if you post a good one, we’ll send you some swag!
Speaking of questions and swag, we have time for one question today because the voicemail was actually really long. Remember, if you have a question and we play it on the show, we’re going to send you swag so call us at (833) 3-ASK-SDR or (833) 327-5737. Just call, leave your question as a voicemail, and we’ll send you some swag if we answer it on the air. Also, you’re not limited to just questions about service drives. Life questions are welcome, relationship advice, whatever you need, call in. Christian and I are here to help you perform, make more money, have freedom, get a raise, and be the envy of everybody in your city.
So here’s today’s question that was left as a whopping 2 minute and 56 second voicemail:
“I’ve recently taken over the service department at a local auto service center where service is only about a quarter of the overall gross. I was brought into the same place about 10 years ago to do the same thing: consult and troubleshoot. I left about 7 years ago. I was called again recently, and again, the department is back to the same old business, right? The tech’s running the garage, and no systems in place, blah, blah, blah, same old stuff.
After about 3 months, place has been about 80% – over the last 6 years – it’s been in the red about 3 of those years and broke even about 3 years. After changing the culture, implementing systems and procedures, the department is up 80% again, like I said already, week-to-week and on pace for $1.2 million, which is just naturally what that shop will do without advertising and marketing.
Just getting back to the basics, outworking everyone until they follow your lead. Same old story. Which leads me to my question: for all that hard work, there is still one major hurdle. This shop, a tech, who was again, a C at best holding the department back with a steep salary and horrible productivity. I’ve managed to work around him, running the shop as efficient as I could with 6 other guys. It’s the same technician that, my second week there, says to me in the garage in front of all the other techs and the other that I should stay up front because he runs the back and I run the front. To which I replied, ‘No, my friend. I run both so you’ll be seeing a lot more of me out here.’
The owner has been blinded by his own loyalty, in my opinion, to a 5-year employee who’s been telling him what he wants to hear and chasing off other competent techs over the years. In the owner’s defense, he is not a service guy. He is running ¾ of the rest of the gross this overall company sees. And I would mention it, but it’d be too specific for this application here.
I’ve managed to keep our cost labor net in line, worked around this tech to avoid misdiagnosis of customer’s vehicles. He’s not even in the ballpark most times. The owner’s now asking questions about this tech’s salary vs. productivity, which my response a few times has been, ‘We’ve gone over this a few times.’ I’ve suggested that we dismiss him my third week here. Again, two months in. Again, three months in, after starting to realize that this owner maybe had a soft spot for his guy, eased up and learned again to work around this guy, and in this guy’s defense, he’s got a sweet thing going on there.
He knows I know what’s going on. If the owner wants to put up with it, fine, but at some point I start feeling guilty and other technicians are bothered by this as well. This guy’s got an ego and he’s rude, and again, they’ve got to fix all his mistakes, and he was supposed to be the guy there. So do I just fire this guy and save the owner from himself?”
So I would go at this a different way. Whenever we go into a service department, there’s always that guy usually. That’s not unique, and I’m sure you’ve experienced it also.
They’re just marking their territory. They know that they’re not as good as what they’re being paid, but their bills and everything else are matching what they’re being paid, right? That’s one thing that will happen is even though somebody maybe doesn’t deserve what they’re being paid, their bills and mortgage payment will catch up to what they’re making pretty quick.
And so I would make it about the production and the quality and I wouldn’t make it about the person in the beginning. I would, every week, do an Excel spreadsheet and I would have everybody’s efficiency and their costs and what the gross is on every tech.
I would do a performance hierarchy and I would give that to the owner and I would actually give each tech their individual one. So, you don’t want every tech to see what everybody else is making, but I would also have a board in the shop that listed out every day, the efficiency.
And then, the next thing I would do is I would not protect the guy from comebacks. I would give him diagnosis. I would treat him in the way I dispatched just like he was any tech and the best there. And then I would create a comeback sheet. And every time he had a comeback, I would give a copy to the owner and to him and put one in a file.
A comeback sheet would be like the RO number, what vehicle, the original concern, and then what was wrong with it, the fix, and how much it cost to fix it.
And even if that technician had to spend a couple hours, I would relate a cost that: fixing it. And I would start tracking comebacks and then let the facts work themselves out, but most of the time when we make it about our feelings and politics and jockeying for position, it just gets ugly or it doesn’t get better.
When you make it about the results and the outcome, sometimes they will fix themselves and other times they will go away. If it gets to the point where it’s ramping up, I would call the owner in and I would just have a blunt conversation. I would say, “Does this guy have naked pictures of you? Is there something I don’t know because the evidence is the evidence and I don’t understand,” but I wouldn’t do that for a couple months.
I would go with the strategy that he’ll probably either tune up or go away if you just make it about the outcome and not about anything personal or politics, that sort of thing. When you make personnel decisions based on playing the politics and getting someone going down, it will almost never end how you think it’s going to. Doing it by the facts and the results should be how we make human resource decisions in general.
I think, too, if you want to take a little different approach with the guy, you might want to pull him in closer and actually take him to lunch and be honest with him about what he’s doing in a very calm way. Just be like, “Hey, I’m here to turn this thing around, and you’re either on our team…”
Refer to yourself and the owner as us, because it’s about the performance of the business, not marking your territory. It’s an outcome of your efforts. Ask him about his ambitions and what’s going on. Is he struggling with something? Bring it up in a subtle way like, “You’ve had a couple comebacks recently. Don’t you think that somebody at your level should be double-checking their work?”
By pulling them in closer and having a little empathy and really trying to understand him, instead of just meeting his resistance with resistance, you might be able to fix him, too, because there is value to a technician if you can fix him. The best case scenario here isn’t that he leaves, it’s that he flips and becomes your teammate.
He’s telling you with his actions, if you listen, that he wants to belong, that he’s looking to feel important. His whole driver is somebody else stroking his ego. So stroke him. Who cares? I think one of the most important sayings in business is, “I’d rather win than be right.”
I’m not looking to win so I don’t need to be right. I’m not right a lot. I’ll listen. I still have great conversations with people about things even when I don’t agree with them because I learn a lot. It’s fascinating to understand why they see it the way they do, like how their parents did such a terrible job that they ended up that messed up or whatever it is.
Think the same thing with him. If he’s a tech, you can balance out the score and figure it out. The truth is your friend. Just go with the truth and create a hierarchy of performance, create accountability, and then encourage them on the other end. He’ll either come around or he won’t, but that’s leadership in a lot of ways, right?
Thanks a lot, guys, for reading, listening in, and watching us on YouTube. Have a great week and we’ll see you next time on Service Drive Revolution!
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! Today’s our special Thanksgiving episode of Service Drive Revolution, and we’re going to talk about the top five things we’re grateful for. I have my list of five things, and number five is going to surprise you!
But first, things seem to be opening up a little bit. We’re traveling again, and I don’t really know how to feel about it…
Christian and I are going to Ohio for a great client of ours, a leadership meeting thing, and then we’re going to Nashville for a little research. Then, Christian’s going to one of our clients in Florida for a couple days, then he’s going to hang out with his kid for a weekend, and then he’s headed down to an old client’s brand new store, so really he’s doing four things in six days!
The other thing that happened is that Christian got a tattoo, but not just any tattoo… It was his first one and he went big.
It’s on his left rear shoulder blade and it’s a wolf. A beautiful wolf.
He went all the way to Vegas to get it from DJ Tambe, and he waited a couple months for the appointment. World famous, true professional; and it took six hours in the chair.
It’s really detailed. You can even see every hair on it. It’s incredible.
In case you’re wondering why a wolf, it’s based on the story that Christian admits is cliché by now, but it’s the Native American story about the two wolves that live in each of us – a good wolf and a bad wolf – and the one that wins is the one you feed.
That’s what I love about tattoos nowadays. They’re pretty much modern art and there’s a vision behind it.
We’re also working on a pretty neat concept in our group which is these coins. Think of them like karate belts where you start from white and eventually get to red, brown, and black at the end. So we’re making coins instead of belts and we have a local artist that we use for a lot of stuff.
Think of it as kind of like a spiritual journey, because our coaches literally reinvent themselves. And then the elite group is getting rings that look like world series rings or super bowl rings. It’s a huge accomplishment.
So that’s all very exciting, but let’s get to our Thanksgiving list!
I think everybody listening to this should be thankful for their customers
I think we have the best team we’ve ever had. We got rid of all the narcissistic weirdos, and we’re having more fun than we’ve ever had.
We live in America and Canada
I’d move to Canada. I like Vancouver and Calgary a lot. Toronto’s a huge let down, honestly. It’s the New York of Canada, but it’s not that cool.
There’s so many great books. I have five going right now and I can’t even pick my favorite one.
I feel like we give parts too hard of a time, and I think with every shop we go to, the technicians blame and complain about parts. That needs to stop….
…It needs to stop because the parts manager needs to get out of his office and actually go do something! He’s sitting at their desk, checking email. Parts managers, you don’t need to check your email every day! Check it once a week!
All jokes aside, we’re very grateful for everything that we have. We wish everybody a Happy Thanksgiving, and now it’s time for our questions.
Remember: if we play your question on the big show, we send you a swag bag; trucker hat, coffee mug, T-shirt. The number for you to call in and ask your question is (833) 3-ASK-SDR, and also, it doesn’t just have to be related to the service drive. If you don't know how to spell that on the phone, it’s (833) 327-5737.
“Hey, it’s Melissa at Jeff Wyler in Springfield. My question is, with a multi-brand service drive, I’m finding it hard to maximize or increase my RO account without the Wild West schedule causing issues with customer satisfaction in surveys. I run three separate schedules, have one express lane that is set off of all three and advisors who write for all three brands. Would you suggest one schedule for all three brands or how can I best increase my RO count and maximize everything with keeping the status quo? Thanks so much. You guys are great.”
Christian’s got a good answer for this which is that the equalizer with managing three brands is that all of your advisors can write any one of those three brands. The brands become irrelevant and it’s more about controlling everything. The thing with the Wild West mentality is that you wanted to make sure that it’s free and easy for everybody to come in, but the more structure you have to it, the more your customers appreciate it and the better you can manage it.
The answer here would be to make the schedule for the advisors. Then, if you’re really growing your traffic or you have more traffic, add more advisors. But an advisor should only write 12-15 a day, and then scale it form there. So if your advisors are writing 16 a day, add another advisor and get them down to 11 or 12 and your numbers will go up because they’ll have more time to spend. Good question. Thanks Melissa.
“Hey, Chris. My question is I’m a new service manager of a store in a Metro Atlanta area. Took over about a year ago, right before the pandemic happened. Luckily, I’d made some changes and got things going in the right direction, but now since the pandemic has gone on, my owner seems to be more concerned about RO count than he is about us doing better net profit-wise than we have the previous three years. I just find it hard to wrap my head around doing better form a net profit standpoint without letting anybody go during all this and us being more worried about RO count. Am I missing something there or am I right in my thinking? My name is Holden Scott and my phone number is ***-***-****. Thanks.”
Okay, so a couple of things:
One is you need to understand how to manage your boss. That’s what’s going on here. Most of the time, dealers and general managers come from the front end. They come form sales. They don’t understand fixed ops and the only way they know how to process success is how many units are going over the curb so they revert to RO count. So I would have two different dialogues:
I would agree with him and try to grow your RO count while you’re getting net profit, but you can do both. I would just agree with them and say, “Yeah, we’re trying to get our RO count.”
Listen to what he has to say. Don’t tell him, “Hey, I know how we can get our RO count up.”
Let’s do this like a Christian joke.
“Hey, want to know how to get your RO count up?”
(How do you do that?!)
By selling more cars!
Because if you’re selling cars, the service department’s going to be busy! So yeah, I would just agree with them and listen to what he has to say. But do so with the understanding that most of the time your General Manager or Dealer comes from Sales, so they only know how to measure success by the number of units, so they think RO count.
My best advice would be to learn the financial statement and focus on your net to gross. But the honest answer is that it isn’t a choice between maximizing your profitability or your RO count– you can do both!
Manage up. I’ve always had to do that in my career. Christian even does it to me!
But please, do us a huge favor and have a great Thanksgiving. Eat all the turkey, take a nap, and we’ll see you when you wake up next week on Service Drive Revolution!