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Episode Description

Setting goals for your shop and staff is critical. Goals provide direction, bring focus, prioritize time and energy, and ensure that your team can objectively create better results.

But just any goal won’t do. Goals are important, but the level of specificity and difficulty matters, and they need to be both clear and challenging to drive higher levels of performance.

To set up his shop and team for success, Russ Crosby (Russ’s Wrench) sets realistic goals and uses data and training to improve shop operations and grow their weekly revenue. Join Tom and Russ as they talk about a few changes you can make in your process and mindset that can help you progress towards your shop’s goals much faster and efficiently.

Episode Transcript

*This transcript was generated using Artificial Intelligence. Errors may occur. If you notice an error, please contact [email protected].

Tom Dorsey (00:00):
Morning and good afternoon. Welcome to the Digital Shop Talk Radio, episode 16, May 22nd, 2019. My name’s Tom Dorsey and I’m here from the mobile recording studio in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, today doing some teaching, some classes with Napa Auto Care out in Philly. And today on the show we got a great guest for you. We’re going to be talking about how to set good goals in the shop, how to make sure that the team buys into those goals, and how to run effective team meetings with Russ Crosby from Russ’s Wrench in Clinton, New Jersey. And I just happened to be out there last night. Long time. No See Russ.
Russ Crosby (00:41):
I know, right? Man.
Tom Dorsey (00:44):
Seems like it was only like a two hour drive or something
Russ Crosby (00:47):
Crazy. Yeah, it was a great time last night. Great time.
Tom Dorsey (00:54):
Yeah, man, thanks for having me out again dude. And thanks for coming on the show.
Russ Crosby (00:58):
I love it. You guys rock. The system’s awesome. The support’s awesome and everything you do is just, it’s awesome. It’s incredible.
Tom Dorsey (01:07):
Good. Well thanks man. So I was out there a couple things. First thing I want to tell you is I got a chance to talk to your mom, met your mom last night, and for everybody who’s out there in the audience, I hope you got a sharp pencil and a notepad ready? You’re going to take lots of notes because according to Russ’s mom business is in his jeans. She told me that her children are all entrepreneurs. We had a great dinner. It was catered by Russ’s sister last night. And so Russ really knows what he wants to accomplish and he’s got a plan and he’s going after it. And we were talking, Russ, about your lunch and learns and let’s start there. Let’s talk kind of about how do you set goals with your team and how do you get team buy-in
Russ Crosby (01:59):
A goal that I set doesn’t want to feel like a chore, right? So for me, I can say, yeah, I want to do this, I want to do this, I want to do this. But unless like you just said, if I don’t have the team, then it’s pointless. So the way that I approach it is we have a weekly lunch and learn. We spend about an hour. Most of the time it runs over an hour because we really, we get those ideas flowing. You don’t want to stop it. So we spend at least an hour talking about specific things that we want to work on for me that week or that month, whatever it is. But we come up with these goals as a team. So our team decides what our goal is. Of course there’s some guidance on my end because this is what we want to, this is what I would like to achieve. But the team really sets the goal and they set the expectation because once that happens, it’s their idea, it’s their goal. So now they’ve fought into that idea and they want to succeed. Making sure that we’re really transparent on where we’re at with the goal too is huge posting. If you’re after an ARO or a specific ARO or a specific GP or something, making sure the team knows exactly where you are daily, weekly, super important without them knowing that you’re kind of just running blind in the wind.
Tom Dorsey (03:21):
Yeah, so transparency is great. You got to have it up there. You got to be able to measure your performance and keep the team on the field. What happens when maybe they’re going the wrong way or they’re just not moving the needle yet? How do you keep the motivation high?
Russ Crosby (03:39):
Well, the thing is that you have to continue to support them either way. If they’re not hitting the goals that they need to hit, we need to have a conversation about what can we do as a team to help that individual reach that goal. Whether it’s we have a technician that wants to hit a certain amount of hours, build a week and they’re coming up short. What can I do to help get them to the level that they want to get to? What can the team do to help them get to that level? Like I said, transparency is key. There’s no real reason to keep things secret. We’re all heading in the right direction, but there’s certain things, as much as we want as shop owners to think we know what’s going on in our shops and every avenue, it’s not the case. Another technician could be seeing this guy struggle on a certain thing and be able to speak up and say, Hey, you could try and do this a different way, and that’ll help him out big time. So it’s really just communication. Communication is the most important thing.
Tom Dorsey (04:48):
Yeah, teamwork makes the dream work. Talk a little bit about how you run your transparency. Do you have one of those big thermometer boards that you color in red as they get up towards their goal using a whiteboard? How do you keep them kind of top of mind and in their face about where they’re at performance wise?
Russ Crosby (05:10):
So we do two things. We do have a whiteboard, which is kind of old school, but the whiteboard is out there so that they can see it every day. It’s put out there above their parts where they pick up the parts so they know where we’re at for daily and weekly goals. So they see it daily and weekly and we update that. But during our lunch and learns, we bring up some of the reporting functions that you guys offer. Bring up the BCP. There it is right there. It’s incredible because we could see exactly what’s going on. If a guy had a tough week, but he had a family thing going on, we can address it, we can talk about it. If we had heart issues that’ll drop. If we’re not taking enough pictures or editing enough pictures, you guys track all of that. It makes it very easy for us as shop owners and writers and managers to address the situation quickly. That’s the most important thing is addressing it quickly and not waiting 60 days, 30 days to try and make a change. You want to address it immediately and get ahead of it.
Tom Dorsey (06:17):
Yeah, that’s probably the most powerful thing about being able to pull the data through the inspection program is that it’s in real time. So the faster we can process it, the faster you can use it. And then you see trends or you see outliers that you can act on right away and you don’t find out about it when the bills come due and whoops, the accountants on the phone, Hey, you guys should have did something different last period, last quarter. And so in a lot of shops, what they’ll do is they run big monitors out in the bays sometimes show the technician view out there, see visual clipboard rack if you would, a digital clipboard rack and let the techs see where they’re at and what’s coming up. Good idea out there for you. If you’ve got those type of monitors out in the bases, run your BCP up there, your business control panel like Russ was saying, because you can set your goals on there and you can set your individual tech goals and then maybe just do a screen rotator or something, load it up on a browser and just do a slideshow of that screen.
And one way to keep that BCP top of mind, keep their performance top of mind and keep ’em running towards a goal. What do you think? I know you’re doing a lot of mods out there in your shop, so
Russ Crosby (07:43):
Yeah, that’s a goal. We’d love to get a big monitor out there so that we could keep our today’s vehicle page posted so everybody sees everything that’s going on. And definitely being able to set our goals up there with BCP is huge. So it’s something that we discussed last night and something that we’ve been discussing for a while where to place it. And before I paint the walls, I don’t want to put that up there and I have to take it back down. So we’re going to get it up there next time you come out, it’ll be up there.
Tom Dorsey (08:13):
Oh yeah. Nice. Perfect.
Then we’ll just be able to cast to the big monitor and we won’t have to scramble around trying to find an adaptor to use a projector. That wouldn’t work, man. Got to get out there. We’re supposed to start at six and we rented a projector and it was old. It didn’t have HDMI or runoff to go get an adapter for it. We were trying to not use, Russ had a little portable projector and yeah, long story short, we ended up using that one and made it work. It was like a candlelit powered, but we got it done.
Russ Crosby (08:49):
Amen. The best place to have a situation happen is at a technician shop. We can make anything work.
Tom Dorsey (08:55):
No, I appreciate it, man. We made it happen. That was great. Just gave more time for people to eat their dinner.
Russ Crosby (09:00):
That’s right. That’s right. It was a good dinner, so we want to enjoy that too. That was great, man.
Tom Dorsey (09:05):
It was great. Your sister does a good job. Your mom was right, man. Thank you. So one of the neat things about the BCP is because we’re tracking behavioral KPIs, how many pictures per inspection, edit rate, all that good stuff, you can really start to pick apart the, we call ’em influential KPIs, right? The KPIs that influence your ARO, that influence productivity or efficiency or whatever it is that you’re trying to target and improve. What KPIs are you tracking? I mean, what are you chasing right now as far as a big goal in shop performance improvements and what KPIs are you looking at to know that you’re getting there?
Russ Crosby (09:50):
So GP is always a very important one. We want to make sure that we’re actually making money while we’re doing these jobs. And I feel like a big one that I noticed we were lacking on was hours per ticket. So focusing on hitting that goal that we have for our hours per ticket and making sure we’re profitable on our parts end because parts, they’re not getting any cheaper. Sometimes these newer vehicles, you really have no choice but to go to the dealer and kind of kills your margin sometimes. So knowing how to address that and sell the value instead of the price is big. But KPIs that we really are following right now is hours per ticket. Our GP and total sales doesn’t really matter because that’s going to follow suit with the other things that we’re addressing.
Tom Dorsey (10:41):
Of course. Yep. That’ll come if you do it, you build the strong foundation and your house to stand. So when you’re looking at tracking those influential KPIs, how do you talk to the staff about that? Keeping ’em on track? Especially maybe if you’ve got an individual, you notice who, I mean your crew seems really strong. I mean you’re a lucky guy, man, because just to even get ’em in the shop to stay after work that late, as late as we had ’em there was pretty incredible. But they were super engaged, taking notes, the whole thing, man. I talked to a lot of techs buddy, and you got a good crew man. Absolutely. And so in the off chance that one of your guys isn’t pulling hard or maybe he’s pulling really hard, but he’s just not getting it figured out, how do you address that? How do you do your counseling and do you address him as a team or do you address ’em individually?
Russ Crosby (11:46):
When you keep everything transparent, you don’t always have to address it individually. Your team sees when one person is struggling and we just have to figure out if you’ve got a great team member and they’re having a hard time, there’s typically something influencing that. So if this guy’s pulling 20, 30 hours a week and then all of a sudden he’s bumping up to 45, what did he do different? What influence influenced ’em in a positive way or maybe the other way around? What caused them not to get there? And it really just comes down to communication. We talk about the goals that we want to achieve as a shop and we break it down to specific people setting a goal. If you want to, let’s say you got three guys in the shop and you’ve got to go 30 cars a week, it’s 10 cars a person, and you break that down to a daily number.
I mean, you just have to break it down and show them that it’s achievable and just constantly being supportive. If you’re not supportive, they won’t follow you. So I’m about servant leadership. I don’t ask my team to do something I wouldn’t do. And this team, you said their best man, I have the best team that I could ever ask for. They’re incredible. They step up to the plate when we need ’em to constantly, and they’re about our vision. I mean, that’s another big thing too, Tom, is making sure that the team knows your vision as a shop owner, if they don’t know, if I don’t tell them where I want to go or where I see the company, I can’t leave it up to them to try and figure out where I want to go in the next five, 10 years. We’ve got a very clear cut idea of what Russ’s wrench is supposed to look like in the next five years, three years, one year, and they’re on board with it and they know what we need to hit and where we need to be to make it happen.
Tom Dorsey (13:45):
And importantly, what’s their role in that vision, right? Is Hey, here’s your vision and I’m going to be on the team helping you to get there and what’s my role in it and what’s my career path? And so I think the more transparent you can be with that, then the more help you’re going to get. And it’s like you said, you’re not hiring ’em to be mind readers. They can’t really figure out, you want to make sure you’re pulling the rope the same way.
Russ Crosby (14:15):
I mean, you just have to refer back to their job. We’re diagnosticians by trade and if we give them the specific things they need to look for, they can figure out what we need to do to get there. The people in this industry now are very, very talented individuals. They know things that 20, 30 years ago people didn’t know. Most of us have to have some type of electrical engineering degree or computer science degree to be able to work on these vehicles anymore. And focusing on your culture. Culture in my shop is our number one priority. So you need to have a place where everybody wants to go to work every day. And I see that in AutoVitals too. You guys have a great culture. Everyone I talk to from AutoVitals has a smile on their face all the time. They’re walking around. It’s the greatest job in the world, it seems like it is.
Tom Dorsey (15:07):
It is, man. I know helping shop owners make money, man. I like to, I don’t know, the independent aftermarket rights under a lot of pressure. And it’s American business man. And so even out here, I’m out and on the road for a long time and I feel blessed. I feel lucky to get out there and just say my peace. And if I help a person, that’s great, man. I hope somebody can take something away and go implement it and make some more money and keep a customer, make a customer loyal and keep ’em independent. You know what I mean?
Russ Crosby (15:44):
Yeah. And I can tell you firsthand, you and I have met a couple times and every single time I’ve had a conversation with you or another team member from AutoVitals, I always pick up something, man, you guys are great. It’s always something. It’s always positive influence too, which is a big, big thing in this industry. This industry can beat you up. But if you keep a positive outlook and try to find the positive, the positiveness in every situation you dealt with, your team’s going to see that. And as a leader, you need to be positive and keep pushing forward and your team will want to follow you. But if you let the day beat you up and everything kill you, it’s not going to be a good outcome.
Tom Dorsey (16:28):
You got to follow that golden rule, man. Smile when you want to cry, right?
Russ Crosby (16:33):
Well, so what’s interesting enough is somehow we were able to getting back to weekly meetings, talking about our numbers, talking about our goals, how do we have more togetherness in the shop? We started a book club in my shop.
Tom Dorsey (16:47):
Russ Crosby (16:48):
So it’s interesting. I got this idea from Super Conference, ATI Super Conference, and what we found is as we’re reading this book together, pick a couple chapters a week and we talk about it at our lunch and learn, it opens up your mind to start learning more. And it really helps with diagnostic work also because now you can interpret things in a different way. You can retain things differently. Reading is a huge part of what we do and people, a lot of people don’t take the time to do it. I think the national average is zero books read a year. That’s pretty bad. Exactly. My team has already broken that average.
Tom Dorsey (17:33):
Yeah, I was wondering last night when I was talking about that, when was the last time you read a book and these guys were all got animated and I thought, oh, it must be an inside thing, right? Well, there it is. They just got done reading one.
Russ Crosby (17:45):
Yeah, and we talk about it in the book. It’s a book from John Gordon called The Energy Bus, and it thought it was really appropriate for our first book to read. But as we’re talking about that and we’re talking about our goals and then the great information we get from AutoVitals and BCP, we can now take those goals and it’s real. They see that they can get to that goal, they can do what they need to do to get there, and they get a roadmap. This is how we’re going to do it. But being able to overcome challenges, getting an automotive shop to join a book club, is that itself? Yeah. So no, it’s cool, man. But we’ve got a great team and good thing going on here.
Tom Dorsey (18:39):
And you said something really profound, and I hope people wrote it down because that’s when you have a really lofty goal. Hey, you want to get to the moon? You don’t think I got to figure out how I can jump higher? You want to start at the end, what’s your end result? And work your way backwards and set milestones along the way. And like you said, break it up into manageable chunks. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time,
Russ Crosby (19:06):
One bite at a time.
Tom Dorsey (19:09):
And that’s what you want to do. You want to break those goals up over time in little bites and then just keep eating and then all of a sudden it doesn’t seem that hard. I do it all the time with my sales team. We’ll say, oh my God, we’re going to make this huge number. And then when you break it down and then break it down again and then break it down into the activities, well, it’s only this many phone calls in one hour. Well, that doesn’t sound hard at all. The key is you just have to do it every hour instead of a couple hours and then, oh, I lolly gag around and go eat soup or something and then try to get back into it. You got to keep a consistent pace once you’ve planned that goal. And so can you talk a little bit about how you tackle your goal setting? Just go a little bit more deep for the folks that are listening and want to know how to set those effective goals. How do you break your goals down? What do you use to get to a manageable number for your crew?
Russ Crosby (20:11):
We talk about certain things that we’re trying to achieve our ARO right now. We set an ARO for that’s really high. It’s a big ARO. I like to set goals. I like set goals that are big. And actually I’m a part of ATI and Jeff Berman there gave us these goals and 20 group I was involved with and we’re looking at ’em like, wow, how are we going to do this? But I brought it back to my team and I said, okay, here we go. This is what we have to do now. And they’re like, wow, that’s a big ARO goal. The a r goal is like 750 bucks an ARO, and that’s pretty big for a general repair facility, but when you break it down into we need to sell roughly three hours per ticket, and when you’re taking those pictures, you’re editing those pictures and you’re showing them how they can do it, you’re giving them the tools to do it, how can you not do it at that point?
So by again, communicating the goals and if we want to set a perfect example of this is not necessarily in, it wasn’t necessarily an automotive thing, it was a sock drive we just did for our veterans. So we set a goal to collect 3000 pairs of socks. And my team was like, ah, that’s a lot. And I said, trust me, put our minds to it. Let’s get it done. And we broke it down. And I’ll tell you what, today we hit that goal, we hit that goal two weeks ahead of schedule, but it’s everybody heading in the right direction and in the same direction. That’s the big thing. That’s a key right there is everybody heading in the same direction.
Tom Dorsey (21:53):
That’s the only way you can get it done. So congratulations on reaching your goal. Another one of Manny, right man to come. So what’s the next big goal?
Russ Crosby (22:03):
We want be able to expand into multis shop set up here and the whole shop knows that. And bringing on new people to come and work with us is huge. So just really feeding that pipeline of technicians to come and join us is going to be a big thing. Technicians, writers, all of those people and having the right tools in place and the training in place and the procedures in place really helps that. This is kind of interesting. I tell all the applicants that we have coming through the door that I don’t hire. I don’t hire people anymore, my team does. So you’re required to come in and sit on one of these lunch and learns with us and see, we see how you communicate with the team outside of doing digital inspections and doing the repair. Obviously we’re hoping that you can do that, but there’s so much more to this. If you can get people to buy into something like a book club or something into lunch and learn, you better believe that they’re probably going to be able to buy into a goal that we set as a team.
And breaking down those goals, like you said before, is just huge. You can look at this monster goal for the year. We don’t often talk about our total sales goal for the year in most shops because it’s a big number and it’s kind of looming and you’re like, how am I going to do that? We talk about goals in a three, four week, a monthly basis, a weekly basis, daily. The smaller you can break it down, it just becomes more attainable. And that’s really any goal you want to set. You want to show your team how you can do it. Just throwing something up on the wall hoping it sticks, doesn’t work,
Tom Dorsey (23:52):
Right? But I mean, that’s it, right? Make it attainable and then commit, right? And if you commit to it, and the transparency is such a great tool because if you’re on a team and you don’t want to let your team member down, and so then I’m going to remember the goal and it’s going to stay in my mind and I’m going to keep fighting with the team to achieve the goal. And once you have that type of environment, hey, then you can scale. Then you are a multis shop owner or franchise owner or whatever you want to put your mind to because you got a process, you got the plan and you just go work your plan. So for folks that want to put a lunch and learn or maybe introduce a book club into their shop, Russ, what would be your advice? How do they get started?
Russ Crosby (24:37):
So the Lunch and learn is a, it’s pretty easy to put into place if you put together goals, you know what you want to get out of this lunch and learn and how do you get that to your team? So we pick specific topics, whether it’s we went over our digital inspection process and with the whole team at the exact same time on the projector so that we could see how we want it to look, how I expect to see it. And you come up with topics and don’t do a last minute, be prepared. Preparation’s huge. Yeah.
Tom Dorsey (25:22):
Oh, go ahead.
Russ Crosby (25:24):
I was going to say the book club thing, if you are just going to say, Hey, I want to start doing this book club thing, you’re going to get the same looks I did. Everyone’s going to look at you funny, but when you break it down to why we’re doing the book club, we’re doing it so that we can open our minds up to be able to understand the information that we need moving forward in this industry. They’re kind of like, oh, okay. Yeah, there’s a reason behind this too often shop owners, managers will throw a goal up there and you don’t understand why are we doing this? You have to know the why before you give it to your team and expect them to figure it out.
Tom Dorsey (26:05):
That’s really brilliant because I mean, we talked about it last night. That’s one of the things that the internet has kind of changed in us is our ability to focus. And that’s really why people I think go away from reading is they just don’t have the time to focus. I mean, we even binge watch TV now, so we’ll shoot a whole season. You watch it over a weekend until you’re about to go into some kind of sugar coma or something, you know what I mean? Peel yourself off the couch, but then you don’t have to. I mean, that’s it. You stayed focused on that until it was over and then that’s it. It’s out of your mind. And so the ability to sit and read gives me the ability to focus again and to retain. And then like you said, you’re all diagnosticians and you have to be able to focus to diagnose,
Russ Crosby (26:52):
Right? I mean, I heard at ATI super conference, there was a speaker there, his name’s Brian Dodge, and he spoke about learning how to train yourself to read. I was never a strong reader and neither was my team, but his suggestion is in the morning when you wake up, you first wake up, get out of bed, don’t lay back down, find yourself a chair you like to read and then spend 15 minutes total and read as much as you can to 15 minutes. The faster you read, the more you retain. And I started doing that and it made a big difference. I told my team, 15 minutes a day is nothing. Do it before everyone else gets up. You’ve got 15 minutes to yourself, enjoy your coffee, read your book and you’re done. That’s it. You’ll start reading faster and you’ll start to enjoy it. It’s like anything else. You have to train yourself to do it. And we want to go to the gym if we want to get healthy. Well, you got to train yourself to get there. So if you want to be a good reader, you want to retain things, you got to train yourself. Our mind is a tool. It’s the most important tool.
Tom Dorsey (27:47):
It is. You’re right. That’s your money maker. You better protect it and pump it like any other muscle. Hey, you know that Brian Dodge was pretty amazing guy, right? What was the other thing that he took away? Took, was it 21 days to get the habit to stick?
Russ Crosby (28:04):
Yeah. I forget
Tom Dorsey (28:05):
A long time.
Russ Crosby (28:06):
No, it’s 21 days to get the habit to stick, and I think it’s like two months or so before you break a bad habit or something. He’s an incredible speaker and I think that you could find a lot of his work online and I highly suggest listening to him speak. It’s entertaining.
Tom Dorsey (28:25):
Yeah, he was great.
Russ Crosby (28:28):
When I went into these lunch and learns, we had started at right before we went to super conference and the way he presented to us all this information, I came back and I was like, that’s how I want to get in touch with my team. I want to make it real and I want to catch your attention and make things stick. He made a lot of things stick for myself, and I know a lot of other people there, and I highly suggest checking him out. Very good speaker.
Tom Dorsey (28:52):
Yeah, no, he was great. He was funny. It was like it was a show, but you were learning stuff
Russ Crosby (28:57):
That was incredible.
Tom Dorsey (28:58):
I thought I was in Vegas with an education, right? Oh shoot. We’re out of time, man. Hey, Russ, it was awesome, buddy. I appreciate you coming on. I hope you come back. I can see maybe a regular appearance somewhere in our future as we’re talking about, and I’d love to see the development as you guys are building out that team environment, the remodeling the shop, and really working to hit that goal. Looking forward to celebrating your breaking ground on your second location.
Russ Crosby (29:28):
Oh man, I appreciate it. I hope to come back on the show. I really loved it. I love seeing you guys out here. You helped us out and I know you touched a lot of other shops that were out here. Your team’s awesome, and if anybody ever has an interest in starting a lunch and learn or something, feel free to reach out to me. I’d love to help grow this awesome industry. It’s important
Tom Dorsey (29:51):
How you doing it, brother? Every day you’re doing it, man. Russ Crosby, folks, he is the man. Reach out to him on our Facebook form, reach out to me. He is Russ Crosby, Russ’s Wrench, Clinton, New Jersey, full of great ideas and I saw it firsthand. He’s implementing them. He’s building a really strong team out there, guy you want to emulate. He’s going after it. Tune in next week, same time, same place, streaming live on Facebook, 10:00 AM Pacific, 1:00 PM Eastern for Digital Shop Talk Radio. Tomorrow we’re going to be having the webinar start at the same time, 10:00 AM Pacific time, one Eastern, and we’re going to be talking about how to set those goals inside the business control panel, how to set your notification so you don’t have to really watch it every day. You just get a text message when there’s something you need to know.
But really the most important thing is get those goals set just because, just like you heard Russ say, if you’re not setting goals, you’re not going to be able to achieve them, and so you want to make sure that you get that done first. Start tracking that thing, and tomorrow in the webinar we’ll show you the nuts and bolts on how to set that stuff up. Looking forward to seeing you in there. Looking forward to talking to you next week. We’ll have another great show for you. Until then, get out there and make some money. Thanks for watching. Thanks, Russ.
Russ Crosby (31:10):
You’re welcome. Thank you. Bye-Bye.

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