Monday, July 29, 2013

Keeping Your Eye on the Ball By Mike Lee Management Success!

Mike Lee
Management Success
In the typical automotive shop, you will find that the owner has red hair and the nickname of ‘MOCK TWO’.  This is because he is going Mach Two with his hair on fire.

A good observer would notice that a high percentage of the time, while appearing to be in rapid motion, he is really on a treadmill, trying to do 12 things at the same time.

Most shops grow to a level of volume just above the level of confusion that the shop owner can handle.  Once the shop has reached this level, it quits growing because the owner lacks management and organizational skills.  The shop will tend to stay at this level for years unable to burst through to the next level.  It never seems to get better, only worse, because gradually the owner takes home less and less money.

MOCK TWO is suffering from lack of focus and lack of a simple game plan.  The shop owner comes to work with the intention to make things better but it never seems to happen.  He then wonders why he is unhappy and why he doesn't have a sense of accomplishment.

The problem is focus.  He is trying to do too many things at once.  When he hits the door of the shop, all of the problems seem to come directly to him and stick to him.  He tries to handle them all and usually doesn't get any of them done.

Most shops didn't get to this level of confusion overnight.  The shop owners have worked for years to get to this level of overwhelm.  Unfortunately, MOCK TWO never seems to have enough time to start fixing the problem.

The key thing here is that it is never going to get better unless MOCK TWO decides to fix it permanently.  While in a coping condition, he (and you) MUST start organizing or it is only going to get worse.

The solution to the problem is to sit down after work and list some of the things that you need to accomplish that will make you more money.  Decide which one you can do with the least amount of effort (and/or money).  You want to choose the project that will give you the best results and get it done first.  Do not focus on any other projects until you have this one done. It might take you three weeks to finish it, but it doesn't matter.  You have taken the first step of getting rid of overwhelm and confusion.

We call this KEEPING YOUR EYE ON THE BALL.  Focus every day on the one thing that you are trying to get done.  Keep your focus on it.  You should try to do the project you can accomplish the quickest and with the least amount of effort.  When you finally finish the project, you will feel good about yourself and have a little more time for other projects.  This will allow you to pick up the next thing on your list and focus on it.  The things that needed to be done in the shop will start to get done and gradually you will improve your whole operation.

Eventually, you will be renamed MOCK ONE and hopefully even renamed SANE in a very short period of time.

Management Success! Seminar

Monday, July 22, 2013

Marketing To Women: A Female Shop Owner’s Perspective By Nancy Knight Management Success!

Nancy Knight
co-owner of Knight’s Automotive
Ledgewood, NJ
As a wife, mother and major decision maker in my family when it comes to purchases of goods and services, I have lots of experience as a consumer.   My past experiences as a female consumer, both good and bad, have helped influence the way I market and manage my own auto repair business.  I make sure that our shop gives the same friendly service and high quality products that I expect from the people I do business with.    In particular, I pay special attention to meeting the needs of my female clients.  

Why do I have so much attention on female clients?  It turns out that I am not alone as the major decision maker on purchases for my family.   Even in what is perceived as a male domain, women request 65% of the service work done on cars (in our shop it’s closer to 75%)  Women spend over $200 billion on new cars and servicing of vehicles each year.  We buy more than half of the new cars in the US and influence up to 80% of all car purchases.  There is power in the female demographic indeed.  It pays to find out what your women customers want and need then deliver it.   To do this successfully you must first understand that men and women—for the most part—communicate and make decisions differently. 

Besides trust, which is important to both male and female consumers, women want a “relationship.”   We all know that being in a relationship requires a higher level of care and communication to nurture and sustain it in the long term.  Women want more information about what is being done to their vehicle and why.  They want you to listen to them, educate them and not talk down to them.   I call this the C.A.R.E. factor:  Completely And Respectfully Explain their car care needs to them in language they can understand.  We like to use visual aids at the counter and walk the customer out to the car when necessary. 

While men tend to communicate less and want a brief explanation of price and function of the repair or service, women want more details.  Female clients also prefer you to take a personal interest in them, their families, jobs and hobbies.  Ask a woman about her kids, her business accomplishments or her hobbies and watch her brighten up immediately.  This increased familiarity, sincere care and concern goes a long way in building long term relationships with your female customers.  Since, happy, long-time female customers are more inclined to refer business to your shop than male customers (in my experience); they are the best customers to have.

Acknowledging birthdays, anniversaries or writing personal thank you cards are successful marketing actions to consider in building relationships with your female client base as well as personal follow-up phone calls after service is performed. Some additional points to ponder when marketing your repair shop to women are:

• Make sure that your shop is clean and neat both on the inside and the outside. Do not confuse this with fancy. The reception area should be scrubbed and fresh smelling.  Include comfortable seating where possible. Female-friendly magazines, coffee, bottled water and fresh baked cookies are nice touches. 
• Pleasant music playing is preferred over a television blaring bad news.
• Insure that your bathroom is sparkling clean and smells good. 
• Just as your physical location should be scrubbed, so should your online reputation.  Women are more likely to engage in social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook as well as check review sites such as Google, Yelp or Insiderpages before deciding who to do business with. Respond to your reviews and engage your customers on these sites.  Happy customers will share your information with their friends and family members online.
• Make certain that your website is fresh and attractive. Including personal information about yourself and your employees makes you real to potential customers. Pictures and education points are also helpful.
• Set up regular maintenance schedules and send reminders. Utilize all the current technologies such as text messaging and email as well as direct mail according to the individual preferences of your customers. 
• Leave your customer’s cars clean and smudge-free. Besides making a good first impression, making a good last impression is also important especially to the more discerning female customer. Use floor mats, seat covers or steering wheel covers to prevent any dirt or grease from damaging the interior. Do not change the radio station. Offering a complimentary car wash or interior vacuum for large jobs are also welcome treatments.


These are just a few female friendly ideas to get you started.  Of course the best way to find out what your female customers want and need is ask them!  Survey your female customers.  They will love that you care enough to ask their opinion.  This is another action which builds long term relationships. 

At the very least, ask your wife, mother, girlfriend or daughter her opinion of your shop.  They will tell you like it is, both the good and the bad.  Adjust accordingly.  It is helpful to ask yourself: how would I want my wife, mother, girlfriend or daughter to be treated? Go over this viewpoint with everyone at your shop from service writers, managers to technicians.

Though I have addressed the female customer base, many of these points are good practice when dealing with your male customers as well.   Make the women happy and the men will certainly follow.    It takes a little effort, but it will pay off in the long run, with repeat business, future referrals and an increased viable customer base.  That is a huge return for just “making Mama happy.”

I learned ALL this and so much more with Management Success’s amazing and knowledgeable staff. I very highly recommend that you attend the How To Increase Your Profits seminar—don’t wait! Let their staff show you just how successful your shop can be!

Get help with your marketing and other management tools—join us at a Seminar near you!


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Essentials of Auto Shop Management 2013 Workshop Management Success!

A key part of the Management Training & Consulting Program is our workshops. Our goal is to give you the knowledge and the skills to DO IT YOURSELF. We will enable you to run your shop the way you want to, without being dependent on us to help you.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Are You Suffering from the "Dad Syndrome" in Your Shop? - by Mike Lee, Management Success!

Mike Lee
Management Success!
It is very common for auto shop owners to become overwhelmed. They try to do too many things at once; unfortunately, they do not get most of them done, or if they do, they are done poorly.

These owners are suffering from the "Dad syndrome." The reason they are unable to finish their tasks is because they are helping others or solving everyone else's problems. All of their employees treat them as a Dad.

All day long, whenever the employees have a problem, they come to the owner for answers or help with their problems. This leaves no time for the owner to finish what needs to get done.

"Dad! Can you help me with this problem?" "Dad! What do you want me to do with this?" "Dad! What should I do next?" Oftentimes, an owner leaves the shop for ten minutes and comes back to find three of the highest production people standing around waiting for him or her to solve their problems. The owner barely gets out of the car before they all start yelling, "Dad!"

It is like nobody can do anything or think for themselves. Dad has to make every decision and handle every problem. Is it any wonder that the shop owner goes home tired and overwhelmed?

The effects of the Dad syndrome are many. The biggest effect is it costs the shop lots of money. Because of the Dad syndrome, the shop grows to a certain volume level and quits growing. Dad can only handle so much.

It affects the ability of the shop to get into the profitable mode. It affects the ability of the employees to produce. It causes a great deal of confusion resulting in lost time, lost production, and lots of lost money.

So, what is the solution? The first step is to recognize that it is a problem in the shop.
Next, the owner must get employees to start doing their jobs without his or her help. Part of this is done by defining exactly what their job is and what is expected of them. Next, the owner should put the employees on an incentive program where they get paid based on the following: 

1) The volume of work they can do, and
2) The level of expertise they can handle. 

Owners must learn to train employees so they are just as prepared to solve problems they face. They should teach employees how to handle problems as they come up, and their pay should be based on this.

Eventually, owners should refuse to handle the employees' jobs, so the employees will learn not to constantly rely on the owners. At our company, the owner used to say, "Manage, Manager! I pay you to handle the problems, so handle them!"

The key to solving the Dad syndrome is for owners to recognize that they have to quit solving employees' problems and, instead, teach them how to do it.

Management Success!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Are You Busy Being Busy or are You Busy Making Money? Management Success!

We talked to three different owners to find out the difficulties they had in their shop before they attended the “How to Increase Your Profits” seminar. Here’s what they told us:

Peyton Knight
Knight’s Automotive
Ledgewood, NY

Dino Di Giulio
Body Best Collision
Sonoma, CA

David Saline
2nd To None Svc.
Moriarty, NM

Q:  What was happening in your shop that prompted you to go to the seminar?

For me it was lack of control in the shop and not knowing where to turn to for the answers.  I would be with a customer and the techs would just be standing around.  I would finish selling the job, then would walk out and ask why they weren’t working on cars. They would say, “Well, I don’t know what to do next, boss.”  And I would explain to them what needed to be done next with every car. “Well, I don’t know how to fix this one, boss, what do I do now?” they’d say, or “Well, I’m waiting for a part, the part’s not here yet.”

At the end of the day everyone would leave and I’d be stuck there working on cars at night.
I could fix a car alright, but I just didn’t know where to turn to for the answers of how to run my business. I knew for sure this wasn’t the way to do it.

The reason we went to the seminar in the first place was that Management Success was able to completely describe our shop operation without even being there. I was doing service writing, being the mechanic, outside sales, managing. I was doing everything and was working from 14-16 hours a day.

I’d spend most of the morning writing up service, getting the customers checked in, and then the afternoon I was writing estimates, doing phone calls and trying to get parts ordered—all while trying to work on vehicles at the same time!  Then I would make sure the customers that had to be done and gone by the end of the day were finished. Then I worked on everything else from 5pm to 10 or 11pm at night trying to keep up with the work. And I did have two other techs working with me.

I had no time with my family, I spent all my hours up at the business and all I was making was mechanic wages.

I just needed help. I was at my wits end. I was not in a good place health-wise, I wasn’t in a good place mentally, very tired when I got home every day—especially on those days when we were really busy. We weren’t organized, that’s the simplest way to put it. My shop was very clean, but organization wasn’t one of the things that was in place. I was the owner running all the time from the front to the back. And if I added a new employee it seemed like things got worse. We were getting busier and busier and I just didn’t know how to deal with the workload like an owner should. 

I was tired of chasing my tail and a friend had done the seminar and told me that it was great, he really got a lot from it. And this was someone who owned multiple shops. So—I went to the seminar.

Q: How was your point of view changed about what was going on in your shop after you went to the seminar?

I sat there for two days at the seminar trying to figure out how the speaker knew every single thing that was going on in my business!  How did he know all the problems I was having?  If he knew that much about what was going on in my shop and he’d never been there, then obviously he knows his stuff about running a shop. When I sat with the consultant to go over my business analysis you get with the seminar, he really broke it down for me. Between the speaker, the consultant, and talking to the shop owners who had actually been to the seminar before I realized there were real people out there with real shops that changed their business with the seminar. I could believe it. I got the confidence that Management Success would be able to help me repair my shop. And they did!

After I heard everything the seminar speaker had to say and the seminar was over I realized I had to make some changes in the shop or we weren’t going to make it.

One of the first things that we did was improve the organization and work flow system in the shop. We had a system before but it was all verbal, whoever was doing the job did all the details verbally, we would end up doing the invoice with the customer standing in front of us. Sometimes we could only guess what should be on the invoice, and who knew how much we were losing there!

Now all the billing is done before the customer gets there. The Service Writer keeps track and everything is double-checked as it goes through the system. We also have Quality Control as part of our service now, to ensure everything is running smoothly before the customer is called.

I was able to get off the floor and was no longer working on mechanical stuff. I’m spending more time doing outside sales, bringing in new customers. Now I come in at 9 a.m. I’m off by 5 p.m. I have my weekends off and if I choose to go out of town I can just pick up and go and the shop runs itself, nothing to worry about.

Before Management Success the business was running me completely.  I was at its mercy. Whenever customers showed up or called, I was on call 24 hours a day. I was in the shop more than I was at home. There were many nights I spent sleeping in the shop because it wasn’t worth my time to go home to sleep.

Now WE run the business. What a difference!

After the seminar, I looked at my business differently. I started on the road to getting things organized, putting systems in place, making people accountable for their area. It’s as simple as that! I didn’t see the shop as a problem anymore. Before, I would go home after a long day and just go “holy crap,” you know? I mean there were days when I wished I had never gone into work. At the seminar, I was given this “toolbox” for my business and I knew I had to open it up and use it and fix my shop.

I had things I changed right away, including putting the correct work flow in the shop to handle the jobs. Putting everything in writing instead of being verbal was the first major shop policy that I put in and boy did that help, cause I was probably the worst of all at putting things in writing!

It was a change for my business, but also a personal change.  Because of all the things I learned from that weekend at the seminar and after, my entire life changed. It changed the way I look at a lot of things for the better and the shop is now the best that it’s ever been.

Management Success! How to Increase Your Profits Seminar