By Joe Marconi
“Why are we discussing these issues when the people who need it the most are not here? We’re not reinventing the wheel. We get it. But the ones who don’t get it need to be here, too!”
Those were the words spoken by one of my service advisors during a recent meeting. We were discussing quality issues and ways to improve overall production, which, we determined, would improve sales and profit. I listened as Tommy (not his real name) continued for a few minutes. I could hear the frustration in his voice, so I let him speak until I felt he expressed all his feelings to the group.
I am a firm believer in holding regular meetings. And, while there are times when the group gives me feedback, rarely does anyone voice their opinion with such passion and intensity the way Tommy did that day. Drawing on experience, I thanked him for his openness and honesty. I also asked him if we could continue this discussion in the morning in private. He agreed.
The next morning, I paged Tommy and asked him to come to my office. I thanked him again for his openness and asked him to elaborate more on what he said the night before. Tommy hesitated at first, but slowly began to tell me his frustrations. It really boiled down to the level of commitment from a few techs. Tommy spoke in length about what he would like to change in the shop, and again repeated that we’re not reinventing the wheel. His words were clear and on point, “Joe, we all know what to do. We all know our goals. And we all know when we perform to the level we are supposed to. So, I just don’t understand why all of us can meet those expectations.”
Tommy’s insight into the work environment and the dynamics of people’s behavior was perhaps deeper than he even realized. When people within an organization feel that some of their coworkers are not pulling their weight, animosity begins to set in. Essentially, your top employees want to make sure that everyone is committed to the company’s success and doing their very best for the greater good of the team.
We also need to remember that people look at things from their own perspective. And their perspective becomes their reality. The key thing is to keep the lines of communication open, learn from each other and try to view different situations from the viewpoint of others.
After nearly 30 minutes of discussion, it was time to give Tommy my input on how I viewed the situation. I let him know that, while not everyone will be in total agreement with how he views these concerns, he has made a giant step forward at letting me know the issues we have in the shop. I then asked Tommy, “Out of our 16 employees, how many people in your opinion, without giving me any names, do not live up to the expectations of the company?” Tommy thought for a moment and replied, “Well, when I think about it, just a few. Two, maybe three.” Here was my opportunity to bring logic into a very emotional discussion. “So, what you are telling me is that the majority of your coworkers do live up to the company’s expectations and do a quality job?” Tommy replied, “Yes, I didn’t see it that way.” I let Tommy know that I would take his ideas and implement them into my strategy to improve the work environment. He appreciated the fact that I listened to his concerns.
Here’s the bottom line. When a person speaks up like Tommy did—listen to them. Don’t shut them down. They are expressing more than their frustrations over a few of their coworkers. They are giving you real-life, from the trenches information. And although it may be from their perspective, their viewpoint can give you valuable information that will help you and your company improve. Even a few people not pulling their weight can be enough to affect morale. And others may be feeling the same way.
What you don’t want are “yes” people who merely agree with you because you’re the boss. No matter how uncomfortable it may be, welcome feedback and criticism from your key people. We also need to listen more and speak less. And most of all, we need to understand that the solutions to our problems don’t always have to come from us. Sometimes, an employee’s outburst is just what we need to put things in the right perspective.
This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on January 1st, 2020
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By Silver Star
I would like to know if any other shops out there using Autologic have run into programming issues. I was informed last week that they have stopped doing any coding as of January 2017. This was the first I have heard of it. Any other users out there being told the same thing? If so what did you do to solve your problem? (New equipment or buy the pass thru equipment through them?)
Hey ASO community, we are planning on opening a general repair shop and we had some logos created. Please vote and help us narrow down our choice. Any feedback is greatly appreciated!
A customer that is a Realtor mentioned to me that he is having success using a program called https://calltools.com/ for outbound call marketing.
I was thinking about doing something like this for this Spring season, has anyone here used an outbound call system of marketing? I have a list of over 80,000 customers and I was thinking it would be a good time to see what results it may bring.
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By Mail Shark
If you are currently sending or considering sending out direct mail by carrier route, there is one specific type of address you should be aware of called a Drop Stop AKA Drop Address.
A Drop Stop is a “locked” location where postal carriers do not deliver mail to the individual units or boxes. They “drop” the mail in a designated location for the individual complex to distribute.
Take a look at the attached. This photo is from a client of mine from years ago that wanted to test this area and mail this specific complex that we identified to be classified as a Drop Stop.
*Although the majority of Drop Addresses are apartment complexes, the vast majority of apartment complexes are NOT considered drop address apartments.
In addition to designated apartment complexes, some other types of drop addresses are some gated communities, trailer parks, etc. There are no absolute rules or policies for establishing an address as a drop delivery location. The determination of a drop delivery location is based on several factors. It may be the choice of the recipients at the address such as for gated communities or prestigious high-rise condominiums that the residents don’t wish to have their physical address information disclosed and elect instead to have their mail distributed by their building management. Where a delivery location is defined as a business delivery point such as a trailer park, the USPS may make the determination that all mail will be delivered to a central location and the responsibility for distribution to the individual recipients will be made by other than USPS personnel.
All that said, the first step is to identify if any of the addresses in your area are classified as drop addresses. From here I typically always recommend removing these from a saturation mailer. You could have a tenant that sees a special offer and simply takes all of them or someone doesn’t like an employee at your business or had a bad experience, etc, etc. and simply takes them and dumps them in the trash.
In my opinion in 99.8% of cases it makes no sense to pay for postage on pieces that may just get dropped on a table. I’m sure you would much rather have your direct mail marketing going to a physical address that you know will get delivered into the intended recipient’s mailbox.
If you have any questions regarding Drop Addresses or would like to see if there are any in your immediate area, please let me know.
Executive Vice President of Sales
Email: [email protected]
By Joe Marconi
Before you call me crazy, please read on. Last year was one of the toughest winters in history for many shops in the northern states. Records snow falls and frigid low temperatures caused many shops to lose days, and in some cases weeks’ worth of sales. Many shops are still struggling to eke out a profit for this year.
That’s the bad news, and the reality of what happened and what can happen again this winter. The good news is this: We all learned from it. And because of what happened we are better prepared, or should be better prepared for it.
He’s a rundown of the strategy most of us will implement. Please feel free to add to this list, so we can all share in each other’s knowledge:
· Create a Fall Promotion to get your customer’s car ready for the winter
· Have a meeting with the entire staff; key on the service areas that are winter-related and check these items at every vehicle visit:
o Battery testing
o Antifreeze testing
o Check wiper blades
o Check tire condition
o Suggest snow/winter tires
o Check all fluid condition
o Check operation of heater and fan speeds
· Make sure your service staff is proactive with regard to needed maintenance services
· Identify the next service for all customers, inform the customer.
· Book and flood your customer base with service reminders during the slower months to boost sales
· Implement a phone call system to call customer to remind them of recommended services, especially during the slow months
· Create another Winter-Related promotion and send out during the months of January, February and March.
o Flood your customer base with these promotions.
No one can predict the future, and no one can tell how any effect any marketing plan will be. But there is one thing I CAN guarantee; if you do nothing, expect nothing.
By Joe Marconi
Got your attention? Good!
This past Sunday I took a booth at the local Business EXPO in my town. I like doing these things for the obvious reason - It helps to promote my company's brand in my community. But the other reason I do it is to speak with the average consumer to gain information. One of questions I ask is this: "What model car do you drive and where do you go for service?"
It is amazing to me how many people go back to the dealer for service work. And here are some of the reasons:
It's a lease car, I didn't know you could take my car to you for service It's a new car, don't you HAVE to go back to the dealer? I don't know where to take my car, so I stayed with the dealer I have free maintenance (we all what "free" means) I don't want problems if I need warranty work My salesman told me when I bought the car that I had to used dealer parts and service Aren't the dealer mechanics better trained?
By the way, when I asked about the level of service and convenience, all of them rolled their eyes and said something like this, "Well, it's the dealer, you know what you get." MAN! I can't help thinking that if they came to YOUR shop you would win them over just on your level of customer service!
So, as you can see, we are in a fight with the dealers. The great news is that we are still the number one choice of the motoring public. Let's fight to stay that way.
We, as independent aftermarket shops, do not aggressively market ourselves against the dealer. Maybe we should start?