Elite Worldwide Inc.

Advertising Member
  • Content count

    69
  • Joined

  • Last visited

Community Reputation

6 Neutral

1 Follower

About Elite Worldwide Inc.

  • Rank
    Posting Member
  • Birthday

Company Information

  • Business Name
    Elite Worldwide
  • Type of Auto Shop
    Auto Repair
  • Business Phone Number
    800-204-3548
  • Your Current Position
    Advertiser
  • Address
    Po Box 9630
  • City
    Rancho Santa Fe
  • State
    California
  • Zip Code/Country Code
    92067
  • Automotive Franchise
    None
  • Website
    http://www.EliteWorldwideStore.com
  • Banner Program
    None
  • Participate in Training
    Yes

Profile Information

  • Gender
    Male
  1. By Bob Cooper It’s only natural that most of your employees would like to take their vacations during the summer. Unfortunately, that’s typically your busiest time, right? Let’s say you have a technician who typically produces 50 hours a week during your peak summer months, but during the month of February, when your car counts are lower, he typically produces just 38 hours a week. If you bill at $90.00 per hour, and if you are operating at a part to labor ratio of .75 to 1, then those twelve additional hours would represent an additional $1,890.00 in sales! So rather than losing that additional income, do this… Review your shop’s historical performance to determine the months when your techs typically produce the least amount of billable hours. Compare those months to your peak summer months, and then provide off-season vacation incentives that will work for you as well as your technicians. You can tell them if they take their vacations during one of the off-season months, you’ll be happy to provide them with a ski-pass, an extra day of vacation, etc. Obviously they are not forced to take advantage of the offer, but if they decide to do so, it can be a big win for them, and a win for your bank account at the same time. Since 1990, Bob Cooper has been the president of Elite, 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 sales, marketing and shop management courses. You learn more about Elite by visiting www.EliteWorldwide.com
  2. By Bob Cooper Mistake #1. Have your technicians compete against one another. We all can agree that competition among employees is good, but there is a right way, and there’s a wrong way. The wrong way is to tell your techs that you’re going to post the hours they each flag, and at the end of the pay period the winner will receive a reward. Although that sounds good, you’ll inevitably end up with one winner, and no matter how you cut it, the rest of your techs are going to be losers. Now you might think that’s okay because it’s all in fun, and next week they all have another shot at being the winner, right? But the problem is that unless all of your techs have the same experience, the same skills, the same competencies, the same tools, and the same services to perform; over the course of a few months you’ll discover that one or two of your techs will typically come in first, and the rest of your techs will predictably lose. Instead, give all of your techs the opportunity to win by having them compete against themselves rather than against one another. Here’s how you do it: let’s say you have tech #1 who has been consistently flagging 40 hours, and you know they have the skill and experience to consistently flag 46 hours. You set their goal at 48 hours. If tech #2 has less skill and less experience than tech #1, and if they typically flag 36 hours a week, then they should be striving to flag 43 hours per week, not 48. If you do this with each of your techs, they can then all be winners at the end of the pay period by reaching their individual goals. Mistake #2. Show them how the job should be done. I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t properly train your employees, and of course there will always be a time for you to help, but when it comes to managing people, sometimes the wrong answer will be the right answer obtained in the wrong way. When managing your techs and service advisors, you need to lead them to the answers rather than providing them with the answers. If you give them the answers, all you’re doing is teaching them to come to you when they have a problem, and validating the things they don’t know. Not only does this ding their confidence, but it’s bad for business too. So the next time a tech or service advisor is having a problem, or if they come to you for an answer, the very first thing you should do is ask them what they think. They’ll not only be proud they discovered the solution on their own, but you’ll be doing the single most important thing managers should do: teaching your employees how to solve problems. Years ago, president Nixon was talking about the welfare system here in America when he said, “If you give a man a crutch long enough you create a cripple.” It’s no different with employee management. Mistake #3. Ignore your intuitions about an employee. When it comes to managing people you need to have a clear understanding of expectations, you need to pay close attention to the facts, and you need to listen closely to that little voice in your head that we call intuition. If you sense you have someone in your company that is not a good fit, or may be a problem down the road, odds are you are correct. Far too many shop owners ignore their intuition, and it eventually costs them a fortune. Since 1990, Bob Cooper has been the president of Elite, 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 sales, marketing and shop management courses. You learn more about Elite by visiting www.EliteWorldwide.com
  3. By Bob Cooper When car counts aren’t what they need to be, most shop owners will pump more money into their marketing efforts. But before you invest one more dime in your marketing campaigns, you should first make sure that you’re doing a good job of converting your current leads into customers. At Elite, we’ve discovered that the number of phone leads lost by most shops is staggering. They’re lost by not having enough staff available to properly handle the calls, by having poorly trained receptionists or service advisors, by having service advisors who are content with either their workload or their income, etc. Needless to say, putting more money into your auto repair marketing is not going to fix these problems. The solution is simple. Make sure you have clearly defined car count goals, and hold your advisors accountable for reaching them. You should ensure they keep a simple log that shows why they feel they lost each lead. The log options should include: The caller didn’t have the vehicle, they didn’t have the time to bring the vehicle in, they were price shopping, and they were not the decision maker. At the end of the day, discuss these lost leads with your staff, and decide on the appropriate course of action. Lastly, don’t overlook the value of having a couple of friends call in as mystery shoppers, and recording their conversations. So before you spend one more dime on auto repair marketing, let’s make sure you’re not losing those priceless leads that you already have. Since 1990, Bob Cooper has been the president of Elite, 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 sales, marketing and shop management courses. You learn more about Elite by visiting www.EliteWorldwide.com
  4. By Jim Piraino Far too many shop owners will set an annual sales goal, and then simply divide that number by 12 to set their monthly goals. However, since this approach does not take the number of work days in each month into account, it is not the way that you should be setting your monthly goals, especially if your service advisors receive a bonus for hitting and/or surpassing monthly goals. With that said, I would suggest setting your shop’s monthly sales goals using the following method…. Grab a calendar and calculate how many days your shop will be open and operating during the year. Typically this number will be about 254 if you are closed on the weekends (365 days per year – 104 weekend days – 7 holidays= 254). You can further adjust for technician vacations if you’d like, but for our purposes, let’s use 254. Next, divide your annual sales goal by the number of days you’ll be open during the year to calculate a daily sales goal. So if your annual sales goal is $1,200,000, divide that number by the 254 days you’ll be open to arrive at a daily sales goal of $4,724.41. When you’ve arrived at your daily sales goal, it’s time to set your monthly sales goals by multiplying your daily sales goal by the number of work days your shop will be open in each month. Calculating your monthly sales goals using this method will give you a much better idea of your shop’s performance each month than if you were to simply divide the annual goal by 12, and will give you a number that’s more fair to base your advisors’ bonuses on, so I would strongly recommend trying out this approach in your shop. This tip was provided by Jim Piraino of Elite. Jim is the past owner of one of the top shops in the country, and currently helps shop owners reach their goals through the Elite Coaching Program.
  5. We all know that vehicles are being built better, they are lasting longer, and the competition for auto repair customers is heating up. Accordingly, shop owners are constantly looking for ways to add value to their services in order to separate themselves from their competitors. Some owners attempt to accomplish this objective by providing longer warranties, which is a nice feature to offer. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long for the competition to catch on, and before you know it, your competitors are offering warranties that are just as long as yours. Some owners will take a different approach by offering extended hours, some will offer shuttle services, some will wash their customers’ vehicles, and some will work really hard to create ways of improving the customer experience. These are all wonderful benefits, too, but it won’t be long before your competitors catch on, and offer the same benefits that you offer. We then have yet another group of shop owners who take a completely different approach, and attempt to attract customers by price. Unfortunately, history has taught us that this approach brings short-lived success, because there will always be a competitor that is willing to provide the same service for less. In conclusion, if you attempt to add value to your services, your competitors will inevitably match your offerings, and if you attempt to compete on price, it will inevitably put you out of business. Now before you jump to the conclusion that there is no hope, I would ask that you consider this… First of all, whenever someone takes their vehicle into an auto repair shop, you can rest assured that they will be anxious, especially if they are a first-time customer. Interestingly enough, one of their greatest anxieties will be whether or not the technician who will be working on their vehicle is qualified to solve their problem in the most cost-effective and ethical way. So do this… Ensure that all of your service advisors know that when they are writing up a customer, they have to take a minute or so to sell that customer on the tech who will be performing the service. For example, they may say something like “As a matter of fact, Doris, the technician who will be inspecting your vehicle is Jim Piraino. He’s a factory trained ASE Master Certified technician, he’s been with us for 8 years, and I have to tell you, not only is he very gifted at what he does, but he really does care about people.” Once they hear about the technician, and the tech’s qualifications, a number of things will happen. First of all, their anxious minds will be put at ease, and the probability of them authorizing your subsequent recommendations will dramatically improve. This is a powerful technique that we teach our students in our Masters course, and the results have been remarkable. In case you are still not quite sold, imagine if you went to a surgery center, and rather than just being told that the procedure would be performed by a surgeon, you heard something like this: “As a matter of fact, the surgeon who will be performing the operation is Dr. Stoll. He really is amazing! He’s a Harvard graduate, he’s board certified, and he has spoken at a number of conferences over the years.” I suspect you would feel a lot more comfortable after hearing a message like that, wouldn’t you? By the way, if you do what I am asking you to do, then a number of things will occur. Not only will your sales and profits go up, but you will be rising well above your competition by offering your customers something that they’ll never be able to get from your competitors, which is the opportunity to have their vehicles serviced and repaired by the superstars… who work with you. Since 1990, Bob Cooper has been the president of Elite, 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 sales, marketing and shop management courses. You learn more about Elite by visiting www.EliteWorldwide.com
  6. By Bob Cooper All great companies have one thing in common: They realize industries and consumers need change, so they follow their customers. Apple provides a great example. As we all know, when Apple started they were a computer company, but when that industry began to decline, Steve Jobs was able to see that his targeted customers were investing in music. This is why Apple Computers became Apple Inc., is why they reached a point a few years ago where their online music sales exceeded their computer sales, and is why today they are in the mobile device business. In essence, they transformed to meet the needs of their customers. IBM and American Express are other great examples. Your business is no different. Over the decades the auto repair business transformed from a “we fix anything” business that rebuilt every component into an industry that installed remanufactured parts. We then transformed from a repair industry into a maintenance-driven industry. If you bring hybrids and electric cars into our discussion, the change becomes even more dramatic. As this progression continues you will be seeing your customers, and repairing their cars, far less often. Interestingly enough, most shop owners are not too concerned because they simply believe that all they will need to do is ratchet up their marketing efforts to bring in more new customers. Unfortunately, there is typically a finite number of potential customers in any marketing community, and your competitors have the same plan in place. So rather than fighting the inevitable changes, or doing business the same old way until your business is out of business, here are my recommendations… First of all, shop owners typically diversify for one of two reasons: They do it out of desperation, or out of inspiration. The ones that do it out of desperation are the ones that take the leap when they are struggling to pay their bills, and are scrambling to find any way to bring in a few more dollars. The ones that diversify out of inspiration are the ones that see the change in the wind, and take the necessary steps to ensure their continued success. However, there is no one road that is right for everyone. If you are in a specialty business such as transmissions or suspension, you may want to consider transitioning into general repair. You already have the most important part, which is your customer base. Another option is to consider the exploding world of infotainment. As I am sure you will agree, if you walk into any new car showroom today you will find that just about every new vehicle has a wealth of entertainment features, along with navigational and communication features. So the question is: Who is going to not only be servicing these components, but who is going to be offering upgrades, and handling the installation of the newest state-of-the-art components that the drivers of older vehicles would love to have? Someone is going to do it, so why not you? I would like to leave you with a story that has a powerful message. It is argued that at one time Bill Gates said, “If Santa Fe Railroad would have realized that they were in the transportation business, and not the railroad business, today we would have Santa Fe Airlines.” This is a message we should all take to heart, because the one thing that is certain is that our industry is going to go through many more dramatic changes. The first to embrace this reality, and make the necessary changes, will become the industry leaders for decades to come. Since 1990, Bob Cooper has been the president of Elite, 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 sales, marketing and shop management courses. You learn more about Elite by visiting www.EliteWorldwide.com
  7. By Bob Cooper Over the years our industry has seen many changes. For example, beyond the changes in styling and efficiencies, today’s vehicles are better built, they last longer, and they require less frequent servicing than they have in the past. But there is one emerging trend that will have a far greater impact on our industry than all the other changes combined. Consider this… Electric cars are not new. As a matter of fact, they date back to the mid-nineteenth century. Yet if you step back and look at what has happened with them over the past 10 years or so, if you consider the societal trend toward clean energy, and if you take a really close look at Tesla Motors, you’ll see that the Tesla is not just an automobile; it’s a glimpse into your future. Tesla Motors was started in 2003, and in 2004 Elon Musk was appointed as the Chairman of the Board. Since then not only have prominent individuals and world-class business leaders, such as the co-founders of Google, invested in Tesla Motors, but the global powerhouses of Mercedes Benz and Toyota have invested as well. I find it intriguing that so many say Teslas are too expensive, and that because of limited driving distance due to battery storage capacity, the vehicles will never become mainstream. However, here’s why that presumption is the furthest from the truth… With rare exception, every new technology will target the most affluent markets first, because they can afford the new technology, and can provide a fertile testing ground. This is why products like airplanes, computers, mobile phones and advanced medical diagnostic equipment are typically introduced to the wealthy before any other market. Once it’s determined that the product is a good one, it is then scaled to the masses. Tesla is following that same developmental path. By now you are probably wondering what this means to you. Simply put; our industry has now seen the beginning of the end of internal combustion engines. They will inevitably go the way of the horse-drawn carriages and steam engines. As we move forward battery life will inevitably continue to be extended, and society will continue to show a far greater interest in vehicles that are less of a pollutant, are quieter, and are more dependable due to fewer moving parts. There is no question in my mind that if you were to close your eyes and open them ten to twenty years later, you would see far more electric vehicles than you would ever imagine. So the questions you need to be asking yourself are; What are your plans to participate in this emerging market, and what will your business model look like when the industry is all but devoid of internal combustion engines? In closing, I am not suggesting that you are in any kind of eminent danger if you don’t move quickly, because that’s not the case. What I am suggesting is this: The future is yours if you have the vision, and if you take the appropriate steps to keep yourself at the leading edge of the service industry. And if you want to see what the future looks like, you don’t have to step into a time machine or find a crystal ball. All you need to do is find a Tesla showroom, and spend some time there. If you do, you’ll see why beyond being an amazing automobile, Tesla really is an omen… for our entire industry. Since 1990, Bob Cooper has been the president of Elite, 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 sales, marketing and shop management courses. You learn more about Elite by visiting www.EliteWorldwide.com
  8. By Bob Cooper In building a successful auto repair business, most shop owners feel that what they need to do sell is more parts and more labor. Although both of those items are a part of your business model, one thing is for certain: your customers don’t look forward to buying either of the two, at any price. Yet thousands of shop owners are having sleepless nights trying to find ways to squeeze more money out of their part and labor sales. While I was still operating auto repair shops I was intrigued by the fact that while my customers had little, if any, interest in the parts and labor they were buying, they were quite interested in the warranty we provided on our repairs. In essence, what they wanted more than anything else was the peace of mind in knowing they would have good, dependable transportation, and that they wouldn’t have to worry about paying again if the repair were to fail. It was at that very time I realized that what I needed to sell more than anything else was peace of mind. I then did a tremendous amount of homework on the insurance industry, and it didn’t take me long to realize that they are all in the business of selling risk. The way they win is by factoring the inevitable losses into their premiums. As an example, for every 1,000 people they provide life insurance to, a certain number will inevitably die during the insured period, but if they choose the right customers, and charge the right amount, they’ll have plenty of money to cover those few predicted deaths. Next I evaluated the probabilities of different types of part failures, and the kind of customers I wanted in my shop. I quickly discovered I could take the repairs that had the lowest probability of failing within five years, price them out as optional services, and completely change the way I was operating my business. First of all, most of our failures would typically occur within 30 days, so regardless of whether I offered a longer warranty or not, I would be covering that repair. I also discovered that if the repair failed shortly outside of our standard warranty, we would cover the cost for the purpose of customer satisfaction. With this understanding, it became obvious to me that the only additional risk I would be taking would be for any failures that occurred beyond the term of our standard warranty, yet within the time outlined in our extended warranty. In my case, on our targeted repairs we offered lifetime warranties that were non-transferable. Now here is the best part: I discovered that no matter how much someone loves their automobile at the time of repair, odds are that they ‘ll no longer own the car three years later due to lifestyle changes, tempting car sale ads, etc. So my exposure (risk) was more limited than you’d imagine. Now let’s talk about profit, and happy customers. Imagine if you were to offer your customer a standard master cylinder for $XXX dollars (with a one year warranty), and at the same time you offered them the option of a premium master cylinder (with a five year warranty) for a small additional amount. If they elect to go with the part that carries the longer warranty, then all those added dollars fall right to the bottom line. When done in the right way, the added profits will dwarf the few additional repairs you will have to perform. If you do the math, not only will you will be amazed at how profitable this can be, but as icing on the cake, the customers that choose to invest in the services that carry the longer warranties will be thrilled with the peace of mind you are providing them with. If this isn’t all reason enough, consider that Harvard Review reported on a study of what occurs when people are provided with options in a sales environment. They discovered that when test groups were offered one DVD player (Brand A), only 10% would buy. When they added a second player to choose from, 32% purchased brand A, and 34% purchased brand B. The lesson? People love choices, so offering them the option of a repair with a longer warranty is one that many of your customers will love, and it will put more money on your bottom line at the same time. Note: Many states view offering different warranties as offering insurance, which requires a license. By offering different parts and services in each of your options, you’ll be good to go. Since 1990, Bob Cooper has been the president of Elite, 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 sales, marketing and shop management courses. You learn more about Elite by visiting www.EliteWorldwide.com
  9. By Jen Monclus 1. Make sure your advisors schedule car deliveries with first-time customers whenever possible (The point is to try). If an exact time won't work, provide the customer with a window of time. This is considered an 'active delivery', and will allow your advisors to spend a few minutes with each new customer to personally thank them, go over the paper work and sell them on the next visit. 2. Ensure you have backup in place so that your advisors are able to take the time needed for an effective vehicle delivery. This is your last chance to make an impression on your customers, so make sure they don't feel your advisors are too busy for them, or that their business is not valued. Backup must be in place to ensure your advisors have enough time to "wow" each customer. 3. Have your advisors resell the service by telling the customer that they made a really smart decision. Telling the customer that they made a great choice will help reduce buyer's remorse, will reduce their anxiety, and will help your advisors build trust with the customer. 4. Make sure your advisors talk to your customers about the next steps they will need to take. Your advisors should review the service that was authorized and any post service instructions or maintenance brochures, then build value in the customer's next visit by explaining the benefits. Make sure your advisors schedule the next appointment in your calendar while the customer is still onsite. 5. Have your advisors provide each customer with their business card, and thank the customer for their trust. A heartfelt "thank you" and handshake are the finishing touches on a successful vehicle delivery. This tip was provided by Jen Monclus, one the industry's top sales trainers that heads up Elite's Masters Service Advisor Training Program.
  10. By Bob Cooper Many years ago I read an article that featured an interview with Herb Kelleher, the co-founder of Southwest Airlines. In the article he stated that he and his mother (who was a Harvard graduate) would often debate who was more important: He argued that it was the employees of a company, and his mom argued that it was the customers. With all due respect, I would argue; why does it need to be one or the other? From my point of view, this debate is like having two children and being asked which one we love the most, because both your customers and your employees are equally important. Since it is becoming increasingly difficult to find and hire the superstars, I would like to use this article to help you continue earning the trust of your employees, who at Elite we refer to as our internal customers. Putting first things first, as business owners we need to recognize that our internal customers are much like our external customers. In your case, your external customers come to you with transportation problems that you solve, and they then pay you with their hard-earned money. Your internal customers come to you with needs as well. They have needs like being able to save enough money to buy a home, or having the funds available that they’ll need to educate their children. Simply put, you provide them with the right opportunities, and you help them fulfill those needs. In return, they pay you with their work efforts, and their contributions towards your success. So the question is; what can you do to keep the stars you have, not just for a few years, but for the length of their working careers? Although there is no formula that will guarantee results, there are a number of things you can do to keep your stars as your stars. First and most importantly, never forget this cardinal rule of managing people: We have to keep the hearts of our employees, because once we lose their hearts, their minds will follow. I actually coined this rule long ago, and have lived by it for decades. Now here is how you can implement it… With every superstar who works with you, you need to look beyond the employee component of your relationship, and you need to consider them as a person, just like you. This means that you need to truly care about your employees as people, and the things that are important to them need to become important to you. Once they realize that you really do care about them and their families, as well as their goals, they will then care about you, and the goals of your company. Secondly, you need to be a great listener, you need to pay close attention to their suggestions, and you need to always thank them for their input. I have also learned that you need to be a shoulder your employees can lean on. By being sympathetic to their personal struggles, you will find that if you have the right people, they will not take your sympathy for granted, but they will go to the ends of the earth for you. You need to let them know that you recognize their talents and strengths, and you need to give them praise for jobs that are well done. Beyond that, you have to show them the humility that all employees look for. This means you will need to set your pride aside to let them know that they are much more gifted than you in many ways, you’ll need to be able to admit to your mistakes, and you’ll need to be able to give heartfelt apologies at the appropriate times. Lastly, if you plan on keeping their hearts, you will need to constantly share your vision of the future, and paint a clear path to their success in the coming years. Over the years I have discovered that people don’t leave companies. They never have, and they never will. People leave people, not companies. If you’d like to continue earning the trust and confidence of your employees, then I would encourage you to apply the principles that I have shared with you. If you do, then I will make you a promise: Beyond being a great role model for your employees, the morale of your employees will go up, your shop’s productivity will go up, and any employee turnover problems you have… will disappear. Since 1990, Bob Cooper has been the president of Elite, 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 sales, marketing and shop management courses. You learn more about Elite by visiting www.EliteWorldwide.com
  11. By Bob Cooper A few years ago I had the opportunity to interview over forty people for a panel of customers that I moderated. My intent was to discover what drives their decisions in choosing an auto repair shop, and how they make their purchasing decisions. I spent well over an hour with many of these prospective panelists so walked away with some truly surprising and noteworthy insights, but the most profound discovery was that we as an industry have an expectation of loyalty from our customers, when in reality customers have no sense of loyalty to us. Now please don’t misunderstand me: I am not suggesting that we shouldn’t work hard to gain the customer’s trust, meet with their expectations, and do what we need to do to turn them into repeat customers. What I am suggesting is that shop owners should never just assume that their customers are loyal, and should instead have the mindset that they need to earn the customer’s trust and business with each and every visit. Loyalty, in its truest sense, is something that should be held in the highest regard, and reserved for our patriotism to our country, our commitments to our friends and family, and to the elements of our lives where we have a genuine sense of indebtedness and moral obligation. But our customers? No matter how great our service is or how much we care about them, in reality they owe us nothing, so there should be no sense of moral obligation on their part. This isn’t a viewpoint that I arrived at on my own, but by listening closely to your customers. Throughout the interview process I discovered that they feel absolutely no responsibility to return to your shop for additional repairs or services, which is why I’m sure many of you have found that your customers will zip into fast lubes for oil services rather than coming back to you. Now before you let your feelings get hurt, let’s look at another example. Let’s say that you have a local grocery store that you like, and visit on a regular basis. Even though that grocery store offers a wide selection of bread, you may very well go to a local bakery. You may feel that the bread at the bakery is better, that it’s still fresh by the time you get home, or that it just provides a better value in some way. Regardless of why you go to the local bakery, I suspect you wouldn’t feel as if you’re doing something wrong by buying the bread at the bakery instead of the grocery store, right? If that’s the case, do you think the grocery store owner should feel offended by your absence of loyalty, or should view your decision as a practical one? If he does the latter, he has two options: accept the fact that you’ll purchase your bread elsewhere, or learn what he needs to do differently to improve your bread purchasing experience so that you purchase your bakery items while still at his grocery store. Ladies and gentlemen, your business is no different. While I’m sure you have a few customers who can truly be considered “loyal”, if you develop the mindset that your customers should return to you out of loyalty, rather than looking for every opportunity to improve the customer experience, and truly earn their business with every single visit, then you will only be scratching the surface of your shop’s potential. 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 sales, marketing and shop management courses.
  12. When car counts aren’t what they need to be, most shop owners will pump more money into their auto repair marketing efforts. But before you invest one more dime in your marketing campaigns, you should first make sure that you’re doing a good job of converting your current leads into customers. At Elite, we’ve discovered that the number of phone leads lost by most shops is staggering. They’re lost by not having enough staff available to properly handle the calls, by having poorly trained receptionists or service advisors, by having service advisors who are content with either their workload or their income, etc. Needless to say, putting more money into your marketing is not going to fix these problems. The solution is simple. Make sure you have clearly defined car count goals, and hold your advisors accountable for reaching them. You should ensure they keep a simple log that shows why they feel they lost each lead. The log options should include: The caller didn’t have the vehicle, they didn’t have the time to bring the vehicle in, they were price shopping, and they were not the decision maker. At the end of the day, discuss these lost leads with your staff, and decide on the appropriate course of action. Lastly, don’t overlook the value of having a couple of friends call in as mystery shoppers, and recording their conversations. So before you spend one more dime on marketing, let’s make sure you’re not losing those priceless leads that you already have. 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 one-on-one coaching from the industry’s top shop owners, service advisor training, peer groups, along with sales, marketing and shop management courses.
  13. There are a number of changes that are occurring in our industry, and there is no question, some of them will have a profound, long-term impact. To name just two, automobiles are being built better, and as we all know, service intervals are constantly being extended by the manufacturers. Although this is all good for consumers, better-built vehicles means they’ll need fewer repairs, and extended service intervals means you’ll be seeing your existing customers less frequently in the coming years. The way most shop owners are dealing with this evolution is by trying to convince all of their customers that they need to bring their vehicles in more frequently than the manufacturer recommends. They tell them that their oil needs to be changed more frequently, and that it’s a good policy to have their vehicles inspected every 3,000-5,000 miles. Although I agree with the reasoning, these shop owners are fighting an uphill battle since one of the many reasons people buy new vehicles is because they really like the idea of extended service intervals. So rather than trying to fight this trend, as your competitors do, I encourage you to understand it, and rather than trying to sell each and every customer on the value of coming in more frequently, I encourage you to take a different approach. First of all, as in any business, you should explore every opportunity to provide additional services to your customers. They already trust you and your recommendations, so services such as door ding removals, tire installations, glass repair services, cabin air duct cleaning services, and detailing services are good examples of other services you can offer. Not only will services that enhance vehicle appearance or customer comfort put smiles on the faces of your customers, but at the same time these services will increase your ARO, which will help offset the fewer number of times you’ll see your customers throughout the year. The second thing you will need to do is ensure that your service advisors are very well trained. Any services that are not authorized during a visit will more than likely be lost sales, because it may be six months or longer before you see that particular customer again. By then, your service recommendations will either be forgotten, viewed as unimportant by the customer, or if they experienced a subsequent failure, they may very well have it repaired somewhere else. Worse yet, if it’s a safety item that you discover, and if it’s not repaired during their initial visit, the customer will be at an even greater risk. There is no question that the age-old expression, “We’ll take care of that the next time you’re in” is going to vanish from our industry. Lastly, with the understanding that you will be seeing the majority of your customers less frequently as time goes on, in order to keep your service bays filled you will need to ensure that you have a well-constructed marketing plan in place that will bring in the right kind of customers. To stay ahead of your competitors you need to invest at least 50% of your advertising budget into non-traditional advertising programs, and you should allocate at least half of your non-traditional advertising budget towards programs that are directed to what I refer to as the “emerging market”; the Y Gens and Millennials . These are the people that were born between 1980 and 2004, and there is no doubt in my mind that they are the future of your business. In summary, I encourage you to avoid fighting the evolution of automobiles or trying to sell your customers on a service schedule that they have little or no interest in buying. Instead, look for other ways you can help them when you do see them, by providing additional services. If the services you offer are cosmetic in nature, or if they provide added comfort to the customer in any way, all the better. You will need to have talented, well-trained advisors, you’ll need well-constructed programs in place that will keep your name in front of your customers, and there is no doubt, you’ll need to have a marketing plan in place that will bring in even more… of the right kind of customers. Since 1990, Bob Cooper has been the president of Elite, 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 sales, marketing and shop management courses. To learn more about Elite, visit www.EliteWorldwide.com.
  14. By Bob Cooper If you want to generate more repeat business, then there are a number of things you will need to do. You’ll need to deliver an extraordinary value, exceed your customers’ expectations at every touch point, and stay in touch with your customers after the sale. Over the years I have discovered that most service advisors have the right intent, and make their best effort to do all of these things. They want to do a good job, and they know that a part of their job is to help their customers see the value in their services. This is why they work hard at building value in their company and services when speaking with first-time callers. It’s also why they’ll build interest and value in their service recommendations, with the hope that their customers will agree with their recommendations, authorize the services, and then ultimately return. The top advisors in America not only understand this, but they’ll always put a strong focus on the benefits of their recommended services, rather than on the parts and labor. For example, when discussing the benefits of a brake service, they’ll tell their customers that they’ll have smoother and more responsive pedal operation, quieter braking, faster stopping and the peace of mind that they’ll have good, safe, and dependable transportation. Yet where almost all advisors fail, is at the point of car delivery. We have discovered that this is where they’ll do a good job of reselling the customer on the services that were performed, and they’ll certainly schedule the customer’s next visit, but what they fail to do is this: They don’t discuss the benefits of the next service. Here’s an example we can all relate to. You go to the dentist for a toothache, and they discover that you need a crown. The dentist then tells you that you have two options, and explains the benefits of each. You like what you hear, and you make your choice based on the benefits that were shared with you. Then before you leave, the dentist tells you that you’ll be due for a checkup and cleaning in six months, and they schedule you in. Will you return in six months? Well, you might, especially if the dentist met all of your expectations. But when that reminder card finally shows up in your mailbox, you may hesitate for one simple reason: None of us enjoy going to the dentist, and the dentist didn’t explain the benefits of the checkup and cleaning during your last visit. If they had told you how this visit could save you money, help prevent other painful problems, and reduce the amount of time you’ll ultimately spend with your dentist, you would more than likely be more willing to return. I can only hope you agree that it’s no different with your business. If you want to see more return business, then do this… At the time of car delivery, take just a minute or two to explain the benefits of the customer’s next service. For example, rather than just telling your customers that they’ll be due for their next scheduled service in six months, say something like this… “As I mentioned to you earlier, Doris, your next service is going to be a maintenance service, and it’ll be due in six months. Now the good news is, that service is going to help you squeeze every mile out of every gallon of gasoline, it’s going to help you maintain your warranty and protect the value of your vehicle, and it’s going to help you save time and money by preventing costly breakdowns.” Although I can’t guarantee that your customers are going to return if you do what I am recommending at the time of car delivery, there is one guarantee that I can make you: If you take just a minute to explain the benefits of the next service to your customers, there is a strong probability that they’ll want to come back. On the other hand, if the only reason for them to return is because you sent them a reminder card telling them that they need to come in for nothing more than to spend money with you and to be without their vehicles for a day, then you’ve given them a really good reason to toss the reminder card… and not come in. Since 1990, Bob Cooper has been the president of Elite, 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 sales, marketing and shop management courses. To learn more about Elite, visit www.EliteWorldwide.com.
  15. By Bob Cooper There was a time in our industry when shop owners were the only ones who knew the cost of their parts. Additionally, the amount they charged for their repairs and services was typically not public knowledge. If customers wanted to know how much it would cost to perform a specific repair, they had limited options; they would have to either call for an estimate, or visit a repair facility. The service advisor would then page through a catalog, find the price, and then share that price with the customer. As we all know, times have changed, and after decades of confidentiality in pricing, technology has now done more than just change how we diagnose and fix automobiles; it’s actually made pricing transparent. The days of holding your prices close to your chest are not only gone, but if you continue to follow that age-old policy, you’ll more than likely struggle in the coming years. As we all know, the web has dramatically changed how you operate your business. It’s changed how you market, how you communicate with your customers, how you order parts, and how you diagnose and fix automobiles. Yet the one thing most repair shop owners are reluctant to accept is that unlike in the past, pricing on every conceivable repair and service is now available within moments online. Now we all know that those prices found online can be as incorrect as often as they are correct, but the reality is this: as we move forward, more people are going to be turning to the web, not just for finding the right repair facility, but for a range in pricing as well. It’s currently happening in every other industry, so there is no reason to believe that it won’t become even more commonplace in our industry as well. Here are the things I am going to encourage you to consider… First of all, you should accept the fact that an increasing number of your first-time visitors will have either already searched the web for a range in pricing, or they will do so within minutes after you provide them with an estimate. In many cases, they will do their price comparisons with their Smartphones, and they’ll do it while they are still at your facility. This brings me to the second point that I am going to hope you consider, which I refer to as integrity in pricing. With the ease of access that consumers now have to pricing information, in the coming years the top shops will be competitive in pricing, and they will be proud of the value delivered. Now before I go any further, I am not suggesting that a shop can’t charge more than its competitors do, but if the prices they charge are viewed as out of line with other well run facilities, there is no question: they’ll lose their customers, and their reputation, both at the same time. The proof is in every other industry, because history has shown us that no matter how good the hotel, airline or restaurant may be, if their customers don’t feel that the pricing is comparable to similar service providers, those companies never survive. So here are my recommendations for those of you who want to grow more profitable, successful businesses in the coming years. Start doing what your potential customers are already doing, and survey your legitimate competitors. I’m referring to facilities that offer services and benefits that are comparable to yours. Secondly, ensure you are competitive with your prices. This doesn’t mean you can’t charge more, but you have to be comparable, and you have to believe in the value delivered. Finally, I am not suggesting that you should quickly provide a price to every price shopper, or that you should provide a price before you have built value in the service. What I am suggesting is that you need to embrace the fact that your customers are no different than you and me. They have access to pricing info 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and they not only expect transparency, but they demand it. There is no question: transparency in pricing is now a mandate, not an option, for every shop owner, worldwide. Since 1990, Bob Cooper has been the president of Elite, 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 one-on-one coaching from the industry’s top shop owners, service advisor training, peer groups, along with sales, marketing and shop management courses. To learn more about Elite, visit www.EliteWorldwide.com.