Empowering Advisors with Mia Griggs

by | Nov 16, 2020 | Auto, Podcasts, Service Drive Revolution | 0 comments

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:

Chris

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?

Mia

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.

Chris

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?

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.

Mia

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.

Chris

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.

Mia

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.

Chris

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?

Mia

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!

Chris

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

Mia

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

Chris

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.

Christian

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

Chris

You’re very funny, by the way.

Christian

Yeah, super funny.

Chris

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

Mia

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

Chris

I would start with employer.

Mia

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.

Chris

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?

Mia

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.

Chris

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.

Mia

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.

Chris

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

Mia

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

Chris

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

Mia

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

Christian

Possibly the funniest people on the planet. 100%.

Chris

Are you a Gemini, Christian?

Christian

Yes, I am.

Chris

Oh, see?

Mia

Yeah.

Chris

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

Mia

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.

Chris

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?

Mia

I did.

Chris

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 miagriggs.com

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