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

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The One Thing You Never Hear from Employees

Take responsibility for your punctuality.

“Time is what we want most but use worst!” William Penn 

“Traffic was really bad!”
“There was a bad accident on the beltway!”
“I was pulled over by a state trooper!”

If I had a dollar for every time someone has made one of these statements, I’d have about 327 dollars! 

ATI Fundamental #20 instructs us to Be Punctual.

While I’ve heard the previously mentioned reasons for being late, here’s one I’ve never heard: “Sorry I’m late Twiggs. It’s my fault. I need to leave my house earlier next time.”  

How many times has an employee said this to you?

Extenuating circumstances are factors beyond your control that may hurt your desired outcome (traffic, weather, dog eating your homework, etc.). We all have them. I get it!

The problem is that most people are blind to their responsibility for punctuality despite their extenuating circumstances.


The root problem is in the planning. When you estimate how long it takes to get to your destination or to meet a deadline, the tendency is to assume the best case scenario.

For example, the shop is twenty minutes from your house. You assume there will never be a traffic delay along your way, so you leave twenty minutes before your scheduled time, and arrive late!

Or, you had thirty days to complete the shop tour video for your 20 Group. Shooting the video only takes thirty minutes, so you plan to do it the Friday before the meeting.

What you didn’t plan on was working in the shop because your best technician suddenly got sick. As a result, you never get around to shooting the video.

In these scenarios, who was to blame for being late and missing the deadline? I made this question multiple choice in case you wanted to use a lifeline or phone a friend:
  1. The Traffic
  2. The Technician
  3. The Reflection in Your Mirror
If you chose option “C” you’re right on time! Keep reading to discover a simple step you can take to be on time every time.

The 50% Buffer

Since we now agree that you are responsible for being on time, even with your extenuating circumstances, you are ready to implement the 50% buffer.

This idea comes from Greg McKeown, who introduced it In his book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.

You simply multiply 50% by the time estimate to account for the worst-case scenarios.

For example, if it usually takes you twenty minutes to get to your shop, multiplying that number by 50% would allow you to leave 10 minutes earlier! (20 minutes x 50% = 10 minutes)

If it normally takes you an hour to drive to your ATI class, using the 50% buffer would allow you to leave your house 30 minutes earlier! (1 hour x 50% = 30 minutes) 

If there were traffic on your way in, the extra ten minutes and the additional thirty minutes would be your buffer to ensure you arrived on time anyway!


So, there you have it. By taking responsibility for your punctuality, and implementing the 50% buffer, you can be on time every time!

I normally start writing this blog on Monday morning, but due to extenuating circumstances, I didn’t start this week until late Monday afternoon!

I take personal responsibility for my punctuality and will implement the 50% Buffer so that I can start on time next week!


Eric M. Twiggs

P.S. Is the fact that you’re busy putting out fires, causing you to be late? Email to receive an editable copy of The Time Management Matrix, to help you focus on those things that are important but not urgent! 

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

How to Gain an Unfair Advantage in Your Area

Follow-up will give you an unfair advantage in your area!

“Not following up with your prospects is the same as filling up your bathtub without first putting the stopper in the drain.” Michelle Moore 

How do they do it? I asked this question several years ago, as a new member of my local Toastmasters International club. The meetings were held every Tuesday, and the room was always packed with aspiring speakers.

At the district conventions, the leaders of the other clubs complained about member count being down in the area. When one club leader spoke about their low member count, the others would console her by saying, “It’s not just you; everybody is slow.” (Sound familiar??)

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Three Steps to Build a Leading Brand

Three Steps to Build a Leading Brand

A brand is worthless if it doesn’t connect with the right audience in a relevant way.” Cory Torella 

It’s late in the evening and you’re out of town, driving without your GPS device. You don’t know where you are, you don’t know where you’re going, but you do know that you’re hungry! Up ahead, you see the next exit has fast food options so you turn off and go down that road.

You pull up to the stop light and are faced with a difficult decision: you can either turn left and go to McDonald’s, or you can go right and eat at The Twiggs Burger Joint. What would you do?

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Moving From Good to Great as a Shop Owner

Change expectations to go from good to great

“Don’t expect victory or defeat. Plan for victory, learn from defeat.” Gary John Bishop 

In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins communicates the concept of The Stockdale Paradox. It’s based on the experience of James Stockdale, a high-ranking naval officer who was held captive as a POW for seven years during the Vietnam war.

He was tortured repeatedly and had no rational reason to remain positive. The dates on the calendar would change, but his situation remained the same.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Are You Getting Thrown Under the Bus?

Does your shop practice the blame game?

“The starting point of success is taking ownership of your failures.”

If you Googled the phrase, “To throw under the bus,” an image of my six-year-old son Eric would appear! 

He’s infamous in the Twiggs household for throwing his older sister Erin under the bus! If I ask, “Eric, why haven’t you gone to sleep yet?” His reply, “Its Erin’s fault, she keeps talking to me!”

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

How to Get More Buy-In at Your Shop

Get more team buy-in at your shop.

“When a team takes ownership of the problem, the problem gets solved.” Jocko Willink 

Think back on all your extended vacations. How many times did you take the rental car to the car wash? I conducted an official survey of a select group of leaders who have high attention to detail.

I added their combined total of lifetime rental car washes and placed their numbers into my special spreadsheet. The total came to ZERO!

You have NEVER washed the rental car!  Why?  It’s because you didn’t own it, and you place a higher value on things that you own.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

How to Conquer the Car Count Paradox

Do you know your fact-based WIN number?

"The greatest gift to give yourself is the willingness to change your mind." Marianne Williamson

Have you ever seen a fight break out at the dentist’s office? Let’s think about your last visit. The receptionist handed you a card and said, “Your next appointment will be on May 1st.”

She didn’t ask, “would you like to come in on May 1st?” or, “You don’t want to schedule your next appointment, do you?” She just told you the date and assumed you would accept it.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The Difference Between Losing and Being Beaten

Listen generously to focus on what's important now.

He who chases two rabbits catches neither.” Confucius 

In his book Essentialism, The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeon tells the story of Larry Gelwix, one of the most successful high school rugby coaches in history.

In thirty-five years, his Highland High School Rugby Team compiled a record of 419 wins, 10 losses, and 20 national championships! 

If you played for coach Gelwix, here’s what he would tell you:

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The Batting Cage Strategy

The Batting Cage Strategy: Keep on Swinging!

“Some defeats are only installments to victory." Jacob Riis 

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is judging the success of your effort by the initial response you get. I was reminded of this as I sat through a 20 Group meeting. Mike Haley, the former hiring class instructor, was the guest speaker on the agenda.

He opened his session by asking about the current state of hiring in the shops. One owner talked about running an employment ad that didn't work. Someone else mentioned having a scheduled interview with a great candidate who didn't show up for the appointment. Then there was another entrepreneur who chimed in about using a head hunter only to have the resulting hire quit on them.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

How to Increase the WOW Count at Your Shop

Increase the WOW cont at your shop.

“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.  Richard Branson

Imagine that you’re a customer getting your car serviced at your shop. What are the first words that come to mind when you pull up to the curb?  

What’s the first impression you get as you walk up to the counter? How do you feel after interacting with your service advisor? 

Be brutally honest. If you weren’t the owner, would you enthusiastically refer your shop to your friends? If your first words, impressions, and feelings weren’t “WOW,” you would be unlikely to refer.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

The Reason Your Shop Meetings Aren't Working

Always Inspect what you expect.

“The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw

I was all in, on-board, and “drinking the Kool-Aid!” As a new district manager of automotive service, I had a just returned from a national meeting where our president clearly communicated the company direction. 

What he said was good for the car, the customer, and the corporation. My next step was to have a meeting with my managers to get their buy-in. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The Secret to Finding Success When You're Feeling Stuck

Look up for help getting out of the hole.

“Never take constructive criticism from someone who has never constructed anything.”
Dr. George Frazier

“Harry” is a shop owner in your area. One day he’s walking down the street thinking about his dreams, his dollars, and the upcoming decisions he will have to make at his shop. 

He’s so focused on his future that he fails to notice that there is a hole in the sidewalk. As a result, Harry falls in the hole! 

Harry’s best efforts to climb up result in him falling down! To make matters worse, it’s starting to rain and the water is up to his ankles. (BTW, why does it only rain on the days when you wash your car and fall into a hole?)   

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Fastest Way to Build Trust With Your Customers

Make a deposit in your customer's trust account.

It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. Warren Buffett 

"That's outrageous! It's just too much!" Said "Gary,"  the owner of a 2007 Toyota Camry in need of a power steering pump and fluid exchange.

I overheard this conversation as I was listening to the recording of "John," a service writer from Maryland, present the technician's findings. It was painfully obvious that this call was not going well!

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

How to Lose Your Good Customers Over Price

How to lose good customers over price.

"There are no price objections; only value questions." Art Sobczak

"I'm losing business because of the pricing matrix!" This statement was made by a shop owner named Rich, during our weekly coaching call. Both his car count and average repair order (ARO) were down from the previous year.

He had two service writers named Steve and Chris. Even though they had the same invoice count, Steve held a 61% parts margin and a $400 ARO, while Chris hovered around 45% and $230.

I had Rich make the "where have you been" calls to determine why people weren't coming back. He spoke to ten customers; five from each writer.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

The Key to Attracting Your Ideal Customer

The key to attracting your ideal customer is to assume that everyone is a VIP.

Look at everything as if you were seeing it either for the first or last time. Betty Smith

Several weeks ago I took my car to a local tire retailer to resolve a slow leak. As soon as I arrived at the service counter it became obvious that “Jeff,” the service writer, didn’t want my business.

He didn’t smile, didn’t greet me, but he did say the following: “Sir, I need you to step to the other side of the counter because I’m with a customer.” After several minutes it was my turn and I made him aware of my tire situation.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

How to Hire the Right Technician for Your Shop

Fundamentals are the building blocks of your shop culture.

"Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.” Simon Sinek 

When it comes to automotive education, "Bill" has more degrees than a thermometer! He's a master certified ASE technician. He also has certifications from Ford and Subaru.

If you were to survey the tool truck drivers and ask them to name the most productive technician in town, they wouldn't have to phone a friend or use a lifeline! They would name Bill.

His white toolbox is bigger than a Buick, and if he ever got a scratch on it, he would replace the entire drawer!

What if Bill knocked on your door today, with the goal of becoming your next "A" technician? Would you hire him?

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Leading Cause of Low Car Count at Your Shop

The Leading Cause of Low Car Count at Your Shop

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” Anais Nin

He got out of a Ford Crown Victoria with no hubcaps. He had a full shaggy beard, a white t-shirt, jeans with holes in them, and flip flops. It appeared that it had been a while since he last combed his hair!

This is how Dave Ramsey describes his sales prospect, "Chris" in his book EntreLeadership, 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches. This encounter occurred back when Ramsey sold expensive custom homes as a Real Estate professional.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Something to Consider When You Feel Like Giving Up

Something to Consider When You Feel Like Giving Up -- I Can

"You can never tell how close you are, it may be near when it seems far." John Greenleaf Whittier

Have you ever felt like giving up? "Mike" and "Harry" certainly did. They were frustrated by their general manager's performance failures. He was highly compensated, but his results weren't on par with his pay.

In spite of their best efforts to provide training and coaching, sales were slipping, profits were plummeting, and morale was moving in the wrong direction.

They ran hiring ads to find the right general manager, but only the forklift drivers applied! When they did meet a promising prospect, the candidate would "forget "to show up for the interview! It was truly a frustrating situation.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

My Biggest Frustration With Selling Service

“It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.” Mark Twain

Imagine that “Cliff,” your customer, has dropped off a brown 2007 Toyota Scion with over 115,000 miles. The paint is peeling, the front bumper is missing, and the rear windshield is cracking. If you typed the word “beater” into “Google,” an image of this car would appear!

After conducting a complete courtesy check, you find that it needs over $3,500 worth of work to include front and rear brakes, the valve cover gasket, and a tune-up. Cliff’s reason for bringing the car to you was to have the oil changed and tires rotated.

Your technician has just handed you the courtesy check and complete estimate. It’s time to call Cliff and present your findings.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

How to Regain Your Swagger at The Shop

“Skill and confidence are an unconquered army” George Herbert

The year was 2012 and I was frustrated. I was frustrated by the fact that I couldn’t move “Jack.” Jack is a shop owner who was failing to achieve his profit goals. He and I would speak every week, but the results didn’t change.  

We improved his pricing, but never experienced the payoff. We implemented new processes but failed to see the performance. We hired new people but didn’t enhance production. What was I missing?

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

How to Achieve Relentless Success at Your Shop

Looking in the mirror

“The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement.” Helmut Schmidt

In his book, Relentless, From Good To Great To Unstoppable, Tim Grover tells the story of how he became the personal trainer of choice for professional basketball players in the NBA.

Back in the late 1980s, Tim was a 25-year-old, with no prior experience working with pro athletes. He was hoping to get his big break.

He picked up the phone and contacted the local team offering his performance improvement services. He called all twelve players on the roster leaving messages for them to get back with him. Eleven of the twelve ignored the call.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

What Top Shops Never Say and What They Do Instead

What Top Shop Owners Never Say
"It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." Mark Twain

“Jack” owns a shop on the east coast and has two service advisors. The first advisor “Ray” is an automotive industry veteran with over 15 years of experience. He’s been there, done that, and has the tee shirt and coffee mug to prove it! 

The second writer “Craig”, knows nothing about cars and couldn’t change his own oil if his life depended on it! Which one would you hire? Before you answer, allow me to continue the story.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

How To Become An Unstoppable Shop Owner This Year

Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.  Robert Collier

Have you ever attended a training class looking for "the silver bullet?" I thought about this as I watched a documentary on legendary football coach Vince Lombardi. Lombardi is considered to be the greatest coach of his era. He would conduct clinics for assistant coaches around the league who were seeking the secret to his success.