Service Managers’ Biggest Mistakes

Service Managers’ Biggest Mistakes

“You are your own worst enemy” is more than just a popular saying. Nine time out of ten, the person who’s costing you the most business is none other than yourself.

Do you want to get ahead in sales? Then you’ve got to stop falling into these traps and standing in the way of your own success. My guest Coach Chris Hogland joins me on this week’s Service Drive Revolution as we break down some of the biggest mistakes that are keeping service advisors from selling more.

As for myself, I often find that scheduling can become a major issue. Managers aren’t putting a system in the drive where advisors have time between appointments to call customers with updates. Usually, appointments are booked way too close together, and the result is that customers wind up calling in for an update. When this happens, you bet the customers are unhappy – they don’t know where to go or what to do, and it’s pure chaos! It’s a manager’s role to fix that before it happens.

On the advisor side, I feel like they can be too transactional… “Line up. Come here. Do this.” It’s not fun or friendly! You’re not an airline! The customer doubts what’s happening in the back of the house if the reception isn’t warm at the front. Even if it’s a controlled chaos, they feel like herded cattle. If your system is just trying to make it from 7:00 to close with the least amount of heat possible, then you’re making it too transactional.

We have clients ranging from dealerships to independent shops and heavy truck clients. 70% of the customers that start off buying their car at the dealer end up leaving and going to an independent shop. Now, from the perspective of the independent shop, the dealers have the home field advantage because customers go to them first.

Think about it: the dealer had the home field advantage that everyone wants, but then they pissed it away!

One of the biggest things keeping advisors from selling is that they think the car is the star of the show, when it’s really the customer. When you make things transactional, the only competitive edge you have left is price. Now, what does that mean? It means you skipped the basic steps of connecting with the customer, so the last card up your sleeve is offering a discount when they haven’t even asked for one. If you’ve defaulted to discounts as an operating system to keep your customers, then your closing technique might as well be dropping your pants and getting naked.

They want their car fixed, and they want to feel like there’s value – which happens when the benefit outweighs the cost. Be the reason they’d rather pay more for your service than go down to Chucky’s Lucky Brakes and get ripped off. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “my mechanic said this,” or, “my mechanic said that.” They’re bluffing. A lot of times they don’t even have a mechanic, and that’s just their way of objecting to a sale. Everybody wants a person inside the car business they can call. Your response when a customer talks about “their mechanic” should be, “What can I do to become that person?”

When I asked him what he thought, Coach Chris mentioned mindset. Advisors think there are too many things preventing them from completing the tasks they need to be able to sell more. That answer ties perfectly into the final item on my list!

A lot of service advisors have a victim complex. What I mean is, some advisors fall into the trap of thinking they can’t control the outcome of a situation. They’re so focused on the things they can’t control, that they wind up not doing the things they can, like asking what you can do to earn the customer’s business, or petting the dog, or following up with the customer before they have to call in and check on status. These are all things you should be doing. Things that you can control.

Speaking of focusing on things you can’t control, the first audience question of the day comes from Tom:

“Are there any written workflow and service lane operations that are written or best practices that I can be informed on? The reason I ask is because I believe I should have every right as a new advisor to have a customer drop their vehicle off as the next writer. On the 10th training day of my new OEM writer position, they tell me that another advisor gets the drop-off in the morning. I am genuinely concerned that I’m being taken advantage of because I’m the new advisor. I’m scared about the new position on day 11 when my survival is dependent on my ability to retain my customers. Any advice would definitely help me.”

Okay so first thing, Tom, we appreciate that you submitted a question so we’re going to send you a Service Drive Revolution care package but I’m going to have to be honest with you: you sound entitled.

Let me tell you about when I was an advisor – I used to come in on Sundays and write the night drops because there were so many of them. My manager at the time – in the Millionaire Service Advisor book, I changed his name to Dick because, well, he was one – was a complete moron.

One day, this idiot service advisor (let’s call him Thomas) who couldn’t write seven RO’s in a day to save his life complained that he didn’t get night drops. So what did they do?

They took all my night drops away and distributed them evenly to all the advisors.

Imagine their surprise when that new rule only lasted two weeks. Why?

Because Dick, in his laziness, didn’t understand that he was going to start getting a bunch of calls from customers whose cars sat there for a day and nobody called them. Customers would leave voicemails for Thomas and never get a call back.

I could have quit, I could have complained, I could have been entitled, but instead I just waited because I wanted to see what would happen. Turns out Dick would rather not deal with customer complaints, so after those two weeks I got all the night drops back, and was writing them again on Sunday.

The very fact that this scheme blew up in their faces proved my value to my boss in the end, right? So it was definitely worth it to grin and bear it.

My grandpa always used to say, “No matter what you’re getting paid to do something, if you try to give more than that, it’ll always work out for you.” Those are words I really try to live by, because someone who can go that extra mile will always be in demand.

So I ask you, Tom, to just flip your script a little bit, bro. If it’s not night drops, give your employer more than what they’re paying you for. Relax; concentrate on connecting with the customers and ask yourself what value you can add to the department, not what’s in it for you. Once you reframe your perspective and bring everything into focus, your luck will change – I guarantee it.

Next question comes from Reddit:

“Who has issues with lifetime warranty? I keep getting 1 hour or greater hold times. As you can imagine, CSI scores tank out and customers get upset when I don’t contact them but what other choice do I have? I had to take work home with me a few times ’cause of the hold times. I had to call on 4 different RO’s and was on the phone for at least 5 hours all the way until 8 P.M. when they closed… What do you guys do? I’ve been doing this for 3 years and lifetime has thrown me in f***ing circles. Also, how many customers are getting pissed when lifetime doesn’t cover parts anymore? How do you deal with that? I give them the number for customer complaints but I would like to see what you guys do. Thanks a lot. (No sarcasm.)”

Okay, so a couple things…

When I had extended warranties, I would dial the number when I was headed to work and just be on hold before opening because you could be on hold for 40 minutes or up to an hour like you said, right?

One thing I would do is have the warranty administrator handle these calls. It’s a lot easier for them because they’re not customer-facing, they’re just sitting at their desk. It’s hard for you, as an Advisor, to take another call when you’re on hold and waiting for that music to stop, so it helps to bring someone else into that process. As an advisor, you might not have the power to make that call, but you could at least propose to your GM that the warranty administrator make those calls for you.

Now, if you don’t have a warranty administrator, maybe there’s a cashier or somebody like that who can do it. If not, then you’re just going to have to do it yourself.

About lifetime not covering parts anymore, I would address that upfront and do something at the time of write up. Let them know in a very soft, subtle way that lifetime isn’t going to pay for the diagnosis, and some of the policies don’t pay for parts. You’re there to be the liaison and do your best to help, but it’s ultimately an outside warranty and not everything is going to be covered.

Learn from these mistakes, and stop falling victim to bad habits.

Once again, thanks for reading and tuning into Service Drive Revolution. We’ll see you all again next week!

I Would Pay $100,000 For a Personal Assistant, if….

I Would Pay $100,000 For a Personal Assistant, if….

Success never comes from doing things “good enough.” 

There’s value in going beyond the call of duty. Fortune always favors the hardest workers– the ones who make a habit of consistently giving even just a little extra effort than what their job calls for. But, for all you managers out there, it goes both ways – you have to show appreciation for someone who consistently gets the desired results if you want to keep that fire going. 

So, as I’m sure you’ve already heard, we have a Service Manager Challenge going on where I’m giving away my brand-new suped-up Jeep pickup truck to whoever tells us the best story of how they applied the strategies from our OnDemand platform or Coaching program to increase their net gross, effective labor rate, and customer satisfaction. 

I mean… you’ll be in a better place regardless. Our programs are tested and proven to help hundreds of Service Drives all across the United States and Canada (That’s right… Chris Collins is international, baby!), but if you participate in the Challenge and tell us about your journey you can win a tricked-out Jeep Gladiator!

But I wonder: is it better to be the manager that wins the challenge, or the coach of the manager that wins the challenge? Because we also have an internal prize for the coach (No, it isn’t a 2020 Jeep Gladiator).

I’ve been thinking a lot about that, because I have so many things I need to get done, but I have nobody I trust to hand them to. I even have a list of things I’ve had to ask my staff more than three times for. I assign these tasks to people and a week later, guess what I have to do? I have to ask again and again whether they’ve gotten done.

I’m starting to wonder, so much so that I made it the title of this week’s Service Drive Revolution episode: Is it worth it to just pay a personal assistant $100,000 a year? Because maybe that’s what it takes for someone to get something done, no questions asked.

Right now, I’m going on this two-week tour where I’m going to be gone speaking all over the country. Let’s say, while I’m on the road, I want a gym that’s outside of the hotel (because, let’s face it, hotel gyms usually suck). 

Would a good assistant find me a decent gym within the area? Would they check ahead and make sure they’re not sending me to a hotel that has bedbugs?

I literally just need somebody in the office that’s a bulldog like me – someone I can give projects to and who won’t take no for an answer. 

For example, I was speaking in Chicago one time, and I had a layover where I was stuck there for a whole day, so I ended up going to the Art Institute of Chicago. 

I was blown away by a short film they played there, and I really wanted to show our video team that. After I got back, I ordered it – it was expensive as hell, but I didn’t mind because the guy who made it is an artist. 

The next day, they call me and they’re like, “Hey, are you a library or a school?”

“No, I’m Chris Collins. I’m kind of a training company.”

“Well, you have to be a library or school in order to buy this.”

“Oh, c’mon! Sell it to me! There’s got to be a way.”

“Well, here’s what you should probably do: go to your local library and tell them you’ll donate it. They’ll order it from us, and then you can check it out.”

So I ask somebody here to do that, and guess what happened…

They went to the Los Angeles Library down the street and asked the person at the front, who said no. 

I’m like, “Okay. Did you ask anybody else?”


So I called them myself, and asked for the person who’s in charge of ordering stuff. Done.

How much time did that take? How much money could I make in the time it takes for me to make a list of things I’ve asked for more than three times?

That’s why I’d gladly pay $100,000 a year for someone who can be more than just an assistant – they can be an assassin. Not literally, of course, just several echelons higher than an assistant. 

I have a couple friends that are really affluent, and their assistants – or assassins – are making like $70,000 or $80,000 a year. If I could just give something to somebody and it was done, that would honestly be worth $200,000.

For $100,000, would you still clock out at 4:30? Would you answer a text at seven at night if there was something that needed to be done? If there was a lot going on, would you work more than eight hours a day? How many extra miles would an assistant go?

There are some badass service managers who don’t even make that much. Once you get to six figures, the balance and reciprocity moves in your favor. Not only will you have water and stuff, an assassin will have no problem finding you a gym.

And that’s what leads us to the topic of today’s Service Drive Revolution: what do we see out there when we’re coaching managers? What do we have the most difficulty with?

The issue that most people have is that they just want a cheat code. They don’t want to do the work to get to where they want to be.

They might dip their toes in the water and even see some success from it for a little bit, but there’s always reasons that keep them from doing it consistently. You’ve got to make the necessary behavior changes to make it the new norm. 

Imagine doing $70,000 in sales when you could be doing $140,000. Look at what behaviors you have to change to double what you’re doing now. 

One of the things you have to do is embrace complexity. Everybody wants it to be easy. 

How strong are you if you double your sales? Can you have the best techs in the market? The best advisors? Can you have one more car washer and one more shuttle driver than anybody else? 

It’s life changing to have that sort of freedom. You can dominate the market if you’re not getting micromanaged to the point where you run into a deficit. 

I liken it to weight loss. Let’s say you’re 300 pounds and you want to weigh 150 pounds – there’s no magic pill for that. But at the end of the road, what’s it going to do for your health and quality of life?

When something wears out and causes something else to wear out, techs call it consequential damage. For example, oil leaking into a coolant hose and making it soft before it goes, the coolant hose would be consequential damage. That term right there is what gets some warranty claims paid.

Understand that when you’re dominating in the marketplace, people are going to want to know what you did. The truth of the matter is that you want it to be complex because if it wasn’t complex, everybody could do it – and not everybody’s going to pay that price. 

If there was a magic pill, any average Joe would take it, and then you would have no advantage in the marketplace, right?

Obviously, to lose weight, the first thing you have to do is work out. I know that I won’t show up all the time unless I have a trainer. Why?

Right now I have two trainers, and I pay to meet them for cardio and weights six days a week when I’m in town. I know it’s expensive, but I’m investing in the fact that I’ll be there because I won’t want to waste that money.

The food is the hardest part for me. Abs are made in the kitchen, right? A couple times, my trainer would come in with a garbage bag and throws away all the cereal, cookies, stuff that shouldn’t be there – the stuff that makes you feel good but is ultimately bad for you. If I have a couple glasses of tequila at nine o’clock at night and I know there are cookies in my cupboard, I’m going to go for them, but I’m sure as hell not going to get in the car and drive to the grocery store if there aren’t any.

You also don’t want to ask yourself, “What’s the best thing I could have for lunch right now,” That’s a mistake because you’re not eating for fuel, you’re eating for entertainment. You have to put yourself in a scenario where you’re not making a decision, which means you have to meal prep. If someone asks you what you want for lunch and you already made a chicken salad beforehand, you’re having that damned chicken salad. It just showed up, right? You have to trick yourself out of the decision that doesn’t move you towards your goal or else you’ll end up getting the burger and fries or whatever it is. 

So how is it any different for managers? 

That’s it for this week’s Service Drive Revolution. Remember – don’t just do the bare minimum when you could be worth $100,000 or even $200,000. Thanks for reading, watching, and listening, and we’ll see you again real soon!

CES 2020… Sony’s Making a Car?

CES 2020… Sony’s Making a Car?

In the automotive industry, if you’re not innovating, then you’re falling behind. That’s why, on this week’s episode of Service Drive Revolution, I sat down with Chris Hogland, one of our coaches here at Chris Collins, Inc. to talk about some of the coolest innovations from CES 2020 last week, with some particularly interesting stuff in store from the car world. 

For those who don’t know, CES is the Consumer Electronics Expo in Vegas where they show sex toys, cars, and everything in between: cell phones, computers, you name it.

Fisker unveiled their electronic SUV, the Fisker Ocean. It’s going to be $37,500 or a lease of $379 a month with a 30,000 mile limit for the year. Tesla’s 10,000 mile a year lease option is $535, so they’re going right for Tesla on that price. It’ll be interesting to see what their second swing looks like because last time they couldn’t even get their cars off the lot before a lot of the people they hired ended up jobless. Who’s going to want to take that chance again, right?

Next we got the Vision AVTR from Mercedes-Benz. This one’s a strange phenomenon for the German car company, because they’re usually all about performance, and the experience of driving the car itself. Not so with this one. This  one is different, because it’s all about the experience inside – it’s basically a cocoon. This Avatar-themed concept car not only detects your pulse, but also your breathing. It even has multi-function controls that detect your fingerprints. In the automotive realm, I consider myself a technically-minded person but this one is so out there, it’s crazy.

Visa and Sirius XM came up with this idea of automated payments for tolls, gas, and food right from your car. You don’t even have to pull out your wallet! I really like the idea of paying for tolls and parking without ever having to stop or go to a parking meter.

BMW is getting in on it, too. They announced the Zero-G Lounger, which is a car seat that can recline up to 60 degrees. The seatbelt then moves along with the passenger and the headliner has a TV that comes out. Anyone who’s ever been to a dentist’s office where they hand you a remote and let you watch Netflix or Apple TV knows what I’m talking about.

What is the common link between all these concept cars and features?

Notice that, so far, I’ve barely said a word about performance. That’s because the designers of these concept cars are all about making these new car designs more eco-friendly, and more luxurious. In 2020, the truth could not be clearer: The car is a commodity, now more than ever. But that’s what’s unreal, isn’t it? You’re not really driving anymore. It’s all about checking your e-mail or watching Netflix. That’s got me thinking what content companies could be planning to be consumed in vehicles within the next 10 years. People are going to want Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ in their car, don’t you think? That introduces a whole new way to monetize!

Now, a name you might not have expected to hear in this group is Sony. They showed off their own electric concept car, the Vision S, and while this doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re making a car, they did show off the technology inside: a dashboard with six screens, audio in the seats – basically a home entertainment system inside your car. What they’re doing makes me think that all the car companies are going to want to jump in on this. They see the writing on the wall.

And then you’ve got Damon’s new Hypersport electric motorcycle, which supposedly goes 200 miles per hour with a 200 mile range. What’s also crazy is that they’re using Blackberry software in the bike’s operating system. I didn’t even know Blackberry was still around!

I don’t know how you get into CES… but all this cool stuff has got me thinking maybe we should go next year!

Before I get into the audience question, let me talk to you about Chris Hogland, who offers some valuable insight on this week’s show. He’s a coach here at Chris Collins, Inc. who’s out there fixing stores for us, and one of the things he brings to the table is that he’s one of the guys that sees opportunities before he sees obstacles – in fact, a lot of the time, the obstacles ARE opportunities.

Now, one of his experiences in his career was being recruited by Tesla after being a BMW tech. This was at the very beginning of Tesla, so he was a part of when they were still trying to build their network across the country.

He had read a lot about Tesla – mostly that they were hemorrhaging money – but he still jumped in with both feet, because it was something different and he was looking for a new challenge. Here he was, a mechanic from Oklahoma, going through orientation with guys from MIT, Stanford, etc. It was entertaining, but also sobering – exciting, but he also felt like he was in over his head. Who wouldn’t?

Fast forward to now. I don’t have to tell you how good things are looking for Tesla moving forward – but even Chris wouldn’t have guessed back then that they’d be selling as many cars as they are today.

I’ve picked Chris’s brain plenty of times to see what exactly about Elon’s management style led them this far, and I think it would have to be his obsessive laser focus that he has. It’s a bit arrogant at times, but he believes in what he’s doing so much that it’s better to ask for forgiveness instead of permission.

Earlier this month, I talked about Tesla’s unfair advantage. Between downloading data from the cars, autonomous driving, and circumventing the dealer network, they have so much momentum that no one can catch up. Meanwhile, BMW and Toyota are still hoping that hydrogen will start coming around!

Point is, Tesla got off to a rough start because they were doing things very unconventionally, and they were more concerned about building a network and testing their system rather than profit. Again, it’s that culture of cutting edge – of change and ingenuity – that’s paying off for them right now.

We’re in an industry where a lot of people are doing things the way they’ve been doing them since 1930 instead of looking for a better way. At Tesla, if a change to the tradition makes sense, then they’re doing it today. I’ve been to Tesla and I’ve been to Detroit, and I feel like Detroit’s fat and slow while Tesla is quick and nimble – no offense to anybody in Detroit.

With all that fascinating stuff out of the way, we have an audience question. Remember: if you submit a question, we’re going to send you some swag. That includes a Service Drive Revolution package with a shirt, a mug, and some other fun stuff.

“I got hired to be a service advisor and parts man but when I got hired, I had zero experience. As a service advisor, I know it’s my job to be 100% attentive to the customer, but between running to my techs for information, parts runs, answering the phones, and calling customers with quotes, etc., I find that I’m not giving my customer the attention they need. How can I effectively balance everything so that I can be there for the customer, create a trusting environment, and connect with them while fulfilling my other responsibilities? My heart aches for the customer because I know we can do better for them.”

Good question – and I like your enthusiasm. There’s a bunch of answers to that, and one is being honest with your customers upfront and telling them the truth. Just tell them the process and what happened like, “We’re going to check it out and figure out what’s wrong with it, then we’re going to have to source the parts.”

100 years ago when I was an advisor, I would tell them, “Here’s the process. It’s going to get dispatched to tech. Once the tech has it in their stall, they’re going to check it out and they’re going to tell me what’s wrong with it. I’m going to call you right then.”

My intention behind doing it was getting the customers to pick up the phone when I called. Ask them what their day is like.

“Are you going to be in meetings today? What’s the best number to call?”

I would go through all these things and they knew to be ready for my call because it could mean the car staying another day if they didn’t. It never turned them off. It actually pulled them in closer to me, because I was putting like this: if you’re not available to do your part, I can’t do mine– right?

I used to always ask the other advisors, “Why don’t you tell customers the truth?”

Be honest about whether it’s going to take a day or two to get the parts. Walk them through what the timeline to repair is. The key is finding a way to be proactive – anticipate the customer’s needs as well as your own, and have the true goal of getting their car back in a timely manner. You might not be able to change the process, so if you feel bad that you’re not meeting their expectations, change what their expectations should be! Set the record straight!

Another thing you could do is find a vendor that will deliver. I know a lot of independent shops where the parts get delivered twice a day. There might be weird situations where you might have to get something from a dealership but a lot of times you can also hire a parts runner. There are apps out there like TaskRabbit where you could pay someone $20 to go pick up the part if you can’t afford a full-time driver. Add that to the quote and pass it along to the customer.

When you look at some of these problems and think they’re outside of your control, they’re really not. You just need to think a little more outside the box. That’s the entire point of Service Drive Revolution — to get Advisors to think outside the box of what the Service Drive is.

When I wrote service, a lot of the advisors felt like victims. I knew the system sucked, but that wasn’t going to stop me from controlling the narrative, because – let’s face it – there’s never a perfect system.

Thanks again for reading and tuning in this week. We’ll see you next time on Service Drive Revolution.

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!

Chris’ Favorite Things of 2019, We Answer Your Questions, and How to Have More Energy in 2020

Chris’ Favorite Things of 2019, We Answer Your Questions, and How to Have More Energy in 2020

Set a goal and stick to it.

It sounds simple, but the truth is, most people lack the drive they need to get the results they want. They tell themselves, “Why bother?” before they even start. You know the type, we see them every year: In January, bodies pile into the gym and it gets so crowded that you can barely get in the door. Then, come February, it’s empty again! Not because these people found a better gym… Because they quit. Do you want to be one of those people?

No. Hell no.

If you’re anything like me, being that guy is your worst nightmare. That’s why, this year, I’m challenging everyone to set real, tangible goals for themselves, and to work every day to achieve them. The New Year is only a day away, so I need you to take the plunge now. Why? 

Because we’re not just starting a new year this week–  We’re setting the pace for a whole new decade!

Ask yourself: Are you where you imagined yourself to be ten years ago? If you’re not, how could you have worked harder? What can you do to make sure that, this time, you get where you want to be in ten years? Picture it, and then work every day to make it happen. That’s the only way it happens: You have to work on it every day. Results won’t come overnight, and you won’t always win. But with the right attitude, I promise that you’ll win more than you lose. 

That’s why on Service Drive Revolution this week, I sat down with Mario Pernillo, my Coach Super here at Chris Collins Inc. In just four months, Mario lost over 30 pounds. 30 pounds! And he didn’t do it by setting a lofty goal or by taking shortcuts. He set a simple goal, and he achieved it by sticking to it every day. And if Mario can do it, I guarantee that you can. 

But before we get started, there’s something you should know: 

I’m excited to announce that, starting now, Service Drive Revolution will be releasing weekly! We’re also going to be launching a new mini-episode every Friday called a Drive-By. These are two- to five-minute motivational clips to help inspire you as you head into the weekend. And if that’s not enough, every Drive-By will include a special sneak peek of the next week’s episode of Service Drive Revolution, so you definitely won’t want to miss those.

That’s right: Service Drive Revolution will be coming at you twice a week in 2020, so get ready! 

Now… Back to Mario.

Mario started at 267 pounds, and the closest thing to a turning point for Mario was when he lost a foot race to his son, Jordan. To understand what a big deal this is, keep in mind that I’ve seen him race technicians and advisers in dress shoes, and I’ve never seen anybody beat him in a sprint. To pinpoint why he lost, Mario thought, “Did I not run right? Did I have the wrong form? Am I getting old? Did I lose it? Is he beating me?” but, ultimately, he realized that he had given Jordan an advantage by letting himself go. 

He was out of shape (as he comically put it, “Round is a shape!”), but he never thought about it… Until he lost, that is. 

To Mario, you don’t realize how quickly you make every excuse in the book to cover your losses, and you don’t truly accept a loss until you admit that you lose.

After Mario accepted it, he couldn’t just do nothing. At the end of the day, he was carrying too much weight. So he asked himself: What can I do so this never happens again? When am I going to work out? How long am I going to work out for? His goal wasn’t to lose 30 pounds. His goal was to work out.

Now, Mario is down to 230. He gets excited to go on runs, with a minimum requirement of a mile every day, no matter what. From his perspective, there’s an excitement that comes from being in tune with his body. 

He describes it as a mindset: Everything you want to accomplish is simple if you put your mind to it and work at it every single day, so he keeps going. It’s not about the quick win, right? It’s a long-term game. I hope that you’ll keep that in mind, and that Mario’s story inspires you going into 2020.

But that’s not all we talked about this week. I also answered some service advisor’s questions. That’s right– anyone can submit a question to Service Drive Revolution. And if we read it on the show, we’ll send you some fun swag, like Service Drive Revolution t-shirts, hats, coffee mugs, and notepads. 

Our first set of questions this week came from a service manager at a small shop. His quick lube techs have been missing a lot of M.V.P.I. (Multiple Point Vehicle Inspections), so he’s thinking of teaming them up with A techs to deal with the high volume of daily appointments. He has three advisors, and wanted my thoughts on bringing on a fourth. He also asked my opinion on a new pay plan for his advisers. 

There are a couple things to address here:

If you don’t have the right balance of techs inspecting the cars, you need a process for training techs to become better at inspecting. Those quick lube techs need a career path to become C or B techs within a year or so, and the way you’re doing quick lube isn’t going to work no matter what you do. If you have veteran techs coming over there, there’s a chance you’re either going to pay them to do those inspections, or it’s going to be unproductive and they’re not going to want to do it for long. This means you’ll eventually need to reset the whole shop. This isn’t an issue that can be fixed with a bandaid. You need the right structure in the shop, which is completely different than what you’re thinking.

The question, “Should I add another advisor?” leaves out several important variables. What are your hours in your shop? How many repair orders are you writing? What time are you open? You’re saying you have 50 appointments a day, but that doesn’t tell me how many RO’s you’re writing. If you have 50 appointments, are you writing 75? We do have a formula for that, but we need to know how many RO’s we’re writing at the end of the day.

Your pay plan is not how I would do it. You probably know this from being an advisor yourself, but you should pay your advisors on customer pay, warranty, internal, parts and labor, and don’t pay them on gross. Advisors don’t know or understand what gross is. You’re paying advisors on something they don’t understand. I never understand why dealerships complain about their parts to labor ratio falling off over the years while they’re paying advisors only on labor. You probably know this from being an adviser, but every RO has a part, so your advisors should get paid on parts. You miss out on tons of part sales by not paying the advisors on parts. Lower the percentage and pay them on customer paying warranty, then pay them on internal. 

In the end, it’s all about the customer experience, and I don’t understand why you would want a customer’s first impression to be advisors who don’t want to write up their car when they bring it in. I assure you this happens when advisors aren’t being paid on internal. I see and hear it all the time, and if you’re listening or reading and thinking, “Well, that’s what their salaries for,” or “That’s their job,” or “Oh no, my advisors don’t do that,” then you’re crazy.

The next question is much more straightforward:

“Do you believe that the parts department should contribute to advisor pay as long as we are paying the advisor on labor and parts?”

The truth is, every manufacturer has an accounting manual. Take for example the accounting manual for General Motors. GM does a parts transfer, and that covers what the service advisers are doing or offsets them. A percentage of the back counters gross gets transferred to the service department. Another example: a BMW financial statement splits the advisors, the warranty administrator, and the cashier with parts. 

What you want to do is go to the office manager and ask to see the accounting manual. It will tell you what to do. This isn’t about my opinion, it’s about how the financial statements are set up. Some are set up with transfers, some are set up to split the advisers, and every manufacturer will have that information in their master accounting manual. It will tell you how you should account for all the expenses. Secondly, if you’re in a 20 group or you’re comparing numbers with another dealer of the same manufacturer, it’s best if you’re following the right accounting practices.

You’re both asking all the right questions, but you’re going to mess this up if you don’t have the right direction. You have the right ideas and the right ambition, but you stand to lose millions of dollars by not offering your managers the right training. That’s why I’d like to take this opportunity to point out that for just $8 a day, our online Service Drive Revolution On-Demand platform can provide the exact training you need for your service advisors, techs, and managers. 

Our program is the best adviser training in the industry. It will help you rethink how to lay out the shop, figure out pricing strategies, and build a system that creates more sales per customer. With our Service Manager University, Technician Tree Recruiting, and Pet the Dog customer service training, your techs will learn how to sell, manage their time, and increase their flat rate. It’s worth way more than $8 a day. It’s worth thousands of dollars. Your ROI will be huge, and Service Drive Revolution On-Demand might be the best investment you will ever make in your life, even better than if you bought Apple stock. 

And now I have to tell you about my favorite things of 2019, starting with a book that I discovered this year called Teaching Excellence – The Definitive Guide to NLP for Teaching and Learning by Richard Bandler and Kate Benson.

Bandler is one of the founders of NLP, neuro-linguistic programming, and the story is that Kate met Bandler at one of his workshops and said, “You’re using NLP on me to teach me NLP.”

He said, “Yeah, of course I am. That’s how you learn better and how it’ll stick.”

“Well, why doesn’t anybody teach school teachers how to use NLP to teach?”

“I don’t know.”

They decided to write this book together for school teachers, which is not only one of the best ways to learn NLP but it’s going to teach you how to train your employees better.

Next, Away carry-on suitcases. This is something I bought all of my coaches for Christmas this year, and there are a couple things I love about it. It has a bag to store dirty clothes and bands to cinch down your clothes so you can pack even more clothes in it, and it has a charger for your phone. If you’re like me, and you need to travel for work, I guarantee that an Away suitcase will change your life.

Another highlight of 2019 for me personally was seeing Bon Iver live. Bon Iver is what you’d call an indie band, and their sound definitely isn’t for everybody, but as a fan of their music I’m happy to say that their live show didn’t disappoint. 

Last but not least, my favorite thing of 2019 was all of you tuning in to Service Drive Revolution, whether you’re watching on YouTube, or listening on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. So, with that in mind, the three episodes of Service Drive Revolution that got the most downloads in 2019 were:

  1. Why Trump’s tax reform might cause a dip in car sales and what you can do to stay ahead.
  2. Brian Benstock: why disrupting the automotive industry might be the only way to survive.
  3. Why you should stop following the golden rule with Glenn Lundy

If you haven’t listened to these yet, I recommend you check them out. 

That’s going to do it for this week on Service Drive Revolution. Remember: Set a goal for yourself this year, and work every day to accomplish it. We have a whole new decade starting this week, and a lot of potential to live up to. I hope that you have a happy New Year! We appreciate everybody listening, reading, and watching every week, and we will see you again real soon!