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

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Crazy Thing That Will Keep You From Hitting Your Shop Goals

The Crazy Thing That Will Keep You From Hitting Your Shop Goals


Eric M. Twiggs

“To have your place in the sun, you have to leave the shade.”  Tim Grover

Imagine for a moment that your goal is to visit Hawaii.   To accomplish your goal, you invest in a travel agent named “Amy”, who has a track record of helping thousands of other travelers like you, to get to the same destination. 

Based on this experience, she selects a specific all-inclusive package that includes the flight, hotel, and ground transportation.    There’s only one problem.

You live in California and your plan is to drive, because you don’t believe in flying. “Well what about a cruise? Asks Amy, “I have some great cruise line specials this time of year!” You reply with, “I think going by boat is even riskier!”

So, you get in your Honda and start driving towards Hawaii, determined to get there your way, driving up to the point where the road ends and the water begins. Now, you feel frustrated.  You’ve invested time and money into this travel agent, and you still haven’t gotten to Hawaii! 

Here’s the question:  In this imaginary scenario, what’s really keeping you from getting to your destination?  Is it your travel agent?   Is it your transportation?

Before giving your final answer, you should consider using a lifeline or phoning a friend!  The correct answer is neither!    It’s your beliefs that would be holding you back. 

I know what you’re thinking: “Twiggs, that’s just crazy! Who would honestly expect to get to Hawaii and not believe in flying?”  Well, allow me to provide some examples that hit closer to home.  Who would honestly expect to get to their car count destination, but not believe in exit appointments?

Who would honestly expect to get to their staffing goals, but not believe in always hiring?    Who would honestly expect to hit their profit mark, but not believe in the pricing matrix?  All three examples are just as crazy as the “Honda to Hawaii” illustration.

Here’s the crazy thing that will keep you from hitting your shop goals:   Hanging on to a belief that will never take you to your destination.   In other words, What got you here won’t get you there.  

Stay with me and you will learn about two specific focus areas, that will help you line up your thinking with your goals.   

Focus On The Possibilities

The story is told of two shoe salesmen named Rick and Mike.    Their company sent them to a third world country to look for new business opportunities.  

At the end of their first day, both called home to their wives to update them as to how things were going.  Rick calls and says:  "Honey, I'm coming back home, I can't sell anything.  Nobody is wearing any shoes here!

Mike calls his wife and says "Honey, you wouldn't believe it, this is a great opportunity.  Nobody's wearing any shoes here!   I can sell to the entire country!"  Mike went on to become a record setting shoe salesman while Rick retuned with no sales. 

When presented with the same idea, Mike was focused on the possibilities, while Rick looked for the problems.   Which are you focused on?

I’ve noticed this same trend when comparing top performing shop owners and those who are always losing money. 

For example, when presented with the idea of offering a lifetime oil change, the consistent top performers tend to embrace it faster, and are seeing dramatic increases in cash flow and customer retention. 

Those who consistently lose money, are more likely to dismiss the idea by talking about all the reasons it won’t work in their area.    The main thing that keeps the top shops at the top is their tendency to focus on the possibilities. 

Eventually, you will find whatever you focus on the most.   If you consistently focus on the possibilities, you will find a better business!

Focus On The Payoff

I believe that there is no such thing as a “silver bullet” solution.   I realize that not every idea works for every shop, every time.  I recognize that there is no one size fits all suggestion that is guaranteed to produce results in every location.

I GET IT!  These facts make it easy to dismiss new ideas, and create limiting stories to support why something won’t work.

Here’s an example of a limiting story from the opening illustration: “Flying in an airplane is too risky. Driving is safer.”  When you catch yourself using a limiting story, the key is to focus on the payoff.

The first step is to review your specific goal.  Next, look at the related story and ask, “How is driving my Honda going to get me to Hawaii?”  For your profit goal, you can ask “How is not using the parts matrix getting me closer to paying down the credit line?”

For your lifestyle goal, ask: “How is interviewing only when I have an opening, helping me to spend more time with my family?”  When you can’t find the payoff, it’s a sign that the limiting belief that’s driving your story, is stopping you where the road ends and the water begins! 


So, there you have it.  Focusing on the possibilities and the payoff, will increase the likelihood that you achieve your goal.    ATI is like your travel agency.   As long to as you listen to your assigned “agent”, you can get to your desired destination! 

Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS. For more information on the lifetime oil change, email

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

50 First Days! How To Know If You've Made A Bad Hire

50 First Days! How To Know If You've Made A Bad Hire


Eric M. Twiggs

“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”  H.L. Menken

In 2004, Sony released the hit movie 50 First Dates starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore.  Sandler’s character “Henry” meets Barrymore’s character “Lucy” in a restaurant, while having breakfast, and is instantly drawn to her.   After years of searching, he believes he has finally found the right girl.

But there’s one slight problem.  Lucy suffers from short term memory loss, and can’t remember anything that happened from the previous day.  As a result, every date is like the first date.  Even though Harry says the same things each day, Lucy is always hearing it for the first time. 

Does your recent experience with your latest hire, feel like 50 First “Days?”  Each day you talk about making exit appointments, but it’s like she’s hearing it for the first time.  Each day you review the courtesy check process, but it’s like he’s hearing it for the first time. 

Each day, you talk about collecting email addresses, but it’s like they’re hearing it for the first time.  Like Henry, you initially felt like you found the right one, but now you feel like every day is their first day. 

It’s possible that you’ve made a bad hire.  But how can you know for sure?    Studies show that a bad hire can cost a shop as much as six times the employee’s salary, so the sooner you find out the better!     

As you read on you will learn the “head, heart, hands” evaluation method, that can help you answer this question.   


Years ago, I worked as a corporate trainer for a national automotive service corporation.  One of the classes that I facilitated was phone training. 

At the end of each session, the students had to demonstrate via role play, that they knew how to answer the phones and follow the phone outline.  The role plays were then graded on a scale of 0-100.

I remember one student named “Jeff” who was my best student. He passed the final exercise with a perfect score of 100%.  In the following weeks Jeff, my star student, went back to his location and failed his next three phone shops! 

Every day was like his first day when it came to executing the phone process.    His manager “Jim” blamed training as the issue, and wanted to send him back through my sessions again.  I disagreed, because Jeff demonstrated through the role plays that he knew what to do. 

When evaluating whether it’s a head issue, the question is “Does your employee know what to do?”  If the employee can demonstrate the task, then the answer is yes.  If after repeated training and follow up, he’s still unable to do it, then it’s possible that you have hired someone who doesn’t have the aptitude for the job.

Therefore, I recommend creating random role plays for those tasks that aren’t getting executed, even though you keep telling them to do it. In other words: “When it feels like their first day, it’s time to role play!”


Back when I was a store manager, I had a meeting with my team to discuss the courtesy check process.  I went through all the information as to why it was good for the car, the customer, and the company.  I also reviewed how they could make more money. 

I felt like the message was clear, until one of my technicians interrupted me mid-sentence with the following statement: “Yeah Eric, I hear all that, but what’s really in it for me to fill out these courtesy checks?”    To which I replied: “You get the benefit of continuing to work here!” 

After that, I never had another issue with his courtesy checks!   I had addressed the following heart question: “Does your employee know why he is doing it?”  In other words what is their motivation to perform the task? 

Studies show that people are motivated by either approach or avoidance, when it comes to their behavior.  Approach means that doing the task will help them to approach something they want. 

For example, completing the courtesy check will help your tech to make more money.   Someone who is motivated by avoidance, is looking to avoid the consequences of not performing the task.  The technician at my meeting was looking to avoid termination, which motivated him to execute.   

What if you’ve addressed the head issue, the benefits, the consequences, and it still feels like their first day?  In this case, it’s possible that the person has a limiting belief that they are unwilling to overcome.  This is the most common heart issue that I encounter, and it’s a sure sign that you have made a bad hire. 


When I think about the hands issue, I’m reminded of another situation I encountered back when I was a corporate trainer.  Myself and several other company executives where sent out to Northern New Jersey because a disgruntled employee at a troubled location had filed a grievance with the local labor union.    

I was sure that the disgruntled employee had either a head or a heart issue.  I was planning to provide training, and then follow up with the location manager to ensure that he was providing the right levels of motivation.  What I found, took me by surprise. 

The union drive, which made national news, was started because of a tire technician who didn’t have the right tool to perform flat repairs.   He kept telling his manager, but his requests went ignored.   He knew what to do, (head) why he should do it, (heart) but lacked the right tool to do the job. (hands)   

Here’s the hand question: “Does your employee have the necessary tools and resources to do the job?”  For example, if you are coaching your technician on productivity, and you believe he has a hands issue, a great question to ask is: “what do you need from me to help you improve your productivity?” 

If he says, “I need you to get the lift fixed in bay number three”, you know you have a hands issue.  If your new “B” tech knows what to do, why he’s doing it, has the right tools, but still averages 5 billed hours during a 40-hour work week, you just made a bad hire!   


So, there you have it.  If every day feels like your employees first day, check the head, heart, and hands before concluding that you’ve made a bad hire.  If you follow this formula, it won’t take 50 first dates to know the difference between Mr. Right and Mr. Right Now!

Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS.  Email to receive a special head, heart, hands checklist to help you determine if you’ve made the right hiring decision. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

How To Excel As An Expensive Shop Without Having To Discount

How To Excel As An Expensive Shop Without Having To Discount


Eric M. Twiggs

“A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”  Steve Jobs

“I can get it cheaper from the parts store. You guys are too expensive, cancel everything!”  Has anyone ever said this to you?  This is what Laura, a first-time customer said to “Chris”, the service writer, after he presented her with a $530 estimate for a distributor on her Mitsubishi Eclipse.
“Rich”, the shop owner, overheard the commotion at the counter and met with Laura to salvage the sale. 
Put yourself in Rich’s shoes for a moment.  What would you do to salvage the sale with a first-time customer who has a price objection?  As Rich was telling me his story, I was sure that he would offer her a discount.  What he said to her, took me by surprise. 
“Laura, the price you were quoted by the parts store is a do-it-yourself price.” He went on to explain, “Ours is an installed service price, which comes with a two-year, 24,000-mile warranty, which is twice as long as the industry average.
With that warranty, you get nationwide coverage in case something goes wrong while you’re out of town. Can you find it cheaper? Probably. Will you be as happy with your investment? Probably not.”
Laura’s response was shocking: “I didn’t realize everything I was getting. Go ahead and do it.” Later in the day, she called Chris and apologized! Why did Laura’s mind change even though her price remained the same? 
Here’s the big takeaway: People don’t do what they don’t understand.   After speaking with Rich, Laura was finally able to understand.   
This allowed Rich to excel as an expense shop without having to discount.    Keep reading to learn two specific strategies to make this happen for you as well.

Find Out Their Plans

110 Retail business owners were surveyed as part of a 2014 Retail Systems Research study.  56% of the respondents reported experiencing increased price sensitivity from their customers. 
The survey also concluded the following critical point:  Customers only shop based on price when price is the only thing that separates competing offerings. 
In other words, the less informed customer will be more price sensitive, than one who is educated on how your service will benefit them.  The key is to find out what your customers plans for the vehicle are. 
So how do you find out what their plans are?  I’ve done some in depth, analytical research over the past eight years to present you with the following answer. 
Brace yourself because I’m about to get technical. Here it is:  YOU ASK: “What are your plans for the vehicle?” (It can’t be that simple, right?)
Once you know your customers plan for the vehicle, you can communicate the benefit of your service that lines up with what she wants.  
For example, I’ve asked this question and received the following response: “My plan is to keep driving my Honda until the wheels come off.” 
Later in the presentation, when we are talking about preventive maintenance, I would say, “Having your transmission fluid exchange service done will help you to drive your Honda until the wheels come off, just like you told me out at the car this morning.”
Finding out their plans for the vehicle, gives you the opportunity to educate your buyer on how your service is a match for their specific need.   

Prep Them For The Courtesy Check

“Joanna” a service manager working in the Mid-West, shared an encounter she had recently that hammers home the value of prepping your customer for the courtesy check. 
 She was attending her local Chamber of Commerce “Lunch and Learn” session where she ran into “Bob”, a longtime customer of her shop.  Bob had good news and bad news to share with her.
“I’ve been coming to your shop for years and you guys have the best tire prices in town!”  That was Bob’s good news.   He then went on to say,” My last visit made me upset! 
I came in for four tires and left with a print out of a bunch of other stuff that needs to be done on my truck! I didn’t plan on getting all that work done, I just came in for tires!” 
To which Joanna replied “The other items the technicians found were things that they noticed when they did the courtesy check.  The courtesy check is done just to make sure everything on your vehicle is OK. 
We do that because we don’t want you to experience a break down on the road because we didn’t tell you about a problem with your vehicle.” Here’s how Bob responded: “OK, that makes sense, now I understand. I will be making an appointment to get those things fixed on my truck.” 
Like Rich from the opening story, Joanna explained the process in a manner that Bob could understand.  What she shared with him, should have been communicated by the initial service advisor BEFORE the courtesy check was done. 
 If Bob had been prepped for the courtesy check, he wouldn’t have had any bad news to tell her. 


So, there you have it.  If you commit to finding out their plans, and prepping them for the courtesy check, you can excel as an expensive shop without having to discount.    As stated earlier, people don’t do what they don’t understand. 
It’s my hope that now you understand the importance of educating your customer.    The next step is for you to DO IT!    


Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS. Email to receive a video that covers the different buying personalities and how they relate to the customers plan for their vehicle.