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

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

How to Get Out Of Your Box

How to Get Out Of Your Box


Eric Twiggs

“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” –Jim Rohn 

I was having a bad day!  I made my first coaching call in the morning to "Joe" who says he can't find an "A" Technician. I asked him: “What are you doing to find a tech?" Joe replied:  "I am doing everything I can to find help.  I ran an ad on craigslist but nobody responded! " 

Next I called "Linda", who is averaging five cars a week:  "Linda, what are you doing to improve your car count?"   "Eric, you told me to start posting on Google +,  so I just did a post  five minutes ago because I knew you were calling today! "

Disappointed, but still optimistic, I call "Rick" my next client.  "Rick what are you doing to improve technician productivity?"  "Eric, you suggested having daily huddle meetings with the techs, so I had one last Thursday.  My guys still aren't producing!   Joe, Linda, and Rick, were stuck in the box.  How did they get there and what does this have to do with you?

The fastest way to get stuck is to have a quick fix mentality.  Joe, Rick, and Linda were looking for "the magic pill" by only trying one idea.  The problem with only doing one thing is that you will default to what you’ve always done

For example, what's the first idea that pops into your head when you think of finding employees?  I'll bet you answered "run an ad."  If you believe in the quick fix, running the ad will be the only step you take, because this is what has worked in the past.

If you had to come up with four additional strategies to find help, at least two of your ideas would be things you haven't tried before.   The solution to getting out of your box is to implement The Rule of 5. 

Here's how The Rule of 5 works:  For any major business goal, pick at least 5 things you can do this week to make it happen.    Below are two examples:

Hiring an A Tech
  1.             Run an Ad on IATN (
  2.        .    Place a Career Opportunities Link on your Website
  3.        .    Offer Up to $1,000 referral bonus for employees & vendors
  4.            Do a Tool Raffle with your local tool vendor
  5.        .    Follow up with past applicants that declined because of a counter offer.

         Improving Productivity
  1.           Post a productivity white board
  2.          Use my productivity coaching form with each tech
  3.           Put everyone on a performance based comp plan
  4.          Have daily morning huddle meetings
  5.         Have an individual or team based productivity contest 

Chances are, you just picked up an idea you haven't used before.   This is the power of the rule.  It forces you to step outside of what you would normally do. 

What is your biggest business challenge?  Before you say "I can't…..” tell me about the 5 things you can do to achieve your goal.   Today is a great day to use the rule of 5, to get out of your box! 


PS.  Do you need more cars?   I have a list of the 5 rules of marketing that can be used as a checklist for any marketing communication you send out.  Email if you would like a copy. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Your Due Season

Your Due Season


Eric Twiggs

"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."  The Apostle Paul

Imagine you are planting a Chinese bamboo tree.  You plant the seed, water and fertilize it for an entire year, but nothing happens!   You repeat this process the second year, and still don't see any results.  Year three, you begin the same steps of watering, and fertilizing, but see no evidence of a tree.  Frustrating right?

Fast forward to year five and it starts with you continuing to do the right things to grow your tree with no visible progress.  Have you ever felt like you were planting a bamboo tree?

Then halfway through the fifth year, everything changes.  Suddenly, the tree sprouts and grows ninety feet in six weeks!   If you trust the process and keep doing the right things, you will reap the harvest in your due season.  It's the law of the bamboo tree.   

Laws are unique because they affect you whether you believe in them or not.  This is why clients who don't believe in what we teach, tend to see the color "red "on the profit lines of their portal!    So what are the laws affecting you and your shop?
Below are two universal laws to leading a successful shop:

Having The Right People 

 How would you rate the overall performance of each person working for you on a scale of 1-10?  Anyone you score in the 9 to 10 range is an "A" player.  7 to 8 would be a "B", and 5-6 would be a "C".  You should strongly consider replacing anyone who scores below a 5!  

The more "A" players on your team, the easier it will be for you to achieve your goals.    If you and I are playing chess, and I have all pawns on the board and you have rooks, knights, and bishops, you would win even if I had a better strategy.   

 Having The Right Profit Margin

Your costs of doing business are always increasing.  If your costs exceed your margin dollars, you lose money.   Period!  There are two ways to increase your margin dollars: 1. Work on more cars.   2.  Charge enough on the cars you work on.   Keep in mind that you have to improve gross sales by 30% to generate the same net income you would get from increasing your gross profit by 5%.

For example, if your shop averages $10k a week in gross sales at a $350 ARO, you would have to find an additional 9 cars a week to achieve a 30% sales increase. 

Charging correctly on each vehicle gives you the chance to increase your gross profit without decreasing your efficiency by adding all the cars to the mix.  The math doesn't lie.  It affects you even if you don't believe in charging more for your services. 


You may be thinking:”I look at the pictures on my vision board every day, so I don’t need better people or margins!”

Your vision board will only work if you are committed to working for your vision.  Otherwise, your poster is just a picture of what you don’t have!  

If you commit to keeping the right people and profit margins, you will experience your due season.   


Eric Twiggs

PS.  I have a 7 step checklist to help you grow your bottom line.  Email me at to get your copy!  

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Are You Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places?

Are You Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places?


Eric Twiggs

"Leaders don't flock. You have to find them one at a time." Ross Perot

"Steve"was in big trouble.  His best technician just told him he was leaving to work for the competitor.   Steve never embraced my idea of "always be looking", so he began his talent search without any leads.  He started by posting ads on the typical internet job boards, which resulted in him being flooded with resumes from experienced fork lift drivers!

Out of desperation, Steve ran ads with the local unemployment office with hopes of filling the void.  To his surprise, he got an immediate response from a master certified technician named "Joe", with over twenty five years of experience. 

Steve called Joe in for an interview.  Everything was going as planned until he asked him why he left his most recent job.  Joe's response was classic: "We had a difference of opinion.  The owner was of the opinion that I shouldn’t smoke marijuana in the bays!"  Based on the job board and unemployment office results, it's clear that Steve was looking for love in all the wrong places!

If you limit your search to only the "active" job seekers, you may end up like Steve.   According to a recent Linked IN study, candidates who are actively searching for a new position make up 25% of the job market. 

In other words, 75% of the people you want to hire aren't looking!  So how do you stop looking for love in all the wrong places? You may not be a country singer, but the following  three ideas will change your tune:

  •  Enhance the Referral bonus -- What's in it for your current "A" players, vendors, and BNI members to refer you to the good people they know?   I recommend you offer an "up to $1,000 referral bonus" to anyone that refers you a candidate.  You can pay out $250 per quarter for up to four quarters.  The referred employee has to be employed and meeting expectations for the referring individual to be eligible for the payout.  

  •  Go Fishing -- "Fishing" is when you ask the applicant you're interviewing about the good people they have worked with.  Once you hire the candidate, you can offer the referral bonus to get that service writer to recruit the great tech she mentioned in the interview.   If you decide not to hire her, you still have the name and shop information of the good person she spoke of. 

  • Use Facebook -- According to a recent online survey, 73% of millennial’s reported finding their last job through social media.  Facebook ads are very effective because they allow you to target your ideal candidate based on work history, education, interests, and other relevant criteria.  They also expose your openings to the "passive" job seeker who’s not posting her resume on the job boards.

It‘s possible find a great person on sites like CareerBuilder, Craigslist, and Indeed.  I get it.  Having this as a PART of your hiring strategy isn't a bad thing.   Just keep in mind that only 25% of your candidate pool is posting resume's on job boards.  

Enhancing the referral bonus, going fishing, and using Facebook, will give you access to the passive job market, and keep you from looking for love in all the wrong places!   


Eric Twiggs

PS.  I have a step by step hiring process outline to help you find that "A" player.  Email if you would like a copy. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Secret To Losing Gross Profit

The Secret To Losing Gross Profit


Eric Twiggs

“Every day you either get better or you get worse. You never stay the same."  Bo Schembechler, Football Coach

Meet "Jeff", a service manager who was a legend in his own mind.  As a veteran with over twenty years in the business, he knew it all.  Jeff attended the Service Advisor class and left a day early because it was "a waste of his time".   I sent him the links to our phone skills webinar only to have him remind me of how long he had been in the business. 

With all of his"vast knowledge", I wondered why the shop had a much lower gross profit dollar (GPD) lift than my average client.  When I asked Jeff this question, he responded by telling me about how bad the economy was in his area, and how his customers didn't have any money.

I had Jeff phone shopped on two occasions and he failed both calls with flying colors!    Business reached a point where "James", the shop owner, had to terminate Jeff and become the service writer. You'll never guess what happened next. 

Weekly sales improved from $14k to$21k and gross profit dollar lift rose to over $4,000 per week. Today, James is a successful alumni client with a weekly GPD lift above the national average. 

Why did Jeff leaving result in the business returning?   It's because he had mastered the secret to losing  gross profit.

The secret to losing gross profit is to stop learning.  In six years as a Coach, I have never met a successful client who said the following: "I already knew that!"

Those who've said this, have either been fired from their shop, or left the program without achieving their return on investment.  The following are some additional signs that you or someone you know has stopped learning:  

·         The Empty Workbook -- When you send your writers to class, do they come back with pages of notes or an empty workbook?   The key is to be proactive.  Before they arrive to ATI, let them know you expect them to take notes and to come back with specific ideas to improve your business. 

 If your manager returns without any notes, it's because you have failed to set the expectations beforehand.  The best defense is a good offense when it comes to dealing with the empty workbook!

·         Lack OF ASE Interest --  The technician who is unwilling to pursue or renew his  ASE certifications, even though you reimburse for it, has stopped learning.   I have a shop in the Midwest where the tech is complaining about wanting a raise, knowing that his pay plan would increase his base by 5% once he passed his next test! 

 Vehicle technology is advancing, and the dynamics of our industry are always changing.  If you have a technician with a lack of ASE interest, it bears the following question: What is he doing to improve his skills and increase his knowledge base?  Since there is no such thing as staying the same, he's getting worse if he isn't doing anything to get better.  Do you want someone who is on the decline, working on vehicles that are improving?   

According to John Maxwell, "the speed of the leader is the speed of the team." In other words, your people will do what you do.  The owner, who has stopped learning, is likely to have technicians not getting their ASE's, and writers with empty workbooks.   

What are YOU doing to improve your skills and increase your knowledge base?  If your answer is "nothing", you will succeed at losing gross profit! 


Eric Twiggs

 PS.   I have a list of books that our Top ATI Shop owners are reading.  Email  if you would like a copy.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

How To Hire The Wrong Person

How To Hire The Wrong Person


Eric Twiggs

“Great vision without great people is irrelevant" Jim Collins

Imagine that you were opening a new location.  You would be closing your current shop and staffing the new building with “A” players in each role who are great at fixing cars, answering the phone, and selling service.

This “dream team” would be so good, you could leave the country for two weeks, and return to a better business than when you left.  Profit wouldn’t depend on your presence.   

Now, let’s get back to reality and look at your current staff.  Knowing what you now know, who from your crew would you rehire for the dream team?   Would everyone make the cut?

When I ran shops, I was an expert in the art of hiring the wrong person!  Don’t laugh, because if you wouldn’t rehire 50% or more of your existing team, you have the same expertise!

I believe in the importance of knowing what NOT to do, so today you’ll learn the following two steps to hiring the wrong person:

Ignore The Red Flags

A red flag is a warning signal indicating you are about to make a bad hire.  The most common red flag is “the job hopper.”

This is the candidate who has worked for five companies in five years and has something negative to say about each organization.  If you hire him, you will be the sixth shop he hops from.

When referring to a mutual fund, the popular saying is “past performance is not an indicator of future results.”  Unlike mutual funds, the candidate’s past is the best predictor of what they will do when they work for you.    

Recruit Out Of Desperation

The ideal time to look for great people is when you’re fully staffed.   If you start looking after losing a key person, you’ll be more focused on filling the void than making a great hire. When you’re desperate, the temptation will be to hire someone without checking their references, which will cause you to miss out on as much as 25% of what you need to know about them.

The “A” players aren’t surfing CareerBuilder and Craigslist. They’re busy doing a great job where they are.   A recent Linked IN study concluded that the majority of successful companies used referrals from their network to find people.  45% of the surveyed businesses relied on networking compared to 30% relying on job postings, 15% on resume searches and 10% making internal moves.   

If you search when you’re already staffed, you won’t feel  pressured, which will make it easier to follow up with references, and network with your current "A" players, vendors, and BNI members.  


So there you have it.  If you ignore the red flags and recruit out of desperation, you too can hire the wrong person! 


Eric Twiggs

PS.  I have created a set of  phone interview screening questions that will increase your chances of hiring an" A" player, and allow you to screen out candidates that will waste your time.  Email if you would like a copy.