Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The First Step To Becoming A Top Shop

The First Step To Becoming A Top Shop


Eric M. Twiggs

There’s greatness inside of you, and it’s on the other side of your excuses.” Mel Robbins
Something happened a few weeks ago, that knocked me out of my seat.   I was speaking with a shop owner named “Rose” who was concerned about the performance of her shop. 
She was down in gross profit dollars for the month and suspected that her service manager “Nick” wasn’t fully engaged. 
Rose recommended that we schedule a three way call on the following Tuesday with Nick, to get him on the right track.   I agreed, and suggested that she ask him the following question: “What three things are getting in the way of you achieving the shop’s goals?” 
Before our call, I was bracing myself expecting to hear the typical “reasons” that tend to surface: “You have to be in a big city to make money”; “The vendors say that everybody in town is slow”; and my personal favorite: “We have an older customer base that’s on a fixed income.” My goal was to get these perceived barriers on the table so that we could address them. 
Tuesday morning had arrived and Rose, Nick, and I were on the call.  Before I could speak, Nick interrupted with the following statement: “Eric, I don’t have three things getting in the way, I only have one.”  What he said next knocked me out of my seat: “It’s ME.  I am the problem.”
This was the first time that a service manager ever told me that HE was to blame for the negative performance of the shop.  I approached the call looking to get him on the right track to become a top shop.

By taking personal responsibility for his results, he had already taken the first step.   So, what can personal responsibility do for you? 

You Will Get Motivated

There was an experiment conducted on a group of predatory fish known as the pike.  This species has a reputation for being a ruthless hunter that will eat anything you put in its space. 
A group of researchers conducted the “pike experiment” by placing the fish on one side of the tank, and placing their food on the other.  They then put a glass divider between the fish and the food. 
The pike repeatedly swam towards the food banging its nose against the glass.  This happened again and again, until they sank to the bottom of the tank and stopped trying. 
Even when the researchers removed the barrier, the pike made no effort to swim to the food and eventually starved to death.   Once the pike lost control of reaching its destination, it lost the motivation to move forward.
Here’s the big takeaway: Blaming factors beyond your control, is like placing a barrier in front of your goal.   If the local economy is the problem, you will continue to bang your head against the glass, since there’s nothing you can do to change it.
Taking responsibility for your results will motivate you to move forward, because once YOU become the problem, YOU also become the solution.   You can’t change the economy, but you CAN change yourself!

You Will Get Results 

During my tenure as a district manager, there were occasions when someone working for me would arrive late.  I never heard them say: “Sorry I’m late Eric, I guess I need to leave my house earlier the next time.”  
The number one “reason” I received for tardiness was: “Boss, traffic was really bad today.”  This caused many of my monthly manager’s meetings to begin ten to fifteen minutes after the stated start time. 
This motivated me to take responsibility for the way I communicated the meeting times.  Instead of starting at 9am, I announced an 8:45am start time, with a fifteen-minute grace period. 
I told everyone that after 9am, the door would be locked, and anyone on the wrong side of the door would not be allowed to enter.   After making this change, I never had a problem with managers arriving late to meetings. Everyone was in place before 8:45am.   Why did this work?
Instead of blaming traffic, the managers began taking responsibility for leaving earlier.  Once they took personal responsibility for their punctuality, they arrived on time, every time! 
If you desire to change the results at your shop, its critical to shift from a complex of blaming to culture of owning. 
Want to improve your margins? Try owning how you communicate the estimate findings, instead of blaming the customer’s finances.  Do you need more cars? Try owning how you answer the phones, instead of blaming the size of your city.  Once you change your mindset, you can change your results! 

The following weeks after our three-way conversation, Nick had doubled the gross profit dollar results in comparison to the previous weekly average. 
 By taking personal responsibility, he got motivated and then got results!  Have you taken the first step to becoming a Top Shop?

Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS:  Looking to take the first step towards becoming a 2017 Top?  Email to receive a Top Shop Process check sheet.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The One Thing You Never Hear In A Top Shop


The One Thing You Never Hear In A Top Shop


Eric M. Twiggs

"It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." Mark Twain
“Jack” owns a shop on the east coast and has two service advisors.    The first advisor “Ray” is an automotive industry veteran with over 15 years of experience.  He’s been there, done that, and has the tee shirt and coffee mug to prove it! 

The second writer “Craig”, knows nothing about cars and couldn’t change his own oil if his life depended on it!   Which one would you hire?  Before you answer, allow me to continue the story.

Jack scheduled them both to ATI service advisor class.  Since Craig was brand new to the shop, he decided to send Ray first.  When Ray returned, Jack asked him what he learned and what he planned to implement.

To which Ray replied: “Nothing new to report Jack. I already knew all of that stuff.  Honestly, it was a waste of time.” Jack looked at Ray’s workbook from class and noticed that the notes pages were blank.   

A month later, Craig attended the same class. He returned to the shop with a workbook full of notes and a list of ten takeaways.  When Jack asked Craig what he thought about the class he replied: “I really have a lot to learn.”    

Several weeks later, Jack sent me a spreadsheet comparing Ray & Craig’s monthly sales and Gross Profit performance.  I noticed there was a major difference between the two.  One writer was averaging $9,400 per week in sales with a 46% Gross profit while the other averaged $3800 and 39%. 

As I kept scrolling through the report, I was shocked to discover that Craig, the new guy, was the top performer, while Ray was living proof of the following truth:  It’s not what you know, it’s what you do with what you know that produces results.   

Here’s the one thing you never hear in a Top Shop: “I already knew that!”  In eight years of coaching shops, I can’t think of one shop leader who went on to become successful after making this statement.

Those individuals who have told me: “I Already knew that” do have this in common:  They either failed to produce profits or were fired for performance.  Why is this the case?  Stay with me to learn the two reasons why what you think you know can hurt you. 

You Get Blindsided By Change

Back in 2010, I was responsible for teaching a breakout session in the marketing class on how to set up The Facebook Business page.  Before my initial sessions, I would prepare beforehand by reviewing Facebook and practicing the process of setting up the page. 

After getting several classes under my belt, I knew what I was doing.  One particular week, I didn’t bother to practice beforehand.  Why practice when I already knew that? 

Well, I confidently approached the computer in class, only to discover that Facebook had completely reorganized their site!  The process for setting up the business page had changed from what I had practiced before. 

Sadly, the students and I stumbled through the new Facebook set up together!  Because I believed “I already knew that”, I was blindsided by change.  

In business, change is the only constant that you can count on.   Technology, consumer, and employee demands are always evolving.  If you’re always learning, you’ll be less likely to get blindsided.

Montgomery Wards, Blockbuster Video, and Blackberry, are examples of organizations who “already knew that”.  How did this mindset workout for them? 

Everyone Is Getting Better

In the world of distance running, it was believed to be impossible to run a mile in less than four minutes. Over the years many tried to accomplish this feat and failed.   An unheralded runner named Roger Bannister announced to the local media that he would run a sub four minute mile.

All of “the experts” laughed at him, until one day in 1954, Roger shocked the world by doing it!   Over the next twelve months, the feat that was once believed to be impossible, was accomplished by thirty different people!   Today, runners at the high school level have run a sub four minute mile. Everyone got better.

The business environment is like the running world in that everyone is getting better.  In past years, having a website for your shop was like running a four minute mile, and it put you ahead of your competition.

Today, all of your competitors have one.  Back in the day, the informed customer who had researched your location before their visit was like the four minute miler.  Today, thanks to Google, every customer is an informed customer.    

If you think you already know everything, you won’t feel the need to improve.  The race for Top Shop is a marathon and not a sprint.   It’s hard to win if everyone in the race has gotten better except for you. 


Unfortunately, Ray’s story doesn’t have a happy ending.  Jack ended up firing him for performance.  Ray’s belief that he already knew, caused him to get blindsided by change, and to fall behind Craig who was getting better.  This explains why you never hear the Top Shop Leader Say “I already knew that.”


Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS:  Is Your Service Advisor getting better or going backwards? Email  receive a Service Advisor observation kit to ensure that your writer is doing the right things.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

How To Grow When They Say It's Slow

How To Grow When They Say It's Slow


Eric M. Twiggs

"Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's a heaven for?" - Robert Browning


“My tool guy says that everybody’s slow!” Said “Katie”, the service manager of a local repair shop.   She was averaging $12,000 per week in sales which was a 16% decrease when compared to the previous year

Katie went on to tell me: “It’s a tough economy, and we’re coming off an election year, but I’m sure things will pick up once my customers get their tax return checks.” 

My initial instinct was to believe her, since she had a good reputation in her community and a track record of previous success.  She’d watched all the webinars, and had wall in her office that was loaded with Industry training certifications. 

Maybe we needed to look at the marketing, I thought.  Maybe adding a bill board sign, flying an overhead blimp, or posting the right banner, would make the difference. 

The following week, Katie decided to leave the organization to pursue another job opportunity.  “Dan”, the General manager took over as the acting manager for the location.  

Four weeks later, I reviewed his portal and noticed an interesting trend.  Dan was averaging $22,000 per week in sales, which was an 83% improvement over what Katie was averaging!  

“Dan, what changed? Did you get a billboard, a blimp, or a banner in place?” I asked.  “No banners and blimps Eric.  We’re just saying yes to the customers and I’m in constant communication with the tech’s.”   

This left me puzzled because Dan was dealing with the same customer and local economy challenges as Katie. And that’s when it hit me:  Growing your business has more to do with your philosophy than the economy! 

Is there a result you believe to be impossible to achieve due to external factors beyond your control? When you believe that you’re a victim of circumstances, the tendency is to stop taking the actions that can lead to achievement. 

A big takeaway from the opening story is that there’s always a “Dan” out there who could come to your shop, and accomplish the result that you think is impossible.  

The key to growing when they say it’s slow, is to always be open to changing your approach.    Stay with me to learn two strategies to help you with this process. 

Set Stretch Goals

Back in December, I began my preparation to run in a twenty-six-mile marathon later this year.  Prior to December, I had never run for longer than four miles at one time. I’m often asked why I didn’t set a more “realistic” target of running in a 10K event which is about six miles.  

The reason I went for the marathon is because it’s a stretch goal, and stretch goals motivate you to take aggressive actions and push beyond your challenges.  My definition of a stretch goal is a goal that forces you to grow into a person who is bigger than your circumstances.

If it’s cold outside, I’m motivated to train, knowing that I must grow into a person who can run for twenty-six miles.   Running six miles would be much easier to achieve, but wouldn’t inspire me to run when I didn’t feel like getting out of bed. 

For example, having a goal to make payroll is realistic, but it won’t inspire you to take aggressive actions. However, setting a goal to have six months of fixed expenses in the bank, would force you to stretch and motivate you to take actions that you wouldn’t normally consider.

Les Brown puts it this way: “Most people don’t fail in life because they aim too high and miss, but because they aim too low and hit.”  Aiming for the stretch goal will inspire you to overcome adversity and to adjust your approach. 

Think on Paper

Dr. Gail Matthews, Professor at the Dominican University of California, conducted a study of a sampling of business professionals who had set goals for themselves. 

She concluded that those who had written goals were 33% more successful than those who didn’t.  In other words, A stretch goal that isn’t written down is merely a “stretch wish.”    

Writing down your goals activates your sub conscious mind and helps you to see goal achievement opportunities, that were always there, but went unnoticed.  This reminds me of when I went to the dealership and test drove a silver Toyota Camry.

After leaving the lot, it seemed like every car on the road was a silver Toyota Camry.  I saw them everywhere!  It was as if, everyone went out and bought one. 

There were always a lot of Silver Camry’s on the road.  Buying the car caused a shift in my focus.  This is how writing your goals down works.  It will shift your focus and cause you to see opportunities for success that have always been there but went unnoticed. 


So, there you have it.  Setting stretch goals and thinking on paper will help you to stay open to adjusting your approach, and cause you to grow when they say it’s slow.  

Are you a victim of circumstances or a victorious goal setter? 

Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS. Has setting stretch goals been a struggle for you?  Email me at to receive the 5 Rules for Setting Stretch Goals. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

How To Go From Zero To Hero In Less Than A Second

How To Go From Zero To Hero In Less Than A Second


Eric M. Twiggs

“Only small differences in ability translate into large differences in results.” Brian Tracy

What separates the best of the best from everyone else?  I pondered this question as I listened to a press conference interview of NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson, after one of his races.  Johnson is the winningest driver on the NASCAR circuit and has won the driver of the year award five times.  However, in this race he finished in second place to his arch rival Jeff Gordon.   

The reporters asked Johnson the following question: “What was different about his car and yours today?”  Johnson surprised me with his response: “a tenth of a second is what separates a zero from a hero. A half a tenth faster and you’re going forward, and a half a tenth slower, you’re going backwards. I just couldn’t get that half a tenth today.

I didn’t give his response much thought, until I saw the difference in prize money between a 1st and 2nd place finish. 

For example, the winner of the 2016 Dayton 500 received $1,587,000 compared to the second-place driver getting $1,157,000.  In other words, a tenth of a second on this day would cost the 2nd place driver $430,000 in prize moneyHow much is that missing tenth of a second costing you?

Have you been searching for the silver bullet?  That one big idea that will instantly change your business forever? The data from Daytona tells us that a small edge can be worth more to you than a big idea. 

You may be a tenth of a second away from hiring your replacement in the business.  You may be a tenth of a second away from being able to pay off your line of credit. You’re only a tenth of a second away from having the right cars in your bay. 

The key to going from zero to hero is to focus on gaining that slight edge instead of the silver bullet. 

So, what can you do to gain that slight edge?  Don’t drive off before I explain. 

Sharpen The Axe

I sat in on a recent shop Owners Part 1 class and saw Dave and Jan Murphy sitting near the front of the room, frantically taking notes.  Their shop, Murphy’s Auto Care, was recognized at the Super Conference as the Shop of the Year.  They are the best of the best.

Now why would these advanced owners be spending their time at an entry level class?  They were sharpening the axe.  Abraham Lincoln put it this way: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” 

The Murphy’s sharpen the axe by being committed to continuous learning, which gives them that slight edge.   When speaking with the Murphy’s or any of the top shop owners, I have never heard the following four words” “I already knew that.”

Instead, they attend classes, read books, watch webinars, and participate in their 20 group. 

It’s a proven fact that the best performers in the ATI program, also have the highest-class completion and webinar participation percentages on our Learning Management System Dashboard. 

In his book Million Dollar Habits, Brian Tracy reports that a 3% difference in performance in a key area that’s sustained over time, can give a person the necessary edge to dominate their field.  So, what are you doing to sharpen the axe? 

If you believe you already know it all, you’re right because you won’t learn anything new!  Sharpening the axe can help you to find that tenth of a second you’ve been looking for.

Focus On Your Blind Spots

Toastmasters International is an organization dedicated to helping its members improve their public speaking skills.  During the meetings, a member will give a prepared speech and an assigned evaluator gives them feedback on how they did.   

Several years ago, I was an active member who had just given a seven-minute speech.  Afterwards, my evaluator told me: “Eric, you used the filler word ‘uhmm’ seven times during your presentation!”   

I didn’t believe her!  She had to be wrong because I didn’t hear myself using fillers!   I felt confident about my conclusion until I saw that one of the member’s video recorded my entire speech.  I watched the video in horror as I realized my evaluator was correct. I did say “Uhmm” seven times!   Using fillers was a blind spot that I was unaware of.   Becoming aware of this habit, gave me an edge as I entered future speech contests.   

According to research that was conducted by psychologists Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham, we all have blind spots that we’re unaware of, but others outside of us can see.  This explains why the top performers in every industry hire a coach to bring this to their attention, which gives them that slight edge.   The key is to focus your blind spots. 

I recommend getting the following people in place to help with this effort:  1.  Your Coach  2. Your accountability partner 3. Your 20 group members. I would then ask the following question: “What three things are getting in the way of me achieving my goals?”  Acting on the answers can give you that edge you’ve been seeking.


So, there you have it.  Sharpening the axe and focusing your blind spots, will take you from zero to hero.  Jimmie Johnson is a great driver because he has a team of people helping him with his race.  You may not have a pit crew, but you do have the ATI Team to help you gain that edge you need in your race for Top Shop!

Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS:  What else do the Top Shops do to gain an edge?  Email  to receive a checklist of the seven habits of highly effective shop owners