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

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

2 Disciplines That Will Determine Your Destiny

2 Disciplines That Will Determine Your Destiny


Eric M. Twiggs

"Take your downtime and turn it into prime time" Dave Anderson

The year was 1998 and the Indianapolis Colts had a tough decision to make.  The National Football league (NFL) draft was weeks away and they had the first pick.  The Colts needed a quarterback, and there were two great college players to choose from. 

Ryan Leaf hailed from Washington State and was the best athlete.  He had a "million dollar arm" along with excellent speed.  Peyton Manning starred at the University of Tennessee, and was known for his intelligence and work ethic.  Although many of the experts ranked Leaf as the better overall talent, both were considered to be future NFL legends.

The Colts organization was undecided on who to select.  Bill Polian, the general manager, called them into his office for private interviews in an effort to break the tie.  He asked them both the following question: "How would you react to being selected as the #1 pick in the draft?"

Based on their answers, Bill decided to draft Peyton Manning and the rest is history! Today, Manning is regarded as one of the greatest to ever play the game.  Ryan Leaf on the other hand, is viewed as one of the biggest disappointments of all time.  He is no longer playing and currently serving a prison sentence.

How was the general manager able to predict their future based on the answer to one question?  Well, Manning answered Bill's question as follows: “If you drafted me with the first pick, I would meet with my coach to review the playbook and start practicing."     Leaf responded: “I would fly to Vegas and have a celebration party!"  Bill was able to predict their future once he knew their habits.   

Do your daily habits line up with your weekly goals?   Keep reading and you will learn about the two disciplines that will determine your destiny.  

1. Planning

My client Marlin, owner of Marlins Auto Diagnostics, has a habit known as “Five swings a day."  Here's how it works:  Every evening, he makes of list of his top five priorities for the next day. The following day, he carries a 3x5 index card with him, and places a check mark next to each "swing" once he accomplishes the task.  

Doing the ATI homework, conducting repair order audits, preparing his Google Plus posts, updating his marketing calendar, and reviewing resumes, are examples of a typical day's priorities.   The fact that he’s a successful alumni client, who’s been in the program since 2009, is no coincidence.  

 His success was predictable because of his planning habit!

2. Practicing

According to author Malcolm Gladwell, it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to master any skill.  Deliberate practice is involves practicing a behavior, receiving corrective feedback, and then practicing again the correct way. 

Josh, the general manager of the Colorado based Family Tire & Auto locations, has a habit of video recording his role play sessions with his service managers.  He picks a specific maintenance service, and has his managers role play the sales process.

 Afterwards, they watch the recording together and agree on the positives and the improvement opportunities.  Then, they practice the sale again the correct way.     


Studies show that the average professional football player invests two hours of planning and practice time for every minute of actual game time.  Sadly, most shops practice on the customer and use the loss of business as corrective feedback! 

If you commit to planning and practicing, I predict great things for your future.  Your habits will make you the #1 pick with you customers every time. 


Eric M. Twiggs

PS.  Email  to receive a list of the 5 skills you should role play with your service writers.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

How To Irritate Your Customer Base

How To Irritate Your Customer Base


Eric M. Twiggs

'Price is what you pay; value is what you get. Warren Buffet

"Paying extra to fly first class is a waste of money!" This is what I said back in 2008 as I boarded my flight headed to St Louis.   My seat was in row 4 and the first class section was in rows 1-3.  We were all going to the same destination, and the state of the economy was at an all-time low point.  

Why would someone spend more money just to sit in the front of the plane?   Suddenly, the flight attendant tapped me on the shoulder letting me know that I had been upgraded to first class.  I was about to find out!

I noticed the seats were larger and had more leg room.  We received a hot entrĂ©e menu that included salmon, baked chicken or lasagna as options.  I looked back and observed the economy passengers being served a bag of peanuts and a cold sandwich.

 After the flight attendant announced the additional movie charges over the intercom, she told me about the free movies I had access to on my own screen.

 And then it hit me!  Those who fly first class are willing to pay extra, because they know they are getting an upgrade in their experience.

What if you flew in the economy section, but after your flight, the airline charged you an extra $500 for a first class ticket?  Spending the additional money would bother you, but you'd be more upset about paying a first class price for an economy experience!

Raising your prices without upgrading the service levels, will irritate your customer base.      Keep reading and you will learn two ideas to upgrade your shop to first class status.

Ask Your Employees 

 At your next team meeting, ask your employees what makes the experience at your shop exceptional.  You may hear the following response: " We fix the cars right the first time." If so, they are confusing the exceptional with the expected!

According to a recent service management group survey, the customer who leaves your shop feeling “wowed” is twice as likely to come back, and three times as likely to refer you as one who only had their basic expectations met.

Customers are not impressed by a level of service they expect to receive.  Asking the question of your people, gives you the chance to educate them on what it means to be exceptional, and to brainstorm on future ideas for improvement. 

Ask Your Neighbors

 Ask someone you know, to visit ten businesses in your area posing as a customer.  At each business, have your representative ask the counter person, the following question: "Where can I go to get my brakes checked?" 

The results will give you insight as to how your community perceives the experience at your location. If everyone mentions you, it's a good sign because people remember exceptional experiences. 

 If an establishment mentions your competitor, have your representative ask about your shop and gauge the reaction. 


If price was the real issue, the first three rows on every flight would be empty!   If you implement my two ideas, you will start creating first class experiences, and stop irritating your customer base.


Eric M. Twiggs

PS.   If you would like to receive a checklist of 7 additional strategies to create a first class experience,   Email me at

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Don’t Fly Like a Chicken

Don’t Fly Like a Chicken


Eric M. Twiggs

"Eagles don't take flight lessons from chickens." C.L.Brown

A boy who found an eagle’s egg put it into the nest of a chicken. The eaglet hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them. All his life, the eagle, thinking he was a chicken, did what chickens did. He scratched in the dirt for seeds and insects to eat.

He flew no more than a few feet off the ground. After all, that’s how chickens were supposed to fly.

One day, he saw a magnificent bird soaring in the sky, high above the mountains. Hanging on the powerful wind currents, it soared with scarcely a beat of its golden wings. “I wish I could fly like that!” said the eagle to his neighbor.

"That’s the mighty eagle—the king of all birds,” the neighbor clucked back. “But don’t give it a second thought. You could never be like him.”

So the eagle never gave it another thought and it died thinking it was a chicken.

You were meant to soar as a shop owner.  The fact that you had the guts to step out on faith and start your own business, proves my point!  Not everyone has the courage to fly as an entrepreneur. Accepting less than your true value is the equivalent of embracing a chicken mentality.  Have you ever……   

  •       Tolerated poor performers because"there isn't anybody better out there?"
  •        Installed customer supplied parts?
  •        Discounted your parts and service out of the fear of losing customers?
  •        Failed to gradually increase your labor rate like your coach suggested?
  •        Put your customers on in house "payment plans" where you don't collect payment?

If you answered yes to one or more of my questions, you are flying like a chicken. The good news is that I have the solution that will help you to fly like the eagle you were born to be.  There is a power source that you can plug into that makes all the difference.

The Power of Association
It is impossible to become great in isolation. There is power in association.   If you aspire to become world class at anything, it requires spending time around other like minded people,and having a qualified instructor to point out your blind spots.

Your associations are critical because people that are on the same path as you bring a different perspective and can provide you with a greater level of encouragement. 

For example, if you told one of your golfing buddies that you had a goal to win a PGA Golf tournament, he would probably laugh, and try to talk you out of it.  If you shared this same goal with Jack Nicklaus, he wouldn’t laugh because he has been where you’re trying to go, and knows what's possible. 

Taking industry related classes, participating in a 20 group, and attending  annual conferences, gives you a chance to associate with shop owners that have been where you are trying to go.   You also get feedback from qualified instructors who will let you know when you're thinking like a chicken! 

The story that I opened with would have ended differently if the eaglet would have surrounded himself with other like-minded birds.

Attending the classes,  conferences, and 20 group meetings, will give you the best chance to leverage the power of association and soar like an eagle!


Eric M. Twiggs

PS. I have 5 strategies to help you get the most from your associations.    Email me at and I will send them to you.  

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The 7 Factors That Lead To Failure

The 7 Factors That Lead To Failure


Eric M. Twiggs

"Nothing external to you has any power over you." Ralph Waldo Emerson

It was August of 2009, and I was the new guy.  As a rookie coach, I was curious as to why some shop owners experience great success, while others lose money on the bottom line each week.  As I would get new clients, I would ask:" What's your biggest challenge?" 

The most common responses were the economy, customers not having enough money, and being in a small town. 

Several months later, my heart sank as a client was transferred to me that fit this description.  He had a four bay shop in a rural part of the country that had a low median income with a high unemployment rate. The local economy was bad because of massive layoffs. 

His location was four blocks from the main road and on a dead end street.  If you were to Google the phrase "my shop is different", a picture of his building would come up!  We were in big trouble, right?

Before you answer, let's fast forward to the present.  This "unlucky shop owner" averages $41,000 in sales, 82 cars, and $15,000 of Gross Profit Improvement per week.  His name is Bryan, and his shop BG Automotive, consistently ranks in the top 25 out of 1200 locations in the ATI Top shop rankings!   His story teaches us that the factors leading to failure are not external.

The reasons for both success and failure can be found within your four walls.   So what are the real reasons that shop's miss the mark?   Based on my experience, there are 7 factors that lead to failure:  Let’s start by reviewing the top 3.   

Unclear Standards 

Standards are the minimum acceptable levels of performance in a particular area.  Do your technicians know what the standard is for productivity?  Do your writers know how much they need to do in gross sales every day?  Do you and your team know what your WIN # is?

Having a consistent meeting routine is a great way to communicate your standards.  Daily huddle, weekly one on one, and monthly team meetings, give you a platform to keep everyone on the same page. 

Lack of Training 

Demanding results without verifying know-how, leads to frustration. I recall a time when I coached a service manager that struggled to sell maintenance.  Each week, he promised to do better, but the results never changed.  Out of frustration, I put him on the spot by asking him to sell me a brake flush as if I were a customer.  After an awkward silence, he admitted that he didn’t know what to say! 

If I had role played with him from the beginning, we could have implemented the training plan, and gotten the desired results much sooner.  Have you been struggling to get your writers to exit schedule, overcome objections, or answer the phones correctly?  Conduct role play sessions with them this week to see where they really stand. 

Missing Motivation

Training and motivation are often confused.  To resolve this confusion I use the "gun to the head test."  Here's how it works: If an armed criminal broke into your location, demanding your writer to execute the phone script, could she do it?

The "gun to the head" would motivate her to use her know-how.   If she has the know-how, but is still failing on the phones, a lack of training isn't the reason! 

Do you have a performance based compensation plan to provide monetary incentive?  Are there consequences in place for any employee who fails to follow through? Do you have a recognition program to provide public praise to your top performers?

If you answered "NO" to any of these questions, you may have a missing motivation problem!


If the economy, the customer’s wallet, and being in a small town determined success, Bryan and the other Top Shops would never make the list!

If you commit to clarifying your standards, investing in training, and providing motivation, you will overcome the factors that lead to failure!


Eric M. Twiggs

PS.  I only gave you 3 of the 7 factors.  For a complete checklist of the 7 factors that lead to failure, email  and I will send it.