This week was the show of a thousand thoughts… I think everyone forgot to take their Adderall. Of course, we got an update on Gary’s cholesterol because that’s becoming a hot topic here at Service Drive Revolution. Wherever we go people ask more about Gary’s cholesterol than anything else. But that’s going to prove my point later on about adding a personal component to your marketing. Hold on, we’ll get there…

Gary shared with me that I’m tweeting, which I find very hard to believe because I’ve never used Twitter. So he spent a few minutes reading my recent tweets and we tried to determine who’s actually writing from my account. Another oddity this week was that someone called me and asked me to comment on President Trump. My response to that? I need a year to think about it so ask me again in a year.

This week’s book report of the week is on Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday. Gary was kind enough to explain that he initially thought ego referred to being cocky, but what the author is talking about in this book is far more subtle. In this case ego can stop you from progressing in a subtle way. Gary used his own career track as an example, explaining he had done so well as he ascended from service technician to service advisor to service manager, etc. that it caused him to rewrite history a little. When he looks back on his career it’s easy to remember the highlights and think he was great at each job. But the truth is there were failures every step of the way—it was experience and hard work that made him successful. But the mind (and subtle ego) makes it easy to remember the highlight reel and think he was really good the whole way through, not the actual learning curve that it was.

We also used a story about one of our friends as a perfect example of how the subtle ego can negatively affect one’s perspective. Our friend had been super successful at one dealership in Chicago so when he moved to a different state and got a job in a new dealership, he brought with him such confidence and big expectations that he was completely stopped up when he had issues there. Between office politics, a different culture and other barriers, our friend found himself unable to find success there and ended up quitting! His success at one dealership blinded him and caused him to have an ego and expectations that overlooked the need to try really hard and go back to basics at his new job.

The thesis of the book being you have to remain a student—humble and open to learning new things. The book references Ghenghis Khan and the Mongols and how despite their great success with conquering nations they still remained humble enough to learn and take the best pieces of each culture with them when they left. This way of doing business led them to champion the canon. By taking pieces of each culture they were able to create new technologies that made them even stronger. Gary wrapped up the book segment by trying to back out of his goal of reading 60 books this year. Seriously, Gary, four books a month is too much for you??

Back to the main topic of this show, which is the new era of marketing!

I look around at what other people in this industry are doing and it bores me! It’s all the same! So I put together some new, fun, usable tips on how to do effective marketing in this modern day. First, for the love of God, tell a story. If you look at what’s successful on TV these days it’s shows that have aspirational characters, drama and mystery. People love stories and they always have. Give your email blasts a personality. For example, the two best pulling emails we’ve ever sent were written in the voice of my Bulldog, Tequila. The point is to immediately hijack your audience. Using stories or a character is an easy way to capture the attention of your reader and draw them in.

Another powerful marketing tool is to use sequences. Sending series of emails is another tactic to keep your audience connected to your business and what’s going on. Next on the list and this one is super important, the more personal and real you are with your audience the better it will be received. The reason our Service Drive Revolution audience is so obsessed with Gary’s cholesterol is because it’s real and it’s relatable. This is a concern everyone has and allows people to share their challenges or experiences with high cholesterol. And believe me, people share their experiences whether we want them to or not.

Use cross over techniques! If you’re on several platforms for social media, which you should be, use them all. Put your posts on all of your social media and use video! Many people aren’t immediately comfortable with video, so practice. Video helps you rank better and improves your SEO. Facebook and Google pay attention to video so add it to your social media content wherever possible.

Make it entertaining! This one is kind of common sense but it bears mention. As well as telling stories make sure your copy is fun to read. Humor always works but even if you’re not a comedian, try and get original with your copy, emails and posts so your audience isn’t getting the same regurgitated content they hear over and over.

Tracking and conversions… Also known as fall in love with what gets results. We had a competition in the office where I asked three of our creatives to create an E-book about customer service. We gave them each a budget for Facebook marketing and I told them I’d give $500 in cash to whoever’s E-book converted the best. At first none of the E-books were converting but after we changed the pictures their numbers took off. By tracking what was going on, and making small changes, we were able to salvage their good work and get the conversions they needed by creating a better visual.

You really want to focus on what’s converting and getting results rather than being married to a headline. Here’s a little piece of gold from my personal vault—if you’re not getting clicks or it’s not converting try a variety of small changes. If changing the photo doesn’t work, try changing the colors on the email because a change as simple as that can make a huge difference. Often a color or headline that doesn’t look right to everyone will turn them off. Correct or alter those things and see what happens—what have you got to lose?

If you’re sending out post cards make them stand out. Use colors, or sizes or pictures that will make people notice that your content, mailers, whatever are unique.

The simple truth is when the value of something outweighs the cost people are happy to pay so make sure your content has value. Try using to get even more professional content. They’re great for logos, photoshop help—you name it and they have freelancers who can help. To wrap up, get creative with your marketing and the sky’s the limit!

Easy Customer Service Solutions

Easy Customer Service Solutions


In Pet The Dog: Simple Customer Service Solutions For You we’ve compiled the best tips we’ve spent years learning and testing in order to provide you with these user-friendly, real-world examples of lines you can use immediately with your customers. Whether you’re starting a new company or you’re already managing hundreds of employees, if you want instant trust from your customers this is the guide for you and you will see immediate results!



Lessons to Improve your Customer Experience

By Chris Collins

My name is Chris Collin and with eighteen years of proven success in one of the toughest industries around, I’ve built a reputation of being the #1 Expert in Fixed Operations and Service Trainer. People call me a consultant but I am more of a Fixer, Trainer and Coach. My passion for this industry helps produce RESULTS my clients never dreamed possible. In this E-book I’m going to write about customer service and why it’s so critically important to connect with your customers, or as I like to call it, pet the dog!

If your business has customers, you need great customer service and there’s absolutely no way around it! Yes, there are parts of the customer service job that can be annoying—explaining the same thing again and again is not always awesome. But, customer service can also be the best way for your team to learn about your customers!

Changing your employee’s attitudes around customer service can take a job that might have been considered insignificant and makes it a priority so your company can connect well and learn about the most important people in your business model – your customers!

A little bit of foreplay is always a good thing before jumping right into an act of intimacy. Whether you’re a lover, a surgeon, or a service advisor, a person needs to be able to relax around you, trust you, and feel comfortable with your motives before they feel good about surrendering their body, their loved one, or their beloved car to your care. Or their sick dog.

So let me start with start with a story that will explain why I use the title, “Pet The Dog.” When my first Bulldog, Rocky, was six years old, he got very sick. The Vet found a mass and after a biopsy he came back to my then-wife and I, and he told us, “Rocky has lung cancer.” My first reaction was I should have made him quit smoking cigars sooner.

The vet went on to explain, “That’s a very serious thing for a bulldog to have and it isn’t a surgery I would do. It’s a terminal thing and he has a very fast growing cancer.” “Is there anything that I can do?” I asked. He said, “There’s one Vet who comes in from the east coast three days a month. He can do the surgery and he’s had great results.”

After waiting weeks to meet with this Vet we finally we got an appointment. We were nervous as we arrived at the office at 10am. Well, animal hospital waiting rooms are even less fun than waiting for your car to be serviced. Your only entertainment is watching smelly, ailing, and unfriendly animals come and go and there’s certainly no free cappuccino machine. Two hours on pins and needles was disconcerting enough, but it only got worse when we finally met with the surgeon.

At 2:45pm, yup 2:45pm after arriving at 10am, they finally came out and ushered us into this little room. So you had Rocky sitting there, my ex-wife, Satan, next to him and then me and an empty chair.

I was expecting a warm and friendly pet-lover to come in and break the ice with Rocky and do a little hands-on assessment of his subject – the way a service advisor does a walk-around of a customer’s vehicle before turning it over to the technician. Boy, was I wrong. Rocky’s attempts at greeting the new guy in the room were completely ignored; this doctor was all business. He gave us a very professional rundown of the procedure and the risks, answered most of our questions, and then sent in the nurse to answer our questions about price and scheduling.

So Satan turns to me and she says, “That man is not going to touch my dog with a knife. He’s not a dog person.” I go, “What do you mean he’s not a dog person?” She retorted, “He came in here and sat down and never once acknowledged Rocky, petted him, nothing. He just came in and left. He’s not a dog person.”

Now I know from being in business that the best mechanic isn’t the guy that you want talking to customers. The best lawyer is rarely the guy you want talking to customers. But in this scenario you’ve got a doctor who flies all over the country, he’s at the top of his game, he’s constantly training and he’s on the edge of technology as far as surgery goes for animals. He’s away from home most of the month, he’s up all night, gets barely any sleep.

But that doesn’t change the fact that Rocky is a beloved member of the family who my wife and I love very much. This is where some romance, a little interest, a little concern would have been appreciated. We needed something that would comfort us and reassure us that he understood the emotional value of what we were consigning to his care.

So even though that surgeon is the best of the best and prides himself on being exceptional at what he does, he had a customer who didn’t want to do business with him because he didn’t connect to a loved one.

That’s what happens in our businesses every day. We don’t connect with customers about the stuff that matters, many times because we don’t pet the dog. It’s not about the commodity. It’s not about selling the hamburger, the car, the computer, whatever it is in your in the business of selling – it isn’t about that. It’s about the connection with people.

So Pet That Dog!

When a vehicle rolls into your shop, you need to think about it like it’s somebody’s sick puppy or their firstborn child and you’re the surgeon who is being entrusted with the life of their loved one. Now, there’s no need to be morose. In fact, to the contrary, you should have an upbeat and optimistic bedside manner! After all, you’re the one who is going to have this baby running better than ever when you give it back to them!

7 Tips to boost your CSI and build long-term relationships!

  1. Admire their vehicle. This isn’t rocket science. A few complimentary words will create good feelings from the start. “Great car! It won the Golden Calipers two years ago.” Or, “That wood grain dash is something I hardly ever see on this model and it’s really stunning with those leather seats.” Take an active interest. Even if they have a ’99 Outback with 300,000 miles and you can smell the oil burning at 20 paces, you can still tell them what a great car it was in its day and let them know some of the service issues they may face in the future.
  2. Engage customers and make them part of the process. We know it’s vital to acknowledge and greet customers cheerfully right away but don’t stop there! Invite them along for your walk-around and keep the conversation going, whether it’s about the car, the weather, or the ballgame. You’ll find when you show people that you’re interested in their car they’ll think of other questions or concerns they’ve been wondering about, which may lead to more service options or just a happy customer. Either way that positive connection is a win-win!
  3. Actually, pet the dog. Touch the car respectfully and tenderly run your finger along any scratches or other “bruises” and “injuries.” Do a thorough and gentle walk-around, the way you would want a doctor to examine your little girl. This will not only give them the comfort and feeling that you care, but it will also give you an opportunity to point out all of the little nicks that they don’t even know are there. They could have a cracked tail light from being clipped in a parking lot three weeks ago and still not be aware of it in which case they will think it happened while it was in your service department. My service advisors will sometimes even offer to buff out minor scratches for free or offer to throw it in if they get the brake job too. When you pet the dog, you put customers at ease with your TLC and professionalism, eliminate their skepticism about service departments came, and make them receptive to additional benefits and services you can offer them.
  4. Open the hood. Look over the engine, check the fluids and filters, touch the belts and hoses, and get them interested with some little maintenance tips from the expert. No one else has does this for them so this will set you above the competition in their hearts and minds and they will remember that!
  5. Ask questions. Open-ended and direct questions are excellent for educating car owners and giving them trust and confidence in you. For example, you might ask, “What P.S.I. do you keep your tire pressure at? Do you use the same pressure in the front and rear, winter and summer? Do you check your tire pressure every time you fill up?” Never make them feel incompetent if they don’t know the answer. Take that as another opportunity to help! Tell them, “You’re not alone, most people don’t. But you can increase the life of your tires and the safety of your family if you just think about it every time you fill up.”
  6. Look for hints about their personality and interests. When you’re walking around their cars look for clues that can give you a personal connection. The car might have vanity license plates or big chrome rims you can inquire about. A bumper sticker might reveal that your kids go to the same school as yours or indicate some of the places they’ve traveled to. Jump in: “So you’d rather be fishing, huh? Me too. Where do you like to fish?” It’s just that easy.
  7. Look underneath the vehicle. You’ll be surprised how often you’ll find plastic bags, ropes, dragging skid plates, and who knows what else. The customer will be very glad that you found it and it’s a small effort, but it’s one more thing that sets you apart from all of the mediocre service departments that are mostly all suffering from the same “roll ‘em in, roll ‘em out” mind set.

That’s all it takes to blow away the competition and watch your CSI soar. It doesn’t cost you a dime and you’ll save yourself the expense and bad will of customers thinking you scratched their paint, convert some small sales into bigger ones, and build a stable of loyal friends that will support you for a lifetime. So, go ahead…pet the dog!

-Chris Collins and Rocky





Pet the Dog

You’re probably wondering…why is this e-book on customer service is called “Pet the Dog?” What do I mean when I say you need to pet the dog? What do dogs have to do with customer service? Let me tell you a story about my very first bulldog Rocky. (I have four of them.) When Rocky was about six years old, he started losing a lot of weight and his tongue got really ashy and gray and I just knew something was wrong. So I took him to the Bulldog doctor in Riverside, California. The doctor checked him out, he did a CAT Scan on him, he found a mass and he found a biopsy. He came back and he said, “Rocky has lung cancer.”

My first reaction was—I should have made him quit smoking cigars sooner! (Just kidding.)

The vet said, “That’s a very serious thing for a bulldog to have and it isn’t a surgery that I would do.” He said, “Most guys won’t do that surgery on a bulldog, it’s a terminal thing and he has a very fast growing cancer.” And I said, “Well is there anything that I can do?” And he said, “I know there’s one doctor who’s really, really good. He comes in from the east coast and he’s only here two or three days a month. He’ll do the surgery and he’s been very successful.”

So, I got the doctor’s information and I got an appointment with him at a VCA that he would come to. We waited weeks for this appointment with this doctor and our appointment was at 10:00 in the morning at a VCA animal hospital, and if you can imagine on a hot, summer California day, the smells and sounds of a crowded veterinarian waiting with other dogs and cats around.

We showed up at 9:45 and checked in and 10:00, 10:30. At 11:00 I went back up to the reception and I said, “Hey we’ve been waiting here about an hour and our appointment was at 10:00 is the doctor going to see us?” She said, “I’m so sorry, the doctor’s in surgery but as soon as he’s done, you’re the first one he’s going to see.” So 11:00, 11:30, 12:00 — finally at 12:00 I went up and I said, “Is there any chance that he’s going to see us pretty soon?” And she said, “You know what? You should probably go to lunch and come back.”

It’s hard to go to lunch with a dog, you can’t exactly go into a restaurant. But we found a place with outside seating and ate lunch, went back and sat in the same spot. At 1:00, 2:00, 2:30– finally at 2:45 they come out and they say, “Okay the doctor is going to see you now” and they ushered us into this little room. So I had Rocky sitting there, my ex-wife, Satan, sitting next to me and then me and then there was an empty chair.

The doctor comes in, he was in scrubs, he sits down, he crosses his legs and he says, “I’ve looked at the picture, he definitely has a mass, it’s a very aggressive cancer. If you’d like to leave him I’ll perform the surgery tomorrow morning.” And goes to stand up and walk out.

I’m like, “Whoa, whoa hold on a second” I said, “What are his chances of survival if he has the surgery?”

And he said, “I can’t tell you that. It’s been a while since the pictures were taken, I don’t know what I’m going to find when I get in there but if you’d like to leave him you can.”

I said, “Okay. Would you recommend chemo after?”

And he said, “I don’t know what I’ll recommend until I get in there, but if you want to leave him you can,” and he literally just walks out.

So, Satan turns to me and she says, “That man is not going to touch my dog with a knife.”

I’m like, “Whoa this guy just walked out and now you’re saying that the only doctor that can perform the surgery that we know of, can’t perform the surgery” and I say, “Why?”

and she says, “He’s not a dog person.”

I say, “What do you mean he’s not a dog person?”

She says, “He came in here and sat down and never once acknowledged Rocky, petted him, nothing. He just came in and left. He’s not a dog person.”

I had to agree. Something wasn’t quite right. I was expecting a warm and friendly pet-lover to come in and break the ice with Rocky and do a little hands-on assessment of his subject – the way a regular physician would take your pulse, or tell you to say “Ahh” and look at your tongue. Rocky’s attempts at greeting the new guy in the room were completely ignored; this doctor was all business. He gave us a very fine professional rundown of the procedure and the risks, answered most of our questions, and then sent in the nurse to answer our questions about price and scheduling, but Rocky could have been a sack of potatoes as far as this doctor was concerned.

We all know that if you’re a dog person, you’re a dog person. And dog people don’t really like people that aren’t dog people when it comes to the conversation of dogs. So, to her he’s not cutting her baby open with a knife because he’s not a dog person and she would never trust someone to have a knife around her baby if they’re not a dog person or they don’t love dogs as much her, because in her head the two don’t match.

Now, I know from being in business that the expert isn’t always the guy that you want talking to customers. Sometimes the best lawyer isn’t the guy that you want talking to clients. The best doctor isn’t the guy that you want talking to patients. But in this scenario, think about it, you’ve got a doctor that flies all over the country, he’s at the top of his game. He’s constantly training and learning new technologies and he’s on the edge of technology as far as surgery goes for animals. He works really, really hard. He’s away from home most of the month going and doing surgeries. He’s up all night, gets barely any sleep. He’s the best of the best and prides himself on being really, really good at what he does and he has a customer who doesn’t want to do business with him because he didn’t connect.

That’s what happens in our businesses every day. We don’t connect with customers about the stuff that matters, we don’t pet the dog. It’s not aboutthe commodity. It’s not about selling the hamburger, the car, the computer, whatever it is you’re in the business of selling – it isn’t about that. It’s about the connection with people.

Oftentimes, I get a better response from a company buying something online than I do from people. I can go into a bookstore and buy a book and never get acknowledged. I can go up to the cashier, they ring the book up, they tell me how much, I give them my money and I leave and nobody even asks me how my day is going. I can go on a website and buy the book and – Boom! – Instantly, as soon as I buy it I see a message: “Chris, thank you for your order.” That’s more than I get from a human being in most scenarios. Nobody pets the dog anymore. It’s about people and connecting with people about the things that matter, not the commodity. That is the key to success in business today. You’ve got to connect; you’ve got to pet the dog.

When a customer comes into your business with a question or a concern or a complaint, imagine that it’s about somebody’s sick puppy or their firstborn child. Think of yourself as the surgeon who is being entrusted with the life of their loved one. Would you hand your baby over to someone you didn’t trust?

Now, on that note, here are some thoughts on how to establish trust, and build long-term relationships with your customers that are going to keep paying off for years to come.


What do you think customers come to customer service for? We assume that they have a problem, of course, and they are looking to us for a solution. This is true, but it’s not the entire truth. They also want to connect with you!

When a customer approaches us and they are being impatient, giving us short answers, shutting us down—it’s easy to think that they don’t want any sort of connection with us. Nothing can be further from the truth. I’ve found, that the more difficult a customer seems to be acting, the more they are actually screaming for your attention.

It’s hard to believe, but it’s true. Customers naturally want us to pet them. All customers. Even the ones with the loudest “bark” and the most challenging demeanor. People want to feel a connection with the businesses they are giving their money to, and they do this through us—the warm, human, customer-facing part of the business—customer service.

It has to be the right kind of attention. We can’t just address the most obvious thing, the problem they’ve come to us with, and that’s it. We have to pet them, too. To go back to our vet analogy, we came to this vet with a problem, and the surgeon addressed the obvious problem, Rocky’s surgery, but he didn’t pay any attention to our dog. And Rocky wanted his attention. It wasn’t about us, or the surgeon—it was all about Rocky.

Pay attention to your customer and form a bond with them, while you’re paying attention to the problem. Trust me, when you pet the customer the right way, their problem will start to seem smaller and smaller (and that bark will get softer and softer), because you are forming a connection with them. They trust you. And that’s what they really want. We all want it, it’s human nature. (And dog nature, too!)

The point is, yes, customers want their problems solved, but more importantly they want your attention. Pet the dog right away, take an active interest, and you’ll turn your most challenging customers into your most loyal customers.


Imagine that you brought your car into a repair shop. You’re pissed off, the damn thing is leaking again, this is the third time you’ve brought it in. You’re running late and you have no idea how you’re get to work without a car while it’s getting worked on. Not to mention picking up your daughter from soccer practice later…

The advisor walks up to you and says, “Wow! You sure keep this baby looking shiny and new, I love your car. That wood grain dash is something I hardly ever see on this model, and it’s really amazing with those leather seats.”

How do you feel now? A little better? Like you might be in good hands, and the day might not be ruined just yet? Like this person will listen to you, and connect with you, and give you the help you need.

The things that people own tell the story of who they are. There is usually a story or a sentimental reason behind why they own a particular item. Antique watches, key chains with photos of their kids, special rims on their car, an unusual piece of jewelry—these are genetic extensions of your customer, and when you show enthusiasm for these details, you are also showing enthusiasm for the owner. A compliment or an observation and a few kind words is a good way to pet the dog.

So, pay attention to the details, demonstrate that you are paying attention, and establish trust right away.


Let’s go back to the scenario at the vet with Rocky. Imagine if that surgeon had taken a second to ask us what our biggest fears or concerns were before he left the room. Or what expectations we had for Rocky’s recovery? Or if we had any questions for him? It might have gone a lot differently.

Open-ended and direct questions are a great way to both educate your customers and learn more about them at the same time. And it gives them trust and confidence in you. Never make them feel like incompetent screw-ups if they don’t know or don’t have “the right” answer. This isn’t an opportunity for you to show off your expertise and make others feel less than knowledgeable. This is just good people skills. Remember, we’re forming connections here. How will you get to know someone if you all you do is talk and never ask them anything?

Ask them where they are from? What part of town do they live in? What do they do for work? What are they most frustrated with? Ask if you’ve done your job correctly, have you fixed their problem? Do they have any questions for you?

You’d be surprised what you’ll hear. And you won’t know until you ask.


Now that you understand what to do, we should talk a little bit about what you shouldn’t do.

I had a bad experience recently at this trendy new restaurant that just opened down the street from me. I went in all excited to try this place out, all my friends told me about it, and I wanted to spend a lot of money, eat good food, and have a great experience—but I left totally frustrated, and not wanting to ever go back.

We got there early, but we didn’t have a reservation, so they told us we had to wait quite a while before we’d get seated, which was fine with us. So, my girlfriend and I headed over to the bar to get a cocktail while we waited for the hostess to get us and tell us that our table was ready. When I got the bartender’s attention, I handed him my card, so I could buy drinks for us. That was fine. We ordered our drinks and spent the next fifteen minutes or so chatting and drinking at the busy bar. Then the hostess came up and said that the table was ready. So, I signaled to the bartender and said, “Can I close out my tab, we’re going to sit down.”

He scratched his head, and gave me a look, and he said, “I don’t have your card.”

Now, I hadn’t had that much to drink yet, so I couldn’t be drunk. And I distinctly remembered handing him my card. But the bar was incredibly busy, and so I assumed, he probably just didn’t remember that I’d actually opened a tab. And just to be certain, I opened my wallet and checked again. No card. So, I told him, “I gave you my card. It’s back there…the name is Collins.”

I couldn’t believe what he said next: “I don’t have your card, you didn’t give it to me.”

My eyebrows must have been on the ceiling. Instead of going back to check for my card, this guy was going to stand there and argue with me? I couldn’t believe it. He didn’t care that my girlfriend was hungry, or that the hostess was waiting for us, or that I wanted to pay for my drinks, and his service—he just wanted to be right.

Finally, grumbling, and with a sour look on his face, he went back and checked for the card—and of course it was there. The question is, do you think I tipped him? No. Do you think I’ll go back and order a drink from him ever again? No. Because we failed to connect. Being right was more important to him than making a connection with me. And why would I give my money to someone that doesn’t care about making a connection with me?

Not only didn’t this bartender pet the dog—he stepped on its tail!

It’s the same for customer service. Your job isn’t to argue. You aren’t getting paid to duke it out with customers. It isn’t about being right, even if you’re totally right. Even if I had been mistaken, and I had actually forgotten to give him my card—his job was to solve the immediate problem, and get me to pay my bill, either way. Not argue.

So, if you ever find yourself in a situation with a customer where you find yourself trying to prove a point—stop. Even if they started it. Your job is to solve problems, serve, and support your customer. Period.


This is a bit of a business urban legend, but the online shoe retailer Zappos is so well known for their excellent customer service that supposedly even when customers call their service line looking for something other than shoes, they are still assisted. Rumor has it that one night a customer mistakenly called Zappos while looking for a pizza place to order delivery from. Instead of hanging up on the customer, the service rep proceeded to look up local pizza places until they found an appropriate restaurant for the customer to place their order with. (If you don’t believe me, call them. Here’s Zappos customer service line: 1 (800) 927-7671)

The moral of the story is that if you want your customers to understand just how important they are to you, then you should treat them like you would your best friend. And if you want to eventually replace Zappos as the gold standard in business for customer service, then your customer service can’t just go through the motions. Go farther than the competition is willing to go. Pet the dog, and pet it again, and again. Scratch behind the ears if you have to, and rub the belly. Until that dog won’t go to anyone else but you!

Your Turn!

That’s all it takes to blow away the competition and watch your customer relations soar. Connect with people on the stuff that matters. It doesn’t cost you a dime, and the pittance of extra time is often more than made up by discovering everything you need to know while your customer is there, right in front of you. You’ll save yourself the expense and bad will of customers, convert some small sales into bigger ones, and build a stable of loyal friends that will support you for a lifetime.


So, go ahead…pet the dog!


Chris “the Bulldog” Collins





Customer Service can be a daunting task. Everyone has different personalities, different wants, different needs. With that in mind, the first thing you need to focus on is that initial greeting. First impressions are key. Chances are, they already have an impression of you before they walk in the door:

You’re a minimum wage high school dropout who knows far less than they do. Ergo, you’re beneath them.

Now, this can either manifest itself in an outward display of condescending superiority, or overly kind pity. Either way, they’re thinking you’re not too bright, so we have to flip them on that. Part of success is proving that you know your business.

With that in mind, greet them.

You don’t have to be overly cheery or anything—just greet them like you’d greet anyone. Appear interested, but not eager.

A big problem in customer service is not having that middle ground—either the person is overly engaged to the point where it comes across as fake, or they’re totally blasé about the whole thing, giving an air of total boredom. You want to seem normal; normal means you’re safe; it means you’re trustworthy.

Sounds tough, huh? Feeling the pressure yet?

Basically, you have to be yourself. If yourself isn’t that great, be the person who you’d like to be—be the person who’s cool, calm, collected and engages people with ease.


There will come a time when a customer will get angry. Indignant. Straight up pissed off. Maybe it’s your fault, but those in customer service know that more often than not, it totally isn’t. But that’s irrelevant—they’re yelling at you.

In such a situation, some may be inclined to crumple; some may get mad back at the customer. Neither of these will solve your problem. It is up to you to stand firm while also keeping your wits about you.

Special Note: You are a human being. The customer is NOT always right. They do not get to talk to you as if you are beneath them. Sure, they can think whatever they want, but you do not have to accept or take verbal abuse of any kind.

Oftentimes, customers get angry at things beyond your control. Typically, their issues pertain to things that come down from corporate, like the rules of the rewards program or whatever is happening to them at home. Sometimes, people just show up angry, and there isn’t anything you can really do about it.

Once you can accept that you can’t do anything, and not let their mood affect your demeanor, that’s when you really win. Even if your overall pleasantness doesn’t get them to budge, you win because, you aren’t allowing them to rub off on you. That’s one of the last things you want—letting the customer dictate your actions. One of the most important things of customer services is both knowing and accepting that no matter what, you are the one who is in control. That is your power; you can’t let them rob you of that.

I have to encourage you to repeat this to yourself; “It’s not me—it’s them.”


After an exchange that has gone south, they’re ready to call for the manager. They want you reprimanded; they want you reported; they want you out.

The first thing your manager is going to ask you, what happened, and what did you do?
Let’s examine your bedside manner. How do you talk to your customers? What do you notice? The answers are: Like I care, and I notice everything.

Once I took my dog to the vet with my ex-wife, and the vet came out, the epitome of clinical, not even glancing at the dog, and just began talking to us. He was supposed to perform a surgery for our dog.

My Ex-Wife: He isn’t touching our dog.
Me: Why not?
My Ex-Wife: Did you see how he ignored our baby? Didn’t pet him, or say his name… No, no he is not coming near him with a scalpel or anything. He is clearly not a dog person.

She was right.

The vet was disinterested, cold, and therefore, not deserving our trust, or our business. The same applies for you.

Now, I’m not saying you have to go and be anyone’s BFF, but you’d be surprised by how far paying attention, and a pleasant smile can get you.

If they have a dog, pet it. If they’re wearing something with a particular logo, talk about it. Any room for common ground, grasp it and don’t let go. This allows the conversation to evolve organically. You don’t need a script or to fake anything—find that common thread between you and the client. We’re all human, right? If you can manage that, I guarantee there will be soup for you.


Now, let’s say you’ve taken the “pet the dog” approach to the client. You were engaged and invested, took in the details and talked to them in a friendly manner. But boy, that medulla oblongata just won’t let up.

What do you do? What shouldn’t you do?

Do remain calm. Getting worked up does nothing but ruin your blood pressure.
Don’t yell, or raise your voice, as it can be misconstrued and used against you.
Do ask for your manager, as they can bear witness, and be in your court when a customer gets out of line.
Don’t be crass. They will bait you, and call you out of your name. Don’t fall into this trap. Besides, the best insults don’t use profane language at all.


Remember: Customer or not, they’re a person; you’re a person. No matter who they are, or what they do, they put their pants one leg at a time just like you do. They eat, they sleep and breathe, just like you do. Titles and status don’t matter; it’s a mental hurdle we put ourselves over because of what society dictates.

That mentality puts a cast on a bone that isn’t broken; it’s just gonna make you experience atrophy.

People are people. Some are nice and some are jerks, but they’re still people. Because they are people, they can be wrong. The customer is not infallible, and they should not be treated as such. And remember, like details, you matter.



Sooner or later you’re going to find yourself in front of a seemingly unsurmountable mountain and have to find a way to move it. Whether you’re a service manager or a barbershop owner, obstacles are guaranteed to continue to present themselves. Of course, you’re not going to be able to tackle this feat alone. You’re unquestionably going to need the help of your employees. And to fully accomplish that, your business will need to be gamified.

Unfortunately, on average, a majority of employees are dissatisfied with their jobs. This is particularly impactful when your employees are directly interacting with customers. Picture for a second that magical, wonderful place that is the DMV. Picture the lovely, friendly staff. Having trouble? It’s widely accepted truth that most DMV employees are cold, bored, and disinterested. And as a customer, you instinctively mirror this behavior back. It’s a psychological certainty; energy is contagious.


What this means is that when your team is having fun, and is driven and challenged, your customers will feel it. The circle of energy in your business goes like this: when your employees feel good, your customers feel good. And when your customers feel good, they buy more. Thus growing your income, making you feel good. And then you pass that energy back to the employees. So how do you create a joyful, challenging environment for employees?

You must create and promote a new business culture. You can achieve this with a little system I like to call Gamification. Gamification is using game thinking or strategy in non-game, real world settings to problem solve or increase user contributions. When your business is gamified, you’ll be building teams to foster enthusiastic, driven employees which are essential to a sustainable, healthy business.


Gamification is a hack that will enable you to become the leader to move the inevitable mountains your business will face. It has a proven track record of success because it is founded on common sense. It’s the product of the fundamental human desire for happiness and challenges in life. I see gamified businesses all around me. And once you start playing games with your teams, you will too. You’ll see that energy is higher in business that play games, the employees are more attentive and connected than normal. When you notice these gamified businesses, don’t be afraid to seek out the manager and share ideas. Remember knowledge is power; never stop learning.

I have yet to find a limit to the application of Gamification. A 2012 review of twenty-four scholarly articles concluded that Gamification increases attitude, motivation, and enjoyments in employees across the board. Whether it was kids studying for a spelling bee or adults learning a new computer task that was gamified. It does this by bringing your employees closer together and helping spread new ideas. Mixing competition and the social aspects of playing games is a profitable combination. It’s what strives people to do better while making them feel great simultaneously.


The key aspect of Gamification is powered by one single factor. Since the dawn of civilization (cue 2001: A Space Odyssey), individuals within teams have been pushed to the highest levels of success by one fundamental, innate human element: desire. From the desire to acquire another city (Greek Mythology Agamemnon’s siege of Troy) to the desire for another breath (Greece’s famous Gladiators). Desire is what moves people. So why not give the people what they desire?

Through competition, social interaction, and achievement, Gamification fulfills the desires of its players within the work environment. Gamified business have improved job security, encouraged teamwork and connection, provided instant and long term validation, and allowed people to reach their full potential. The mission to move mountains will never end, but once the momentum gets rolling and the money starts flowing in, Gamification will be there to see you through it. Get your copy of Amazon’s #1 Best Selling Author in Workplace Culture and Personal Management for Gamification!



That meeting was ridiculously fun. When is the last time you heard that? When we’re having fun, are we really working? Enjoy an exclusive behind the scenes look at our ridiculously fun Elite Mastermind Coaching Group meeting as we focus on continuous improvement for business performance.

Our Elite Coaching Groups are made up of the best of the best Service Managers from across the country. 4 Times a year we bring a special guest from outside the automotive industry who is excelling in their business and performing at the top of their field to share the systems, tools and secrets that make them stand out from all others.

In our most recent Elite Mastermind Coaching Group we’re joined by special guest Eric Parmater, CEO of Rocking Popcorn and Tequila Ranch. Eric comes from humble beginnings, working in restaurants and selling encyclopedias (I can’t even begin to explain how difficult that is). Eric is an overall inspiration and unfailingly optimistic. He has many unique philosophies, one of them being, when branching out into liquor stores: “If all else fails, we’ll have really f*@$*!& nice bars at home.” Through his numerous ventures he’s learned what separates the exceptional salespeople from the average: Persistence. This is teachable but most of us have an innate level of persistence. Think about babies. We can all attest to the fact that they will cry until they get their bottle. Persistence.


It’s essential that to create an atmosphere in your store that encourages conversation and questions with customers. Once the customers are comfortable it’s easier to decipher their needs and cater the experience from there. Continuous improvement can not happen in a bubble, use what’s learned in these conversations for the immediate experience, but also use them to adapt, iterate and make the business even better over time.

Eric makes the experience so special that customers are known to buy bottles for Eric and his friends (and they own the shop). On one visit, a customer was on the way to checkout and the customer broke an expensive bottle of Rémy. He tried to pay for it. Eric politely refused and thanked him, and said he’d take responsibility for that. The experience we create is for the customer, never forget that. Make it an easy and fluid experience and you’ll see an increase repeat business, referral business and customer retention.


Parmater subscribes to the philosophy that, “You get ’em on price or you lose ’em on price. There’s essentially nothing else.” And continues “If your goal is to be the lowest price in town, you’ve already lost.” There’s nowhere to go to show continuous improvement from there.

Eric’s Tequila Ranch clientele is unique, and he’s built it up through making genuine connections and knowing what his customers want. “A client who may regularly spend $65 on a bottle of wine, that person is not going to be tempted by a $55 bottle of wine because it’s $10 cheaper. At that point $10 is nothing. They want to spend $65 for a bottle of wine because of what it means: higher quality, a peak year, richer flavor, etc. They wouldn’t be in Tequila Ranch if they were concerned more with getting a bargain bottle of wine, they’re at Tequila Ranch for quality”, said Parmater.

For similar reasons, when I’m training service managers, I recommend alignments be priced at $129 as opposed to $109. And resoundingly the answer is no because a $20 doesn’t seem worth it to service managers. Which is a massive oversight. Consider you sell 200 alignments at $20 increase, you’ll see a $4,000 increase in profits. Increase the quality of the experience and customers will be willing to spend an extra $20. Give them WiFi and a clean comfortable chair and watch how many alignments you dealership starts turning out.


Eric is lucky enough to have a great staff who really like him. But perhaps it isn’t luck at all. Let’s take a closer look. It’s a universal truth that actions speak louder than words. As Eric says, “I despise clichés. I love actions.” Eric prefers to drive continuous improvement in the store by setting the example. There’s a lot of opportunity for information to get lost in translation. Eric finds it’s more effective for his employees to observe his proactive steps as a leader and then emulate him.

So, take that list of goals I know you have hanging in your back office and get out in the dealership and put your words into actions. You can say you’re motivated but if you’re not taking actions towards your goals, what are you doing?

Speaking of Leaders taking action, in August more than 100 Leading Service Managers and Advisors joined us in Downtown LA at our annual Top Dog Event to do just that. Every year we bring the best of the best together, featuring Leading Speakers likeformer Navy SEAL Jocko Willink, Dave Anderson and Tim Kintz. At the event we all workshop together, mastermind, and award the Top Service Manager $50,000 based on their improvement over last years numbers. It’s not too late to go for the prize yourself. Who knows, maybe next year you’ll snag the $50k grand prize.


If you really want to succeed at becoming a Top Dog and create a higher quality of life for your employees, yourself and consequently your family, you have to be different. Look at me, I’m very different. I don’t want to fit in which is something Eric and I have in common. We’re both creating systems to foster continuous improvement while adding value in a unique way. Be it business models or leadership techniques. It’s easy to get caught up in the norm and be average. Break from the constraints of normality and start thinking differently.

Just look at Eric. He attributes a 100% of his success to disregarding society’s norms, the average. You see it very plainly in the products he produces. His goal when developing a new product is to create a unique name, unique labeling and packaging, and to have a unique knowledge about his product. This enables Eric to burst into a market and immediately distinguish his product from his competition. Find and exploit that one product or service that everyone else has or can easily get but the trick is to create a difference, a niche, that customers can’t get anywhere else. Eric has cultivated his store into a destination by using these principles. He’s a firm believer that if someone tells him not to do something, he’s going to do that exactly. So go ahead, dare him.

Eric is just one of many of the forward thinking entrepreneurs featured in my Elite Mastermind Coaching Groups where we provide the best managers in the country with the tools they need show continuous improvement by implementing effective systems and strategies for lasting profitability and customer retention. Of course, we have a few drinks and fun along the way. In fact, after a few tequila’s Eric delighted us all with his brilliant insights on marriage: “If corporate law and business law were anything like marriage law, you would never start a company. There’s just no f*@$*!&amp way.” Get in on our next Elite Mastermind Coaching Group and join the action!