Tag Archives: Business

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.

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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Chris Collins, business leader, business advice, business performance, entrepreneur

HOW TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A GOOD IDEA AND A GOOD BUSINESS

Lots of people have great ideas – my doorman pitches me a new business every week. But great ideas don’t always translate into a great business. To prove my point think about these stats:

  • In 2013, there were 406,353 startups of new businesses and 400,687 firm closures.
  • Out of these new businesses, only 7 out of 19 survive for more than 2-years (36%)

As part of your entrepreneur’s survival guide, it’s critical to ask yourself questions before you rent office space and start asking friends and family for money you’ll never be able to repay.

First, what is my goal? Sometimes people go into business because they inherited Aunt Ginny’s favorite cookie recipe, but what’s the goal? To make money? For everyone in the world to taste Aunt Ginny’s cookies? Are you willing to do this for free? If you’re interested in making money be very specific. Do you want to make $50,000 a year or $100,000,000?

It’ll serve you well to have a disciplined approach to your profitability, finances, and bookkeeping from the start. Because believe me, there will come a time you’ll need investors, or to borrow money, and you need to be prepared for that. You also want to know every month if you’re winning or losing so you can make informed decisions moving forward.

Next, is there a demand? Doesn’t matter whether YOU love your product, or whether it’s good if no one wants it. So, you need to find out and test the market. Handsome coffee is a great example because whenever there was a cool event they were there with a little kiosk, making coffee and selling bags of coffee. They had something like 80 wholesale accounts before they even opened their doors. It’s possible to test without spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, and anything can be tested.

How committed are you? Are you willing to sleep on your mom’s couch as an adult to make this work? I’m not kidding because the time will come for any entrepreneur when you run out of money, something goes wrong, someone tries to sue you, whatever… Expect things to go wrong and know going into it how you’re going to handle it when that inevitability happens. The time for a gut check is before you go off and spend a bunch of time and money.

Also, the best time to work out an exit strategy is at the beginning. Put it in writing and make it clear what’s going to happen if it doesn’t work out, or things go wrong.

What’s the monetary of the system you’re going into? Most successful businesses have different ways to make money so you need to understand the monetary system, and all the streams of income. For example, if you have a wine store it might end up that your wine club makes more money than bottle sales. Create a consumption plan for your customers because they’re looking to you to guide the experience.

Who, or what, is your potential competition? This can make, or break, a new company because if you don’t know who you’re up against there’s no way you can put the right strategy into place. The last thing you want to do is compete on price with someone who has it locked down. Sometimes you have to take a hard look in the mirror and ask yourself, is my product really better? But better to ask yourself that question before you find yourself competing with Starbucks. Tivo is the perfect example because they had a great product, and was first to market, but they never made any partnerships so when all the companies came out with their own version than they lost their edge, and ultimately all their business.

Finally, what’s the relationship with the customer? At Virgin Airlines, they’re selling an experience—a really great experience. The result of that is the customers grow accustomed to that first-rate experience. They like it, and then they count on it, so when it’s gone they feel a gap.

So early on it really serves you to create a relationship and build a list of raving fans. So, every time you interact with someone they walk away thinking that was really good. Exceed their expectations. Even slight differences can make all the difference in the world.

Think I’m onto something? Disagree entirely? 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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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.

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.

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!