A Little Southern Hospitality Goes a Long Way – Customer Loyalty & Tech Happiness with “The Humble Mechanic”

A Little Southern Hospitality Goes a Long Way – Customer Loyalty & Tech Happiness with “The Humble Mechanic”

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.

IS WORK/LIFE BALANCE POSSIBLE FOR ENTREPRENEURS?

IS WORK/LIFE BALANCE POSSIBLE FOR ENTREPRENEURS?

Recently, at one of my mastermind groups, someone asked our guest speaker, Tony Robbins, how he managed a work, life balance. You want to know how he answered?

He laughed.

Ask any super successful, driven professional how they balance their work life and their personal life and you’ll get the same laugh. Or, maybe you’ll get an eye roll or some other dismissive answer because the reality is:

If you’re obsessed with being successful, with creating something bigger, with making a real difference in this world, there’s only one answer- There is no “normal” balance of work and life.

You work. All the time. And you find ways to integrate your life into your business lifestyle if it’s important to you.

One of the main keys to being successful is having clarity. If you’re wondering whether you’re one of these success-driven people, start by asking yourself these questions:

  •      Where did you start?
  •      What do you want to achieve?
  •      Are you obsessed with what you want?
  •      Are you willing, and motivated, to do whatever it takes to get there?

If you’re really obsessed with what you want, it truly becomes about how to make life work when you prioritize business. Yes, it’s much easier for someone like Tony Robbins to bring his kids along with him when he works because he has access to private planes, the ability to homeschool his kids, and pay for a support network to help when he can’t.  Now you, you have the ability to make life work for you, too. You just have to get clear about your priorities and take it from there.

If you work all the time, you HAVE to integrate the rest of your life.

Since you’re still reading, I think it’s safe to say you, like me, spend all of your time thinking about your work and how to make it better. It’s true that today I can afford to hire people to help me with my four dogs, but it wasn’t always that way. What I knew how to do was find a support network that had the same goals as me.

My first tip for how to integrate life with work is to talk to the people in your life honestly about your schedule. If there’s a partner or spouse, be clear about your goals and make sure they understand how those goals might impact their life. In my case, my fiancé shares my vision and goals, and she’s on board with my schedule. We find ways to make it work, but it started with an honest conversation about my lifestyle and how she would fit into that. Including her in those discussions allowed her to feel good about the choices we’re making together.

Maybe there isn’t a significant other, but most of us have people in our lives that can help when we’re focused on building an empire and may not have time to take care of everything else. Even if there aren’t people like that in your life, think about what kind of support you need.

I admit that there have been times I paid an assistant more than what I was making because it was important to make sure I had the uninterrupted time I needed to accomplish my task list. Equally important ,was having what I needed when I got home so I wasn’t deprived just because of my schedule.

In summary, first clarify your priorities so you can determine where you need to focus your time and where you need others to help fill in the gaps. Second, talk to those people in your life to make sure everyone’s on the page so you can make the best of the available time you have. Finally, if you’re able, delegate responsibilities and find someone to help do the things that make life comfortable, since you may not have the time to do yourself.

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

THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN A BOSS AND A LEADER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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GOING INTO BUSINESS WITH FAMILY MEMBERS AND FRIENDS

GOING INTO BUSINESS WITH FAMILY MEMBERS AND FRIENDS

Should you? Or, shouldn’t you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have any experiences working with friends and family?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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