The 5 Reasons Technicians Aren’t Efficient

by | Mar 9, 2020 | Auto, Podcasts, Service Drive Revolution

I hate my job!!

Okay, that’s not true. It’s actually the exact opposite of true. Let me wind this back:

Speaking engagements are a big component of my job. And at the risk of contradicting myself, I’ve gotta say: I love my job. I love getting out there and meeting people and helping businesses and building a community to make the auto industry a better place. I couldn’t even begin to think of a more rewarding career! But there’s one thing about my job that I really can’t stand, and it’s a pretty huge part of it…. 

Traveling.

Now, you might be thinking “But Chris, you travel for work so you probably have a private jet and stay in fancy hotels and blah, blah, blah…”

Look– I’ll admit that I’m willing to pay an extra premium for a few extra inches of legroom, or earlier boarding, or some small creature comforts (we talked about some of them in our episode about my hypothetical $100,000 assistant), but make no mistake: I’m no diva. I don’t need to be pampered, I don’t have a mile-long contract for my speaking engagements, I don’t go around demanding excessive luxuries…

…and I don’t fly private. 

That’s right! Even though I have a dedicated staff who work tirelessly to make my travel arrangements as painless as possible for me; I still have to check myself in, unpack my carry-on, take off my shoes, and get my belongings (and my private parts) scanned by the TSA… All of whom really need to watch our Pet The Dog Customer Service Training!!  

When I travel, even in spite of the best-laid plans, I’m ultimately at the mercy of the TSA, the airline, the Uber driver, the hotel…. There’s a potential for something to go wrong every step of the way, and I have absolutely no control over any of it. And I’d like to point out that all of this is just the stress of normal travel! Traveling for work is every bit as stressful and dehumanizing as normal travel, but with an extra layer of anxiety: 

You’re not just traveling to a destination…. You’re traveling, and your livelihood depends on it! 

So yeah, I hate traveling for work. It’s one of those things in life that just eats away at your soul on a long enough timeline…. And I hate it so much that I raised my speaking fee to dissuade people from booking me! And wouldn’t you know it….

…It made no difference whatsoever. For the past three weeks, I’ve only been at home on the weekends. Every other day, I’ve been gone.

Last week, I spent a couple days in Ohio. On Wednesday, I woke up at 5 AM – eastern time, so 2 AM according to my biological clock – and have a meeting with my team. We Ubered (because for some reason we didn’t rent a car) from the hotel to the training center in 20-degree weather, and we ran through our training program for most of the day. 

We’re 45 minutes outside of Cincinnati, so we had to rush back to the airport to catch a flight because I had to be in Phoenix for a gig on Friday. I landed in Phoenix after this whole day of non-stop action since 5 AM (which, again, is 2 AM according to my internal clock!) and guess what’s waiting on the tarmac…

Air Force One! Our President, Donald Trump, was sitting at the Phoenix airport, and those of us who were there for a layover (like my dear friend and head coach Christian) were delayed for literally hours because Air Force-frickin’ One wouldn’t let anyone out of the airport!

So, according to my internal clock, we’re approaching 9 PM – reminder that I’ve been running on fumes since 2 AM – and I got to my hotel/casino. Quick sidebar: I didn’t even know casinos were a thing in Phoenix. I am absolutely exhausted at this point (and I also need to pee really bad), so I’m basically brain-dead and going through the motions at the reception desk when I hear, “We don’t have a reservation for you.”

That woke me up real quick!

“What are you talking about?” I ask, understandably a little bit peeved.

“We don’t have a reservation.”

So, I call my office. They assure me that the client made the reservation, and can show me all the receipts and whatever. Sure enough, I look it up on my phone and see that I do have a reservation, but I don’t have a reservation number at the hotel. 

If you travel a lot you know that no reservation number means no reservation. I thought, “Great!” (sidebar: this is not the exact word that I thought in the moment), and told the receptionist that I’d just pay for a room right then and there.

“We’re sold out. We’re fully committed.”

You’ve gotta be joking!! 

It’s like 10:30 PM at this point, so I’m coming up on a 17 hour day, and I had the whole next day booked for meetings and strategy sessions. No way in hell I’m gonna do that if I can’t figure this out soon.

I started calling around, and the only place that had a room was the J.W. Marriott, which was 25 minutes away, so I called an Uber. The lady on the phone tells me the only room they have left is a casita that’s nice but super expensive.

Okay, whatever. I’ll take it.

Then, as if every hotel in the Phoenix metro area had a grudge with me, this stupid casino/hotel doesn’t let Ubers pull up to valet. Instead of walking three blocks with all my stuff, I tell the Uber driver to come to valet and that I will personally fight anyone that tries to stop him. 

Yes, I even told the valet guy that.

25 minutes later, I get to the J.W. Marriott and the whole place is spread out so wide that I knew I would have to take the golf cart shuttle to get to my room. I go to the ATM to get some cash to tip the golf cart driver, put in my card, punch in the code…

Declined. I try another card.

Declined.

Coming up on 11 o’clock, none of my cards can get anything out of this stupid ATM. I tell the golf cart guy that I’ll tip him tomorrow, and then he gets cold with me, but drives me to my room anyway. After that, it was still a walk to get to my room, and the guy was totally guilt tripping me with a look that says, “I’m waiting for you to pay me.”

Anyways, the moral of this story is that being successful doesn’t make you immune to inconvenience, especially if your career demands a lot of travel. Life throws a lot your way, and you sometimes have no choice but to run with it, even to the point of exhaustion….

…Also never trust clients to book your hotels!! 

News

This week, it’s regarding Ford Motor Company, and their CEO (who probably isn’t going to be CEO for much longer), Jim Hackett.

Ford stock has hit a 10 year low after continuously withering since their previous CEO Mark Fields was replaced with Hackett in May, 2017. They’re currently hovering at around $8 a share while their rival General Motors is at $35.

Now, I got an idea. It’s a little out there, but bear with me.

There’s a guy out there that basically owns everything. Ford is running his software in some of their cars, he has this website where tons of customers go to buy stuff every day, he has the largest airline in the world… Of course, I’m talking about Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and richest man in the world.

Think about it: more people have Amazon Prime than telephone lines. Why not let him buy up Ford?

Yeah, maybe you could argue that Ford’s heritage is important but so are the Detroit Lions to some people and they haven’t won in 40 years! Keep the name but roll that Ford stock into Amazon stock!

Imagine what’s going to happen when every country outlaws internal combustion and Amazon + Ford goes direct to consumers with electric cars. You know… like a certain company that starts with a T

Imagine Amazon lockers in Ford dealerships so they can get foot traffic from people coming there to pick up books they ordered off of Prime and stuff, like Whole Foods.

So yeah, Mr. Hackett. You might as well call Bezos now because you’re not going to be there long, bro. I’ve already heard rumors that Amazon is in the market to buy a car company.

That makes perfect sense. It would be great for the dealers, great for Amazon, and definitely great for Ford. You know what? I should just broker this deal and take a percentage of it. The Ford family probably isn’t going to take that kind of initiative.

Up next in news with that certain company that starts with a T, Tesla just got permission to break ground on their German Gigafactory but they may be in hot water due to a 2018 crash where a driver relied too heavily on their autopilot system and died.

Now here’s the thing: with that in mind, do you think autonomous driving is more unsafe than humans driving?

Probably not. The only reason this makes the news is because it happened. Think of all the Teslas out there driving on autopilot just fine. If you compare that to human error, humans cause way more accidents.

Of course, it’s terrible that someone died but it’s still probably 10 times safer than humans driving.

5 Reasons Technicians Aren’t Efficient

Now I want to talk to you about five reasons technicians aren’t all that efficient. Whether they’re working at a dealership, an independent shop, a Walmart or a Costco, you’re going to see some things on that list that are probably going to surprise you:

  1. Smoking and vaping… No, just kidding. Parts Department.
    That’s always what the techs say – it’s always Parts’ fault. I’ve never gone into a shop where they didn’t say that it was the Parts Department.
  2. Texting. Kidding again, it’s the Parts Department.
    So to get further into it, the Parts Department can slow down production immensely. If a tech is working on, say, four repair orders a day and he has to stand in line for parts 10 minutes a day, those 40 minutes are money being wasted everyday. In the independent world, the service advisor is the Parts Department. The challenge is making sure parts arrive on time and are there for when a tech needs it because that’s no reason for why techs can’t hit the magical 100% on efficiency and productivity.
  3. The Parts Department– no, it’s actually They don’t have a system.
    The really good technicians that flag a lot of hours have a system for how they pull in cars, inspect them, handle parts, and get another car going. Not only that but they’re consistent and they don’t take shortcuts. Another thing is that really good techs understand that a customer is attached to the car; a human behind every vehicle. It’s not just a vehicle when there’s a mom driving her kids to soccer practice and then has to be at work on time – she doesn’t have the time for her 2010 F150 to break down. Remember, repairs can be a time machine.
  4. The Parts D– alright, I’m done with that. They don’t understand what the advisors are doing.
    They’re not working with the advisors and they don’t understand the process advisors go through. They just assume that the advisors don’t know how to get descriptions. There’s no communication. They prejudge based off of the advisor. Speaking of which…
  5. Untrained service advisors.
    Service advisors who aren’t trained can’t close the deal, which means they can’t sell. They don’t know what they’re doing and they can’t connect with customers. Terrible advisors will kill the shop!

There could have been a number 6, but we decided to leave it off. (It would have been the Parts Department.)

Q&A

Remember to send your questions to [email protected] or ask them on our YouTube and LinkedIn. We’ll send you some swag if it makes it on the air.

“Hey Chris, you mentioned the book by John Wooden. He has several books. Which one would you recommend to start with for our group?”

Oh, that’s a good question. The best one in my opinion is Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court. It’s co-written by Steve Jamison and that’s the one I give away. I’ve read it a couple times and it’s amazing.

In fact, I’m going to read a little excerpt:

‘My favorite maxims:

  • Happiness begins where selfishness ends.
  • Earn the right to be proud and confident.
  • The best way to improve the team is to improve ourself.
  • Big things are accomplished only through the perfection of minor details.
  • Discipline yourself and others won’t need to.
  • Ability may bet you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.
  • I will get ready and then perhaps my chance will come and if I am through learning, I am through.
  • If you don’t have the time to do it right, when will you find the time to do it over?
  • “It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely help another without helping himself.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Do not permit what you cannot do to interfere with what you can do.
  • Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation. Character is what you really are. Reputation is merely what you are perceived to be.’

Those are Wooden’s favorite Maxims. There’s pages and pages of it in the back.

“I’m new to the service manager business. I need help bad. The previous service manager really had a bad reputation and so does the dealership itself. I’m trying to build it up and I’ve ordered your books. The problem I have is I’m over parts and service, but I’m stretched thin. I worked 6-7 days, 12-13 hours, and if someone misses, I fill the role. Most of the time I’m on the service lane myself. We write around 11-15 RO’s a day. 80% warranty, 20% cash. EOR around 88.7. I have four techs, one is a standout and the other three not so good. I’m in a small town and I will have to say it’s welfare infested. Techs are hard to come by here. I love to build the reputation back up. I feel like I take two steps forward and nine steps back, and I need help. Please.”

On the show, Jeremy took the reins with this one.

First and foremost, you got to look at your reptutation. You build it one client at a time. Just get everybody committed to delivering that five-star experience every time and in 90 days you’ll have a completely different reputation than what was in the past.

The other thing is coaching; who is there to support you? If you’re really feeling that bad about the dealership and the previous service manager, get some help. Get a coach to help you stay on track and get a priority list of strategies that need to be implemented.

Being a service manager can be a very lonely place sometimes so you need to surround yourself with some better people.

It’s funny. Dealers think the reason why independents do so well is because their labor rate is lower but most of the time it’s actually higher. It’s about the customer experience.

Set your standards and go make your history right now. What you’re doing is building your book of business the way that you’re going to do it. Make it happen instead of worrying about the past.

“I recently got employed by a dealership. Literally my first week. I am honestly very grateful and hungry to succeed. I would consider myself an honest service advisor when recommending services or whatever the case may be, and it has worked great at a mom and pop shop. But now that I’m at a dealership, they want you to push services such as additives, which I can in good taste, but I’m worried about pricing for my customers since I’m in such a competitive area: Miami. How can I sell my customers on the value rather than the price and the services they’re receiving? Also, do you have any good techniques to assure the customers fill out their serveys for my KPI score?”

Um… That’s three questions.

First thing I would say is, when it comes to additives, I wouldn’t sell anything that you wouldn’t sell to your mom. Now, if you’re working for a service manager that is more aggressive and not in line with your ethics, you probably need to do a little soul-searching there. But personally, I find that there’s so many things that we can sell customers. There’s no reason for us to oversell!

Second is value. What is value to a customer? What makes a good deal? The answer is when the value outweighs the cost, right? A lot of times in your role as a service advisor, you’re creating that value by making it easy, saving them time, keeping them in a safe, dependable vehicle, being personal, and always being available to them.

And you’ve got to be careful on the pricing thing because the lowest price sometimes carries the highest costs. Customers always want to drag you on a price because they’re not educated in the value of auto repair. That’s where petting the dog and being that trusted advisor will help you win the pricing war.

Great question. All of that is on this week’s show and thank you guys for tuning in. We’d really appreciate it if you share and subscribe, and we’ll see you again real soon. 

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