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It’s outdated, but we still think of technicians as grease monkeys, or somehow not skilled laborers.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.
It’s late on a Friday night, and your wife is calling for the fourth time asking when you’ll be home. You barely take her calls at this point because you know what she’s going to say, “You’re never around.”
You just lost your best technician, and man, he took a job in ANOTHER industry.
You’ve posted ads looking for new, qualified technicians, but the only guys who came in couldn’t get through HR, or pass a drug test. Your blood pressure is up. You’re pulling your hair out because you’re really worried you’re going to lose your job. The owner of the shop is coming down on you every day, customers are furious with the amount of time it’s taking to get their cars fixed. You’re starting to seriously consider outsourcing some of your shop’s work just to make the angry customer calls stop, despite what a financial loss that will be.
You find yourself in a completely unmanageable situation, and it doesn’t seem to matter what you do. You just can’t win.
Unfortunately, this is a true story. It happened to a friend of mine. And, almost every service manager I’ve met has a version of this. In this particular case my friend was literally at the end of his rope before he called me asking for help.
Fast-forward six months…
It’s Friday evening and the sun is just about to set. You look around and realize everyone is heading out for the day. There’s no one in the waiting room because all the cars have been repaired and returned to their owners, on time or ahead of schedule. Seriously.
A tech walks by and you tense up. He pops his head into your office to say, “We’re all done for the day. Hope you have a nice weekend!” Have a nice weekend… It’s music to your ears. Your wife sends a text that reads: See you soon! <3
Then your boss walks by and waves at you, which is the most enthusiastic he gets. You look around and realize there’s no more work to be done. It’s early enough that you’ll be home in time for dinner AND to show up to your son’s junior high basketball league game. You’ve done it and you sigh with relief.
This is life in a healthy, efficient shop. We can help you get there.
But, let me break it down for you:
It’s simple. There’s a shortage of qualified technicians, and the work is backed up.
That gets more complicated. There are a lot of reasons. Some stem from the fact that young people are not coming into the industry because millennials don’t want to be techs. They have other interests, and cars just aren’t that important to them. Then, there’s the cost associated with entering the occupation—often a $7,000+ investment. Another big problem is how many great techs are leaving the industry due to poor treatment or wages.
What does it mean for me?
If you haven’t felt the loss yet, you will.
We’re headed towards a place where technicians will be outnumbered 2:1 making finding qualified ones even harder.
The good news is we have plenty of ways to help you not only survive, but thrive despite the impending technician drought resistant.
I mean, we’re fixers here at Chris Collins inc. It’s what we do, and we’re going to help you fix this problem just like we fix your other problems. No, we can’t train your dog, or go with you to counseling. But we’ve created some products that will ensure your business is drought free.
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!
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!
For the last two weeks, we’ve been talking about The Carlisle Technician Study, which is a fascinating study that outlines the barriers between service technicians and service advisors, looking at the reasons why customers switch between dealerships and independents.
If you happened to miss the first part, go back and watch it first, because Jair told a fascinating story about seat belts that you can’t miss.
We talked about shocking stats we learned from The Carlisle Technician Study like
43% of repair orders require additional clarification from the service advisor, costing each tech 30 min per day of follow up time.
33% of customers are provided an unrealistic amount of time for the service.
Service advisors reported that customers get a realistic timetable for how long the service on their car will take 83% of the time
According to the study, the number one reason that would make someone switch from their dealer or repair shop is because their car wasn’t ready on time.
Seriously, can you afford to miss information like that? I gotta say, it really, really matters what service managers tell their customers. The consequences can be disastrous if the information they share is incorrect.
Okay, moving on…
In this weeks show, part two of our discussion about The Carlisle Technician Study, we talked more about the two biggest issues we’re facing with the technicians:
The lack of communication between the service advisors and the service technicians
The growth of Quick Lube, which has resulted in the least qualified technicians getting the most work while the skilled technicians get less.
This epidemic of breakdown in communication between service advisors and their service technicians is causing a bleed of time, money and the loss of customers. The service technicians feel frustrated and disconnected. This breakdown and loss of clientele to less-skilled technicians causes them to leave the business, further intensifying the problem.
So what’s the answer? If you want your auto repair shop to thrive and prosper, then the following things need to happen:
Create GOOD communication between your technicians and your service advisors
Arrange training for your technicians
Create a growth or career plan for your service technicians, giving them something to strive for
In order to fix some of these problems, I suggested getting the service managers and service advisors together, making them walk over hot coals, starving them indefinitely or only giving them water for a couple days. But Gary didn’t think that was the best idea for morale…
Since Gary had a more doable approach, we’ll go through his tips to keep service technicians happy, feeling included and protected from leaving the industry:
-It appears everyone could benefit from increased communication, and it’s up to each shop to figure out how to get their guys to operate like a functional, effective team. I always lean towards gamification, as I’ve found that to be the most effective tool to date.
-It’s critical to focus on the guys you have in the shop; that means you have to protect them. One way to do that is to slow down! Most shops don’t want to slow down their technicians because time is money, but if time and money are being wasted, then slowing down to improve communication and clarify repair orders becomes vital.
-In order to retain your good service technicians, you need to provide a realistic career path for them. They need to get the kind of training that will help them be successful, and then reward them when they are doing well.
-TRUST. Whether you use gamification or trust building techniques, make sure your guys trust each other! The service technicians need to trust that the advisors are setting them up for success. The service advisors need to trust their technicians that if they give them clear instructions, the technician is going to work both hard and fast to complete the order on time.
Basically, the system has broken down. In order to rebuild, it requires everyone getting real clear on what each job requires. Then, how to work with the next guy in line to make sure he gets what he needs, so we can return the customer’s car on time and repaired correctly on the first go.
We know that if these things don’t happen, you’re going to lose the customer. It’s imperative to get the job done right and on time!
That meeting was ridiculously fun. When is the last time you heard that? When we’re having fun, are we really working? Enjoy an exclusive behind the scenes look at our ridiculously fun Elite Mastermind Coaching Group meeting as we focus on continuous improvement for business performance.
Our Elite Coaching Groups are made up of the best of the best Service Managers from across the country. 4 Times a year we bring a special guest from outside the automotive industry who is excelling in their business and performing at the top of their field to share the systems, tools and secrets that make them stand out from all others.
In our most recent Elite Mastermind Coaching Group we’re joined by special guest Eric Parmater, CEO of Rocking Popcorn and Tequila Ranch. Eric comes from humble beginnings, working in restaurants and selling encyclopedias (I can’t even begin to explain how difficult that is). Eric is an overall inspiration and unfailingly optimistic. He has many unique philosophies, one of them being, when branching out into liquor stores: “If all else fails, we’ll have really f*@$*!& nice bars at home.” Through his numerous ventures he’s learned what separates the exceptional salespeople from the average: Persistence. This is teachable but most of us have an innate level of persistence. Think about babies. We can all attest to the fact that they will cry until they get their bottle. Persistence.
It’s essential that to create an atmosphere in your store that encourages conversation and questions with customers. Once the customers are comfortable it’s easier to decipher their needs and cater the experience from there. Continuous improvement can not happen in a bubble, use what’s learned in these conversations for the immediate experience, but also use them to adapt, iterate and make the business even better over time.
Parmater subscribes to the philosophy that, “You get ’em on price or you lose ’em on price. There’s essentially nothing else.” And continues “If your goal is to be the lowest price in town, you’ve already lost.” There’s nowhere to go to show continuous improvement from there.
Eric’s Tequila Ranch clientele is unique, and he’s built it up through making genuine connections and knowing what his customers want. “A client who may regularly spend $65 on a bottle of wine, that person is not going to be tempted by a $55 bottle of wine because it’s $10 cheaper. At that point $10 is nothing. They want to spend $65 for a bottle of wine because of what it means: higher quality, a peak year, richer flavor, etc. They wouldn’t be in Tequila Ranch if they were concerned more with getting a bargain bottle of wine, they’re at Tequila Ranch for quality”, said Parmater.
For similar reasons, when I’m training service managers, I recommend alignments be priced at $129 as opposed to $109. And resoundingly the answer is no because a $20 doesn’t seem worth it to service managers. Which is a massive oversight. Consider you sell 200 alignments at $20 increase, you’ll see a $4,000 increase in profits. Increase the quality of the experience and customers will be willing to spend an extra $20. Give them WiFi and a clean comfortable chair and watch how many alignments you dealership starts turning out.
Eric is lucky enough to have a great staff who really like him. But perhaps it isn’t luck at all. Let’s take a closer look. It’s a universal truth that actions speak louder than words. As Eric says, “I despise clichés. I love actions.” Eric prefers to drive continuous improvement in the store by setting the example. There’s a lot of opportunity for information to get lost in translation. Eric finds it’s more effective for his employees to observe his proactive steps as a leader and then emulate him.
So, take that list of goals I know you have hanging in your back office and get out in the dealership and put your words into actions. You can say you’re motivated but if you’re not taking actions towards your goals, what are you doing?
Speaking of Leaders taking action, in August more than 100 Leading Service Managers and Advisors joined us in Downtown LA at our annual Top Dog Event to do just that. Every year we bring the best of the best together, featuring Leading Speakers likeformer Navy SEAL Jocko Willink, Dave Anderson and Tim Kintz. At the event we all workshop together, mastermind, and award the Top Service Manager $50,000 based on their improvement over last years numbers. It’s not too late to go for the prize yourself. Who knows, maybe next year you’ll snag the $50k grand prize.
AND THE #1 FACTOR FOR CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT: BEING DIFFERENT
If you really want to succeed at becoming a Top Dog and create a higher quality of life for your employees, yourself and consequently your family, you have to be different. Look at me, I’m very different. I don’t want to fit in which is something Eric and I have in common. We’re both creating systems to foster continuous improvement while adding value in a unique way. Be it business models or leadership techniques. It’s easy to get caught up in the norm and be average. Break from the constraints of normality and start thinking differently.
Just look at Eric. He attributes a 100% of his success to disregarding society’s norms, the average. You see it very plainly in the products he produces. His goal when developing a new product is to create a unique name, unique labeling and packaging, and to have a unique knowledge about his product. This enables Eric to burst into a market and immediately distinguish his product from his competition. Find and exploit that one product or service that everyone else has or can easily get but the trick is to create a difference, a niche, that customers can’t get anywhere else. Eric has cultivated his store into a destination by using these principles. He’s a firm believer that if someone tells him not to do something, he’s going to do that exactly. So go ahead, dare him.
Eric is just one of many of the forward thinking entrepreneurs featured in my Elite Mastermind Coaching Groups where we provide the best managers in the country with the tools they need show continuous improvement by implementing effective systems and strategies for lasting profitability and customer retention. Of course, we have a few drinks and fun along the way. In fact, after a few tequila’s Eric delighted us all with his brilliant insights on marriage: “If corporate law and business law were anything like marriage law, you would never start a company. There’s just no f*@$*!& way.” Get in on our next Elite Mastermind Coaching Group and join the action!
In today’s environment, where customers want everything now and for free, it’s essential we build trust and credibility with our customers. Particularly because the service we provide is unique in and of itself, other sales strategies are not going to work here. We are selling a product that most of customers have never seen before and wouldn’t know how to double check the work. You have to establish a connection with the customer to gain the trust and the confidence that you will take care of them. Most of selling in the service department comes down to if the customer likes and trusts you. This Service Advisor Training centers on the Circle of Trust. It will help you accomplish and increase your customer retention.
Let’s start from the beginning with establishing an Instant Connection. Nothing kills connection quicker than making your customer come and find you. Hopefully, you all are already meeting your customers out on the drive. So, when you’re meeting the customers at their car, never ask the stereotypical questions like “What brings you in today?” or “Do you have an appointment?”. Instead strike up a conversation based on what is important to the customer. Remember the car is a commodity and not their passion.
When you’re doing the walk around with your customers, your goal should be to connect with them on a deeper level, Pet the Dogif you will. Talk about things like their pets, their kids, their work, favorite teams, really anything but the car. Build trust and a connection like a friend would. Service Advisor Training Pro Tip: imagine your customers were over at your house for a barbeque, what would you talk about? Focus on that as you’re leading the customer around the car checking for bumps and bruises.
Back in the 1950s, service advisors didn’t even exist. Most of the time customers pulled right into the shop and dealt directly with the technician. Part of your role as a service advisor is to make sure your customers are maintaining their car and that they understand what the car is due for. Check the History and Advise accordingly. Most studies show that customers generally aren’t maintaining their car because they weren’t informed or the maintenance due wasn’t communicated to them effectively. Bring your customers up to your desk, check their history, and clearly advise them on the maintenance issues at hand.
Whether you’re doing a 20 point inspection or a 58 point inspection, I personally recommend the 32 Point Inspection, introduce it upfront with your customers. Approach it by saying, “While the car is here, the technician will look it over for safety issues.” That way when you call your customers with any safety issues the technician found, they won’t think that you’re just searching for work. Quite the opposite, you’ll look like the hero you are.
Don’t beg for CSI at the end. Here’s something most service advisor training won’t tell you. Commit to CSI Upfront. Some of the service advisors I’ve seen just look like homeless people begging for a handout when they wait until the end to mention CSI. Commit to the customer upfront that you are going to provide a high level of service and that their feedback is appreciated. Then you only have to gently remind them at the end of their appointment.
One of the biggest mistakes service advisors can make is that they don’t Tell the Truth. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment, writing the report and trying to build rapport with the customer, to over promise. Don’t say you can have the car done by 2 o’clock when you don’t yet know what the car needs. The idea is to under promise. Service Advisor Training Pro Tip: make the window for the appointment as long as you can. The longer the window, the more likely it is to add additional work to the RO. Properly set the frame upfront so you’re not causing any disappointment on the backside.
Sometimes a tiny little, seemingly insignificant, gesture can show huge rewards. Say for example, you send your wife or girlfriend flowers at work unexpectedly. For the rest of the week not only are you getting lucky but she feels amazing after having received flowers in front of all her friends. It’s the same thing with our customers. It’s usually standard procedure for the customer to call the service advisor wondering when their car is going to be done. I purpose incorporating a Two Hour Call to distinguish yourself from all the other service advisors. Keep track of when you wrote the customers up and as close to two hours as you can, give them a call. Even if you have nothing new to report, just let them know that you are just checking in. It’s as easy as saying “We’re still waiting for the technician to look at your car but I was thinking about you.” Touch them before they have a chance to touch you.
Once the technician has checked out the car and given you an inspection sheet, Call with a Diagnosis. If they’re in the waiting room, be sure to bring them into your office to present the work privately. When you’re presenting the work, always present value first and price second. Most advisors tend to list out the price for each individual piece. All the customer is going to hear is the numbers. It’s critical that you sell the value before you sell the number.
Get the car Done Early. Even if you know you can get the car done by 3 o’clock, tell the customer 5 o’clock. Then it’ll be a pleasant surprise when you call at 3 and tell them their car is ready to be picked up. Remember, under promise and over deliver.
It’s imperative that you have a system in place to guarantee Quality Control. It’s a tiny little extra step that makes all the difference in terms of CSI. Inspect the cars as much as you can. Make sure they’re washed, the keys are upfront, that there’s no new dents before you call the customers to come pick it up. Don’t fumble the ball at the 1 yard line.
Make sure that you touch your customers when they come to collect their car so they’re not doing the Walk of Shame to the cashier. A lot of times when customers come in, they’ll go directly to the cashier. They’ll leave without the service advisor reviewing what was done and what work will be due at their next appointment. You should always be reconnecting with your customers before they leave. There’s a couple ways you can accomplish this. One, you can withhold the paperwork from the cashier. That way the cashier has to inform you when your customers arrive. Or two, when you call your customers to inform them their car is ready, ask them to come by and see you before they go to the cashier to review the appointment. It’s at this point that you should remind them of your commitment to CSI and to be expecting a survey from the manufacturer.
The last link in the Circle of Trust and the key to making money as a service advisor is Be There Next Time. Stay in one place for a long time and collect customers. Selling will become the easiest part when you customers like and trust you. The hardest part will be staying in one place for a long time. But when you’ve been at a dealership for 3 years, you’ll have customers coming back specifically asking for your assistance. Start with little steps. Make it a goal to connect with 2-3 customers a day on much deeper level. Bear in mind that repeat customers mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales. Stay in one place and become a fixture, an icon, in your dealership and reap in the rewards.
With these Service Advisor Training tips you now have the information to help you thrive as an advisor and create a Circle of Trust between yourself and your customers.
1. Instantly Connect with your Customers 2. Pet the Dog 3. Check the History and Advise 4. Introduce the 32 Point Inspection 5. Commit to CSI Upfront 6. Tell the Truth 7. Utilize the Two Hour Call 8. Always Call with a Diagnosis 9. Get Done Early 10. Ensure Quality Control 11. Avoid the Walk of Shame 12. And… Be There Next Time.
So get out there, put these tools to the test and I guarantee results.