Tag Archives: Automotive Consultant

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!

Light

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.

Puzzle

IS IT TIME TO CONNECT WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS?

When you connect with someone, you form some sort of bond with them. When it comes to people it’s basically establishing some sort of rapport or relationship with them. When you get that, you are able to trust one another. This often results in accepting what each other is saying without question or at the very least giving what the other is doing more benefit of the doubt.

When it comes to the business customer relationship building that connection is of utmost importance. Without it customers won’t patronize the business which will result in the business closing down. Simply put, businesses need to connect with their customers in order to survive. It doesn’t matter if it’s a business to business or a business to public relationship – as long as there’s a customer in there somewhere then there needs to be a connection in there somewhere as well.

The emotional connection

Customers make buying decisions often out of emotional connections. That’s because emotions run pretty much a good percentage of our decision-making and behavioral capabilities. Thus, customers are more often than not influenced by their emotions when it comes to buying.

The emotional connection is often based upon the strength and duration of the customer relationship. The longer and stronger the relationship the higher the emotional connection. It’s capturing the hearts and minds of the customer such that they have a better opinion about your business and the products and services that you offer.

  • Be customer-centric. It sounds like a logical and easy thing to do but you’d be surprised as to how many businesses don’t give this the attention that it deserves and needs.

Being focused on the customer is not just a matter of stating is a mantra. It’s also a matter of making sure everything you do in your business supports that mantra. This means taking a good look at your business and asking whether your processes, procedures and internal message all focus on your commitment to your customers.

  • Know your customers. Just saying you’re going to be focusing on them is all well and good but you have to also know and understand just who it is you’re focusing on. Doing so will give you a better understanding of who they are and where they are coming from so you can empathize with them.
  • Who are they? It’s not like your customers are everyone in the world. Of course not. If you’re an automotive dealership then your customers are everyone who likes to drive. By identifying your target customers you will be able to tailor your focus so that you can create that connection with them.

Think of it as talking directly to that specific customer. Doing so will make them feel that you are only focusing on them. This will make them feel that you really know them and truly understand what it is they need and want.

  • What are they looking for? This is as important as knowing who your customers are. That’s because how can you connect with your customers if you don’t even have an idea as to what they want or need.

By knowing what they want or need you can understand where they are coming from in terms of their questions, their thoughts and their actions. This way you can prepare to give them the solutions they are looking for. Doing this will make your relationship that much better. That’s because now, they know that you can be relied upon when they need it.

  • How are they finding you? To what lengths did your customers have to go through in order to find not just your business but also the products and services that you have to offer? Doing this will help you understand where they are coming from in a literal sense?

Where you found out from one of your customers? Where did you find through the local newspaper or yellow pages? Did they find you online? You need to know this so you can get a deeper look at the mind of your customers.

  • Act for your customers. Like they say actions speak louder than words. This means that not only should you give customer focus lip service, you also need to make sure your actions serve that purpose.
  • Be the corner store. In the old days, the corner store was a place where everyone knew who you were. You come in and the store owner already knows what you want and is already putting it together for you. It’s a place where the owners go out of their way to make sure you get what you’re looking for and walk out of there carrying what you need and want. It’s also a place where they know things about you such as your birthday and such.

You can do this by showing customers that they are appreciated for being there as a person, not as a customer. Do this by showing that you remember little things about them so they feel connected with you.

  • Talk with them. Don’t do any hard selling. That will just turn people away. Instead, ask them questions. Open up a conversation. This is perhaps the easiest way for you to connect with your customers.

Asking questions is fundamental to building a relationship. That’s because by asking questions you are showing that you want to do all you can to help them with their problems. Asking questions is a way for you to understand their problems so you can offer them solutions.

  • Listen to them. It’s not just a matter of you doing all the talking. You have to know when to listen as well. Really listening to your customers will give you a much deeper understanding as to what their concerns and anxieties are.

Really listening will help you understand what’s behind their concerns. Maybe it’s because they don’t understand the new technology or maybe it’s the first time they have driven an automatic transmission. Whatever it may be, listening to them will help you know them on a much deeper level.

You also want to listen to your frontline people. After all, they are the ones that are in constant contact with your customers. You can get a lot of vital information that you can use to help you form that connection with your customers.

  • Accountability counts. Take responsibility when it is needed. If any issue or concerns come up from the customer make sure you have a system in place that will tell the customer that there is someone accountable for this until a solution is found.

At the same time make sure you always respond to a customer’s concerns. A non-response is not how you build connections. By responding and showing that there is accountability you are showing your customers that you are going to make sure they get their answers and get is as soon as possible.

At all times you must give customers the respect they deserve. No matter the issue you should not lose your composure and get into a shouting match with the customer. Neither should you act in a condescending manner? Relationships and connections are built when everyone treats everyone the same way they expect to be treated.

Just how important is it to have a connection with your customers? Comment below.

Wrench and Graph

ARE YOU MARKETING YOUR SERVICE ADVISOR BUSINESS?

Service advisor businesses need to be marketed. That’s as simple a notion as you’re ever going to get. Without marketing, you will not be able to attract customers. Without customers, you won’t be able to get any sales. And without sales, you won’t be in business for very long. It’s not a pretty picture.

Whether you’re a big business or a small one you need it. In order to be successful, you do need a few things in your bag of tricks. These are things that you should never be without so that you can successfully market your business in order to attract customers.

  • A marketing plan. This is probably one of the first things you need to have in order to start your marketing campaign. Sure, you can just play it by ear but the chances of succeeding or even knowing how effective that kind of strategy is will be difficult.

When you have a marketing plan you know what the different stages are in your campaign. You know what your benchmarks are and what you need to look for in order to move forward.

Also, you have an idea as to your budget so you can focus your strategies more efficiently. At the same time, you have an idea as to who your target audience is so you can effectively tailor your marketing campaign towards them considering your budget restrictions.

  • Products and services offered. Your marketing plan has to incorporate your business brand and the products and services that you’re offering. Customers are picky and they want what they want no questions asked.

This means that in order to get them to heed what is on your marketing plan you need to have an offering that meets their wants and needs. In order to do that you really need to understand your customers so you know what they want and need.

The good thing about it does not only do you give them what they want and need so you get a sale; you also let them know that you’re listening to them so they trust you more because of it. This will result in more loyal customers that will stay and buy from you over and over again.

Marketing materials. These will be what will attract your customers. These include both online and real-world marketing materials such as your calling card, brochures, sales letters, website and such.

This also includes your database of customers. This way you can send them information about any promotions or specials that they may have as well as answers to any questions or concerns that they may have.

Marketing your business requires a budget. There’s no escaping this fact. That said, you shouldn’t get discouraged just because you have a small budget. You can still effectively market your business even with a shoe-string budget.

  • Work with other businesses in your community. What better way to market yourself than to work with other businesses around you. Form or join a group of non-competitive businesses that cross-promote one another.

This could include putting flyers of each respective business in your own office. This way, you get more exposure without having to search for customers. After all, the same people who buy pizza may also need services for their vehicles and vice versa.

Other than just the business why not work with the community as a whole. Help sponsor an event such as a fun run or a sports team. This helps get your brand out there and at the same time makes the community see that you’re an active member as well.

  • Let your customers do the talking. Otherwise known as word-of-mouth. This is by far the best way to get your business known. That’s because theoretically, third-party endorsements are impartial (as long as they are not paid of course).

If your customers are happy with your service they will let others know about it. The more customers that do this the more your brand will spread. This will result in more new customers coming in. The best part is all you need to do is give your customers good quality service. You don’t even have to use any marketing money for this.

  • Directories and yellow pages. Continuing on with the offline marketing strategies is the posting of ads in business directories and the yellow pages. Contrary to popular belief the yellow pages is not dead, at least not yet.

This means that there is still some value to posting an ad in this and other similar directories. Even if only 10% of your customers found you through the yellow pages that’s still a good number of people that you get for a small price if not free.

  • Online presence. Of course, you shouldn’t forget to have an online presence. With the web as popular as it is more and more people are looking for the things they need there. This means that if you want to get your customers to notice you, you need to be where they are. This means going online.
  • Website or blog. No self-respecting business will go online and not set up their own website or blog. After all, this is their online storefront. This is the place their customers will go to in order to get more information about their products and services.

You don’t have to pay to get a website. Free providers are readily available such as Blogger and WordPress. You can easily start with a site and start connecting with your customers through a blog. Just remember that you want to give customers information that can help them instead of doing a direct sales pitch right off the bat.

  • Social media. Another outlet for finding customers that’s free. Opening an account in sites such as Facebook and Twitter is easy and you can soon start updating or twitting as soon as you’re done.

Use social media to connect with your customers. Let them see that you know what you are talking about and are willing to help them find the answers to their questions and concerns.

In the same breath, use social media to get a sense of what your customers want and need. This way you can tailor some, if not all, of your products and services to help answer these needs and wants. This, in turn, will tell you, customers, that you’re listening to them thereby making them trust you even more.

  • Email Marketing. Remember that customer database that we said you will need to have in order to be successful? Yes, with customer emails you can send out specials and promotions directly to their inboxes.

It shouldn’t be a direct sell. Like all marketing strategies, it has to be a soft sell. That’s because nowadays customers know direct selling when they see it and they often disregard those kinds of material.

If you email them your newsletter concerning your industry or concerning problems and issues that they may be experiencing you have a better chance of getting them to come to you when the time comes.

  • Incentives. Nothing gets people interested than free incentives. This could be as simple as a coupon for 10% off the next service or product that they buy. What’s important here is that you’re giving them more value for their money. Doing this will get people to like you even more and make them stay loyal to your brand at the same time.

Do remember that when you are doing marketing your goal is not to sell but rather to connect. Actually, your goal is to sell but you do that not by pitching your product or service directly. As mentioned, this will pretty much turn people away.

What you need to do is be as subtle as possible. This means not directly selling but doing it in a softer, hidden way. While people may still think that they are being sold to, the fact that they can’t see it directly will not keep them away.

What’s important is you form a connection with them so that not only will you build credibility with them, you also get their trust at the same time. By doing so you will be more than likely able to get them to buy from you when the time comes.

That said, should you forego offline marketing and simply stick with online marketing instead? Is offline marketing already dead? Comment below.