Let me take you on a quick trip back to my band days. For those of you not familiar with “band” thinking, it’s very much like being in a gang. You must stick together, and everything is for the good of the band. So one day we’re practicing and Ian Astbury comes in and asks if there’s a drummer who wants to try out for The Cult. Well, I was the only drummer in the room so it was totally awkward. But because I was completely committed to that, “we must stick together,” band mindset I passed on the opportunity. My mistake.
But, back to mindset and being a prisoner of your own mind… Almost without fail, when we meet with new clients, whether they’re service advisors, service managers, or owners they’re stuck in an old way of thinking, often the result of bad experiences, or feelings not facts. That is no way to run a business, and I don’t want you missing out on your chance at being the drummer for The Cult. You create your own destiny. No, I haven’t just returned from Burning Man. This is real. Your mindset affects everything you do from dealing with problems to how you feel about yourself. So you have to have a mindset that is positive and informed to make smart decisions.
IF I HAD A DIME FOR EVERY TIME I ASKED A CLIENT TO RETHINK THEIR PRICING AND THEY SAID NO WITHOUT DOING ANY RESEARCH ON PRICES IN THE CURRENT ECONOMY I’D BE A BAZILLIONAIRE.
Tip 1. Do your research on current prices and see where you’re off. It’s lazy not to look at data and make assumptions about what people will or won’t spend.
Next, tip 2. Try new things and be open to new ideas. I promise that if you open your mind your brain won’t fall out.
I remember when I was always out in stores I constantly saw new things that were going on. But once I was stuck in my own shop I stopped seeing all those fresh ideas, and started to fall into the trap of creating my own ideas of what would work, or what wouldn’t. You must leave your own territory and see what other people are up to.
Tip 3. Train your employees about financials and profits. How to understand them and make pricing decisions that will help your shop make money.
It’s outdated, but we still think of technicians as grease monkeys, or somehow not skilled laborers. But with today’s technology these guys are mechanics, electricians, and in some cases almost engineers. You can’t do business without them, or their service advisors, so they all MUST learn about their numbers and financial statements too. The fact that service managers are not trained on financials is a joke.
I HAVE TO GO WALK THE DOGS BUT HERE’S YOUR QUICK RECAP ON HOW TO RESET YOUR MINDSET:
Base decisions on facts over feelings.
Do your research and get the correct data.
Get outside your market and see what other business are doing.
Get a coach to help because we see what’s out there.
Get in a coaching group so you can be exposed to lots of different things and people.
Open your mind to new strategies and opportunities.
OK, GET TO WORK ON OPENING THAT MIND BECAUSE I PROMISE, YOUR BRAIN WON’T FALL OUT! I’LL SEE YOU NEXT WEEK WITH MORE TIPS AND TOOLS FOR BUSINESS PERFORMANCE.
Wouldn’t work be amazing if everyone did their job? Seriously, how many times have you asked your employees to do something only to turn around and realize they didn’t do it, or did it half-assed? That makes me extremely unhappy, and I’m pretty sure you feel the same.
Now, don’t get me wrong. There are lots of great employees—the kind who work hard, take pride in their performance, and act like a committed member of your team. And, we appreciate them. But, even those special types struggle if they’re not in the right environment. So whether we’re talking about service advisors, service managers or service technicians, how do you get people to willingly do their best all the time?
The answer is Gamification, and it’s exactly what it sounds like—using game playing to increase employee productivity and drive results. We’ve been doing this in the car industry for years—using games to motivate our teams. In the 400+ dealerships I’ve turned around, Gamification is still the best way I’ve found to drive momentum and results and get better work out of your workers. We are a competitive species. And the proof is the gaming industry. As of today, it’s worth $200 billion.
The point is if you’re not playing games with your employees, then they’ll just be playing games on their phones, instead of working. And, we all know how frustrating that is. So let’s get into the best ways to use Gamification. First, keep in mind the key to Gamification is anything can be a game. Don’t over-complicate this, or get caught up in too many rules. Get a deck of cards, or some dice—certainly keep things simple to get started. At Chris Collins Inc. we play games every day. Some of our favorite in-office games are dollar poker, baseball, bozo buckets, or anything that involves shooting things.
You can gamify your MVP’s— your most valuable products—you can gamify systems, sales, information gathering, call times—you can gamify almost anything, any system, any customer-facing interaction.
If you aren’t already a Gamification pro, you can get the specifics on how to set up games from this week’s Service Drive Revolutionshow. And, you can always get my book, Gamification, if you struggle with coming up with ideas. There are hundreds in there and they have instructions. Our guest host on the show this week, Mario Pernillo, talks about choosing games that have the right vibe for your tribe, and how you should pick a game that you think might work well for your group, and the issues they’re struggling with.
As the leader, boss, or manager it’s your job to get Gamification started, and create that energy. Make it exciting and show the guys you have prizes to give them. If you take the time to implement fun games, with rewards, the results will speak for themselves. Your employees will be more upbeat and more productive. We know – from experience.
This week we’re talking about how to make profit and CSI sexy. Get your mind out of the gutter because it’s not what you think…
One of the things that drives me the craziest is when people are having trouble with their service drive and they tell me they need more traffic, or some fancy gadget to solve their problems with profits or CSI. That is absolutely not the solution and here’s why. What we talk about the most is great execution and how to create momentum, and it seems like people are missing the basics.
Everybody wants their system to be exciting. OK, I get it, but they forget simple things like, answering the phone and greeting customers. People get busy searching for the new software that will save the day, but that won’t fix your business if you don’t have a solid foundation. You must be able to block and tackle first. Finding that next cool thing is meaningless until you do the basics brilliantly. After you’ve mastered the basics, then you can work on expanding and using technology to move yourself forward.
Subtle can be sexy. The basics can be sexy.
When we go into a business we audit the repair orders. Time and again we find that there’s no viable system in place. So while they tell us they need more traffic, what we know to be true is that more traffic will only bring about more of the same problems.
Let’s try something… Can you answer these questions? What happens when the customers drive up to the curb of your service drive? Do they sit there waiting? Does the service advisor come out and greet them at the car? Do customers know where to go? Often we overlook these things and want a magic pill to fix the business when what we really need is a flawless system up front. Here are the fundamentals for a strong front end:
Answer the phones and make appointments.
Have a great attitude.
Greet the customer.
Check their history.
Inspect the car while getting their history.
Offer all this in a way that the customer is comfortable and doesn’t feel pressure.
It’s crucial to excel up front so that it’s a nice experience, and your customers feel like you care about them. If you can help your customers avoid surprises, and not push sales down their throat you will become a customer collector. And, isn’t that the point?
You just create a great process. The trick is believing you can do it, and then practicing it over and over until it becomes second nature. And it will. We need to pursue excellence every day, and there are a lot of things to think about. Even when things are moving along you should always be looking ahead and thinking, what can we fix next?
The mother of retention is repetition. If you want to move the ball in a certain direction, get your CSI up and increase customer pay sales. Then get your team together (the service managers, service advisors and service technicians) and start training them! Figure out what you want it to look like, and what it’s going to take to get there. Then train, train, train, and train some more. A great training program where you do it step by step will work. The key to all of it is the basics, so stop thinking you need more traffic until your averages are really high. Traffic isn’t the hard part, and we can help you get traffic.
To recap, execution is most important and more traffic will only make things much worse if you’re not doing things right. You’ll lose your customer’s trust because they don’t feel cared for, or they’re waiting forever, or they don’t get called back. And, it’s your fault because your advisors are writing 20 customers.
No tablet or robot is going to fix this. So to all the service managers and service advisors: slow it down, get out of your office, and watch the customer experience. Break it down step by step. Fix one step, and then fix the next step, and the results will blow you away.
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.
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.
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!
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!
Momentum matters and we’ve been talking about how to get into the year with the most momentum possible. First, you must be smart about your business and guarantee success from the very start of the year. How do you do that? I’m glad you asked and I’m going to tell you because we literally have the best service advisor training, service manager training, the best beats…and we will break dance fight you.
We’re more than a month into 2017 and the big question is what are your first 100 days of 2017 going to be like?
What prompted me thinking about this was hearing how so many people struggle with the simplest things in taking action. Often people get handicapped by the easiest pieces and I’m always hearing, “I can’t do this, I can’t do that…”
Yes you can! You can do anything! This is America for heaven’s sake!
To provide a parallel, we did research and in the first 100 days of the presidency the list of things that needs to get done includes hiring literally thousands of people, meeting with world leaders, planning initiatives, an inaugural ball, and that’s just the beginning. Like Trump or not—has he done more than you in his first days in office?
Think about everything the president has to do and then ask yourself why you’re struggling with simple stuff like changing prices?
What I’m saying is, get proactive! This is your opportunity to do an inventory on how much you’ve done to improve your business, get better and better yourself in the first part of 2017. You have to do it while the momentum is there. You have to set a pace right away and get everyone used to how this is going to work. Let your people know, “Hey, we’re going to tee it up and knock it down, and we’re going to do that over and over and over! If that’s not your pace then maybe this isn’t the right environment for you.”
Try changing your prices. Maybe you can get some downhill that you’ll be able to ride for part of the year. I talk to people every day who tell me things like, “Maybe we’ll handle that in June.” This literally blows my mind. I’m like, really? You want to wait six months? You’re going to lose the first half of the year! You have to take advantage of that time and start doing better now.
If you’re a service manager make a plan and tell your service advisors and technicians: this is going to happen on this day, and this is going to happen on this day. You need to prepare them and tell them what’s coming. You can’t spring it on them in June, because if you don’t plan and set benchmarks, then you don’t have anything holding them accountable for the results. And there’s no chance of using something fun like gamification to help catch momentum at that point. In ANY business you have so much stuff going on that things slip through the cracks if you don’t make a plan.
The point is, you have 60 days left to recover momentum and we’ll help you if you need help. That’s what we’re here for—to talk you through it, or tease you mercilessly until you do it.
PS: Get yourself a cup of coffee because here’s a big tip…
To help you get motivated we created a $50,000 Service Manager Tournament.
Try and win our $50,000 Tournament. Trust me, you’ll look back and regret you didn’t do this sooner because with the $50,000 challenge you win even if you don’t win. Simply by entering and doing what we tell you to do you can crank your labor sales up ten to fifteen thousand dollars a month. That means by the time we crown the winner at our 2017 Top Dog event you might have already made $100,000 by then!
And you’re not competing against anyone but yourself, the winner is the dealership or service center with the most improvementover last year’s numbers. So, head over to the Tournament page to sign up and win.
I know what you’re doing isn’t easy, but it’s not super complicated either. You can change pricing, hire techs, do whatever it takes! And if you need help with certain tools we can help you, but let’s go, lets get fired up!
After one of the more memorable NADA Conventions comes to an end, let me briefly recap for those unlucky souls who couldn’t attend this year. We held multiple Dealership Gamification workshops focused on engaging employees to increase morale and productivity.
“Dealership Gamification is a hack that will enable you to quickly become the leader you need to be to move mountains. But this isn’t magic, or any kind of trick. This is a system founded on common sense, and a product of the fundamental human desire for happiness and challenges in life. It already exists all around us.”- Gamification: Playing for Profits
Studies show that 70% of millennials say they would rather be happy at work than earn a lot of money. Adjusting to this new standard using Dealership Gamification motivate teams to perform at their best. Hundreds of dealers from across the nation are now empowered with tools and games to implement in their dealership to motivate their people and see results immediately.
We’re midway through NADA Las Vegas and I’m losing my voice now. I just completed my third Gamification workshop on how to convert in the service drive. NADA is trying out a new interactive workshop style. No stages or rows of chairs to make the experience more interactive and fun! One important key in my technician training I push is to keep it relevant and knowledgeable. Not some of the idealized version you hear being pushed.
My strategies have been implemented at multiple dealerships and are proven to show results. We recently added a new tech training portion in our Online Program (Collins On Demand) headed by one of the greatest technicians I have had the privilege to know, Gary Daniel. Check out his daily updates and watch it with the sound off for even more entertainment!
In the course, techs learn about the advisors goals and process in the front so they fully understand how important their job is to the dealership overall goal. We then focus on the best practices for technicians, how to properly inspect a car, and time management tools. Learn for yourself and check out our Online Technician Training courses for you dealership today!
“What happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay here” – the unofficial slogan of NADA 2016. It’s Day 3 of NADA and I just completed another successful Gamification workshop. By now word has gotten around how awesome the workshop is and unfortunately we had to turn people away because it was PACKED. It was fun seeing full grown men turn into little boys. They were having so much fun which only showcases how powerful Gamification really is. It’s the secret weapon for boosting company morale, increasing CSI, and increasing sales (particularly when combined with Instant Inspection) all while having a blast.
One thing I always recommend Service Managers do is start implementing Instant Inspections on the service drive. Think of how inefficient the standard service department operates. They write the customer up, dispatch the work, and then the tech is pulling the car and out all day. Instead I propose putting lifts right on the Service Drive. Most of the time customers have never even seen the underside of their car. It’s a game changer being able to instantly inspect the car while clearly communicate the issues with the customer. In every instance of implementation CSI is increased and sales are at least doubled.
I was lucky to have the opportunity to discuss this Instant Inspection with Jim Dirksen, Rotary Lift Vice President of Sales and Marketing. There are multiple Rotary Lifts to choose from but one of their more impressive lifts that goes up and down in 40 seconds flat, will run your dealership an average investment of $6,000/month. The minimum increase after implementing Instant Inspections is $100,000 including parts. So that’s $72,000/year investment for at least a $1,000,000/year in sales EASY. It’s easy money, guys. Drop by NADA and see for yourself! Get there early, Gamification is a hot ticket item. If you’re not in the area, check out our Virtual Training Courses and bring the magic to your dealership today!