Tag Archives: Automotive Consultant

Service Drive Revolution Quality Service Advisors

Volume vs Quality: How Service Advisors Can Find the Balance

As service advisors, it’s really important to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s going on out there on the service drives. One of the best ways to do that is to be part of a network of people who keep each other in the loop about different elements of the business–what the problems are, new products on the market, sales trends…the whole nine yards. 

One of the people in my network is Coach Super Mario, Service Advisor Coach extraordinaire. I had him on the Service Drive Revolution podcast to talk about what he’s seeing in service drives, which is that people are making mistakes when it comes to balancing volume versus quality. 

Mario used to be an advisor at Longo Toyota here in Los Angeles. Longo is part of the Penske Automotive Group, better known as PAG, a business that’s known for its damn good employee retention and customer service, among other things. They’re known for it and as a former employee, Mario agrees with the public’s perception. When he was at Longo, they took care of the team by bringing in lunch, special dinners…that kind of thing. They knew that if their employees were happy, they would do their best work. Mario told us that PAG president Greg Penske’s big thing is remembering names–to the point that if he saw you and couldn’t remember yours, he’d literally give them $20 on the spot or take them to the in-house Starbucks to make up for it…and he’d never forget that person’s name again. And that kind of attention to detail when it comes to people trickled down into the whole company. 

And guess what? Longo Toyota literally sells more cars than anywhere else in the world. When Mario was there over a decade ago, Longo always broke records in May, and their goal for the month was to sell 2,500 new cars plus easily 700-800 used. I like to call it the Disneyland of car dealerships because their operation is so epic. They might even have a jail in there…you’ll have to give the episode a listen to find out whether or not that’s true. 

Anyway, let’s get back to the topic at hand. When it comes to drives, service advisors are making mistakes left and right when it comes to balancing volume versus quality. What do we mean by that and how do we know? According to Mario, the first thing he looks at any time he goes into a dealership is how the drive’s operating. He looks at how service advisors are going about their business–how they’re connecting with customers, how receptive customers seem to be to the information they’re being told, and what the outcomes are. And more often than not, he’s seeing a bottleneck effect. Here’s what it looks like: The doors open up, each service advisor is 5 or 10 cars deep right out the gate, and they’re all running around trying to get people in and out the door as quickly as possible. 

The way that these service advisors are looking at it is that if they don’t handle the transaction quickly and keep customers waiting, they’ll lose them. In reality, handling customers this way feeds into their preconceived notions about dealerships: That all service advisors and their employers care about is getting their money as quickly as possible and getting them out the door so they can take another car in. So even though service advisors think that they’re making customers happy by moving so quickly, what they’re really doing is just feeding into the negative perceptions so many customers have about the auto service industry and dealerships in particular. 

If you look at Longo Toyota as an example, you see that there’s another way of doing things that’s much more effective in the long run. At Longo and other successful dealerships, service advisors are trained to really pet the dog as I like to call it, meaning that they’re trained to actually talk to customers as they come in. They build rapport by asking questions about how the customer is using their car, what the issue has looked like for them, and just generally checking in on how they’re doing. Longo’s numbers we mentioned before speak for themselves. They’re selling more cars than anyone else in the world and that’s definitely at least in part because of their customer service training. 

The reason why this works so well in terms of customer retention is because of the psychological impact of showing the customer that you give a damn about their experience. The car is a commodity, sure, but the customer isn’t and they’re looking for respect from the people they interact with. Plus, the strategy of moving things along as quickly as possible doesn’t really work anyway. It doesn’t actually eliminate the bottleneck effect, it just pushes the bottleneck from the front to the back. A thriving business will always have customers waiting, so the way that you handle each customer and show them that you value their business, the better.

However you and your team decide to go about changing your sales strategy, the most important part is consistency. You have to have a plan, make sure everyone is on board, and then stick to the strategy. To show you what I mean, let me give you an example of why consistency matters so much. When I was at Crevier BMW back in the day, I wanted to implement a system where the sales manager went out and greeted the customer and completely took car prices off the table. I’d let the customer know that I’m the money guy, which is the easy part, and that this sales manager’s job is to make the customer fall in love with their dream car. Once a customer agreed, it made the sales manager’s job a lot easier because their only goal was to really show off the cars based on what the customer was looking for rather than having to convince them that it was worth a certain price. Sounds like a good plan, right?

In reality, the system worked like a charm on the rare slow days, but on a busy day, it was a different story. The first Saturday we tried to implement it, the system totally fell apart. I had about 3 desk managers, 40 salespeople, and 25 customers lined up. The managers were saying that there’s no way they can just go out there, introduce themselves in the desk deals and say goodbye. There were bottlenecks everywhere. I realized that we had to create a system that would be consistent every single day, not just on the odd slow days. 

The question is…is the problem really about volume versus quality? In my opinion, there will always be service advisors, salespeople, desk managers, any employee really, who will take shortcuts to move things along faster or do less work. So I asked Mario to think about busy times when there’s a line of customers out the door and tell me what two things he would never skip in order to move the process along faster. His initial answer was preparation, meaning taking time to review his appointments before heading in for his shift so he knew who his customers would be, how they drive their cars, and what kind of preventative maintenance they’d done in the past. When I threw a wrench in that by asking him what he’d do if most of his customers that busy day were drive-through oil changes, his answer changed: he’d pet the dog and slow things down so he could make sure each customer was taken care of and each job was handled well. 

That’s my answer too because it applies to every situation. No matter how busy you are, never skip petting the dog. In many cases, it doesn’t matter if you’re taking shortcuts to get the work done, as long as you are engaging with the customer as you do it. If it’s a Monday or Tuesday, you can ask about the previous weekend. If it’s Thursday or Friday, just switch it up and ask about upcoming plans. 

When you pet the dog, it’s not just that one interaction that goes more smoothly, it’s that you’re setting yourself up for future business with that customer. Nine times out of ten, when a customer opts not to get a new part or a repair done at your dealership even though they bought the care there, it’s because they don’t trust you. By actually engaging with customers and showing that you value their time and business, you build trust that creates long-term relationships. People are looking for service advisors they can really trust to tell them what they need and help them out so they feel safe and keep coming back. As Mario says to his service advisors: “It’s not the customer’s responsibility to remember you, but it is your responsibility to make sure they never forget you.” 

If you’re ready to step up your game, we dropped even more wisdom on the podcast–listen to this episode here and then tell us what you think in the comments below. 

‘Service Concierge’ is the Biggest Threat to Your Service Advisors - Chris Talks to the Mastermind Behind It

Can Service Advising Be Automated? Quik Auto’s Jack Gardner Says Yes

These days, it’s more important than ever that businesses meet customers where they’re at. This means creating platforms that allow customers to engage when and where they need to rather than sticking with old school systems that don’t work anymore. That’s definitely true in the auto service industry and many service advisors–maybe even you–are looking for ways to deliver their services more effectively. 

I had Quik Auto CEO Jack Gardner join me on Service Drive Revolution to talk about how he created a platform to automate and digitize some of the work that auto customer service advisors and auto repair consultants have traditionally done. It’s started to take the automotive consulting world by storm and there’s a lot we can all learn about how it came to be and why it’s so successful in the world of automotive consulting services. 

Jack started his career as a Toyota tech and then tried sales. Turns out he was pretty good at the sales game. The problem is…he didn’t like it at first. He decided and even attempted to quit, but his manager pushed him to stay on. When he did, his mentality changed. There was less pressure and more drive to just see what he could learn and do. He describes it as “confidence that was derived from product knowledge”, and it led to a $16k paycheck in his second week alone. He also got into a fair amount of trouble and has some funny stories to tell, but I’ll let you listen to his episode to find out more about that…

Jack’s sales strategies were simple but effective. When the concept of leasing cars started to come up, he was hesitant at first because he didn’t get it. But when he saw another salesperson making bank off of fewer sales, he realized it was time to learn the game. He saw the money in it and learned everything there was to know about leasing. 

Once he had the expert knowledge about leasing, he figured out how to get that information to skeptical clients. He had a line he’d use to get them interested in learning more about it: “Would you agree that a better decision will always be made based on all of the facts, as opposed to some of the facts?” 

Once they said yes, they were on the hook to hear his pitch about leasing…and it worked. Then his strategy was to deliver a pitch that focuses on the basic terminology and information clients would need to make a decision, instead of getting into percentages and residual rates. His goal was to help them understand this new concept and why it would be a solid option for them to consider. And people considered it…at the staggering rate of about 60%. 

From there, it was all finding the “sweet spot”. He learned early on that allowing clients’ leases to mature was a bad move. After their leases matured, clients would come in to return their cars but often put more mileage on the cars than they had agreed upon. Once the contract was up, that meant that Jack had to tell the client that they owe more money, which never went down well and took up a lot of time and energy. So he started to touch base with clients to talk about trade-in before their leases were up. The trick about the sweet spot was that there was no specific timeline around it, it just came up whenever the manufacturer needed to move a supply of cars off of the lot. So Jack would wait for those moments to come up, then call clients who were leasing and offer them a new lease on a new car for a “comparable” payment, with “comparable” being the magic word. 

Another key point Jack made was that people remember the little things. If you deliver consistently on the little things, like making sure each leased car has a full tank of gas when it leaves the lot, you’re golden. That’s what people remember. So clients would spread the word to others about leasing and the smooth process and the next thing you know, he’s got an incredibly lucrative leasing business that leads directly into a solid used car business.

From there, Jack went into finance for a few years, then started as a general manager, and moves on to start training people how to lease cars. And then…he met a guy at a bar, as he puts it. They started talking shop and eventually decided to launch Quik Video, a business that sent information on multi-point inspections to customers in a manner in which they understood it. From there, it grew well beyond videos and into texting, electronic multi-point inspection, internal chat and more and they changed the name from Quik to encompass the new services. Quik. is a digital service advisor that lets customers see what their options are, learn about them, and make decisions without an in-person advisor. Basically, they offer a solution that makes relationships between dealers and customers more honest, open and transparent.

But more than the technology itself, the key to Quik.’s success has been consistency. Jack’s strategy was built on a few pretty simple but really important rules. The first one is Toyota’s Quarter Time, meaning that the results of a multi-point inspection should be in the customer’s hands in the first 15 minutes, which leads to an 80% chance of selling the work. If it takes 39 minutes, so those first 15 plus 24 minutes of delay, that percentage falls down to 10%. So Quik. offers dealerships a way to put that video out to a customer in 15 minutes, which led to impressive sales results. It’s a tried and true rule that many automotive industry consultants know, and it was confirmed yet again through the Quik. platform. 

Quik’s software saves dealerships tons of money and can generate even more revenue from customers. Why? According to Jack, customers have a hard time believing service advisors because they view them as salespeople looking to make the most money possible. When a digital program is telling them what they need, they tend to trust it–it’s just a machine that doesn’t know how to lie or upsell. In addition, customers can learn more and do it on their own time when they’re using software to do it. So, basically, they upsell themselves to the tune of about 30%. When they’re making decisions online, they opt in for more maintenance than they would with an old school in-person advisor. 

Plus, once customers decide they want to do in terms of maintenance, a technician can then look at that as well as what they decided not to do. If the technician thinks that the service is necessary, they can explain to the customer why they should do it in an online video that goes directly from the tech to the customer. This way, as Jack describes it, the customer gets that advice directly from the “doctor”–the technician–rather than the “receptionist”–the advisor. Psychologically, this gives the customer the sense that this work is important and gives them the opportunity to understand why, so they are much more likely to go for it.

Over time, Jack has learned that automating everything is crucial to Quik.’s success. Integrating with DMS (we won’t tell you which is the worst out there), making sure all of the different systems that are part of the inspection and maintenance process are talking to one another…those automation make sure everything goes smoothly. 

Jack’s main goals have been to help dealerships increase their revenue without additional work and to build a platform that gives customers what they want and need, instead of forcing them to use an antiquated system that makes it stressful and difficult for them. In elevating the customer experience, the three things that both the dealer and the OEM are truly concerned with will fall right into place:

  1. They will sell more work, which means the manufacturer is selling more parts–more selling all around.
  2. Customer Service Index will go up, because you’ve exceeded the consumer’s expectations.
  3. Retention will go up because of the other two fell into place, so why would the customer go anywhere else?

So, service advisors…what’s your takeaway here? It’s not that your role is going to be eliminated because technology can never fully replace talented service advisors. The takeaway is to develop strategies that allow you to be CONSISTENT in what you provide and how you provide it. As Jack says, technology won’t replace people, but it will replace the weak. If you aren’t weak, technology like Quik. will only help you out. If you are, it may take you out. If you’re interested in learning more about Quik., give Jack Gardner’s episode on the Service Drive Revolution podcast a listen here and check out their websites: Quik. and Service Concierge.

Women in the Service Drive

WOMEN IN THE SERVICE DRIVE

The Auto Service Drive is male-dominated, and the car industry hasn’t made enough of an effort to understand female customers or recruit more female salespeople and advisors. We know this, but this is what you don’t know…

Personally, I employed tons of women in the service drive. Want to know why? Some of the best advisors I ever had were women. They’re good at the job. Having women around also helps keep the locker talk down.

WOMEN ARE ALSO TERRIFIC, LOYAL CUSTOMERS AND MAKE, OR INFLUENCE 85% OF ALL PURCHASING DECISIONS, INCLUDING TRADITIONAL MALE ONES LIKE…AUTOMOBILES.

But, yes, there are differences when dealing with female customers, AND there are different challenges for women when they work in an industry that is male-dominated. So this week we had Lindsey Glass on the show to talk about her experience as a female customer in the service drive.

Whatever you think about female customers—it doesn’t matter what you think. It’s how we make customer’s feel that’s important, so you have to pay attention because it’s a big deal. Perception is reality.

IF YOU’RE A SERVICE ADVISOR OR SERVICE MANAGER, AND YOUR FEMALE CUSTOMERS PERCEIVE YOU’RE INDIFFERENT, THAN THAT’S GOING TO AFFECT YOUR RESULTS AND YOUR CSI REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THAT WAS YOUR INTENTION.

Female consumers think differently, and often want the process to be explained. In my experience, women want to know what to expect and want you to take time with them and frame the experience. Here’s my trade secret for when I handled female customers…

I’d walk up with a big smile on my face, find a way to compliment them, ask them what they were doing that day, etc. If I saw a car seat or kids stuff, I’d ask about their kids. I really appreciated my females customers because they’d give praise when we did a good job and were loyal.

FEMALE CUSTOMERS ARE ALSO WAY MORE SUSCEPTIBLE TO A MAINTENANCE PLAN. IF YOU TAKE THE TIME TO SHOW THEM WHAT’S AVAILABLE AND EXPLAIN HOW IT ALL WORKS, THEY ARE YOURS FOREVER.

To wrap up, let me reiterate, female customers, are loyal and spend money. And, there’s a TON of opportunity for women who want to work in the service drive, so I’ll be writing a follow-up article on how to set yourself up for success if you’re a woman in the Automotive Industry.

Read this article for more Advanced Sales Techniques.

Technician Tree

THE TECHNICIAN TREE: HOW TO SURVIVE THE SERVICE TECHNICIAN DROUGHT

It started a couple of years ago. Out of the blue, I got a call from an old friend of mine, who is the Service Manager at a shop in Michigan.

His life was a mess; he was really upset. He said, “Chris, I just lost three techs and one was my best tech. It’s a nightmare, my boss says I have 30 days to hire techs or I’m going lose my job. I haven’t been home in a week. My wife is ready to kill me.”

“You gotta’ help me. What do I do?”

Seems like things happen in three’s, because not that long after I got two separate calls from friends with similar stories, all asking me the same thing:

Will you help me hire techs, Chris? We can’t seem to find good techs. There’s no good techs left

It seems like it is getting harder and harder to find great techs, and it wasn’t just my imagination. And then I found out the reason why…

It’s estimated that very soon we’ll be losing 2 technicians for every 1 we’re gaining!

Young people aren’t coming into the industry like they used to. The problem is Millennials are obsessed with tech–but they aren’t interested in becoming techs.

It’s gotten so bad I’ve started calling it the “Great Technician Drought.”

Up until now the best we could do is come to your shop and help you hire techs, which would cost you $10,000 or more, or get you into one of our coaching programs. We can get great techs (A, B, C+ and Master techs), into a service drive in less than 30 days. We do it all the time for our dealers.

We had no intentions of opening up this information to the general public, this is reserved for the dealers in our coaching groups. But one shop isn’t going to fix it. Even all the dealers in our coaching group can’t put a dent in it. The only way we solve this “technician drought” is by working together.

So, we created a course. You can opt in and get more information about it here. 

For the first time ever, we took everything we have learned in our 20 plus years, about attracting, hiring, and keeping techs, and combined it into an easy to follow system. I put my entire team on it and we spent the last few months working like Santa Elves to create a product that WILL help you hire technicians. Even the clients in our coaching groups haven’t seen the entire system all together in one place like this.

This is powerful stuff.

According to a recent fixed ops study, just one good tech can generate $12,000+ a month in revenue for your shop. That’s $144,000 per year you’re missing out on! Just one tech could change your entire business. So, don’t throw in the towel yet.

Next week I’ll be opening up enrollment and you’ll get a chance to sign up for the entire course. Every day without the right tech, your business suffers. I get it. So in the meantime, I’ll give you some tips to make your recruiting process a little easier right now.

Let’s get started.

 

Tip 1 Grease the hiring path

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lost great techs because I can’t get them to start soon enough. The interview goes great, and you’re ready to hire them, but HR process gets in our way. I have seen it take weeks for HR to approve a hire… You’ve got to “lube that up” before the tech gets in there because delays will destroy you. We all know if you make them wait they’ll change their mind.

Know how to get their toolbox moved. That’s critical! When I’m hiring techs, I use this as a closer: I’ll say, “Okay, you’re going to start. I’m going to schedule the tow truck right now. When can I get your box?

I pay for the truck and send it down, and get his box. At that point he’s in. I’ve had only one or two instances where they’ve turned around and taken it back. When I have their box, 99% of the time, I’ve got them.

 

Click here to learn more.

The Answer To the Tech Drought

MAKE SURE YOUR SERVICE DRIVE IS DROUGHT PROOF

Take a moment and imagine…

It’s late on a Friday night, and your wife is calling for the fourth time asking when you’ll be home. You barely take her calls at this point because you know what she’s going to say, “You’re never around.”

You just lost your best technician, and man, he took a job in ANOTHER industry.

You’ve posted ads looking for new, qualified technicians, but the only guys who came in couldn’t get through HR, or pass a drug test. Your blood pressure is up. You’re pulling your hair out because you’re really worried you’re going to lose your job. The owner of the shop is coming down on you every day, customers are furious with the amount of time it’s taking to get their cars fixed. You’re starting to seriously consider outsourcing some of your shop’s work just to make the angry customer calls stop, despite what a financial loss that will be.

You find yourself in a completely unmanageable situation, and it doesn’t seem to matter what you do. You just can’t win.

Unfortunately, this is a true story. It happened to a friend of mine. And, almost every service manager I’ve met has a version of this. In this particular case my friend was literally at the end of his rope before he called me asking for help.

Fast-forward six months…

It’s Friday evening and the sun is just about to set. You look around and realize everyone is heading out for the day. There’s no one in the waiting room because all the cars have been repaired and returned to their owners, on time or ahead of schedule. Seriously.

A tech walks by and you tense up. He pops his head into your office to say, “We’re all done for the day. Hope you have a nice weekend!” Have a nice weekend… It’s music to your ears. Your wife sends a text that reads: See you soon! <3

Then your boss walks by and waves at you, which is the most enthusiastic he gets. You look around and realize there’s no more work to be done. It’s early enough that you’ll be home in time for dinner AND to show up to your son’s junior high basketball league game. You’ve done it and you sigh with relief.

This is life in a healthy, efficient shop. We can help you get there.

But, let me break it down for you:

The problem?

It’s simple. There’s a shortage of qualified technicians, and the work is backed up.

Why?

That gets more complicated. There are a lot of reasons. Some stem from the fact that young people are not coming into the industry because millennials don’t want to be techs. They have other interests, and cars just aren’t that important to them. Then, there’s the cost associated with entering the occupation—often a $7,000+ investment. Another big problem is how many great techs are leaving the industry due to poor treatment or wages.

What does it mean for me?

If you haven’t felt the loss yet, you will.

We’re headed towards a place where technicians will be outnumbered 2:1 making finding qualified ones even harder.

The good news is we have plenty of ways to help you not only survive, but thrive despite the impending technician drought resistant.

I mean, we’re fixers here at Chris Collins inc. It’s what we do, and we’re going to help you fix this problem just like we fix your other problems. No, we can’t train your dog, or go with you to counseling. But we’ve created some products that will ensure your business is drought free.

Stay tuned because more solutions are coming…

Bringing Sexy Back by Chris Collins

HOW TO MAKE CSI AND PROFIT SEXY AGAIN

This week we’re talking about how to make profit and CSI sexy. Get your mind out of the gutter because it’s not what you think…

One of the things that drives me the craziest is when people are having trouble with their service drive and they tell me they need more traffic, or some fancy gadget to solve their problems with profits or CSI. That is absolutely not the solution and here’s why. What we talk about the most is great execution and how to create momentum, and it seems like people are missing the basics.

Everybody wants their system to be exciting. OK, I get it, but they forget simple things like, answering the phone and greeting customers. People get busy searching for the new software that will save the day, but that won’t fix your business if you don’t have a solid foundation. You must be able to block and tackle first. Finding that next cool thing is meaningless until you do the basics brilliantly. After you’ve mastered the basics, then you can work on expanding and using technology to move yourself forward.

Subtle can be sexy. The basics can be sexy.

When we go into a business we audit the repair orders. Time and again we find that there’s no viable system in place. So while they tell us they need more traffic, what we know to be true is that more traffic will only bring about more of the same problems.

Let’s try something… Can you answer these questions? What happens when the customers drive up to the curb of your service drive? Do they sit there waiting? Does the service advisor come out and greet them at the car? Do customers know where to go? Often we overlook these things and want a magic pill to fix the business when what we really need is a flawless system up front. Here are the fundamentals for a strong front end:

  1.  Answer the phones and make appointments.
  2.  Have a great attitude.
  3.  Greet the customer.
  4.  Check their history.
  5.  Inspect the car while getting their history.
  6.  Offer all this in a way that the customer is comfortable and doesn’t feel pressure.

 

It’s crucial to excel up front so that it’s a nice experience, and your customers feel like you care about them. If you can help your customers avoid surprises, and not push sales down their throat you will become a customer collector. And, isn’t that the point?

You just create a great process. The trick is believing you can do it, and then practicing it over and over until it becomes second nature. And it will. We need to pursue excellence every day, and there are a lot of things to think about. Even when things are moving along you should always be looking ahead and thinking, what can we fix next?

The mother of retention is repetition. If you want to move the ball in a certain direction, get your CSI up and increase customer pay sales. Then get your team together (the service managers, service advisors and service technicians) and start training them! Figure out what you want it to look like, and what it’s going to take to get there. Then train, train, train, and train some more. A great training program where you do it step by step will work. The key to all of it is the basics, so stop thinking you need more traffic until your averages are really high. Traffic isn’t the hard part, and we can help you get traffic.

To recap, execution is most important and more traffic will only make things much worse if you’re not doing things right. You’ll lose your customer’s trust because they don’t feel cared for, or they’re waiting forever, or they don’t get called back. And, it’s your fault because your advisors are writing 20 customers.

No tablet or robot is going to fix this. So to all the service managers and service advisors: slow it down, get out of your office, and watch the customer experience. Break it down step by step. Fix one step, and then fix the next step, and the results will blow you away.

Advanced Sales

SKYROCKET YOUR SALES WITH THESE ADVANCED SALES TECHNIQUES

I recently found out that we added a new service—we can marry you. That’s right, our very own coach, Jair Martinez has been ordained in the state of CA! (I’m not sure what that says about California.) So, not only do we have the best coaching groups, advisor training, and service manager University around at Chris Collins Inc., now we can offer wedding services. Imagine the fun.

Every day is a new adventure here at Chris Collins Inc.

On today’s choose your own adventure, we’re dosing you with advanced sales tips so sit back, relax and enjoy the trip.

Let’s start with two strategies that seem like common sense, but actually aren’t as commonly practiced as you’d think—tone and mirroring. G-man found these tips in a little book called, Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It, by Christopher Voss and Tahl Raz. We discussed these and more on this week’s show. In case you haven’t watched the show yet, we’ll share them with you here.

You make a lot of sales calls in your service drive, right? We always hear about the different tones of voice you can use when you’re on the phone with prospects. There’s the EXCITED VOICE!! The Direct Voice. And the late night DJ voice. That’s right, folks, I’ll be here alllll night. Smooth, relaxing, and there for you in those late night hours.

The tone we choose to use to engage our customers will literally set the tone for the conversation, and get them in the mood to buy from us. There’s varying philosophies on which tone works the best, but for success across the board—we’ve found the late night DJ voice is the most consistently effective. The late night DJ voice is soothing to most everyone, and that’s always going to be the one you use when things get heated. It’s also non-threatening and calms people down, and a calm customer is usually the happier customer.

The second strategy is called mirroring, and you’re probably familiar with the concept. Just like the late night DJ voice, this tip also works just as effectively for service managers and advisors. Mirroring is when a salesperson uses the last three or four words the customer said to them and repeats it back as a question. For example, if the customer says, “I don’t need my brakes checked today.”

You’d say, “Are you sure you don’t need me to check your brakes?”

This forces them to explain to you why they don’t need the service done. And often, in the process of explaining, they realize that they really do need it done! Or sometimes, if you do this repeat back process a couple times, people will break down and agree just to get you to stop asking questions. This is a scenario in which we actually want people to be “yes men.”

The science behind mirroring is that we’re attracted to things that are familiar, while we often feel repelled by things that seem foreign. So don’t repel people. Bring them closer to you with a soft voice and mirroring language. It gives the feeling of comfort and has a higher success rate.

Whether you need wedding services, want to join one of our awesome coaching groups or just enjoy reading my sales tips every week–here at Chris Collins inc. we’re here to serve. So dream big and sell hard!

Click here to subscribe and watch the show!

The Carlisle

WHAT’S DRIVING CUSTOMERS AWAY FROM DEALERSHIPS AND INTO INDEPENDENTS?

In case you missed the first episode…

For the last two weeks, we’ve been talking about The Carlisle Technician Study, which is a fascinating study that outlines the barriers between service technicians and service advisors, looking at the reasons why customers switch between dealerships and independents.

If you happened to miss the first part, go back and watch it first, because Jair told a fascinating story about seat belts that you can’t miss.

We talked about shocking stats we learned from The Carlisle Technician Study like

  • 43% of repair orders require additional clarification from the service advisor, costing each tech 30 min per day of follow up time.
  • 33% of customers are provided an unrealistic amount of time for the service.
  • Service advisors reported that customers get a realistic timetable for how long the service on their car will take 83% of the time

According to the study, the number one reason that would make someone switch from their dealer or repair shop is because their car wasn’t ready on time.

Seriously, can you afford to miss information like that? I gotta say, it really, really matters what service managers tell their customers. The consequences can be disastrous if the information they share is incorrect.

Okay, moving on…

In this weeks show, part two of our discussion about The Carlisle Technician Study, we talked more about the two biggest issues we’re facing with the technicians:

  1. The lack of communication between the service advisors and the service technicians
  2. The growth of Quick Lube, which has resulted in the least qualified technicians getting the most work while the skilled technicians get less.

This epidemic of breakdown in communication between service advisors and their service technicians is causing a bleed of time, money and the loss of customers. The service technicians feel frustrated and disconnected. This breakdown and loss of clientele to less-skilled technicians causes them to leave the business, further intensifying the problem.

So what’s the answer?
If you want your auto repair shop to thrive and prosper, then the following things need to happen:

  • Create GOOD communication between your technicians and your service advisors
  • Arrange training for your technicians
  • Create a growth or career plan for your service technicians, giving them something to strive for

In order to fix some of these problems, I suggested getting the service managers and service advisors together, making them walk over hot coals, starving them indefinitely or only giving them water for a couple days. But Gary didn’t think that was the best idea for morale…

Since Gary had a more doable approach, we’ll go through his tips to keep service technicians happy, feeling included and protected from leaving the industry:

-It appears everyone could benefit from increased communication, and it’s up to each shop to figure out how to get their guys to operate like a functional, effective team. I always lean towards gamification, as I’ve found that to be the most effective tool to date.

-It’s critical to focus on the guys you have in the shop; that means you have to protect them. One way to do that is to slow down! Most shops don’t want to slow down their technicians because time is money, but if time and money are being wasted, then slowing down to improve communication and clarify repair orders becomes vital.

-In order to retain your good service technicians, you need to provide a realistic career path for them. They need to get the kind of training that will help them be successful, and then reward them when they are doing well.

-TRUST. Whether you use gamification or trust building techniques, make sure your guys trust each other! The service technicians need to trust that the advisors are setting them up for success. The service advisors need to trust their technicians that if they give them clear instructions, the technician is going to work both hard and fast to complete the order on time.

Basically, the system has broken down. In order to rebuild, it requires everyone getting real clear on what each job requires. Then, how to work with the next guy in line to make sure he gets what he needs, so we can return the customer’s car on time and repaired correctly on the first go.

We know that if these things don’t happen, you’re going to lose the customer. It’s imperative to get the job done right and on time!

Chris Collins photo

CREATING CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT IN YOUR BUSINESS

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.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

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.

PRICING

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.

LEADERSHIP

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.

AND THE #1 FACTOR FOR CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT: BEING DIFFERENT

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!

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THE BUSINESS MINDSET AND YOUR SUCCESS

The business world is a tough place to be. In order to succeed you need a lot of things – people, finances and the right products or services. That said, perhaps the most important factor that drives business success is your mindset as the owner.

Mindset is defined as having an established set of attitudes. Thus, the attitude that you have for your business will determine whether your business will fail or succeed. Simply put it’s all a matter of what you think your business is going to be.

Obviously, the more negative you are the more negative your business will be; conversely, the more positive you are the more positive it will be. Realistically you would want the latter and not the former. Having the right mindset is to be aware of your capabilities to control your thoughts and the things that you do and manifest in your business.

With the right mindset, you are open to more ideas, especially new ideas. You are also more creative and innovative so you are able to create solutions for problems that arise. At the same time, you learn that failure is something to learn from – not something that ends everything.

  • It takes a while for the mindset to click into your subconscious. In order to make it stick and come natural repetition is very important. This means you need to keep repeating your goals and the things you want to achieve in your business. This way, by constantly saying it over and over again it will become a fixed part of your mind such that it will become your mindset because you now have no choice but to believe in them.
  • Of course, even if you did manage to make it stick to your subconscious, your mindset can be easily rocked if you let negativity come into play. That’s why you need to reinforce this new belief system by your words, thoughts and actions. This can include doing things differently in terms of how you face challenges that can derail your journey towards your business goal.

Through it all you need to stay positive. Positive thinking is important if you want to get your business mindset up and running. By being positive you not only reinforce your mindset but at the same time you get rid of any negativity that manages to sneak in behind your back.

But what is the business mindset all about?

  • Your business is there to make money. Your business is not just a hobby. It’s an entity whose sole purpose is to make you money. This means it needs a higher level of development and focus in order to achieve this. Thus, you can no longer treat it nonchalantly but instead really give it the attention that it deserves.
  • It’s all about you thinking for yourself. It’s your business so other people have no right to dictate what you should do or how you should act. The right mindset is being able to think on your own to do things on your own. This doesn’t mean you can’t ask other people; it simply means that you should get their opinions so that it helps you attain what you want, not let them tell you what you want.
  • It’s all about understanding strategies and its implementation. You need to know what you need to do for the long term. This means planning for what’s ahead, not just for what’s for today. It means making sure the things that you’re doing is suited for the goals that you have set yourself. If it isn’t then you need to implement new ones that will take you to where you want to be.
  • It’s all about understanding your connection with your business. Simply put profitability is your connection. That’s what you want for your business so that’s what you should be going after. No business owner wants a failing business after all. At the same time you also need to know what your emotional connections are. These can often prevent you from acting in a rational manner. By understanding your emotions you are able to do what you set out to do.

You do need to have the qualities needed to have the right business mindset. These are beliefs or attitudes that make success that much easier to achieve.

  • Desire – The strong feeling of wanting something is important when it comes to business. Without it you won’t be able to move forward in order to fulfill your goals. Your goal is what you desire so you need the desire to get to your goals.
  • Determination – Firmness of purpose is also an important quality to have. With determination, you can move forward without deviating from the path that you have set out to take. This means that whatever the challenges you will be resolute in overcoming them to get to your goal.
  • Passion – You need a strong and barely controllable emotion for your business in order to succeed. Your passion is your driving force to keep on going despite whatever challenges you may be facing. After all, it is the reason why you started the business.
  • Vision – What’s your image of your future in the business? If you don’t have this image then how will you know if you’ve gotten to where you want to be? You vision is what your goal is. It is what you would like your present time to be, 5 or 10 years down the line.
  • Focus – Distractions can really derail your plans for your business. If you have the focus you can keep on going without getting sidetracked by every little thing that comes up in front of you.
  • Persistence – Having a firm and obstinate attitude in continuing with your course of action regardless of the difficulty or opposition is important. Not stopping just because some hardship comes up is something you need to have if you want your business to succeed. If you stop chances are you won’t be able to start moving again. If you keep on going no matter how small the gain you will eventually get to where you want to be at.
  • Optimism and belief – Being confident in the successful outcome of what you’re doing makes the journey that much easier to do. That’s because you remain upbeat about your chances even if challenges should come into play. Without this you will more than likely give up at the first sign of resistance and never move forward again.

As a business person and entrepreneur having the right mindset is very important. Your business depends on it after all. You need to not just have the mindset and the qualities for it but your business in and of itself needs to have it too.

  • Customer first – Too many times businesses focus too much on product development without thinking about the people who will be buying said product. Those people are customers and if they are not included in the product creation then more likely than not, they won’t like what you’re offering. That’s why your business has to consider its customer and see what it is they like so you can create a product that is tailor-fit for them.
  • Giving without expectations – There doesn’t need to be a quid pro quo. Often simply giving something for free without any expectations of any returns give you a better return than what you could have expected if you were expecting anything. This could be something dramatic that can really rock your business to the core in a positive way.
  • Focusing on what’s good for the business – Not every opportunity can be to your businesses’ advantage. If you go after every opportunity that’s out there you’re going to run out of steam. What you need to do is focus your business on those things that is sure to make it more profitable. By doing so you maximize your business potential and save on resources which you can now use for something else.
  • Focusing on your product – This means focusing on quality and on how to make it stand apart from those of your competitors. Quality will always win over customers so by having the mindset that your business will be offering quality products it will not only garner you loyal customers but it will also set your product and your business apart from those of your competitors.

How about you? What’s your business mindset like? Comment below.