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

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Missing Link

The Missing Link


Eric Twiggs

Meet "Jeff", a new service writer working at a shop in the Midwest.    He didn't have an automotive background, but was willing to learn and eager to please.  After attending the service advisor's class, he returned to the location ready to apply what he had learned.    "Eric, my biggest takeaway was not to give a price over the phone!" Jeff said, as we reviewed his takeaway worksheet.

As a next step, I had Jeff phone shopped by Don, a coach here at the office.  Don played the role of a customer and asked Jeff for a price on brakes for his 2011 Impala.  His response inspired me to write this message: 

"Sir, I can't give you a price over the phone.  I just got back from this ATI class and they told me not to tell you!"   Jeff knew what to do, but didn't know WHY he was doing it!   The failure to understand THE WHY is the missing link!

Do you find that you repeat yourself over and over again, but the result doesn't change?    The courtesy checks are discussed at every meeting, but they aren't getting done. You ask your advisors for exit appointments, but all you get are excuses.  So what can you do to overcome the missing link?   Stay with me and I'll explain. 

 Focus On The Three Good's

Instead of just telling your employee what to do, try this:  Ask her to explain WHY it’s good for her, the customer, and the company. 

 For example, exit scheduling would be good for her because it's been proven that a customer with an appointment is 50% more likely to come in than one who doesn't.   It's good for the customer because we can save them from spending money on their major repairs by scheduling their minor maintenance.   It's good for the company because the additional sales and profit can be invested into equipment repairs and improved working conditions.

 I challenge you to try this with the courtesy checks, answering the phone, or any area of the business where you are consistently asking for results but not getting them. 

  Ask Them What They Will Do

The key is for them to tell you.  A meeting or coaching session should not end without the employee telling you what they will do to improve.    

Studies show the average person remembers 20% of what they hear but 70% of what they say!  In other words, If THEY say it, they will be more likely to follow through.  This also gives you the opportunity to confirm their understanding of what you're asking for and why. 


If you focus on the three good's, and ask your team what they will do, you will overcome the missing link.  


Eric Twiggs

PS.  I have a coaching tool to help your technicians understand why they need to be more productive.  Email  if you would like a copy.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Extra Inch

“Don’t be upset by the results you didn’t get from the work you didn’t do.” Unknown

I was thinking about you yesterday as I watched the major league baseball network. After announcing the hiring of "Dave Dombrowski" as the Boston Red Sox President of Operations, the topic shifted to what makes a baseball player great.

The sportscasters were talking about the difference between a player with a .250 batting average compared to one batting .300.  

The typical major leaguer gets 12 at bats per week.  A .250 hitter gets a hit in 3 out of the 12 plate appearances (3 divided by 12=.250), compared to the .300 hitter who gets 4 hits for every 12 at bats.  The difference between a .250 and .300 hitter is 1 extra hit per week!

 In 2014, the average .250 hitter was paid a salary of $1 million per year, compared to the .300 hitter making $4.2 million!   In baseball, the failure to pick up the extra hit would cost you $3.2 million dollars a year.  It's a game of inches.   

How much is the missing inch costing you?   As you read on, you will learn two strategies to help you get that extra inch. 

You can’t win the game if you don't know the score.   In baseball, the.250 hitter can't improve until he becomes aware of his batting average.  He has 3.2 million reasons to review his stats and compare them to the benchmarks. 

The service writer has tools to help him understand his numbers as well.   The top" hitters" in automotive sell at least 60% of what gets estimated.

 66% or more of their customers that call, make appointments to come to the shop.   They can measure their performance by using the daily estimate tracker and weekly phone logs.   

If I called your shop and asked your writer what her conversion percentage is, would she know?  Picking up the extra inch starts with awareness.   The key is to set aside a day and time each week to review their performance with them. 

Role Play

 Have you ever heard of a big league hitter, who took his first at-bat during the game? NOT!  They spend hours in batting practice improving their swing, and dealing with difficult pitches.   Sadly, we tend to practice on the customer.

 I was recently speaking with a service writer who was struggling to sell maintenance.  He attended the service advisor classes, watched the training videos, but never improved.  Out of frustration, I asked him to sell me a brake flush as if I were a customer. 

 After an awkward pause, he admitted that he didn't know what to say!  If we hadn’t role played, I would have never found out.    The practice session let me know where he needed to improve, which led to him selling flushes to 30% of his customers over the next month. 


Instead of looking to hit a "home run" with every car, focus on at least one improved customer experience per week.   Reviewing your stats, and role playing what you've learned, will allow you to pick up the extra inch! 


Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS.  I have a tool to help you track your courtesy check "batting average".  Email  if you would like a copy.  

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Invisible Bridge

The Invisible Bridge


Eric Twiggs

"Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase."  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

My favorite Indiana Jones movie was "The Last Crusade" starring Harrison Ford and Sean Connery.  Indiana Jones, the lead character played by Harrison Ford, was in hot pursuit of the Holy Grail. 

He was following a map and making progress toward his goal.  He had reached a point in his journey where he could see where the Grail was hidden.  His goal was in sight!

There was one big problem.  The Holy Grail was on the other side of what appeared to be a deep abyss.  Dr. Jones had a choice to make.  He could play it safe by staying on his side of the cliff, or move forward as the map was guiding him, while risking a fall into the abyss. 

He pressed forward raising his foot in the air.  Suddenly, when it seemed his fall was certain, his foot landed on an invisible bridge.  As he kept moving the walkway became visible in front of him, and he made it to the other side. 

You may not be chasing a "Holy Grail", but I'll bet your dream involves having the freedom to control your time.  If freedom didn’t require stepping off the cliff, every shop owner would have it. So how do you cross the invisible bridge?    Keep reading and you will learn two strategies to help you take the next step. 

Embrace Discomfort

You’ll reach the point in your journey where taking the next step makes you uncomfortable.  You feel a knot in your stomach as you set up the parts matrix.  You get a lump in your throat before you conduct an employee one on one. The fact that it scares you is confirmation that you need to do it!

 If you join a gym, and your body feels comfortable after every workout, it's time to find a new gym!  The feeling of soreness is a side effect of muscle growth. 

Pressing forward, in spite of how you feel, is like crossing the invisible bridge.   You didn’t start your business just to stay on your side of the cliff did you? 

Recruit When Scared

You want to hire your replacement, but fear business will dry up and he'll no longer be affordable.  I get it.  I could retire tomorrow if I had a dollar for every time a client has mentioned this!  The difference between the top shops and everyone else is they feel the fear, but do it anyway. They trust their map. 

Several weeks ago, I was speaking with my clients Mark and Donna from Kens Automotive.  They wanted to bring on a service manager, but had concerns about being able to afford him.  They feared the possibility of business slowing down, but pressed forward in spite of their fears.

The new manager has been in place for three weeks and their sales have improved by $9K per week! Last week they finished with $40k which was their best performance ever!   


Indiana Jones stepped off the cliff because he had faith in his map.   ATI has the road-map to your dream.  If you embrace discomfort and recruit when scared, you can get what's on the other side of the invisible bridge. 


Eric Twiggs

For more information on how ATI can become your road-map, visit

PS.  I have a list of hiring resources that have been helping our clients to find great people.  Email me at if you would like a copy!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Are You Running a Reverse Car Wash?

Are You Running a Reverse Car Wash?


Eric Twiggs

“Many business problems are personal problems in disguise."  Michael Port

“Eric, you don't understand, it's hard to find good people in my area."  Said Ray, a former client.   He just lost his best technician to a competitor and didn't know what to do next.  During the eighteen months that I had been coaching him, his shop had been a revolving door for techs and he was on his third writer. 

”What is the morale like at the shop?" I asked.  "Eric, the morale isn't the issue, my area is less populated than your other ATI shops, and my competition is able to pay more than I can.  My shop is different"    

I decided to conduct an exit interview with the technician named Jack who was leaving.   Jack went on for twenty minutes about how Ray belittles him and the staff, never recognizes anything positive that he does, and refuses to get any of the equipment fixed.  He then told me that the rest of the staff is looking for other work as well.  As it turns out RAY was the problem, NOT his area. 

If I were to interview one of your employees, what would they say about working for you?  If you don't know or don't want to know, chances are you have a culture problem.   Think about it, if you were the best technician in the market with several offers on the table, would you work for Ray?

 Bad culture corrupts good people.  It's like a reverse car wash, they come in clean and leave dirty!   So how do you establish the right culture and avoid the reverse car wash syndrome?  Keep reading and you will learn the three types of meetings that will drastically improve your shop culture. 

Daily Morning Huddle Meetings

The morning huddle meeting should last between five and fifteen minutes and is conducted before the shop opens.  It gives you a chance to celebrate your wins, and address what went wrong from the previous day.    It also provides a platform to communicate individual goals along with the game plan to accomplish them.

 A recent University of California study concluded that a person who communicates their goal to a coach or mentor is 33% more likely to achieve it in comparison to someone who doesn’t.  People support what they help to create.  Having your employees tell you their goals will improve their morale and increase your bottom line. 

Weekly One on Ones

This style of meeting is typically done with the owner and the second in command.  The one on one should last between fifteen and thirty minutes.  Quite often, the owner and second in command are like two ships passing in the night and are not on the same page. 

As a result, problems go unresolved which negatively impacts the morale.  The weekly one on one opens up the lines of communication and keeps both parties accountable.

Monthly Team meetings

 Having scheduled monthly meetings gives your employees the opportunity to voice their concerns about how the business is running, and be a part of the solution for improvement.  Bad news doesn’t get better with age.  Having a regular day and time set aside where issues can be addressed, keeps the small fires from becoming big ones.  

When I ran shops, I always had the monthly meeting on a day that I was scheduled to be off.  When my people saw me coming in on my off day, it sent a message that it was important and took away any excuses for them not being able to attend. 

So there you have it.  If you commit to implementing the three meeting types, you will attract good people that can develop into great ones and pull the plug on your reverse car wash. 


Eric Twiggs
301 575 9120  

PS.   I have a list of morale improvement best practices that you can use at your meetings.  Email me at if you would like a copy.