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CES 2020… Sony’s Making a Car?

In the automotive industry, if you’re not innovating, then you’re falling behind. That’s why, on this week’s episode of Service Drive Revolution, I sat down with Chris Hogland, one of our coaches here at Chris Collins, Inc. to talk about some of the coolest innovations from CES 2020 last week, with some particularly interesting stuff in store from the car world. 

For those who don’t know, CES is the Consumer Electronics Expo in Vegas where they show sex toys, cars, and everything in between: cell phones, computers, you name it.

Fisker unveiled their electronic SUV, the Fisker Ocean. It’s going to be $37,500 or a lease of $379 a month with a 30,000 mile limit for the year. Tesla’s 10,000 mile a year lease option is $535, so they’re going right for Tesla on that price. It’ll be interesting to see what their second swing looks like because last time they couldn’t even get their cars off the lot before a lot of the people they hired ended up jobless. Who’s going to want to take that chance again, right?

Next we got the Vision AVTR from Mercedes-Benz. This one’s a strange phenomenon for the German car company, because they’re usually all about performance, and the experience of driving the car itself. Not so with this one. This  one is different, because it’s all about the experience inside – it’s basically a cocoon. This Avatar-themed concept car not only detects your pulse, but also your breathing. It even has multi-function controls that detect your fingerprints. In the automotive realm, I consider myself a technically-minded person but this one is so out there, it’s crazy.

Visa and Sirius XM came up with this idea of automated payments for tolls, gas, and food right from your car. You don’t even have to pull out your wallet! I really like the idea of paying for tolls and parking without ever having to stop or go to a parking meter.

BMW is getting in on it, too. They announced the Zero-G Lounger, which is a car seat that can recline up to 60 degrees. The seatbelt then moves along with the passenger and the headliner has a TV that comes out. Anyone who’s ever been to a dentist’s office where they hand you a remote and let you watch Netflix or Apple TV knows what I’m talking about.

What is the common link between all these concept cars and features?

Notice that, so far, I’ve barely said a word about performance. That’s because the designers of these concept cars are all about making these new car designs more eco-friendly, and more luxurious. In 2020, the truth could not be clearer: The car is a commodity, now more than ever. But that’s what’s unreal, isn’t it? You’re not really driving anymore. It’s all about checking your e-mail or watching Netflix. That’s got me thinking what content companies could be planning to be consumed in vehicles within the next 10 years. People are going to want Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ in their car, don’t you think? That introduces a whole new way to monetize!

Now, a name you might not have expected to hear in this group is Sony. They showed off their own electric concept car, the Vision S, and while this doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re making a car, they did show off the technology inside: a dashboard with six screens, audio in the seats – basically a home entertainment system inside your car. What they’re doing makes me think that all the car companies are going to want to jump in on this. They see the writing on the wall.

And then you’ve got Damon’s new Hypersport electric motorcycle, which supposedly goes 200 miles per hour with a 200 mile range. What’s also crazy is that they’re using Blackberry software in the bike’s operating system. I didn’t even know Blackberry was still around!

I don’t know how you get into CES… but all this cool stuff has got me thinking maybe we should go next year!

Before I get into the audience question, let me talk to you about Chris Hogland, who offers some valuable insight on this week’s show. He’s a coach here at Chris Collins, Inc. who’s out there fixing stores for us, and one of the things he brings to the table is that he’s one of the guys that sees opportunities before he sees obstacles – in fact, a lot of the time, the obstacles ARE opportunities.

Now, one of his experiences in his career was being recruited by Tesla after being a BMW tech. This was at the very beginning of Tesla, so he was a part of when they were still trying to build their network across the country.

He had read a lot about Tesla – mostly that they were hemorrhaging money – but he still jumped in with both feet, because it was something different and he was looking for a new challenge. Here he was, a mechanic from Oklahoma, going through orientation with guys from MIT, Stanford, etc. It was entertaining, but also sobering – exciting, but he also felt like he was in over his head. Who wouldn’t?

Fast forward to now. I don’t have to tell you how good things are looking for Tesla moving forward – but even Chris wouldn’t have guessed back then that they’d be selling as many cars as they are today.

I’ve picked Chris’s brain plenty of times to see what exactly about Elon’s management style led them this far, and I think it would have to be his obsessive laser focus that he has. It’s a bit arrogant at times, but he believes in what he’s doing so much that it’s better to ask for forgiveness instead of permission.

Earlier this month, I talked about Tesla’s unfair advantage. Between downloading data from the cars, autonomous driving, and circumventing the dealer network, they have so much momentum that no one can catch up. Meanwhile, BMW and Toyota are still hoping that hydrogen will start coming around!

Point is, Tesla got off to a rough start because they were doing things very unconventionally, and they were more concerned about building a network and testing their system rather than profit. Again, it’s that culture of cutting edge – of change and ingenuity – that’s paying off for them right now.

We’re in an industry where a lot of people are doing things the way they’ve been doing them since 1930 instead of looking for a better way. At Tesla, if a change to the tradition makes sense, then they’re doing it today. I’ve been to Tesla and I’ve been to Detroit, and I feel like Detroit’s fat and slow while Tesla is quick and nimble – no offense to anybody in Detroit.

With all that fascinating stuff out of the way, we have an audience question. Remember: if you submit a question, we’re going to send you some swag. That includes a Service Drive Revolution package with a shirt, a mug, and some other fun stuff.

“I got hired to be a service advisor and parts man but when I got hired, I had zero experience. As a service advisor, I know it’s my job to be 100% attentive to the customer, but between running to my techs for information, parts runs, answering the phones, and calling customers with quotes, etc., I find that I’m not giving my customer the attention they need. How can I effectively balance everything so that I can be there for the customer, create a trusting environment, and connect with them while fulfilling my other responsibilities? My heart aches for the customer because I know we can do better for them.”

Good question – and I like your enthusiasm. There’s a bunch of answers to that, and one is being honest with your customers upfront and telling them the truth. Just tell them the process and what happened like, “We’re going to check it out and figure out what’s wrong with it, then we’re going to have to source the parts.”

100 years ago when I was an advisor, I would tell them, “Here’s the process. It’s going to get dispatched to tech. Once the tech has it in their stall, they’re going to check it out and they’re going to tell me what’s wrong with it. I’m going to call you right then.”

My intention behind doing it was getting the customers to pick up the phone when I called. Ask them what their day is like.

“Are you going to be in meetings today? What’s the best number to call?”

I would go through all these things and they knew to be ready for my call because it could mean the car staying another day if they didn’t. It never turned them off. It actually pulled them in closer to me, because I was putting like this: if you’re not available to do your part, I can’t do mine– right?

I used to always ask the other advisors, “Why don’t you tell customers the truth?”

Be honest about whether it’s going to take a day or two to get the parts. Walk them through what the timeline to repair is. The key is finding a way to be proactive – anticipate the customer’s needs as well as your own, and have the true goal of getting their car back in a timely manner. You might not be able to change the process, so if you feel bad that you’re not meeting their expectations, change what their expectations should be! Set the record straight!

Another thing you could do is find a vendor that will deliver. I know a lot of independent shops where the parts get delivered twice a day. There might be weird situations where you might have to get something from a dealership but a lot of times you can also hire a parts runner. There are apps out there like TaskRabbit where you could pay someone $20 to go pick up the part if you can’t afford a full-time driver. Add that to the quote and pass it along to the customer.

When you look at some of these problems and think they’re outside of your control, they’re really not. You just need to think a little more outside the box. That’s the entire point of Service Drive Revolution — to get Advisors to think outside the box of what the Service Drive is.

When I wrote service, a lot of the advisors felt like victims. I knew the system sucked, but that wasn’t going to stop me from controlling the narrative, because – let’s face it – there’s never a perfect system.

Thanks again for reading and tuning in this week. We’ll see you next time on Service Drive Revolution.

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