How to be Self-Made

How to be Self-Made

Do you want to be self-made?

If you’re an even remotely ambitious person, then your gut answer is probably going to be  yes. But let me blow your mind…. 

…You might not realize it, but you’re already self-made. I’m self-made. We’re ALL self-made! A homeless person in Downtown LA is every bit as self-made as a so-called “self-made” millionaire! 

Whether you’re successful, or you’re an utter disappointment to your parents, what you make of your life is 100% up to you. That’s why, on this week’s Service Drive Revolution, I put together a little list of what I believe is important to be successful as a self-made person, and turn around the outcome if you feel like you aren’t successful yet.

  1. Own It
    If you blame everybody else instead of owning up to the results of your own actions, then it’s going to be a waste of your time. You control how hard you work, what time you get up, what you eat, how much you work out, what you think, who you surround yourself with, what you watch on TV, what book you read. It’s all up to you. We make decisions every day that take us towards or away from what makes us successful.

  2. Love Yourself
    This is the point where a lot of people fail. It’s too easy to give into the fear of failure where we fail once and then never try again.

    Think about this: if you forgive your best friend after they’ve made a mistake but you wouldn’t forgive yourself, then maybe you don’t love yourself as much as you love other people. Don’t get me wrong – it’s great to love other people, so why not do the same if not more to yourself? Accept that you’re not perfect and that you’re going to make mistakes, but also acknowledge that you can do better.

  3. Self-Talk
    Do you talk to yourself in the way where you are highlighting and giving energy to your talents, or are you giving energy to your faults?

    Once you understand what your strengths are, you need to build your self-talk around them. Put your time and energy into those things and don’t beat yourself up over things you’re not good at.

    Talk to yourself like you’re good at anything you want to be good at. Look at it this way – you just haven’t decided to be good at it. You haven’t decided that it’s a priority and you don’t WANT to spend the rest of your life learning it… yet.

    Just because it’s not something you enjoy doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a weakness. How you look at those things, and how you self-talk about those things, ends up affecting where you go and what you achieve, so self-talk is a big deal.

  4. Your Friends
    The further up the ladder of success you go, it’ll affect the people you attract and the people you hang around with. Are the friends making you better or worse?

    I don’t know anybody who didn’t have to get rid of their friends going up the ladder, because once you’re more successful than them, there might be drama. You might find that they’re not happy for you– they’re jealous. They project their insecurities, their fears, their self-loathing… and you can’t afford to be around that energy. It’s okay to find new friends – people who talk about what CAN happen and see the world as an opportunity, not a curse.

    More importantly, be around people who have made it through hard times, because you’re going to go out and start something, and it might go terribly wrong. It’s nice to think positive, but the truth of the matter is that nothing is ever easy.

  5. You Can’t Feel Entitled
    You’re not entitled to anything. If you can’t get excited about this country’s economy and all the opportunities that we have, you’re watching too much TV. You need to get away from the negative news and understand that opportunity is everywhere.

  6. Commitment
    If you want to be self-made, you have to commit to something in a way where even you can’t tell yourself you won’t do it. Countless people give up as soon as it gets hard, even when they have the recipe for everything up to that point.

    Anyone can say, “Well, I did my best.” Nobody was really asking you to do your best – they were asking you to win! When you say you did your best, that’s a lie. You could’ve gotten up a little earlier, done a little more research, asked one more person for help with an idea, or watched somebody who’s doing it at a higher level. There’s always something more you can do.

Change the way you think. Look for the positive in things and you’ll start to see opportunity. Perform to your full potential and don’t just show up average every day, because you’re better than that. You haven’t even realized what you’re capable of until you own it and go through these steps.

With all that in mind, I’m going to answer some questions from the audience…

“If you had to choose, would you pick washing customers’ cars, picking them up, or drop-off service?”

See, here’s the thing… I always find it difficult to respond to hypotheticals like this because, simply put, that’s not reality!

In reality, you can (and should) do all that and more! Listen to our podcast with Brian Benstock on why disrupting the auto industry might be the only way to survive. You know customers will pay more for better service, right? Ask THEM this, not us. We can charge a fair amount AND offer customers what they want.

A lot of people want their car picked up AND they want it washed. It’s not about which job is more difficult, or less glamorous… It’s about providing the best experience for the customer. 

But, to give you a more serious answer– It’s not hard to facilitate both.

“Our dealership hired a new fixed ops manager who wants to make it so every car that is booked in for the day comes into the shop the second the appointment is booked. Am I crazy to be worried about this? Our appointments are booked at 15 minute intervals starting at 8 AM. I just can’t wrap my head around how this will work. I’m stressed just thinking about it. Have you seen this before? What happens with diag? Upsells? Intervals? Help!”

You know what? You should try it because he might be right. 

We have this little thing we do called instant inspection. Every car that comes in, we immediately have a tech greet them and put the car in the air, and we inspect everything right then. What happens is, if the customer looks at the car with the tech, our closing ratios go up, and at the moment of write up, you know pretty much 90% of the time what the car needs. Parts can pull the parts, put them in the car, and a tech can just finish it. It’s super efficient and works really well so I think you should give him a try.

This next one wasn’t actually submitted to us but was pulled from the Service Advisors subreddit.

You can click that link and read the whole thread, but the gist of it is:

“I’ve talked to two dealerships who seem interested in hiring me. I have never worked at a dealership, let alone as an advisor, so I’m a little cautious about taking the job. I’ve worked at a little engine shop for the last 8 years. I’m the lead tech, and basically the guy under the owner. However, I don’t strictly just work on stuff. I sell equipment, I work up estimates, I call with estimates, I recommend work, I listen to how the customer reacts so I know how to word something and/or give them options I think they would be okay with. So what should I expect? Is the pay worth it? How could I excel? The hours don’t seem great, but my current hours aren’t great. Both dealerships told me the average income is $40,000 – 100,000. I currently make about 32,000 with no benefits.”

First off, the most we’ve seen an advisor make is $420,000 a year, give or take. The truth of the matter is that I started as a porter and then became a service advisor. I don’t know if I would’ve been a good advisor if I wasn’t a porter first. What got me hooked was that the more we made friends with the customers and the more we perfected our craft, the more money we made. I remember being 20 years old, making $120,000, and telling my mom I was making more than some lawyers. 

The downside is that you get stuck in the industry because… where else would you make that kind of money? Everywhere else, people work twice as hard and make a quarter of what you could be making as a service advisor. People in the food industry literally work seven days a week, and they’re making $16 an hour. As an advisor, if you can connect with customers and approach it like a pro, you can make a GREAT living.

The last thing I want to add is, if you interview for any job in the service department, write a thank you letter and mail it through the post office near the dealership so they get it the next day. Not too many people mail handwritten letters anymore, and we look for advisors who go that extra mile that nobody else does. If, for some reason, you can’t do that, then send an e-mail. The important thing is to show that you can follow up and connect with customers quickly.

But more importantly: remember to love yourself, because no one else can do it for you!

Once again, thanks for reading, listening, and watching. We hope you have a great week, and we’ll see you again real soon!

Top 5 Customer Relationship Management Tools for Car Dealers

Top 5 Customer Relationship Management Tools for Car Dealers

When we talk about revolutionizing the service business, it’s important to remember to focus not just on the dealership, but also on the health and work-life balance of your team. I talked to somebody recently who said they were working 75 hours a week, skipping lunch, killing themselves every day, and having no way of knowing whether they’re winning or losing… It’s crazy!

It’s easy to forget about health when you’re busy, but it shouldn’t (and doesn’t) have to be that way. You have to listen to your body and do the right thing. One of the things we focus on is building a sustainable, profitable business, and having fun in the process. You’re allowed to have fun. That’s part of the revolution.

I had two great questions this week… 

The first was about clients that make an appointment, and within an hour they’re calling and want an update on their vehicle. Meanwhile, the technician hasn’t even looked at it yet. 

This is a great question, and there are two critical parts to this: building trust, and setting the right expectations. 

Remember– we’re going to do the majority of our work with the sales presentation and building trust at the initial writeup… You’ve got to build trust and you’ve got to manage that expectation. If you’re not framing it right up front, then the customers won’t feel safe. If they’re calling you within an hour, that’s a pretty aggressive way telling you they don’t trust you. If they’re calling so fast, then they’re a little bit worried.

One of our key principles is the process that helps service departments run like a well-oiled machine. With that framework, it’s all about managing the clients’ expectations… Petting the dog.

Early on in my career, I was guilty of over-promising and under-delivering. My brain thought, “We can do this in X amount of time, I’ll have an update for you and an answer,” not realizing that between dispatch, nine other advisors, and 45 technicians, customer service became a labyrinth. 

We typically set an expectation with the customer that we’re going to call in a couple hours with an update. Let them know you’re going to call them and they don’t have to call you. If it’s a broken vehicle, you may want to set the expectation that you’ll need the vehicle all day, possibly even multiple days, just to buy yourself time. Then you can dazzle them with that two-hour callback early on.

The second question is what to do when customers come in with a check engine light on and they want to know if I can scan it for them. Now, the dealership does have a scan tool that he can use, but he says if I scan it, I’m not making any money, so there’s kind of two things to this one. The money part, which we need to keep secondary, because if our focus is only making money, guess what? The customers are going to feel that, and we’re not going to be able to build trust with them. Remember, instead of making money, what we want to be focused on is helping customers and building our trust fund by being a customer collector, right? That’s ultimately important, so your money’s going to come if you help enough people and focus on helping customers, so let’s look at the damage a quick scan does on the drive. 

One thing we should take into consideration in this scenario or the context of this question is, he has a manager and so his manager is going to set the policy on how they handle check engine lights. Now, doing check engine lights for free is a good way to drive traffic, but if that’s not a part of your pricing strategy or how you’re driving traffic, then I would just tell customers that our process is, because we’ve made some mistakes and jumped to some conclusions and sometimes codes lead to other codes, that we have technicians who are qualified to do this and so I’m going to need to create a repair order and actually have a tech look at it. Because we’ve diagnosed things in the drive before and it ended up that it was a code that led to another code, and we were only looking at half the equation. I would explain it that way, because it’s true, you’re not a technician and I don’t know that we’re qualified to be looking at codes. Let’s get the doctor to diagnose it, not the nurse.

One of the things I do is everything begins with a repair order, so let me get some information, I’ll help you out. Go out and pet the dog, do your walk around and get the information off the car. Get the customer back to your desk and write the ticket, right? Then start to collect valve springs. Now what do I mean by collecting valve springs? I have a couple here now, this one’s off a Mercedes E350 with 106,000 miles. This is off of a Volkswagen Jetta with 89,000 miles. These parts should not be broken this early. The message is this: There is no simple repair today. These are jobs we did at our shop and every single customer called in for a tune-up due to a misfire. You could have major internal engine damage from a lack of properly maintaining your car. What the customer needs is not a quick scan, they need a trusted advisor to help them navigate this repair in the most affordable way. Our process is going to help with that, so we write the ticket up and get them enrolled in our level one testing package to find the root cause of the check engine light and fix this in the most affordable way. We just can’t take things for granted.

And now for this week’s topic: Top five customer relationship management tools for car dealerships.

  1. The Car is a Commodity

Too many people fall in love with their brand or whatever, but the car is a reason to collect a customer. Your future is in your relationships with the customers, not in your relationship with the car. The car is irrelevant, the car is just the vehicle for you to have that relationship.

  1. First Contact Basics

This is about how we answer the phones, how are we greeting them when they come in? Focusing on the basics. One of the things I love to do when I’m at a dealership is test how we’re handling appointments. We say we want a higher RO count, but we’re anti-RO count in the way that we do things, and those are the basics. Dealerships are busy places, and they have a lot of cars. We can be backed up three or four days, what do you want me to do, right? Be helpful. Smile. Be accommodating. Anytime a customer’s upset, anytime anybody asks a request of me, if you respond with, “I’ll be happy to help you,” it melts their heart. Their defenses drop right there. These are first contact basics. 

A lot of people overlook that customer that’s stranded from out of town and they will say something to the effect of, “Well, they’re not going to come back.” But the truth of the matter is you’re thinking is short minded. One, they might come back, and two, usually those tickets are higher ticket ROs, because they’re stranded and they have to do whatever it is you want, so it’s an easy sale. The out of town customer is also a gold mine for social media and user generated content, which brings us to number three.

  1. Social Media and User Generated Content

UCG, baby. Some of the most powerful marketing that I’ve seen done has been the organic user-generated type where let’s pretend that you were out of town and your vehicle breaks down and you have a service advisor that goes out of the way to help you and they get you back on the road and they do an amazing job. If you were to take a selfie with that service advisor and leave a five star review organically on Google, Yelp, Facebook, anywhere, do you realize the tens of thousands of dollars that it would cost to get the impact, and it’s absolutely free? If you’re at a dealership you’ll want to check with management and ask permission, but you can also use your own social media to build relationships with customers and humanize yourself.

  1. Take Reviews Seriously

You have to take all reviews seriously. Not just the good ones. If 99% of your customers are happy, but they’re not posting reviews, you need to ask for that. Otherwise the ones who post will be the ones who have issues. And when they do, you have to address those issues, you don’t want to be right. You have to accept their experience. If they had a issue, they had an issue. If he had to come back, he had to come back. You have to attack those things. 

I see shops sometimes ignore reviews, they’ll say the customers are crazy. The customers aren’t crazy, some of them might be a little hard to please, some of them might be a little bit demanding, but the fact of the matter is businesses that are really good and really care about customers can make difficult customers happy. That’s the game, that’s what we’re here for, so you need to change your outlook on that. That’s execution right there, you’ve got to be able to execute. It’s important to frame it as a chance for us to get better. It’s a chance to learn.

  1. Send a Handwritten Note

I love this. In today’s digital age, if you want to really separate yourself from your competition, every first time customer gets a handwritten thank you card and we do a little token of appreciation. We have these really nice customized cards that are just blank inside, and we hand write on them, welcoming them to our family, and basically we’re here to take care of you with anything you need with your vehicle, thank you for the opportunity to serve you. Then we put in a little $5 coffee card just as a token of appreciation and it works like magic.

Now, the backside of this is repeat customers who we just send a handwritten postcard to thanking them for their continued trust in us. It works like magic because everything’s digitized today, so how many people send you a handwritten card? When I get them, I definitely take notice and I write them. I had some really nice stationary made and I write a lot of handwritten notes to people, and it matters, it always gets a call or some sort of response.

Yes, so an easy way to execute this is once or twice a week you can pull new customers and have the advisors all write handwritten notes and you can have cards made up pretty inexpensively. Just spend 15 minutes where everybody just does it and gets it done. Pull the list, say, “Hey for 15 minutes we’re going to write these notes.” They don’t have to be long, it’s the thought that counts, but pull the list of anybody that’s a new customer to your business or whatever it is you want to highlight. Anything like that, customers that you know are inactive, you can send them a we miss you handwritten note, nobody else is going to do that. 

These sorts of things add up. 

So, to recap the top five customer relationship management tools for car dealers:

Number one: the car is a commodity. It’s about your relationship with your database. 

Number two: focus on first contact basics, like how we answer the phone. Remember that quote, “How we do anything is how we do everything.” 

Number three: social media and user-generated content. 

Number four: take reviews seriously, the good and the bad… but get more of the good, and attack the bad ones. 

Number five: handwritten cards, notes, and letters. You can’t overstate the value of that personal touch.

Those are our top five customer relationship management tools for car dealerships. Stay tuned for more great content, and remember if you post a question, we’ll send you some swag and we’ll answer your question here on Service Drive Revolution.

My Top 17 Business Books of All Time

My Top 17 Business Books of All Time

People often ask me, “Hey, did you go to Harvard or Stanford?” They assume I went to an Ivy League school. But the truth is I’m self taught and most of what I’ve learned, I either learned hands on, from taking courses, or reading books.

Today, I’ve put together my 17 top business books. One of them really isn’t a business book, and probably isn’t even a book you’d want your spouse to know you’re reading. It’s maybe a little controversial, but I’m sharing everything with you and the book had a huge impact on me, so I’m going to tell you all about that. These are the top 17 business books that I think you should read. These have all impacted me in different ways, and I’m just going to randomly pull these out:

The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes. Two big takeaways from this book. One was that he learned time management from dealing with this billionaire boss. It’s a fascinating story. He talks about how you had to have everything down on one piece of paper. It had to make sense, be concise, and you had 20 minutes to review it with them and that was it. He describes how he learned to make people do that to him. And secondly, he gets into how he hires salespeople. He’s genius there. The Ultimate Sales Machine.

The Culture Code by Clotaire Rapaille. The Culture Code is genius because this guy Clotaire was a marketing guy, but he started off as a doctor helping kids with autism, and he learned how to get deep into the subconscious. He ended up being hired by different brands to figure out what motivates people. 

There’s a fascinating story about Chrysler coming to him and saying, “Hey, we want you to help us design a car. We know what our clients want. They want safety, reliability, and gas mileage.” He ended up helping Chrysler develop the Prowler as an Al Capone getaway car, because deep in the subconscious of mostly my generation – I don’t think millennials are the same – but cars represented to us freedom from our parents. It was freedom. So he designed the car like an Al Capone getaway car. It sold great, and he says in there that it wasn’t safe, reliable, and it didn’t get good gas mileage. It’s a great marketing book.

The Game by Neil Strauss. This is a dangerous one. Neil Strauss is an amazing writer, and it’s about how he learned how to pick up girls. He’s a short, nerdy, bald guy, and he learned how to pick up girls. 

I’m not suggesting this book as a way to pick up girls. It isn’t about that at all. If you’re going to read this book, you need to approach it from the perspective of sales. I think this is the greatest sales book ever written, because it explains his process for learning how to attract the opposite sex was trial and error, practicing, and paying attention to the details in how you looked, how you talked, what you said. Everything mattered, and you could create an outcome that you originally didn’t think you could create.

It’s important to just get past the fear of approaching. I think sometimes in sales there’s a fear of cold calling, approaching, and things like that. If you read this book, take it as the idea of how can you sell more, how can you be a better salesperson, not how can you pick up girls. That’s not really the best use of the book. At the end of the day that part of it strikes me as a little shallow. But he’s a great writer and it’s really well written. A lot of wives don’t like me recommending that book, but I think that everybody has been able to take that in context.

The Great Pain Deception by Steven Ray Ozanich. I had somebody that worked for me that had had back surgery a few times and he always had back pain. I asked in this mastermind I was in, I was like, “Hey, what do I do?” And they said, “Have him go see Dr. Sarno at NYU.” He ended up reading a couple of Dr. Sarno books and going through the process.

So I read the books and what I learned in the process is that a lot of our illnesses, like back pain, come from stress in our mindset. Our body is actually trying to protect us because we’re stressed. We don’t know how to cope with things and our subconscious will put us down.

What I mean by put us down is it will create back pain or some sort of illness to keep us from having to face those things. The pain, or the back pain, ends up being bigger than the stress that we’re facing. It just really represents how mental a lot of things are and how powerful our mind is.

Now this book isn’t by Dr. Sarno, it’s by Steven Ray Ozanich, but Dr. Sarno retired and this is a great book. It’s the same lesson. In the past, every couple of years, I would get back pain and I couldn’t move. I literally couldn’t get off the floor sometimes. Ever since going through this, I haven’t had any back pain since.

Thursday Speeches by Coach Don James. I grew up in Seattle, Washington and Don James was arguably the best coach that Washington State ever had. What’s genius about this is how he came into a culture of losing, and it documents how he turned it around, how he changed the way that the players behaved, how they acted. It’s a great leadership book. It’s an easy read. It’s short. And it really shows how somebody comes in to a bad culture and then turns it around.

Eleven Rings by Phil Jackson. Phil Jackson has a few books, and this is my favorite of all of them. It really gets into how he managed Michael Jordan, Kobe, and Shaq, who are extremely high performing athletes. I think a lot of times in our industry guys will say, “Well, the high performers are the biggest pain in the butt and they’re the hardest to manage.”

There are some great insights in here, leadership lessons on practice and how you approach teams. There’s a lot of Zen in there, meditation, things like that, that I believe in and I’ve had success with. It’s interesting he used to make his teams practice in the dark, which is crazy. Amazing book. Eleven Rings.

The Little Stuff Matters Most, which is so, so true, by Bernie Brillstein. Great book. Lots of nuggets in there. It’s broken up into 50 chapters and it’s an easy read.

Principles by Ray Dalio. This is a meaty book. The audio book is really good. That’s how I ingested this, with the audio book. There’s a quote on the front by Bill Gates, “Ray Dalio has provided me with invaluable guidance, insights that are now available to you in Principles.”

There are so many things in this book. Ray Dalio arguably ran, I think, the biggest investment company fund that there was. He created a system for it. At one point he literally lost everything, and he created this system that is infamous to this day.

A lot of people didn’t like working within the system because he recorded every meeting. There were no politics whatsoever in his company, everything was out in the open. He had this way of measuring people’s success against their opinion and their value. Everybody’s opinion was tracked and measured, but it gave the biggest weight to the people that had a track record of results. It’s genius. His philosophies, his approach, are just genius. I think this should be a must read for anybody.

Winning Through Intimidation by Robert Ringer. I love this book. When most people go on vacation, they go scuba diving, fishing, and rock climbing. Not me. I lay by the pool and read books. I read this book on the beach in Cabo on a vacation. 

There are a couple of things you should know about this book. One is, I would buy an old one. If you buy the really old ones, the original printing of them, they’re expensive. I don’t know, they can be 120 bucks, but I would buy those. The new ones that have been rewritten and reprinted in paperback lose a little something to me.

I love the old ones. I love how they smell like old books, like an old library. Basically what he’s talking about in this book is he was in real estate investing and he was buying apartment buildings and different things and he just kept getting his butt kicked in business.

People were telling him one thing but doing something else, and he really was struggling. So, he created a system how to deal with that, how to hedge his bets, how to have an impact on the opposition, or the seller when he was buying apartments, by the way he looked and the way he showed up.

I learned a lot about lawyers in here. Since reading this book, I’ve never lost a lawsuit by using his strategies and understanding that lawyers in private have their own language. It really helped me manage lawyers and understand that when they go into the judges chambers, or when they’re talking to each other, they’re feeling each other out and where’s your client at, where’s mine at, and they’re not always representing us in the way that we want.

It helped me be a lot more aggressive in business dealings and things like that, to coach lawyers and control that outcome in business. It’s a great book. But like I said, buy the old one, not the new one.

Wooden on Leadership: How to Create a Winning Organization. This is a must read too. There’s a lot of books by Wooden, but this one is my favorite one. It’s a snack. It’s really easy to read. But there are a few things in here that you take away.

One is that new players coming to play at UCLA, he discovered he couldn’t take it for granted that they even knew their shoe size. He said a lot of players would come to UCLA and they didn’t actually know how to fit shoes, or what their shoe size was. He shares his attention to detail, how to onboard people into your company or into your sports team, and some great stories about how he handled difficult players. One time Bill Russell came back after a break and showed up with a beard and long hair. He was the star of the team and Wooden was like, “Bill, I love you, but we’re going to miss you, because you can’t play on the team with the beard and long hair.” Bill went and cut his hair. It was funny.

The New Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz and Dan Kennedy. Amazing. I really like this one. There are a couple versions of Psycho-Cybernetics. This is the newer one when Dan Kennedy bought the rights to it and redid it. He added some things to it. But the thing with Dr. Maltz, was he was a plastic surgeon and he couldn’t understand that patients would come to him and they would think, “Hey, if I fix this scar on my face, or I fix my nose, my life will get better, I’ll have more confidence.”

They felt like whatever it was in their looks that they needed to fix would fix their life. And oftentimes not only would it not fix their life when they got their nose done or the scar removed, it actually got worse. It’s all about your internal dialogue, and you’ll see tons of pro golfers, NFL players will attribute this as being one of their favorite books about performance.

What you learn is how to approach your subconscious, your conscious mind, your self image, and the inner dialogue that’s going on. This is literally a book that you can pick up and just open up anywhere and read it and you’ll get something valuable out of it. It’s amazing. Psycho-Cybernetics, the Dan Kennedy one.

Shut Up, Stop Whining, & Get A Life by Larry Winget. I went through a period where I lost my business, my dog died, and I was going through a divorce. I don’t know why I picked up this book. Why I was attracted to it. I’ve since hung out and became friends with Larry.

His affirmations in here, his approach, it really impacted me. At the time, even though I could have felt sorry for myself, what I took away from this book is not to feel sorry for myself and to get after it. I wasn’t a victim. An opportunity was still there. It’s an amazing book. My favorite Larry Winget book. Shut Up, Stop Whining & Get A Life.

The Psychology Of Influence by Cialdini. This is an amazing book. I know a lot of people in the automotive industry have read this book. It’s about how you can influence people, how through reciprocation and different things you can influence the outcome of a sale, of a transaction, of raising money for a charity. It’s a classic genius book. Influence.

When Violence Is The Answer by Tim Larkin. Our buddy, Tim Larkin. Amazing guy. I know it’s a controversial title, but really my biggest takeaway is not assuming a social contract. I think we want to assume a social contract that isn’t there. It’s an amazing book. Can’t recommend it enough. Get past the title and read it. There’s a lot of lessons in there.

Win Forever by Pete Carroll. Great book. A lot like the Wooden book. He borrows a lot from Wooden and the pyramid that Wooden has in his book, Pete has his own. I like some of the things on Pete’s because it’s like, “if you’re on time, you’re late.” There are a bunch of good lessons in here about culture, and how to find the things that are special about the people on your team and then amplify those things. It’s a great book, and also takes into consideration that I’m a huge Seahawks fan, and he fixed our team for sure.

Maps Of Meaning by Jordan Peterson. Jordan Peterson also has another book that came out recently called 12 Rules For Life. It’s amazing. Maps Of Meaning is a book that I carry around and read all the time. He taught Harvard classes on this, and his classes and lectures on maps of meaning are up online on his YouTube channel. I’ve watched those and read the book.

I’ve never highlighted and written in a book as much as in this one. It’s just unbelievable, the things in here. The takeaways from this book are about behaviors and contexts and why people do things. What’s ingrained in us, our behaviors and approaches to things. I think for any leader, or anybody in marketing or business, which we all are, this is a must read. It’s heady. You can only take a couple pages at a time and then you’ve got to stop and think about it. But I love a book like that. You really get challenged in your thinking and your approach and you have to try to understand it, because there’s layers in here. Like I said, it helps to watch his lectures at Harvard also along with it, but can’t say enough great things about Maps Of Meaning and Jordan Peterson.

Teaching Excellence: The Defining Guide to NLP For Teaching and Learning by Dr. Richard Bandler and Kate Benson. The story behind this book is Kate Benson took a NLP class from Bandler, who is one of the founders of NLP, and during a break she said, “Hey, you’re using NLP to teach us NLP.” And he replied, “Yeah, of course. That’s the quickest way for you to learn it.” And she’s like, “Well, why doesn’t anybody teach teachers how to use NLP?” And he said, “That’s a great idea.” So they co-wrote this book.

There are two things that I think you’ll get from this book. One is you’re going to learn how to train your people, how to teach your people, and understand how they learn, because people learn in different ways. And the second is you actually learn NLP. She does a great job of explaining NLP. I learned more about NLP from this book in the context of how to use it to teach other people than I have ever learned. I actually want to go to a Bandler workshop and learn it from him himself. Because it’s amazing. If you don’t know what NLP is, it’s neuro linguistic programming. Basically, there are certain ways you can phrase things, approach things, do things, that make people understand you and retain things better than they would without it. Definitely look it up. Maybe watch some videos online about it. 

That’s the last book, so there you go. You don’t have to be a service manager or service advisor at a car dealership to appreciate this stuff, but the takeaways will add huge value there. These books have all made a big impact in my life and on Service Drive Revolution, and they are the 17 business books that I think everybody should read.

5 Easy Ways for Your Service Managers to Build Customer Service Skills

5 Easy Ways for Your Service Managers to Build Customer Service Skills

As the automotive industry continues to innovate vehicle technology, on the service drive, we’re all about making service managers’ lives easier through improvements that deliver repeatable results and are easily implemented. This week we focus on 5 easy ways to build customer relationships that will deepen trust, increase loyalty, and build a culture of customer service on your service drive.

1. Pet the Dog

This is where customer service starts. You’ve got to genuinely care about the people you’re helping. You’ve got to create a culture in your service department that builds trust and has the customer’s best interest at heart. It’s all about trust.

You have to teach everyone to “Pet the Dog,” from the cashiers to the advisers, even the techs. It’s an easy thing to do. My Pet the Dog video is up on YouTube and anyone can watch it for free. I have people from all kinds of industries telling me that they use that video with their employees to talk about how to really connect with people. 

A lot of times we focus too much on what we want to  sell customers and not enough on understanding that selling the service is easy, it’s the connection we have with the customer that’s important. This is about really understanding that connecting on a deeper level and getting to know customers in the context of what they care about, not what we care about, is the most important thing. That’s number one. 

2. Role Play

This reinforces building a culture of trust. One role play I like to suggest with your advisors is how to “Pet the Dog.” It reinforces the connection that can be made on the drive and what should ultimately be the main focus of the dealership. That’s where we want to go, and that’s where you begin to set the stage. 

Another game I like to play with advisors is the smile game. Super Mario, one of our coaches, came up with this. What we do is watch the advisors with the customers and if they can get the customer laughing and smiling at the car, we give them some sort of raffle ticket, or five bucks, some sort of spiff. This is fun and sets a tone that’s contagious. If customers see other customers having fun and that the environment is fun and people want to be there, it’s contagious.

Another thing is if you can record phone calls and play them back for role playing. A lot of times sales objections are the customers saying, in one way or another, “I don’t trust you.” Building that trust extends beyond how you handle the phone call. If you’re sending a video inspection, it can be about physical appearance of technician’s stalls, too. Everything counts.

3. Stop Wanting to be Right

This might be the most important. I was talking about this the other day, about how the key to good customer service starts with one thing and that’s stop wanting to be right. A lot of times a customer issue falls on our desk, it’s because an advisor wanted to be right. They didn’t want to win. Whenever you have a customer issue, it doesn’t matter if you are 100% right. If the customer perceives that something was not right, you have to fix the customer. You have to fix the relationship first.

I had a conversation with a manager the other day, and his average ticket was like $800. Customers were coming in on average every eight months, a little less than twice a year, right? So, you see a customer almost twice a year, and you get $1,600 from the customer and you want to be right about $100? You never want to be right. Just let it go. Think about the time and the frustration and the money. And the customer isn’t going to come back most of the time. The best thing is to never be right, just listen, apologize, and then fix it. That’s it. There’s no reason to be right whatsoever in any situation. 

This is especially important when you think about how a bad review online can impact future customers, future revenue. Don’t be right. Ask the customer how you can help get a situation resolved. Sometimes it’s more about acknowledging their experience than actually “fixing” anything. Just asking sometimes helps in not having to fix it, which so many men love to do. In one recent situation I handled, the customer just wanted an apology. They wanted their experience acknowledged. That was enough.

4. Take Off the Seatbelt

This is my favorite one. If you want to build a culture of customer service skills, you have to step out of your office. You have to take off your seatbelt, get out of your chair, and go out and wander around. Pick up the phone and call some customers. Talk to the shuttle drivers. 

Whenever I come into a service department to fix it, I’ve found that the cashiers and the shuttle drivers and the people in the front lines know the most about what’s going on. They know more about how we’re disappointing customers than the manager does because they’re on the front lines. You’re not going to learn anything unless you get out there and get on the front lines and talk to some customers. Randomly walk up to a customer and say, “Hey, how’s it going?”

It’s just like when you eat in a high-end restaurant and the manager comes around and asks, “How is everything?” Get a sense of the mood. Listen to how your advisors are talking. Listen to how people are answering phones. Do it in the morning, at your peak time especially, and then again throughout the day. Taking your seatbelt off to see what your team is really doing for at least a couple hours a day is absolutely key.

5. Learn to Hire

Number five of the five easiest ways to build the culture and customer service skills in your service department is learn to hire. Most of the highest paid CEOs on this planet spend over 80% of their time hiring. Recruiting talent. If you hire the right people for the right position, they will be self-managed. They’ll be self-driven and they will get you the results that you want. If you have the wrong hire in that position, there isn’t anything you can do to crack the whip or push them. 

For many front line roles, I like to use group interviews to get a sense of personality and identify who is driven, who has that innate ability to be likable and build trust. People in those front line positions need to have that built-in. They also need to be comfortable under pressure dealing with an unhappy customer. I’ll start with a group interview, then be very selective about who to bring back for a solo interview. 

You want to get good at interviewing and asking questions. A good question when you bring them back to interview is, “How have you used your sense of humor and personality to handle a tough customer situation?” If they don’t have that go-to in their personality to really lighten the moment, they might not be suited for that. You want specific examples of how they’ve dealt with difficult customers, how they’ve used their personality or their skillset to exceed a customer’s expectations. 

It’s all about recruiting the right talent and building the right team. It’s talent. You have to think about it like building a sports team. The best service advisors get followed by the best techs, and vice versa. 

We go into more detail about hiring in our online training. We’re working on a big project right now. Jeremy just recorded like 45 videos. The feedback I’ve gotten is that there is a big demand for online training. We’re building service advisor training for independent shops, and we’re building training for shop owners, too.

So, those are 5 easy ways to build customer relationships: Pet the Dog, Role Play, Stop Wanting to be Right, and Learn to Hire. Remember, it’s all about trust and connection, and building a team that delivers that, and creating a culture that sustains that. Implement these process driven elements of our automotive service advisor training, and you’ll transform your business from the inside out.




Wouldn’t work be amazing if everyone did their job? Seriously, how many times have you asked your employees to do something only to turn around and realize they didn’t do it, or did it half-assed? That makes me extremely unhappy, and I’m pretty sure you feel the same.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There are lots of great employees—the kind who work hard, take pride in their performance, and act like a committed member of your team. And, we appreciate them. But, even those special types struggle if they’re not in the right environment. So whether we’re talking about service advisors, service managers or service technicians, how do you get people to willingly do their best all the time?

The answer is Gamification, and it’s exactly what it sounds like—using game playing to increase employee productivity and drive results. We’ve been doing this in the car industry for years—using games to motivate our teams. In the 400+ dealerships I’ve turned around, Gamification is still the best way I’ve found to drive momentum and results and get better work out of your workers. We are a competitive species. And the proof is the gaming industry. As of today, it’s worth $200 billion.

The point is if you’re not playing games with your employees, then they’ll just be playing games on their phones, instead of working. And, we all know how frustrating that is. So let’s get into the best ways to use Gamification. First, keep in mind the key to Gamification is anything can be a game. Don’t over-complicate this, or get caught up in too many rules. Get a deck of cards, or some dice—certainly keep things simple to get started. At Chris Collins Inc. we play games every day. Some of our favorite in-office games are dollar poker, baseball, bozo buckets, or anything that involves shooting things.

You can gamify your MVP’s— your most valuable products—you can gamify systems, sales, information gathering, call times—you can gamify almost anything, any system, any customer-facing interaction.

If you aren’t already a Gamification pro, you can get the specifics on how to set up games from this week’s Service Drive Revolution show. And, you can always get my book, Gamificationif you struggle with coming up with ideas. There are hundreds in there and they have instructions. Our guest host on the show this week, Mario Pernillo, talks about choosing games that have the right vibe for your tribe, and how you should pick a game that you think might work well for your group, and the issues they’re struggling with.

As the leader, boss, or manager it’s your job to get Gamification started, and create that energy. Make it exciting and show the guys you have prizes to give them. If you take the time to implement fun games, with rewards, the results will speak for themselves. Your employees will be more upbeat and more productive. We know – from experience.