Helping Shop Owners grow into the successful entrepreneurs they imagine themselves to be.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Where do you fit into the Car Count Marketing Matrix?

                              I think I need more Customers but where is the Silver Bullet??

Almost every business thinks that they need more customers and feel they have to scramble to get them.  Marketing ‘How To’ books are some of the best sellers on the market.  Why is this such a mystery? How can so many people believe they need help.  The question is, do you need help or are you looking for the silver bullet?  Here are just the beginning steps to help your shop.  They’re not hard but they do take time and effort to get them done properly. The temptation to skip steps can be great but it just destroys your spirit and wastes your time with inaccurate results.  If you want more and are willing to do the work, keep reading……

This is a general guideline and is open to many variations depending on your specific shop. It is, however, a great place to start and make sure you have the basics covered before you spend any time, money or energy on Marketing.  First thing, answer the following questions….

1.       What do I want?
a.      This for your shop and for you personally.  You may get a “entrepreneurial seizure” and want to add 5 bays or create a new shop.  This will help to keep you focused on the balance between your business life and your personal life. Remember that success is not measured in dollars, no matter how many times you may hear different. Everything starts with a goal.

2.      What do I need?
a.      Based on your goals, what will it take to get to that next level?  What do I have in Labor Inventory? Does my staff give 'Good Phone'?  Can they answer in a way that will bring people in? Do I need to add staff? How does this relate to fixed costs? This section is all about the math behind the business. Many people skip this stage and just go for it but without a clear plan of what they are going for. A “Win # Drill” would be a great start. Run a ‘Gap Analysis’ to see the difference between where you are and where you want to be.

3.      What do I have?
a.      Part of this has to do with staffing, Bays, Labor Inventory, etc….However. the biggest part here is what Customers do I have?   You need to start with a ‘Customer Source Report’.  What is bringing my customers in?  Am I even asking them?  Am I tracking where they are coming from? Am I getting new customers from the internet? Are they coming back? Are most of my Customers ‘Repeats”? Am I getting all of the cars in the household? It boils down to what is bring my customers in now and where do I need to focus to get more of them as fast and easy as possible. Another great point here is to do a ‘homemade’ Frequency Report.  It’s very simple but it does take time.  Find the Customers that came in, this week, 9 months ago.  Look up the history and see if they have come back and make a note of 0 visits, 1 visit,2 and 3+ visits.  This will help to let you know if you have a retention or an acquisition problem.  Combined with the source report you can see if the first visit categories are coming back for a second visit.  You will fall into the Car Count Matrix below somewhere;

High Acquisition                                       x                            High Acquisition
High retention                                            x                            Low retention
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx                                                                                          x
Low Acquisition                                        x                            Low Acquisition
High Retention                                           x                            Low Retention

Once you have finished this, you will be ready to start putting together a marketing plan. Depending on what quadrant you find yourself, you will need a very different strategy to grow your shop!
I will follow up with the plan for each quadrant so you can have a specific plan of action!

***This is just the beginning, but it is a very good beginning. Anything else is guessing and that just doesn’t pay the bills!!!

For a video explaining more about this topic; 

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Inconvenient Truth

The Inconvenient Truth


Eric M. Twiggs

"You can't change what's going on around you until you start changing what's going on within you"  Zig Ziglar

"So you expect all of us here today, to be able to charge these unrealistic prices?"   This question was posed to ATI Instructor Randy Somers by "John" while he was here for service advisors class.  John is a service manager who's been writing service for over twenty years. He's been there, done that, and has the tee shirt to prove it!

 John dominated the class conversations by sharing his wealth of knowledge relating to what can't be done in the "real world."  Everyone looked at Randy with curiosity, awaiting his reply to John's question.

Randy's response changed the entire tone of the class.  He asked everyone who was currently using the parts matrix at their shops to raise their hand.   Every hand in the room went up except John's! 

Randy walked over to John, looked him in the eyes and said: "You see, I'm not trying to convince everyone in the room to charge correctly. I'm trying to convince YOU to charge correctly!"  John slumped in his chair and remained silent for the rest of the two day session, because he was forced to confront the inconvenient truth.   

Here's the big takeaway: There's someone else getting different results while facing the same challenges as you. This truth is inconvenient because it keeps you from making excuses.   It's convenient to blame President Obama, Donald Trump, the economy, your customers, your coach, and the holidays, for the red colors you see in your portal.  I get it. 

 But how do you explain the other shop in your area, that’s dealing with the same median income challenge as you, having the ability to hold margins you believe to be impossible?

 Now that you know the inconvenient truth, I will share two other areas of your business where this knowledge can be applied to make the most of your holiday business. 

 Car Count

I once asked a service manager why business was down.  He told me all about the economy, the holidays, and how his vendors said everyone was slow.  I asked what he had done to improve business.   He mentioned making follow up calls. 

I then asked how many calls he made.  After a long and awkward pause, he replied: "less than 10."  Before blaming the holidays for low car count, ask yourself the following question:" What five things have I done this week to make business better?"

For example, if you called 20 "declined service customers", posted on Google +, gave out your seasonal  gift  cards, visited 10 fleets, and made all of your  appointment reminder calls,  you would have work, even though your customers are Christmas shopping! 

Courtesy Checks

 What was your courtesy check to car count percentage last week?( line 58 in most portals)  Several clients are singing  the holiday blues, in the 50% section of the choir!    Let's put this in perspective: If you average 40 cars a week with a 50% courtesy check percentage, 20 cars left your building without getting checked!  

 Please don't tell me that all 20 cars were just inspected within the last 30 days.   Instead, find out who the technicians were, and why weren’t the inspections done.  I have gone through this process with several owners and we usually find its one technician who's not on the program. 

I was just speaking with Greg from Checks Muffler, who happens to be in the Top 75 of the ATI Shop program.  He confirmed that the 3 clients in his 20 group with the best profit results, also ranked in the top 3 in courtesy check to car count ratio!

By the way, the competitors in Greg's area were slow last week, while he had one of his best weeks of the year!  He attributes this to his increased focus on the courtesy check process.


So there you have it.  Owning your car count and courtesy check results will help you deal with the inconvenient truth.  You see, I’m not trying to convince everyone reading this message to change; I’m trying to convince YOU to change. 


Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS.  Tired of singing the same old holiday blues?  Email  and I will send you the 7 Best New Acquisition car count strategies that I know of!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Blind Man In The Batting Cage

The Blind Man In The Batting Cage


Eric M. Twiggs

“Some defeats are only installments to victory." Jacob Riis

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is judging the success of your effort by the initial response you get.   I was reminded of this as I sat through a recent 20 group meeting.  Mike Haley, the former hiring class instructor, was the guest speaker on the agenda. 

 He opened his session by asking about the current state of hiring in the shops.   One owner talked about running an employment ad that didn't work.  Someone else mentioned having a scheduled interview with a great candidate who didn't show up for the appointment.   Then there was another entrepreneur who chimed in about using a head hunter only to have the resulting hire quit on them. 

Then Mike asked the group to comment on how they found the best employee who currently works for them.   Several people mentioned finding them through advertisements. They were then asked how many ads it took to hire "Mr. Right." 

Here is what surprised me about their response:  Nobody mentioned finding their "A" player on the first attempt!   It took an average of five to seven ads to find the right person!  They would have missed out on a great hire if they judged the success of their effort by the response of the initial attempt.     

This is why you must approach your goals like the blind man in the batting cage:  If you just keep swinging, you can get a hit, even if you can’t see how it will work!    Keep reading you will learn about two other aspects of your business that require you to keep swinging.   

Follow Up Calls

 I had service writer tell me that follow up calls don't work.    I asked him how many he made, to which he replied: "Five. And none of them came in!"  Based on the latest marketing research, the typical response rate when you are contacting existing customers is 15%. 

 If you had a goal to get three customers as a result of "declined service" calls, you would need to make twenty calls to accomplish your goal!  (20 x 15%=3)  Judging the success of your program based on a five call effort, will cause you to strike out on the bottom line! 

The right amount of calls, delivered the right way, can lead to a home run and improve your response rate beyond the 15% average. 

 Fleet Business

 Have you ever given up on a potential Fleet customer because he didn't say yes on the first attempt? The Thomas Publishing Company did a recent study concluding that only 10% of salespeople go beyond the third contact.    They then found that 80% of "new business" sales are made on the fifth contact!  This perspective can help you to overcome future resistance with persistence. 

The key is to change up your methods of communication so that you "keep swinging" without coming across as pushy.  A phone call, followed by an email, a Linked IN message, a mailed package, and then a visit, works better than just making multiple phone calls. 

One of our clients mails his potential fleet customers a pair of socks with a letter promising to provide a level of service that will "knock their socks off."  His next "swing", which is a visit, is usually well received, and he has become known as "the socks guy!"


Sometimes, your most common objection is a reflection of YOUR beliefs.  If you always get the following objection: “I can’t afford it”, check the mirror to make sure your beliefs line up with your financial goals.  What you believe determines what you see. 

This is important because it takes faith to keep swinging when you don’t see immediate results.  Approaching your follow up calls and fleet managers with the right mindset, will improve your success rate, and keep you swinging like the blind man in the batting cage!   


Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability coach

PS.  I have a New Fleet Acquisition Kit with the details on the above mentioned "socks mailer", that will help you swing for the fences.   Email me at  and I will send it to you.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Are You The Little Engine That "Can't?"

Are You The Little Engine That "Can't?"

Eric M. Twiggs

Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” Henry Ford

"Rob" was the little engine that can't!  Every week, he told me all the reasons why he couldn't raise his prices. When I asked him about his labor rate, he responded:  “I can't raise my labor rate, because all the shops in this area are cheaper." 

 I reminded him about the correct way to charge for diagnostics, only to have him say: “I can't charge that much, because the parts house down the street scans the codes for free!" 

 We would talk about his low parts margins and he replied: “I can't use the matrix, because my customers can't afford it.   Unlike the little engine from the famous story, Rob's chant was “I think I can't, I think I can't, I think I can't!!"  Do you know anyone like Rob?   

Things took an interesting twist when he hired "Jack", as the entry level service advisor.  Jack was new to automotive, but had spent the previous two years in a retail sales position.  One day, Jack was working with a customer and her Chevy Silverado that needed an engine.  

Since he was new, he didn't know that he wasn't supposed to use the parts matrix like he was taught on the ATI training video.    Since the matrix was posted behind the counter, he used it on the remanufactured engine.

In a shop where the customers “didn't have the money," Jack managed to sell the engine for $8,300 to include parts and labor!  They finished the week with $21,000 in total sales, which was their best week of the year!

Is there a "Jack" out there, who could come to your location and make the sale you believe to be impossible?    The late author Jim Rohn said it best when he said: "your income is primarily determined by your philosophy and not the economy."     Stay with me and you will learn two philosophies that can increase your weekly income.


What is it about your service that exceeds the customers' expectations and leaves them saying WOW?  This is the question that must be answered before you say that you're too expensive.  It's a proven fact that people will pay if they believe they're getting the appropriate value in return. 

 The real question is never about the price.  The customer is really asking if the service is worth the money.   The commitment to delivering an experience that justifies the price is what will grow your income

A key to your success is to focus more on what you can do, than what you can't.  You can't control the economy, but you can control your delivery. 


A victim is defined as a person who suffers a negative outcome because of someone or something outside of themselves.  For example, anyone who blames the customers and the competition for their result is playing the role of a victim. 

The problem is that you won't fix what you don't believe to be your fault.    Instead of saying, “I can't…" ask yourself the following question: “What CAN I do, to improve?"  The victim says:" My customers don't have the money."  The seller who is accountable will ask: “What is it about my presentation that needs to change?" 

If you are truly accountable, you work from the assumption that everything is your fault.   If the customer was to blame in my earlier story, Jack would have never made the sale.


So there you have it.  Embracing the philosophies of value and accountability can increase your weekly income.  This will help you to realize that the light at the end of the tunnel is NOT a train!    

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can!


Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS. Do you still believe that price is the customers #1 concern?   Email me at  and I will send you a list of the 7 factors that motivate a customer to buy.  Mentioning these motivators during your estimate presentation will improve your sales! 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Have You Been Kicked By The Cold Foot?

Have You Been Kicked By The Cold Foot?


Eric M. Twiggs

"A leader has the right to be beaten, but never the right to be surprised".Napoleon 

The year was 2007 and my shop was like a sinking ship!   Customer complaints were increasing while gross profit was decreasing.  This location had been without a service manager for eight weeks and morale was at an all-time low.   But everything was about to change because I had just interviewed “Greg“for the position.   

Greg was so good that if you were to “Google” the term “A player”, his picture would come up!  He was referred to me by several people in my organization because of his track record of success in the market.

He accepted my offer and turned in his two week notice to his employer.  I had completed the hiring process and could now cross “find a service manager” off of my to-do list, right?    

Well, let’s fast forward two weeks.  It’s Monday morning and I get a call from my assistant asking if I had heard from Greg yet.  Uh-oh!   He was a no-show, and wouldn’t return our phone calls.

Since I only recruited when I had an opening, I didn’t have a “plan B” and had to start the hiring process all over again.  It wasn’t until six weeks later that I had a new manager in place.  It took four weeks to find him, and two weeks for him to finish with his current employer.   I had been kicked by Greg’s cold foot! 

The term cold feet is used to describe someone who makes a commitment,  then gets nervous and changes their mind before following through.   Have you ever been kicked by the cold foot of an “A” player?  Keep reading and you will learn two strategies to avoid those cold feet. 

Stay Connected

How would you react if you’re most productive employee told you she was leaving?  I bet you wouldn’t just shake her hand and say “Ok, nice knowing you!”  You would make an honest effort to convince her to stay, wouldn’t you?

The key to staying connected, is anticipating the fact that your competition will also do their best to keep a great person from leaving to go work for you.    

Two weeks is a long time for a top performer who is about to make a life changing decision.   I recommend checking in with the person a minimum of twice a week until they show up for their first day.

Helping them move their tool boxes, and having them stop by to complete paperwork, are basic steps that can increase their level of commitment. 

 Many of my clients, along with their spouse will meet with the potential hire and their significant other for a “welcome dinner.”  This gives your candidate the chance to connect with you on an interpersonal level in a different setting.    If they feel a connection with you, they will be less likely to get cold feet. 

Stay Consistent

Most shop owners end their search once they believe they have found the right person.  Keep in mind that’s it’s possible for YOU to get cold feet after they show up for work!  What if they aren’t as good as advertised? 

The best way to stay consistent, is to continue collecting resumes while you wait on your new hire. This will give you a backup plan in case they don’t pan out. 

Based on my experience, the average time period from the start of the search process to the employees first day on the job, is six weeks.  You will feel like kicking yourself, if you have to endure six more weeks of unhappy customers.


Do you currently have a new hire your waiting on that's working out their two week notice?  If you stay connected and consistent, you can avoid being kicked by their cold foot. 


Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS. Are you tired of being kicked by the cold foot of “A” players?   Email  and I will send you my "Cold Foot Prevention Plan." 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Secret To Becoming World Class

The Secret To Becoming World Class


Eric Twiggs

"The finish line is just the beginning of a whole new race"  Unknown

Do you know the secret to becoming world class?   The following story about Pro basketball star Kobe Bryant will reveal the answer.   Kobe has already accomplished his goals and achieved great success in his career. "Rob", his personal trainer, was hired to get him in shape to play in the summer Olympic Games for Team USA. 

The night before the first scrimmage, he gets a call from Bryant at 3:30am asking for help with conditioning work.  Rob arrived to the practice facility at 4:30am to find Kobe alone and drenched in sweat from his individual workouts as if he had just taken a swim!  They worked out together until around 6am, and Rob went back to his hotel and crashed.

Rob then woke up and dragged himself to the practice facility again at 11am.  He noticed all the Team USA players practicing on one side of the court except for Kobe, who was by himself on the other court shooting baskets.

Rob approached him and said. "Great work last night.  When did you finish?" "Finish what?" replied Kobe.  "Getting your shots up?  What time did you finish your workout and leave the facility?" 

Kobe's response tells us the secret. "Oh, I never left.  I have to make 800 shots at the end of each workout and I'm still working!   Why would someone who has already succeeded, put himself through this grind? 

It's because, the secret to becoming world class is realizing that you're never finished!  Think about the last graduation ceremony you attended.  They referred to it as a commencement right?  

The dictionary defines commencement as a beginning or start.  In other words, the real work begins once you have experienced success.  Our world is always changing.  If you stop working, you will fall behind. So, what areas of your business should you always be working on? 

Keep reading and you will be two steps closer to becoming world class!


Imagine having the opportunity to purchase a new shop, and staff it with your dream team.  You could have the best writer in town, writing for the best technicians in the industry.

Now look at your current crew.  Who from your existing staff would you hire for the new location? The key is to always be working on a plan for anyone whom you wouldn't rehire.

What can be done to either develop them into a top performer or to find the "A" player you need?   Your current top producers need a plan as well to maintain their edge.

Vehicle technology is improving and your competition is one "mouse click" away.  This is why world class organizations always have a plan to attract and develop exceptional people.


What if you called your power company and let them know you can't make the payment because the customers "in your area" don't have the money for your services? 

You would discover that in spite of your limiting belief, Pepco still expects to be paid! The reality is that your costs of doing business are always increasing.  If you aren't regularly adjusting your prices, you will experience a gradual decline to your bottom line! 

When was the last time you reviewed your labor rate?  Are you using the most current parts matrix?  Are you charging correctly for diagnostics? 

The people and pricing plans are connected, because a team of top performers will deliver an upgraded experience that will justify the pricing! 


So there you have it.  You are never finished, but consistently working on your people and pricing can produce world class results!


Eric M Twiggs

PS.  Email me at if you want my step by step process to develop your new hire into a world class performer!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

50 Ways To Blame “Another”

50 Ways To Blame “Another”


Eric M. Twiggs

"Nothing happens to you. It happens because of you" Grant Cardone

"It's not my fault, it's the area;" said Matt, a service manager who worked for me back in 2001. “We can't find good people because of the low unemployment rate and high median income."

This shop had a history of being understaffed on tire technicians and mechanics.  Matt was the third manager in the last twelve months, and the two previous mangers had the same explanation for being shorthanded. 

Maybe his shop was different from the rest of my locations.  I was starting to believe Matt, and I too blamed our failures on the area.   Matt and I had 50 ways to blame another! 

Then something happened that forever changed my perspective. Matt resigned, and I was forced to bring in a new manager from a different location named Roger.  Three weeks later, he had the shop fully staffed!  Roger hired two mechanics and three tire techs, who each became top producers in the market.

This experience taught me the following reality:  There's always a "Roger" out there who can get the result that I'm struggling with.  In other words, I should always be open to the possibility that it’s my fault!

Remember your customer who "didn't have the money?" There's a Roger out there who would have made the sale.  Can't find technicians because of your area?  Roger could come in and find that "A" tech you’ve been looking for.

Do you have a habit of blaming external factors for your failures?  If so, you have 50 ways to blame “another.”  It’s always another person, place, or thing that’s responsible instead of you. 

The key is to shift from playing the blame game, to taking ownership.  As you read on, you will learn two questions to ask that will change your perspective.


Who is the "Roger "in your market or 20 group that’s getting the results you're struggling with, while dealing with the same obstacles?  Back in 2010, a shop owner told me about how he couldn't maintain strong margins because he was in a college town and the students didn’t have any money. 

 He was forced to change his perspective when I introduced him to my client Dave Mays, who is in the same town and has been very successful.  They still talk to this day and Dave has given him several best practices to improve his business. 


What is your Roger doing to achieve the desired outcome?  In the college town example, Dave shifted his marketing focus from the students, to the college faculty, who were more stable and had a higher income.  He also hired a service manager who possessed the right attitude and personality to go with years of successful selling experience.

I agree with Tony Robbins who says to model someone who is already successful because success leaves clues. Asking the "what" question will lead you to those clues. 


You won't fix what you don't believe to be your fault.   Asking the "who" and "what" questions will help you to start owning the problem instead of blaming another person, pace, or thing. 


Eric M. Twiggs

PS.  Does someone working for you have 50 ways to blame another?  Email to receive a list of 5 questions you can ask that will put an end to the "blame game".