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

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

What Are You Afraid Of?

What Are You Afraid Of?


Eric Twiggs

“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” Mark Twain

When I was growing up, I was afraid of dogs.  There was one in my neighborhood that scared me the most.  My friends and I called it "Cujo" based on the popular Stephen King movie.

 It was a German Sheppard with a loud and intimidating bark.  I would walk past the yard every day on my way to school, and Cujo would start running in my direction. 

 This was troubling because there was no fence between us.  This game of chase took place every day, until one day I got fed up.  I decided to grab a big stick and when the dog came at me, I would use my weapon to defend myself. 

The next morning, I walked past the yard and the beast ran towards me.  I grabbed my stick and was ready for a fight.  When my four legged opponent got close, I noticed something I hadn’t seen before. 

 It had no teeth!  I had been running from something that posed no real threat. This is why F.E.A.R is described as False Evidence Appearing Real.     

What are you afraid of?  Below are three of the most common “Cujos” that chase shop owners, along with the "stick" you will need to confront them with:

 Raising Prices

 Grab for the stick called VALUE, and use it to confront your fear of losing customers.  Many of my clients confronted their fear of raising their labor rate only to discover they gained on the bottom line without losing any customers. 

Value is defined by as the equivalent worth or return in money.  When customers question the price, they are really asking if the service is worth what you’re charging.  

When your customer picks up their car, remind them of the warranty, quality of the parts, and experience of the technicians.    If they feel the value, they will pay the price. 

Hiring a Key Employee

Reach for the stick known as the hiring process, and use it to overcome your fear of ending up with the wrong employee. 

A critical aspect of the hiring process is doing the reference checks.  I always check with a minimum of two former supervisors and ask them if they would rehire the candidate.   Most employers won’t bad mouth a former employee because they risk being sued. 

 They will say good things about someone who did a great job for them, so anything less than an enthusiastic referral, should be considered a red flag. 

Confronting an Under-performer

 Use the stick known as the one on one process to overcome the fear of him quitting.  I coach a shop owner who was afraid to hold his service manager accountable.   He was scared, thinking the manager would quit, leaving him to work the counter.  

 In spite of his doubts, he conducted a weekly one on one meeting with him every Tuesday morning at 7am.  These meetings have resulted in the shop's average repair order increasing and the owners stress level decreasing.    The manager is more engaged than ever, and the owner’s fears never became a reality. 


When Cujo was chasing me, I prepared myself by grabbing a stick.  If you communicate value, implement the hiring process, and conduct the weekly one on one’s, you’ll discover that the beast you’ve been running from has no teeth. 

It’s just False Evidence Appearing Real. 

PS.  Email me at if you would like some additional information on how to conduct an effective one on one meeting.  

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Lisa’s Encounter With Bill Clinton

Lisa’s Encounter With Bill Clinton


Eric Twiggs

My friend Lisa, who is a Washington DC Lobbyist, shared the following story about meeting former President Bill Clinton at the White House in 1996: 

 After waiting in a long receiving line consisting of hundreds of people, they shook hands and Lisa told him about the firm she worked for, and what she did for a living.

Four months later, she was attending a local fund raising event, and in walks the President. Lisa was floored by what happened next.

Before Lisa could re-introduce herself, he called her by name, mentioned the firm she worked for, and recalled the exact details of their previous conversation.  So what does my friends encounter with Bill Clinton have to do with you? 

Lisa’s encounter left her feeling like the most important person in the room.  How much would your business improve if your employees felt this way after being in your presence?

The former President had the following skills that most successful leaders share:


The first skill is listening.    Leadership guru Ken Blanchard conducted a study of over fourteen hundred leaders and concluded that the ability to listen was the most important skill a leader must have when working with others.

 This week, listen as if there was going to be a written test given on whatever the other person is talking to you aboutIf you were preparing for a test, you would take notes and repeat back what was said to make sure you got it right.

You wouldn't be emailing and texting while the teacher was talking. Why not do the same when talking with your employees?  


Successful leaders have a habit of looking for the best in people.  According to research conducted by sociologist Charles Horton Cooley, people tend to see themselves the way others see them.   This research has been referred to as “the looking glass theory.”   

Lisa became a Bill Clinton fan because of how he made her feel about herself.     

This is why praising your people in public is critical.  It makes them feel important, and they will do more of what you praise them for.  Their level of self esteem will increase and so will their esteem for you. 


You may never run for office, but having a low approval rating with your team is bad for business.   If you commit to improving your listening and looking skills, your shop will be scandal free!

My name is Eric and I approve of this message!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

How To Be Remarkable Instead of Invisible

How To Be Remarkable Instead of Invisible


Eric Twiggs

Are you remarkable or invisible?  As I reflect on this question, I am reminded of my experience at the Ritz Carlton Hotel.  I treated my wife to a weekend at the Ritz Carlton to celebrate our wedding anniversary.   When I made reservations for dinner, I mentioned in passing that it was our anniversary, not expecting any special treatment. 

Twenty minutes after we were seated for dinner, the waiter came over with a card signed by the entire staff wishing us a happy anniversary.   A few minutes later, they had a different waiter come over and present us with two complimentary glasses of Champagne. 

The next morning, I went to the workout facility.  Each machine had its own bottle of water and towel with it.    The following morning, we went to breakfast.  Even though I was meeting the new greeter for the first time, she said, "Good morning Mr. Twiggs, are you enjoying your anniversary weekend?" 

When I got the final hotel bill, it was MUCH more than I would normally pay, but because the experience was remarkable, I never thought to question the price.

 In that moment, I realized the following truth:  if you aren’t remarkable, you’re invisible.

What’s remarkable about your shop?   Are your customers writing blogs to their clients talking about you and your service?

I know what you’re thinking: “Eric, my shop stands out because we’ve been in business for twenty years, have trained technicians, and fix cars right the first time.”  Please don’t confuse doing the minimum with being remarkable!

For example, I’ll bet you’ve never written a five star Google review for an airline company that read: “They got me to my destination safely without losing my luggage!”   This is the minimum you would expect from your travels.    The starting point of being remarkable is to EXCEED what the customer is expecting.

 So what can you do to create memorable moments at your shop?  Keep reading and you will learn two ideas to help you stand out.

Have A Shop Meeting

At your next shop meeting, ask your team to tell you what they believe is remarkable about the experience you provide to your customers.    The goal is to get them to understand the difference between the minimum vs. the exceptional.   

Next, use a white board to brainstorm specific ideas to deliver remarkable service.  Below are some examples you can use to get the conversations going: 

  •     Send handwritten thank you notes to your customers instead of just the automated       thank you card.
  •     Make “thank you” calls to every customer and not just the top spenders.
  •     Provide welcome gifts to new customers.
  •     Leave a parting gift inside the car after the service. 

Decide To Be Different

Here is a critical tip: Find out what the other shops in your area are doing, AND DON’T DO IT!!  Being just like every other shop is a recipe for invisibility.  

For example, one of our clients named Jim found out that his competitors sent automated thank you cards to their customers.  Jim started leaving carnations on the front seat along with a thank you note to every female customer.  His decision to be different resulted in an increase in referrals and a decrease in one time visitors!

The times we live in make it easy to observe your competition.  Pay attention to their websites, internet reviews, and what they communicate on social media.   Calling them on the phone in the role of a customer,will also provide you with the necessary information. 


So there you have it.  Having the shop meeting, and deciding to be different will give you the necessary ideas to move from invisible to remarkable! 

I was willing to pay more at the Ritz Carlton, because of the amazing service I received.  I am also sharing the story over the internet.   If you implement these ideas, your customers will pay you more and talk about you online as well!  

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Kenny Rogers School of Customer Service

The Kenny Rogers School of Customer Service


 Eric Twiggs

Meet Jason, a Northern California shop owner with a thriving business.  After a slow start, he had improved his weekly sales from $7k to $18k, and was building a large following of new customers.  Jason was well on his way to becoming an ATI top shop and getting his plaque at the Super Conference.

One Tuesday morning, a young lady comes in with a 2010 Chevy Lumina that needed  tires, brake pads, and calipers.  Jason assured her that the job would be completed by five o'clock, and that she would receive a phone call, updating her on the vehicle status. 

 Jason's service manager forgot to make the phone call and the customer was taxied to the shop by her coworker expecting her car to be ready.    The job wasn't done and she was irate! 

Jason paid for a rental car and gave her an additional 10% off of the bill.   She came back the following evening and picked the car up.  “I am still not satisfied!  I want an additional $250 off!"  She said.  Jason responded: “The 10% off and rental car is the best I can do for you."

”OK Jason, I'm going to tell all of my friends to give you a bad yelp review and to never do business at your shop!" Jason replied:  “I’m sorry you feel that way, but that's my final offer!"

The customer did as promised and her network of friends gave the shop sixteen negative yelp reviews.  Within six months, Jason went out of business.    I believe that Jason failed because he was not a graduate of what I call “The Kenny Rogers School of Customer Service." 

In 1978, Kenny Rogers recorded the hit song “The Gambler".   The following well known chorus line applies to you: “You’ve got to know when to hold em, know when to fold em, know when to walk away, and know when to run."   In other words, you have to pick your battles! 

 In the old days we used to say that a happy customer would tell three people about the experience, but an unhappy customer would tell eleven.  In today's climate, an unhappy customer can tell eleven thousand people about you with one click of the mouse! 

The best way to pick your battles is to deliver your service in such a way that you don't start one!  When you do make a mistake, be open to negotiating a resolution, with a focus on the bigger picture.   Is winning the battle worth losing the war? 

When you factor in the time you will spend going back and forth, potential legal fees, and the lost future business from that customer and her network, the costs may add up to more than what she is asking you for.   Jason's failure to pick his battles cost him much more than $250!! 

If you become skilled at picking your battles, you can become a graduate of The Kenny Rogers School of Customer Service.    If you think that you can win every battle and are unwilling to negotiate, you are truly The Gambler!          

PS.  Email me at,  if you would like me to send you an instructional document on how to respond to negative reviews!