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

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

How To Succeed As An Expensive Shop

How To Succeed As An Expensive Shop


Eric M. Twiggs

Value is more expensive than price.” 
Toba Beta,

Are you the most expensive shop in town?   This question reminds me of an ATI podcast interview I recently listened to.  Ryan Kuhnle, owner of East End Automotive, located in a small Pennsylvania town, was being interviewed by Coach Geoff Berman on the topic of the customer experience.

To gain best practices, Ryan reported taking an “outside the box” approach.  He visited the most expensive, high-end dealership in his market.  What Ryan discovered, was surprising. 

Ryan has a friend who works there who gave him a tour of the facility.  As they walked, he noticed that the service bays and floors were clean and organized.  No surprises there.  Next, he noticed that they washed every car they serviced. Again, not surprising.

He then observed that the waiting room was clean, had a cappuccino machine, and a charger for customers to charge their mobile phones.  Nice touch, but not over the top.  The visit took an interesting turn when Ryan’s friend showed him the CSI survey reports.   

Ryan and his friend reviewed the customer comments and stumbled across the following surprise:  The most expensive shop in town didn’t have a single complaint about price!   Even in a small town, the customers had no problems paying a higher price. 

The reason they can charge what they charge is because they have adopted Jim Rohn’s  definition of success: “They do the ordinary things extraordinarily well.” 

I know what you’re thinking: “My customers are different. They won’t pay for better service in my area.”  This limiting belief poses two challenges: 1) Your costs of doing business are always increasing. 2) No matter what you believe, the bills are still due.   

In all my years of running shops, I have never had a bill collector call me and say: “Eric, we heard that your customers are different so we won’t charge you this month!”  So, these challenges make delivering value at an extraordinary level, a great business decision.    

Stay with me to learn about two focus areas that will help you succeed as an expensive shop

Make It Personal

I was recently speaking with Bud Wildman, owner of Precision Auto, and member of the 2016 ATI Top 12.   One of his customers left an internet review that reads as follows: “After leaving this shop, all I can say is wow, wow, wow!”   

As I inquired further, he concluded that the key was to make it personal. “How are you making it personal?” I asked.   He went on to explain the details of the program he has in place that was mentioned at the Super Conference.

Many of his transactions begin with his customers being picked up by his shuttle driver.  The driver, the technicians, and the service advisors, each have wireless walkie talkies to enhance their communication levels. 

The shuttle driver gets the name of the customer and communicates it via the walkie talkies, to the writer at the desk.  When the customer gets to the shop, the writer says, “Good morning Mrs._______, how may I serve you?”    

Are you more likely to read a mass email that’s sent to hundreds of different addresses, or one that is personally addressed to you?  You probably chose the second option because the experience that’s personal is more valuable. 

Just calling the customer by name is an ordinary thing.  Using the walkie talkies, helps Bud and his team to execute this in an extraordinary way, and makes the experience personal.   When was the last time a customer said “wow” after leaving your shop? 

Exceed Their Expectations

I have a habit of reading internet reviews for different businesses.  When reviewing those for airline companies, I have never seen a raving 5-star review that read: “The plane didn’t crash, I arrived on time, and they didn’t lose my luggage!” 

The reason you will never see this type of review is because customers don’t rave about an experience they expect to receive.  They expect to land in one piece along with their luggage.   

Southwest Airlines, is an example of an airline that exceeds expectations.  Here is a review from one of their raving fans: 

They went to the most ultimate extreme by presenting my fiance' and I an entire bottle of our favorite champagne once they heard we had just gotten engaged!

Just like Southwest, you can create raving fans by moving beyond what’s expected.

Your customer expects to get a computer-generated thank you card after getting their car worked on.  A handwritten thank you note would exceed their expectations. 

Your new customer expects for someone to greet her when she comes in. Giving her a welcome tour, putting her in a loaner car, and then leaving her with a parting gift, would exceed her expectations. These are each examples of ordinary things delivered in an extraordinary way! 


Because of the experience, the customers at the high-end dealer mentioned earlier, didn’t think to question the price.  If you commit to making it personal and exceeding their expectations, you will succeed as an expensive shop.     


Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS:  Email to receive a new customer intake procedure that will help you make it personal and exceed their expectations! 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

How To Retain The "A" Players You Recruit

 How To Retain The "A" Players You Recruit


Eric M. Twiggs

“The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.”  William James

What can you do to keep “A” players from leaving you?   As I ponder this question, I’m reminded of an experience I had back in December here at ATI.  Our office is in a suburb of Baltimore MD.  Thus, my fellow coaches and colleagues root for the Baltimore Ravens football team.

Our office could be considered “Ravens Nation”, because of all the cups, computers, and cubicles that are loaded with the team’s paraphernalia.  

Everyone supports the local team.  Everyone except for me.   I happen to be a Washington Redskins Fan.  As you prepare your jokes,please know that my choice of football teams is a topic for another day!

One morning, right before the Christmas holiday, I noticed that my co-workers each had a gift-wrapped package from upper management on their desk.  Inside the containers were calendars for the 2017 year.

Now these weren’t your ordinary calendars.  They had calendars with the Baltimore Ravens helmets and logos on the front.  There was a gift on my desk as well. 

As I opened it, I was shocked to see that mine was different from the others.   I received a calendar as a Christmas gift.   But mine was a Washington Redskins calendar.  Later, I found out that one of my fellow coaches who is an avid hunter, received a calendar with a hunting rifle on it!   So, what does this have to do with you keeping “A” players?

Here’s the big takeaway: Recognition that is personal, is also memorable.   Someone took the time to consider my personal interests, and thus, I’m still talking about it three months later! 

Have you taken the time to consider the personal interests of your people?   Keep reading to learn two strategies to keep your “A” players from leaving you. 

Recognize The Power Of Vision

Back in June, I was speaking with a shop owner named “Trish.”  She mentioned that she had a goal for her shop to be recognized as the ATI Shop of the year at the next Super Conference. 

When I told her that I planned to attend, she made the following statement: “I will see you on the victory stage.”  She had a vision of where she wanted to be. 

Nine months later, Trish Cleveland, and her husband Eddie, owners of Robe Mans Auto, were recognized on the victory stage as the Shop of The Year at the Super Conference!   This encounter confirmed the fact that you must recognize the power of vision.  In other words, if you can view it, you can do it!

What is the vision that your employees have for themselves? Getting them do a vision board, is a great way to find out. If your people have visibility to their personal goals, it increases the likelihood of achievement.  

I recommend having them use one the free vision board apps that can be downloaded to a smart phone or tablet. 

They can download and label pictures that represent what they want out of life.  Their vision boards will give you insight to their personal interests.   You will then be positioned to tailor your recognition program according to what THEY want, instead of what you always do.

Review Their Vision Boards

To show that you recognize the power of vision, you've conducted a team meeting, telling everyone to do a vision board.  The following week, you had a second meeting and confirmed that everyone did their vision board like you asked.   Your job is done, and you can check that box, right?  Not so fast!

Following up with your people, on their progress is the step that’s often missed.  According to a study that was reported in Forbes Magazine, people who merely thought about their goals and how to achieve them succeeded less than 50% of the time. 

Those who communicated regular progress updates to another person, reported succeeding 75% of the time.   In other words, your people are more likely to achieve their rewards, if you review their vision boards.

The late Zig Ziglar said best when he said, You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”  

Want to keep your great general manager?  Keep asking her how she’s doing with her goal to buy that home.  Want your best technician to stay?  Stay focused on asking him about the muscle car he has pictured on his poster.

Imagine if you worked for someone who checked in with you every 30 days and asked you about your goals.  Then, because of their follow-up, you achieved a major life accomplishment that was on your vision board. 

How likely would you be to leave them to work for their competitor?   Your employees would feel the same way about you if you helped them. 


So, there you have it.  Recognizing the power of vision and reviewing their vision boards, can keep your “A” players from leaving you.   Hopefully, the upper management of my favorite football team has pictures of the end zone and of the Super Bowl on their vision boards!


Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

Looking to motivate your “A” players, but don’t know where to start?  Email to receive the 26 Reasons That People Buy Anything.  (Including your message)