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

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

How To Sell Like A Spice Girl

How To Sell Like A Spice Girl




Eric M. Twiggs


"Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning." --Bill Gates


I was having a bad day.  The year was 1996 and I was a service advisor for a local automotive repair facility.  I called my first customer to let her know what the technicians found on her vehicle.  I gave what I believed to be a text book presentation that would have made Bryan Stasch and Randy Somers proud!

 I prioritized based on her original concern, safety items, and what was needed for preventive maintenance.   Her response: “I’m getting rid of the car in six months, so let’s hold off on everything.” 

My next customer was waiting with his vehicle.   Since he was in the building, I could show him the critical components needing consideration, along with the fluid samples to support my maintenance suggestions.  His response: “let me check with my wife and let you know.”

After a brief phone conversation with his wife, he responded “I’m going to check around, go ahead and pull the car out.” (Have you noticed that whenever your customer has to check with their spouse, they never come back to you with good news?)   

Why was I failing in my attempts to service my customers?  To clear my head, I drove to the local fast food restaurant to pick up lunch.  I happened to turn on the radio.  As I listened to the song that was playing, I realized where I was going wrong. 

The song that was playing was the 1996 Smash hit titled “Wannabe”, by The Spice Girls.    The famous lyrics to this song kept ringing in my head: “So tell me what you want what you really, really want!”  

And then it hit me:  I didn’t know what my customers really, really, wanted!  I was presenting estimates based on my estimation of what they needed and could afford. 

I would have been more successful if I sold like a Spice Girl!    What can you do to sell like a Spice Girl?  Don’t change the station before I can explain!  


Discover The Buying Personality


Imagine having a first-time customer named “Eric” with a 10-year-old Toyota Camry with over 225,000 miles.   Eric came in for an oil change and based on the courtesy check you have discovered he needs over $5500 in additional services. 

Would you present him everything the technician has recommended?  Now, would your answer change if you knew that Eric’s daughter uses the Camry to drive back and forth to school? 

What he really really wants, is to make sure his daughter is safe on the roads. So much so, that he will pay extra to ensure her safety.   If you went out to the car with Eric, and asked him how he uses the vehicle, you would have discovered his buying personality.    

Eric has the “fear” personality.  Your customers with this personality type are mainly concerned with safety and reliability.   The other most common personality is “basic transportation.”   

Typically, this customer wants to avoid having to purchase a new vehicle, and wants to keep what they have to get them from “A to B.”  For more information on the other buying personalities, please review my previous blog post.    You will discover that both links in this section take you to the same post.  Just my attempt to “Spice” things up for you!


Embrace Objections

 I was listening to a phone recording from a service manager named “Carlos” who was presenting an estimate.  He told the customer named “Larry”: “You need an EGR valve.”  To which Larry replied, “A what??”  He was very resistant and communicated several other objections once Carlos quoted the total estimate.

After Carlos took the time to explain what an EGR valve was, and why this was being recommended, he approved the job!  What Larry really really wanted, was to know exactly what we were recommending and why. 

Carlos embraced the objection, and used it as a signal to back track and explain that replacing the EGR valve would resolve the rough idling, and inconsistent acceleration he was experiencing.  If Larry hadn’t raised the objection, the manager would not have been aware of the disconnect. 

Objections give you an opportunity to clarify your communication and, they bring to your awareness a step you may have missed in the process.  A lack of trust is the most common reason for an objection. 

If you take the time to build the relationship at the beginning of the transaction, you will find that you have less objections to embrace.   The buyer really really wants to trust you!



So, there you have it.  If you want to sell like a Spice Girl, the key is to discover the buying personality and to embrace objections.  If you commit to these steps, you will become the Top Shop that you really really “wannabe.”




Eric M. Twiggs

The Accountability Coach


PS:  Still not clear on how to overcome customer objections?  Email and I will send you a series of videos that will teach you how to overcome objections, so that you Sell Like a Spice Girl!



Wednesday, May 24, 2017

How To Lose A Fortune

How To Lose A Fortune


Eric M. Twiggs

“It’s not about having the right opportunities. It’s about handling the opportunities right.” -Mark Hunter

The story is told of a recently retired Dentist in the Midwest named “Jack”, who was looking to start a second career. 

He had spent over forty years as the owner of a dental practice that was so successful, he was able to sell the business and ride off into the sunset of retirement without any financial worries.  Jack’s motive for starting a second career was to teach others the tactics that led to his success. 

He began his new career as a sales consultant to the dentists in his area.  His business model had a unique twist to it.  He didn’t teach his clients how to sell and market to new customers.  He didn’t teach them how to sell to walk in customers.  He didn’t teach them how to do anything!    

Jack would visit the area dental practices and offer to contact all their inactive customers for them.  Here’s the unique twist: If the customers came in because of his calls, Jack would get 5% of the sales as a commission.  Sounds like Jack is getting the short end of the stick, right?  WRONG!

The area dentist were so bad at following up with their inactive customers, that Jack made more money making follow up calls, than he did when he was a dentist! 

This proves that the fortune is in the follow up!  If this is where the fortune is, and you aren’t doing it, you risk losing a fortune!    Is there a retired shop owner in your area, who could make big bucks from the customer you aren’t contacting? 

At times, getting shop leaders to focus on the follow-ups is like pulling teeth! 😊   You may be thinking: “Eric, I don’t have time for follow up!”

I challenge you to consider this statistic from the American Marketing Association: In a retail selling environment, 68% of all business is lost due to a failure to follow up!  Still not convinced?  OK, stay tuned to learn two things you can do to lose a fortune.

Don’t Exit Schedule

“Everybody’s slow and all the bays are empty!” This is what the parts vendors and tool suppliers are telling Samantha, who is the service manager for Scotty’s Auto Repair, located in Riverside California.  I have spoken with other shop leaders in her area who have told me the same thing. 

Samantha however, is up 40% in sales and averaging $5,300 in Gross Profit lift over the past four weeks!  What’s she doing to grow, when everybody says its slow?   She consistently exit schedules.

Samantha has been so consistent with this process, that she has at least one customer scheduled to come in per week, every week for the rest of the year!

 In addition to scheduling the exit appointments, she calls the customers that are already scheduled in advance to remind them about their appointment.  Since she is doing the follow-ups, she has experienced good fortune!   

At the end of each transaction she makes the following presentation to her customers: “Mr. __________we refreshed the oil service sticker in your window, and your next scheduled service will be on August the 19th.” 

She then hands the customer an appointment card.   If you prefer to sit around and complain about everyone in your area being slow, then don’t exit schedule.   After all, a 40% sales increase isn’t for everyone.

Only Focus on New Acquisition

“Eric, you don’t understand, I need NEW customers!”  I get this request all the time from shop owners who are new to the ATI program.  After getting this question last week, I wondered:” How much does it really cost to acquire a new customer?” 

And then I had a conversation with "Mike", the owner of a shop in Southern California, that cleared things up for me. 

Mike had hired a “marketing guru” to run this exotic new acquisition marketing campaign for him.The campaign included targeted mailers, Google Ad-words, targeted Facebook ads and an email blast to specific vehicle owners.

The targeting was so detailed, that Mike would know what the customer had for breakfast that morning!   The campaign cost him $4,000 and resulted in three phone calls and ZERO customer visits! 

By comparison, how much would it cost you to call your customers who have declined previous estimates during the last 90 days?  How much would it cost you to call a listing of customers who haven’t come to your shop in over six months?  How much would it cost you to call your customers to thank them three days after their visit?

It’s also important to note that the average response rate when marketing to your existing customers is around 15% The average new acquisition marketing rate is 1%.  So, if you send an email to 100 existing customers, 15 will respond. (15/100=15%) 

If you email 100 new customers, you will get 1 response at best. (1/100=1%) I have nothing against having a new acquisition strategy that is a PART of your plan.  But Mike’s story teaches us that only focusing on new acquisition can cost you a fortune.


If you don’t exit schedule and only focus on new acquisition marketing, you can lose a fortune.  If you focus on your existing customers, your visits to your accountant won’t feel like a trip to the dentist’s office! 

Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

Are you unsure of what to say when you make a follow-up call and get the voice mail?  Email to receive a "voice mail script."

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

How To Create A Winning Expectation

How To Create A Winning Expectation


Eric M. Twiggs

 “How do you go from where you are to where you wanna be? And I think you have to have an enthusiasm for life. You have to have a dream, a goal. And you have to be willing to work for it.”  Jim Valvano

The NCAA College Basketball tournament is known as “March Madness.”  In this win or go home playoff, the dream of every player is to win the national championship game. 

Young “ballers” grow up watching the tournament with the dream of hitting the game winning shot that propels their team to victory.  Coaches dream of being carried off the court in victory on the shoulders of their players. 

When a team wins the big game, tradition dictates that every player takes a turn cutting down the nets.  Coach Jim Valvano, who coached at North Carolina State back in the 1980’s, had an interesting twist on this tradition.

When “Coach V” arrived at North Carolina State in 1980, he inherited a program that was mediocre at best.  Yet, during his first speech to his new team, he dared to declare: “We will win the national championship!”  This seemed ridiculous, since the team had failed to even qualify for the tournament round during the previous five years!  

Coach V was so sure that he ended each of his teams practice sessions the same way: He grabbed a ladder and had each player take a turn cutting down the nets. Sounds crazy right? 

What’s the point of having a mediocre team practice cutting down the championship nets?   Here’s the point: In 1983 The North Carolina State Wolfpack shocked the world by winning the national championship game! 

After the game, the players took turns cutting down the nets.  Several of them mentioned during post-game interviews that climbing the ladder to cut down the nets felt like déjà vu!   They had done it so many times in practice, they expected it to happen!

Coach V gave his players a picture of what was possible.  He created a winning expectation. What are you doing to create a winning expectation?  I have two suggestions that I will share. 

    Write Your Goals Down Every Day

I was watching an interview recently with Pamela Valvano, the wife of Coach V.  She said that before she took his sports coats to the dry cleaners, she had to remove these 3X5 cards from the pockets.  If she dropped off five coats, she would have to remove five cards beforehand. 

She went on to reveal that he used these cards to write his goals down every day.   Item #1 on each card was “I am a national champion.”

In his book “Be Obsessed Or Be Average,” Grant Cardone describes the habit of writing your goals down daily this way: “Anything worth doing is worth doing every day.”  A goal that isn’t written down is merely a wish. 

Writing it down puts your subconscious mind to work at attracting ideas, resources, and people that line up with what you want.   The key to creating a winning expectation is to write your goals in the present tense as if you already have what you desire.

Want a 30% net profit to sales ratio?  Then write “I average 30% in net profit” every day. Want to rank in the Top 12 in the Top Shop Race?  Then write “I am a Top 12 Shop Owner” every day. 

 Want a shop where profit doesn’t depend on your presence? Then write “I am the absentee owner of a successful shop” every day.  If you can view it, you can do it.  By writing your goals down every day, you will “view it”, and therefore create a winning expectation. 

Put In The Work

Let’s do some math: Three frogs are sitting on a log.  One decides to hop away.  How many frogs are left? Here’s the answer:  ALL THREE!   The one frog only decided to jump.  It failed to put in the work of jumping so its situation never changed!

You can write your goals down every day, create your vision board, and you can rub the magical genie lamp!  If you don’t commit to putting in the work, you’ll end up like the frog on the log.  

It should be noted that Coach V’s teams practiced cutting down the nets AFTER they practiced playing basketball!  It was the combination of visualizing what they wanted along with putting in the work that made their dreams a reality.  Since they had prepared to win, they expected to win. 

You can write down the words “I am a top 12 shop owner” every day.  If you never adjust your pricing, look for personnel, or meet with your people, you can’t expect to win because you haven’t put in the work! 


So there you have it.  If you commit to writing your goals down every day, and then putting in the work, you will create a winning expectation.  It’s time to grab that ladder, because you’re about to shock the world! 


Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS.  How are you doing with the goals you set in January 2017?  Email and I will send you a 2017 Goal Progress Form, to help you create a winning expectation! 


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

How To Avoid Your Default Future

How To Avoid Your Default Future


Eric M. Twiggs

“If you want something you have never had, you must be willing to do something you have never done.”

“Bill, why are we running these employment ads?” Asked “Susan”.  “We are fully staffed with a great crew. This is a waste of time and money.”  Susan posed a valid question since their shop has a reputation of retaining great people, and is known for being the place to purchase automotive service in their town. 

Bill is the owner and Susan, his wife, handles the administrative functions of their thriving location.  If you Googled the term “Top Shop” a picture of Bill and Susan would appear!   Susan couldn’t understand why Bill would always interview a minimum of six people per month, when he didn’t have any open positions. 

One fateful week in April, everything changed.  They decided to terminate “Mark” their ‘B’ Technician, because of several comebacks and his recent attendance issues.   “Jane”, their service writer, gave notice because her husband accepted a job out of state and they were relocating.

“Jack”, the ‘A’ technician, told Bill he was leaving to pursue his dream of become a full-time day trader.  So, in a seven-day time span, Bill lost three out of his seven employees! 

How would your business be impacted if you lost three people in seven days?   Bill’s story teaches us that even the best of the best can experience unexpected turnover.   Not being prepared for this possibility can lead you to your default future. 

I can’t imagine that a shop owner would write a vision statement for their business that reads: “My vision is to have a business where the profits depend on my presence.  NO!  This is the future that is arrived at by default. 

The default future is the place you end up when you decide not to make the necessary changes in a specific area.   For example, deciding not to invest in proactive recruiting efforts can cause you to end up working IN the business instead of On your dreams. 

So, what can you do to avoid this default future?   Stay with me and I will explain.

Establish A Monthly Interview Goal

One of our members was telling me about an exercise that was done during his recent 20 Group meeting.   The shop owners were divided into five groups and asked to describe the most pressing issue in their business and what they were doing to address it. 

Each subgroup would report their findings back to the main group.  There was only one issue, that came up in all five groups:  Finding and hiring good people.  Here is the big takeaway:  If finding people is the biggest problem, then looking for prospects, should be your biggest priority. 

I recommend establishing the minimum number of candidates that you will interview each month regardless of your staffing levels. Setting a goal for the number of interviews will force you to put the necessary number of feelers out, so that you have candidates to talk to.  

Let’s say you set a goal to interview three candidates every month.  You will be inspired to refresh your ad, when you notice that you are struggling to find three people to interview.

I conducted and informal survey of a sampling of my members, asking them how many candidates they interviewed during the month of April.  Three shop owners reported interviewing four or more people.  All three also reported hiring at least one ‘A’ player during this time frame.  Establishing a monthly interview goal makes a difference!

Tweak Your Approach

I was speaking with a shop owner named “Ronald” who told me that he had an ad running for a technician that wasn’t getting any responses.  He ran the same ad week after week until finally he decided to change things up. 

He changed the title of the ad while leaving the rest of the copy the same.  The new title was changed to read as follows: “Automotive Technician with pay up to $30.00 per hour.”   This ad generated seven responses and resulted in him hiring a great technician.  Ronald changed his result by tweaking his approach.

What are you doing to tweak your approach?  If you are running an ad that’s not getting responses, it’s time to change the ad.  If prospective employees are ignoring your “Now Hiring” sign, that’s a sign that it’s time to change the sign! 

If the internet hiring sites (craigslist, indeed, zip recruiter, etc.) aren’t generating candidates for you, it’s time to utilize social media.  If none of the previously mentioned ideas are working, it may be time to consider investing in a professional recruiting service.

It’s been said that continuing to do the same things and expecting different results will lead to a default future! (OK, I’m the one who said it!)  Tweaking your approach will get you to the future you have designed for yourself.


I am happy to report that Bill avoided the default future.  Since he was always hiring anyway, he could fill all three openings with candidates he had already interviewed. 

Since he established a minimum interview goal and tweaked his approach, he can work ON instead of IN his business.  If you take these steps, you will arrive at the destination you planned for instead of ending up in the default future!


Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS.  Looking to tweak your ad but don’t know where to begin?  Email and I will send you two hiring ads that have been attracting ‘A’ players!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Secret To Increasing Revenue While Lowering Resistance

The Secret To Increasing Revenue While Lowering Resistance


Eric M. Twiggs

“When presenting estimates, don’t factor in your estimation of what the customer can afford”

“Mark,” a service manager of a Baltimore area shop, has an interesting customer service habit.  When his customers arrive to the shop, he goes out to the vehicle with them and they visit the car together.

Since the shop records all incoming and outgoing calls, I was curious to hear how this behavior impacted his conversations with the customers when he called them back to present the estimate. On one call, a customer named “Rick” made it clear that he didn’t want to invest in his Dodge Nitro.

Mark began the call by highlighting the positive conditions of the courtesy check findings and by complimenting Rick on how well he had maintained the vehicle. Next, Mark mentioned the movement found in the ball joint.

Rick interrupted him mid-sentence by stating: “I’m getting rid of the car, I just want to pass inspection.” Mark proceeded to present the need for new wheel bearings due to the noise coming from his current component.

Rick replied: “I’m getting rid of the car, I just want to pass inspection!” Despite this resistance, Mark continued by making the customer aware of the fact that his battery hold down was missing. Rick’s response may surprise you: “I’m getting rid of the car, I just want to pass inspection!”

To my surprise, Mark dared to make the following statement: “Your total investment including parts, labor and taxes is $993, and we can have this done for you today.” And then there was a moment of silence! The next person to talk was Rick, and here’s what he said: “Oh OK. Go ahead and do it!”

How was Mark able to overcome the resistance that Rick was communicating and get approval for the sale? Stay with me to learn the secret to increasing revenues while lowering resistance.

Visit The Car

Are you a travel agent or a tour guide?  To answer this question, think about the last major vacation trip you took.  The travel agent gave you the information about your journey, handed you the brochures, presented the facts, and ended the conversation by saying: “it’s great to meet you, enjoy your trip.”

The tour guide was different.  When you arrived at your designated tour, she handed you the brochures and presented the facts.  But here’s where she differed from the travel agent.  She said, It’s great to meet you, now get in and let’s go!”   Which of the two was more believable?

You probably chose the tour guide since the two of you experienced the same things at the same time.  The travel agent just told you about the white-water river, but the tour guide was in the raft with you experiencing the waves! 

You could question the facts with the travel agent, but your argument “wouldn’t hold water” with the tour guide! 

If you fail to visit the car with the customer, you are like the travel agent.   Your customers are just hearing the facts in an impersonal way. 

When you visit the car with the customer, you both are experiencing the same things at the same time. For example, you can stand at the counter like a travel agent, and tell me about replacing my tires, but if we are both at the car and see the steel coming out in the tread, your gain instant credibility.   

Since Mark was a tour guide, he had credibility with Rick and could overcome his resistance.

Speak Their Language

In his audio book “The Power of Ambition”, Jim Rhon sums up what it takes to increase your revenue while lowering resistance, when he says: “You should always start with where people are before you try to take them to where you want them to go.”  

Here’s the Twiggs translation: Speak your customer’s language.  The language they speak, depends on their buying personality. 

At ATI, we teach the following five buying personalities: Performance, Fear, Simple & Easy, Basic Transportation, and Quality.   Visiting the car like a tour guide, gives you more of an opportunity to determine what language they speak.  It’s harder for a travel agent to learn the native language of a place he hasn’t been!

For example, a customer who has the basic transportation personality, will say: “I just want to get from A to B and avoid another car payment!”

When presenting the estimate to someone with this personality, you could say “Investing in this service will help you get from A to B and avoid another car payment!” 

People are more resistant to what you say, than what they say.  You won’t know what they say until you go out to the car and learn their language. 


Mark could overcome Rick’s resistance because he visited the car, and spoke his language.  When Rick came to the shop, Mark went out to the car with him and established a rapport. 

When Mark, presented the findings to Rick he used many of the same words that Rick told him when they were at the vehicle.   If you commit to these steps, you can increase your revenues while lowering resistance.


Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS:  Don’t know what to do when you go out to the car with the customer?  Email and I will send you a “visit to the car video” that demonstrates the process.