How to Become a Master of Time Management

How to Become a Master of Time Management

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:

  1.       Eliminate ‘Got-A-Minutes’

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.

  1.       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…

  1.       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!

  1.       Take Breaks

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.

  1.       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!

Throwing The Baby Out With The Bathwater

Throwing The Baby Out With The Bathwater

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.

  1.       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.

  1.       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.

  1.       Software Upgrades

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.

  1.       Accessory Sales

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.”

  1.       Extended Warranties

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.

  1.       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…

  1.       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…

  1.       Valet

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!

What We’re Thankful For

What We’re Thankful For

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!

  1.       Customers

I think everybody listening to this should be thankful for their customers

  1.       Our team

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.

  1.       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.

  1.       My books

There’s so many great books. I have five going right now and I can’t even pick my favorite one.

  1.       Parts department

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!

Empowering Advisors with Mia Griggs

Empowering Advisors with Mia Griggs

This week on the show, we interviewed a TikTok star, which is basically like a celebrity to us. Mia Griggs does great stuff where she role plays as both the customer and the service advisor, and it’s hilarious. She has over 10 million views and, recently, we had the chance to catch up with her and do an interview. Here’s the transcript of how it went, followed up with this week’s questions:


We love your videos and the first question I have to ask you is, when you talk about females in the industry, do you think that it’s changed in the last 10 years, or do you think it’s still the same?


That’s a good question. I think it’s getting marginally better, but that’s only because there have been laws put in place to protect certain marginalized groups, I guess would be the best way to say that without being inflammatory. But I think even with certain laws in place, dealerships, shops, and even customers in general still get away with a lot of really crappy behaviors, unfortunately, and I could go on for hours about that. I’m sure it is getting a little bit better because it’s becoming more common to see women in the field, but it’s still very uneven, I guess.


Yeah, I think – and I think Christian could pipe in here, too, but – I feel like the employers, whether it’s dealerships or shops, have come light years. But I still see quite a bit [of] customers challenging female managers or advisors, and it’s always surprising to me, but I feel like that still hasn’t changed as much. But I feel like [with] the industry as a whole, there’s just so many great female leaders, and some of the top advisors in our group are females, and so I feel like that has changed dramatically, don’t you, Christian?


I would agree a hundred percent. I think that there’s something to that, and that’s one of the things I see your videos on most is that customer condescension. And I can only imagine what that’s got to be like for you, after 10 years of dealing with it, right? And I think it’s amazing that I don’t even know all the time if the customers know that they’re like that. I just think that it’s somewhere totally wired into their system that the woman can’t possibly [be] someone that—They have to talk to a man, and I’ve seen it so many times. That thing where [it’s] like, “Can I talk to someone else?” I just want to club somebody. I get it. The frustration and everything like that, but I would like to say from the owner side – at least what we’ve seen – is that they are way more embracing to females. And it’s amazing to me how many times a female will get into a situation that’s all male-dominated and kick everybody’s ass. That happens regularly with us. I think that the performance is helping to change the industry, for sure.


Definitely. I do think the inside of the industry [is] working harder to make strides towards being more equal between the genders, but you’re 100% right. The customer base has not changed really, at all. And it really depends on where you’re working, too; what the demographic of the area is, too. I’ve worked in places where 90% of our customers were elderly people who are maybe a little bit more set in their ways still, and I’ve worked in places that were more yuppie millennials that are my age and they’re a lot more open-minded and progressive, I guess. A lot of that plays into it, but I agree a hundred percent.


You know what’s interesting, Mia, is we have a lot of car clients and then we have truck clients, and it seems like it happens more with the car clients than it does with heavy-duty truck. And you would think, truck would be more guy-ish or whatever. That’s always interesting to me that it’s less there, which I don’t know, some of this stuff never makes sense anyways.


Yeah, I noticed that, too. For sure. I worked for a company that – I’m not going to say the brand because I just don’t want to get in trouble – but they don’t really sell trucks, the manufacturers that I’m talking about, and that was the worst customer base I’ve ever dealt with.


If there’s female advisors out there, in a constructive, positive way, what is it that you do? I see a lot of the female managers in our group will laugh it off, but how do you handle it in a positive way? Or how do you create a positive outcome from buffoonery?


That’s a tough one, definitely. It depended on the place that I worked at, and this sucks to say, but it was really up to the service drive manager and how they wanted to handle it because I’m assertive – I’m an assertive person – and if you are incredibly disrespectful to me, I probably won’t be very nice to you. But I’ve also learned every time I would start at a new shop or a dealership, I would say, “Hey, if this happens, how do you want me to handle it?” And I would just do whatever they said. Some of the dealership managers would be like, “Just smile and just give them what they want,” and so I’d have to do that. If they were like, “Well, I don’t want to talk to you, I want to talk to a guy,” I’d be like, “Okay, Brad, can you come help this sir?”

And then, at my most recent shop – not the one I work at now, but my last job before I got laid off due to COVID – my boss was like, “You’re allowed to stand up for yourself. If they refuse to talk to you because you’re a woman, you can kindly (keyword) tell them they can take their business elsewhere.” And that was amazing to me that they allowed me to advocate for myself. And so I did. I was never rude. I was never mean. I was never yelling or anything, but I would just very kindly say, “You know what? If you’re not going to allow me to help you, I don’t think I can help you further so you might just want to go somewhere else.” And 9 times out of 10, that usually knocked them off their high horse and then they let me help them, and then they realized that I was really good at my job and there you go!


The takeaway [is] they reassess their position in a way?


Yeah, pretty much. When you put your foot down, it – I think – knocks a little bit of sense into them.


You have a really funny TikTok about that, where you pretend you’re the guy advisor and all that. I think that was one of the first ones I saw, and I thought it was hilarious.


The long face thing, too, is great. Where she is the customer in the long face. Those make me laugh.


You’re very funny, by the way.


Yeah, super funny.


Okay then, one thing you have a position on is how do you avoid getting taken advantage of as a service advisor?


That’s a tough one. Are you talking about from a customer standpoint or from an employer standpoint?


I would start with employer.


That’s a really good question. It’s tough because, for a long time, I didn’t know how to advocate for myself and I didn’t know how to prevent myself from getting taken advantage of. I always say, if you’re interviewing for a service advisor position as a woman, you have to ask the tough questions. You have to know exactly, like I said before, how they would expect you to handle a situation like that. And then, don’t be afraid to stand up and speak out when things do happen.

When you’re getting harassed or you feel like you’re not being listened to, you go to HIR and if HR doesn’t do anything, go above them. And I think people nowadays are so scared to stand up for themselves because they’re afraid of backlash. But even if you do get backlash, standing up for yourself when stuff goes south is the best thing that you can do for yourself. And if you lose your job because if it, fine, you shouldn’t work for that company anyways.


Okay, well, how about customers/ What are your top three secrets as a service advisor? Now moving this towards just connecting with customers, I believe an advisor’s role is to collect customers and make friends. And so, what are the top three things that you do, as an advisor, to take care of customers? What is the secret?


The secret, which probably isn’t a secret because I’m sure this has been beaten into our brains over and over, but my number one thing that I value the most is customer rapport. And something that I had to learn along the way was, when you first start at a new shop or whatever it may be, your customers aren’t going to trust you because they don’t know you. And there’s such a negative—the automotive industry in general has such a negative stereotype. You have to learn that building customer rapport can take some time, but once you do, you have customers for life. And I really saw that happen at my last shop, and because I was there for almost two years, and when they come in like, “Hey, how was your kid’s baseball game?” And you become family with these people.

My first piece of advice is: just know that customer rapport does not happen on your first day. It’s going to take some time. You’re going to have to put in the work. You’re going to have to build that trust, and once you do, I mean you’re golden; you’re set!

My second piece of advice is to not take things personally. Also something I struggled with for a very long time, because I’m obviously a very emotional person. I’m very animated, and so I take things personally. When customers would get mad or upset with me, or they would be super angry for whatever reason, I took it upon myself as my problem or my fault and I’d get really upset about it. Not to the customer, but I’d go into the back and be super mad about it. And I had to learn that you have to put yourself in your customer’s shoes and you have to think about why are they mad? The reason that they’re mad is probably valid, even if they’re not treating you with respect. Even if you, as the advisor, don’t think that it’s a valid reason to be upset, they’re upset. As hard as it is, put yourself in their shoes and just be empathetic. And when they are being angry, they are yelling at you or whatever it may be, it actually does help manage the situation a little bit better. And also, [it] helps you calm them down because it’s not just a back and forth of they’re angry so you’re angry, and then it builds up. It’s easier to defuse the situation when you put yourself in their shoes.

And then the last thing I would say is probably… This may not make sense to a lot of people, and it probably sounds bad, but when you’re at work, you’re at work. You’re not there to make friends. And I know a lot of people are like, “Well, your work is your family,” and I do agree with that to a certain extent. But as somebody who [was not] dealt the greatest hand in the industry, I think you have to learn to protect yourself, and this goes for men and women. I’m just clarifying that’s not just women. And, obviously, treat your coworkers with respect and treat them the way you would want to be treated, but also protect yourself. Protect your heart and protect your paycheck. Because, in turn, at least for me, that helps me be a better advisor because I could put more time and energy on my customers, and not trying to deal with drama on the drive, if that makes sense.  And just be an unbiased person on the drive and, for me, it made my life a lot easier.


The first one – and I love that you said family – the rapport and then the second one you said empathy, which I love. The third one, I don’t agree with that and that’s one that I’ve had disagreements with shop owners and dealers and managers because to me, I don’t know, I feel like I’m friends with everybody that works for me. And I feel like people end up feeling that way because they’re not honest about things. I feel like people hold things in and then they overreact, but if you’re authentic and honest in the moment, I don’t know, I wouldn’t want to work with people that I don’t feel like are my friends. I would hate that environment. I wouldn’t want to work… I wouldn’t want people working for me that I didn’t like, because then I would feel like my customers wouldn’t like them. I don’t know, but I guess you’re coming from the point of view of an advisor, too. You have to work with whoever’s there so it’s a little different.


Yeah, and just really quickly, I think your perspective is totally valid, too. And I’m not saying that I go to work and ignore everybody and don’t get along with people. I get along with my coworkers, every single place I’ve ever worked at. I’m the person that is very friendly and outgoing, but I still keep people at a distance, because I’ve been screwed over so many times and I’ve been stabbed in the back way too many times by coworkers that, for me personally, I just have to protect myself in order to—I’m not going into it, but there’s been several instances where my CSI bonuses were being sabotaged, and I lost most of my paycheck because of it, and that’s happened on several occasions. And so, for me personally, I just don’t… I guess I’m just jaded – and I won’t even lie – I’m a little jaded and I’ve just had too many bad experiences with coworkers to want to have that family connection with them. And I’m not saying that nobody else should feel that way, that’s just my personal opinion.


I feel like if I worked with you, I’d be laughing constantly.


Yeah, and I’m not with you. I’m naturally a very bubbly person. I’m a Gemini, that’s how we are.


I’m a Capricorn. What does that say about me?


I don’t know, I just know that Geminis are—


Possibly the funniest people on the planet. 100%.


Are you a Gemini, Christian?


Yes, I am.


Oh, see?




Biased. Well, we’re huge fans, Mia. Anything you want to talk about in wrapping it up.


No, I just think you guys are great, and I’m really glad I discovered you. And I’m super honored that you guys even talked about my TikToks on your channel. I think that’s really awesome and it’s appreciated.


Oh, we’re huge fans. You’re so funny, and I hope you keep doing it. Everybody, if you have TikTok, you need to go to chaotic_feminist and follower her and watch. And then, she also has a podcast. You started a podcast?


I did.


And it’s called Cars, Chaos, & Coffee. That’s a great name. Well, thank you so much for coming on. Everybody, check out Mia, and hopefully we’ll talk again soon. We’ll tag you on TikTok when we start doing them. Thanks, Mia.

That was pretty fun. Now, it’s time to go to questions. Remember: if you call the Service Drive Revolution hotline at (833) 3-ASK-SDR and we play your question on the big show, we’re going to send you swag. People hit me up on Instagram all the time like, “How do I get it? How do I get a trucker hat? How do I get a coffee mug?”

Again, call in with a good question, and if we play it on the show, we’re going to send you a swag bag! If you don’t know how to spell, the number is (833) 327-5737, but if you have any questions, we’re here at your disposal.

Also, you do not have to keep the questions to just service drive-related things. If you need relationship advice, financial advice, I love helping people fix their marriages or, hey, if your girlfriend cheated on you, call in and we’ll figure it out!

“Hey, guys, I have a great situation and question for you. We have a vehicle in the shop. Customer authorized a diagnostic repair of approximately $1,600. He was made aware that the repair may or may not fix their symptom and we would need to go further if not. Customer agreed, we replaced the part, and of course, it did not fix the problem. We spent a little extra time for free, unapplied time, trying to research, remedy the problem, got the manufacturer tech line involved and, long story short, the next repair is replacing another part in the car of about $2,300 repair.

The customer is, of course, very upset and frustrated and they believe that they should not have to pay us anything because it did not fix the problem. And on top of that, they also believe that we’re supposed to remove the part and put the old part back in at no additional charge. Looking for some advice. How would you handle a situation like this? We are at the point of potentially doing a mechanic’s lien. Looking for suggestions and if you guys have ever run into this in your career or any of your businesses that you deal with. Thanks, Bob, from Cuba.”

Bob from Cuba? Communist country with the good cigars?

Okay, Bob. First of all, good question and thank you so much. This is something that I would believe that, if I have been working in service for more than a year, you’ve seen this. I’ve certainly seen this a bunch of times in my career. It’s not unique. I think there’s a couple of lessons in this.

One is in the frame upfront. The customer needs to understand, upfront, that we pay the technicians by the hour and we’re charging for their time, just like a doctor or a lawyer if they spend a lot of time on something. If you go to a lawyer, they don’t guarantee the outcome of what they do, and so that’s always a frame that I’ve used in a complicated scenario like this.

Think of it as like technicians having a degree in working on cars, and it’s just like a law degree or a doctor. They’re a car doctor, in a sense. We use that analogy a lot, and we have to pay them for their time and sometimes diagnosis is more like detective work. It’s not cut-and-dry. And they have to replace one part to find out that it’s another part, and you have to do it through a process of elimination. But that’s something you need to say upfront. It never works as well in the end.

The other thing I would say is, when it comes to repair authorization – and we addressed this last week – is it should’ve gone higher. $1,500 wasn’t going to fix the car. I like to push into the pain a little bit with the repair authorization and say, “I’m going to give myself $2,000 to work with, but it could be more,” and see what they say. Read their body language. Pay attention. They will tell you if you push into that, “Oh, I’m not spending more than $1,300,” or, “I’m not spending more than $1,500.”

And if you’re calling the manufacturer hotline, you’re probably with the brand, so maybe call your factory guy and try to get some goodwill; try to get some help. Even if the car is way outside the scope, sometimes they will help you with that. I would try for that.

And for everybody reading this: remember the words I use because words are very important. When you’re explaining to a customer how we diagnose a car, use the term process of elimination. Because what the customer has in their mind is you’re going to know exactly what it is and that’s going to fix it.

“My name is Ice. I’m from Seguin, Texas. I am currently a service advisor and I’ve been studying for about six months in March when this whole COVID thing happened. I’ve been in the industry for six months now and I haven’t stepped foot before then. I have gradually seen improvements in my work there, but I haven’t been getting the proper recognition. When I started, I got on a pay plan of hourly and now six months into it, I’m not able to progress my pay plan. However, I am now a full-time advisor but still hourly. I have gone to the owner who has then referenced to me back to my managers, who have been denying me of any future profit, growth, anything until a year, and I believe I’ve been working hard enough and I’ve shown my worth there to have a pay raise within my first year evaluation.

I feel like I’ve properly talked to my managers and my owner on how to get this compensation, but I’m not seeing any growth. I am a person of growth so I am currently thinking about stepping away, but it’s hard when I know I need a year’s worth of experience to move from another dealership. If you can help me out with just trying to, I guess, understand how that works or if I am being taken advantage of, like I do feel, that would help out a lot. Thank you so much, I appreciate you all for that.”

That’s a badass nickname, Ice.

Okay, my opinion is that what you have right now is an opportunity. And you mentioned in there and it sounds like you have a pretty good head on your shoulders and you understand that there’s a price to pay, but you need to be there for a year. In the long run, let me tell you how much advisors make…

You ready? Can I present this like a Christian joke?

What do advisors make?

(I don’t know, Chris, what do they make?)

Exactly what they’re worth! That’s what they make. And so focus on your numbers. Here’s the thing that you have right now: you have an opportunity to put together six months of stats where you can walk into any service department and say, “Listen, this is what I do. These are my numbers. These are the numbers I’m putting up. Would you like somebody this good? Customers love me. I sell.”

I think what you have right here is an opportunity to put together a track record and focus on collecting customers and learning everything you can about the job and beating your numbers every month; every month. But if you can, at the end of the year if you’re putting $120,000 a month in parts and labor, you have high hours per RO, and you have great customer satisfaction numbers, you’re going to make exactly what you’re worth. And if they don’t want to keep you where you are, you’ll go somewhere else.

Chances are, at that point, they’re going to keep you. You have an amazing opportunity. We all had to pay a price in the beginning. I got passed over, I think, five times to be an advisor. I wasn’t paid commission right away. It’s an opportunity. Once you do become commission, you’re going to make a great living. But just remember, it’s about collecting customers.

You’re in luck because, in addition to your swag, we’re sending you the Millionaire Service Advisor book, also! Read that book, immerse yourself, and focus on your results and your numbers, even if you have to eat Top Ramen for twelve months.

I ate Top Ramen at the beginning! I was sleeping in our band room because I had to drive back to my mom’s which was an hour away. There were nights where I’d sleep in the band room and then go to work!

Great questions. Thank you so much. Remember, the number is (833) 3-ASK-SDR. Have a great week and we’ll see you next time on Service Drive Revolution!

Follow and learn more about Mia, aka The Chaotic Feminist:

On TikTok @chaotic_feminist
Check out her podcast Cars Chaos & Coffee on Apple Podcasts.
And visit her website at

The Top 10 Reasons Why Customers Hate Service Advisors

The Top 10 Reasons Why Customers Hate Service Advisors

I thought it was funny yesterday, we were on our bi-weekly call with our coaches that are out in the field, and when we were talking about the agenda for the call, and Christian was like, “I want to talk about menus.”

Because one of the things that we will do when we go into a service department is we will help them redo their menu: parts costs, then the labor, then what we actually charge for it, and then the effective labor rate. And so, we’d seen some inconsistencies in the way because he’s good at sniffing out those sorts of things, but he had some things he wanted to say.

So on the Zoom meeting, he said, “Okay, I’m going to put up some menus, and I want you guys to find what’s wrong with these menus.” So I guess what happened was I kinda forgot that it wasn’t just me and Christian and it was like when you’re in school and there’s always that kid at the front of the room that raises their hand before the teacher even finishes asking a question.

That’s basically what happened. I found things that he hadn’t, but Christian ends up saying, “Chris, with all due respect, do you think we could let the coaches start the exercise now?”

That was hilarious, but I apologized and said that if you put a menu or financial statement in front of me, I get super excited. I just want to go to work and figure out what’s going on!

So today we’re going to talk about the 10 Reasons Why Customers Hate Service Advisors, but before we get to that and questions afterwards, I’d like to thank everybody for tuning into our show because we hit a major milestone: 10,000 followers on YouTube and 1.4 million views! It’s crazy how fast we’re growing!

My goal from the very beginning with our content was, and I’ve said this a million times, I wanted to put out free content that’s better than the stuff anybody else charges for. I know that people play these in their training; our competition will play them in their training, and I know manufacturers will, too!

And so, I think that’s why some of these have so many views. I’m just gonna name some of the top ones here:

Our #1 video is Five Keys to Being a Best of Breed Service Advisor.

#2 is Leadership Training Fundamentals with Jocko Willink.

#3 is Service Advisor Training: The Circle of Trust (co-starring my bulldogs). It’s like a Bob Dylan music video rip-off…

#4 is Service Advisor Training: Pet the Dog. Oh, the Pet the Dog story… That one’s a classic. You could read that one to your kid when you tuck them into bed.

#5 is Service Advisor Training: Selling More Maintenance in the Service Drive.

I’m noticing a trend here: that the title Service Advisor Training seems to rank pretty good…

Anyway, I have a feeling that going from 10,000 followers to 20,000 is going to happen pretty quick, especially with some stuff that we have coming.

So now it’s the Top 10 Reasons Customers HATE Service Advisors, and this is a list we round-tabled from customers that have never worked in our business, and there were so many things that we had to get it from like 74 to 10. They were really not shy at all; they had a lot to say so it was pretty fun narrowing it down to sort of a Greatest Hits list…

  1.       They lie about diagnosis

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Don't do this.

  1.       The car is never done on time

That’s assuming that the customer even gets an ETA in the first place. This can be avoided by telling the customer the truth. Most of the time, it happens because the advisor either didn’t tell the truth or they allowed the customer to tell THEM when it would be done.

  1.       Not done right

What that video I mentioned earlier that’s part of our top 5, Service Advisor Training: The Circle of Trust. Part of that circle is QC which is one of the most important steps but also the most skipped.

What’s also interesting is that people on the inside would think, “Well, that’s the tech’s fault that it’s not done right,” but that’s not what the customer sees! The customer blames not only the advisor but the whole shop!

So many times the advisor’s called “the mechanic” because that’s what the customer knows them as!

  1.       Charge for diagnosis while under warranty

And then lie about it… Nothing starts a relationship with distrust like that.

I have a story that’s in my book, The Millionaire Service Advisor, that was something that stuck with me forever: the true story of when I first got the job as an advisor. There were times where I would get to cover for advisors when they were sick and out and all that, but when I got my advisor number, I wrote service for these Boeing engineers on my first or second day. They had just bought Subaru SVXs which were like sedan sports cars because they thought they were engineering wonders (they were not).

This guy comes in, but nobody wanted to write him up so I walked up to him and said, “How can I help you?”

He goes, “Oh, I have an appointment. I need to drop this off.”

I write it up and it turns out to be a 20-something line RO of rattles, so I turn it into dispatch. Then, the dispatcher calls me down there and he’s like, “You need to get money for this.”

So the car had been in dispatch all day and I had to get money from the guy, and I didn’t know that Subaru’s warranty only covered rattles for the first 12 months. The point of the story is that the customer’s perception is that the car is under warranty, but depending on the manufacturer, the warranty might not cover things like alignment or rattles.

  1.       Different price depending on who you talk to

Especially if you call parts directly… I don’t know if it’s still a thing, but it definitely used to be that the parts department over the retail counter would quote a different price than what was quoted on the back counter, which is confusing and causes the customer to not trust us!

  1.       Can’t find one

Also known as “the empty desk.” Would you call that an oxymoron? How can you hate somebody you can’t find?

Also, how the hell do they all leave at the same time? That’s especially a failure on the last person. If there’s five people and they all go to the food truck one right after another and you’re the last one, that’s a failure on your part if you go, too!

  1.       They don’t call or pick up the phone

This one is also self-explanatory.

  1.       They can never hear a rattle

Like they’re deaf… None of the service advisors can detect a rattle.

  1.       Condescending

It’s like the opposite of empathy. A lot of advisors don’t have empathy! They think they’re experts and customers are stupid. It’s like a chicken and the egg where we got customers thinking the advisors are stupid and then the other way around, but the customers are the ones spending money so we NEED to be more empathetic.

  1.   They don’t order the parts

In this case, it’s actually NOT part department’s fault, but advisors tend to blame it on parts anyway. I wonder where they’d get that idea…

So those are the Top 10 Reasons Customers Hate Service Advisors. Now, we’re going to go to your questions. Remember, if you call the hotline and we play your question on the big show, we’re going to send you some swag; T-shirt, coffee mugs, stickers, a notebook. It’s great stuff so call us at (833) 3-ASK-SDR. For those of you who don’t remember phone buttons, that’s (833) 327-5737.

“I have a question about your repair authorization process. I understand it, and it makes sense in some ways. However, what do you do when the customer decides not to go ahead and do the repair and now the technician has his, let’s say, his one hour or so into it? Now, because you didn’t get prior authorization for those diagnostic testing, now you’re out on the hook to internal your technician. Right? That’s my question.

Also, Christian, what happens to a frog’s car when it breaks down?

It gets ‘toad’ away.”

… I can’t believe Christian’s got people calling in jokes now…

So thanks, Jesse, for calling in that question, but listen to me: you’re not understanding what repair authorization is, my friend. The term ‘repair authorization’ insinuates that they authorized the full repair before you did it. Diagnosis would have nothing to do with it. If you say to a customer, “Hey, we’re going to figure out what your coolant leak is. I’m going to give myself $2,000 to work with. If it’s less, it’ll be less. If it’s more, I’ll give you a call.”

They cant decline the work because they’ve signed for $2,000!

And then the thing to think about her is maybe you should have said a higher number because the ideal with the repair authorization is that it’s kind of the worst case scenario. If I’m writing up a BMW and it comes in for a coolant leak, I’m not getting a repair authorization for a hose. I’m getting a repair authorization for the radiator, and the radiator is going to be like $4,000. If it’s the water pump, it’s $2,000, right?

I’m going with the worst case scenario, which is telling the customer the truth…

Another thing is that if you quote $4,000 as the worst case scenario, but then it ends up being only $2,000, then you’re a hero! Don’t be so shy on the number. The lesson here is that you probably needed a higher number to begin with because then the customer might’ve said, “Well, if it’s $2,000, I don’t want you to do it.”

If you only got $1,000 to work with, then only spend $1,000, but they’re still paying diagnosis, my friend. I know I said I’m sick of so many people asking about repair authorization, but we’re still going to be sending you some swag. Thanks for the question.

“Hey, Chris. This is Chris Mioli. I work in an independent shop: Essex County Auto Repair in Middleton, Massachusetts. I got a real question for you. We keep hearing it more and more, and I know we don’t give out prices over the phone; we never do. I need a really good, smooth answer of why, without having to get wordy and trip over my words with people. I need that one phrase that gets people to go, “He’s right. I need to bring the car in. It’s the only way to do it,” so that they understand.”

I think that’s more of a Jeremy thing to not give a price. I never believed in that, but yeah it should be the focus of the call to get them in.

When I was the general manager of a BMW store and nobody wanted to quote prices on cars, I knew back then that the trend was going to online sales and people just wanted it to be super easy. The thing I would try to do is ask questions.

If somebody calls in and says, “How much is a water pump on a 2015 Toyota Corolla?” I would just say, “Okay, let me ask you a couple of questions. So why do you think you need a water pump? Who told you that?”

And then I would say, “We get called on for price quotes all the time, and is this just about getting it the cheapest or is it about getting the car fixed?” That’s what I would ask.

Then, I’d say,” Well, I can get you a quote for a water pump. I’ll have to put it together and call around.”

You could ask them how much they were quoted by somebody else, and say, “If I beat that, are you bringing it in?” because you can get it in and recommend other stuff.

There’s tons of things you can do, but I think asking questions and then putting them on ice and calling them back with the quote is the way to go. Because a lot of times, if it’s just about price, you can find a cheaper part somewhere. If it’s just about price, you could find a used part. I know that’s a terrible idea because there’s no warranty, but I think it’s more about understanding what the customer needs and asking more questions. At some point, people just want an answer and you’ve got to give them an answer.

The answer is finding a way to build value in your shop and create doubt in the other shop. Nobody ever wants to call the cheapest plumber.

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