Tag Archives: Automotive

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. 

Humble Mechanic on Customer Retention

Want to Attract and Retain Clients? The Humble Mechanic Weighs In

When you think about the ecosystem of a dealership, do you place techs and salespeople in totally different areas? There’s no overlap between those skillsets, right? Wrong. Very, very wrong. In fact, when your techs have knowledge and understanding of customer service, it can make a HUGE difference in terms of client satisfaction and retention. And this is just one of a few adjustments your shop can make that will bring in more customers and keep them coming back over time. 

To talk about what these changes are and how to implement them, I had Charles Sanville, better known as “The Humble Mechanic”, on Service Drive Revolution. He’s seen the impact of things like techs who know customer service firsthand. A million and a half years ago, as he puts it, Charles started as a technician for Volkswagen Audi shop in North Carolina…and that’s where he stayed for the majority of his automotive repair career. He references taking apart VCRs in telling the story of how he made his way to tech school–that’s how many years ago he’s talking about–but you’ll have to listen to the episode for that part

Charles came to VW with no professional experience fixing cars. Before starting as a tech there, he’d been a salesperson at a different dealership and worked in retail while he went to tech school. But unlike many other techs, he’d never worked in a shop as a tech in any capacity before. And the thing is, that’s what he sees as being his biggest advantage. Why? He came in with an understanding of how to treat and take care of his clients–a skill that those other techs often lacked. So many techs would rather avoid contact with clients, focusing on doing “their job” well. Charles, on the other hand, wanted to build relationships with his clients and created what he refers to as a “tiny service station” inside the dealership. He didn’t necessarily do it with the goal of retaining more customers than his colleagues, but that’s what happened. His customers didn’t just choose to keep coming back to the dealership for repairs, they chose to come back specifically to see him. The way he put it is pure gold: 

Never wanted a customer to think, “Oh my God, what do I do? Or how much is this going to cost me or what the heck? Who is going to look at this and figure this out? Am I going to get ripped off?” It was always, “I wonder when Charles can look at my car.”

This mentality took away the stigma so many people associate with taking their cars in to get repaired. Rather than thinking about getting “ripped off” or what a pain the experience would be, Charles’s clients were eager to bring their cars to him for a dependable, trustworthy repair and a friendly experience. 

With this mindset, Charles was able to take ownership, and ultimately control, of his business as a tech. He wouldn’t waste time blaming the system or other people if business slowed down–which it rarely did. 

So, where do service advisors fall in all of this? They’re usually the ones talking to clients and making those transactions happen–not the techs themselves. The problem is, more often than not, techs and service advisors operate so independently that it’s detrimental to them both. For example, in order to give a good presentation to a client on what kind of work their car needs, service advisors need to have a solid understanding of what the problems are. But more often than not, they just get the inspection sheet and use that basic information to fill the client in. Sometimes, this is because they just aren’t curious about what the details are. Other times, it’s because they think the tech will feel as though they’re questioning their work. Whatever the reason, it leaves the service advisor without information that could be helpful in presenting to the client. On the flipside, techs often treat the whole process like all they’re selling is a commodity and don’t feel the need to communicate with service advisors. 

This poor communication is a huge problem in the auto service industry. In addition, different positions within the dealership often get so caught up in sticking to their roles that they lose sight of the common goal: to fix the car and keep the customer coming back. In combination, these two problems can have a really negative impact on customer retention. 

On the other hand, when techs and service advisors communicate and work together toward a common goal, the whole game changes. Instead of just handing over the inspection sheet and moving on, the tech goes to the service advisor and briefly explains the issue and the service advisor has the chance to ask a few questions to make sure they know what they’re talking about. Then, the service advisor can finesse the explanation and take it to the client. The client will inevitably trust what the service advisor is telling them more if the advisor says that they went back to the shop and talked to the tech about the tie rod that needs to be fixed and why that is rather than just saying it needs to be fixed. If the client has questions, the service advisor can actually answer them rather than bumbling around and BSing them. Plus, the service advisor will likely deliver the information in a way that appeals to the client (and without the expletives tossed around in the garage).  

Charles saw the typical issues play out at his VW dealership. He also noticed some major shortcomings in his dealership’s social media strategy. He saw other dealerships offering crazy promos and deals–$5000 off your new Chevy if you purchase in a certain time period and things of that nature. But what he didn’t see was shops who were really promoting their service. He’d always known that his shop was particularly awesome. To start, it was a VW dealership and the people he worked with and around were really killing it at retaining customer relationships. He tells some stories about seeing different generations come in and swapping out bumper stickers as kids grew up and started new schools. So when he thought about social media, he wondered how his shop’s unique vibe and customer service could translate to their online persona. He wanted to change the dialogue around the auto service industry and the stigma and fears clients have about bringing their cars into the shop. When he brought this to the dealership, they got on board but then immediately outsourced to a company to manage their online persona for us. 

Charles wasn’t into that, so he decided to do it himself and created a resource for customers as well as techs that lets you in behind the garage door. As the Humble Mechanic, Charles pulls back the curtain to give consumers some insight as to what is going on with their cars, what’s not working and why, and how they can talk to their service advisor or tech about it. His business is thriving, and that’s because it does a few critical things: It provides customer service in a space where its lacking and needed, many people really are interested in what’s going on with their cars, and it takes away the mystery of the whole process. In the auto service industry, there’s so much mystery behind the diagnosis fee or why a certain job takes as long or costs as much as it does. This is a big part of the reason why there’s so much distrust when it comes to auto repair. As the Humble Mechanic, Charles explains it to them. For example, it might take seven hours to do a job by the book, but the tech has purchased specialized tools that allow him to do the job in three. If the tech only charges for the three hours of labor, it doesn’t account for the expense of the specialized tools. Explaining these kinds of things clearly to consumers helps build trust in the auto industry as a whole. Because Charles is no longer a tech himself, he’s providing this information and these resources without a pitch to get people into his shop, so he has nothing to gain in the process which further increases consumer trust. 

Dealerships that are looking to level up–and which ones aren’t?–should take note of the Humble Mechanic’s success and make a few powerful adjustments to how you run your shop that will not only bring in more customers but will keep them coming back:

  • It’s amazing how far a little hospitality can go! Southern hospitality in Charles’s case, but any kind of hospitality will do. Train your staff, from techs to service advisors to salespeople, to work together to provide the best customer service.
  • Let consumers behind the garage door…figuratively speaking. Clients don’t trust the mystery. They want transparency and information that is digestible to them. Having your techs and service advisors communicate will be part of that, but there are other ways you can do it too. Which brings me to the next point….
  • Be generous with information. Make videos about how to change a tire on a specific make and model, for example, and post them on your social media accounts. Your existing clients will see them and, more importantly, so will tons of other people who aren’t your customers now but might be soon. Plus, it’ll allow clients to make decisions about what they do and do not want to get fixed and weigh out the consequences of those decisions. 

If you make this minor yet impactful changes at your dealership, I guarantee you’ll see results in terms of both client acquisition and retention. 

Don’t miss out on the Humble Mechanic Charles Sanville’s words of wisdom. He knows what he’s talking about. Start by listening to this episode of Service Drive Revolution, then head over to his YouTube channel and the Humble Mechanic blog. You won’t regret it.

‘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.

Double Your Sales Auto Service Advisors Peloton

How to Double Your Profits by Understanding the Psychology of Sales

When you want to level up in your industry–any industry–take a look at other companies who are growing and see what they’re doing well and, maybe more importantly, what they could be doing even better. Take Peloton for example. Peloton is a fantastic company and one that I have been following since it was started by John Foley back in 2012. I think he is an absolute genius, which is why I talked about him, his business, and how it applies to the auto service industry on Service Drive Revolution.

John Foley built Peloton as an in-home answer to the fitness phenomenon, SoulCycle. If you’re not familiar with the company, John Foley and his team designed high-performance stationary bikes equipped with large touch screens so you can stream live classes in the comfort of your living room, home gym or office space. It was a brilliant invention and one that has really taken off. And one of the reasons he’s been so successful is that the business model he uses is continuity – its based on a subscription service which means even if you’re not using the bike or the work out he still gets paid – similar to how a gym membership works. The company was valued at $4 billion in 2018 and after revealing plans to file for an IPO later this year; it looks like it’s going to be worth closer to $8 billion. This is all good and well for John Foley and the future of in-home fitness but what does this have to do with the automotive industry? And why am I such a huge fan?  

Well, one of the reasons John Foley got Peloton up and running so quickly was his sales strategy. I recently listened to a podcast that interviewed John about how he’s managed to create not only a multi-billion dollar company but a whole movement and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that a lot of the psychology he uses to make a sale happen mirrors a lot of the training and sales strategy we provide to our clients. So here’s how he made it happen…

When John started selling the bikes, he tried to do it all online. But no one got it. He couldn’t find people to finance his business and customers weren’t buying the bikes because they couldn’t really understand why they needed them. Can’t they just go to a SoulCycle class for a fraction of the price? Or do spin at the local gym? 

So instead of throwing in the towel, he hit the pavement and brought his bikes to the people. But he didn’t stop there, he really understood the psychology of getting someone to make a big purchase. For John, it starts when the customer walks through the door. According to John, no one walks into a Peloton store without getting on a bike. This is the test drive. He sizes up the customer, picks out what he thinks the right work out is, makes the settings on the bike easy to ride and blasts the music. He started doing this as a pop up in affluent malls across New York and his genius move was that he would turn up the music so loud in the headphones that whoever was on the bike would shout “this is amazing!” or “honey, we have to get one of these!” which would draw in even more customers. Not only did the customers get a taste of what the work out is like but it raised their endorphin levels and put them in a positive mood, which as anyone who has tried to sell anybody anything knows is important! By using this system of “test driving” the bikes, he was able to bring in a closing ratio of 50%. 

Now I recently went into a Peloton store and did not have this experience. I actually never even touched a bike or heard any sort of sales pitch from anyone working there and ended up leaving the store empty-handed. (I know some of you might be saying that the salesperson was just having a bad day or its just a bad manager at that one store but I guarantee this is not a one-off experience. If you ever hear about a customer having a bad experience at your shop, take it seriously, it most definitely was not a one time deal.) This is where a lot of managers and companies get stuck. They have a great understanding of sales psychology at the corporate level but don’t have the training or infrastructure to create a consistent environment to bring in customers and make sure they don’t leave without selling them something. 

If John Foley is out there reading this right now, I guarantee I can double your sales if you follow my training program.

The thing about sales, especially car sales, is it is all about psychology. I had a fantastic mentor, Don Crevier, who truly understood the psychology of sales and I got an invaluable education working on his salesroom floor at Crevier BMW. For Don, much like John Foley, it started when the customer walked onto the showroom floor. The first cars they would see would be the base model BMWs, the ones that start right around $30,000 so your customer is already in the mindset of “Oh, I CAN afford a BMW.” Then we had the demo row right out in front of every model only these cars were fully loaded. So you would be driving a $55,000 BMW but you would still be in the mindset of “I can afford this.” And to focus on the car and to really help you fall in love with it, we would take the price off the table for the first half of the sales pitch. It was all about getting you the car that you really love. Once a client loves a car, it is so much easier to negotiate the financing. So by using this system, we not only sold more cars but it produced higher gross per sales because we got them driving the car and falling in love with the car of their dreams. 

This is what is supposed to happen at every Peloton store. These bikes are expensive, about $2500 and you have to get a monthly subscription to the classes on top of that. So in order to get you willing to hand over that much cash, they get you on the bike. Much like a BMW, these bikes sell themselves. You have to get your clients in the car! Now, I understand that the sales approach is different if you’re selling Toyotas or Fords but the basic psychology is the same. Before you even mention the price of the car, get your customers behind the wheel. So if John Foley has a great system in place and understands the psychology of the sale, what happened when I walked into the shop in LA? 

The problem was the company grew too fast. All of the pieces are there but when you are growing at that rate, it becomes nearly impossible to look after every store and every salesperson. Now, this can be a great problem to have if you know how to solve it and if you use my system of gamification, I guarantee you’ll see more consistent sales. In the car industry, the thing we would do with salespeople is we would play games with them on how many demos they could get because demos sell cars. And so I would do the same thing in a Peloton location – I would have confirmed demos for everybody that walked in and the more demos you get, the more commission you get or however they would decide to compensate them. I also think they could be selling more accessories. When I was in the store, there were dozens of accessories all over the place and no one ever mentioned what they were for or how I might need them. That is another thing they could gamify. And you can do all of these at your dealership or in your service drive. Create a system where your employees are rewarded (either on commission or with a prize they would love) for selling more. Here’s a little refresher on the system of gamification that we have created:

Goals – Without goals, we have no rudder, no idea where to go or how to get there.  Just having goals isn’t enough though; they have to be the right goals, chosen to both motivate and guide your employees as well as support the business’s core needs.

Milestones – Goals tend to be far away and hard to achieve. Consequently, it’s challenging to stay motivated toward goals, day after day, week after week.  Milestones in between the goals you set will help employees stay engaged and motivated, and provide a roadmap for how to get where you want them to go.

Visual Feedback – As your sales team members progress through their milestones toward their goals, they need feedback to make them proud if they’re performing well, or to let them know if they need to work harder and smarter to get there.  Visual feedback is fast, efficient, effective and inherently motivational, showing each sales associate, at a glance, how they’re doing individually and in relation to their peers.

Smooth Difficulty Curve – If your initial goals and milestones are too hard, some of your less-accomplished team members might be discouraged instead of motivated.  On the other hand, if they’re too easy, your veterans and top performers might grow complacent and bored. Gradually ramping up the difficulty of the goals and milestones you choose can help alleviate both problems and keep your staff motivated and engaged for years to come.

Social Interaction – Some sales teams are inherently competitive.  Others are more collaborative. Both are okay, but it’s important to learn which style your team gravitates toward.  Social interaction built into your training games, customized to their communication styles, will further boost morale, motivation and team cohesion.

Rewards – Even the simplest of games include rewards for good performance and desired behaviors, whether it’s bragging rights or simply the right to keep playing the game.  You, however, can provide much more powerful rewards in the form of cash. You can wave cash around and count it out in front of them. These are perks that keep them coming back for more and give you many creative options.  Ultimately, just like you’re in business to make money, your employees come to work to get rewarded for their efforts – mainly in the form of compensation.

The lesson here is system, system, system. It’s the same in the service drive. It’s the same in a Peloton store. It’s the same in a car dealership. It’s the same in a coffee shop, there’s a system and if you focus on the system you can create more sales.

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…

Motivate Your Techs

INSPIRATION IS NOT OPTIONAL: MOTIVATE YOUR SERVICE TECHNICIANS!

Business problems are easy, people problems are hard. I didn’t invent that phrase. It’s been said many times by many people, and it holds true for every business. Don’t pretend this doesn’t apply to you and your drive. I’ve said it before and I will say it again:

The most important people in your business and least cared about, are your service technicians.

Your service technicians are the only ones in the company who are qualified to solve your customer’s problems. Without talented, well-motivated technicians your drive simply can’t operate efficiently.

First, let’s agree that success is defined by the end goal. Results are what matters. We are the sum of what we achieve, not what we intend. It doesn’t matter if someone had the best intentions in the world. In business, what matters is how much gets accomplished.

Without exception, service departments that perform well have a leader who’s created a strong system. Without clear rules and accountability, the system breaks down. So you must have a good, easy-to-understand system. Then, you must be able to share that system. Start taking notes now because this is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

This is the stuff that’s actually working on drives all over the country!

Tip #1 – Track Production

This is production! You have to see how much people are producing. You’re living in the dark ages if you’re afraid to put the scores up in your service drive. Hang a dry erase board immediately and start tracking their hours. It doesn’t matter if some guys don’t like that idea. You can’t worry about the low performer, or be afraid of losing him. Equality of result is a lie. It’s equality of opportunity. Everybody has the same opportunity but not everybody is going to get the same results.

If you’re feeding your low-performing technicians so that they somehow get the same hours as the guy who’s working his butt off, you’re not creating a culture of high performers. The culture of performance is vital. Create that culture of performance by writing down the numbers from yesterday and everyone will be kept accountable.

Tip #2 Get to know your technicians

The single best way to make your technicians feel appreciated is to sit down with them once a month and talk about their goals. No, you don’t have to be their therapist, or Oprah, to make a huge difference. Use lunch as an opportunity to get together. Trust me, no one is going to poach your guys if you have a personal relationship with them. Your technicians are people too—they’ve got families and situations to deal with so find out what’s making these guys tick.

If you have a busy schedule and not much time to chitchat here’s a cheat sheet of questions you can ask: How’s work going? How can I help? What’s in your way? How can we get better as a department? Since we know from experience that they feel like the most ignored and picked on group in your shop, it’s your responsibility to change that.

Tip #3 Gamification!

If you have not read my book, Gamification, here’s the link.

Buy it and read it cover to cover. Look, I know the technicians are there to fix cars, but they also need to enjoy being at work. Gamification is playing for profits. It’s important to have a pattern interrupt with them where they get to have a break and have some fun. Let them throw a baseball or basketball at lunch—whatever gets their energy and mood up. If those don’t sound good to you, the book has at least 50 games in it so there’s plenty to choose from. I promise, if you throw some cash around, and add some work games into the mix, your technicians will get more done and be much happier in the process.

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 New Era of Marketing by Chris Collins

THE NEW ERA OF MARKETING

This week was the show of a thousand thoughts… I think everyone forgot to take their Adderall. Of course, we got an update on Gary’s cholesterol because that’s becoming a hot topic here at Service Drive Revolution. Wherever we go people ask more about Gary’s cholesterol than anything else. But that’s going to prove my point later on about adding a personal component to your marketing. Hold on, we’ll get there…

Gary shared with me that I’m tweeting, which I find very hard to believe because I’ve never used Twitter. So he spent a few minutes reading my recent tweets and we tried to determine who’s actually writing from my account. Another oddity this week was that someone called me and asked me to comment on President Trump. My response to that? I need a year to think about it so ask me again in a year.

This week’s book report of the week is on Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday. Gary was kind enough to explain that he initially thought ego referred to being cocky, but what the author is talking about in this book is far more subtle. In this case ego can stop you from progressing in a subtle way. Gary used his own career track as an example, explaining he had done so well as he ascended from service technician to service advisor to service manager, etc. that it caused him to rewrite history a little. When he looks back on his career it’s easy to remember the highlights and think he was great at each job. But the truth is there were failures every step of the way—it was experience and hard work that made him successful. But the mind (and subtle ego) makes it easy to remember the highlight reel and think he was really good the whole way through, not the actual learning curve that it was.

We also used a story about one of our friends as a perfect example of how the subtle ego can negatively affect one’s perspective. Our friend had been super successful at one dealership in Chicago so when he moved to a different state and got a job in a new dealership, he brought with him such confidence and big expectations that he was completely stopped up when he had issues there. Between office politics, a different culture and other barriers, our friend found himself unable to find success there and ended up quitting! His success at one dealership blinded him and caused him to have an ego and expectations that overlooked the need to try really hard and go back to basics at his new job.

The thesis of the book being you have to remain a student—humble and open to learning new things. The book references Ghenghis Khan and the Mongols and how despite their great success with conquering nations they still remained humble enough to learn and take the best pieces of each culture with them when they left. This way of doing business led them to champion the canon. By taking pieces of each culture they were able to create new technologies that made them even stronger. Gary wrapped up the book segment by trying to back out of his goal of reading 60 books this year. Seriously, Gary, four books a month is too much for you??

Back to the main topic of this show, which is the new era of marketing!

I look around at what other people in this industry are doing and it bores me! It’s all the same! So I put together some new, fun, usable tips on how to do effective marketing in this modern day. First, for the love of God, tell a story. If you look at what’s successful on TV these days it’s shows that have aspirational characters, drama and mystery. People love stories and they always have. Give your email blasts a personality. For example, the two best pulling emails we’ve ever sent were written in the voice of my Bulldog, Tequila. The point is to immediately hijack your audience. Using stories or a character is an easy way to capture the attention of your reader and draw them in.

Another powerful marketing tool is to use sequences. Sending series of emails is another tactic to keep your audience connected to your business and what’s going on. Next on the list and this one is super important, the more personal and real you are with your audience the better it will be received. The reason our Service Drive Revolution audience is so obsessed with Gary’s cholesterol is because it’s real and it’s relatable. This is a concern everyone has and allows people to share their challenges or experiences with high cholesterol. And believe me, people share their experiences whether we want them to or not.

Use cross over techniques! If you’re on several platforms for social media, which you should be, use them all. Put your posts on all of your social media and use video! Many people aren’t immediately comfortable with video, so practice. Video helps you rank better and improves your SEO. Facebook and Google pay attention to video so add it to your social media content wherever possible.

Make it entertaining! This one is kind of common sense but it bears mention. As well as telling stories make sure your copy is fun to read. Humor always works but even if you’re not a comedian, try and get original with your copy, emails and posts so your audience isn’t getting the same regurgitated content they hear over and over.

Tracking and conversions… Also known as fall in love with what gets results. We had a competition in the office where I asked three of our creatives to create an E-book about customer service. We gave them each a budget for Facebook marketing and I told them I’d give $500 in cash to whoever’s E-book converted the best. At first none of the E-books were converting but after we changed the pictures their numbers took off. By tracking what was going on, and making small changes, we were able to salvage their good work and get the conversions they needed by creating a better visual.

You really want to focus on what’s converting and getting results rather than being married to a headline. Here’s a little piece of gold from my personal vault—if you’re not getting clicks or it’s not converting try a variety of small changes. If changing the photo doesn’t work, try changing the colors on the email because a change as simple as that can make a huge difference. Often a color or headline that doesn’t look right to everyone will turn them off. Correct or alter those things and see what happens—what have you got to lose?

If you’re sending out post cards make them stand out. Use colors, or sizes or pictures that will make people notice that your content, mailers, whatever are unique.

The simple truth is when the value of something outweighs the cost people are happy to pay so make sure your content has value. Try using fiverr.com to get even more professional content. They’re great for logos, photoshop help—you name it and they have freelancers who can help. To wrap up, get creative with your marketing and the sky’s the limit!

The First 100 Days

FIRST 100 DAYS IN OFFICE, THE $50,000 TOURNAMENT AND OTHER TIPS FOR ENSURING SUCCESS IN 2017!

Can You Beat Trump’s First 100 Days?

Momentum matters and we’ve been talking about how to get into the year with the most momentum possible. First, you must be smart about your business and guarantee success from the very start of the year. How do you do that? I’m glad you asked and I’m going to tell you because we literally have the best service advisor training, service manager training, the best beats…and we will break dance fight you.

We’re more than a month into 2017 and the big question is what are your first 100 days of 2017 going to be like?

What prompted me thinking about this was hearing how so many people struggle with the simplest things in taking action. Often people get handicapped by the easiest pieces and I’m always hearing, “I can’t do this, I can’t do that…”

Yes you can! You can do anything! This is America for heaven’s sake!

To provide a parallel, we did research and in the first 100 days of the presidency the list of things that needs to get done includes hiring literally thousands of people, meeting with world leaders, planning initiatives, an inaugural ball, and that’s just the beginning. Like Trump or not—has he done more than you in his first days in office?

Think about everything the president has to do and then ask yourself why you’re struggling with simple stuff like changing prices?

What I’m saying is, get proactive! This is your opportunity to do an inventory on how much you’ve done to improve your business, get better and better yourself in the first part of 2017. You have to do it while the momentum is there. You have to set a pace right away and get everyone used to how this is going to work. Let your people know, “Hey, we’re going to tee it up and knock it down, and we’re going to do that over and over and over! If that’s not your pace then maybe this isn’t the right environment for you.”

Try changing your prices. Maybe you can get some downhill that you’ll be able to ride for part of the year. I talk to people every day who tell me things like, “Maybe we’ll handle that in June.” This literally blows my mind. I’m like, really? You want to wait six months? You’re going to lose the first half of the year! You have to take advantage of that time and start doing better now.

If you’re a service manager make a plan and tell your service advisors and technicians: this is going to happen on this day, and this is going to happen on this day. You need to prepare them and tell them what’s coming. You can’t spring it on them in June, because if you don’t plan and set benchmarks, then you don’t have anything holding them accountable for the results. And there’s no chance of using something fun like gamification to help catch momentum at that point. In ANY business you have so much stuff going on that things slip through the cracks if you don’t make a plan.

The point is, you have 60 days left to recover momentum and we’ll help you if you need help. That’s what we’re here for—to talk you through it, or tease you mercilessly until you do it.

PS: Get yourself a cup of coffee because here’s a big tip…

To help you get motivated we created a $50,000 Service Manager Tournament. 

Try and win our $50,000 Tournament. Trust me, you’ll look back and regret you didn’t do this sooner because with the $50,000 challenge you win even if you don’t win. Simply by entering and doing what we tell you to do you can crank your labor sales up ten to fifteen thousand dollars a month. That means by the time we crown the winner at our 2017 Top Dog event you might have already made $100,000 by then!

And you’re not competing against anyone but yourself, the winner is the dealership or service center with the most improvementover last year’s numbers. So, head over to the Tournament page to sign up and win.

I know what you’re doing isn’t easy, but it’s not super complicated either. You can change pricing, hire techs, do whatever it takes! And if you need help with certain tools we can help you, but let’s go, lets get fired up!

And while you’re at it, the next episode of Service Drive Revolution is up, so go check it out!