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

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

How To Sell Automotive Repair To A Bottom Feeder

How To Sell Automotive Repair To A Bottom Feeder


Eric M. Twiggs

“How much business is an inaccurate assumption costing you?

A plainly dressed woman wearing a baseball cap walked into an upscale handbag store looking to make a purchase.  She came in carrying a worn-out handbag that appeared to have a lot of miles on it. 

She gestured towards the most expensive bag in the store, but before she could speak, the salesperson gave her the following response:

"Nope, it's too expensive.  Look at these bags instead." The customer asked a second time to see the handbag that was secured behind a screen and was again refused by the salesperson who would only show her the options that she believed were in her price range.

After asking a third time and being refused, she left the store without buying anything.  The plainly dressed customer with the high mileage bag was Oprah Winfrey, who has an estimated net worth of three billion dollars, and a twitter following of 41 million people!

She posted a tweet about her experience mentioning the handbag store by name!   The salesperson had mistakenly profiled Oprah Winfrey to be a bottom feeder.

A “bottom feeder” is a term in the retail industry that describes someone whom a business representative has profiled to be a low potential customer.  

To save their time for “the good customers”, the rep. will short cut the normal sales process, by only presenting the lowest priced offerings to this individual.   

Oprah’s story teaches us that this attempt to save time, can cost you on your bottom line!   How much business is an inaccurate assumption costing you?

Count The Costs

Some of my discussions with a shop owner will begin with him complaining about his low net profit results.  As we review his repair orders from the previous week, he tells me he doesn’t offer the courtesy check to “certain types of customers” who drive older, high mileage, vehicles. 

These conversations have taught me that there’s a direct relationship between the inaccurate profiling of customers and low net profit.  

In other words, if you embrace a profiling philosophy, you’re likely to become unhappy with your profit performance!

Don’t believe me?  Well consider the following questions:

1) Would you refer your family and friends to a shop that treated you like you were a bottom feeder?   2)  What if the customer, whom you’ve profiled to be a bottom feeder, turned out to be a billionaire?  3) How would you feel if she “tweeted” about her experience to millions of people mentioning your shop by name?    

Stay with me to learn about something specific that  you can do, instead of profiling your customers.

Consider The Possibilities

The story is told of a rookie service advisor named “Cindy” who was new to both her shop and to the automotive industry.  There was an elderly customer named “Sarah”, who had a history of never approving the estimates that were recommended on her green Geo Prizm with 180,000 miles on it.

As a practical joke, the service manager along with the lead mechanic decided to give “the newbie” the estimate to present, which totaled four thousand dollars.   The manager and tech listened to the presentation from the office while laughing to themselves. 

They laughed as Cindy approached the counter.  They laughed as she presented the “complete pile”, like she learned from Randy Somers in service advisor class.   The laughs changed to a collective gasp, when Sarah responded with the following statement: “OK, go ahead and do it!”  

This story is filled with possibilities.  It’s possible that Sarah didn’t purchase in the past, because the shop treated her like she was a bottom feeder.  It’s possible that Cindy was too new to know that Sarah wasn’t “the right type of customer. “ 

It’s possible that you can succeed like Cindy, if you focus more on the process than you do the profile!  Consider the possibility that YOU may be creating some of your “bottom feeders”.


So, there you have it.  If you count the costs and consider the possibilities, you can sell automotive repair to customers whom you previously considered to be bottom feeders. 

Unlike Oprah, you can’t give everyone in your “audience” a car.  But, if you focus more on the process than you do the profile, you can leave them feeling like a billion bucks!

Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS. Email to receive an updated checklist of the estimate presentation process!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

How To Keep A Bad Attitude From Impacting Your Shop

How To Keep A Bad Attitude From Impacting Your Shop


Eric M. Twiggs

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” Winston Churchill.

After several months of searching for a service manager, “John”, a local shop owner had finally found “Mr. Right.”  “Steve”, had over 15 years of experience writing service and was most recently working for another ATI shop owner. 

During the interview he said all the right things and had all the right answers.  Steve passed his background check with flying colors.

As a mere formality, John called his old boss named “Bill” for a reference.  Here is how the conversation went:

“Bill, I see that Steve worked for you from January of 2017 to February of 2018.” “Yes” Bill replied. “He says his reason for leaving was that he was relocating because his wife’s new job." “Yes” Said Bill.  

“Great. So, knowing what you know today about Steve, would you hire him back?” To which Bill Replied: “ABSOLUTELY NOT!”

Bill went on for the next ten minutes telling John about how Steve was negative, resistant to change, and always blaming other people for his failures!  Steve’s attitude cost him a career opportunity.   How much has a bad attitude at your shop cost you?

I know what you’re thinking: “But Coach, my manager is only negative with me.  She says the right things to my customers!”

My response can be best summed up by the following quote from John Maxwell: People hear your words, but they feel your attitude.”  

This explains why someone with a bad attitude can lower your customer retention rate, even if you never receive a complaint.  She seems to say the right things, but your patrons feel her attitude and don’t return. 

Here’s the bottom line:  If your writer is always negative with you, your customer feels it too.   

Negativity at the counter may be costing you more than you realize.  

So, how can you keep a bad attitude from impacting your shop?  Keep reading and you will learn.

Consider The Michelin Method

Early in my automotive career, I worked as a service advisor for a major tire retailer.   I thought it would be cool to work for the Michelin Tire Corporation as a Michelin Representative. 

Based on my research, they spent their time traveling to conferences, conducting training clinics, and hosting plant tours! 

Because of my previous tire experience, I considered myself to be a slam dunk to get a position with their organization.  I embraced the right attitude as I completed the application.

Apparently, Michelin never got the memo, that I was a slam dunk.   They didn’t get the memo, but I got the rejection letter!    After speaking with "Mary" my local Michelin Rep, I discovered that my previous tire experience was the problem! 

According to Mary, the company had a strict policy of not hiring anyone with a background in selling tires.

Why would a tire company refuse someone with tire experience?   Here’s what Mary said: “We hire for attitude and train for aptitude.”  

In other words, on the journey to success, Michelin was looking for people who would bring luggage and not baggage.    Stay with me as I unpack these two terms.

Luggage vs Baggage

While traveling, luggage represents the items you bring with you that are essential to your trip.  It’s portable and easy to travel with.   For example, the army refers to the portable equipment it travels with as luggage. 

Baggage on the other hand, represents those excess items that limit your freedom, progress, and comfort.  Baggage is so difficult to deal with; the airports have created a baggage claim section to free you up.  When was the last time you saw a luggage claim section?

Many of the service managers with automotive experience, bring baggage with them.  They are weighed down with bad habits, limiting beliefs, and all the reasons that your idea won’t work.  

Since you don’t have a baggage claim area at your shop, the next best thing, is to hire for attitude.     

Please make note of the following disclaimers:  1) I have nothing against hiring experienced service managers.  Their experience can be valuable, if they show up with luggage and not baggage. 2) When hiring someone with no automotive background, be prepared to invest the time.  It may take up to six months to bring them up to speed on the basics of the business.


So, there you have it.  When hiring your next service manager, consider the Michelin Method of hiring a qualified person with no industry background.  Also, make sure the next industry veteran you hire is carrying luggage instead of baggage.   

Committing to these steps will keep a bad attitude from impacting your shop.


Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS. Email to receive a checklist containing The 7 Symptoms of a Bad Attitude.