Tag Archives: increase sales

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.

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.

How to double sales at a hair salon by Chris Collins

HOW HAIR SALONS CAN DOUBLE THEIR SALES

 

I’m a little obsessed with helping businesses find new streams of revenue, in case you haven’t noticed… I’ve thought a lot about hair salons specifically, and it all comes down to a system.

The first piece they get wrong in most hair salons is scheduling. Usually, there’s some receptionist who’s handling all the appointments. That person is usually the anti-appointment administration. The “we’re busy”, “we’re booked”, person. God forbid, they get a walk-in…

I’ve been sitting in a salon and there’s people standing around and somebody walks in and the receptionist turns them away. C’mon, you can’t take those people for granted! Part of growing your clientele is having a plan to drive traffic, getting the phones answered, and getting bookings on the calendar.

The receptionists should be incentivized on how many appointments show up and are booked. Maybe pay them a little bit less hourly and then incentivize them on how many appointments come through. That person should be commission-invested in the booking of the schedule. If it directly affects their pocket book, I guarantee you’ll see different results.

Create a system for the person booking appointments and teach them that you want to book early and stack them up. No more, “When do you want to come in?” If a stylist comes in, they should have their five appointments stacked up and then they’re done. You don’t want them having two-hour gaps. It’s bad for morale. Book clients early and book them consistently.

Next, salons rarely do any sort of marketing. I’ve never been to a salon where they collect my email and market to me, but this is an industry made for fun marketing. Before and after pictures are like gold in those situations—the system is built for dramatic before and after pictures. Particularly with a business where clients need to be reminded how good they can look with highlights, or that they might want different looks for different seasons. This also opens the door to market products. Shoot easy little videos with a cellphone and send out emails once or twice a month to your list to remind them.

Getting your hair cut or styled is also perfect for social media—especially if it comes out well. I see people posting about how they got their hair colored or cut, yet I never see them tagging the hairdresser or the salon. If the hairdresser or stylist was the person who took the picture and shared it, they could cross promote, and make sure the salon is tagged.

The next thing is, where’s the presentation of what you could take with you? We’re all using products in our hair, but most of the time you have to beg for them to tell you what to use. They’re the experts. They need to present. Most of the time, the hairdressers get a percentage of what is sold, but there has to be some sort of mandatory forced presentation every time where you come in. Tell the clients what you used in their hair, or what shampoo you recommend. You could have some sort of needs analysis during the process where you ask them if they have damage, or tell them they have damage. Ask if they struggle with dry hair or greasy hair and then come back at the end with suggestions for them. Then, if they buy, next time they come in ask how they liked the products, and refill the supply, or adjust as necessary. You could double or triple your sales on products just by doing a needs analysis alone, pointing out the things that are wrong with the scalp, the hair, that sort of thing. Use your expertise to create a custom plan for your clients, and make sure they have everything they need.

Let’s wrap this up. To double your sales in a hair salon make sure that the person answering the phone is vested in making appointments and in those appointments showing up. Prioritize efficient management of the appointment schedule. Identify ways to drive new traffic with things like Groupon. Have an email CRM where you’re collecting emails and you’re sending out before and after pictures so you’re marketing, and creating a bigger story for your clients. Then send out reminders and present products every time. Use the time that you have with the client to recommend color, pedicures, nails, anything you can sell on top of whatever the client came in for.

Hair salons are built on creating a good experience, and if these business-boosting suggestions are executed properly, you’re only enhancing that good experience. The good news about boosting sales in a hair salon is it’s a win-win for everyone. 

To hear our full profit plan for hair salons, 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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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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Women in the Service Drive

WOMEN IN THE SERVICE DRIVE

The Auto Service Drive is male-dominated, and the car industry hasn’t made enough of an effort to understand female customers or recruit more female salespeople and advisors. We know this, but this is what you don’t know…

Personally, I employed tons of women in the service drive. Want to know why? Some of the best advisors I ever had were women. They’re good at the job. Having women around also helps keep the locker talk down.

WOMEN ARE ALSO TERRIFIC, LOYAL CUSTOMERS AND MAKE, OR INFLUENCE 85% OF ALL PURCHASING DECISIONS, INCLUDING TRADITIONAL MALE ONES LIKE…AUTOMOBILES.

But, yes, there are differences when dealing with female customers, AND there are different challenges for women when they work in an industry that is male-dominated. So this week we had Lindsey Glass on the show to talk about her experience as a female customer in the service drive.

Whatever you think about female customers—it doesn’t matter what you think. It’s how we make customer’s feel that’s important, so you have to pay attention because it’s a big deal. Perception is reality.

IF YOU’RE A SERVICE ADVISOR OR SERVICE MANAGER, AND YOUR FEMALE CUSTOMERS PERCEIVE YOU’RE INDIFFERENT, THAN THAT’S GOING TO AFFECT YOUR RESULTS AND YOUR CSI REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THAT WAS YOUR INTENTION.

Female consumers think differently, and often want the process to be explained. In my experience, women want to know what to expect and want you to take time with them and frame the experience. Here’s my trade secret for when I handled female customers…

I’d walk up with a big smile on my face, find a way to compliment them, ask them what they were doing that day, etc. If I saw a car seat or kids stuff, I’d ask about their kids. I really appreciated my females customers because they’d give praise when we did a good job and were loyal.

FEMALE CUSTOMERS ARE ALSO WAY MORE SUSCEPTIBLE TO A MAINTENANCE PLAN. IF YOU TAKE THE TIME TO SHOW THEM WHAT’S AVAILABLE AND EXPLAIN HOW IT ALL WORKS, THEY ARE YOURS FOREVER.

To wrap up, let me reiterate, female customers, are loyal and spend money. And, there’s a TON of opportunity for women who want to work in the service drive, so I’ll be writing a follow-up article on how to set yourself up for success if you’re a woman in the Automotive Industry.

Read this article for more Advanced Sales Techniques.

Motivate Your Techs

INSPIRATION IS NOT OPTIONAL: MOTIVATE YOUR SERVICE TECHNICIANS!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tip #1 – Track Production

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

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

Tip #2 Get to know your technicians

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

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

Tip #3 Gamification!

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

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

Advanced Sales

SKYROCKET YOUR SALES WITH THESE ADVANCED SALES TECHNIQUES

I recently found out that we added a new service—we can marry you. That’s right, our very own coach, Jair Martinez has been ordained in the state of CA! (I’m not sure what that says about California.) So, not only do we have the best coaching groups, advisor training, and service manager University around at Chris Collins Inc., now we can offer wedding services. Imagine the fun.

Every day is a new adventure here at Chris Collins Inc.

On today’s choose your own adventure, we’re dosing you with advanced sales tips so sit back, relax and enjoy the trip.

Let’s start with two strategies that seem like common sense, but actually aren’t as commonly practiced as you’d think—tone and mirroring. G-man found these tips in a little book called, Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It, by Christopher Voss and Tahl Raz. We discussed these and more on this week’s show. In case you haven’t watched the show yet, we’ll share them with you here.

You make a lot of sales calls in your service drive, right? We always hear about the different tones of voice you can use when you’re on the phone with prospects. There’s the EXCITED VOICE!! The Direct Voice. And the late night DJ voice. That’s right, folks, I’ll be here alllll night. Smooth, relaxing, and there for you in those late night hours.

The tone we choose to use to engage our customers will literally set the tone for the conversation, and get them in the mood to buy from us. There’s varying philosophies on which tone works the best, but for success across the board—we’ve found the late night DJ voice is the most consistently effective. The late night DJ voice is soothing to most everyone, and that’s always going to be the one you use when things get heated. It’s also non-threatening and calms people down, and a calm customer is usually the happier customer.

The second strategy is called mirroring, and you’re probably familiar with the concept. Just like the late night DJ voice, this tip also works just as effectively for service managers and advisors. Mirroring is when a salesperson uses the last three or four words the customer said to them and repeats it back as a question. For example, if the customer says, “I don’t need my brakes checked today.”

You’d say, “Are you sure you don’t need me to check your brakes?”

This forces them to explain to you why they don’t need the service done. And often, in the process of explaining, they realize that they really do need it done! Or sometimes, if you do this repeat back process a couple times, people will break down and agree just to get you to stop asking questions. This is a scenario in which we actually want people to be “yes men.”

The science behind mirroring is that we’re attracted to things that are familiar, while we often feel repelled by things that seem foreign. So don’t repel people. Bring them closer to you with a soft voice and mirroring language. It gives the feeling of comfort and has a higher success rate.

Whether you need wedding services, want to join one of our awesome coaching groups or just enjoy reading my sales tips every week–here at Chris Collins inc. we’re here to serve. So dream big and sell hard!

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The New Era of Marketing by Chris Collins

THE NEW ERA OF MARKETING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bulletin

SERVICE ADVISOR TRAINING: CIRCLE OF TRUST

In today’s environment, where customers want everything now and for free, it’s essential we build trust and credibility with our customers. Particularly because the service we provide is unique in and of itself, other sales strategies are not going to work here. We are selling a product that most of customers have never seen before and wouldn’t know how to double check the work. You have to establish a connection with the customer to gain the trust and the confidence that you will take care of them. Most of selling in the service department comes down to if the customer likes and trusts you. This Service Advisor Training centers on the Circle of Trust. It will help you accomplish and increase your customer retention.

Let’s start from the beginning with establishing an Instant Connection. Nothing kills connection quicker than making your customer come and find you. Hopefully, you all are already meeting your customers out on the drive. So, when you’re meeting the customers at their car, never ask the stereotypical questions like “What brings you in today?” or “Do you have an appointment?”. Instead strike up a conversation based on what is important to the customer. Remember the car is a commodity and not their passion.

When you’re doing the walk around with your customers, your goal should be to connect with them on a deeper level, Pet the Dogif you will. Talk about things like their pets, their kids, their work, favorite teams, really anything but the car. Build trust and a connection like a friend would. Service Advisor Training Pro Tip: imagine your customers were over at your house for a barbeque, what would you talk about? Focus on that as you’re leading the customer around the car checking for bumps and bruises.

Back in the 1950s, service advisors didn’t even exist. Most of the time customers pulled right into the shop and dealt directly with the technician. Part of your role as a service advisor is to make sure your customers are maintaining their car and that they understand what the car is due for. Check the History and Advise accordingly. Most studies show that customers generally aren’t maintaining their car because they weren’t informed or the maintenance due wasn’t communicated to them effectively. Bring your customers up to your desk, check their history, and clearly advise them on the maintenance issues at hand.

Whether you’re doing a 20 point inspection or a 58 point inspection, I personally recommend the 32 Point Inspection, introduce it upfront with your customers. Approach it by saying, “While the car is here, the technician will look it over for safety issues.” That way when you call your customers with any safety issues the technician found, they won’t think that you’re just searching for work. Quite the opposite, you’ll look like the hero you are.

Don’t beg for CSI at the end. Here’s something most service advisor training won’t tell you. Commit to CSI Upfront. Some of the service advisors I’ve seen just look like homeless people begging for a handout when they wait until the end to mention CSI. Commit to the customer upfront that you are going to provide a high level of service and that their feedback is appreciated. Then you only have to gently remind them at the end of their appointment.

One of the biggest mistakes service advisors can make is that they don’t Tell the Truth. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment, writing the report and trying to build rapport with the customer, to over promise. Don’t say you can have the car done by 2 o’clock when you don’t yet know what the car needs. The idea is to under promise. Service Advisor Training Pro Tip: make the window for the appointment as long as you can. The longer the window, the more likely it is to add additional work to the RO. Properly set the frame upfront so you’re not causing any disappointment on the backside.

Sometimes a tiny little, seemingly insignificant, gesture can show huge rewards. Say for example, you send your wife or girlfriend flowers at work unexpectedly. For the rest of the week not only are you getting lucky but she feels amazing after having received flowers in front of all her friends. It’s the same thing with our customers. It’s usually standard procedure for the customer to call the service advisor wondering when their car is going to be done. I purpose incorporating a Two Hour Call to distinguish yourself from all the other service advisors. Keep track of when you wrote the customers up and as close to two hours as you can, give them a call. Even if you have nothing new to report, just let them know that you are just checking in. It’s as easy as saying “We’re still waiting for the technician to look at your car but I was thinking about you.” Touch them before they have a chance to touch you.

Once the technician has checked out the car and given you an inspection sheet, Call with a Diagnosis. If they’re in the waiting room, be sure to bring them into your office to present the work privately. When you’re presenting the work, always present value first and price second. Most advisors tend to list out the price for each individual piece. All the customer is going to hear is the numbers. It’s critical that you sell the value before you sell the number.

Get the car Done Early. Even if you know you can get the car done by 3 o’clock, tell the customer 5 o’clock. Then it’ll be a pleasant surprise when you call at 3 and tell them their car is ready to be picked up. Remember, under promise and over deliver.

It’s imperative that you have a system in place to guarantee Quality Control. It’s a tiny little extra step that makes all the difference in terms of CSI. Inspect the cars as much as you can. Make sure they’re washed, the keys are upfront, that there’s no new dents before you call the customers to come pick it up. Don’t fumble the ball at the 1 yard line.

Make sure that you touch your customers when they come to collect their car so they’re not doing the Walk of Shame to the cashier. A lot of times when customers come in, they’ll go directly to the cashier. They’ll leave without the service advisor reviewing what was done and what work will be due at their next appointment. You should always be reconnecting with your customers before they leave. There’s a couple ways you can accomplish this. One, you can withhold the paperwork from the cashier. That way the cashier has to inform you when your customers arrive. Or two, when you call your customers to inform them their car is ready, ask them to come by and see you before they go to the cashier to review the appointment. It’s at this point that you should remind them of your commitment to CSI and to be expecting a survey from the manufacturer.

The last link in the Circle of Trust and the key to making money as a service advisor is Be There Next Time. Stay in one place for a long time and collect customers. Selling will become the easiest part when you customers like and trust you. The hardest part will be staying in one place for a long time. But when you’ve been at a dealership for 3 years, you’ll have customers coming back specifically asking for your assistance. Start with little steps. Make it a goal to connect with 2-3 customers a day on much deeper level. Bear in mind that repeat customers mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales. Stay in one place and become a fixture, an icon, in your dealership and reap in the rewards.

With these Service Advisor Training tips you now have the information to help you thrive as an advisor and create a Circle of Trust between yourself and your customers.

1. Instantly Connect with your Customers
2. Pet the Dog
3. Check the History and Advise
4. Introduce the 32 Point Inspection
5. Commit to CSI Upfront
6. Tell the Truth
7. Utilize the Two Hour Call
8. Always Call with a Diagnosis
9. Get Done Early
10. Ensure Quality Control
11. Avoid the Walk of Shame
12. And… Be There Next Time.

So get out there, put these tools to the test and I guarantee results.