How Service Advisors Can Pet the Dog in a World of Social Distancing

How Service Advisors Can Pet the Dog in a World of Social Distancing

This may come as a shock to some of you, but the term ‘Pet the Dog’ is not meant to be taken literally. Service Advisors can, however, still metaphorically Pet the Dog while social distancing before and after the customer drops off their car.

On top of that, on a lot of our coaching calls, the managers are coming up with ingenious ways of handing work over between split shifts, and some of the downside of that. All that, along with answering questions, and announcing the winners of last month’s competition, are all on today’s show.

If you’re new to the show, we have software for our coaching clients that enters their Service Advisors into a competition against each other every month, where they can win up to about $8,000 worth of prizes and trophies. 

The money, really, we could probably do away with. It’s the bulldog trophies that mean the most.

Service Advisors win in their different categories, and Service Managers are graded on their average Service Advisor’s performance. Bottom line: It’s hard to be a Service Advisor in the comp, but it’s even harder for a Manager to win.

There are six different categories, and several competitors in each category, so the list of winners is too much to go over here. If you want the full results, you can check it out at the beginning of this week’s show.

And, if you want to join the competition, you can apply to join my coaching group.

Now, let’s get right into today’s audience questions. Remember, if you want to submit questions, you can do it on our YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, or email us directly at [email protected]. If we read it on the show, we’ll send you a package with some Service Drive Revolution swag. This week, we have a great question to start with…

“How do you guys feel about general maintenance repairs being half of the posted labor rate? I do not agree with it, but it has been the policy here at our dealer for over a decade.”

So from what I understand, you’re concerned about the maintenance packages being done at a discounted rate. Maintenance is one of the four major labor types, and having a maintenance rate helps your shop stay competitive with the national franchise chains down the street. You’ve got to have four different variable labor rates including the diagnostic rate and, if you don’t know what the rest of the four types of labor are, then check out our past episode where we took a deep dive into the subject.

And make sure that you get in on our OnDemand Training platform, because things might get even more competitive in the future. We might even see 8-16 different types of labor down the line, but maintenance doesn’t require as skilled of a technician.

When customers ask about labor rate, they’re usually focused on the wrong thing: Price. 

The truth is, no one ever woke up on a Saturday morning and said, “I better get an alignment or my car is going to blow up!” That type of repair or maintenance is more of an impulse buy. There’s no problem with the maintenance rate being lower than the posted labor rate, but  if you’re doing maintenance at half your posted labor rate, you might be leaving some profit on the table. You have to get that diagnostic rate way up, and you can only do that by building trust.

Rather than focusing on the price of the maintenance, focus on the emotional attachment of the customer, and establishing trust with the Service Advisor that’s doing the recommendation. 

Remember: Trust is built one customer at a time.

“What is the one thing every parts department never runs out of and is always in stock?”

Is this a trick question? Am I being set up for a punchline?

Where do I start? Key chains…. Excuses.… Blame…. Seatbelts, because the parts manager is always sitting in his office running reports.

“Hello, sir. I’ve been working at Harley Davidson as a Service Advisor for the last four and a half years, but I was also in the car industry eight months back. I moved onto bikes, but the job position is the same, and I’m facing issues in this position. I used to explain the problem with the bike to the customer mostly on the phone, but the customer would take it the wrong way. They would think that I’m arguing with them. What advice would you give for that?”

Okay, so I actually answered this question directly on Instagram, but I’ll share my answer with you here, and it’s really simple: Just listen more, and ask more questions; you can’t get in trouble for just doing that! You can only get in trouble by stating your opinion.

Jeremy has some pretty good advice for this one: It’s all about tonality. If it’s being taken the wrong way, then there’s a problem with your delivery. You should record yourself during your presentations and listen to it later, so you can hear what your tonality is.

Another thing is, telephone sales are dead! The shops and dealerships of the future will have digital sales processes, because consumers don’t want a Service Advisor calling them, dragging them through the mud, and trying to upsell them on items they’re not even concerned with!

Who knows? If social distancing keeps up, maybe the Service Advisors of the future won’t even talk to the customer anymore…

Speaking of which, that was the last question, and we can move on to our main topic… How to Pet the Dog in a World of Social Distancing. Or, in other words, how can we Pet the Dog in an environment where customers are just dropping off their cars and running?

We have dealerships building plastic barricades between the Service Advisors and customers, because everybody is worried about not touching each other… which is totally valid, but it’s all still very off-putting, right?

Our OnDemand Training platform can teach you anything there is to know about being a Service Advisor. It’s the most fully-featured Service Department training platform on the market, but even we couldn’t predict the global Coronavirus pandemic. 

Not to worry though, because I’m gonna give you a crash course right here, right now…

If you’re new to our show or the terminology, take a second to watch our video on YouTube. It’s a story about me taking in my dog to get a surgery that was life or death, and not wanting to have the surgery done because of the way the doctor treated us. “Petting the dog” is a metaphor for connecting with the customer on a deeper level.

Our asset today in the marketplace is not the brand we sell. If you have an independent shop, it’s not your shop. People aren’t buying features and benefits, they’re buying a relationship. They’re buying a connection. They’re buying empathy, and paying for you to care about them more than anything else! That’s what Pet the Dog represents: the overall investment in building trust and forming a meaningful relationship with our customer base.

That is our biggest asset moving forward.

This is a major shift, not just for Service Departments, but for everybody. This Coronavirus shutdown is changing how consumers interact with brands, not just in the automotive industry, but every industry. The changes are noticeable everywhere; even with things that used to be routine, like going to the grocery store, they’ve got plexiglass barriers on the checkstand! Jeremy had such an awkward experience getting groceries that he claims that he would now rather just order everything online than go back there.

Same thing for us; if service departments are putting plexiglass barriers up at the counter, we’re losing a bit of that connection with the customer. Yes, we have to take precautions, and yes, some customers are staying away from our facilities because of social distancing. That’s outside of our control… but even though we have to do things like keep our distance and wear masks, we need to make sure that our relationships with our customers aren’t strictly transactional. That can definitely damage the relationship with the customer.

The key here is, even if the customer just wants to drop off their car and get out of there, we still don’t want to skip the part of connecting with them, just like we would with a tow-in or a night drop. You’re going to have to do a two-call process where you’re building rapport before they come in. Call each and every one of them beforehand and say, “Hey _____, this is Chris from Bulldog Motors. I know you’re coming in today. How are you doing?”

Then I’d say, “How are you handling this crisis?” as an entry point.

They’re going to talk about work, they’re going to talk about kids, and I’m going to spend the 15 or whatever minutes on the call, listening to how they’re handling this crisis. Then once I’ve dug really deep and I’ve asked a lot of questions, but I haven’t talked about the car yet, I’m going to flip it.

I’m going to say, “Okay, now when you come in, we’re trying to keep you safe. We’re practicing social distancing so when you come in, we’re not going to get a lot of time together, but here’s what I’m going to do: Once you drop it off, I’m going to grab the car. I’m going to put a steering wheel cover on it. I’m going to put seat covers on. We’re going to disinfect it, then I’m going to do a walk-around of it. I’m going to measure your tires. I’m going to check it out, then I’m going to call you, and we’re going to go through everything.”

There’s customers out there with family members that have Coronavirus. You might even have a customer who’s had somebody pass away from it. It’s not about the car all the time…

This is a time for us to be like therapists in a lot of ways. Really connect and show empathy– understand that we’re all human, and this crisis brings us together. We’re all on the same page now. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich, poor, Democrat, or Republican…. This is an equalizer.

I would spend 10 or 15 minutes with the customer before they come in, and then I would wrap the call up with, “Well, here’s the process. It’s not going to be what you’re used to, but just drop it off. I will go through it. I’m going to do ____ and ____ and ____, and then I’m going to call you and we’re going to talk about it.”

That’s what I did when I was an Advisor with night jobs, and you’ll really create a deeper connection with your customers by doing that. I remember I’d call customers at 5:30 in the morning and wake them up like, “Hey, I have your van again here. It says that it was leaking coolant.”

“How are you doing?”

“Are you okay?”

“Did you get stuck?”

“Was it towed in, or did you drop it off?”

Then start to build rapport:

“Are you going to be okay without it?”

“Are you going to rent a car?”

“What are you going to do?”

Really open up the door to some conversations. The more personal the conversations, the better. Pet the Dog with the customers more than anything else. Not just in person; it can work on the phone, too. It’s harder over text, but even in text you can still say, “Hey, how are you? How are you dealing with this?”

Customers are also falling through the cracks because a lot of our clients are running two shifts, and they’re not touching each other. They’ll have one crew on for two days, another crew on for another two days. In the communication between the two crews, the customers are getting dropped.

One of the things you can do is have an old-fashioned log sheet, whether it’s Excel or a big old piece of paper, put the Advisors and Techs in groups, and pair them up with their customers. If so-and-so has one shift and I have another shift, I’m handing those customers over and I’m spending 15 or 20 minutes talking to so-and-so about every customer, and really keeping track of the last time we called and updated them.

When we’re slow like this, it’s the time for us to over-communicate, over-deliver, and over-perform– better inspections, Petting the Dog…. You can’t over-communicate enough. No one’s ever had a customer call and say, “Hey, your people communicate way too much with me!”

If you Pet the Dog and leave the customer with a performance that was unforgettable in this difficult time, who are they going to want to deal with when things go back to normal? There’s a Maya Angelou saying that goes like, “They’ll forget what you said. They’ll forget what you did, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel.”

So let’s make them feel special. Let’s listen, let’s have empathy, and let’s connect on a deeper level. Thanks for tuning in. Don’t forget to submit your questions if you want them answered on the show, and we’ll see you real soon!

How to Increase R.O. Count During the Coronavirus Crisis

How to Increase R.O. Count During the Coronavirus Crisis

Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t that my team or myself are smarter than anybody else; we just have the advantage of working with hundreds of shops across the U.S. and Canada, which gives us a unique perspective of how the industry as a whole is handling this Coronavirus pandemic. That’s why, on this week’s special Live episode of Service Drive Revolution, I got together with my Coaching team and my friend Jeremy O’Neal to discuss some of the winning strategies we’ve seen in some of these shops. We’ve also compiled a bullet-points version of this list into this free PDF for you to use.

If you’re new to us, know that we’re here for you. Just email us at [email protected] with any questions, and we’ll find a way to bring you into the Chris Collins family. If nothing else, you don’t want to be alone right now. This Coronavirus situation is bleak, and you want to be a part of a community that understands your perspective and influences you positively. And if you’re looking for ways to push your Service Drive even further, our OnDemand Training platform is the most robust and fully-featured Fixed Ops training on the market, and available for you to use at any time.

We hope that you’ll use these tools to lead your business through this Coronavirus crisis and get the results that you want to see. Remember: The average car on the road right now is nearly 12 years old. If nobody is selling new cars right now, then people will need to fix the cars they already have.

First: Be a Leader.

Ask yourself: Are you the type of leader who sits and waits as traffic falls off and your business slowly dwindles, or the type who attacks and fights tooth and claw to come out on top? 

In times of crisis like the present Coronavirus pandemic, leaders are truly tested. And with your Service Department open as an essential business, you have no choice but to perform your duty as a leader if you want to survive.

During our daily morning calls, I get together with our Coaching team to talk about some of the ways our clients are handling this crisis… and it looks like the pendulum is swinging both ways. We have some clients who are up, and others, sadly, who are panicking… 

Traffic is down! The sky is falling! It’s the end of the world!

Yes, we are in the middle of a unique and challenging circumstance. Times are tough, and the threat of Coronavirus is deadly serious… but as the leader of an Essential Business, it is your responsibility to push through the pain and find a way to lead your team to victory. 

Teddy Roosevelt said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” I love this quote because it does a great job of illustrating my point: You can’t waste time focusing on the things that are beyond your control. We may not have control over this crisis, but we can control how we respond to it. At the end of the day, this Coronavirus pandemic is merely an obstacle course, and you are the tool that your team uses to navigate it. 

We are not victims. 

So what can you control?  You can control how you go after customers, you can control how you train your team, and you can control the fundamentals of how you run your business. In a few months’ time there will be a lot of pent-up demand, and now is the best time to practice! If you don’t know where to start, and need inspiration, just look at how other businesses are adjusting their practices in response to the Coronavirus, even outside of the automotive industry. 

For example, I got an email from my Nutritionist the other day offering video conferencing appointments and in-home treatment. Peloton is giving away units at 0% interest and no payments for the next few months. These are just a couple of examples of businesses changing their practices to adjust to the ongoing situation.

Second: Control the Narrative.

This ties in to what I was saying above about leadership. If you’re the type of leader who is sitting back and seeing where this situation goes before taking action, then you’re leaving the door open for someone else to control the narrative. From what we’ve seen in our interactions with shop owners, this is the one thing that every successful business has in common right now: 

The leaders are stepping towards the crisis, rather than backing away from it. They are controlling their narrative with their customers.

You know the saying: “The customer is always right,” and there is some truth to that… but the reality is that it’s more about the customer’s perception than anything else. That’s the age-old problem with any customer service situation: the customer’s perception, or their understanding of the situation based on the impression you make. If the impression you make on the customer is based entirely on how you’re framing the situation, then whether the customer is right or wrong becomes irrelevant. 

What matters is your ability to tell a story to the customer, and how you frame yourself and your business within that story. Your business is going to be viewed in one of three ways: There is a world where you are the hero, one where you’re the victim, and one where you’re the villain. You don’t want to appear as a victim, and you definitely don’t want to appear like a villain.

When you conduct your business during times like the present, most people are going to default to framing you as the villain. Even when we advertised our Webinar on social media, we saw a lot of trolls commenting on our ads accusing us of trying to profiteer off of a crisis…. And that was for a free webinar! We aren’t even financially benefiting from this, we’re just trying to be a resource and build a community for our industry!

Point is: Our customers’ impressions of us are pliable. You can be the hero of this story. We have been designated an Essential Business, and we can use that to control the narrative of why we’re open. During this time, think of yourself as a public servant. For example, a Service Manager in our community recently has been reaching out to customers on Facebook, actively visiting hospitals to deliver meals, and offering his help to first responders. Show the customer that you’re not only open for business, you’re open for the right reasons. Social media usage right now is up 25% over average, so if you aren’t utilizing these platforms to communicate with your customers, then you’re missing out. It is impossible to over-communicate right now.

People are afraid to do business or even leave their homes during this Coronavirus crisis, so you can’t drive traffic if the narrative isn’t a positive one. Run promotions, offer discounts, and engage with your customers in such a way that they know you are here to serve them.

This is about more than just fixing cars or trucks: This is about being human, and being a good shepherd during times of crisis. If you’re not controlling the narrative and establishing yourself as the hero of the story, then you’re the victim at best, and the villain at worst.

Third: Help Other Essential Businesses.

Our coach Steve’s wife is a nurse at their local hospital, and one of the things she’s told Steve is that there is a lot of tension in the workplace right now. She and her peers are working over twelve-hour days. The rules for sanitation are constantly changing. Resources are extremely scarce. Everyone is worried. Who is coming in with Coronavirus? Who is going to get Coronavirus? Will I take Coronavirus home to my family?   

What can you do to help the people who are helping our communities the most? What can you do to take even the smallest amount of worry off of their plate? Steve’s wife doesn’t have time to get her car serviced, and what would happen if it broke down on her way to the hospital? 

Contact your local hospital, try to get a hold of their Human Resources Department, and let them know that you are here for their employees. You will pick their car up from the hospital, perform service, disinfect it, give them a free steering wheel cover, seat cover, and floor mat, maybe even a bag for them to toss their dirty clothes into at the end of their shift, and take it back. 

And don’t stop there. 

Contact any Essential Business that is open during this time. Contact any business that uses fleets. Contact delivery services for restaurants, Amazon deliveries, Postal Services, plumbers, Supermarkets, municipalities such as Police and Fire Departments, anything that is still open right now… and offer them your services. 

Pick up for them, drop off for them, store vehicles for them, disinfect for them…. Anything that is necessary and serves the community. Any make, any model, any time. Be open. Be ready to help. Some of the shops that are really succeeding right now are the ones that are running valet systems. Focus on all the little ways that you can add convenience to the transaction.

And if you think you don’t have enough people to run a valet service, or think your R.O. is high enough without running a valet service… go back and watch our episode with Brian Benstock. He was making $600 per R.O. by picking up and dropping off cars. The circumstances of daily life have changed. You need to change with them.

If you are a branded dealership, you probably don’t want to flip your brand identity from being a specialist for a certain manufacturer to accepting all makes and models. That’s fair. You don’t want your customers to perceive you as desperate for traffic, and it is a very fine line to tread. There is absolutely a craft to working on every individual brand of vehicle.

One thing that you could do, as Jeremy suggested, would be to have your lead technician with general knowledge record a quick video touting their certifications, and post that to social media. Show that you are not only open to all makes and models, but that you are also qualified to work on all makes and models. Don’t just tell the customer you’re going to work on all makes and models, show them how you work on all makes and models.

Fourth: Mine Your Database.

Remember: You have so much information in your shop’s database that you’re sitting on a mountain of opportunity. In general, most manufacturers push for service in six-month intervals. If you go back six months in your database and find that you generated 50 R.O.’s, then chances are 30 of those are due for service…. At least an oil change.

In times like the present Coronavirus crisis, customers aren’t thinking about servicing their cars. That doesn’t mean they aren’t due for service! Reach out, be proactive, and contact customers! Our Head Coach Christian came up with a great process that you can use:

Pull exactly six months to the prior date of business. Check history to ensure that the client hasn’t come in for service during the intervening months. Review service recommendations and decline lines. Then, call the customer.

This phone call has to be from the heart. Before anything, make sure that the client is okay. They might live in an area where essentials like water or toilet paper aren’t readily available. Who’s to say that you couldn’t help them with that? Remember that the client is, above all else, a human being first, and a client second. 

If the client is due for service, make it easy for them! Valet, loaners, night drops, whatever! Inform the customer of exactly what precautionary measures you’re taking. Show videos if you need to. Then, exceed their expectations on the service.

Now is the time to blow your customers away. Treat every service as if you’re setting a new standard for your shop, and then raise the bar every time. Then, give them a personalized token of appreciation to make sure that not only does the customer know that you’re there for them, you’re trying to go above and beyond what is typically expected of you.

Finally, set the next appointment. Treat it like you’re the dentist and the patient has just finished their check-up. Don’t make them think about it, just have them set the next appointment as if it were a routine. 

You don’t need to spend a single cent on marketing. Everything you need is in your database.

Fifth: Recalls and Missed Ops.

It’s usually perceived as a negative to have recalls coming in, so let this be a lesson to you: We need to be doing everything we can to drive traffic. Especially the things we know we should be doing, but don’t want to. 

Whenever our Coaches are reviewing a Miss Ops report with a Service Manager, they can always tell which R.O. was a recall just by looking at them, because there’s no work recommended on the R.O. 

Remember: Pet the Dog with every customer. Treat every single person who steps through the door as a welcome guest, and wow them with the quality of your service. Whatever you do now is what they’re going to remember. Get creative. Provide a rental car or Uber for them. Wash their car. Create an aggressive return offer. If you give them a positive experience, then they’ll want to come back.

All of those Missed Ops that you don’t usually have time for? Guess what, you have plenty of time for them during the Coronavirus shutdown. Write declines down on the R.O. so that you can track them. Create a piggy bank in your log book. Do live Missed Ops with the Service Manager in the driveway of your shop, meaning that every time an Advisor gets a “No,” the Manager is on standby to diagnose the customer’s reason for declining. Is it due to price? Time? Presentation? Negligence?

Take every decline as an opportunity to train and roleplay with Advisors. Now is the best time to experiment and create new processes.

Sixth: Follow up.

Consider the impact that you’re having on a customer during their time with you. When the customer gets their car and drives away after completing their service, this is the peak of their emotional journey. Be sure to thank them with a note in the car. Text them a few hours after they leave thanking them again. 

Two days later, mail them a thank you card as a follow-up. For first-time customers, give them something extra in the card to sweeten the deal. Jeremy likes to include a $5 Starbucks gift card, but any sort of token of appreciation you can give them, give them. Also, make sure that the card includes a heartfelt, handwritten thank you message.

This follow-up message isn’t about making them an offer or trying to secure future business from them. Jeremy doesn’t even include his contact information when he signs the card. They know who you are, they know where it came from, and they will appreciate it.

This is the icing on the cake. That little emotional token that will really separate your shop from the competition. If you do this, not only will your review scores explode, but you’ll save a fortune on marketing because you will earn word-of-mouth praise.

When you send a follow-up message, don’t tie it in to the cost of the R.O. Be consistent. It doesn’t matter if the customer spends $50 or $5000, their business is always appreciated.

When you set the next appointment, try to get the customer to actually pull out their phone and set a reminder for themselves in their calendar. If you get the appointment into the customer’s system while they’re with you, then you have trumped every other form of appointment-setting. 

Ask the customer if there’s anybody in their life who could use your help right now. You won’t always get an answer, but you’re subconsciously establishing a sense of urgency with the customer with that one simple word…. “Help.”

During this Coronavirus shutdown, cars will be sitting idle, batteries will die, and people will, eventually, need your help. By getting a personal referral from the customer, you’re forming an instant emotional connection, and ensuring your shop’s success. This also applies to business fleets and municipalities as well, not just individuals.

Just remember: Just like everything on this list, following up isn’t about the money, or the cars.

This is about the people.

The 5 Dumbest Things Service Advisors Say After Getting a “No”

The 5 Dumbest Things Service Advisors Say After Getting a “No”

There’s nothing more annoying than a sales objection. Getting a “No,” from a customer after pitching them a solid sales presentation is pretty much the bane of every Service Advisor’s existence. 

Well… That, and the Parts Department.

But what do you do after you get the “No”? Well… I’ve heard some dumb stuff before, but never anything as dumb as the 5 Dumbest Things That Advisors Say After Getting “No.”

But before we get to that, here’s some cool auto news:

Hyundai recently unveiled a new electric concept car, the Prophecy, which looks like something from Blade Runner on the outside… but inside looks like Groundskeeper Willie threw up on the upholstery. I’m a bit more open to experimental design choices (we’ve already talked at length about how I feel about the Tesla Cybertruck), but Jeremy isn’t a fan of the turquoise plaid look. Still, it’s really sleek! I’ve always thought that Hyundai should get more aggressive in their design like that.

Another thing before we move onto audience questions… Did you know that in today’s business environment, a person in a leadership position could be overseeing people from as many as five to six different generations? It’s crazy! We’ve got these guys going around who are “generational consultants.” They’re teaching companies the nuances of five different age groups currently occupying the workforce. They’re mainly focused on the workplace, but we can also take that information and use it on the customer service side as well.

We actually have a training module about this on our OnDemand Training platform, because we created it for Top Dog. It’s really something to think about and understand, because I learned a lot going through the process of leading a team of people from several different age groups.

I hear a lot of people complaining about younger generations… “Oh, Millennials, blah blah blah,” or whatever. I remember absolutely hating it when people said that about me as a kid, because I was Generation Y. We were the first generation where our parents wouldn’t stay together for the kids because they were so caught up in their own wants and needs that the kids didn’t matter. We were essentially the first generation to raise ourselves.

So when we complain about Millennials and Gen Z, they’re still growing up and becoming clients, and you need to match your client’s preferred methods of communication. They want a text? You need to text them. They want an email? Gotta email them. If they’re the type of person who’s more hands on, doesn’t believe anything somebody tells them over the phone, and wants to come down to the dealership to look at the vehicle with the technician, then you better be prepared to do that in-person presentation.

You have to understand how to modify your communication style to match your customers!

But enough about Millennials and their blah blah blah or whatever… It’s time to answer some of your questions! Remember, when you submit a question and we read it, we’re going to send you out some swag which includes a Service Drive Revolution T-shirt, hat, coffee mug, and stickers. Show your Service Drive Revolution pride!

“How does someone get the f*** out of corporate where there’s a budget for pay plans, and get into a different dealer group without shooting themselves in the foot by being transparent during their job search that they have a DWI on their driving record?”

That’s a tough one. If I hated corporate and I had a DWI, I think I’d open my own shop.

You can’t lie about it. It’s not good to lie and you’re going to get caught so if you have it, go start your own business.

I don’t know…. I’m not a big fan of lying about stuff. If you’re in corporate, you’ve got to be in corporate and you gotta play their game, play their politics, and perform if they’re giving you a paycheck so I always tried to adjust my feelings on things to who’s writing me a check and doing the best by them. 

My grandfather always said, “Always give somebody twice as much as what they’re paying you for.” So if they pay you $10 an hour and you give them $20 worth of value, you’ll always be in demand. That’s where my heart comes from, and I wouldn’t lie about having a DWI.

I don’t know you, but you’re definitely in a pickle and you might want to start your own shop.

And definitely don’t get another DWI! Did you know you can’t even go to Canada if you got a DWI? Jeremy had to cancel his trip when he found that out.

Anyway, next question…

“Do you have any stories of customers that are just insane, and there was no way to talk them down? I have a few and one of them I had to call the cops.”

Oh, yeah, I’ve seen that. I’ve had customers tell me to f*** off on the phone plenty of times.

I once had to fire my top salesperson, because he said it back to the customer once, believe it or not. He was a good salesperson, and I didn’t want to fire him, but there’s no way you can overlook something like that.

Now, the question is probably talking about face-to-face encounters with customers, and I don’t know about that… The craziest experiences I’ve had were times when there were guns or drugs in the car. I’ve had that quite a few times– a 9mm under the seat and a brick of marijuana in the back. I didn’t know that stuff still came in bricks after the 70s!

I’ve had situations where there was cash in a car, and supposedly the cash disappeared. I’m not sure if you know this… but the kind of people that sell drugs and carry a ton of cash in their car usually aren’t that understanding. So they’d come back and threaten me or someone on my team, and I’d have to call the cops.

And then there are the ridiculous customers who are just crazy. I’ve only had two times in my career that I ever had to fire a customer. I’m not a big fan of firing customers, and both times I had to do it, they wanted to come back.

I’ve put up with a lot of abuse, but when a customer crosses a line and I have to fire them, I would say something to the effect of, “I’m really sorry that you feel this way. We’ve clearly let you down. We’re not a match because I’m not going to be able to live up to your expectations, but I understand your expectations and we obviously are falling short of that,” and just about then they start going, “No, no,” and they want back in.

With that uncomfortable business out of the way, let’s move onto…

5 Dumbest Things Service Advisors Say After Getting “No”

Just so you understand what I’m talking about: you’ve done your job up to this point, you’ve made a good presentation, and then the customer just stonewalls you and flat out says, “No.”

I’m talking about your reaction afterwards. What do you do once you get, “No”?


The first thing on this list is when an Advisor asks the customer, “Why?”

Now, why is that a dumb thing to say? Because it puts the customer on the spot, and you put a lot of pressure on them. I talked earlier on generational demographics and certain age groups just want to leave it at no, and you can damage the relationship if you keep pressing the issue.

You want to go beyond that “no” without putting the customer on the spot or making them feel like you’re attacking them.

“Well, the other things that you declined weren’t that bad anyways…”

This one makes me want to kill them and, for legal reasons, I mean that figuratively.

What I mean here is that they’re trying to validate the customer by agreeing with them, but that’s ridiculous because it’s a sigh of insecurity! It comes from the same place as some Advisors that won’t ask, right?

They want the customer to like them and they think by letting the customer leave in a car that’s going to break down, then they’re going to have to come back.

What?! No! That’s going to leave them broken down on the side of the road, dummy! How is that better than telling them the truth?!

When an Advisor tells a customer, “Well, it’s not really that bad. We can do it next time,” what they’re really trying to do is set their next sale up but what they’re really doing is completely ruining their credibility. You should never ask for something you don’t want to 100% believe in!

“Do you love your kids?”

What? What the hell kind of question is that? Did you have someone take them as hostages while I was bringing my car into the shop?!

That’s right up there with, “Well, what do you want to do? Slide into a school bus full of kids and kill them?!”

Do NOT sell based on fear. Period. It’s not only terrible, it doesn’t work.

“What if I gave you a discount?”

Now, last week we talked about waiving diagnostic fees to save a sale, but this isn’t really the same mindset.

Still, why should you not offer a discount at this point in the sales process? You made your presentation, you asked the customer to buy, and they said no. Now you’re going to try to throw the life ring out there and save the sale by offering a discount. You know what message that sends?

You’re devaluing yourself and the shop. What you’re telling the customer is, “We discount a lot because our normal pricing is too expensive.

If the customer makes the first move and asks you for a discount, you can always hit them back with, “Well, I’ve already given you the best price that I possibly can. The fee for the service would be ____. Can we move ahead with it?”

You gotta keep asking questions and get that closing question in there instead of going right to the discount.

“It’s the Parts Department’s fault.”

Well, I guess that one’s not so dumb.

Just kidding, we love the Parts Department. We not only want to help Service Advisors on the show but any parts managers that watch can learn to revolutionize their department, too.

Thanks for tuning into Service Drive Revolution. Be safe, and we’ll see you again next week!

4 Hidden Ways Your Parts Department Can Sell More Labor

4 Hidden Ways Your Parts Department Can Sell More Labor

If you want to get the most out of your Service or Parts Department, first you need to ask: What’s the purpose of a job interview? 

If you said, “The purpose of a job interview is to scare the living crap out of people,” then you’re wrong. The purpose is to understand what their style or system is.

Whenever I was hiring Service Advisors, I would always ask, “When you’re walking up to a customer’s car to write them up and help them. What are you thinking? What’s going through your head?”

What we definitely don’t want to hear is, “I’m thinking of what I’m going to sell them.” That’s dead wrong.

Sales are easy. The sales come if you connect. If the first thing on your mind is sales, then that’s the totally wrong mindset!

What Jeremy and I want to hear is that they’re going to look to form a solid connection with the customer. That’s the only way you can tell a good Service Advisor from a bad one: You want somebody who’s in the spirit of connecting, helping, and taking care of the customer. Someone who is going to look for personal clues from the vehicle, anything that can tell the Advisor how they can help the customer.

Elon Musk has one simple, important question that he asks in every interview, and I think it’s totally genius: “Tell me about some of the most difficult problems you worked on, and how you solved them.”

You could frame that and put it on a wall. That’s how great this question is. 

One way you could take this question and apply it to Service Advisors is to say, “Tell me about a difficult customer experience or an unhappy customer, and how you turned them around.” 

Notice the similarities? It cuts through all of the noise and tells you exactly what the interviewee’s style and system are like, and also opens the door for some pretty entertaining stories.

Next time you’re hiring Service Advisors (or any position in your shop, really), definitely try this one out.

In auto news this week, Goodyear Tire is envisioning a radical new way to replace your tires, and it is absolutely nuts: Rather than swapping out the tire for an entirely new one… What if you made a tire that grew its own skin?

No, really. 

Their concept is a tire that regenerates tread with a compound that they insert into the center of the tire, which Jeremy and I have taken to calling the “Goodyear goo.” The tire then pushes rubber out from the rim, and grows its own tread. See? Absolutely nuts!

They even have the idea of using different inserts for different purposes. You got a track day coming up? Put racing slicks in. You got winter coming? You’re going to need your snow tires… All of this without having to go into the shop!

Will this affect new tire sales and alignment sales? Possibly. As Jeremy puts it, “It depends on the cost of the goo.” Either way, this is one of those innovations that (if it sticks) could totally change the industry as we know it. Definitely something to keep track of.

With that, we can move on to your questions. Remember to post your question on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, or send it to [email protected]. If we read your question on the podcast, we’ll send you a Service Drive Revolution swag package with a T-shirt, stickers, and coffee mug!

“I just recently discovered your content. Really appreciate someone experienced putting out this knowledge. Do you have any recommendations for a shop limited by technician load? This is an opportunity out the wazoo, but with only four techs and six bays, I’m not sure how to seize it.”

Strong wording there. Seizing the opportunity.

Yeah, it’s a sorry state of affairs. Right now, the industry is losing two techs for every new one coming in… And it’s not going to get better. Shops everywhere need to get really good at hiring Technicians, because in the near future, whoever has the techs, wins.

What I would suggest is to sign up for our OnDemand Training platform. In there, we’ve got a module called Technician Tree, and it’ll teach you how to grow your own technicians, how to hire the top technicians in your area, and how to maintain the ones you already have. 

The other thing that I often see is, when you struggle hiring techs, your culture in the shop is terrible, because you need techs more than they need you. You have a bunch of terrible techs with terrible attitudes, that don’t want to work terribly hard, driving the terrible culture in your terrible shop.

On the show, Jeremy also brought up supply and demand. By that he means, you should get your effective labor rate up by teaching your Advisors how to sell, learning pricing strategies, creating a menu, all that because as things go forward, the cost of a technician is going to go up. If you have a high effective labor rate, you can afford to pay techs what they’re worth, so they can help you meet that high demand. All of this is also explained in our OnDemand Training.

Every technician is worth between $10,000 – $15,000 in gross profit every month. If you can’t afford our OnDemand Training platform, then you definitely can’t afford new techs (and you might want to get into another industry).

“Do you guys like the idea of waiving diagnostic fees in order to capture the repair? Curious about your response. If we lose the shop to another shop, he only gets the diagnostic. If I sell the job, I can potentially get them a better chance at more hours. Plus, sometimes you don’t lose anything and both get time and diagnostic. Just curious how most others perceive it, plus wanted Chris’s feedback.”

Now, I’ve done this exact thing before and think it’s a good strategy… but Jeremy’s definitely not a fan of waiving diagnostic fees. In fact, he says the only reason somebody would waive diagnostic fees is because of “weak sales skills.”

That might seem a bit harsh, but I get the point he’s making. If the customer comes in for a diagnosis but decides to get the repair at a place that’s cheaper, even if they didn’t do the diagnosis themselves, then that’s simply a sales objection. Advisors need to know how to close a deal, and part of that is knowing what to say or do when the customer says, “No.”  Again, if you want some help then you can go to our OnDemand Training platform, and get a coach.

I agree with what he says, but I’ve used this strategy before with a good outcome. Ford had a bunch of my clients open these off-site express service departments, which were sometimes five miles away from their dealership. Can you guess what happened? 

Yeah, they would lose money. 

One of the marketing campaigns I would do over and over again was, “the check engine light is free,” and that would work! But what Jeremy said is right. You definitely want to train your Advisors to overcome sales objections like that. It’s not completely black and white, and there are some situations where it’s okay to write off something to keep a job.

So now let’s move on to our title topic of the week… 4 Hidden Ways Parts Can Sell More Labor. That’s right, we’ve discovered a few ways that you can turn your Parts Department into a profit-generating machine! Some of these are so obvious and make so much sense that I genuinely can’t believe that people out there aren’t doing them.

Number one: Sell some accessories or modification

A lot of that goes to the aftermarket because we don’t ask and we don’t try.

I do this all the time. I’ll sit in the drive and look at the next 20 cars coming in. Now, what percentage of the vehicles coming into the drive do you think have some sort of upgraded wheels or lift kit?

If you sit there and count, it’s about 50%.

So why don’t we put them in the showroom pre-lifted? The key to selling more accessories is to gamify it. Why isn’t the parts manager at the sales meeting every Friday gamifying and handing out spiff money for accessories sold?

Get out of your office, get away from your desk, take the seat belt off! Get yourself a wad of cash and start spiffing salespeople to sell accessories! Even spiff the sales managers if you have to!

Number two: Body shops

If you have body shops that are buying a lot of parts from you, have some sort of deal where if they bring their alignments and their programming and the heavier mechanical stuff to you, you can work out some sort of deal. Create a relationship between yourself and these body shops.

Number three: Don’t just sell the part, sell the diagnostic

This one was Jeremy’s and it’s genius. The number one thing his shop gets phone calls on is, “Is it too much to replace ____?”

And it doesn’t matter what ____ is. When a customer wants a component replaced, there’s a triggering event that happened with that request, so you can’t just leave it at ____!

It’s no different in the Parts Department. When you go up to the Parts counter and ask for an O2 sensor, they’ll give you an O2 sensor… but first they’ve gotta ask, “Why do you want an O2 sensor? What makes you think you need an O2 sensor? Who told you you need an O2 sensor?”

Again, don’t just sell the parts, sell the diagnostic. Have a two-way conduit where the Advisor can come in, answer questions, and turn that retail parts customer into a service customer and sell them the diagnostic, too.

Number four: Create a CRM with the customers that come in

That’s the Customer Relationship Manager. Too often, the retail parts customer is neglected, and there’s never any follow-up with them. Trust me, when that customer leaves, there’s a Service opportunity there. You need to get their contact info into a CRM and follow up to ask them about setting their next Service appointment.

“Can we introduce you to our service department?”

“How can we help you?”

“How can we earn your business?”

A common question that customers ask is, “Do you think this is going to fix my problem?”

When a customer asks this, you should immediately: get that customer’s email, get their phone number, and get their permission to follow up. Then put their information into a CRM. It’s called permission-based marketing, and it’s absolutely free. You’re missing a huge golden opportunity in your Parts Department by not creating a CRM. 

Your Parts personnel have got to be skilled in identifying that and moving it over to labor. There’s so much untapped labor to be sold, but we don’t even try.

Thanks to everyone for tuning in. Jeremy and I hope you have a great week and we’ll see you next time on Service Drive Revolution!

The Top 5 Things Killing Service Advisors

The Top 5 Things Killing Service Advisors

There are things you do every day that are slowly but surely killing you!

But before we get to that, we’ve got an interesting article on Automotive News: “Tech is a threat to service advisers,” where reporter Larry Vellequette brings up the question of whether Toyota can replace advisors with automation.

I actually think I’ve met Larry before. He mainly covers Toyota and Volkswagen for Automotive News and he’s obviously a good writer, but he doesn’t know the first thing about auto. Maybe that’s a bit too harsh but anybody who has written service or worked in a service department knows that it’s spelled service advisor with an ‘o’ at the end, not an ‘e.’ Throughout the whole article, he spells it “adviser,” which is technically not the wrong spelling, but it’s not the correct spelling from an insider’s perspective.

That aside, it’s a great article. Here’s the opening bit that I thought was pretty funny:

“Psst: Hey, service advisers. Can we talk for a second? That new co-worker in the service drive is kinda making you look bad: out there upselling every customer, pushing accessories more effectively, checking every VIN for recalls, equity mining every vehicle that comes through for sales leads. And all while processing customers in maybe a tenth of the time that you take and throwing every bit of information from each transaction immediately into the dealership management system like it’s nothing.

And the worst part? That same co-worker is doing all this without having to take breaks or complaining about long hours or needing health insurance or vacations, and this newbie is working for, let’s admit it, a tiny fraction of what you’re making.”

Now, this is something I’ve talked about before, and basically the point is that putting an iPad kiosk in front of a customer and letting them pick will get them to sell themselves more than an advisor who doesn’t ask, but that’s what happens when advisors don’t ask and aren’t consistent!

If it came down to me or Jeremy vs. automation, we’ll kick the crap out of it! There’s no way that automation is going to outperform me!

The kiosk is a novelty and there will always be a need for an advisor because what automation lacks is that personal connection. You can’t expect a machine to Pet the Dog! Well, maybe a machine can physically pet a dog but that’s a different story…

I’ve been hired to come into some meetings and add my point of view about this, and the thought process with manufacturers is that if automation ever got to the level of what advisors perform to now, it’s a huge increase in profits for the individual dealer because you take out the expense of hiring advisors. The bottom line is that basic stats say you’re reducing expenses and increasing your net.

But imagine this: I’ve been going to the same Starbucks for years, at least three times a week when I go to the gym. What if one day I walk in there and it’s just a kiosk with no personal touch? Granted, I’m a gadget guy that likes to hit buttons and the girl that’s usually there doesn’t make eye contact with me and could care less that I existed…

McDonald’s is a good example of this happening already, and their payroll load is 50% of what it normally is without an automated system in place. It’s like driverless vehicles, it’s not a question of whether it’s going to happen but when it’s going to happen. I still like the personal touch of having an advisor but it’s definitely a possibility we have to think about… at least for the sake of advisors figuring out what they can do better to avoid being replaced by a tablet.

Before I get to the main topic of today, we got some audience questions.

First off, we really do have to thank our fans, viewers, listeners for all your support. Our downloads have been up crazy and we’re probably the #1 show in automotive.

Secondly, we really love your questions. We have pre-production meetings where we go through them and it’s hard to pick some of them because they’re all so good.

Question 1: Hi Chris, I love all your videos. I would like to know: How would you go about attracting a Service Advisor for an independent shop? What are the best places to post the ads to get in front of the right people?

I left this one up to Jeremy on the show because he’s better at that than me. So a number of things when finding a service advisor for an independent shop:

First, you create a personality profile for the type of advisor you want. One of the things you could do is hit up your Facebook page and ask your customers who is the best service advisor they’ve ever dealt with.

Once you’ve got that, find out who the main player is in your town and try to attract them based on that profile. While you’re at it, you can make a list of the top five advisors you’d want to deal with. Jeremy spent over two years to build a relationship with a guy until the stars finally aligned for him to leave his dealership and take a big risk moving to an independent shop.

Other things you can do is get job postings going on Indeed and call other shops or dealerships and find out who’s good. Them you can take them out to lunch and start recruiting.

Question 2: Hey Chris I work for a Nissan dealership in San Diego, and I write around 350 to 400 RO’s a month, which is more than most if not all other advisors. I’ve noticed my ELR and Hours per RO have gone down recently. Am I writing too many RO’s?

Okay so let’s do the math here: that’s 15-20 cars a day on a 20-day working month. You’re okay keeping it at around 15 but 20 is too much. I usually find that you can do your math with, “What would I make if my hours per RO, my ELR, and whatever it is were at a sweet spot of around 12-15 cars compared to when I’m writing too many, under-delivering, and being stressed out all the time?”

Right now, you’re talking about numbers in a transaction. Are you building a relationship with these customers? Is your, as Jeremy puts it, passion bucket filled for serving your clients? Take some time to make sure it’s full because you’ll see it on your paycheck when you feel confident serving people.

Question 3: Hi Chris, just gonna start out by saying you’ve helped me a lot in the past month as a Service Advisor. I have a question for you: We have implemented a new pay structure at work, and a new appointment coordinator. Since then my numbers have really grown, but it’s put a target on my back with the other advisors. How do I keep growing and collecting customers without the other advisors getting pissy at me?

What I used to do when I was a top advisor is I would walk by the other advisors and say, “Hey, you know why I look so good? Because you look so bad.”

Obviously there’s a team effort in the drive but you need to forget about what others might think of you when you outperform them. If you’re a high performer, you’re doing things different than the low performers and it’s working! Your mindset, your actions, your attitude, and your focus are different. Don’t try to be like them because they’re not going to like you.

The key to succeeding is blazing your own path and not setting your barometer to under-performers’ feelings on things. They might not like you and they might say derogatory things but if you let them make you feel like you’re doing things wrong, they’re going to succeed in pulling you down to your level and reverting you to average.

Full steam ahead. It’s not about them, it’s all about what’s best for the customer. I remember they did so many things to mess with me when I was an advisor but I knew I was taking better care of my customers than they were while they were spending time worrying about all the wrong things.

Another thing to that– management needs to understand that if you got one top-performing advisor, you need to surround them with a couple more high-performing advisors because, if you don’t, the under-performers are going to win by pulling that lone top performer down with them.

Top performers also tend to do things that cause customers to gravitate towards them. That’s how you future proof your career when all the under-performers are replaced with kiosks…

Lastly, we move onto:

Top 5 Things Killing Service Advisors

Yes, killing them. Not slowing them down. Not making them uncomfortable. Not hurting them when they pee.

Killing them.

  1. Eating at their desk

A lot of people including Jeremy might think: wait a minute… why not?! It’s a time saver!

That’s not wrong but think about what people eat when they’re given 30 minutes for lunch. It’s usually pizza… or a double cheeseburger…

Those are the meals working people naturally go out to eat when they’re pressed for time but you can avoid that by planning ahead, maybe by packing lunch. If you eat right, you’ll have more energy, you’ll feel better, and you’ll sell more!

  1. Not working out.

You got to start working out in the morning, too. If you eat better and start the day with some cardio or weights, your mind will be 10 times more clear and you’ll start the day with good vibes. Read the book Body for Life if you want some great workouts.

Most advisors are going to say, “Well, I don’t have time!”

Make time! We all have the same amount of time!

  1. Failing to create a morning ritual.

Here’s how my morning would go from the time I wake up when I was an advisor:

My morning ritual starts with brushing my teeth.

Then, I meditate…

… I work out…

… I go to work. 45 minutes to an hour early.

Jeremy calls the hour before anyone shows up to work the ‘golden hour of power.’ During this time, you can do all your menial tasks like getting your desk organized or going into the logbook so you have time to plan out your day.

Lastly, not having the will to do a morning ritual is killing service advisors and replacing them with tablets.

  1. Not learning.

They’re not learning! They’re not listening to books about sales, about customer service, about business, or how to get better. They’re not going to courses, that sort of thing. They’re stagnant!

I’m out of room for books, but I won’t stop buying more books! Pretty soon, I’m gonna need shelves with ladders.

  1. The Parts Department.

No joke, the Parts Department kills advisors dead.

Once again, thanks to all of our viewers and listeners for tuning in. Please share, subscribe, and don’t forget to submit questions for a chance to win some swag, and we’ll see you again next week!