Want Better Results? Drew Tarvin Says Have More Fun

Want Better Results? Drew Tarvin Says Have More Fun

Leaders in every industry are always looking for ways to be better. They want to increase productivity, boost sales, grow, scale, keep leveling up. One place where even the best leaders fall short is in developing a solid company culture that actually supports all of that growth and productivity. I recently sat down with best-selling author and Humor That Works CEO Drew Tarvin on Service Drive Revolution to talk about just that. 

Drew spends his time teaching people how to get better results while having more fun. He’s the world’s first and foremost “humor engineer”, teaching people how to get better results while having more fun. He has worked with 35,000 people at 250 organizations, including Microsoft, the FBI, and the International Association of Canine Professionals. Combining his background as a project manager at Procter & Gamble with his experience as an international comedian, Drew reverse engineers the skill of humor in a way that is practical, actionable and gets results in the workplace.

Given his career and how successful he’s been, you might be surprised to learn that Drew identifies as an introvert, meaning that he feels recharged when he’s able to spend time away from people and likes to process internally rather than aloud. To him, being an introvert doesn’t say anything about whether or not he’s able to socialize. Drew looks at socializing, networking, humor, and the ability to engage in good conversation as skills that anyone can build rather than inherent capabilities. Because personality assessments are just that…assessments. They don’t dictate or limit our behavior or the skills we’re able to build. Personality assessments aren’t what define us. Our actions are what define us. And when you look at it that way, it’s really 100% up to you which skills you want to build and capitalize on, regardless of your “personality type”. 

Social skills, like almost anything else, can be practiced and improved. Generally, introverts end up having fewer conversations when they reach adulthood because their nature is to seek solitude to recharge. This means that they often have less practice–or less “reps”, as Drew puts it–in engaging in dialogue. Drew realized this and decided that in order to build his skills in that area, he’d go into improv. Maybe it didn’t “come naturally” to him, but that didn’t matter. He’s a smart guy who was able to develop a strategy for delivering content that he knew would land with his audience. 

He did the same thing to develop his networking skills. Networking wasn’t his strong suit, per se, so he developed a three-step process that would allow him to engage with others comfortably. It took some practice to get there, but now that he has the process down, he’s solid enough to train others on how to do it successfully too. If it had always come “naturally” to him, he wouldn’t have this process and structure in place and likely wouldn’t be nearly as successful as he is. He put in the work and he’s clear on the process, which are two of the most critical elements in getting results. 

These same principles apply to the auto industry. Service advisors and salespeople who claim to be naturally good at selling and talking to customers end up being inconsistent in their delivery and outcomes, and inconsistency just isn’t scalable. Without a process in place and a toolbox for making the process happen, it’s almost impossible to evaluate what works and what doesn’t and adjust your strategy accordingly. And when you someone doesn’t have to create that process, they won’t. They’ll rely on their “innate ability” to sell or speak, which can only take you so far most of the time. 

The fact of the matter is, even when someone makes their work look easy, the people who are at the top of their game have put in the work–the “unseen hours”–on the back end to get to that level of “ease”. From LeBron James to Jerry Seinfeld to Dave Chappelle, just to name a few, these people are putting in tons of work to make small tweaks to their game over time so it’s as good as it can be. It’s methodical, not “natural”. The service advisors and salespeople who are killing it are often the ones who had to put some effort into their game. 

So to boil it down, our main points are:

If you’re an introvert, embrace it and recognize the strengths that come with it. Focus on your powers of observation, skillful planning, and ability to help others understand how to do things, rather than pretending you’re an extrovert or trying to change yourself. 

Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, you have to do the work to get results. Introverts may be more naturally inclined to observe, plan, execute, evaluate and tweak, but extroverts need to do it too. 

Another principle that guides Drew’s work is that humor and fun in the workplace are absolutely critical to a company’s success and it’s really centered around one key question:

Would people rather do something that is fun or not fun?

It seems simple, maybe even too simple, but the impact of this question is important. That small question drives a lot of behavior because more often than not the response is that people would rather do something that’s fun, right? So in order to sell more products or services and engage more customers, we need to make the process more fun for them. 

Let’s take a client I worked with recently for example. It was a gym and like many gyms, they were doing the Groupon thing, inviting people to come in for personal training at a discount with the goal of getting them to sign on for a monthly membership once they try it out. If people just take the Groupon training session and never come back, they’re operating at a loss. So, what can a gym do to get people to come back? The answer comes from the same place as it does in the auto industry–curiosity. What can you do to make sure that your customer really wants to come back? More often than not, as Drew says, it’s fun that brings people back. You have to look beyond the tired and annoying tactics that have “worked” in the past and find ways to engage people that they will truly enjoy. This is another place where introverts thrive because most introverts are curious. 

I asked Drew what happens in a company when they’re not having fun and how he can tell when a company has changed after he’s taught them how to change the game so they are having fun. What are the characteristics that demonstrate that the company has changed? Productivity increases, turnover decreases and retention increases, and profits increase. Isn’t this pretty much exactly what every company is trying to accomplish?

From a behavioral perspective, Drew says that he sees workplaces that have made an effort to infuse fun into their culture start to show up on time more because they’re looking forward to go to work. At work, they’re laughing more and they’re less stressed, and that impacts literally everything. Again, it seems simple, but the truth is, as Drew puts it:

“We live in a society in which more people believe in ghosts than actually like what they do for a living.”

So it might be a simple concept, but not many companies are actually looking at their culture and making an effort to develop a workplace that values fun and humor. 

If you’re skeptical, there are numbers behind the theory that fun in the workplace leads to the positive outcomes outlined above, which Drew outlines in his book. According to the American Psychological Association, for example, the average cost of a stressed out employee is $7,500, in terms of healthcare costs, lost productivity, absenteeism, and presenteeism (when someone is physically at work but not fully present). This might not seem like a big deal until you learn that approximately 83% of Americans are stressed at work. That’s a whole lot of cash being lost because people aren’t happy in their jobs.

When your employees are disengaged, it doesn’t matter how well you train them or how efficiently you calibrate their workload. As Drew puts it, “The problem with time management is that, it doesn’t matter how much time you have, if you don’t have the energy to do anything with that time.” The impact on the world outside of your business is huge, too. Disengaged employees can easily become disengaged humans. If someone is spending their time slogging through work all day, do you think they’re going to head out of the office and have a positive impact elsewhere? No, probably not.

So, then, what does it take to be happy? Here’s what Drew has to say:

  • Happiness doesn’t always result from or follow “success”, so stop waiting to suddenly become happy once you reach whatever your definition of success is. Humans have what Drew refers to as “hedonic adaptation” or the “hedonic treadmill” that causes us to perpetually seek happiness. When we accomplish something, we feel an increase in happiness momentarily and then return to our baseline. This short-term impact serves us well when it comes to negative feelings, but it also means the happy feelings are quick to pass. Happiness doesn’t come from accomplishing or buying or achieving. It’s a choice.
  • We need to stop comparing ourselves. There’s not one set bar for happiness and when we compare ourselves to other people in other industries or who are doing things differently, we lose sight of our own happiness.
  • Gratitude is everything. Try to be grateful and mad at the same time. Drew challenged me to do it, and it’s honestly impossible.

All of this said, I need to make one thing absolutely clear: Stress is not a bad thing in and of itself. In fact, on the show Drew tells a really poignant story about his time at Procter & Gamble and how he came to learn that stress expands your capacity up to a point. The problem is chronic stress–stress that isn’t ever relieved and only continues to build. 

That’s where humor comes in.

Humor acts as a critical form of stress relief and basically allows people to counteract the negative effects of stress. Laughter literally lowers blood pressure and decreases muscle tension. It’s powerful. It works in the auto industry and I’d venture to guess most others. No matter your location, budget, or the services you provide, if you find ways to make your work more fun and allow for humor, you’ll see positive results. 

Listen to Drew’s episode of Service Drive Revolution here. He has tons more information and guidance up his sleeve. Then, you can learn more about Humor that Works and Drew Tarvin on his website.

Volume vs Quality: How Service Advisors Can Find the Balance

Volume vs Quality: How Service Advisors Can Find the Balance

As service advisors, it’s really important to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s going on out there on the service drives. One of the best ways to do that is to be part of a network of people who keep each other in the loop about different elements of the business–what the problems are, new products on the market, sales trends…the whole nine yards. 

One of the people in my network is Coach Super Mario, Service Advisor Coach extraordinaire. I had him on the Service Drive Revolution podcast to talk about what he’s seeing in service drives, which is that people are making mistakes when it comes to balancing volume versus quality. 

Mario used to be an advisor at Longo Toyota here in Los Angeles. Longo is part of the Penske Automotive Group, better known as PAG, a business that’s known for its damn good employee retention and customer service, among other things. They’re known for it and as a former employee, Mario agrees with the public’s perception. When he was at Longo, they took care of the team by bringing in lunch, special dinners…that kind of thing. They knew that if their employees were happy, they would do their best work. Mario told us that PAG president Greg Penske’s big thing is remembering names–to the point that if he saw you and couldn’t remember yours, he’d literally give them $20 on the spot or take them to the in-house Starbucks to make up for it…and he’d never forget that person’s name again. And that kind of attention to detail when it comes to people trickled down into the whole company. 

And guess what? Longo Toyota literally sells more cars than anywhere else in the world. When Mario was there over a decade ago, Longo always broke records in May, and their goal for the month was to sell 2,500 new cars plus easily 700-800 used. I like to call it the Disneyland of car dealerships because their operation is so epic. They might even have a jail in there…you’ll have to give the episode a listen to find out whether or not that’s true. 

Anyway, let’s get back to the topic at hand. When it comes to drives, service advisors are making mistakes left and right when it comes to balancing volume versus quality. What do we mean by that and how do we know? According to Mario, the first thing he looks at any time he goes into a dealership is how the drive’s operating. He looks at how service advisors are going about their business–how they’re connecting with customers, how receptive customers seem to be to the information they’re being told, and what the outcomes are. And more often than not, he’s seeing a bottleneck effect. Here’s what it looks like: The doors open up, each service advisor is 5 or 10 cars deep right out the gate, and they’re all running around trying to get people in and out the door as quickly as possible. 

The way that these service advisors are looking at it is that if they don’t handle the transaction quickly and keep customers waiting, they’ll lose them. In reality, handling customers this way feeds into their preconceived notions about dealerships: That all service advisors and their employers care about is getting their money as quickly as possible and getting them out the door so they can take another car in. So even though service advisors think that they’re making customers happy by moving so quickly, what they’re really doing is just feeding into the negative perceptions so many customers have about the auto service industry and dealerships in particular. 

If you look at Longo Toyota as an example, you see that there’s another way of doing things that’s much more effective in the long run. At Longo and other successful dealerships, service advisors are trained to really pet the dog as I like to call it, meaning that they’re trained to actually talk to customers as they come in. They build rapport by asking questions about how the customer is using their car, what the issue has looked like for them, and just generally checking in on how they’re doing. Longo’s numbers we mentioned before speak for themselves. They’re selling more cars than anyone else in the world and that’s definitely at least in part because of their customer service training. 

The reason why this works so well in terms of customer retention is because of the psychological impact of showing the customer that you give a damn about their experience. The car is a commodity, sure, but the customer isn’t and they’re looking for respect from the people they interact with. Plus, the strategy of moving things along as quickly as possible doesn’t really work anyway. It doesn’t actually eliminate the bottleneck effect, it just pushes the bottleneck from the front to the back. A thriving business will always have customers waiting, so the way that you handle each customer and show them that you value their business, the better.

However you and your team decide to go about changing your sales strategy, the most important part is consistency. You have to have a plan, make sure everyone is on board, and then stick to the strategy. To show you what I mean, let me give you an example of why consistency matters so much. When I was at Crevier BMW back in the day, I wanted to implement a system where the sales manager went out and greeted the customer and completely took car prices off the table. I’d let the customer know that I’m the money guy, which is the easy part, and that this sales manager’s job is to make the customer fall in love with their dream car. Once a customer agreed, it made the sales manager’s job a lot easier because their only goal was to really show off the cars based on what the customer was looking for rather than having to convince them that it was worth a certain price. Sounds like a good plan, right?

In reality, the system worked like a charm on the rare slow days, but on a busy day it was a different story. The first Saturday we tried to implement it, the system totally fell apart. I had about 3 desk managers, 40 salespeople, and 25 customers lined up. The managers were saying that there’s no way they can just go out there, introduce themselves in the desk deals and say goodbye. There were bottlenecks everywhere. I realized that we had to create a system that would be consistent every single day, not just on the odd slow days. 

The question is…is the problem really about volume versus qualiity? In my opinion, there will always be service advisors, salespeople, desk managers, any employee really, who will take shortcuts to move things along faster or do less work. So I asked Mario to think about busy times when there’s a line of customers out the door and tell me what two things he would never skip in order to move the process along faster. His initial answer was preparation, meaning taking time to review his appointments before heading in for his shift so he knew who his customers would be, how they drive their cars, and what kind of preventative maintenance they’d done in the past. When I threw a wrench in that by asking him what he’d do if most of his customers that busy day were drive-through oil changes, his answer changed: he’d pet the dog and slow things down so he could make sure each customer was taken care of and each job was handled well. 

That’s my answer too because it applies to every situation. No matter how busy you are, never skip petting the dog. In many cases, it doesn’t matter if you’re taking shortcuts to get the work done, as long as you are engaging with the customer as you do it. If it’s a Monday or Tuesday, you can ask about the previous weekend. If it’s Thursday or Friday, just switch it up and ask about upcoming plans. 

When you pet the dog, it’s not just that one interaction that goes more smoothly, it’s that you’re setting yourself up for future business with that customer. Nine times out of ten, when a customer opts not to get a new part or a repair done at your dealership even though they bought the care there, it’s because they don’t trust you. By actually engaging with customers and showing that you value their time and business, you build trust that creates long-term relationships. People are looking for service advisors they can really trust to tell them what they need and help them out so they feel safe and keep coming back. As Mario says to his service advisors:

“It’s not the customer’s responsibility to remember you, but it is your responsibility to make sure they never forget you.” 

If you’re ready to step up your game, we dropped even more wisdom on the podcast–listen to this episode here and then tell us what you think in the comments below. 

Service Drive Secrets: Behind the Curtain with Elite Service Advisors

Service Drive Secrets: Behind the Curtain with Elite Service Advisors

In any industry, if you want to be the best, you have to spend time with the best, read the best, watch the best, live and breathe the best. It might sound extreme, but it’s just true. In my Signature Coaching Group, you can achieve elite status by having the highest net-to-gross, the best CSI, being a leader…basically consistently performing at a high level. When you have elite status, it’s a different kind of experience. It’s about hanging out with talented managers and having the opportunity to participate in life-changing experiences. 

When I brought two elite members of the group, Joe and Damon, to talk shop with me on Service Drive Revolution, they were told to come in wearing steel-toed boots. If you want to know more about that, you have to give the episode a listen here

To give you some context, Damon’s story of how he got to the top is pretty interesting and he definitely didn’t follow your average career path. He started in the auto industry after a long stint in finance. It was good until it wasn’t, which was when the financial institution he was working for closed its doors. He found a finance manager position at a dealership and did that for about a year, but he burnt out pretty quick and decided to re-evaluate. He was going through a lot of personal stuff and needed a change, so he decided to into service writing. Better hours, predictable schedule, more financial stability because it isn’t a commission-based position. After about another year, he decided he didn’t want to work for other people anymore and he bought the shop. It was a small franchise shop, but a big step nonetheless. He thought buying the shop would give him the freedom he was looking for, but it didn’t so he sold it. He was unemployed for all of four hours before he took a position as a service manager at bigger car dealership, where he killed it and continued to get recruited to bigger and better positions.

Joe’s story is very different. Being a tech is in his blood. His dad was a mechanic and he started fixing cars in high school. It’s something he always knew he wanted to do. When he was about 25, he got tired of the grunt work and started as a service writer. The owner of the shop, an old Italian guy, took Joe under his wing and taught him the dealership business and how to make it go. At the time, he knew that he was going to continue his career in the auto industry, but he had no idea how far it would take him and how high he could go within it. He stuck with it at that dealership for awhile, eventually becoming a service manager, but decided to move on at age 40 when the team dynamics went south. It was a family-run business, and family dynamics can get tricky if you aren’t careful. He moved on to a dealership in Florida where he’s been absolutely crushing it since.

In this episode, we went behind the curtain, so to speak, to give you some insight into our experience–all over cigars and tequila, of course. 

To start, I asked the guys what advice they’d give to their younger selves–what they were confused about, what issues they could have avoided if they knew what they know now. The first was this:

“I would never listen to the line ‘We’ve always done it that way.’”

That kind of mentality is rampant in the auto industry and it’s a huge issue. It breeds complacency and stops people from trying new things or sharing ideas because they know this will likely be the answer they get from the people above them. In this industry, as many of us know all too well, you often see people getting trained by the person above them, who was trained by the person above them, who was actually untrained and may not be doing the work well or efficiently. No matter how often you get that line, you can’t stop trying to level up the system and your work. Joe’s career really took off when he started at the Florida dealership and his boss told him the exact opposite–that he knew what they were doing wasn’t working and he wanted Joe to find ways to improve their work. It was a huge catalyst for his success and it also leads directly into the next piece of advice…

“Don’t be afraid to fail.”

This isn’t anything new, but it’s worth repeating, over and over again. Fear of making mistakes, especially early on in your career, can and will hold you back if you aren’t careful. Why? When you’re at the beginning of your career, you feel like you have something to prove to someone else. You want to succeed because you want to prove your worth. So you follow “the book” and try to get the numbers. It makes sense, but that means that you aren’t trying anything innovative. Anything that might be really effective…or not. Over time, you’ll see that the “failures” are worth it. More often than not, they’re outweighed by successes that you wouldn’t have achieved if you hadn’t tried something new. Every time you “fail”, you learn something–what not to do next time in that particular scenario or what you could do differently to make it work. Which leads us to…

“Don’t take things personally–bounce back and keep moving.”

When you decide to take risks in order to succeed, you’re bound to get feedback that isn’t always positive. If you can take the emotion out of it and just learn from the experience, you’re gonna get a lot further than if you focus on your pride and ego and get stuck feeling angry or ashamed. Damon put it perfectly: “We let our ego get in the way of seeing clearly through a failure and [we can’t] decipher the information that we can get out of it to get better.” If you decide to try something new and it doesn’t go well, you can wallow in the mistake or you can learn from it. It’s as simple as that. 

This is just the beginning of the advice that Joe, Damon and I share in this episode. We also talked about a famous bet that Joe and I had when we first met in New Orleans that proved a lot of these points. We can’t get into all of that here but definitely listen to the podcast if you want to hear about it. 

We also talked books–what we’re reading right now, why we’re reading it, and what we’ve learned. Here are the key takeaways, though I highly recommend listening to the episode for the full rundown:

  • The Presidents’ Club by Nancy Gibbs: This is Damon’s pick, which I actually recommended to him. It’s about how presidents pass down wisdom down the line and help each other learn and make decisions. They even have a literal clubhouse across the street from the White House so they have a place to go together. It’s pretty remarkable that the highest office in the country operates like this and there’s a lot every leader can learn from their experience. We also talk about where Trump fits into the dynamic…
  • Unfu*k Yourself by Gary Bishop: Joe’s pick is about the ways in which we all screw ourselves over in our own minds and how to stop doing that. For example, many of us are always trying to predict the future, worrying about what may or could happen, but what’s the point? What we need to do is figure out what we want to do and make it happen–don’t leave it up to chance. If something out of control gets in the way, you’ll deal with it. That’s just one of the many takeaways from Bishop’s book.
  • The Alter Ego Effect by Todd Herman: As you may know, many successful people create something of an alter ego that embodies the success that they want to achieve. I have one (I’ll tell you about him in the episode) and you should have one too. Herman talks about how to develop an alter ego that is effective in getting where you want to be.
  • Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds by David Goggins: Goggins is former military and this book is about his leadership within that context. It reminds me of Jocko Willink’s epic book on leadership Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win. Don’t miss it.
  • Serving the Servant: Remembering Kurt Cobain by Danny Goldberg: This one is by Nirvana’s manager. It’s not as clearly business-related as the others on this list, but I couldn’t put it down. It gives you a behind the scenes look at Cobain’s life and if you’re really entrepreneurially and success-minded, I bet you’ll find that a lot of the lessons and themes can relate to your life and business. Plus, it’s just incredibly interesting.

There are tons of good books out there that all business leaders should read. If you have a suggestion, send it my way here. We might just talk about it on the podcast if it makes the cut.

This episode was so good that we broke it up into two. If you’re ready for more, head on over to Part 2 and give it a listen. 

A Little Southern Hospitality Goes a Long Way – Customer Loyalty & Tech Happiness with “The Humble Mechanic”

A Little Southern Hospitality Goes a Long Way – Customer Loyalty & Tech Happiness with “The Humble Mechanic”

When you think about the ecosystem of a dealership, do you place techs and salespeople in totally different areas? There’s no overlap between those skillsets, right? Wrong. Very, very wrong. In fact, when your techs have knowledge and understanding of customer service, it can make a HUGE difference in terms of client satisfaction and retention. And this is just one of a few adjustments your shop can make that will bring in more customers and keep them coming back over time. 

To talk about what these changes are and how to implement them, I had Charles Sanville, better known as “The Humble Mechanic”, on Service Drive Revolution. He’s seen the impact of things like techs who know customer service firsthand. A million and a half years ago, as he puts it, Charles started as a technician for Volkswagen Audi shop in North Carolina…and that’s where he stayed for the majority of his automotive repair career. He references taking apart VCRs in telling the story of how he made his way to tech school–that’s how many years ago he’s talking about–but you’ll have to listen to the episode for that part

Charles came to VW with no professional experience fixing cars. Before starting as a tech there, he’d been a salesperson at a different dealership and worked in retail while he went to tech school. But unlike many other techs, he’d never worked in a shop as a tech in any capacity before. And the thing is, that’s what he sees as being his biggest advantage. Why? He came in with an understanding of how to treat and take care of his clients–a skill that those other techs often lacked. So many techs would rather avoid contact with clients, focusing on doing “their job” well. Charles, on the other hand, wanted to build relationships with his clients and created what he refers to as a “tiny service station” inside the dealership. He didn’t necessarily do it with the goal of retaining more customers than his colleagues, but that’s what happened. His customers didn’t just choose to keep coming back to the dealership for repairs, they chose to come back specifically to see him. The way he put it is pure gold: 

Never wanted a customer to think, “Oh my God, what do I do? Or how much is this going to cost me or what the heck? Who is going to look at this and figure this out? Am I going to get ripped off?” It was always, “I wonder when Charles can look at my car.”

This mentality took away the stigma so many people associate with taking their cars in to get repaired. Rather than thinking about getting “ripped off” or what a pain the experience would be, Charles’s clients were eager to bring their cars to him for a dependable, trustworthy repair and a friendly experience. 

With this mindset, Charles was able to take ownership, and ultimately control, of his business as a tech. He wouldn’t waste time blaming the system or other people if business slowed down–which it rarely did. 

So, where do service advisors fall in all of this? They’re usually the ones talking to clients and making those transactions happen–not the techs themselves. The problem is, more often than not, techs and service advisors operate so independently that it’s detrimental to them both. For example, in order to give a good presentation to a client on what kind of work their car needs, service advisors need to have a solid understanding of what the problems are. But more often than not, they just get the inspection sheet and use that basic information to fill the client in. Sometimes, this is because they just aren’t curious about what the details are. Other times, it’s because they think the tech will feel as though they’re questioning their work. Whatever the reason, it leaves the service advisor without information that could be helpful in presenting to the client. On the flipside, techs often treat the whole process like all they’re selling is a commodity and don’t feel the need to communicate with service advisors. 

This poor communication is a huge problem in the auto service industry. In addition, different positions within the dealership often get so caught up in sticking to their roles that they lose sight of the common goal: to fix the car and keep the customer coming back. In combination, these two problems can have a really negative impact on customer retention. 

On the other hand, when techs and service advisors communicate and work together toward a common goal, the whole game changes. Instead of just handing over the inspection sheet and moving on, the tech goes to the service advisor and briefly explains the issue and the service advisor has the chance to ask a few questions to make sure they know what they’re talking about. Then, the service advisor can finesse the explanation and take it to the client. The client will inevitably trust what the service advisor is telling them more if the advisor says that they went back to the shop and talked to the tech about the tie rod that needs to be fixed and why that is rather than just saying it needs to be fixed. If the client has questions, the service advisor can actually answer them rather than bumbling around and BSing them. Plus, the service advisor will likely deliver the information in a way that appeals to the client (and without the expletives tossed around in the garage).  

Charles saw the typical issues play out at his VW dealership. He also noticed some major shortcomings in his dealership’s social media strategy. He saw other dealerships offering crazy promos and deals–$5000 off your new Chevy if you purchase in a certain time period and things of that nature. But what he didn’t see was shops who were really promoting their service. He’d always known that his shop was particularly awesome. To start, it was a VW dealership and the people he worked with and around were really killing it at retaining customer relationships. He tells some stories about seeing different generations come in and swapping out bumper stickers as kids grew up and started new schools. So when he thought about social media, he wondered how his shop’s unique vibe and customer service could translate to their online persona. He wanted to change the dialogue around the auto service industry and the stigma and fears clients have about bringing their cars into the shop. When he brought this to the dealership, they got on board but then immediately outsourced to a company to manage their online persona for us. 

Charles wasn’t into that, so he decided to do it himself and created a resource for customers as well as techs that lets you in behind the garage door. As the Humble Mechanic, Charles pulls back the curtain to give consumers some insight as to what is going on with their cars, what’s not working and why, and how they can talk to their service advisor or tech about it. His business is thriving, and that’s because it does a few critical things: It provides customer service in a space where its lacking and needed, many people really are interested in what’s going on with their cars, and it takes away the mystery of the whole process. In the auto service industry, there’s so much mystery behind the diagnosis fee or why a certain job takes as long or costs as much as it does. This is a big part of the reason why there’s so much distrust when it comes to auto repair. As the Humble Mechanic, Charles explains it to them. For example, it might take seven hours to do a job by the book, but the tech has purchased specialized tools that allow him to do the job in three. If the tech only charges for the three hours of labor, it doesn’t account for the expense of the specialized tools. Explaining these kinds of things clearly to consumers helps build trust in the auto industry as a whole. Because Charles is no longer a tech himself, he’s providing this information and these resources without a pitch to get people into his shop, so he has nothing to gain in the process which further increases consumer trust. 

Dealerships that are looking to level up–and which ones aren’t?–should take note of the Humble Mechanic’s success and make a few powerful adjustments to how you run your shop that will not only bring in more customers but will keep them coming back:

  • It’s amazing how far a little hospitality can go! Southern hospitality in Charles’s case, but any kind of hospitality will do. Train your staff, from techs to service advisors to salespeople, to work together to provide the best customer service.
  • Let consumers behind the garage door…figuratively speaking. Clients don’t trust the mystery. They want transparency and information that is digestible to them. Having your techs and service advisors communicate will be part of that, but there are other ways you can do it too. Which brings me to the next point….
  • Be generous with information. Make videos about how to change a tire on a specific make and model, for example, and post them on your social media accounts. Your existing clients will see them and, more importantly, so will tons of other people who aren’t your customers now but might be soon. Plus, it’ll allow clients to make decisions about what they do and do not want to get fixed and weigh out the consequences of those decisions. 

If you make this minor yet impactful changes at your dealership, I guarantee you’ll see results in terms of both client acquisition and retention. 

Don’t miss out on the Humble Mechanic Charles Sanville’s words of wisdom. He knows what he’s talking about. Start by listening to this episode of Service Drive Revolution, then head over to his YouTube channel and the Humble Mechanic blog. You won’t regret it.

Can Service Advising Be Automated? Quik Auto’s Jack Gardner Says Yes

Can Service Advising Be Automated? Quik Auto’s Jack Gardner Says Yes

These days, it’s more important than ever that businesses meet customers where they’re at. This means creating platforms that allow customers to engage when and where they need to rather than sticking with old school systems that don’t work anymore. That’s definitely true in the auto service industry and many service advisors–maybe even you–are looking for ways to deliver their services more effectively. 

I had Quik Auto CEO Jack Gardner join me on Service Drive Revolution to talk about how he created a platform to automate and digitize some of the work that auto customer service advisors and auto repair consultants have traditionally done. It’s started to take the automotive consulting world by storm and there’s a lot we can all learn about how it came to be and why it’s so successful in the world of automotive consulting services. 

Jack started his career as a Toyota tech and then tried sales. Turns out he was pretty good at the sales game. The problem is…he didn’t like it at first. He decided and even attempted to quit, but his manager pushed him to stay on. When he did, his mentality changed. There was less pressure and more drive to just see what he could learn and do. He describes it as “confidence that was derived from product knowledge”, and it led to a $16k paycheck in his second week alone. He also got into a fair amount of trouble and has some funny stories to tell, but I’ll let you listen to his episode to find out more about that…

Jack’s sales strategies were simple but effective. When the concept of leasing cars started to come up, he was hesitant at first because he didn’t get it. But when he saw another salesperson making bank off of fewer sales, he realized it was time to learn the game. He saw the money in it and learned everything there was to know about leasing. 

Once he had the expert knowledge about leasing, he figured out how to get that information to skeptical clients. He had a line he’d use to get them interested in learning more about it:

“Would you agree that a better decision will always be made based on all of the facts, as opposed to some of the facts?” 

Once they said yes, they were on the hook to hear his pitch about leasing…and it worked. Then his strategy was to deliver a pitch that focuses on the basic terminology and information clients would need to make a decision, instead of getting into percentages and residual rates. His goal was to help them understand this new concept and why it would be a solid option for them to consider. And people considered it…at the staggering rate of about 60%. 

From there, it was all finding the “sweet spot”. He learned early on that allowing clients’ leases to mature was a bad move. After their leases matured, clients would come in to return their cars but often put more mileage on the cars than they had agreed upon. Once the contract was up, that meant that Jack had to tell the client that they owe more money, which never went down well and took up a lot of time and energy. So he started to touch base with clients to talk about trade-in before their leases were up. The trick about the sweet spot was that there was no specific timeline around it, it just came up whenever the manufacturer needed to move a supply of cars off of the lot. So Jack would wait for those moments to come up, then call clients who were leasing and offer them a new lease on a new car for a “comparable” payment, with “comparable” being the magic word. 

Another key point Jack made was that people remember the little things. If you deliver consistently on the little things, like making sure each leased car has a full tank of gas when it leaves the lot, you’re golden. That’s what people remember. So clients would spread the word to others about leasing and the smooth process and the next thing you know, he’s got an incredibly lucrative leasing business that leads directly into a solid used car business.

From there, Jack went into finance for a few years, then started as a general manager, and moves on to start training people how to lease cars. And then…he met a guy at a bar, as he puts it. They started talking shop and eventually decided to launch Quik Video, a business that sent information on multi-point inspections to customers in a manner in which they understood it. From there, it grew well beyond videos and into texting, electronic multi-point inspection, internal chat and more and they changed the name from Quik to encompass the new services. Quik. is a digital service advisor that lets customers see what their options are, learn about them, and make decisions without an in-person advisor. Basically, they offer a solution that makes relationships between dealers and customers more honest, open and transparent.

But more than the technology itself, the key to Quik.’s success has been consistency. Jack’s strategy was built on a few pretty simple but really important rules. The first one is Toyota’s Quarter Time, meaning that the results of a multi-point inspection should be in the customer’s hands in the first 15 minutes, which leads to an 80% chance of selling the work. If it takes 39 minutes, so those first 15 plus 24 minutes of delay, that percentage falls down to 10%. So Quik. offers dealerships a way to put that video out to a customer in 15 minutes, which led to impressive sales results. It’s a tried and true rule that many automotive industry consultants know, and it was confirmed yet again through the Quik. platform. 

Quik’s software saves dealerships tons of money and can generate even more revenue from customers. Why? According to Jack, customers have a hard time believing service advisors because they view them as salespeople looking to make the most money possible. When a digital program is telling them what they need, they tend to trust it–it’s just a machine that doesn’t know how to lie or upsell. In addition, customers can learn more and do it on their own time when they’re using software to do it. So, basically, they upsell themselves to the tune of about 30%. When they’re making decisions online, they opt in for more maintenance than they would with an old school in-person advisor. 

Plus, once customers decide they want to do in terms of maintenance, a technician can then look at that as well as what they decided not to do. If the technician thinks that the service is necessary, they can explain to the customer why they should do it in an online video that goes directly from the tech to the customer. This way, as Jack describes it, the customer gets that advice directly from the “doctor”–the technician–rather than the “receptionist”–the advisor. Psychologically, this gives the customer the sense that this work is important and gives them the opportunity to understand why, so they are much more likely to go for it.

Over time, Jack has learned that automating everything is crucial to Quik.’s success. Integrating with DMS (we won’t tell you which is the worst out there), making sure all of the different systems that are part of the inspection and maintenance process are talking to one another…those automation make sure everything goes smoothly. 

Jack’s main goals have been to help dealerships increase their revenue without additional work and to build a platform that gives customers what they want and need, instead of forcing them to use an antiquated system that makes it stressful and difficult for them. In elevating the customer experience, the three things that both the dealer and the OEM are truly concerned with will fall right into place:

  1. They will sell more work, which means the manufacturer is selling more parts–more selling all around.
  2. Customer Service Index will go up, because you’ve exceeded the consumer’s expectations.
  3. Retention will go up because of the other two fell into place, so why would the customer go anywhere else?

So, service advisors…what’s your takeaway here? It’s not that your role is going to be eliminated because technology can never fully replace talented service advisors. The takeaway is to develop strategies that allow you to be CONSISTENT in what you provide and how you provide it. As Jack says, technology won’t replace people, but it will replace the weak. If you aren’t weak, technology like Quik. will only help you out. If you are, it may take you out. 

If you’re interested in learning more about Quik., give Jack Gardner’s episode on the Service Drive Revolution podcast a listen here and check out their websites: Quik. and Service Concierge.