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Elite's Fly with the Eagle II Course Review

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NOTE: As a primer I do want to say that I am currently an Elite coaching client and I am very happy with their services. I will try to be as objective as possible with this review and no I am not getting any incentives to write this LOL



For those whom don't know Elite is a auto shop management coaching company that has various services including one on one coaching, 20 groups which they call Pro Service, and they also run classes year round with their Fly with the Eagle II course as their most comprehensive. They are an ethics based company with the motto that they will never put money ahead of people. Great words to live by.


Anyway I attended this course a few weeks ago held in San Diego. You don't have to be an Elite member to attend this class however it was packaged together with my coaching program. I had been looking forward to this for 2 months. Partially because I'm from NYC and it would be a great little getaway from the cold. Who doesn't want to visit San Diego right?


Day 1 was all about financials. Our very own Joe Marconi was the facilitator for this event. It was the second time being in a class with Joe and he's a really great guy. I hope all of you forum folks get to meet him someday. For anyone who has not had any formal business training on how to read financial statements and also the key metrics that a shop owner needs to know and be aware of this would be a great day. I had previously taken RLO's Guerrilla Shop Management course so I was very familiar with the material that was being taught however what was presented in the class was very comprehensive and all the right stuff. Topics such as cost control, break even projections, setting target percentages within your budget, reading P&L statements, and controlling part and labor costs are discussed. As was said during the class, numbers are the foundation and building blocks of any business so you need to know them and how to effectively use them.



Day 2 was all about finding and hiring the superstars. This is where I think the Elite course starts to make its bones. For me to get into how valuable this day is I would have to sit and talk to each one of you for hours. This is where I believe the course starts to change the way you think about your business entirely. Our businesses are not really about auto repair. It is not about selling parts. It is about people. Your external customers and internal customers (employees). One of the biggest problems we all have is staffing. Hiring the right people and also finding the best possible people when that star tech decides to leave. This day is all about techniques, strategies and changing your philosophy on how to look for talent, how to hire and what you need to look for in every applicant. Biggest take aways for this day is to be CONSTANTLY recruiting. Keep a portfolio of possible techs and service advisors. Keep in contact with them. Build your business culturally where people will WANT to work for you. Make the hiring process long. Feel out your potential hire over many meetings and interviews. There is so much to be said about this day I wouldn't know where to start.



Day 3 is about managing your current staff and turn them into superstars. This is pretty much a continuation or really the second part to Day 2. That being said this is also a super valuable day. Between Day 2 and 3 they really make you change the way you think about the culture of your shop and how you want your business to be perceived. The heart of managing people is right here. As the leader of your business anything that goes wrong within it you only have one person to blame. Yourself. Joe said which is a very good point, all you have to do is take out a mirror and you'll see who to blame. Biggest takeaway from this day is to properly establish metrics of productivity and efficiency to gauge your employees. This is the baseline you need to conduct regular employee reviews and to monitor how well they are doing. Regular meetings and reviews become a necessity and this day teaches you how to effectively run and schedule them as well as how it will change the culture of your shop. How to empower your employees and give them the right tools to succeed. A lot more can be said about this day and there is a lot more valuable information here as well.



Day 4 is marketing. The constant struggle from all of us is finding our target customers and getting enough of them through the door. There were 2 guest speakers on this day, both are also elite coaches. Both employ a marketing technique called brand awareness. Brian Bowersock is the first and he is a local in San Diego. What made the most impression on me was that in over 20 years Brian has been in business he has never sent out a loss leader marketing piece. Never one oil change special, never a discount piece, nothing. Brian established himself and his shop as the leader of his market in San Diego. He did this by becoming the auto guy on the local news network and running his own radio show on saturday mornings. He also paid for ads on the back of buses and such. Always keeping his shop in front of potential customers and always attracting the right customers.

The second speaker was Servando Orozsco. This guy's story is incredible, I suggest everyone to look him up. Servando also uses brand awareness marketing for his 3 shops albeit in a different way. Servando is all about fundraising and community involvement. He is so well known in his community for all he good will he does that driving customers to his shops is just a by product. If anyone was ever thinking about reaching out into the community to promote their business on a grassroots level this would be THE guy to model after.

This day was packed full of valuable info. Both guys have articles on ratchet and wrench or shopownermag written about them. I suggest you check them out.



Day 5 was tips on implementation. All 4 days were filled with great info but implementation is really the white elephant in the room. I know I personally struggle with the day to day operations so much so that I forget what is really important. The importance of what you as a shop owner needs to focus on cannot be minimized. Above all else a shop owner's responsibility is to ensure the success of the company. That means as the leader of the business you have to establish systems and processes, take time to work on your management skills through training, work on marketing, and making sure your team has every possible tool they need to succeed. Some time was spent speaking about time management which I know I lack. Budgeting a certain amount of time during the week to work on the real important things.



For me it was a great opportunity to network with other shop owners. Talk shop and business and relate to people who have the same every day struggles. Also the opportunity to meet the coaches was also really great. Seeing how passionate they are about helping the members in the room really was great to see. These are all guys whom have had great success running their own shops and made tons of money. They didn't need to be there and the money they make from their coaching clients is really peanuts. Point being is I came to a clear conclusion that these guys were not doing it for the money. They were helping people because it made them feel good to help others that have been in the same place they have been.


It is was really positive experience for myself. I think it is worth every bit of the time and money investment. I will also say this... it has also been a rather frustrating experience the week I was back into my shop. All the problems and the holes became mega expanded in my eyes because now i was so much more aware of the problems I was facing.


If anyone has any questions feel free to post or send me a message.

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

      I recently spoke with a friend of mine who owns a large general repair shop in the Midwest. His father founded the business in 1975. He was telling me that although he’s busy, he’s also very frustrated. When I probed him more about his frustrations, he said that it’s hard to find qualified technicians. My friend employs four technicians and is looking to hire two more. I then asked him, “How long does a technician last working for you.” He looked puzzled and replied, “I never really thought about that, but I can tell that except for one tech, most technicians don’t last working for me longer than a few years.”
      Judging from personal experience as a shop owner and from what I know about the auto repair industry, I can tell you that other than a few exceptions, the turnover rate for technicians in our industry is too high. This makes me think, do we have a technician shortage or a retention problem? Have we done the best we can over the decades to provide great pay plans, benefits packages, great work environments, and the right culture to ensure that the techs we have stay with us?
      Finding and hiring qualified automotive technicians is not a new phenomenon. This problem has been around for as long as I can remember. While we do need to attract people to our industry and provide the necessary training and mentorship, we also need to focus on retention. Having a revolving door and needing to hire techs every few years or so costs your company money. Big money! And that revolving door may be a sign of an even bigger issue: poor leadership, and poor employee management skills.
      Here’s one more thing to consider, for the most part, technicians don’t leave one job to start a new career, they leave one shop as a technician to become a technician at another shop. The reasons why they leave can be debated, but there is one fact that we cannot deny, people don’t quit the company they work for, they usually leave because of the boss or manager they work for.
      Put yourselves in the shoes of your employees. Do you have a workplace that communicates, “We appreciate you and want you to stay!”
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