Wednesday, May 25, 2016

It's Time To Get Off The Fence

It's Time To Get Off The Fence

By

Eric M. Twiggs





“Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned” Peter Marshall


Are you on the fence about replacing yourself in the business?  This topic reminds me of an encounter I had with a shop owner named “Chuck” back in 2009.   After several years of struggle, he had grown his business to where he could finally pay himself without having to invest his own money to pay his people.  

His margins were in line, his tech’s were doing courtesy checks, and his customers didn’t cry when he charged for the shop supply.  There was one small problem: He was the only service writer, and when he left the shop for a week, he took the gross profit with him.  No Chuck, no cash! 

“Why don’t you post an ad for a service writer?” I asked. “Eric, I’m not ready to bring someone on yet.  I have to organize my office.  Give me three weeks, then I’ll start looking.”

Three weeks later I checked in with him, and he had completed his office organization project.  “So Chuck, when will you be running the ad?” “Eric, I was going to, but it’s been raining every day and my car count has dipped. Let’s wait until business picks up and I can afford to bring someone on. Besides, according to the “tool guy” everybody is slow!” 

A month goes by and his sales have improved.  Before I could ask him about recruiting a writer, he interrupted me by saying: “I was going to start looking, but then I realized I needed to have an updated job description to ensure the new person knows what to do. It should take another two weeks, and I’ll be ready.

Nine weeks after our initial conversation, Chuck was stuck working the counter at a shop with an organized office, strong sales, and updated position descriptions!  And then it hit me.  These tasks were merely stalling tactics.   The real issue was his fear of venturing into the unknown. 

As mentioned in a previous blog, that perfect time when the planets are aligned, and all the traffic lights on your morning commute to the shop are green, isn’t coming.

 It’s time to get off the fence. So what can you do to get off the fence and get on with your life?   Stay with me and you will learn two strategies to push yourself forward.  


Establish a Deadline


A goal to hire your replacement, without a completion deadline is only a wish.  What you’re really saying is “I will replace myself in the business someday.”   The Rosetta Stone translation for “someday” is NEVER.   Think about a goal from your past where you said you would do it someday.  Chances are it never happened.

This makes establishing a deadline critical to your success.  Just having a date in mind isn’t enough.  The key step is to communicate your timeline to someone who can hold you accountable to your commitment.   You coach, accountability partner, and fellow twenty group members are great resources for accountability.

A 2013 Forbes magazine article reported the following results:  A goal that is only thought about succeeds less than 50% of the time, compared to one communicated to a friend while providing progress reports succeeding 75% of time.  The combination of having a deadline and someone to answer to can provide enough motivation to push you off the fence.





Embrace a “While” Mentality

Most people are imprisoned by an “If, then” mindset.  This type of shop leader won’t move forward until the circumstances are ideal.  Here are a two examples: “If I have the right sales volume, then I will look for a service manager.”   “If I can get the shop clean, then I will look for a technician.”  As we saw with Chuck, this mentality can cause you to chase after a finish line that’s always moving out of your reach. 

The solution is to change to a “while” way of thinking.  While you are organizing the shop, you can look for a technician.  You can recruit for your general manager while you are writing your standard operating procedures.   “While” works better because hiring the right person can be a time consuming process.

A recent study of small business hiring found that the average interview process from start to finish takes twenty-three days.   It typically takes a week to set up the interview.  Next it would take at least two weeks to complete the interview, background, and reference check process.

Good candidates tend to leave their employers two weeks’ notice, so we’re talking five weeks (about twenty-three days not counting weekends) if you became aware of the right candidate tomorrow!  The habit of looking while you prepare, increases the chances of hiring the right person within the deadline you established. 



Conclusion


Chuck’s story has a happy ending.  He finally took my advice of looking while he got ready, and today he spends about eight hours a week at his shop.  He posted a career opportunities link on his website which attracted his current general manager.

If you commit to establishing a deadline and embracing a “while” mentality, you will get off the fence and on with your life.
  



Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach


    
PS.  I have a LINKED IN Networking Script that can be used to connect with the right people who are within 25 miles of your zip code.  Email etwiggs@autotraining.net  and I will send it.





Wednesday, May 18, 2016

How To Get What You Want In Life

How To Get What You Want In Life

By

Eric M. Twiggs





“People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.” Simon Sinek



Have you ever wondered: “How do I get what I want in life?”  As I reflect on this question I am reminded of an interview I saw this weekend with former Ohio State University Running back Ezekiel Elliott.  

Coming out of high school, he was the top college football prospect in the nation, with over forty division one schools vying for his services.  During the interview, the reporter asked him why he chose Ohio State over the other universities.  According to Elliott, it all came down to his encounter with the head coach Urban Meyer.  

He recalled his first visit on campus where he met the coach in his office.  They shook hands and before the star running back could take his seat, Meyer surprised him with the following question: “So Ezekiel, when we’re on the victory stage and I’m handing you the national championship trophy, what will you do next?”  He replied “Umm, I guess I will kiss it and raise it in the air with both hands.”  This was the moment when Elliott knew he was going to play for Coach Meyer. 

What was it about this experience that sealed the deal?  Meyer was able to communicate a clear understanding of his destination.  In other words, he started at the finish line and worked backwards.   This principle is key to getting what you want in life.

Your customers are like Ezekiel Elliott, because your competitors are actively recruiting them.  This is important to know since getting what you want is tied to your ability to attract and keep the right customers.  

How can you leverage the idea of beginning with the end in mind, so that you become your clientele's first choice?   Stay with me and you will learn two proven strategies to help you get what you want in life.

Communicate A Clear Purpose


In his book Start With Why, and in his famous Ted Talk, Simon Sinek said the following: “The goal is not to do business with everyone who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with everyone who believes what you believe.”   Ezekiel Elliott believed he could win the championship at the college level.  Coach Meyer communicated a clear statement of purpose that separated him from the other competing universities. 

Having a clear vision statement that expresses why you do what you do, will separate you from your competition as well.   As you craft your statement of purpose, ask yourself the following questions: 1. What is the big goal that inspires me? 2. Where do I see myself in the next five to twenty years?  3.How good do I want to be at providing my service, and on what geographic scale?  
An example of a vision statement would be as follows: “To be the most trusted provider of automotive repair in the state of Maryland.”  

Expressing your statement on your website and marketing materials will also attract employees who believe what you believe.  A recent Gallup survey concluded that only 41% of employees surveyed felt they knew what their company stood for and what makes the brand different from its competitors.  This is why communicating a clear statement of purpose will cause you to stand out, which will help you get what you want. 



Create A Goal Poster


Back in 2014, I coached a service writer named “Jerry”, who resisted my suggestion to create a goal poster.  After three weeks he finally did one just to get me off his back.  His shop owner decided to leave the ATI program several weeks later causing Jerry and I to lose contact.  

Let’s fast forward to April of 2016.  I received a message in my inbox from Jerry that read: “Eric, I just wanted you to know that I have accomplished most of my goals from the goal poster.   I placed a picture of the house I wanted to own and have now saved up enough money to buy my first home.” This proves that if you can view it, you can do it.

The most important sale you have to make is to yourself.  Seeing pictures of why you’re doing what you do will keep you sold on accomplishing the result and help you get what you want.  This can also increase the level of engagement with your employees.   Have you ever wondered what drives your technician who doesn’t seem to be money motivated?  Having him do a goal poster will answer your question.   

Please take note of this important disclaimer: The goal poster is not a magic pill.  If you create a poster without the commitment to take the necessary action, your poster will become a portrait of things you don’t have! 


Conclusion


Now whatever happened to Ezekiel Elliott?  Well, two years after the meeting with coach Meyer, he was on the victory stage after leading Ohio State to the National Championship!  Meyer handed Elliott the trophy and he raised it in the air after kissing it!  He told the reporter that the moment felt like déjà vu, because it happened just like he envisioned it.   If you communicate a clear purpose, and create a goal poster, your success will feel like déjà vu as well!


Sincerely,


Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach



PS. You can’t communicate your purpose if you don’t know what it is.   Email etwiggs@autotraining.net and I will send you a seven step business plan template to help you start at the finish line and work backwards!  

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Million Dollar Secret To Attracting Millennial Customers


 

The Million Dollar Secret To Attracting Millennial Customers

 

By

 

Eric M. Twiggs
 
 
 

 
 
 

“Your smile is your logo. Your personality is your business card. How you leave others feeling after an experience with you, is your trademark.”  Jay Danzie


What’s the secret to attracting millennial customers?  As I reflect on this question, I am reminded of my local dry cleaner.   They are the most expensive cleaners in my town, and I drive past several other locations who provide the same service at a lower price.  Thanks to technology, I have the option to use other virtual cleaning companies where I would push a button on my smart phone and have my clothes serviced and funds transferred without any human interaction.
 
So why do I continue to give them my business?  It’s because of the memorable experience they provide. 

There have been times where I pulled up to their parking lot and answered an urgent cell phone call.  While still in the car, they bring my clothes out and take my credit card info while I’m sitting there!  They will stay after closing hours to wait for me if I am stuck in traffic, refusing to take payment until my next visit. 
 
After I drop my clothes off, the manager always goes out to the car to say hello to my wife and kids who are waiting behind in the vehicle.   I know what you’re thinking: “great story Eric, but what does this have to do with attracting millennials?”

 It has everything to do with attracting millennials because of their desire for an experiential retail environment, instead of one that’s just transaction based.    A recent Forbes Magazine survey of millennials concluded that 78% of the respondents preferred spending money on an experience over just buying something they desire.   

In other words, delivering a memorable experience is the million dollar secret to attracting more millennials.  Keep reading and you will learn two strategies to maximize the million dollar secret.    

 

Track your Unsolicited Referrals
 

When you deliver a memorable experience, referrals are a natural outcome.  According to research conducting by automotive industry consultant Dave Anderson, a customer who is “wowed” is three times more likely to refer you than one who is merely satisfied.   The amount of unsolicited referrals you receive is a key measurement of the experience level.

I recommend creating a separate line in your management system to track the number of unsolicited referrals you get.  The customers who were referred by someone you asked, will show up at your counter with their “referred by” card in hand.  Any referred consumer who doesn’t have the card would be tracked separately.   A growing number of unsolicited referrals is a sure sign of a memorable experience.

This is important because millennials place a higher level of trust in information received from their social media networks and from conversations with friends than they do traditional advertising methods.   Word of mouth from their peers who received a memorable experience will have a greater impact on millennial buying decisions than your customer referral bonus strategy. 

 

Adapt To Their Lifestyle  

Studies show that the typical millennial spends and average of 24 hours per week on mobile internet platforms.  They take videos, share photos, and engage on social media. Millennials tend to be civic-minded and are drawn to businesses that demonstrate a passion for social causes. Providing an experience that is aligned with their habits is key to attracting and keeping them as customers.

Investing in a tablet based courtesy check system is a good place to start. The ability to send photos and text messages will appeal to this group.  Having a strong presence on social media is critical as well.  The social media platforms give you an opportunity to reach them where they are and share what you’re doing to impact your community.

For example, several shops have run a Facebook promotion where they donate a canned food item to their local food bank for every new “Like” they receive on their Facebook page.  Others have used Instagram during the holidays to share their “Toys for Tots” campaign, giving the customer the opportunity to bring in a toy to support the less fortunate on their next visit.

 Providing modern in store technology, along with community based social media content, is an effective way to adapt to the millennial lifestyle.
 

Conclusion


Tracking your unsolicited referrals and adapting to their lifestyle will allow you to attract and keep millennial customers.    This blog is an example of an unsolicited referral I provided for my local dry cleaners.   Does the experience at your shop motivate your customers to blog about you?  

 

Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach
 

PS.  Are millennials finding your website, when they do a local search on their smartphone?  Email etwiggs@autotraining.net  and I will send you a tool to help you asses your site and make necessary changes.