By Joe Marconi
Technicians have been working very hard during tough times the past few months. And I am not just referring to maintaining production levels. The emotional strain is also a factor. They have been true heroes and have not let up with their commitment to their jobs, the companies they work for and the people they help each day.
We need to recognize what they do and say thank you to our techs and let them know how much we appreciate what they do each and every day.
By Joe Marconi
What’s wrong with my employees? Why don’t they do what I ask of them? It’s the same thing every day. I say one thing, they do another. It seems as if I am the only person who knows what to do around here.
Does any of this sound familiar? Have you said these words, or a variation of these words, from time to time? If so, you’re not alone. Getting people to follow policy or a new marketing strategy sometimes feels as if you are trying to move the earth off its axis.
People in high levels of authority are well-aware of the need to get things done. Each member of their team plays an integral part in the success or failure of the organization. In your shop, you are the authority: you are the shop owner. You know that the responsibility of attaining success directly rests on your shoulders. This is a weight you carry around with you each day.
Eventually, if your efforts don't attain the results you need to run a successful business, you begin to look around to find out what’s causing the problem. And the tendency is to assign blame. All too often, you find that your employees are not all pulling in the same direction. And you determine that this is the cause of your problems. The following may not sit well with you, but if most of your employees are not engaged and not performing up to your expectations, it’s probably not their fault. You need to take a long hard look in the mirror. The fault may lie with management, and that means you.
Assigning blame is destructive. It keeps our focus directed in the wrong areas. This is not to say we can never have a bad employee. But, if we focus on seeking blame, we are directing our attention from where our focus should be; and that’s accepting the responsibility to correct what’s happening and make the necessary changes.
In order to really get things done and achieve personal success and the personal success of your employees, it takes the cooperation of each team member. Getting people to work as a unified team involves commitment, not compliance. Compliance is demanding people to do something. And they will—but only up to a certain point and only for a certain period of time. What you need from your employees is not compliance; you need commitment.
Surveys have shown that the majority of employees in most businesses are not engaged at work and the primary reason is that most employees don’t know the overall goals and vision of the company. And they also don’t know what’s expected of them. Employees are largely left to react to their situations during the day; never really having a clear understanding of how their role contributes to their success and the success of the company.
A business team is no different than a sports team. Every member needs to know the objective and goals. Imagine the coach of a football team who does not let the quarterback—or the other players— know what the play is? He simply tells the players to get out on the field and perform. After all, the players are well-trained, highly capable and all professionals. Shouldn’t they know what to do to win? And when they fail to win, the coach ends up blaming the players. Is this a ridiculous analogy? It may be, but this is what happens every day in shops across the country.
Your best employees don’t want to fail. They don’t intentionally ignore what you want from them. It’s more likely that they really may not know what you expect from them. Employees need to know exactly what is expected of them and they need to be motivated and inspired to perform their best. However, the only way your employees can perform at their best is for each of them to know what the company goals are. In other words, what is our overall objective and how we, as a team, are going to achieve it.
Each employee also needs to know that when the business wins, they do, too. When employees realize that achieving the company goals is also aligned with achieving their personal goals, you have commitment. And commitment equates to success.
Communicate the goals of the company often. Communicate what success looks like and how we are going to attain it. Create a workplace where the goals of the individual are aligned with the goals of the company. If things get off track, just look in the mirror. If you want to blame someone, you might want to start with yourself.
This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on December 3rd, 2019
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By Elite Worldwide Inc.
Let’s say you’re looking to hire a superstar technician. You find one who has a proven track record of success, and put them through a well-constructed interview process. You decide that the person sitting in front of you is the perfect fit, and you make them a formal job offer in hopes that they will agree to join your team. They agree, and for the first time in a while you’re able to sleep throughout the night, because you know you’ve done your due diligence, and have finally found the top tech you’ve so desperately been needing. All good so far, right?
Your new hire comes to work on Monday, and you’re off to a great start. And then…. it happens. Within the first few weeks you start to get the sinking feeling that you may have hired the wrong person. There’s no question that they can fix cars the right way, and they do it quickly. They also show up every day on time, and they keep their workplace clean. The problem is, they don’t follow your procedures very well. Your key employees are telling you that the new guy seems to complain quite a bit about meaningless things, and they’re sad to report that he’s not very social either.
You start to hope that he’ll either “adjust or come around”, or that he’s just dealing with some personal issues that will soon pass. But after a month or two you reach the inevitable conclusion – this guy doesn’t like to follow rules, he has an attitude that doesn’t fit well in your shop, and your other employees are not very pleased that he’s working with you. After many sleepless nights, you decide to let him go, and you start the process all over again.
Unfortunately, many shop owners live in this world of high employee turnover, or end up telling themselves that they’d rather keep someone who’s not a good fit than run the risk of simply swapping out one bad employee for another. If this sounds all too familiar to you, then consider this:
The trap most shop owners fall into is they hire people for what they know, and they end up firing them… for who they are.
To put it another way, shop owners often hire people for their skills, and they fire them for their behavior. So, the best-kept secret to hiring superstar techs and advisors? It’s going a step beyond learning about their skills and experience, and learning more about who they are as a person. As someone who has grown some of the most successful shops in America, I’ve learned over the years that in order to hire top employees that my entire team will really enjoy working with, I have to pay very close attention to their personalities and behaviors during the interview process. I do that to this day with Elite, and it’s been one of the most important keys to my hiring success. However, I also know that my perception of someone’s personality will only take me so far, so I have every applicant complete a 45-minute online behavioral assessment before the first interview. Here’s why.
An assessment can tell us whether an applicant has the propensity to follow rules, how social they are, their level of optimism, how open they are to constructive feedback, and a whole lot more. Not only do these assessments help us conclude whether the applicant is even someone we should interview, but they also give us direction on where we should dig deeper, and the questions we should ask during the interviews. For example, if the assessment suggests they are not very social, then you know you need to ask questions about how they worked with others in the past so you can discover if there were personality conflicts, ego issues, etc. If the assessment suggests they have a propensity to ignore rules and procedures, you can ask them specific questions about how they inspected and repaired cars, and how they interacted with the advisors.
So here’s what I’m going to ask you to do. First, think about the people you’ve fired. Hopefully it hasn’t been many, but I suspect you will discover that with rare exception, the reason you fired them had little to do with their skills, but was because of who they were as a person or how they behaved. Secondly, I’m going to ask that you accept the fact that there are many behaviors (and propensities) that will show up on behavioral assessments that you or I would never be able to detect during an interview, no matter how thorough we may be. And lastly, consider that if you do the math, hiring the wrong person is going to cost you at least $5,000.
If you now agree that you need to dig deep and learn more about who the person really is before you hire them, you need to do what Fortune 500 companies and the top shop owners in America do, and have every applicant complete a behavioral assessment before the first interview. There are many companies that provide such services, such as Predictive Index, Berke, and Myers-Briggs, to name a few. We use Berke, and have been quite pleased.
If you do begin assessing the people you may hire, then you have my promise: You’ll have a much higher probability of hiring the techs and advisors that your other employees will enjoy working with, they’ll follow your rules, and you’ll be able to go to sleep at night knowing you have an incredible team…of superstars.
“Since 1990, Bob Cooper has been the president of Elite (www.EliteWorldwide.com), a company that strives to help shop owners reach their goals and live happier lives, while elevating the industry at the same time. The company offers the industry’s #1 peer group of 90 successful shop owners, training and coaching from top shop owners, service advisor training, along with online and in-class sales, marketing and shop management courses. You can contact Elite at [email protected], or by calling 800-204-3548."
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By Elite Worldwide Inc.
BY Bob Cooper
If your shop’s not generating the sales you need, you may very well need more customers, but before you start pumping more of your hard-earned money into your advertising campaigns, you may want to take advantage of this easy-to-use Elite checklist to see where you may be losing valuable sales.
The Proper Goals in Place – As a shop owner you need to ensure you set daily sales and car count goals. These can be easily created by simply breaking down your monthly goals. In addition to car count and sales goals, you need to ensure you have a closing ratio goal in place for bringing in those first-time callers.
A Competent Team that Believes – You’ll need to have a team of superstars who are gifted at what they do. Beyond that, they’ll need to believe in proper, professional and ethical inspections of every vehicle. Your advisors will need to believe in your technicians and their recommendations, in the services you offer, and that the prices you charge are a good value for your customers.
The Right Customers – You’ll need to ensure you have the right customers on the other side of your service counter. With the wrong customers you will inevitably lose sales at the point of sale, your ARO (and efficiencies) will drop, the sales process with each customer will take more time (and subsequently cost you more), your comeback rate will increase, and you will get less favorable reviews. If that’s not all damaging enough, when the wrong customers decide to decline all the services you’ve recommended, your techs (and advisors) will become frustrated, which leads to poor morale, a decline in productivity and higher employee turnover.
The Right Telephone Procedures - Putting first things first, you need to make sure that everyone who picks up your phone is properly trained. Also bear in mind that what you hear when you are at your shop may not be what the callers are hearing when you’re not around. Accordingly, you may want to records all calls, or have mystery calls made to your shop on a random basis. It’s senseless to keep pumping money into advertising campaigns if the leads are being lost when they call your shop.
The Right Procedures for Handing Web Leads – When someone reaches out to you over the web, time is of the essence. In addition, you need to have a clear policy in place for how those leads are going to be followed up with, by whom, and when. Remember, the primary objective with every web lead is to get them on the phone as soon as possible so you can start building the relationship you need for the ensuing sales.
Proper Vehicle Inspections – You need to ensure that every vehicle is properly inspected every time, and that all discoveries are properly documented. Ideally the inspections will be performed digitally so that your techs can be more efficient with their time, and your advisors can communicate with your customers more effectively. In today’s age of technology, there is no longer any valid reason for a shop to still be performing handwritten inspections. In addition to all the efficiencies, digital inspections will build customer confidence that is so desperately needed in today’s competitive environment.
The Right Pricing Structure – In all cases you need to ensure your prices are competitive for the value delivered. By no means does this mean you need to be the cheapest shop in town. What I am suggesting is that your prices need to be competitive with other top shops in your community that offer similar value. The right pricing structure also mandates that you have a clear policy in place for when you will begin charging for your time and services. In essence, to what extent will you help, or provide service to a customer, before they will be required to pay? Lastly, in order to maximize your sales you need to ensure your advisors are charging the appropriate prices for all of your diagnostic services.
Proper Estimating – There is no question that your sales will be dependent on every job being properly estimated. At any given time you should be able to review reports that reflect what we at Elite refer to as the “Total Discovered Services”. In essence, this is a report that shows the true sales potential of your shop, not only for the past year, but for the past month, week and any given day as well. Remember, your advisors can’t sell it if it’s not on the estimate.
Complete & Proper Disclosure – In order to provide exceptional service to your customers, and maximize your sales, your advisors need to ensure they never pre-judge or pre-qualify any customer. To pre-judge simply means the advisor feels the customer won’t authorize the repairs, and to pre-qualify means the advisor feels the customer does not have the financial wherewithal to pay for the necessary services. We have also found over the years that there are many advisors who hold back on their disclosures to their first-time customers because they’re afraid to scare the customer away. Unfortunately, this practice not only leads to a decline in sales, but when the customer later discovers that there is something your advisor did not disclose to them, your reputation with that customer will be irreparably damaged.
Utilizing the Proper Sales Procedures – In all cases, your advisors need to be properly trained how to sell. Beyond having the necessary knowledge of automobiles, your products, and your services, they need to know how to help your customers make the right decisions. If you find your advisors are closing less than 50% of the total discovered services, you need to look for the failures, and you need to do so immediately.
Advisors Monitoring & Measuring Their Own Performance – Each morning your advisors need to create a daily goal sheet that reflects both their daily sales and car count goals at the top. When a repair order is written, they should then strike a line through the current car count goal, and write the revised goal beneath. They’ll need to use this same procedure in tracking their sales performance. By taking this approach, at any given moment they will know exactly how many cars they still need to bring in that day in order to reach their daily car count goal, and they’ll know what they have left to sell that day as well. By reaching either of these daily goals by the end of their day, they’ll be able to go home feeling great about what they were able to achieve. In addition to the goal sheet, your advisors need to have a call log by their phone to keep track of their lost calls.
For those of you who feel having daily sales goals in place may cause your advisors to sell services that don’t need to be sold, consider that if this occurs, the problem isn’t with the system, but with the advisor. When you have the right people with the right principles, they understand that reaching their sales goals doesn’t include selling services that don’t need to be sold. They can reach their goals by being more efficient with the vehicles they have in the shop, and when necessary, bringing in more customers. As an added note, I used this daily goal setting strategy at the shops that I owned, and it enabled me to generate outstanding sales. I have also noticed that as soon as our clients start using this procedure, it is not uncommon for their sales to increase 10-15%, with no other changes.
The Shop Owner Doing Their Job – It is the responsibility of the shop owner to not only ensure all the above policies and procedures are in place, but to ensure they have the right people, that their techs and advisors are properly trained by the best trainers, and that they’re monitoring, measuring and praising the positive performance of all their employees. This responsibility also includes performing mystery calls (or recording all calls), spot checking vehicle inspections, watching for trends, doing repair order reviews with their advisors, and performing role-plays.
A Companywide Commitment to Principles – To maximize your sales and build a really great business at the same time, you need to create a list of Guiding Principles, you need to share them with your entire team on a consistent basis, and you need to ensure everyone on your team lives by them each and every day. If you do, and apply the procedures listed above, then not only will you reach your sales goals, but you’ll do so in a way that makes you and your entire team proud.
“Since 1990, Bob Cooper has been the president of Elite (www.EliteWorldwide.com), a company that strives to help shop owners reach their goals and live happier lives, while elevating the industry at the same time. The company offers coaching and training from the industry’s top shop owners, service advisor training, peer groups, along with online and in-class sales, marketing and shop management courses. You can contact Elite at [email protected], or by calling 800-204-3548."
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Whether or not we realize it, each shop has a similar workflow process. Like many areas of life, we think that we are all unique in our business strategy. However, reality is we are all very similar, our differences lie in management styles. Our attitude and approach, from employees and customers, defines how we achieve success.
Check In Inspection Estimate Building Customer Authorization Work In Progress Completion Follow Up The process, is often hijacked by two elements. The first element is service center employee(s) and their attitude(s) and the second element is the software your business uses.
Your employees are your team, and that’s exactly the best way to approach your business. When you look at employees as team members and not as just “the new guy/girl” or “Jack the mechanic who never combs his hair”... everyone’s attitude begins to change.
Being a part of a team is a mindset that everyone ‘shares in the responsibility’, everyone is accountable for their role and if one person fails… everyone has failed. This mindset is used to build all types of companies, some of which end up being valued into the billions of dollars. Teams help each other pick up the slack and work with one another to get through personal and professional barriers.
The most important thing to remember about the team, is that everyone can have a bad day, week, month or even months. We are all human and too often we forget everyone is going through something. The team element opens the door to communication among the facility and if people are comfortable enough to communicate, they are open to moving past whatever ails them. We are all too quick to give up on someone we have invested an immense amount of time and energy training to our standards. With the right team, dedication is matched on all ends, resulting in happy customers that not only return... they refer. Which lowers acquisition costs and keeps business growth healthy.
You can read more about team building here and we also encourage you to search for ideas on team building and how to achieve the optimal team at your auto repair facility.
This article originally published in CAR's News Section
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