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

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Secret Behind The Art

The Secret Behind The Art


Eric M. Twiggs

Sustaining an audience is hard. It demands a consistency of thought, of purpose, and of action over a long period of time." - Bruce Springsteen

It was a warm Sunday afternoon, and Pablo Picasso was having lunch at an outdoor cafĂ©.  A young woman approaches him with the following request: “Mr. Picasso, I'm your biggest fan! I would be honored if you would draw me a picture."

He obliges her by grabbing a napkin, drawing the sketch, and handing it back to her. "This is great!" She said. "I can't wait to show this to my kids. Thank you Mr. Picasso! To which he replied: "You’re welcome. That will be five thousand dollars." 

"Five thousand dollars? You’ve got to be kidding! That only took you five minutes." What he said next, inspired this message: "My dear that took me 50 years."   The young lady didn't know the secret behind the art. 

It's easy to underestimate the amount of time and effort required to be great. There's an absentee owner in your 20 group with a 30% net profit. Is she just lucky? There's that Team Twiggs shop in the emails who always makes the list. Is their area different?  Then there's the writer you work with who always holds margin while keeping happy customers.   Is it because she's on the better shift with nicer customers?

If you answered yes to any of my questions, you have something in common with the lady at the cafe'.  Keep reading and you will learn the secret behind the art.  

The secret behind the art is to focus more on the process than you do the event!   The event happens once, but the process is all about doing the right things over a sustained period of time. 

The reason the ATI program is a 30 month road-map, is because the process is the road that leads to your goals.  Below are two keys to mastering the secret behind the art:

Your Beliefs

In her book "Mindset", Carol Dweck illustrates the difference between a "fixed" and a "growth" mindset.  According to Dweck, someone with a fixed mindset believes their talents, and abilities are fixed traits that can't be improved.

They also feel that talent-without effort, creates success. Anyone who responds to coaching, with the words: "I can't…" or "I'm not good at…" is operating with a fixed mentality.  People with a growth mindset believe their abilities can be developed through dedication and training.

You may not be good at exit scheduling, but with dedication, you can get better. You may struggle with selling, but with training, you can improve.  If you don't like your results, revisit your beliefs.  A growth mindset will help you commit to the process.

 Your Comparisons

Don't compare you’re your backstage to someone else's front stage. For example,  I often speak with service writers who try to compare themselves to ATI instructor, Randy Somers.  They say things like: "I can't sell like Randy, he's a natural born salesman." They are comparing their backstage to his front stage. 

The front stage is the one time event they see. The backstage is the years of process, practice, and preparation that’s hidden.  What they miss is the fact that he has been teaching the class for eight years!  That's eight years of practicing and role playing combined with over thirty five years in the business.

The most accurate comparison you can make is to compare today's version of yourself with yesterday's version.  Are you getting better or going backwards?  If you are getting better every day, you have embraced the process, which is the road-map to your goals.  


If you monitor you beliefs and manage your comparisons, you will master the secret behind the art!  Hopefully, I have painted the picture to help you start the process.


Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS. Are you looking for a process to improve your car count?  Email  and I will send you my enhanced 7 step marketing plan to help you master the art of attracting the right customers.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Butterfly Rule

The Butterfly Rule


Eric M. Twiggs

"Everything you want is on the other side of fear." Jack Canfield

I was surfing channels after watching my Redskins lose last Sunday, and stumbled across the Entertainment Network.  They were showing an interview from 1998 with actress Helen Hunt.  She had just won the Academy Award for her role in the movie "As Good As It Gets.”   The Oscar, like The ATI Top Shop award, is only given to the best of the best! 

During the interview, the reporter says the following: "Helen, you just won the Oscar! How will you decide on your next film project?"  Her response made me think of you.  She replied:  "I will choose the project that scares me the most."

Why would a successful actress, at the top of her game, seek out something that scares her?   It's because she lives by the Butterfly Rule. 

What task in your business scares you the most?  The "butterflies" you feel are a sign that what you are about to do is critical to your success.   You will not reach your potential until you do whatever you're afraid of. 

Here's where the rule comes in:  You have to do what scares you the most, because growth takes place on the other side of your butterflies.   As you read on, you will learn about two aspects of your business where this applies. 

Coaching Conversations:   

I was speaking with a service manager named "Jack", who talked non-stop about his problem employee.   This technician was coming in late, not doing courtesy checks, and failing to do the test drives. 

I asked Jack if this was costing him money, and he said YES.  I asked if this was affecting morale, and he said YES.  I asked if he had spoken to the technician about it, and there was silence!  Before I could email Verizon to complain about the dropped call, Jack spoke up.   He admitted to being nervous about having the difficult discussion. 

Is there a coaching conversation with a problem employee that you’ve been avoiding?  The queasy feeling in the pit of your stomach is confirmation of your need to have the conversation.   Your people won’t grow from the coaching session that you don't have

Customer Calls

 Have you ever felt uneasy with the idea of making follow up calls to customers  you haven't seen in a while, because you fear what they may tell you?  Instead of dreading the phone call, consider this: 

 According to customer service expert Ruby Legner, the average business only gets complaints from 4% of their unhappy customers. 96% of the disappointed customers don't complain.    91% of these unhappy patrons that don't complain, never come back!

The average lifetime value of an automotive customer is around $7,100.  It will be easier to make the call, if you view it as an opportunity to save a valuable relationship. 

Bad news doesn't get better with age, so the sooner you press through your fears, the better chance you have of growing your sales.   The fact that it makes you nervous, is a sign that you need to do it!


So there you have it.  If you apply the butterfly rule to your coaching conversations and customer calls, you increase your chances of becoming a Top Shop.  And that's "As Good As it Gets!"


Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS. Does the idea of delivering a presentation to your employees, networking group, 20 group, or Rotary Club, give you the butterflies?   Email  and I will send you a PowerPoint containing 3 strategies to help you press through the butterflies and nail your next presentation!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Easy Button


"Most people have the will to win, few have the will to prepare to win. Bobby Knight

The year was 2007, and I was the new District Manager for twelve shops that ranked in the bottom 10% of the company in profits.   My first visit was to the Salisbury Maryland location to meet "Dave", the service manager. 

 Here is how our conversation went:  "Dave, are you scheduling the next service for your customers?"  "No, Eric, our customers in this area don't like to be scheduled."

 "Why aren't the tech's doing the courtesy checks?”  "I tell them to do it, but they don’t believe in them."  "Dave, why are the technicians wearing sneakers instead of the safety toed boots?"   "Eric, the guys feel that the sneakers are more comfortable." 

Raising his voice, Dave asked: "show me in writing where it says I have to get my guys to exit schedule, do courtesy checks, and wear safety toed boots?" 

 I responded like any graduate of the George Zeeks School of Leadership would:   I grabbed the yellow legal pad from his desk, ripped off the first page, and wrote: YOU have to get  your guys to exit schedule, do courtesy checks, and wear the safety toed boots!   I handed him the paper and said:  "Now you have it in writing!!"

Later that day, I wondered what kept the Salisbury team from implementing the processes.  And then it hit me.  They were looking for the easy button.

Everyone working for you wants to succeed.  I'm sure your tech doesn't go home bragging to his spouse about having the most comebacks!   Since its human nature is to choose the path of least resistance, people will default to what's easy if your standards are unclear. 

So what can you do to keep your team from ignoring the processes and pushing the easy button?  As you keep reading, you will pick up two ideas to improve your team's compliance. 

Communicate Your Non Negotiables

I recall having a shop meeting where I explained in great detail how to fill out the courtesy checks and why it was a good idea.  With a smug look on his face, one of the techs asked me:  "what's in it for me to fill out the form?" 

 I responded by reminding him how he would get the benefit of continued employment at the shop!  I never had an issue with him doing courtesy checks after that, because he realized this was a non-negotiable.

When enforcing on your non-negotiables, ask your people if they believe that what you are asking for is good for the car, the company, and the customers.  Have them explain how and why all three areas will benefit.  

 It will be hard to push the easy button, after they tell you the process is helpful for the customer, company and car. 

Conduct Your One On Ones

The weekly one on ones, give you an opportunity to check in with your team member to review his execution of the non-negotiables.  I recommend creating a show me list of items he will bring to the weekly meeting. 

 For example, if following the phone process is on your list, have him show you the completed phone log for that week.  For exit appointments, he can bring the daily tracker that details who was exit scheduled. 

Having your meeting on the same day at the same time each week creates accountability.   He will be less likely to push the easy button on Monday, if he knows you will ask him about it on Wednesday at 2pm.  Your people will respect what you inspect.   


I communicated my non-negotiables and conducted weekly one on ones with Dave, my service manager. 

 Within a few weeks, he became one of my best managers and a solid team player who helped me enforce the processes in other locations.  If it worked for me, why not you? 



Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach


PS.  Looking for an easy step by step process for conducting One on One's?  Email  and I will send you the 5 steps to an effective one on one!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Addition By Subtraction

Addition By Subtraction


Eric M. Twiggs

"Don't be afraid to give up the good to go for the great" John D Rockefeller

"Tom" had been writing service for 15 years.  He thought he knew his customers, and what they could afford.   Business was trending down for the past six months and "Greg",the shop owner, didn't know why. 

One thing he was sure of was that it had nothing to do with Tom and his performance.   Both he and Tom blamed the negative trend on the local economy.  After all, their tool guy just told them about all of the other area shops being slow. 

I decided to phone shop Tom and was "shocked"(ok, not really) to learn that he made no attempts to ask for the appointment or invite the customer to the location.    In spite of Greg's coaching and follow up, Tom failed a second phone shop the following week by not asking for the business.

Feeling the financial pressure, Greg decided to eliminate Tom's position and take over the role of service manager himself. 

You’ll never guess what happened next.  Weekly sales improved by an average of $6k, and have exceeded $20k ever since.  Several customers told Greg they were glad to see Tom go and would not have come back if he was still there!   This is classic case of addition by subtraction.

When trying to get to the next level, it's natural to think about what needs to be added to achieve your goals.  Greg's story teaches us that sometimes it's the process of elimination that leads to elevation. 

As we embark on a new year, I pose the following question:  What do you need put down in order to move up?   As you read on, you will learn about two specific areas where this applies.

Do your beliefs line up with where you're trying to go?  For example, if your goal is to improve cash flow, but you don't believe in pricing properly, your perspective is the problem.   Ask any of the shop owners who made it to The Top 50, and they will confirm that their cash flow improved once they eliminated their limiting beliefs about the business. 

They raised their labor rate only to discover that the anticipated angry mob of customers carrying pitch forks, never showed up at their doors!  Feel free to contact me to ask about speaking to a shop owner experiencing similar challenges as you but achieving better results. 

Talking with someone who’s getting results,can change your perspective.  If someone else is doing it, it has to be doable! 


 Elite organizations view hiring as a process of elimination and NOT of inclusion.  In other words, they hire tough so they can manage easy.  Google for example, only hires .2% of the three million candidates that apply each year. 

They have a structured and rigorous selection process that includes an online application, phone screening, five on site interviews, reference checks, and several assessment tests!  Their goal is to weed out the unqualified candidates from the process, so they are left with only the "A" players.  Is your hiring a process of elimination or desperation?

The feeling of desperation will cause you to add unqualified people to your team, who will subtract your customer count.    Google can be selective because they always have applicants to choose from.  If you only recruit when you have an opening, it will be harder to adopt the elimination mindset when interviewing!


Greg's winning streak began by losing the wrong service manager.   If you are willing to lose your limiting beliefs and weed out the unqualified candidates, you too can benefit from addition by subtraction. 

Happy New Year,

Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS.  Are limiting beliefs adding to your frustration while subtracting from your bottom line?  Email and I will send you a listing of 7 Books that will elevate your thinking in 2016!!