Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Take the Headache Out of Hiring Your Next Service Manager

 Take the Headache Out of Hiring Your Next Service Manager


Eric M. Twiggs

“The closest anyone ever comes to perfection is how they present themselves on their resume.” Stanley J Randall

Are you sick and tired of working IN instead of On your business?  Well, so was “Rachel” a shop owner in the Midwest, who asked me to do a phone interview with “Ann”, a local service manager prospect. 

According to Rachel, Ann, was “the cat’s meow”, “the greatest thing since sliced bread”, and any other metaphor you would use to describe a high potential prospect.  

Rachel desperately wanted to replace herself on the counter and believed Ann was the missing link that would free her up to focus on the bigger picture.   

There was one small problem.  I wasn’t impressed after interviewing Ann.  I now look back on that time as twenty minutes of my life that I will never get back!

Ann spent most of the twenty minutes telling me how bad things were at her current job at the local parts supply store, where she had worked for the past six months.  She said that the main source of the problems was her boss and her unethical co-workers. 

Prior to working at the parts store she worked at the local auto repair competitor in town, but was laid off due to “the area being slow after the election.”  She had been out of work for two years prior to working at the parts store, which she attributed to “the economic downturn during that time.” 

I conducted a virtual call with Rachel where I shared my concerns and I could see her frown as if she had a headache.  “But Eric, I have this gut feeling about Ann that I can’t explain.”  She said.  

We were at an impasse. To break the tie, I suggested that she call Ann’s former supervisor at the auto repair shop and do a reference check.   

The following week Rachel and I spoke and here is what she found out: “Well, Eric, I spoke with Bill her former boss and he told me that Ann was let go, because she struggled to generate sales and because she blamed everyone except herself for her results!”

Sometimes, the decision NOT to hire, is the best hiring decision you can make.  Recognizing this reality can help to take the headache out of hiring. 

A bad hire can cost a business anywhere from six to twelve times the salary of the employee, when you factor in pay, benefits, training, lost customers and lost opportunities. 

If Rachel paid Ann $50,000 per year and Ann cost the business six times her salary, Rachel just avoided a $300,000 hit by deciding not to hire.

Are you still feeling the hit from your last hire?  Stay with me to learn two strategies to help you take the headache out of hiring your next service manager. 

Avoid The “Same Bird Syndrome”

The four personality types are described as the following four birds: The eagle, peacock, owl, and dove.  The eagle is the “type A” personality who is competitive and results driven. The peacock is assertive, outgoing, and dislikes the details.

The owl tends to be introverted, analytical, and more process than people oriented.  The dove is sensitive, likeable, and prefers to avoid conflict.  Which bird are you?  This is an important question to answer, if you want to avoid “the same bird syndrome.”

The same bird syndrome occurs when you are attracted to employment prospects because they are the same “bird” as you.   

Think about your most recent trip to the beach.  You probably didn’t see ducks and seagulls mixing in the same group. The ducks were with the ducks and the seagulls were with the seagulls proving that It’s natural to want to seek out similar “birds.”

The problem is that looking for “the same bird” can cause you to make a bad hire, if the personality isn’t a natural fit for the role.  For example, both Rachel and Ann are “owl” personalities.  Rachel felt a connection because they had the same personality type. 

As mentioned earlier, owls tend to be introverted, and can struggle to connect with customers.  Over the years, I have found that peacocks and eagles are the most natural personality fits for the service manager role.   Matching the bird with the role can help you avoid the same bird syndrome. 

Do A Ride Along

The familiar story is told of a candidate who was interviewing for a high paying, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) position with a Fortune 500 firm. He would be responsible for twenty-five million dollars in annual revenue, and had just completed an interview in the office of the firm’s president, which he passed with flying colors.

The president decided to take the CFO prospect down to the cafeteria for lunch, to work through the details of the offer.   While in line to purchase their food, he noticed something interesting about his candidate.

The cafeteria charged an additional twenty-five cent fee for butter.  He watched as the candidate hid the butter behind his cup so the cashier wouldn’t notice it, saving himself twenty-five cents.  Based on this observation, he decided not to hire him.

After all, how could he trust him with twenty-five million dollars if he couldn’t be trusted with twenty-five centsWitnessing him outside of the interview environment gave the president the information he needed to make an accurate decision.

Dong “a ride along interview” with your candidates will give you additional information that can help with your decision making as well.

A ride along is when you allow the prospect to spend part of their day at your location, shadowing you to observe “a day in the life.”  This gives you the opportunity to see the individual outside of the formal interview.  Does she pick up trash on the floor, or just keep walking?

Does she greet your customers, or is she more introverted?  How does she interact and engage with your employees?  The ride along will provide you with information you need and help take the heading out of hiring.


Several weeks later, I interviewed an excellent service manager candidate with a peacock personality for Rachel.    She had him spend the morning at the shop observing “a day in the life.”  I conducted a virtual call with her and noticed that she was smiling. 

And then it hit me: By avoiding the same bird syndrome, and doing the ride along, she had taken the headache out of hiring her next service manager. 


Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS.  Email and I will send you my "Four Birds Cheat Sheet" to help you avoid the same bird syndrome with your next service manager hire. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

How To Crush Your Competition And Grow Your Car Count

How To Crush Your Competition And Grow Your Car Count


Eric M. Twiggs

“Having no competition is a bad thing. Competition makes you try to improve yourself all the time. Shu Qi

Your competition doesn’t want you to read this post.  Stay with me and you’ll understand why.   I recently called three automotive repair shops at random expressing the following concern:  

“I’m new to the area and looking for a good shop.  I want to do business with you, but my wife wants to use your competitor.  So, what makes your shop better?

I called the first shop located in the New York area and “Michelle” answered.  Here was her response: “Uhmm, uhhh, can you please hold?” Before I could respond, I was patched through to a voice mail where I couldn’t leave a message because the mail box was full!

The second shop was in California. “Jack” answered the phone.  Jack replied with a deep confident voice: “We’ve been in business for 20 years, have ASE Certified technicians, and we have state of the art technology!”

This was brilliant compared to my last call, so I felt better as I called the third shop located in Ohio and Brian answered. 

Without any hesitation, Brian said:

 “We provide a vehicle pick-up and drop off service that allows you to keep working while we work on your car.  We perform a FREE 65 point courtesy check and will email you pictures of what we find that’s good and of what needs to be addressed.  We also offer a 3 year 36,000-mile parts and labor warranty.  This is the best warranty in the business, so you’ll be worry free with our guarantee!

Which shop would you have picked? If you chose Michelle’s shop, you probably won’t be crushing your competition any time soon!    My guess is that you chose Brian’s shop ahead of Jack’s.  What gave Brian the edge?

Unlike Michelle and Jack, Brian was listening to the same radio station that all of your customers listen to.  Its WIIFM on your radio dial:  What’s In It For Me? 

I have some bad news.  Your customers don’t care about YOU, your 20 years in business, your state of the art technology, or your ASE certified technicians.  They DO care about the specific BENEFITS that will solve their problem.   

The good news is that even if your competition has the same offerings, you can sell your benefits and get the business.    So how can you use these specifics to crush your competition and grow your car count?   Read on to get the answers.

Define Your Brand

When I mention the name McDonald’s, what are the first words that come to mind? Words like consistency, convenience, are the typical answers.  So if you’re traveling late at night in an unfamiliar area and have to choose between McDonald’s and “Eric’s Burger Joint”, which would you choose?  

Even though I make a great burger, have ASE certified cooks, and have been in business for 20 years, McDonald’s would be the safe choice because they have defined their brand.  You know you will get a consistent convenient experience from McDonald’s. 

What words come to mind when I mention the name of your shop?  Answering this question is important because customers are looking for the safe choice when searching for a shop.

To help define your brand I recommend studying your 5-star internet reviews and looking for the common words that are used.  For example, you may notice that multiple customers describe you as honest, fair, convenient, and friendly.

These are the first words that come to mind when they think of you.   Your brand communicates the specific experience they will get and will make you the safe choice. 

Dare To Be Different

I know what you’re thinking: “But Eric, we have a clean shop, offer a courtesy shuttle, and have great reviews.   Why should I dare to be different?”  Well, your customers expect these things and aren’t wowed by what they expect.  As mentioned in a previous post, the “wowed” customer is twice as likely to come back, and three times more likely to refer you than one who is merely satisfied, so daring to be different can improve your car count.   

Since the extra mile is a lonely road, you will stand out from your competition by creating the wow experience.   For example, most shops offer a shuttle service.  Brian’s shop that was mentioned earlier, provides pick-up and drop of service at the customer’s workplace.

Most shops offer a 1 year 12,000-mile warranty.  Brian’s shop offers the 3 year 36,000-mile warranty.  If you had a relative traveling in the Ohio area in need of auto repair, would you refer them to “most shops” or Brian’s shop? 

I challenge you to schedule a meeting with your team.  Ask them to name the specific aspects of your service that wows the customer, and makes you different in your market.  If the response you hear is the sound of crickets, take it as an opportunity to brainstorm specific offerings that can separate you from the competition. 

After creating your list of wow experiences, be sure to revisit what you came up with at your future meetings.  This regular review will keep these benefits top of mind and easier to communicate to your customer.


So, there you have it.  Defining your brand and daring to be different can help you crush your competition and grow your car count.  When I call your shop and ask what makes you different, will I hear from you or the crickets? 


Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

Looking to create a wow experience, but don’t know where to start?  Email and I will send you a list of 7 Ideas That Can Differentiate You From Your Competition.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

How To Stop The Car Count Drop

How To Stop The Car Count Drop


Eric M. Twiggs

“Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines.”  Robert H Schuller

“Tell me why my car count is down!  I thought ATI was supposed to help me with that!” said Larry, a member I worked with several years ago.  It was the middle of July and Larry had been in the ATI program for two years. He had attended each of the Shop Owners classes, to include the Always be Marketing module.  

I asked him, “So how many exit appointments have you scheduled since our last call?”  ‘None” he replied.  “Ok, how many follow up calls have you made to your customers who declined previous recommendations?” “We haven’t made any yet Eric.”  

“Well Larry, I need to dig deeper to answer your question.  Please send me 10 completed courtesy checks from last week. “Ummm, our techs don’t actually fill out a courtesy check form. They just look over the car and write down what they find.” 

After pausing, counting to ten, and taking a deep breath, I asked: “So, you’re not exit scheduling, you’re not making follow up calls, and your techs don’t courtesy check, but you can’t understand why your car count is down? 

To which Larry replied, “Yeah, I see your point, it’s not ATI’s fault, it’s my area! My vendors say everybody’s slow this time of year!   

Larry’s story reminds us that being exposed to the right methods while having the wrong mindset is a recipe for failure.   As stated in a previous post, experience has taught me that 80% of what keeps someone stuck ties back their mindset, with only 20% relating to their methods.   

So, what is the mindset requirement if you want to stop the car count drop?   You will learn the answer if you don’t stop reading.  

Take Extreme Ownership

In their best-selling book Extreme Ownership, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, recall an incident where Willink was the Commanding officer of a failed Navy Seal mission.  After the mission the entire unit was gathered into the debriefing room.  “Whose fault was this?” Willink asked.  One of the soldiers responded: “It was my fault sir! I should have identified my target!”

To which the Commander replied: “No it wasn’t your fault. Whose fault, was it?” The radio man chimed in with: “It was my fault sir! I should have passed our position sooner!”  Willink responded: “No it wasn’t your fault!”

As other Seals were positioning themselves to take the blame Willink interrupted: “You know who’s fault this was?” Everyone sat in silence as he continued: “There is only one person to blame for this. ME.  As the Commander, I am responsible for the entire operation.”  Willink and the Seals were quick to take the blame because they recognized that you can’t fix what you don’t own. 

Have you taken Extreme Ownership of your car count situation?  Blaming your local economy is easier than admitting that you haven’t been exit scheduling.  I get it.  The problem is that blaming the economy will motivate you to sit back and wait until the economy improves. 

Blaming yourself, will motivate you to move forward and take the necessary actions that lead to improvement.  The advantage of YOU being the problem is that YOU become the solution! 

Become a Forward Thinker

Several weeks ago, I posted the following question to a group of shop owners on Facebook: “What marketing do you have planned for Back to School?”  Twenty-four hours went by and all I heard was the sound of crickets! 

After calling Verizon to verify that I was still connected, I realized that the sampling of shops hadn’t responded! I threw the question out there again and two shops replied with detailed plans that included dates, promotional offers, and targeted customers.

Upon further review, I realized that the two shop owners that responded with such detail hade one thing in common:  They were recognized on stage last year for being one of The Top 12 Shop Owners in America.  Being a forward thinker, carries over into the other areas of running a successful operation.

Most shops complain about the car count drop going into the fall and winter months.   Top shops anticipate the seasonal slowdowns and have targeted marketing planned to drive traffic.  Are you a top shop or like most shops?

Answering the following questions can help you decide:  

1. What marketing do you have planned for the week that your County Fair is in town?  2.  Labor Day is Monday September 4th.  What specials do you have set up for the days leading up to it?   In October, you have Car Care Month, Shocktober, and Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  What proactive promotions do you have scheduled on your marketing calendar? 

If you had immediate answers to all three questions, congratulations!  You are a forward thinker.  If you didn’t have answers to any of my questions, I challenge you to take extreme ownership of your car count situation!


Larry couldn't stop the car count drop because he blamed everyone except himself.  If you commit to taking extreme ownership and becoming a forward thinker, you can stop dropping car count and start dropping more money in your bank account, which can help to improve your local economy!   

Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS. Email to receive a checklist of the 5 Habits of Forward Thinking Shop Owners. 


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

How To Get Recognized On Stage As A Top Shop

How To Get Recognized On Stage As A Top Shop


Eric M. Twiggs

“Success leaves clues, and if you sow the same seeds, you’ll reap the same rewards,” Brad Thor

What do the shops who made the Top 12 at the ATI Super Conference have in common?  I pondered this question over the weekend as I visited “Joe’s Hardware Store” looking for a special drill to complete a home project. 

 After several minutes of searching I approached the counter to ask “Joe” the store owner for help.    Joe was the face of the business.   Each customer who came in would yell out “hey Joe!”   

Whenever the phone rang, Joe answered it.   When customers had questions, Joe answered them.  When the patrons were ready to pay, guess who invoiced them? That’s right, it was Joe!    There was one small problem:  He was too busy working IN the business to help me with my bother.  After about 30 minutes, I decided to leave Joe’s Hardware Store and opted for Home Depot instead. 

At Home Depot, I was greeted by a greeter as soon as I walked in.  I asked him where the drills were and he directed me to the tools department.  When I arrived at the tools department, there was a gentleman in an orange vest sitting at the desk.  He handed me the drill I was looking for and I was on my way.

Here’s what’s interesting:  I have no idea who the owner of Home Depot is!    All I know is that my problem was resolved in a matter of minutes.   Now I know what you’re thinking: “Cute story Coach, but what does this have to do with my goal of making the ATI Top 12?”

Well, Home Depot and The Top 12 Shops have a business model that’s different from Joe’s.  

Joe’s Hardware store has a relational business model where the business is built around Joe and his relationships with the customers.  Home Depot & The Top shops, have a franchise business model that’s built around systems and processes that can be duplicated.      

Which business model do you have?  If you answered relational, but aspire to become a top shop, this next sentence can be a game changer for you:  Build your business model based on where you want to be, NOT on where you are today.  

 If where you want to be, is on stage at the Super Conference getting your plaque, the franchise model is the way to go.    So, what can you do to begin your journey to the top 12?  Keep reading to learn two simple steps that can get you recognized on stage:

Search for the Right Service Manager

Once again, I know what you’re thinking: “But Eric, I can’t afford to pay the right service manager.” As you wrestle with this limiting belief, I’m reminded of a conversation I had several years ago with “Sam” a service manager in South Florida. 

 He was averaging $12,000 per week in sales and a $384 Average Repair Order(ARO).  When the shop owner “Rita” and I agreed to raise his benchmark for ARO to $432, Sam protested: “You don’t understand, it can’t be done! We have an older clientele that’s on a fixed income. My area is different.”

Sam decided to leave the shop to work for a local engine distributor.  Rita has a habit of posting employment ads even when she’s was fully staffed, so as Sam was leaving she came across “Jack’s” resume. She hired Jack and you’ll never guess what happened next.

With the same older clientele that’s on a fixed income, Jack has averaged $19,200 per week in sales with a $540 ARO.  Here’s the big idea:  The right service manager can pay for himself.   

Searching for the right service manager, was Rita’s first step towards building her model based on where she wanted to be.

It’s no coincidence that all 12 of the 2016 Top Shops have a strong service manager in place who has freed up the owner to work ON instead of IN the business.   If you find that your results are declining while your time working IN the business is increasing, you may have a service manager problem.  For more information on this, please re read my previous blog post on the topic.

Establish Written Processes

On the third episode of the ATI podcast Driving Change, former Top 12 shop owner Dave Erb was being interviewed.  I refer to him as a former shop owner because he has successfully sold four shops and currently collects rental income from each building as the landlord. 

During the interview, I was surprised to hear that when Dave first joined ATI, he was a struggling shop owner who worked IN and not ON his business.  Like Joe from the hardware store, Dave was the face of his business who did everything himself.  As I listened to the podcast, I wondered how he could progress to where he is today. 

Dave started by searching for the right service manager.  While he was searching, he established written processes for everything he did and for each service his technicians performed. 

Once he hired and trained the right service manager, he opened the 2nd location and repeated the process.  This franchise model worked so well that Dave was no longer needed at his locations for them to be profitable. In other words, the profits were not dependent on his presence.

Do your profits depend on your presence?  How long can you leave your location, without the ability to pay the bills going with you?  If you didn’t like your answers to my questions, that means it’s time to search for the right service manager and establish written processes.   


So, there you have it.  When Bryan Stasch evaluates for the Top Shops to decide who makes the cut, working ON the business and having written processes are weighted heavily in the scoring criteria.  Bryan recognizes that these items are the nuts and bolts required to run a top shop! 


Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

Are you interested in finding the right service manager, but don’t know where to look?  Email to receive an updated listing of the hiring sites that have led to successful hires! 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

How To Practice Like A Champion

How To Practice Like A Champion


Eric M. Twiggs

“Practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes permanent.”

So, there I was, watching game three of The National Basketball Association(NBA) Finals.  The Cleveland Cavaliers were leading the Golden State Warriors by two points with less than one minute left to play, and Golden State has possession of the ball.   

Normally in this situation, the team with the ball calls a timeout to regroup.  With the clock, close to zero and the game on the line, they usually slow things down to draw up the winning play.  Apparently, Kevin Durant didn’t get the memo!

Durant, the Warriors best player, dribbled the ball up the court ahead of his teammates.  He stopped twenty-six feet away from the basket to attempt a three-point shot. If he misses, his team loses the game and he shoulders the blame. 

 Since he had moved the ball beyond his teammates, there was no one under the basket to get the rebound.  Durant pulls up for the shot and SWISH!!!  He makes it, and the Warriors win!!  Two games later, they would win the NBA championship.  As a Cleveland fan, I was not a happy camper.

“What a fluke!” I yelled at the screen. “He’s such a lucky guy!” But my opinion changed after watching his postgame interview with the sideline reporter.   She asked him: “Can you tell us how you walked so confidently into that three-point shot being down with the game on the line?” His response: “All I was looking at was the bottom of the net. I’ve been working on that shot my entire life!”   

Champions are handed the trophy in prime time, but they become a champion in their downtime.   Durant practiced in private, so he could walk into the high pressure public moment with confidence. 

Can you walk into that high-pressure moment of the exit appointment with confidence?  Have you been working on presenting fluid exchanges your entire life?  When the phone rings, are you looking at the bottom of the net…profit line?

If you answered NO to any of my questions, it’s time to learn how to practice like a champion.  Keep reading to learn two strategies to make this happen. 

Create Random Role Plays

Watching Kevin Durant reminded me of an old interview I saw with basketball legend Michael Jordan.   Jordan had this uncanny ability to lead his teams to victory even when they were behind late in games. 

I thought this ability was a gift that he was born with. I thought he was just lucky.  I thought wrong.   During the interview, Jordan explained that during practice sessions, the players were divided into two teams. 

If the team he was on built up a big lead, the session was stopped.  Jordan was then switched to the losing team and had to practice leading that team to victory.    This random role play during his downtime, let to his success in prime time! 

So how can you use this idea of random role plays at your shop? First, pick a specific aspect of your business where your advisor struggles to execute.  Let’s use the brake fluid exchange for this example. 

Next, create a random vehicle, like a 2010 Ford Fusion.   From there, you approach your advisor during their downtime and have them present you a brake fluid exchange.   If they can consistently execute the random role plays, they will approach your actual customers with confidence. 

Focus On Repetition

I was at the gym recently and noticed the personal trainer had six pack abs.  Feeling inspired, I asked him to share his ab exercise routine with me, so that I too could get a “six pack”.  Later that day, I worked his ab program by doing sit ups and crunches for over an hour. 

When I looked at my stomach, I noticed that I still didn’t have a six pack!   I felt bad until I spoke with the trainer and he gave me the details of his routine.   He had been doing that same routine three times a week for the past four years.  While I was expecting instant results, he was focused on repetition. 

During a recent Success Magazine interview, noted author Simon Sinek, described this as the difference between repetition and intensity.

According to Sinek, you’re focused on intensity when you perform the behavior one time in an intense manner, with the expectation of an immediate payoff. When you focus on repetition, you realize that you must repeat the right actions over time to practice like a champion. 

Having your writer role play one brake fluid exchange, won’t make her a champion. You won’t become the master of the one on one meeting after conducting one session.  One intense day of making thank you calls, won’t make you a champion of car count.      Champions in any arena possess the capacity to repeat the same routine over and over until they achieve mastery. 


So, there you have it.  Creating random role plays, and focusing on repetition, will position you to practice like a champion.  By doing this you will look at a green bottom line on your portal and see “nothing but net!” 

Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS.  Want to practice the service process, but don’t know where to start?  Email to receive a step by step Automotive Service Process video.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

What About About Your Legacy?

What About About Your Legacy?


Eric M. Twiggs

“We are faced with the fact that tomorrow is today.  We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

After many months of struggle, “Mark” was finally turning the corner.  The year was 2012 and he was the owner of a Midas in the Midwest.  Making payroll wasn’t a problem, and he was no longer consumed with the concept of cost cutting. 

Mark believed that time was on his side and confident of the direction things were moving in.  There was a light at the end of the tunnel, and it wasn’t an oncoming train!  I was looking forward to our upcoming Monday morning coaching call.

I called the shop and “Steve” his service advisor answered.   I greeted Steve and asked for Mark.  There was silence on the line.  I asked Steve again to find Mark for me.  Once again, there was no reply from Steve. 

In a loud tone of frustration, I asked “Hello, Steve can you get Mark on the phone?”  To which he replied “No Eric, Mark won’t be coming to the phone.  On Saturday, he suffered a massive heart attack and passed away!”  

This threw Mark’s family and employees for a loop.  His wife took over the business and struggled with the day to day operations. 

The following questions kept coming up: “Who did Mark call for building & equipment maintenance?”, “How and when do the employees get paid?” “Where do I find the bank account passwords?”

Since Marked worked IN instead of ON the business, he handled these tasks himself.  As a result, all the information was in his head and not on paper. Within a year, the family decided to close the shop.   This was not the legacy that Mark intended to leave. defines a legacy as anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor.   In his hit play “Hamilton”, Playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda describes a legacy this way: “Its planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.” 

Here’s what you should know about your legacy:  Your decisions today, will impact your family & employees tomorrow.   

What about your legacy?  Keep reading to learn about the two decisions you need to make to ensure you leave the legacy you intend to leave. 

Decide On Your Replacement

Over the past eight years I’ve met shop owners who have achieved consistently good results.  I have also met those who have achieved great results and made the ATI Top 12 on a regular basis.  In most cases, the good and great performers have had a similar level of “know how”, when it came to fixing cars and running the business.

So, what separates the great from the good you ask? There are two factors: 1. The great have a bias towards taking action.(for more details, read my previous blog post)  2. They have a strong 2nd in command, who can produce exceptional results with or without them being there!   As a shop owner, you won’t experience true greatness, until you decide on your replacement.

Mark was starting to achieve good results at his shop, but he never decided on a replacement.  As a result, there wasn’t anyone to maintain the momentum after his passing.  His decision not to hire a 2nd in command impacted his family and his employees.   

Have you decided on your replacement?  The first step in the process is to build a job description based on the tasks and duties you would expect this individual to perform. 

Second, you would look at your current employees to determine if anyone meets the qualifications.  Lastly, I recommend reviewing a current wonderlic personality test for the candidate you are considering. 

Decide To Create a Succession Plan

A recent study, known as The Legacy Project, was conducted by Dr. Karl Pillemer at Cornell University.  He surveyed over 1200 senior citizens living in an assisted living community.  He asked them to reflect on what the biggest regret of their life was. 

You may be surprised by what they recorded as the number one answer:   The amount of time they wasted worrying about the future.   By creating a succession plan, you can minimize the amount of time you spend worrying about those worst-case scenarios. 

When you have a solid plan, you can fearlessly face the future.  As we have seen from the opening story, just having a plan in your head, isn’t enough. The key is to create a written plan that gets communicated to your family members, 2nd in command, estate attorney, accountant, 20 group members, and your ATI coach.  

For more information on how to create your plan, I invite you to attend the ATI Shop Owners Part 5 course on Succession Planning.  You can also consult with your Coach. 


If Mark had decided on his replacement, and created a succession plan, he would have left a different legacy.    Are you happy with the seeds you’re planting today for the garden of tomorrow?   Sounds like you have some decisions to make.


The Accountability Coach

PS.  Want to create a succession plan but don’t know where to start?  Email and I will send you my succession planning resource kit. 


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Uncomfortable Truth About Hiring

The Uncomfortable Truth About Hiring




Eric M. Twiggs


“Every experience in your life is being orchestrated to teach you something you need to know to move forward.” –Brian Tracy

“Jeff”, a shop owner in Southern California, was stuck working IN the business.  Since HE was the service manager, He couldn’t attend his son’s soccer games.  It was so bad, that when his wife would take little Jeff the games, men were asking her out on dates. 

They thought she was a single parent, because Jeff was never with her!  But everything was about to change because he had finally found “Bob” the service manager candidate he had been looking for. 

Bob had responded to Jeff’s craigslist ad and passed the face to face interview with flying colors. He arrived on time wearing a sharp suit.   Bob took the wonderlic personality test, and scored as an ideal fit for the role. 

Bob even took the time to write Jeff a hand written thank you note, thanking him for the opportunity to interview.  The final step of the process was for Jeff to check Bob’s references.  Based on how things were going, Jeff saw this as a mere formality.  

Jeff called   Bob’s former Boss and here’s how the call went: {Jeff} “So Bob worked for you from January of 2008 to May of 2012?” {Boss}:” YES”  {Jeff} “Good! Bob tells me that he was your service manager for that entire time.” {Boss} Yes. {Jeff} “Great! Knowing what you know today, would you rehire Bob?”  {Boss} ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! 

He went on for the next fifteen minutes talking about all the customer complaints he had to clean up after Bob left him without giving notice.   How was Jeff so wrong about Bob?  It’s because he ignored the uncomfortable truth about hiring.

And here it is: When evaluating a candidate, their past performance is the strongest predictor of future behavior.  I have found this to be true based on having conducted more than one thousand interviews over the past twenty years. 

During that time, I have noticed that most of the “job hoppers” I hired, ended up hopping jobs on me.   The candidates who said bad things about their former bosses, eventually said bad things about me.  By asking better questions, both Jeff and I would have made better decisions. 

So, what questions can you ask during the interview to get to the uncomfortable truth?  I will explain as you read on.
Tell Me More?


I was recently interviewing a candidate who told me that he left his most recent shop because there was a change in ownership.  I replied: Tell me more?  He then told me that the owner wanted to bring in someone younger to work with the customers.  I replied: tell me more? Next, he did what Bryan Stasch refers to as turning states evidence!  

He said the new owner terminated him for failing to meet his sales quotas, but he felt the real reason was his age!   By asking for more information, we moved from “a change in ownership” to the uncomfortable truth about his performance.    

During the interview, you will get to the truth faster if you commit to talking 20% of the time and allowing the candidate to talk 80%.  Low performers tend to talk in generalities, with the goal of hiding previous performance issues.  When you ask: “tell me more?”, they will feel compelled to provide the specifics you are seeking. 
What Will She Say WHEN I Ask?

In their book Who, The A Method of Hiring, Geoff Smart and Randy Street mention that the average hiring mistake can costs a company up to 12 times the salary of the individual, when you factor in the following costs:  Compensation, benefits, training, severance pay, lost customers, and lost opportunities. 

To help overcome this expensive mistake, Smart and Street provide a listing of excellent interview questions to help the reader.   There is one question that is very effective.

They recommend asking the candidate about their previous supervisor’s opinion of their performance as follows:  First, you ask the candidate for the name of their previous supervisor.  Let’s say her name is “Lisa.” Next, you would ask: “WHEN (not if) I call Lisa, what will she say WHEN I ask her to rate your overall performance on a scale of 1-10?” 

Adding the word WHEN sends the message that you’re going to check the reference. Knowing that you will verify whatever they say, can motivate them to provide an honest response.   The 1-10 question will get you a specific answer regarding their past performance.

According to Smart and Street, scores below an 8 should be considered as red flags.  Asking this question about multiple references will give you a clearer picture of the prospect.



 I am happy to report that Jeff learned from this experience, and started using the earlier mentioned questions during his interviews.  He eventually hired a strong service manager, who has freed him up to attend his sons Soccer games. 

If you commit to asking the right questions, listening to the answers, and hiring the right people, will you be STUCK working IN your business?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!   


Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS.  For a complete list of the latest interview questions that will get you to the uncomfortable truth, email and I will send them.