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The Service Drive Naughty Or Nice List

We’re a couple days away from what is probably the weirdest Christmas of our lives so far, but at least that means an excuse for us to have a Christmas show for you today! Speaking of weird Christmases, both Christian and I are in ugly sweaters, but his deserves special mention. It has a hood with antlers on it, but it also lights up.

Today, we’re going to talk about Santa’s naughty or nice list in the service drive, but first, we need to talk our industry, because it’s in peril… It’s headed off a cliff at 110 miles an hour. 

Everything’s changing really, really fast. Now, I hate consultants, but you would still think that it’s their job to tell people the truth and help them avoid peril. If you were paying a consultant, wouldn’t you want them to tell you the truth?

I believe that, just like the politics in our country, people’s agendas are easy to see, and the truth is secondary to whatever narrative they’re trying to push. And so these consultants get paid by Ford and GM and the Big Detroit Three, and they’re trying to placate them by not telling them the truth.

On the show, we play a clip from an Autoline Network discussion on the future of electric trucks. You can watch it here. Skip to 6:37 for the clip we’re talking about.

One thing I’d like to say is that I have no dog in this fight. I’m not in the market for an electric car or truck. The outcome I want is for our clients to succeed and navigate the next five years and gain more market share, be more successful, have more fun, and enjoy the journey! I don’t want anybody to be blind to the fact that there’s going to be some challenges.

The truth is the truth!

So those consultants in the clip are saying that Tesla and Rivian, combined with all SEVEN manufacturers of electric trucks, will only sell 40,000 trucks by 2024, and that fleets aren’t going to buy them. 

Let me tell you guys something… First of all, Amazon’s already ordered 10,000. We’re still in 2020 and they’ll be delivered by 2022. 

But sure, no fleets want electric trucks. Yup, they don’t want customizable trucks with low maintenance costs and low operation costs. No fleet is going to pay $20,000 more for that. 

What is he talking about?! I’m not a consultant and I know more about this than you guys! You could easily Google this!

They’re already buying electric trucks because the companies are more flexible. I don’t understand how you can get away with lying about stuff like this. I don’t understand how Fox News does it, I don’t understand how CNN does it, and I certainly don’t think we should be lying to people to this degree in the car business! 

It lacks complete common sense. In fact, Tesla has 1.2 million pre-orders for their pickup truck. Let’s say 80% of those fall through, you still sold more than 40,000 trucks…

If you watch this whole interview, it’s nuts. I don’t understand who the target audience is, and I don’t understand what the motivation is to be so dishonest about the landscape of the marketplace!

It reminds me of NADA, the National Auto Dealers Association, years ago when I used to try to speak at their events. I could care less about them now. They never brought me business anyways. In my honest opinion, it’s the biggest waste of $100,000 you could ever spend going and doing that event, but they make you present your keynote or your workshop to them and their panel. I present mine and they tell me two things:

  1. I can’t say Satan in my Pet the Dog story
  2. You can’t talk about Tesla

You might remember this story from our first show this year, so it’s all kind of come full circle, but I ask them, “Why can’t I talk about Tesla?”

Their answer is because it’s not a popular subject with the dealers, so I’m like, “Are you guys here to help dealers navigate the future or are you just trying to be popular?”

It’s like being the worst parents ever. Eat all the candy you want. Stay out as late as you want. Get pregnant when you’re 13.

There’s no fundamental truth! It’s not a ‘popular subject’? It’s the world today. It’s what’s going on. 

I should be checking my blood pressure with how much this drives me crazy! How do these guys get away with this? It’s straight up lying!

I expect this kind of stuff from Fox News, but for the life of me, I don’t understand how half-rate consultants can go around saying stuff like this. And these aren’t even the big consulting companies. 

Let me tell you something that isn’t outright lie: do you know what you should get good at in a market that’s shifting towards electric cars? 

Tires and alignments, because electric cars will still break and have problems, but they don’t have as much maintenance. Tires and alignments are how we’re going to retain them because that’s the maintenance they do have. That’s what we should be telling people. 

We should be honest with people on how they navigate the future, not that, “Oh, no. That’s a boogeyman that doesn’t exist!”

No! Electric cars and trucks are coming. They’re going to come and people are going to buy them. And the other thing that everybody leaves out of the equation is that China is going to be fully electric by 2026. 

They sell twice as many new cars a year as we do. They are the driver of why Volkswagen and all these manufacturers are making half their lineup electric. It has nothing to do with us. We’re going to get it because that’s what they’re making. They’re going to make it popular because that’s what’s coming off the line!

When a country as dominant as China is in new car sales (literally twice as much, if not more than us a year), that’s what they’re building factories to make! And they’re going full electric by 2026 so you’ve got to look at the whole landscape!

Anyways, that’s why I hate consultants. It’s almost like there’s some sort of conspiracy going on. Are the CEOs of the manufacturers out there really that naïve that they need these consultants telling them this? They know the truth. They’re looking at the real numbers. Is it the dealers they’re trying to brainwash?

Before my blood pressure gets any higher, let’s move onto today’s topic: the service drive naughty and nice list for 2020. Well, it’s more of a naughty list, but here’s a neat little trick:

If you want to make it a nice list, just do the opposite.

Managers wearing their seatbelt

No shortage of seatbelt inventory in manager offices, and that’s not just parts managers. It can be service, too. What I mean by that is that they never take their seatbelt off: they’re never leave their office chair.

CND: Could Not Duplicate

Not taking the time to do quality control and just blowing the customer off. What you’re basically saying is, “You’ve got nothing better to do than bring your car in and tell me you have an obscure problem?”

We’ve got to be better than that; not just the techs, but everybody with how we collect information and communicate with the client.

Customers not being updated

This one is pretty self-explanatory.

Customers not being safe and dependable vehicles

So one thing that I like to do when I go into a service department is I’ll go pull their declines and I’ll just call customers and ask them, “Hey, why did you decline brakes?” and most of the time, they’ll say, “Oh, they didn’t tell me about it until I came to pick up the car.”

We can’t keep customers in safe and dependable vehicles if we’re not communicating with them instantly while the tech still has it on his rack. Give them techs the chance to do the maintenance or repair first. It’s more efficient for the tech, it’s better for the customer, and at the end of the day, it’s better for the business!


It’s interesting that with all the things that happened this year with COVID, politics, and the economy. Some cities were just completely shut down, but the difference between the departments that set records and made this their best year ever and the ones that didn’t was just their mindset of being a victim or not. That’s it. They might have even been within 20 miles of each other!

Now it’s time to move onto our questions.

“Hey, guys. A question for you. I recently became a service manager of a small operation so I’m still a service advisor, especially if the other advisor is not there. I want to be in more of a traditional manager role in an office with two or three advisors so I’m not actually writing up the customers every day. Is your advice sticking with the same company and waiting for opportunity? Or would it be just keeping an eye on the area for another opportunity and kind of working your way up. Maybe hopping to a different company if they have an opening for – we’ll call it – the higher up position or something involving probably more money as well as more of a traditional manager role?

What is your opinion, stay with the company and ride the wave and hopefully everything works out and an opportunity opens up within the company? Or do I keep searching for outside opportunities and then interview for that outside opportunity if it sounds more like the role I’m looking for? Just looking for advice. I know you always say with advisors you’d recommend sticking with the same company, obviously because of the customer base, but where a manager is more – it’s not necessarily – you’re not dealing with customers every day so I don’t think it’s as important. Just looking for your opinion. Thanks.”

Something Christian immediately got from the question was that it’s not, “I want to be the manager.” It’s, “I don’t want to talk to customers every day anymore.”

As a manager, you have to love the customers even more. A little more information would also be helpful, but what I would say is I would go about it two ways:

One, let’s aim this at a different target. Let’s say you want to be a general manager someday because that’s how I would think. Your end goal is to be a service manager with two or three advisors. You want to get better, build your toolbox, have some real tangible results that you can be proud of but also show that you are a leader and that you can take a challenge, use that challenge to your advantage, and turn it into a positive outcome. You can put that orange in the juicer and out comes juice, right?

The other is I would go sit down with your dealer or general manager and tell them, “Hey, my goal is to someday be a manager like you and I want you to mentor me. I want you to show me how to read the financial statement. I want to learn. I want to be really good.”

Meanwhile, grow your service department. You need to get good at marketing and driving traffic. It doesn’t’ matter if you do it there or at the next place. You need to add some things to your toolbox that allows you to hit the sales button. 

It’s really important is that if 10 cars come in, or 10 cars and trucks come in, or 100 cars or trucks come in, that the outcome is customers love us and we have very high dollars per RO. The outcome of the process in the system we have in place is happy customers that are maintaining their vehicles and fixing whatever there is, and that’s not an easy thing to do. We’ve got to inspect every car, check history, and make customers feel at home and trust us.

So I would focus on hitting the leather off of the ball, like getting really, really good where you are and expressing your need and want for advancement, learning, and opportunity. If the dealership you’re in doesn’t want to offer that, then go find somebody who does AFTER you hit the leather off the ball. 

Basically, my answer is that I’ve rarely seen anybody be successful long term by jumping for the opportunity instead of learning how to fix things and get really good at maximizing traffic.

“Hey, Chris and Christian, what’s going on? Huge fan. Just wanted to ask a question about how to gamify a body shop. I just wonder if that’s something you can help me with. I’m just wondering, what happened to Jeremy? Where’d he go? He’s hiding after the election?”

Is that a Trump joke?

Well, anyway, Jeremy’s just been busy. He hasn’t had the time to be on the show. It’s a big commitment for him to drive a couple hours and then do this show in LA with COVID and all that. We love Jeremy.

Now, to answer your question, I guess there’s two things I would do:

I would probably gamify how many work plans they wrote, maybe within the first couple hours. The whole key is how soon can we get the car in, get it broken down, and write a work plan, not just an estimate. 

Then, I would probably gamify the turn; how quick they come in and out.

The biggest thing that I find with body shops is that they’re just dust. The good body shop operators that I know go out and grease pencil every day, like they do a lot walk. Who’s the advisor? Why is this still here? They figure out which advisors and techs have the quickest turn and they drive that. 

In fact, I’d probably make it all about turn because that’s what the insurance companies care about. That’s what keeps their rental car expense low. I would involve the techs, too. Maybe split the advisors and techs in half and do a competition or something. Two teams against each other and let them pick names for the other team.

Well, that’s it for the questions for today… and I guess the rest of this year. I like this new format where people call in because you get to hear their voice and get a feel for it. Remember, if you call us at (833) 3-ASK-SDR and leave a voicemail and it gets played on the show, you’ll get some cool swag. That’s (833) 327-5737.

From our family to yours, we wish everybody a happy holiday!

And I just want to mention that we’re going to take a little bit of a hiatus with the show, but we’ll be back on January 11th so we look forward to seeing you then! 

We hope that you have some time to enjoy the loved ones around you and reflect on this year, and think about next year and what you can do. And remember, don’t be a victim. The commonality between the winners and the losers this year were who owned the outcome, who stepped up and took the challenges, and who made the best of them. 

It’s very naïve of us to think that things are going to be easy and that everything’s going to be handed to us so I would just expect that the beginning of next year is going to be a challenge, but we can make it fun. We can have a good time. So thank you, Merry Christmas, and we’ll see you next time on Service Drive Revolution!

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