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

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Three Symptoms Of A Service Advisor Problem

The Three Symptoms Of A Service Advisor Problem


Eric M.  Twiggs

“It's easy to look back and see it, and it's easy to give the advice. But the sad fact is, most people don't look beneath the surface until it's too late.”    Wendelin Van Draanen

“Greg”, and I were struggling to figure out why his car count wasn’t improving.  He had ten five star google reviews.  When I “google searched” all of the primary automotive search terms for his area, I found him on the first page and in the top spot.

His website was so strong that I would send the link to my other clients as an example of what to do.  “Steve”, his service advisor had been with him for seven years and had forgotten more about the automotive business than the average person knew.

“So how is Steve performing?” I asked. “Eric, Steve isn’t the problem. He’s my most dependable employee!” In an effort to trust but verify,   I decided to have one of my fellow coaches call the shop posing as a customer in need of brake service. 

To my surprise, Steve made no attempt to get the caller’s name and phone number, or to invite him to the shop. I personally reviewed the results of the mystery call with Steve and he confirmed that he understood and committed to do better

In the following weeks, I had two different coaches conduct two additional phone shops, and the results were the same.  No attempts were made to invite the caller to the location. 

Business declined to the point where Greg had to lay Steve off and take over the service writer duties himself.  It took eight weeks to find a qualified replacement.  During this time span, the sales and car count trends took an interesting turn.

For the better!! When Steve was writing service the shop averaged $14,000 per week in sales with 35 cars.    Greg averaged $19,000 per week with 40 cars.  The only change to the business was Greg taking over at the counter.

Here’s what I learned from this experience:  Consistently bad phone shops are symptoms of a service advisor problem.  You may be thinking: “But Eric, it’s the holiday season and you’re being too hard on Steve.  Failing multiple phone shops isn’t a big problem.” 

Well, consider the following math:  Let’s assume that by focusing more on the phones you only acquired two additional customers per day that normally wouldn’t have come in.  

Over five days that’s ten customers.  If you have a $400 average repair order, that’s an additional $4,000 per week in revenue. (10 X $400=$4,000

By not answering the phones correctly, your writer would be costing you $208,000 in potential sales over fifty two weeks! ($4,000 X 52=$208,000)  This is why I live by the following motto:  If car count drops, do a phone shop. 

Failing multiple shops isn’t the only symptom.  Keep reading to learn about two more symptoms of a bad service advisor

Common Complaints

During the eight weeks that Greg covered the counter, he had a total of thirteen customer’s mention how they were glad to see Steve gone!  Several of these patrons commented that if Steve was still employed, they wouldn’t have come back. 

Greg was surprised because he only heard three customer complaints about Steve in the past six months.  All three mentioned that Steve was very short with them and came across as being rude.  Greg didn’t realize that these common complaints were just the tip of the iceberg.

A 2014 retail industry study concluded that 96% of unhappy customers will never complain. The study also found that 91% of these patrons will never return. 

To make matters worse, they will tell up to fifteen of their friends about their experience.  If you have three customers voicing the same concern, you have a much bigger problem brewing beneath the surface. 

Pay close attention to those common complaints you receive about your writer.  If three people who don’t know each other share the same opinion, it’s just tip if the iceberg, and the second symptom of a service advisor problem.

Blaming “They”

A few weeks ago, I was speaking with a service advisor who was in town attending class.   He told me that his shop was struggling to stay afloat.  When I asked him about using the parts matrix, he said “They think we’re too expensive.” 

When I suggested offering every customer an exit appointment, he responded:” “they don’t like to schedule in advance.”  I asked him about making follow-up calls to which he replied: “They think it’s too pushy”   The Twiggs translation for the word “they” is “I.” “They” is the signal of a limiting belief and a symptom of a service advisor problem. 

He was really saying “I think we’re too expensive”; “I don’t like to schedule in advance”; and “I think making follow up calls is being pushy.” 

I’ve discovered that 80% of a struggling shop leaders issues are due to mindset, with only 20% resulting from skill set.  In other words, how you think drives what you do.

Simply addressing skill set doesn’t solve the problem.  The key is to address their mindset by asking them to explain how your request is good for the car, the customer, and the company. 

This level of dialogue will give you the opportunity to address any limiting beliefs that are causing problems below the surface. 


So there you have it.  Consistently bad phone shops, common complaints, and blaming “they” are the three symptoms of a service advisor problem. 

If you address these issues head-on, making the top shop list will only be the tip of your success iceberg.  You will have more profit and happy customers beneath the surface!

Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS.  Email to receive a service advisor assessment checklist to help you overcome basic challenges before they become a bigger problem. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The One Critical Skill You Need To Succeed

 The One Critical Skill You Need To Succeed


Eric M. Twiggs

“Familiarity doesn’t breed contempt.  It breeds comfort.”  Howard Tullman

What is your picture of success?  In his book Originals: How Non-Conformists Move The World, Adam Grant uses the photo as a metaphor to answer this question.  On page seventy-seven, he communicates an interesting comparison between regular and inverted photos.

An inverted photo image is the same image you would see of yourself if you were looking in the mirror.  Tests were done with a group of people who were asked to look at both regular and inverted pictures of themselves and their friends.

They were then asked to choose which pictures they preferred.  The participants were required to pick at least one photo of themselves and one of their friends. 

When it came to their friends, people chose the regular images, but when selecting their own pictures, they chose the inverted/ mirror image every time!  So why did this happen and what does this have to do with you?

Well, this experiment proved that people tend to develop a preference for something merely because its familiar to them.  

The participants preferred their own mirror image while choosing the regular image of their friends because both represent what they saw the most.   This is known as the exposure effect. 

This applies whether you’re choosing photography or communicating your philosophy.     Since people prefer what they are familiar with, constantly repeating your message to the listener will increase their level of familiarity with your ideas. 

So, here’s the one critical skill you need:  The skill of finding different ways to say the same thing.  Stay with me to learn how this applies to both your people and your patrons. 

Your People

It’s no coincidence that I started with your people.  I agree with billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson when he says that your people come before your customers because if you take care of people, they in turn will take care of the customer. 

Constantly repeating your customer service philosophy, will increase the likelihood that your employees will execute the mission.

As I mentioned earlier, the key is to find different ways to say the same thing. Let’s say your goal is to communicate the fact that exceptional customer service is your top priority.

You can start with your monthly meeting where you publicly recognize those who go above and beyond to exceed expectations.  Since you tend to get more of whatever behavior you reward, recognizing exceptional customer service will inspire others to go the extra mile.  

Next, you schedule weekly one on ones where you review CSI scores and discuss strengths and improvement opportunities.  From there,conduct daily morning huddle meetings where you recognize the top performers from the previous day and set expectations for the current day. 

The combination of the daily, weekly and monthly meetings, and your formal recognition program, have given you several different ways to say the same thing.  It’s easier for your people to execute when they are familiar with the message. 

Your Patrons

Studies show that the average consumer is getting inundated with over 3500 marketing messages a day.   TV commercials, radio spots, email newsletters, billboard signs, text message promos, and your oil change mailer, are all competing for your customer’s attention

Patrons with an overwhelming number of choices, will default to the familiar option.  Therefore, it’s critical to “touch” them a minimum of nine to twelve times throughout the year with marketing messages to avoid being lost in the fog. 

Calling Mrs. Jones with the Honda twelve times in the next twelve days may lead to you getting served with a restraining order! 

 This makes finding different ways to send the same message important.  Always calling may feel excessive, but a “thank you” call, Facebook post, email blast, text reminder, and blog post, will keep you top of mind and keep you from looking like a stalker.

These different modes of marketing allow you to communicate your philosophy, and for your patrons to become familiar with your offerings.   When they have a service need, they will be more likely to choose you.


In the book, I mentioned earlier, Adam Grant points out that people need to be exposed to an idea anywhere from ten to twenty times before they like it.

This makes finding different ways to say the same things to your people and patrons the one critical skill you need to succeed. 

When I did the above-mentioned picture experiment, I chose my inverted photo and the regular picture of you becoming a Top Shop!


Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS.  Struggling to find different ways to say the same things to your patrons?  Email to receive my PowerPoint presentation titled: “Mastering The Fundamentals of Car Count.”

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

What's The Biggest Threat To Your Progress?

What's The Biggest Threat To Your Progress?


Eric M. Twiggs

“If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try” Seth Godin

Join me as we journey through a typical morning in my life.  I make my first call to a new client named “Richard”.  I notice he’s had the same $70 labor rate for the past three years.  “Richard, it’s time to increase your labor rate.” I suggest.  “I can’t do that coach.   My customers are on a fixed income and can’t afford to pay more.” 

My next call is with “Susan”, who has been in the program for nine months.  “Susan, what are you doing to find the “A” technician to replace yourself in the shop?”  “Eric, I can’t advertise for technicians now, because we’re going into our slow season and I won’t have the work to support him. Besides, what if my other techs find out that I’m looking?” 

Moments later I call “Larry”, who has been on-board for one year. “Larry, have you located the service manager to free you up from working the counter?” To which he replied “My customers ask for me by name. Besides, that service manager I hired four years ago didn’t work out! 

What do Richard, Susan, and Larry have in common?  They have each become a victim of “the oppressor.”

The oppressor is the voice in your head that shows up to talk you out of progressing beyond your current level.  In the animated movie world, whenever the lead character is facing a difficult decision, little angels appear on each shoulder offering advice.

The red angel offers guidance that would keep the hero from achieving his goal.  The oppressor is like the red angel on your shoulder that talks you out of taking risks.

The oppressor is your biggest threat, because you can’t make progress without taking risks. 

So what can you do to defeat that voice of doubt?   Keep reading to learn two strategies to overcome the voice of the oppressor.

Name Your Oppressor

We are always having internal conversations with ourselves.  In his book What To Say When You Talk to Yourself,  Dr. Shad Helmstetter describes this mental dialog as “self-talk”.   He goes on to say that because of our programming since birth, 75% or more of our self-talk is negative.  

We’re programmed to avoid pain, so we tend to talk ourselves out of activities that force us to stretch and leave our comfort zone.

Remember sitting through shop owner’s class when Randy mentioned using the pricing matrixes, and you thought to yourself “This won’t work in my area!” That my friend, was the little red angel doing the talking.

You can’t overcome an oppressor that you’re unaware of.  Giving this voice a name will make you aware of when it shows up.  For example, let’s say you named your oppressor “Oliver”. 

When you start hearing the following statements: “My shop is different”; “I’ll look for my replacement once business picks up”; “I don’t have $50 to spend on a visit frequency report”; and “going up to an $80 labor rate will put me out of business.”, you’ll know that Oliver is doing the talking.

Consider The Consequences

The story is told of a man and his dog sitting on the porch.  The dog is whining, whimpering and groaning.  The neighbor walks by and asks:” Hey what’s with your dog?” To which the man replied: “Oh that’s just Fido, he’s lying on a nail.” To which the neighbor replied: “Well, why doesn’t Fido get off the nail?”  The man on the porch had the classic response:  “He’s not moving because it doesn’t hurt enough yet!”

Like Fido, we aren’t motivated to move until the pain of staying the same, exceeds the pain of making the change.  When you hear the oppressor talking, ask yourself the following question: What are the consequences of staying the same? 

Implementing the parts matrix may be painful, but not having the finances to retire in style, will hurt more.  It hurts to look for your replacement, but being at the shop while your son plays his football games will cause more pain.

Asking for the exit appointment can be painful.  Losing your good customers to the competitor you despise, will hurt as well. 

Considering the consequences will motivate you to move when the voice of doubt starts talking to you.


So, there you have it.  Naming your oppressor and considering the consequences will help you to drown out the voice of doubt.  I challenge you to overcome the biggest threat to your progress. 


Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS.  Will 2017 be the year you overcome the biggest threat to your progress?  Email to receive your 2017 goal setting template.