Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Secret To Successful Selling At Your Shop

The Secret To Successful Selling At Your Shop


Eric M. Twiggs

"We have two ears and one tongue so that we would listen more and talk less." -Diogenes

My interviewer threw me a curveball!  I had just graduated from college and was interviewing with a sales manager named “James”, for an outside sales position with a major copy machine company. 

“Sell me this pen!” James demanded, as he slammed the pen on his desk in front of us and awaited my response. 

I responded by creating an imaginary list of all the features the pen had to offer, to include special ink that lasted a lifetime!  “This will be the last pen you ever buy in your life!” I confidently exclaimed. 

I felt good about my selling performance as the interview concluded.  I was sure that I aced “the pen test” and was looking forward to getting a call back.  As I sat by the phone waiting for it to ring, the only sound I heard was the sound of the crickets outside of my window! 

Where did I go wrong?  All of my sales training up to that point had stressed the importance of clearly communicating the features and benefits of the product. 

Several months later, after reading Jeffrey Gitomer’s book The Sales Bible, I realized where I went wrong. Gitomer wrote the following statement that forever changed how I viewed the sales process: 

“Listening is the first commandment of selling.”   And then it hit me.   I had nothing to listen to, because I never asked James any questions related to his need for a pen! 

Was he in the market for a pen?  What did he like about the one he currently uses?  How specifically did he plan to use the pen?   I was so focused on talking that I forgot about listening.

Have you ever been so focused on talking that you forgot to listen? Well, you aren’t alone.  Consider the following research findings of Dr. Ralph Nichols, a pioneer in the field of listening:

“While participating in a conversation, the average person forgets 50% of what the other person is saying immediately after they finish speaking.”

In most conversations, when one person is talking, the other is mentally rehearsing his response, while he waits for his turn to talk.  

Think about your own life for a moment.  How many people can you name that actively listen without interrupting, and give you their undivided attention while you are speaking?  For most people, it’s a short list.

Since the failure to listen is such a prevalent problem, becoming a masterful listener can give you a competitive edge. This makes listening, the secret to successful selling at your shop.  Stay with me to learn two specific ways that you can benefit from becoming a better listener.

Listening Builds Trust

Imagine taking your car to a shop and you tell the writer that you have a 2010 Ford Fusion.   As he is writing you up he asks you “What kind of car was that?”  Later in the transaction, you instruct your advisor to replace the two rear tires, only to find that he has the two front tires circled on the work order! 

You ask him to call you on your cell phone number with updates and realize later, that you have three messages on your home answering machine letting you know that the job won’t be done today as promised!  Based on this interaction, how much trust would you have in this shop? 

Sadly, this scenario occurs every day in shops across America.  How can the customer trust you to be “her mechanic”, when she can’t trust you to remember what she told you about her vehicle?  To build higher levels of trust I recommend that you embrace the habits of note taking and restating.

When the customer is calling, you can use your phone log to write down the necessary details of the conversation.   When she is at your location, use a note pad to write down what she’s saying.

After she has told you about a specific problem, review your notes and restate the problem back to her, to confirm that you were listening.    Embracing these habits can make you her shop of choice, because you will have established the right level of trust. 

Listening Builds Connection

The story is told of a young woman in England who had the opportunity to dine with two political rivals who were running for the office of Prime Minister: William Gladstone and Benjamin Disraell.  

She was later asked to compare her encounters with both gentleman.  What she reported confirms the value of being a great listener.

“When I left the dining room after sitting next to Mr. Gladstone, I felt like he was the most interesting man in the world.  After sitting next to Mr. Disraeli, I felt like I was the most interesting woman in the world!”

Disreali won the election by a landslide, because of his ability to listen and connect.  He allowed her to talk about her favorite subject.   

Your customers and the young lady have the same favorite subject: Themselves!   This is why going out to the vehicle with the customer is such a critical step.  You get the opportunity to listen as she talks about herself.   Asking the right questions is the starting point of the listening process. 

For example, after asking her how long she plans to keep the car, you get to listen as she tells you about how well she maintains it.  After asking about the todler car seat in the back, you get to listen as she tells you about how well her little son is doing in soccer.

When she feels like she is the most interesting customer in the world, she will vote for you as her shop of choice!  Your ability to listen will build that connection.


So, there you have it.  The opportunity to build trust and connection, makes listening the secret to successful selling at your shop.  I have mixed emotions about failing the pen test. 

On the one hand, I wish I would have asked the right questions to start the listening process.

However, If I had gotten the copier sales job, I may have never started my career in automotive, and I wouldn’t be in position to listen to the recordings of you applying the secret to successful selling!  


Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS.  Email to receive the 7 Secrets To Becoming a Masterful Listener!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

How To Thrive Under Pressure While Presenting An Estimate

How to Thrive Under Pressure While Presenting an Estimate


Eric M. Twiggs

We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence then is not an act but a habit.” Aristotle

During a recent television interview, Michael Jordan was asked what his secret was that allowed him to consistently thrive under pressure and lead his teams to “come from behind” victories.

He responded by telling the story of his rookie year practice sessions when his coach, Kevin Loughery, would divide the Chicago Bulls into teams that would scrimmage against each other.

Whenever Jordan’s squad jumped out to a big lead, Loughery immediately stopped the session and switched him to the losing team, leaving Jordan with the uphill challenge of leading his new squad to a come from behind victory, with the game on the line.

When the Bulls were losing during the real games, Jordan was prepared because of all the practice sessions.  Practice was his secret to thriving under pressure.   

While presenting the estimate, most service writers are feeling the pressure, because their only practice is in front of the prospect.   Are you feeling the pressure?   The following scenarios will help you to decide:    

When you must come from behind to overcome an objection, you don’t know what to say.   

When the customer becomes irate and the sale is on the line, you don’t know what to do.   

When the recommended maintenance is declined, you call a time out, because you don’t know what to prioritize.    

When you’re prepared, you know what to say, what to do, and what to prioritize, so you will feel less pressure.  I know what you’re thinking: “But Eric, I’ve been writing service for 15 years!” 

According to a recent study conducted by the Twiggs research institute, (J) if you only practice on your prospects, 15 years of writing service is the equivalent to 1 year of experience repeated 15 times!      

Keep reading and you will learn one idea that will help you thrive under pressure while presenting an estimate.

Practice Like A Champion

In his book, How Champions Think, Dr. Bob Rotella attributes the following quote to golfing legend Phil Mickelson: “The Birdies are in the woods.” Scoring a birdie means the golfer scored under par and won on that hole, so getting a birdie is a good thing.  

Hitting the ball into the woods, is a bad thing!  So, what does he mean when he says, “the birdies are in the woods?” 

After hitting his ball into the rough, Mickelson, unlike most golfers, responds by hitting an amazing recovery shot to get his ball back on the fairway.  He is known on tour for being confident and optimistic, when his ball lands in the woods during high pressure situations.

The reason he thrives under pressure, is because of his practice habits.  While the average golfer is practicing their putting, Mickelson works on hitting his ball out of the woods!   

He places hundreds of balls in the wooded areas and swings for the green fairway.    He can perform with confidence in public, because of how he practices in private.  So, for him, the birdies are in the woods.

What’s In It For You 

When you hear an objection to your estimate presentation, it feels like your ball has landed in the woods.  The objection is just an opportunity for you to clarify your message.   The key is to practice your recovery shot by role playing your response to the most common objections.        

For example, during your role play, have the customer respond with “I don’t have the money,” so you can practice offering her your “six months same as cash, financing program.”   

When the customer says, ”I’m getting rid of the car,” You can practice showing her the true cost to own site, that spells out all of the costs relating to the purchase a new vehicle, in comparison to maintaining what she has.

When the customer says, “I don’t have time”, you can practice reminding her that she can use your loaner car while she’s waiting for the service to be completed. 

By practicing your response to the most common objections, your response in a real presentation will come across as confident and optimistic.


So, there you have it.  Both Michael Jordan and Phil Mickelson are champions in their sports.  If you know how champions think, you can practice like a champion.  If you practice like a champion, you can thrive under pressure while presenting an estimate.

Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS.  Email to receive some role play examples on video to help you practice like a champion!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

How To Grow Into A Better Version Of Yourself

How To Grow Into A Better Version Of Yourself


Eric M. Twiggs

"I hated every minute of training, but I said, 'Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.'"Muhammad Ali

So, how do you grow into a better version of yourself?  As I ponder this question, I’m reminded of the lobster.

As a lobster starts to grow, its existing shell begins to feel uncomfortable and confining.  The discomfort from the shell creates so much pain, that the lobster casts off the old shell, and produces a new one.  The shell is what protects it from being eaten by predators, so removing it is risky. 

Since its impossible to grow without taking risks, the lobster presses on with its improvement plan.  To minimize the risk, it hides under a rock during the process.   

As it continues to grow, the latest version of the shell gets uncomfortable, forcing it to repeat the process of going under the rock to produce a newer upgrade.  Pain is nature’s way of demanding that the lobster continues to grow. 

It’s painful when your new technician leaves you to return to his old shop.  It’s painful when you have too much month at the end of your money, and making payroll becomes a problem.    It’s painful when your 5 star efforts, result in a 1 star yelp review. 

Here’s the big idea from the lobster story: If you want to grow into a better version of yourself, you must view pain as a necessary part of the process.   

Now, you may be thinking, “Cute story Coach, but you’ve been living under a rock!  Running a successful shop in my area is harder now than ever.  How do I embrace pain as part of the process?” 

Keep reading and you will learn what you can do to grow into a better version of yourself. 

Focus On The Other Side

In his book The Tools, Transform Your Problems into  Courage, Confidence, and Creativity, Phil Stutz writes about a conversation he had with his high school football playing class mate, who was considered to be the best running back in the city.  

He had achieved the distinction of first team All-City, and had numerous scholarship offers to prove it.  He was explaining to Phil how he’d achieved this honor.  What he had to say was shocking.

He told Phil that he wasn’t the fastest running back in town.   He mentioned that others around the city were stronger than him.  It was his attitude about getting hit that separated him from the pack.  

When he got the ball, he would run towards the nearest tackler and absorb the hit, no matter how much it hurt.

Many of the other backs were more skilled, but they avoided contact out of fear.  His mindset helped to overcome the difference in skillset.  

His goal was to get into the end zone, so he knew that what he wanted was on the other side of the pain.

What’s In It For You?

I know of service advisors who would rather “run out of bounds” than make a CSI call to a lost customer.  I know of service managers who “slide” to avoid the pain of having their sales presentation videotaped in the advanced sales class. 

I know of shop owners who would love to “hand off” the opportunity to have their 20 group members visit their shop and critique their operation.   

What does your end zone look like?   Like the running back, it resides on the other side of the pain.   

For example, getting through the pain of the CSI call will give you the opportunity to get into the end zone of happier customers.  Getting through the pain of the practice video will improve your selling process, and get you into the end zone of additional gross profit. 

Getting through the pain of the shop visits, will improve your overall operations, and get you into the end zone of improved efficiency.  

The happier customers, additional gross profit, and improved efficiency, would be the result of you becoming a better version of yourself. 


So, there you have it.   The lobster can’t grow without first experiencing pain.  If you focus on what’s on the other side of the pain, you will grow into a better version of yourself, and experience the results that come with it. 


Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS.  Email to receive a checklist of 7 Painful Practices That Will Improve Your Profits!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

How To Get More Done At Your Shop With Less Effort

How To Get More Done At Your Shop With Less Effort


Eric M. Twiggs

“The problem isn’t having too much to do, it’s not knowing what to do next.” Michael Port

Charles Schwab was the Bill Gates of 1918.  He was one of the richest men of his day, and the president of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, one of the largest producers of Steel during that time.  Despite being the “top shop” of his time, he felt that something was missing in his business.   

He scheduled a meeting with Ivy Lee, a well-known productivity consultant.  He asked Lee to show him how to get more done with less effort.   Lee agreed to meet with each of Schwab’s key executives for 15 minutes. 

How much will this cost me?” Schwab asked.  To which Lee shockingly replied, Nothing, unless it works.   After three months, you can send me a check for whatever you feel it’s worth to you.” 

Three months later, Schwab was so happy with the progress that resulted from Lee’s meetings, he wrote Lee a check for $25,000.  A $25,000 check in 1918 would equate to $400,000 in 2018 currency!   This proves that there’s value in the ability to get more done with less effort.    

When I ask a shop owner about updating the portal, the number one objection I get is: “I don’t have time” When I ask a service manager about sending the digital inspection photos to the customer, the number one objection I get is: “I don’t have time!”

When I ask a service advisor about making follow up calls, what do you think the number one objection is?  That’s right, “I don’t have time.” 

Here’s what’s interesting: Some of these individuals are cigarette smokers.  A recent survey concluded that smokers in the workplace spend up to five hours per week taking cigarette breaks. 

So, how is it that they have an extra five hours per week to smoke, but no time to follow your processes?   

It’s because smoking is a priority for them.   So, the Twiggs Translation for “I don’t have time” is, “this isn’t a priority for me!”  Here’s the cold, hard truth: You will find the time to do whatever is important to you. 

Ivy Lee helped Schwab’s team to establish priorities and find time to do what’s important.   Keep reading as I explain exactly what Lee taught the executives.  If you apply what I’m about to share, you’ll get more done with less effort.   

Your Big Six

Lee instructed Schwab’s executives to make time at the end of each day to write down the six most important things they needed to accomplish the following day. 

They were then instructed to prioritize the six items in order of importance.   Any unfinished tasks were moved to the following day’s list for completion. 

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Great information Twiggs, but this isn’t 1918.  What priorities should I establish in my shop today?”   I’ve discovered that the best shops in America are strong in the following three areas:  1. Finding great employees 2. Improving gross profit 3.  Networking with new & existing customers.      

The key is to identify and execute at least two tasks per day, every day in each category. (2 tasks X 3 categories = Your Big 6)  

Your Big Six in Action

At the end of your day today, identify two tasks from each category to be done for tomorrow.   For example, to find great employees you write: “update technician ad”, and “schedule interview with the technician applicant.”  (Yes, I do recommend doing this even if you’re fully staffed!)

To improve gross profit, you write: “Do the RO Audits” and “update the ATI portal.” (You can’t manage what you’re not measuring.)   Under customer networking you write “Update the google my business post” and “make five follow up calls to existing customers.” 

In one week, you will have taken 10 specific actions to find great people, improve gross profit, and network with your customers. (2 actions per day X 5 days) In three months, you will have taken 120 specific actions in each of these key areas of your business.  (10 actions per week X 12 weeks =120) 

Initially, you may find it hard to identify your big six items.  Once this becomes a regular routine, it will require less effort and you will get more of the right things done each day.


Have you ever met a stressed-out farmer?  The reason you haven’t, is because he knows that he’s planted the right seed into the right soil, during the right season. 

He is responsible for the sowing and not the harvest.  As long as he does his part, he has no reason to be stressed.

Executing the big six is like planting the right seed into the right soil, during the right season.  Over time, you will get more done at your shop, with less effort, and experience less stress. 

Your customers will be so happy with the experience, they will treat you like Ivy Lee by writing you a big check!

Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS. Email  to receive a time management log that will help you establish your six daily priorities!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

How To Become A World Class Shop Owner

How To Become A World Class Shop Owner


Eric M.  Twiggs

“The best performers set goals that are not about the outcome but about the process of reaching the outcome.”  Geoff Colvin

Are you a mediocre shop owner?  What really separates the best owners in the world from everyone else?   I came across some information from the world of Olympic figure skating that may help you answer these questions. 

In his book,  Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else, Geoff Colvin outlines the differences between the elite figure skaters and those who are mediocre. 

Through his research, he found that the ordinary skaters spend most of their time practicing the jumps they can already do. The jumps they have always done.   The jumps that are in their comfort zone.

The problem with continuing to do what you have always done, is that you will continue get what you have always gotten.  The mediocre skaters continue to experience the result of not winning an Olympic medal.

The elite skaters on the other hand, spend more time practicing the jumps they can’t already do.  The jumps that are outside of their comfort zone.   The jumps that ultimately win Olympic medals. 

Mastering the more difficult jumps, requires the elite skaters to fall more during their training sessions, than the average performer.  But in the end, they get up on the medal stand because they aren’t afraid to fall down in practice

Every year we have a select group of shop owners who consistently make it to the ATI Top 12 “medal stand.”   In speaking with these leaders over the years, I’ve discovered the following trend: They tend to embrace new ideas that are outside of their current comfort zone.   

For example, the idea of using digital tablets feels uncomfortable, but they embrace it. (BTW, all 12 of last year’s winners have a tablet based courtesy check system!)   The idea of always hiring even when fully staffed, feels uncomfortable, but they embrace it.

The idea of offering a 3-year 36,000-mile warranty feels uncomfortable, but they embrace it.   These ideas are the equivalent of a figure skater practicing the triple axel! 

The mediocre performers on the other hand, are unwilling to do what’s uncomfortable.  This is like the skater who’s only great at doing the figure 8!    

If after reading this, you feel like a mediocre shop owner, I have the following good news:  Yesterday ended last night!   Your new path to becoming world class can begin today!    Keep reading to learn two strategies to become a world class shop owner:

Use Discomfort As Confirmation

Several years ago, I moved to a new town and was looking for a Karate school to join.   I was referred to two different dojo’s, and was able to test drive both by attending classes for free. 

I attended the first school’s session which was similar to the styles I had studied before.  I was comfortable with the format, familiar with the techniques, and I even worked up a mild sweat.   The instructor seemed like a great guy.

The second school was a different experience.  The techniques were new to me, the drills were exhausting, and I wondered why anyone would pay for such abuse, as I cursed the instructor under my breath! 

I ended up choosing the second school, because I knew that the pain would push me to get better faster.   I used discomfort as confirmation that I was on the right track!

Remember when your ATI coach first suggested implementing the pricing matrix, and you immediately felt a pang of discomfort in the pit of your stomach?  The first thought that came to your mind was “I can’t do that!” 

The reason you reacted this way, was because your comfort zone was being challenged.  Today, using the pricing matrix isn’t as stressful for you.  Since you pressed through the initial feeling, you’ve grown to a different level.   That feeling of discomfort was the starting point of your progress. 

The next time your coach suggests something that makes you uncomfortable, and you feel that pang in the pit of your stomach, try thinking, “I must do that” instead of “I can’t do that.”   The uneasy feeling is just confirmation that what you’re about to do is critical to your success.

Find A World Class Environment

Back in the early 90’s, I heard a motivational message from Tony Robbins that changed my life.   I was watching one of his motivational infomercials, and head him make the following statement: “Success leaves clues.”

He went on to stress the importance of finding people who had already achieved the results that you aspire to, and asking them what they did to get there.   After hearing this, I was inspired into action!

If my goal was to run a double-digit sales increase, I found someone who was already doing it, and met with them. 

If someone was having success hiring technicians, I picked up the phone and asked what they were doing to find them.  If another manager always had high customer satisfaction scores, I would reach out to him and eventually model his process. 

What I learned was the following truth: You can’t achieve greatness in isolation.   Finding a world class environment is critical!

Every gold medal winning Olympic skater has the following things in common:  1.) They had a qualified coach 2.) They had access to a more advanced skater who could mentor them. 3.)  They were surrounded by others who had a goal of winning  “the gold”   

As an ATI member, I know you have a qualified coach.  But are you being mentored by another shop owner who has the results you aspire to?  Do you consistently associate with other like-minded shop owners who want to become the best of the best? 

If you answered yes to these questions, then congratulations!  You are on your way to becoming a world class shop owner.


So, there you have it.  If you use discomfort as confirmation and find a world class environment, you can become a world class shop owner.    I hope I have inspired you into action, so that you practice the triple axel instead of the figure 8!

Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS.  Email to receive a three-step process that will help you find a world class environment, so you can model world class behaviors. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

How To Become A Fearless Shop Owner

How To Become A Fearless Shop Owner


Eric M. Twiggs

“I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed” Michael Jordan

“What did you fail at this week?”  This question was posed to young “Sarah” by her father each night at the dinner table.  So much so, that it became part of their dinnertime routine. 

If she had nothing to report, her dad was disappointed.  When she told him about how she “bombed” while trying out for the role in the middle school play, she received a “high five” and was congratulated.

Then Dad would ask her to write down what he referred to as “the hidden gifts” from the experience.  In other words, he wanted to know what she learned from her failures that would help her to succeed in the future.

Little Sarah grew up and graduated from College with the goal of becoming a lawyer.  This was her dream!  There was one small problem.  To get into law school, you must pass the LSAT test.  She failed the test and was denied admittance.

Sarah shifted her focus and decided to become a business owner.  As she was attempting to launch her concept, she heard the word NO for two straight years.  

For two years, she was rejected by investors. For two years, she was rejected by the banks. For two years, she was rejected by store owners. 

So, whatever became of poor little Sarah?  Sarah Blakely went on to become the youngest self-made billionaire in history!   She is the founder and CEO of Spanx, a company that sells leggings, undergarments, and maternity wear in sixty-five countries! 

When asked to explain her success, she attributes it to her father redefining failure for her at the dinner table.  Failing in her quest to become a lawyer, turned out to be a billion-dollar hidden gift!  

If she had succeeded on the LSAT test, she would have failed to become a billionaire!

Sarah’s story is confirmation of the following truth:  If you have a commitment to persistence, there is no failure. There is only feedbackOnce you reframe your failures as feedback, you become fearless

So, what can you do to use failure as feedback, and become a fearless shop owner?  Keep reading to learn the billion-dollar secrets.    

Lose The Microwave Mentality

In his book The Compound Effect, Darren Hardy makes mention of the microwave mentality.  Thanks to fast food, instant messaging, and overnight mail, we are a society that expects instant results.  

He uses the example of the slot machine winner that you see in Vegas jumping up and down after a big win.  All you see is her sudden success.    What you don’t see are the hundreds of times that same person lost on that same machine.

You see the Top Shop Owner on Stage at the Super Conference celebrating his success.  What you don’t see, is the struggle that led to that moment.   You don’t see that day when his best technician left for the competitor. 

You don’t see that day when he spent $1,000 on a new acquisition mailer that resulted in a $19.00 oil change.  You don’t see that day when he ran the employment ad for a state inspector, and only the fork lift drivers applied.

The first step to becoming a fearless shop owner, is to lose the microwave mentality.   It will be harder to bounce back from your set back, if you’re looking for the quick fix.   The moment you begin to view success as a process, you will be positioned to view failure as feedback.

Embrace Flexibility

I have a friend from college named “Rick” who is a pilot.  Before he takes off to his destination, he inputs the coordinates into a GPS navigation system.    Once the plane takes off, factors like the weather and changes in the atmosphere, will cause the GPS to change the flight path. 

From the time the plane takes off, to the time it arrives, the path may change several times for various reasons.    The destination is fixed, but the flight path is flexible. 

Perfectionism is the enemy of progress.   Most shop owners who fail to achieve their goals, do so because they quit the after the first failed attempt.  Instead of changing their path, they give up on the destination. 

For example, let’s say you set a goal to hire your replacement this year.  You run an employment ad and get zero responses, and react by quitting on your quest to find help.  The fact that you got zero responses doesn’t make you a failure.  The fact that you gave up on your goal does.   

The flexible leader will view failure as feedback.  Instead of quitting, she would change the title, change the bullet points, add a sign on bonus, and repost the ad.  The hidden gift from this experience would be that she learned how to write better copy.  

Being flexible is the second step to becoming a fearless shop owner.  It takes courage to continually change the path until you arrive at your destination.


So, there you have it.  If you lose the microwave mentality and embrace flexibility, you can become a fearless shop owner.   What did you fail at this week?  What did you learn from it?

Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS.  Email  to receive a Failure Takeaway Sheet to help you document the hidden gifts from the experience.