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

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Do You Need To Move From Awareness To Action?

Do You Need To Move From Awareness To Action?


Eric M. Twiggs

“It’s not about what you know, it’s about what you do.”  Corbett Barr

“Do you always take the action that you know you need to take?”    As I reflect on this question, I’m reminded of a scene from my favorite movie “The Matrix”.   There was a pivotal point in the picture where Neo, the lead character, is having a conversation with Morpheus his coach.

I refer to Morpheus as a coach because throughout the film, he had been coaching Neo to overcome his limiting beliefs and to embrace what he was truly capable of.   In the scene, Neo confirms that everything Morpheus had been telling him was true. 

Neo finally knows the path.  But before he could become overconfident, Morpheus reminds him of the following truth: “There’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.” 

The fact that you attend coaching calls, classes, and conferences, proves that you know the path. You have an awareness of what to do.  

But sometimes, there’s a disconnect between what you know and what you do.  So, what can you do to move yourself and your team from awareness to action?  Since you chose the red pill, I will explain!  


In a previous life, I was a frustrated Corporate Trainer.   Every week I would facilitate a phone training class, where the service writers were tested at the end, to verify their ability to execute the phone script like they were taught. 

 I recall one of the writers named “Ray” who passed my class with flying colors.   He then went back to his location and failed three consecutive mystery phone shops! 

Consequently, the manager sent him back to my class, citing the training as the reason for Ray’s failures.  Ray knew the path, he simply chose not to walk it.  

Accountability is the bridge between awareness and action.  The first step to ensuring that your writers do what they know, is to record ALL incoming and outgoing phone calls. 

The incoming calls will verify that they are following the phone script like they were taught in class.  The outgoing calls will confirm whether they are presenting the estimates correctly. 

Once you have recorded the calls, the next step is to sit down with “Ray the writer” and have him tell you how his recording compares to what he was taught. 

If he can tell you what he did wrong, you know he’s aware, but not acting.    Ray will leave the conversation feeling accountable and with additional motivation to do what he knows the next time.  


In the National Football League, (NFL) the average player spends two hours of practice time, for every minute of game time. During a typical week,

 A starting player may play a total of thirty minutes of actual game time, but he spends close to sixty hours reviewing film, lifting weights, practicing drills, and doing a walk-through of the game plan. 

In the Automotive Service League, (ASL) we tend to practice on the prospects!   

Practice gives you the opportunity to verify that your people know what to do.   For example, after “Sarah”, your service manager returns from advanced sales class, have her sell you a 30K service.  You’ll know right away if she has the “know how.”

Sometimes, the individual is aware, but lacks confidence because the behavior is new and feels awkward.  Repetition builds confidence.

I challenge you to schedule time blocks on your calendar each week to practice and role play with your team. This could be worked in as part of the weekly one-on-ones you already have scheduled. 

Role playing the process on a regular basis, will increase the chances of them acting on what they know to do.    


Throughout the movie, Morpheus referred to Neo as “The One”.  If you embrace accountability by recording the calls, and commit to regular practice sessions, you and your people will be the ones who move from awareness to action. 


Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS.  Interested in recording phone calls, but don’t know where to begin?  Email and I will send you a listing of call recording options. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

How To Maintain Your Momentum

How To Maintain Your Momentum


Eric M. Twiggs

“Nothing fails like success. Because when you are at the top, it’s so easy to stop doing the very things that brought you to the top” Robin Sharma

Imagine for a moment that you’re a NASA astronaut.  Just being selected makes you a success, considering they only pick one person for every six hundred applications received.  The years of study, service, and sacrifice have finally paid off, and now it’s time for your mission. 

You strap into your seat, adjust your gauges and prepare for take-off.   In your headset, you hear “five, four, three, two, one, liftoff!”

The rocket shoots in the air and you are headed for the skies!   Before you reach outer space, you make a fateful decision.   You decide to take your finger off the jets and start coasting, believing you have already made it to the next level. 

Sadly, your miscalculation of the how much momentum you needed, would cause you to come crashing back to earth.   You may be thinking: “Cute story Coach, but what does this have to do with me?”

Like the astronaut, you’ve invested years of study, service and sacrifice, to get where you are.  You have profit in your pocket, and making payroll is no longer a problem. 

According to a recent Forbes Magazine study, 67% of small business owners are either breaking even or losing money so like the astronaut, you’ve beaten the odds.    As a shop owner, you are flying higher than you ever thought possible.  

Here’s the big takeaway from the rocket illustration:  You’re either pressing forward or plunging backwards.  Therefore, bad things happen when you take your finger off the jets.  So, what can you do to maintain your momentum?  Don’t take-off before I explain! 

Play The “What If” Game

Back when I was a district manager, I recall experiencing a period of success that caused me to ease up.   I was winning awards because of our KPI rankings, and was fully staffed in each location. Since I had the right people in place, I put my habits of running ads and visiting competitors on hold.

But everything changed when my best manager, who was running my most difficult location, handed me his resignation letter.   Since I had stopped searching and sourcing, it took six months to find a qualified replacement. 

Thus, I had to spend more time at this location, which caused me to lose focus on the bigger picture.  Since I stopped pressing forward, the district started plunging backwards.  This experience taught me to always play “the what if” game.

On a weekly basis, I asked myself the following question: “What if I lost my best manager tomorrow? Answering this question every week, kept me from getting comfortable and forced me to prepare for the worst-case scenario. 

Here are some “what if” questions for you: “What if your best technician never comes back from his lunch break today?” “What if you experienced an emergency that forced you to be away from your shop for thirty days?” “What if you lost your best and biggest fleet account?” 

Playing the weekly "what if" game will motivate you to keep your finger on the jets!

Set 90 Day Stretch Goals

We use the benchmarks in the ATI portal to establish stretch goals. Every 90 days we review your performance in comparison to these benchmarks.  I once had a client named “Kim” and every quarter, she was either meeting or exceeding her sales target. 

I would suggest that we increase the goal, and she would always push back, saying the new target was too aggressive.  After five minutes of debate, she would give in and I would “raise the bar.” 

We engaged in this healthy debate every quarter for two years until one day we realized she had doubled her weekly sales volume!  The debates ended as she looked at her completely green portal screen.    Having the stretch goal motivated Kim to keep reaching for the next level. 

What are you reaching for?  I challenge you to establish at least three specific & measurable goals you expect to accomplish within the next 90 days.   If you’re struggling to come up with goals, try beginning with the end in mind. 

Here’s how it works: Imagine that it’s February 16th 2017, and you’re bragging about having the best quarter in the history of your business.  What three things would need to happen for you to feel this way?


So, there you have it.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that playing the what if game, and setting 90 day stretch goals will help you to maintain your momentum.      I challenge you to keep reaching for the next level.  You may not get to the moon, but you will be surrounded by stars!


Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS. Looking to set 90 day goals but don’t know where to begin?  Email and I will send you a goal setting tool to help you analyze the eight key areas of your life. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

What's Holding You Back? A Two Word Answer

What's Holding You Back? A Two Word Answer


Eric M. Twiggs

                                  “When nothing is sure, everything is possible” Margaret Drabble

There’s one fundamental issue that prevents shop leaders from getting to the next level.   I ran into this issue several weeks ago while having a conversation with a service manager named “Paul.”  Paul had done poorly on three consecutive phone shops and the owner was getting frustrated. 

He had been through our service advisor training class and was trained on the importance of offering everyone who calls with a service inquiry an appointment.  Paul and I listened to three different recordings of the incoming calls, and each time he failed to offer the appointment. 

“Eric, you don’t understand. When the customers come in for their appointment, they always complain about not being able to get immediate service.”  I responded by asking him: “How many appointments have you scheduled this month? He replied with a tone of confidence: “TEN!” 

“Great Paul. How many of those customers have voiced this complaint?”  After a long awkward silence, Paul came back with the following response: TWO.   Paul’s problem with the phones can be summed up with two words: LIMITING BELIEF!

In a previous blog, I made you aware of a concept known as confirmation bias.   This occurs when you use a small sampling of information to confirm what you believe, while ignoring the overwhelming evidence that tells a different story.  

Paul’s limiting belief about the process was the problem.  So much so that he used the two complaints to confirm his way of thinking while ignoring the other eight happy customers. 

Think about an aspect of your business that has been a constant struggle for you.  What story do you use to justify your results in this area?  For example, if hiring technicians is your struggle, your story may be: “there aren’t any good tech’s in my area.”   Paul’s story was: “my customers always complain about not getting immediate service.”

I have some bad news: Your story is a limiting belief.  I can say this because, every day I speak with a shop owner who’s having success in your area of struggle, while dealing with the same obstacles as you.  The good news, is that by reading on, you will learn two keys to help you to overcome your limiting beliefs.   

It’s Never “Them”

Whether the topic is parts margins, exit appointments, or car count, most of the stories I hear point the blame at someone outside of the story teller. 

The following are the most common examples: “My customers don’t have the money”; “My customers don’t like to be exit scheduled”; “It’s an election year and customers are scared to spend money.  The first key to overcoming your limiting belief is to realize that the problem is never “them”. 

Taking ownership of your challenge creates possibilities, while limiting beliefs limit your options.  After all, why would you risk trying a new solution to a problem you believe you aren’t responsible for?  

The advantage of YOU being the problem, is that YOU also become the solution.  The realization that you have control, can motivate you to explore options you wouldn’t have considered otherwise. 

When you take responsibility for the parts margins, you will look for opportunities to improve your selling skills. When you take the blame for the lack of exit appointments, you’ll think about ordering the mystery envelopes.

When you become responsible for car count, you’ll be inspired to start networking with retirement / assisted living communities who are looking for a shop they can trust.   I challenge you to remove “them” from your story. 

Seek Progress Instead of Perfection

You will never receive 100% customer approval for any ATI initiative you implement.  If you follow the phone script to the tee, there will still be someone refusing to make an appointment.  

You can watch all thirty one of the selling webinars we have in the resource center, and still have customers decline your estimate presentation. The second key to overcoming your limiting belief is to seek progress instead of perfection.    In other words, don’t let perfect become the enemy of progress. 

Closely measuring your performance will help to shift your focus.  For example, let’s say your writer is upset about how many customers decline his up-sell attempts. He feels frustrated because he’s not experiencing the 100% success rate he expected. 

Once you start tracking his performance on the daily tracker, he’ll realize that he’s selling 50% of what the technician finds compared to the national average of 40%.

As you review his performance weekly during your one on ones, he improves to 60% and is now selling at best practice levels.  The constant measurement shifted his focus from perfection to progress. 


Paul blamed is customers for his phone performance and used feedback from a limited sample size to confirm his limiting beliefs.   If you embrace the fact that it’s never them, and seek progress instead of perfection, you will stop holding yourself back! 


Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS.  Now that we have addressed those limiting beliefs, you are ready for a checklist of innovative car count ideas.  Email and I will send it to you.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

How To Bounce Back From Your Setback

How To Bounce Back From Your Setback


Eric M. Twiggs


                                            “Your setback is a setup for a comeback” Dr. Willie Jolley

So, there I was, managing a $3.5 million-dollar shop in Largo Maryland.  For three months, I had a pressing need to hire another technician. While my colleagues and competitors complained about car count, I struggled to get the cars out that I had!  But things were about to change, because “Steve” had just accepted my offer to become the “A” Technician. 

Steve graduated of Lincoln Tech, had all the industry certifications, and had a following of customers that he promised to send my way.   He passed his drug test and background check with flying colors.  During the reference checks, Steve’s previous employers told me they would hire him back in a heartbeat.  I was looking forward to having him on my team. 

Two weeks later he reported to work.  I watched him during the morning shift as he completed several jobs under book time.  As he clocked out and went to lunch, I patted myself on the back for making such a great hire. 

Two hours later, my assistant manager asked the following question that changed my mood: “Do you know where Steve is?”  Later, at 5:00pm, we were still asking the same question.   Steve never came back from his lunch break!  What a setback!

Whenever “Joe” my district manager, asked about my technician staffing levels, I would remind him about Steve’s extended break.   Joe seemed to get annoyed each time, and I didn’t know why. 

Then I read the following quote from the book Grit  by Angela Duckworth that gave me the answer: “Don’t let a temporary setback become a permanent excuse.”   For me, Losing Steve had become a permanent excuse.

Have you been allowing a temporary setback to become a permanent excuse?  This mentality will make it harder for you to bounce back.  The key to making a comeback is to embrace an ALWAYS mindset. 

The owner with the “always mindset”, is always preparing for the worst-case scenario.  Anticipating a possible setback gives you the opportunity to bounce back faster, and may prevent the setback from occurring.    Below are two areas of the shop where you can apply this mentality. 

ALWAYS Be Hiring

Every week I communicate with a shop leader who calls me in a panic because of the surprise resignation of their best employee.    In most cases, these leaders rejected the idea of “always be hiring” when it was initially presented to them. 

The most consistent concerns I hear are as follows: “What do I say to people, I don’t want to hire?”; “What will my current employees think?”; and “Will my customers lose confidence in us if I post a hiring sign?”  Instead of voicing these concerns consider the following question:   If today, your best employee takes a lunch break that lasts a lifetime, how long would it take you to bounce back?   

That uneasy feeling in the pit of your stomach is confirmation that you should always be hiring.  When you find a great candidate, ask her about the other great people she knows. 

Once she accepts your offer, continue to refresh your ads and keep your hiring signs in place.  Over time, this will give you an extensive list of candidates to contact if you had to fill a sudden opening.   

Many great candidates are lost during the two weeks between acceptance and start date, because most owners think they’re done once the candidate says yes.  This is the perfect time to display the always mindset  I recommend doing a welcome dinner where you meet at a restaurant with the candidate and their spouse/significant other.

A University of Chicago study concluded that similar food consumption leads to increased trust and to increases in cooperative behavior.    Maybe Steve would have returned from his break if I had done a welcome dinner to establish trust.  I should have embraced the always mindset. 

ALWAYS Be Marketing

Several years ago, I worked with a client who experienced a major decrease in business.  He was down 25% in gross sales, and losing money on the bottom line.  

Whenever I asked him about his future, he would spend twenty minutes reminding me about the major fleet account he lost the previous year.  This pattern continued for several weeks until one day out of frustration, I interrupted him in mid-sentence.  

I asked what he had done since the previous call to attract additional fleet business.  All I heard was the sound of silence.   He had allowed a temporary setback to become a permanent excuse.   If you’re ALWAYS marketing, you will sing a different tune, instead of sounding like a broken record. 

The best place to start is with your existing customers.  According to the American Marketing Association, 68% of all business is lost because of a failure to follow-up. 

It’s easier to stay in touch than it is to get in touch.  In other words, if you’re consistently communicating with your customers via social media, text messaging, phone calls, and emails, you stand a greater chance of becoming their shop of choice.

If you’re ALWAYS communicating with the fleets in your area, losing an account will not be as devastating because of the other relationships you’ve developed. 

When was the last time you delivered cookies or donuts? What special promotion have you offered the fleet employees for their personal vehicles?  Have you offered the fleet manager who says he’s loyal to another shop, a $100 credit as a trial gift?    

If you answered YES to all three, you are positioned to bounce back, and you may prevent a setback from happening!


To this day, I wonder what happened to Steve.  I’ll bet he’s working for a shop owner who rebounded from a surprise resignation, by hiring him.   If you embrace the “always mindset”, you can bounce back from your setback as well.  


Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS.  Does the thought of suddenly losing your best employee keep you up at night?  Email to receive an “Always Be Hiring Checklist” so that you rest easy.