Tag Archives: business fixer

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.

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.

THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN A BOSS AND A LEADER

Being a leader, as well as a boss, is critical to getting your employees to perform at their best. Not sure about that? According to Gallup polls:

  •   Poor leaders in the workplace are the number one reason people quit their jobs.
  •   Poor management can cost a team 50% less productivity than well managed teams.
  •   Poor management can cost a company to make 44% less profits.
  •   75% of employees say dealing with direct supervisors is the most stressful part of work.
  •   Gallop estimates that $960 bil – $1.2 trillion is lost a year due to poor management.

A lot of people think of the Meryl Streep character from The Devil Wears Prada as the token stereo type idea of a boss, right? She’s the real to-the-point, perfectionist, do it or you’re fired type.

There’s a flip-side to that. There’s also the boss that’s what I like to call, the “keeper of the keys,” or the “Charlie Brown”. They can unlock the door every day. They’re reliable, but they’re not a leader. They’re not making the numbers go anywhere. They’re not propelling the business forward. I have a theory on the difference between any manager or boss, and a leader. There’s one thing that happens that changes everything, that most bosses or managers never actually do. They can go far in their career, but they’ll never transcend. They’ll never really know what their full potential is, or how they can add a ton of value to other people’s lives.

The difference between the two is raising your hand and saying, “I’m going to be the leader”.

Something happens in your psyche when you raise your hand and you say, “I’m going be the leader”. At that point, you accept all responsibility. The biggest difference between a boss and a leader is the responsibility part, the owning it. Owning the result until the end. The outcome is yours.

I think the way it was described to me early on in my career by one of my mentors was saying that managers manage things, leaders lead people. You can’t manage people—you can try, but once you get out past a hundred or so employees, it’s really hard because you can’t see them all. You can manage inventory, you can manage resources, you cannot manage people. You’re better off leading them so that they follow you willingly instead of standing on top of them.

When you accept full responsibility, you focus on the results more than the feelings. A lot of times, managers are led by feelings, not results. It’s tricky because it’s easier to create feelings around your comfort zone than it is to create feelings around the actual result. Raising your hand and saying, “Hey, I accept this. I’m going to lead us out of this valley,” is a magical thing in a lot of ways. It is at that point you’re committing to the result.

When you raise your hand, you’re committing to improving all the time. As the leader, you’re saying, “I’m constantly going to get better.”

Jim Collins said, “We found, instead, that they first got the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats. And then they figured out where to drive it.”

Meaning, you really have to understand that there are people out there who just aren’t meant for what you’re trying to do. Don’t spend all your time trying to convince them. Go find people that want to change the world and be a part of what you want to do. If you spend all your time trying to convince somebody who doesn’t believe, it will demotivate you and may ultimately stop you. More than anything, you have to have a sense of who you’re letting on your team.

To break it down, the real difference between a boss and a leader is raising your hand and owning every result that happens—it’s when every customer interaction, every misfire, every bullseye, is on you. The good and the bad. You’re going to manage to the middle. You’re going to be stoic. You’re not going to get too excited or too depressed about anything because you’re constantly moving forward. By raising your hand, you’re saying that you want to be the leader who gets better, who constantly improves. The one who is managing by the results, not by the feelings, and you’re humble enough to tell your team that you’re not perfect, and by doing everything together as a team, you’re stronger and better.

What do you think? Do you think leaders are born or make the choice to be leaders? Have you ever raised your hand? Let us know!

 

Listen to the full episode our new podcast, Chris Collins Unleashed, on Apple PodcastsStitcherGoogle PlayYouTube or chriscollinsunleashed.com.

Think I’m onto something? Disagree entirely? Reach out to me on Twitter at @bulldogcollins. I’d love to know what you think.

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GOING INTO BUSINESS WITH FAMILY MEMBERS AND FRIENDS

Should you? Or, shouldn’t you?

People have wildly different opinions about whether it’s a good idea to go into business with family and friends, and for good reason. Personally, I have dreams of grandeur that in some situations it can go well, but plenty of my close friends and colleagues have warned me against these optimistic notions. Some have gone even further, warning me about near brushes with divorce over working with a spouse.

The biggest issue I’ve heard about is that you lose all sense of boundaries. Particularly with spouses, or partners, who work together—it’s never clear where the business stops and the marriage begins. They blend together and it can get rocky because no one knows their role. It’s often the same when people go to work for their parents—there’s a weird power balance in the office, or getting caught in the middle between other employees and the parent, or boss. God forbid, you get into a situation where you have to fire a spouse or family member.

In fact, according to psychologists, couples who work together experience an overload and interference. Overload because couples have insufficient time and energy to perform both as a family and business owner. Interference because work and family activities occur at the same time so it becomes hard to know when family begins or ends.

On the other side of the coin, the biggest upside of having family in your business is trust. In most cases… For example, with businesses like car washes, bars, places that are cash heavy, it helps having people up front who you can trust. As long as you trust your family members, they’re the best people to have handling your cash.

The other huge benefit to working with family or partners, is having someone there to be the rock. When everything’s going chaotic in your in business, you’re behind on your taxes, you’re bouncing checks, you’re trying to make payroll, you’re having to do all these things that an entrepreneur who’s starting up has to do, you need somebody there to hold you together. Someone who will put you back together and fix your wounds and send you back out to do more.

If you’re lucky enough to have that healthy business/personal relationship with a family member or partner, that’s great. If it becomes unhealthy with the family member for any reason, then the work should probably be removed because you don’t want to jeopardize the one person who you can count on above all else.

At the end of the day, whether going into business with friends and family is a good idea really depends on who your friends and family are and what your relationships with them are like. It could be the best situation—it could be the worst. So, get real clear on what kind of business partners you want. If your loved ones don’t fit the bill, or might not be able to handle your ambition, work with people you feel comfortable pushing and keep your loved ones safe from the ups and downs of the business life.

Do you have any experiences working with friends and family?

Reach out to me on Twitter at @bulldogcollins. I’d love to know what you think.

Listen to the full episode our new podcast, Chris Collins Unleashed, on Apple PodcastsStitcherGoogle PlayYouTube or chriscollinsunleashed.com.

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