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

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Drive Like A Shark

Drive Like A Shark


Eric M. Twiggs

If everything's under control, you're going too slow.” ― Mario Andretti.

What can a Shark teach you about driving?  In addition to starring on the hit TV show “Shark Tank”, Robert Herjavec is an entrepreneur and a competitive race car driver.   In his book “Driven: How to Succeed in Business and in Life,” He uses an analogy he learned from his racing experience, to explain the difference between the world class drivers and everyone else.

According to Robert, the difference shows up in what they do when they hit a corner at 200 miles per hour and their car begins to spin. 

He explains it this way: When your car begins to spin, you notice the wall ahead of you.  You don’t want to hit it because you risk losing the race or even your life.  

The normal reaction is to look at the wall, because it’s a threat to be avoided at all costs.   You are taught not to look at the wall, because if you do, you are sure to hit it!

Unlike the novices, the best drivers in the world, avoid looking at the wall and fix their eyes on where they want to go, which is down the track ahead of them.

In other words, they are more focused on the opportunity in front of them than they are the danger This allows them to keep moving forward in spite of hitting a bad turn in the road. 

Are your eyes fixed on the road or the risks?  Your life is always moving in the direction you’re looking.  If you’re always hitting the wall, it’s because that’s where your eyes are!    Stay with me and you will learn about the two common “walls” that keep most people distracted.   

Fear of the Unknown

This wall keeps many leaders from confronting under-performing employees.  The common belief is “the devil you know” is better than an unknown devil.

I know what you’re thinking: “Eric, the devil I know is failing to schedule exit appointments, not holding margins, or following the phone process, but at least he’s comes to work on time!” 

Instead of focusing on the danger of hiring someone worse, consider the opportunity to bring in somebody better. 

The Nascar world is similar to your shop in the following way: the racing teams that win the most, have the right people in their cars.  The devil you know, doesn’t get to take a victory lap at the Auto Repair 500.

Fear of Failure

This fear exists because of our tendency to overestimate the worst case scenario. The wall usually appears when you are thinking about raising prices. 

You start visualizing an angry mob of customers lining up at your door with pitch forks because you increased your labor rate by $3.  Then after making the change, you realize your customers are still happy and no one even noticed the difference.

If you look back over your life, most of the worst case scenarios you envisioned never became reality.  Mark Twain said it best when he said “I’ve had a lot of problems in my life, most of which never happened.”

Instead of focusing on the danger of failure, start looking at the opportunity in front of you to offset your ever increasing costs.  Even if you spend your entire day looking at the wall, the power company still expects to be paid! 

So there you have it.  If you focus on seizing the opportunity instead of staring at the wall, you will drive like a shark! 


Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS. Email  if you would like to receive an instruction sheet on how to create a goal poster that will keep you focused on your goals instead of the dangers. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Biggest Gamble You Can Take

The Biggest Gamble You Can Take


Eric M. Twiggs

“There is an easy way to leave a casino with a small fortune: Go there with a large one.” Jack Yellon

What’s the biggest gamble you can take as a shop owner?  Since Las Vegas is the mecca of gambling, I decided to study two famous Vegas acts, to get the answer.  First, there’s Siegfried and Roy.  They were stage magicians who were known for performing with lions and tigers. 

They decided not to hire other people to work with them, so there was no risk of making a bad hire or not being able to afford the payroll down the road.  This appeared to be a low risk, high reward move.  After all, their act was different!

Next, we have the Blue Man Group.  This act was started in 1987 by three close friends named Chris Wink, Matt Goldman, and Phil Stanton.  These three bald men painted themselves blue and performed a show that combined rock music with entertainment. 

They worked 14 hour days and performed over 1200 shows together. Then one fateful day, Phil cut his hand using a power tool and was unable to perform.  They were forced to use a back up blue man, which gave them the idea to hire others to replace themselves.

They took the gamble of recruiting and hiring their replacements, before they really needed them.   Which act took the biggest gamble? 

If your answer was The Blue Men, guess again!  Siegfried’s partner Roy was tragically mauled by one of his tigers during a performance in 2003.  Since their model was built around them being available to perform, their business ended once Roy became unavailable.

The Blue Man group doesn’t depend on any one person.  They can perform in Vegas, Los Angeles, and Chicago at the same time, because the original three friends no longer paint themselves. 

Siegfried and Roy’s story teaches us that having a business model where your profit is dependent on your presence, is the biggest gamble you can take. 

Is your model built around YOU being at the shop to perform?  Keep reading and you will see what you’re betting on when you fail to put an exit plan in place.  

Your Availability

One tiger took down a $350 million dollar Vegas Act.  The tiger is a metaphor that represents the negative events of life you don’t plan for. They can take the form of family issues, medical emergencies, and car accidents.

I know of shop owners who are only one “tiger” away, from financial ruinIt’s a jungle out there. If you spend enough time in the jungle, you are bound to encounter a tiger!

Betting that you will always be available, is riskier than creating an exit plan and recruiting for your replacement.  Playing it safe is a huge risk. 

Your Staff

Studies show that the average person entering today’s workforce will have six different jobs throughout their career.   When you fail to put an exit plan in place, you’re betting that your staff is the exception to this rule. 

Imagine averaging 45 cars a week with the following staff:  An A, B, and C Technician.  Let’s say your B technician quits without giving notice.  If YOU happen to be the A tech, you’re in big trouble! Instead of implementing a disciplined hiring process, you would be motivated to bring in the first “warm body” that can help you get the work out. 

Now, imagine experiencing the same surprise after replacing yourself in the business and writing your plan.   You would have anticipated losing a key person and have faster access to a qualified replacement.   Your “back up blue man” would be waiting in the wings.


Having an encounter with a “tiger” without having an exit plan, will leave you feeling blue.   I challenge you to avoid taking the biggest gamble you can take. 


Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS.  Is your business “tiger proof”? Email  and I will send you a special questionnaire, to help you find out.  

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Your Three-Step Plan To Build A Dominant Brand

Your Three-Step Plan To Build A Dominant Brand


Eric M. Twiggs

“A brand is worthless if it doesn’t connect with the right audience in a relevant way.” Cory Torella

It’s late in the evening and you’re out of town, driving without your GPS device.  You don’t know where you are, you don’t know where you’re going, but you do know that you’re hungry!  Up ahead, you see the next exit has fast food options so you turn off and go down that road. 

You pull up to the stop light and are faced with a difficult decision:  You can either turn left and go to McDonald’s, or you can go right and eat at The Twiggs Burger Joint. What would you do?

Now I make a great burger, but I’m guessing you would choose McDonald’s. You may be thinking; "But Eric, you fix burgers right the first time, are family owned and operated, and have the lowest prices in town!  Why would anyone choose McDonalds over you?” 

It’s because McDonald’s has built a dominant brand.   When in doubt, customers will default to the brand they trust.

For many consumers, choosing a repair facility feels like going down an unfamiliar road without a navigation system. Here’s the million-dollar question:  Would your shop be their default choice or would the customer make the right turn to your competitor? 

If your answer leaves you needing a “happy meal”, keep reading and you’ll learn a three- step plan to build a dominant brand.  But first, let’s make sure we have a clear definition of what your brand is.

Your brand is the perception of the experience a customer will have when they interact with your business.   It’s the first words that come to mind when someone mentions your shop

For example, when someone mentions McDonald’s, the words consistency and convenience come to mind. 

Now that you know the definition of a brand, you are ready to build your three-step plan: 

1.     Discovery

Since you can’t build something you don’t know about, the first step is to discover what your brand is.  Think about your ideal customer whom you would like to clone if you could. 

What are the most common words they use to describe the experience when they give you a testimonial? Why do they do business with you instead of the competition?   What words are consistently used in your 5 star google and yelp reviews?

Recently, I went through this exercise with Darrin Moncur, owner of Denny’s Auto Service.  He discovered the following words described his brand:  family, integrity, and honesty.  Armed with this insight, he was ready to move on to step #2 in the process. 

2.     Communication

If you know your brand, but nobody else does, your car count will be similar to that of my make believe “burger joint!”  So the next step is to create a “tag line” that tells the world about the experience they will receive when they do business with you.

A tag line is a memorable slogan companies use to associate with their brand.  After discovering his brand, Darrin, from the earlier example, created the following tagline: “Three Generations of Integrity.” 

This will be communicated on his website, business cards, and all of his future marketing.  He is now working with our Marketing Tool Box Representative, to find a logo that best symbolizes this experience. 

3.     Choreography

You know your brand, and you’ve communicated it through your marketing so your done right? Wrong!  Choreography is the process of ensuring your people’s daily actions are aligned with the brand you’ve communicated. 

It all starts with hiring process.  For example, someone who lied on their resume would struggle to deliver an experience of honesty and integrity to your customers.  After hiring the right person, the next step is to provide on-going training to reinforce the right behaviors.

Darrin has his service writer watch training videos that instruct on presenting a repair order with honest and integrity.   Communication is talking the talk, but choreography is walking the walk!


So there you have it.  If you commit to discovery, communication and choreography, you can create a dominant brand.   I wouldn’t recommend eating at The Twiggs Burger Joint, but I am a fan of the three-step plan!


Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS.  Struggling to find out who your ideal customer really is?  Email me and I will send you my “Ideal Customer Checklist”, to help you target the type of customer you want more of.  

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Accountability Myth

The Accountability Myth


Eric M. Twiggs

"Accountability is the glue that ties commitment to the result" Bob Proctor

John Wooden was the legendary coach of the UCLA Bruins.  His basketball teams won 88 games in a row and 10 national championships!  Bill Walton was the best player on the team and one of the best in the country.  Wooden had a rule in place where he didn’t allow his players to grow a beard. 

Everyone around the program knew “the no beard rule" was considered to be a non-negotiable.  Unfortunately, Bill Walton didn't get the memo!  The story is told that he showed up to practice one day, after a two-week break sporting a beard.    Let's peek into the practice session to see what happens next.   

"Now Bill, did you forget something?"  Walton replied: " Coach, if you're talking about my beard; I grew it, I like it, and I plan to keep it!"  "Bill, is that something you feel strongly about?"  " Yes it is coach!" Wooden then asks:  "Is this something you truly believe in?"  "Yes, it's my right to have it!" said Bill with a loud voice.

Coach Wooden's next response gives us a hint as to why he's a legend:  "Bill, I respect people who stand up for what they believe in. I admire your conviction.   And Bill, the team is really going to miss you." 

At that moment, Walton went to the locker room, shaved his beard, and went back to practice with the rest of the players.  John Wooden recognized the following truth, that applies to your shop:  What you allow is what will continue. 

Even though Wooden never used profane language or yelled at his players, he was known for his ability to hold people accountable.  His story pokes holes in "the accountability myth."

I often speak with shop leaders who feel they can’t hold people to task because they lack an aggressive personality. "I need to be like George Zeeks" is what they say.   Here's the definition of the accountability myth:   It's the incorrect belief that holding someone accountable means you have to yell, scream, and act like a tyrant to get results.

Accountability is the byproduct of consistency, not tyranny.   So how can you use this to hold your people accountable?  Keep reading and you will learn two keys that will help you to maximize the power of consistency.

Consistent Time

Having your meetings on the same day & time creates accountability.  Imagine having a weekly one on one every Tuesday at 7am, where you review how many exit appointments were scheduled.   At the end of the meeting you ask your writer how many appointments she will have scheduled and what she will do to improve by next week.

Even if you never raised your voice, she would leave the session feeling accountable for her results. Bill Walton didn’t make the necessary change until he realized that there were consequences for deciding not to comply.   The consistent day and time creates the consequence of having an uncomfortable conversation with you.      

Consistency Tool

Written documents are a great consistency tool to keep everyone accountable.  Earlier in my career, I would have a shop meeting where I would explain to the technicians how to perform a courtesy check.  At the end of the meeting, they would nod their heads telling me they understood.

Later in the week, I would review tickets and find that a particular technician wasn't on the program.  When I asked him why, he would claim to be unclear on what I was looking for.  To resolve this, I implemented the "I know it" coupon. 

Here's how it worked: At the end of my training meeting, everyone would sign a pre written document stating that they were trained on the topic and agreed to comply.  It was noted on the document that the failure to comply in the future carried the consequence of further disciplinary actions.   The coupon sent a consistent message, keeping everyone on the same page. 


So there you have it.  Having your meeting on the same day and time, and using consistency tools, will help you to hold people accountable. 

By being willing to part company with his best player, Coach Wooden sent a message to the rest of the team that consequences would be applied consistently.  What consequences do you have in place, if someone decides to dribble down the lane of non-compliance?


Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach


PS.  Looking for a consistency tool to keep your people accountable?   Email and I will send you a copy of my NEW Average Repair Order(ARO) Coaching Form.