Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Three Things You're Missing By Not Having Meetings

Three Things You're Missing By Not Having Meetings

By


Eric M. Twiggs





“A small spark can start a great fire” Emmet Fox

“I don’t need to have meetings, because I talk to my people throughout the day.” If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard this, I’d have about twenty-one dollars!  But seriously, I’m amazed at the number of shop owners who resist the routine of regular meetings.

As I reflect on the importance of this habit, I’m reminded of an incident that occurred in 1998 when I worked as a consultant for a national automotive service chain.

I along with a team of company consultants, regional managers and vice presidents were sent to visit a shop located in Paramus New Jersey.  The employees were so unhappy with the shop leadership, they called the local labor union with the goal of starting a union drive.   As I landed in New jersey, I wondered how things got so bad. 

Surely, it had to be a big issue that motivated the call.  I figured it was either discrimination, a safety violation, or an unfair termination.  What I discovered, motivated me to write this message.   The drive was initiated by a tire technician who’s request for a flat repair tool went ignored! 

Since they never had shop meetings, the tire tech believed his only option was to vent to the general service tech’s.  The general service techs were reminded of how they too were being ignored and complained to the master technician.  The master tech joined in on the pity party by giving the tire tech the idea to contact the labor union. 

Recently, the state of California has had some issues with wildfires.   Like the Paramus location, these wildfires started out as weak flames that weren’t contained.  Regular shop meetings would have extinguished the weak flame disguised as not having a flat repair tool.

This is just one thing you miss by not meeting.  You may be saying: “Eric, my shop isn’t on fire so this doesn’t apply to me!”   Stay with me to learn two additional things you may be missing by not having meetings. 


Peer Pressure
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
In his book Scaling Up, Vern Harnish reports on what the most successful companies in the world have in common.  He found that the overwhelming majority had the habit of holding regular team meetings.   

Harnish sums up the value of these gatherings with the following statement: “if you only meet once a month, it will take years to improve, if you only meet weekly it will take months, but meeting every day can cause you to improve in weeks.”   The reason these daily huddles are so effective is the element of peer pressure. 

The morning huddles give you the platform to publicly recap the previous day’s results.  It becomes difficult for your second writer to blame the area for his low parts margins, if the other writer is getting daily recognition for holding margin with same customer base. 

Your technician who “doesn’t have time to do the courtesy checks” will have to come up with a different excuse, after seeing the tech in the next bay getting daily compliments for his documentation levels.

Your people will feel more accountable when they know their daily performance will be compared to their peers.    When you’d don’t make time to meet, you miss the opportunity to leverage the power of peer pressure. 


Time Savings


What if your favorite football team decided to do away with meetings?  Instead of huddling up, the quarterback whispered the play one at a time to the other ten players on the field. 

Instead of giving a half time speech, the coach would talk to each player one on one encouraging them to do better in the second half.  In both instances, having to repeat the same message over and over would cost them valuable time. 

Just like the coach, you’re responsible for getting winning results, and having to repeat yourself will cost you time.  If everyone gets the same message in the same moment, the extra minutes you would normally spend IN the shop, can be used to work ON your business.    

There is a place for having one on one meetings. I get it.  The key is to combine them with the team meetings to help reinforce your message.

Using both types leads to less confusion and will save you additional time because you would be answering many of their questions, before they would approach you to ask them.   You will receive less after hours phone calls, which will give you more time with your family.



Summary


So there you have it.  The failure to have regular meetings will keep you from containing the small fires, cause you to neglect the power of peer pressure, and cost you precious time. 

As for the shop in New Jersey, the union drive failed, and the shop manager was terminated.  A new manager was hired who embraced the idea of having team meetings, and this small spark ignited a large improvement in profits.




Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach


PS.  Looking for a tool to help hold your technicians accountable for their productivity?  Email etwiggs@autotraining.net  and I will send you my latest productivity tracking spreadsheet, to help you leverage the power of peer pressure! 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Best Sales Improvement Secret I Know Of


The Best Sales Improvement Secret I Know Of

By

 

Eric M. Twiggs
 
 
 

 

“The secret to success is to know something that nobody else knows.” Aristotle

 

If you were to type the term “analytical” into Google, a picture of “James” would appear!  He and I were having an intense discussion as to why his sales were trending in the wrong direction. 

James sent me detailed spreadsheets that summarized his market analysis, product sales comparisons, and the amount of new customer visits by month for the past three years. 

He believed that tweaking his marketing and merchandising mix would fix the problem.  My gut was telling me to dig a little deeper.  

I asked James to send me an analysis that compared the sales, average repair order(ARO), and gross profit performance of his three service managers.  Of the three managers, “John” had the lowest ARO and gross profit results.  To make matters worse, he also had the highest customer count and his technicians had the lowest courtesy check to customer percentage!  

Based on the math, James would pick up $17,000 in additional monthly sales if John improved his ARO to the same level of the top producer.  Over twelve months, that works out to $204,000 in additional revenue! 

One person’s performance would move James from owning an $800,000 establishment to a $1million-dollar enterprise.  This is why having the right person at the counter, who’s doing the right things, is the best sales improvement secret I know of.   

The reason this is a secret is because most owners look at the market instead of the manager when sales are down.  So what can you do to make the most of this little known secret?  Stay with me to find out.  

Clarity

 
I believe that clarity is the starting point of success.  In his book The Five Levels of Leadership, John Maxwell uses the metaphor of “the messy workbench” to highlight the importance of having clarity when looking for people or pursuing a goal. 

 Here’s how it goes: If you have a messy workbench in your shop, you stand a greater chance of finding the tool you’re looking for if you know exactly what it looks like.   If you aren’t clear, you end up wasting a lot of time and making the wrong choice.   

Searching the various hiring sites is like looking for a tool on a messy workbench.  So how do you determine what the right service manager looks like?

Having clear expectations is a great place to start.  I often talk with shop owners who would define the right person as someone who arrives to work on time, has a good attitude, and likes long walks on the beach!    When looking for “Mr. Right”, you have to ask yourself the following question: Can he achieve the desired outcomes? 
 
When interviewing I recommend creating a scorecard that lists the specific outcomes you expect the candidate to achieve.  A 53% total gross profit, $450 ARO and 95% CSI score would be examples of results to notate. 

After the interview, rate the candidate on a scale of 1-10 to determine the likelihood of them achieving the outcomes based on how they answered the questions.   For additional information on using a scorecard to achieve clarity, review my previous blog post titled The sound of silence.

 

Certainty


Now that you are clear on the results you expect, you must be certain that your people can deliver on those outcomes.  Using a technique known as zero based thinking is the first step

Zero based thinking is a decision making process where you imagine yourself being in the past with the knowledge you have today.  Here’s the zero based thinking question in action:  If you could go back in time, would you rehire John knowing what you now know about him? 

If your reflex response is NO, the follow up question is how soon can you find a qualified replacement?  Asking this question BEFORE sending your recent hire to training will increase the odds of you experiencing a return on your investment. 

When I asked James this question, he admitted that he wouldn’t rehire John based on what he now knows about his attitude and performance.   

The next step is to take your overall shop performance and drill down by the individual.    If the shop ARO is $250, and one of your managers is at $190, moving his performance will take the shop to the next level.  

Using zero based thinking will tell you if you have the right person.  Reviewing individual performance will tell you if he’s doing the right things.   

 
Conclusion


So there you have it.  If you embrace the ideas I just mentioned, you will grow in the areas of clarity and certainty.   Your shop will become the worst kept secret because the sales improvement will be too obvious to hide! 
 

Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

 
PS.  Looking for a tool to ensure that your service manager is doing the right things?  Email etwiggs@autotraining.net and I will send over a Sales Management Checklist to raise your level of certainty!

 

 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

How To Overcome Your Fears and Increase Your Funds

How To Overcome Your Fears and Increase Your Funds

By

Eric M. Twiggs





“If you live in fear of the future because of what happened in the past, you’ll end up losing what you have in the present.” Unknown Author


Let’s begin with a tale of two shop owners.   “Chuck” has every intention of replacing himself in the business.  He has the resume of a qualified candidate on his desk, but never gets around to making the call.   “Laura” is always complaining about having too much month at the end of her money.  

She just returned from shop owners class, and her key takeaway was NOT to increase her $68.00 labor rate, even though her Mercedes repair shop is located in Beverly Hills! 

What do Chuck and Laura have in common?  They’re both afraid.   As I reflect in these scenarios, I’m reminded of the following study I read about.

In 1967, two researches named Fenz & Epstein conducted a study of twenty-two sky divers.  They placed a heart rate monitor on each jumper to measure their heart rates and anxiety levels. 

The findings confirmed that the sky divers heart rate levels peaked the moment before making the jump, and decreased during the actual event.

In other words, the skydivers felt more fear leading up to the jump than they did during the jump!  Here’s the takeaway: Your fears are based on what you believe could happen, and not reality!   

The moments leading up to the leap only last a few minutes.   Since what you want is on the other side of your fear, all you have to do is muster brief moments of courage to get to the next level.


So what’s keeping you from making the jump?  Stay with me to learn two keys to overcoming your fears and increasing your funds




The Right Perspective

Mark Twain put it this way: “I've had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.” Maintaining this perspective will motivate you to move beyond your fears.  Earlier this week I was speaking with a colleague named  Karen, about an experience she had earlier in her career as a service writer. 
It was the late 90’s and “Bob”,her absentee shop owner, had a fear of raising his prices.  Bob had priced his fuel injection service at $45, which was $100 less than all of his competitors. 

Karen had just attended a local maintenance sales training session where she learned what her competition was charging for the same service. 

Excited to share the good news, she met Bob in his office to give him a recap.   Bob listened intently and enthusiastically replied: “We can’t do that!!”  He was worried that he would lose customers.

Karen conducted a secret experiment by charging the $145 for the injection service anyway. (Don’t try this at home service writers!)  This decision added an additional $5,000 in monthly sales to the shop and they didn’t lose any customers! 

For Bob, losing customers was a worry that never came true. You’re only afraid of the negative outcome you anticipate, and what you anticipate isn’t reality.  Remembering this will help you to maintain the right perspective.


The Right Preparation


Part of the reason the sky diver’s anxiety decreased during the jump was because they were trained to pack their parachutes.   The Navy Seals are famous for saying: “Under pressure you don’t rise to the occasion, you fall to the level of your training.”

Here’s my question for you: If you fell to their level of your training, would you hit the ground? If you just answered yes, I can understand why you’d be fearful.   Karen from my earlier example, had the right preparation. 

Before raising her prices, Karen attended the training session where she learned about building relationships, communicating value, and overcoming objections.  Her training increased her belief in herself and what she was selling.  Karen had no reason to be scared, since she was so prepared. 

Are you afraid to raise your prices or to hire your replacement?  The feeling of anxiety is just a signal for you to pursue additional training in that area. Having the right preparation is critical because It’s harder to fear what your prepared to face. 



Conclusion



If you commit to embracing the right perspective and embarking on the right preparation, you will overcome your fears and increase your funds.

Your dream won’t come true while you’re sitting in the plane.   If you’re serious about what you want, you have to jump!



Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach


PS. Are you afraid to either raise your prices or hire your replacement?  I have a checklist that will keep a lack of preparation from driving your fears.  Email etwiggs@autotraining.net  and I will send it. 
  

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The 7 Most Overlooked Hiring Tactics



The 7 Most Overlooked Hiring Tactics

By 

Eric M. Twiggs





"Sometimes what you want is right in front of you. All you have to do is open your eyes and see it."Meg Cabot


Are you frustrated by your recent recruitment results?  “Heather”,the owner of a European Imports shop, felt the same way.  She posted “A” technician ads that consistently generated responses from the most talented, qualified, and experienced fork lift drivers in New Hampshire!

She decided to shift her focus from hiring someone skilled in diagnostics, to bringing in an entry level technician to groom.  “Henry”, a general service tech working at a local shop, responded to her ad and arrived at the location for the interview.  And that’s when things got interesting.

Henry received a text message and replied to it right in the middle of the interview!  “This is my friend Mark who works at Audi asking me how things are going.” he said.  To which Heather replied: “What does Mark do for Audi?” “Oh, he’s the top producing, master technician.” “Would it be OK if I called him as well?” she asked.

He gave her the phone number and texted Mark, letting him know to expect a call.  Heather was so inspired by Henry’s cooperation, she made a hiring decision.  She decided to hired Mark, the Audi Technician and pass on Henry!   Heather learned that asking your current interviewee about who they know(fishing) is an overlooked but effective hiring tactic!

In his book “Triggers: Creating Behaviors That Last” author Marshall Goldsmith makes the following point: “one of our most dysfunctional beliefs is our contempt for simplicity.”  

In other words, it’s our natural tendency to overlook the simple solutions in favor of more complex strategies.  The lead to your next great employee may be within your four walls right now! What simple tactics have you been overlooking in your search for an “A” player?   Keep reading and your eyes will be opened.


Career Opportunities Tab


Many of the shop owners I work with have a career opportunities tab on their site. Great! The problem is that most of these links are difficult to find because they are either hidden under other headings, or buried at the bottom of the page. 

 According to research conducted by Hubspot.com,  55% of website visitors will spend fifteen seconds or less on your site.  This means the majority of technicians who stumble across your website will overlook your career opportunities link. 

I recommend making your “careers” tab a major heading the same way you would have “home,” “about us”, and “contact us” listed.  Under this heading, have subheadings for each position in the shop listed to include benefits and position descriptions and a simple on-line application. 

Making this change will keep your openings from being overlooked and position you to always be hiring!


Referral Bonus Question


You’ve listened to our hiring webinar and have now decided to implement the referral bonus with your people. Excellent!  What you may have overlooked, is the fact that the “up to $1,000” bonus can also be a powerful tool when networking outside of your shop. 

According to a recent industry study, 80% of shop owners reported finding their last great hire through some type of network.  Consider the following referral bonus tactic to enhance your networking opportunities:

When conducting your tool raffle, ask the participating technician if he knows of anybody looking for a position. I love this question because it puts you in a win/win situation no matter how he responds.  You have the opportunity to recruit him or his friend without coming across as being pushy.  

If he’s looking he will let you know.  If he’s not, remind him that you will pay up to $1,000 to anyone who finds you a good technician.    

This same question can be asked of your tow truck driver, vendors, and candidates you reach out to on Linked In.  The bonus is paid out $250 per quarter with the understanding that the referred employee has to be employed for the referring party to collect the payout.     


So there you have it.  Going fishing, having a prominent career opportunities tab, and using the referral bonus question, are tactics you may have overlooked in the past.  You’re only text message away, from finding that “A”! 



Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS. I’ve only given you three of the seven hiring tactics.  Email etwiggs@autotraining.net  if you would like the complete list!