You know what they say? Don't talk politics.
Today's show is about something that could be touchy, but that just makes it more exciting. Some of you might not be able to put away your preconceived, blind faith following CNN or Fox News propaganda, but we're gonna try to talk about which candidate, Biden or Trump, is better for the industry.
Also, Jeremy tells us how to put a customer in timeout, but before that, he starts off the show with how he tried presenting a repair authorization and it backfired miserably! Understandably, he didn't take it too well when I acknowledged that it might've been the way he presented it, but you be the judge after this story…
A first-time customer comes in – male, mid-50s contractor – with a Ford F-350 that's got 200k miles on it. It looked good from the outside, but it had a 6.0 power stroke that was smoking and had a misfire with the check engine light on. He says, “Hey, can you diagnose my misfire and why my truck's running so bad?”
Jeremy says, “Well, sir, here at Freedom Auto Repair, we do things a little bit differently; we're experts at what we do. Let me take a quick look at your truck and I can probably tell you in a nutshell what it's going to take to get the thing fixed. You're more interested in getting it fixed rather than diagnosed, right?”
The customer is with him so far, but Jeremy also has past experience with the 6.0s and how much money they cost the shop because of the long and messed up repair process. Basically, it's going to be a large bill if you put the customer first.
Long story short, he goes back to the customer and says, “Well, you obviously have [this issue], [this issue], and [this issue], and typically on these 6.0s, [this] is what you're looking at doing. At this point in time, with your mileage, it's best to replace the entire engine. We'll go ahead and I'll give you the price for a complete running engine with new injectors, new turbo, [this] and [that]. You're looking at about $26,000. How does that sound?”
So that's not a typo. That's twenty-six thousand dollars to pretty much replace the truck's engine while still keeping the old body when the truck itself is only worth $15,000! That's an oversell at best!
Using my skills as a certified interrogator, I can read below the surface here. Jeremy basically wanted to tell the guy, “I don't want to work on your truck.” He knew it was going to be a mess and a little past what he wanted to endure.
But this whole thing doesn't mean repair authorizations don't work. One thing about this scenario is that Jeremy presented it like he had already diagnosed it. I mean, the way he talked about it after the fact, it sounded like he did already know what was wrong with it. The way I would have done it is, “I'm giving myself [this] amount of money to work with. If it's less, it'll be less. If it's more, I'll let you know,” and I've covered this before on our episode about the service department's free secret weapon.
When we did that episode, Jeremy apparently felt like independent advisors were going to have trouble understanding repair authorization because it's not as easy as taking a dollar amount and attaching it to a concern or a code like when you're at a dealership. Independents live in diagnostic land all day long because there are so many more variables with the age of cars, past history, and all that, so consider what I just said earlier as some extra clarification.
We sell peace of mind that comes with a well-maintained and operating vehicle. We're the ones that think in ‘labor time and parts price‘ while the customers think, “When am I getting my car? Will it be fixed right? How much is it?”
And so, we project our business model on the customer in just about everything we do. Like, “Hey, we need an hour to diagnose it, but we're not going to fix it, but we got to call you, but we don't have a time to call you because we're so busy.”
It's a disaster!
Jeremy's shop is definitely not short on customers, and they have a great system of communicating with customers. If he gave himself not $26,000 but a little bit to work with, it would save the phone calls, the back-and-forth, and it also gives his technician more time. It would cut down on comebacks, too, because a lot of times you would put in an injector, then test drive it only to find out that it's something else, but then the customer's like, “Oh no, I thought it was the injector.”
Another thing that we didn't talk about as much as we should is that the first thing on this is trust. You have to have a relationship built. You have to have that confidence, and the client has to have confidence in you that you're trustworthy and that you'll take care of their $2,500 budget. You have to connect with the customer on a deep level first, so presenting a repair authorization might not necessarily be something you'd want to do with a first-time customer you've never met before.
Now, it's time to move onto our main topic…
Why do they say not to talk politics? I always tell people I'm happy to talk politics, but then they say, “Don't talk religion, and don't talk politics!”
I'm always of the opinion that I don't know it all so you can change my mind. People get super polarized like, “Oh, you're wrong, and you don't know what you're talking about,” but then they lack any insight that isn't from TV, right? And so, I want to be careful when we talk about what candidate would be better for the industry that it isn't about, “Oh, they're going to take your guns,” or whatever the latest little fear factor is. We're talking about actual business; what's better for the industry, not which candidate we like more.
Politics aren't that polarizing for me. I think it's ridiculous that anybody would be polarized like they think they're in the White House getting briefed by the CIA and they know everything that's going on. When it comes to politics, we know what they let us know, but if you go back and read old CIA or watch the documentary on Obama from last year, they talk about how everything we knew was carefully managed. I think that these sort of things are way easier looking back in four years than they are right now because our decisions now are made emotionally.
Personally, neither one of the choices for President represent how I feel so it's a pretty curious thing why we only have two choices…
Those of you that have been hearing about Jeremy's political views on the show might be shocked that he not only feels the same, but also that he believes overall that Biden will be better for our industry. How he explains it is that the one word with Trump is ‘chaos.' The economy could take off again, but there's a lot of fear based around him getting re-elected from the masses compared to the very stable economic models in place during Obama and Clinton's terms, so that might repeat itself with a Biden presidency.
Christian claims that he's not educated enough on politics to be able to have a really, really good discussion with somebody about it, probably on purpose, but back when he got into the industry in the 90s, he never felt like he needed to personally thank ‘Slick Willy' Clinton for his paycheck. To him, the president never determined his paycheck so from Christian's point of view, there's so much opportunity for success in our industry no matter who is running it!
We can only do what we can control, right? We can control the customer experience, we can control our attitude, how hard we work, our focus, and our adaptability. I really feel, especially living in California, that I don't have any effect on the presidential race whatsoever because it's going to vote Democrat anyway. I will say living here in Los Angeles that the Democrats running California are terrible leaders. I'm sure in history it's happened before, but in my lifetime, I've never experienced leadership so bad and so blind. It's insane what's happening down here with crime rising and people looting…
But it's kind of the same thing with Republicans. There's this book, What's the Matter with Kansas?, about how the Republican Party doesn't represent the people that actually vote Republican. People in my family would vote Republican because they're diehard Christians, but Republican policies don't help them whatsoever. The thing with politics nowadays, and I've experienced it firsthand watching people that I know, most of what's happening in government doesn't represent the people. It's big money. Like the PACs and all that. It's huge money, and if you want to be a Senator or Congressman, you have to play all that so you're not really representing the people that vote for you very much, if at all.
I personally think the fix is you have to get rid of all those PACs, and you have to limit what people could donate. Those PACs are anonymous, too, so you don't even really know who's in them. If you eliminated those and cap donations at a thousand or something, then the money that was raised would be more in line with what the people actually believe and you'd have more of a voice. I think most of the people don't have a voice today because it's driven by the commerce and the big companies.
Go back to the founding fathers. What if government went back to serving, or Senators and Congressmen didn't get paid? What if they had to earn their living out in the real world and they just serve their time? You wouldn't have people sitting in Congress for 20 and 30 years. You'd have them go in, do their service, fix things, and then go back to work. It would be a government of the people, for the people and by the people.
Also, the thing with ‘Defund the Police' and all that.. they need more training and resources. We need more police and you need to train them better. Right now, they have like a week in training every year. If you completely take away police presence, there's going to be at ime when people stand up and say, “Enough is enough,” and they're going to take the law into their own hands, and people are definitely going to get hurt when that happens.
That's the part about Biden that scares me. He placates to the far left because that's his side. But who knows, maybe he's only going there to get elected and he won't actually do it if he's in office. What's been interesting about this whole discussion is that not only is Jeremy leaning more towards Biden in terms of which candidate would be better for our industry, I would lean more Trump. Like I said, neither one represents me, but I think Trump's more pro-business and more about the police, law and order.
I'm curious what our audience thinks. Please don't comment if you're so polarized that you can't have a discussion about this because I'm looking for a real discussion that's something articulate and thought out. Tell us how you feel, and maybe we'll talk about this again if we get some good discussions going.
Now that the touchy stuff is out of the way, let's go to the questions:
“Hello, my name is Eric. I've been in the automotive industry since I was 16 years old. Now, I'm part owner of two big European shops in Indiana. The hardest part of the profession is to build good teams, especially finding good techs. I think this problem is both independent and dealers, so my question is: what's the best way to find talented mechanics?”
We have a course called Technician Tree that'll teach you how to do it. It's probably got eight hours of content, and there's no way we could go through all that on the show.
The first step, most of the time, is to stop saying that it's hard to find techs, and start getting good at it.
The other thing I would say is basically do the opposite of what everybody else is doing. All the ads ar the same, the approach, the mindset. If everybody's saying it's hard to find techs and everybody's doing the same thing, then stop saying what they're saying and do the exact opposite!
There's been a couple times where it's been challenging to find techs, which means that we just had to keep trying, but it's never as ‘hard' as everybody thinks it is going into it.
It's always funny to me. I'll be on a strategy session and they're like, “Oh, we can't find techs,” and then I look them up on Google and their ad on Indeed looks like it was written by the HR department. That's a waste of time because Indeed only puts it right in your area, and it's super expensive.
Do everything different. That's the answer. You can buy our on-demand and take the Technician Tree course, and in a week's time, you can completely change your trajectory. Every tech is worth 12 grand a month in gross while our on-demand is $250 a month.
“Chris, man. I love Millionaire Service Advisor. I'm four years in as an advisor, and I love my job for many reasons that you mentioned in the book. I quickly grew to be the #2 advisor through consistency, and I've recently taken the #1 spot and busting my ceiling! I'm also being groomed for the service manager position by my director. The biggest issue I have is I don't know how to slow down. I consistently end the month with 50+ more ROs than anyone else, and it leaves me with little time to have good follow through and regularly update. COVID has made it worse, as we're down at least one advisor so I'm left running circles and most assuredly missing out on sales because I don't have the time. Not to mention, leaving customers having to chase me down. I can't stand for a customer to be on the drive waiting and then I just can't get them. I always ask anyone remotely available to get them, but generally end up falling on the proverbial sword, knowing I'm already overloaded. Any advice on this or do I just embrace the suck and keep making the money that I am? Okay, my excuses are out of the way. I'm going to do everything I can to do as you say, and update regularly. It's always been a weak spot for me. You've shown me– no, wrong word, inspired me to fix this issue and see how much higher I can push the envelope. Now, I'm going to read Irreplaceable Service Manager before rereading Millionaire again. Thanks.”
I wish sometimes that these were call-ins and not questions.
The first thing is, are you on dispatch or teams too? Because dispatch creates a whole ‘nother issue sometimes when you're an advisor.
Jeremy's got three things:
- You're never going to slow down because that's just who you are, so embrace the suck.
- Get system in place that allows you to communicate proactively with all of your client base.
- If I were you, I'd hire an assistant paid for out of my check, even if it's just four hours a day. If you're already producing at that level, you could hire some part time help to come in as an independent contractor for a $1000-1500 a month, and then you can really break through that ceiling.
The other thing I'm curious about is how do you make your appointments? I would spread your appointments out to be every half an hour. It sounds to me like you might be doing them every 10 minutes. Also, pay attention to how many waiters an hour you guys are making appointments for. Limit the waiters to one per hour, per advisor, because that's another thing that throws you off: If you write four waiters in a row, a waiter is harder to deal with than somebody that's gone and at work. You also lower your chance of then adding additional stuff whether they need it or not. If they're waiting, they're gonna be like, “Oh, that takes another two hours? I'll come back.”
And so if the car's there and they're not waiting, you have a better opportunity and you can manage the experience more. I would pay attention to everything like how long it takes you to write them up, or how much of an interval is beteen each appointment. 30 minutes might be the right one for you, because then you can call in between. We usually do 20, but that matters a lot.
All these little details matter; how much you're getting upfront, the repair authorization, what your'e telling customers upfront. If you create key throwers and you have a lot of equity with the customers, you can tell them, “Hey, we're really busy today. I'm going to need it until tomorrow,” and just get that awkward thing out of the way right up front. To save yourself time, tell the truth more!
You got to tell them, “Hey, it's going to be this much and I need it until tomorrow. We're a little bit behind, and we've had a couple of big jobs. Tell the truth instead of always trying to please, because it usually ends up buying you more time. If you have that equity with customers by taking care of them and petting the dog, then you can withdraw from that equity.
The other thing with that is your technicians. When I was an advisor, one thing I would do with the techs is my team lead would diagnose the cars right away. That was kind of his role to check them out so I wasn't waiting until the end of the day to have them checked out. Whether you're on dispatch or teams, it kind of matters how you can set that up. Sometimes, when you say teams, people think the techs are pooling their hours, but it's really lateral support.
Lateral support allows you to take better care of your customers and to create a system that fits your style as an advisor because you're working with them. It's not like, “Hey, we're putting it in line in dispatch and seeing who gets it.” When I was an advisor in a dispatch shop, it was really, really hard for me to take care of customers, and all the advisors would cheat it and say theirs were waiters or had an early out time, and that just imploded for everybody.
I find that shops that have a high rate of just drop-ins is because they allow that. Most customers would rather have a time that's dedicated to them. Most of the time, especially in dealerships, they run shorthanded. The advisors can't even write up the customers, let alone answer the phone, and so you perceive that customers just want to drive in, but you're not making it easy for them to make an appointment. Imagine going to the doctor or dentist or something and not having an appointment. It's ridiculous.
I've had Toyota and Nissan guys go, “Oh, our customers, they won't make appointments,” and then three months later, we're 80% appointments. That's never been the truth! That's their perception, but what they do is make it really difficult to make appointments. For us, controlling what's coming in controls what's going out, and it controls the experience. To say, “Let's just open the doors every day and see what the hell happens,” that's not an approach…
An advisor can write like three an hour and have time to call customers back. You only want one waiter an hour per advisor, depending on the car brands. Get them in early, the whole thing, all that matters. Those little edges add up.
Great question. I think that these things we're talking about are going to serve you as you go up and become a manager. You can start to understand as an advisor how you're a victim to the systems that leadership puts in place. I always felt like, “Hey, now that I'm in charge, I'm going to set the advisors up for success by controlling the appointments, by controlling how much time they have to spend.”
A lot of the times we think in leadership that our advisors aren't very good, but really we've done everything that we can on our end to sabotage them. We think they can write 25 a day – all waiters – and be successful, and that's not the case.