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

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

How Big Is Your Playbook?

How Big Is Your Playbook?


Eric M. Twiggs


 "Success is only another form of failure if we forget what our priorities should be." Harry Lloyd

If Google existed back 1996, and you “googled” the term loser, an image of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers football helmet and logo would appear!  Fans were so embarrassed about the state of the organization, they would show up to the games wearing grocery bags on their head. 

To make matters worse, an unproven National Football League(NFL) assistant coach named Tony Dungy  just accepted their offer to become the head coach.   

Dungy had a reserved and soft spoken demeanor.  His specialty was defense, but unlike his coaching contemporaries, he had a small playbook with only a handful of plays.  His philosophy was to keep things simple by focusing on the basic habits his players needed to execute on every play. 

He had presented this philosophy to four other teams prior to getting the Tampa job, and they each passed on hiring him.  Obviously, the Buccaneers were making a big mistake by hiring Dungy, right? 

Wrong!  Dungy transformed the Buccaneers into one of the league’s winningest teams.  He then took this same philosophy to the Indianapolis Colts who went on to win the Super bowl! 

Why was this simple strategy so successful?  I’ll let coach Dungy tell you himself: “Champions don’t do extraordinary things, they do ordinary things, but they do them without thinking, too fast for the other team to react.”

We tend to place a high value on the extraordinary while dismissing the ordinary.  For example, I work with a shop owner who sends me detailed spreadsheets, outlining all her innovative ideas to improve car count.  When I mystery shopped her, the phone rang ten times and the service advisor made no effort to invite the customer to the location. 

Then there’s the owner who has done an in-depth study, of his ideal client, in the targeted demographic, to improve sales. But when I conducted a random repair order audit on his location, I couldn’t find a single courtesy check!  Both shop leaders have a playbook that’s too big.

Stay with me to learn about two areas of your business where having a small playbook can lead to getting a bigger paycheck

Car Count

Have you ever wondered why you’re gaining a significant number of new customers, but your car count result in the portal doesn’t improve?  Allow me to explain by using the door as a metaphor

New customers who see your sign, find you on the internet, or respond to your marketing piece, come in through the front door

If these same customers don’t return in the next twelve months, they have exited via the back-door.  The best way to simplify your car count playbook, is to make closing the backdoor your priority. 

All great car count coaches use a simple play known as the visit frequency report.  This report will tell you what percentage of your customers only made one visit during the last twelve months, and how many of your customers are “cheating” on you.  The average one time visit frequency percentage for ATI shops is around 45%.

Let’s say you run the visit frequency play and your result is 65%.  This means your back-door is wide open, and the focus should be on why you’re losing customers.  Did they die, move away, or are they unhappy because of their last visit?

Once you’re able to answer these questions, you can take the next steps to closing the back door and improving your car count.  If you are interested in ordering this report, email, and I will get you access. 


Have you ever had had an opening in your organization that went unfilled for longer than thirty days?  When I’ve asked shop leaders in this situation what they believed the root cause to be, I received the following replies:

“There aren’t any good people in my area.”; “I can’t afford to pay for health benefits.”; “Other shops pay higher wages than I do.”; “My ad isn’t attractive enough.”; “I blame the millennials!”  These perceived barriers can motivate you to engage in extraordinary efforts until you find the right person.    

Here’s a news flash from the Twiggs Broadcasting Network:   The fundamental hiring habit that will keep you from having prolonged openings is to (let’s say it together) Always Be Hiring!    The most basic strategy that will help you accomplish this is to set a monthly goal for how many people you plan to interview, no matter how well staffed you are.

For example, Top 25 Shop Owners Mark and Donna Meade, have committed to interviewing a minimum of three people per month, no matter how they’re staffed. 

 In twelve months, they will have interviewed thirty-six people.  Chances are, out of thirty-six candidates, at least five would be potential “A” players in the pipeline.  How many people are you committed to interviewing each month?


Tony Dungy is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame because of his commitment to the basics.  Working your visit frequency report, and interviewing whether you have an opening or not, are examples of the simple strategies that lead to success.    How big is your playbook?

Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS:  I have an Interview Tracker that will help you document and follow up with people you interview throughout the year.  Email and I will send it to you. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Key To Your Progress

The Key To Your Progress


Eric M. Twiggs

hated every minute of training, but I said, 'Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion. Mohammed Ali

I am in the process of training for a marathon.   At the start of this journey, my initial goal was to run three miles. “Three miles is a long run” I thought to myself.  During the run, I had to fight the urge to stop and ignore that voice in my head telling me quit.     The next morning, my legs were so sore, that I would have difficulty walking.   

My next hurdle was to run five miles. “Five miles is a long run” I thought to myself.  Again, that voice in my head was urging me to give up short of my goal.  I completed the run exhausted, drenched in sweat, and questioning why I was putting myself through this torture.   

Last week, as I completed a seven-mile run, I noticed something interesting.  At mile three, I felt fine.  At mile five, I had no desire to give up.   I was making progress. 

I know what you’re thinking: “Great story Twiggs, but what do your morning runs have to do with me?”  

The marathon is a metaphor of your ATI journey.   When you began, you thought raising your labor rate by $3 would put you out of business.  Now you can do a $10 bump without losing any sleep.

When you first implemented the parts matrix, you heard that voice in your head saying “my customers don’t have the money”.  Now you just set it and forget it.  In the beginning, the thought of leaving your shop for three days, scared you to death.  Now, you can leave for three weeks and return to a better business than when you left.   

If I asked you to go out and run a marathon next week, you would probably laugh at me.   If the marathon was next year, and you embraced the training process, what appears to be impossible now, would become achievable in the future.

The good news is that no matter where you are in your ATI journey, your future is in front of you.    The key to your progress is to embrace the process.   Stay with me to learn two strategies to help you embrace the process. 

Focus on Growing

In a previous blog, we discussed the difference between a fixed and growth mindset. This concept was originated by Dr. Carol Dweck in her book Mindset.   According to Dweck, someone with a fixed mindset believes that talents and abilities are set and can’t be improved upon.    When faced with the challenge of running a marathon, someone with a fixed mindset would respond: “I can’t because I’m not a good athlete.”   

The individual with a growth mindset believes that abilities can be improved upon with effort.  When challenged to run a marathon, they would respond: “if I put in the work, I can become a better athlete.”  Which mindset do you have? 

Have you ever made one of the following statements? “I’m not good with numbers.”;I’m not a good leader.”; “I’m not good at selling.”  All three statements are symptoms of a fixed mindset.   By focusing on growing, you would recognize that you can get better, if you are willing to work.

For example, I work with a shop owner who struggled to understand the numbers five years ago, when she was new to the program.  Today, she is the numbers guru in her 20 group. When someone has a question about their portal numbers, they ask her.    She focused on growth, which helped her embrace the process. 

Focus on Becoming

I have a confession to make.  I don’t like running at five o’clock in the morning.   I don’t like running when its twenty-five degrees outside.  I don’t like running in the rain.  So why then, am I training for a marathon?    It’s because I like the person I must become, to run twenty-six miles.    If I can persist through the morning runs, I will become a marathoner.

What do you have to persist through to become a Top Shop Owner?  You may not like updating the portal every week.  You may not like sitting through classes.  You may not like doing daily repair order audits.   The key is to focus on who you can become by doing these things! 

To get a clear picture of what’s possible, find a mentor who has achieved what you desire, while overcoming similar challenges.  This will give you a living example of what your end result looks like. 

For example, I have a friend from college who had less athletic ability than I had, but has recently run in multiple marathons.  Seeing his current fitness level inspires me to keep pressing forward. 

At the end of the day, you can love the results without liking the rituals.  Shifting your focus to who you can become, will make it easier to do the unpleasant but necessary tasks that lead to greatness. 


So, there you have it.  Focusing on growing and becoming will help you to embrace the process, which is the key to your progress.   Remember, the race to become the best of the best is a marathon, and not a sprint! 

Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS. I have a special technique known as “the rubber band method” to help you become aware of when you’re operating from a fixed mindset.  This will remind you to focus on growth so that you make faster progress.   Email and I will send you the details. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Who's Holding Your Ladder?

Who's Holding Your Ladder?


Eric M. Twiggs

“Surround yourself with those who bring out the best in you, not the stress in you.”

My wife is the ultimate accountability coach.  During the holidays, she was holding me accountable to the completion of several house hold projects.  My first assignment was to change the light-bulb in the basement bathroom. Based on the size of the room, I could do this by myself using a three-foot ladder. 

My next task was to change the light bulb located in the living room.  This was a larger space, so I needed to use the ten-foot ladder.  Since I was climbing higher, I needed additional support to keep me from falling.  I enlisted the help of my six-year-old daughter and three-year-old son to secure the ladder base.

At times during this assignment, the kids would wander off, leaving me at the top of the ladder.  After changing the living room light bulb, it was time to clean the gutters at the top of the house, by the roof.  This required a thirty-foot ladder and depending solely on the kids could prove to be hazardous to my health! 

To accomplish this tall task, I needed to upgrade my level of support.   I called my handyman, and he brought in his two helpers to hold the ladder and complete the task.  So, what does the completion of my “honey-do-list” have to do with you?

Here’s the big takeaway:  You can’t get to the top, without upgrading your supporting cast.  When I was in the basement, I could succeed on my own.  Advancing to the higher levels forced me to depend on others to accomplish my goals. Who’s holding your ladder?

The Top 25 shops in the ATI program have made it to the top by upgrading their supporting cast.   I have studied them to determine what specific things they have in common.  Keep reading and you will learn about two specific takeaways I discovered. 

They’re Always Hiring

I spoke with five of the Top 25 shop owners this week and discovered a weird trend.  They’re fully staffed, but still hiring.  They each have good people in the key positions, but still have hiring signs up and ads running.  What sense does it make to post an ad for a technician when you already have the right techs in place?

It makes perfect sense.  According to a recent fortune magazine study, the average millennial expects to stay with their employer for three years.  Not to mention there’s always the likelihood that one of your employees may get sick, get injured, or make a decision that forces you to terminate them. 

For example, I’ve had to terminate good performers who decided to charge parts for their personal vehicle to the company without my knowledge.  It was a tough decision, but tolerating theft would have sent the wrong message to my crew.

Moving forward without considering these factors, is like climbing a thirty-foot ladder with nobody to secure the base!  It’s a set up for a fall.  Do you have a current ad running?  Do you have a hiring banner in place?  Do you know who the top performers in your market are?  An answer of NO to any of these questions is a sign that it’s time to refocus on your supporting cast.

They’re Always Networking

The second trend I noticed with the Top Shops is they are actively involved in a 20 group.  Coincidence?  I think not!  Financial expert and author Thomas Corley conducted a study of 233 wealthy entrepreneurs to determine what they had in common. He found that 79% of the wealthy spent five hours or more each month networking.  Why is this the case?  The following analogy will help to explain it.

Networking is like your local gym.  Those who appear to need it the least, use it the most.   The guy with the six pack abs and thirty-two-inch waist, never misses his appointment with the personal trainer.  The gym is a big reason he looks the way he does.

As with the gym and the fitness buff, the 20 Group relationships are a big reason that the Top Shop Owners are successful.  It looks like they already have the answers, but their true gift is having a network of the right people to answer their questions.

Struggling to hire your replacement?  There’s someone in your 20 group who has the one idea to help change your results. Struggling to hold margin?  There’s someone in your 20 group with  high margins in a low-income area.  Active participating in your 20 group, can give you the supporting cast you need to climb the ladder of success.


In summary, the best advice I can give you is to never ask my kids to hold your ladder!  The next best advice I have is to always be hiring and always be networking with your 20 group.  Who’s holding your ladder?

Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS.  There’s a third takeaway that the Top 25 shop owners have in common.  Email and I will send you the details