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Episode Description

On the 100th episode of The Digital Shop® Talk Radio show, Tom & Uwe take a look back at 2020 and share their New Year’s resolutions with special guests Adam Bendzick and John Long.

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Episode Transcript

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

Tom Dorsey (00:00:06):
Good morning and good afternoon. Welcome to this week’s edition of The Digital Shop Talk Radio. I’m Tom Dorsey, and today we’re going to be talking about 2020 year in review. And more specifically, how do we overcome the challenges of 2020? How do we pivot and adapt from our goal setting perspective and how do we continue to push forward and turn 2020 into a success? And so I’ve got two great guests in to help us walk through that. And of course our co-founder and CIO and my co-host, Uwe Kleinschmidt, but we’ve got almost our full panel of experts together. Welcome Adam Bendzick from Pro Service Automotive and John Long from Schertz Auto Repair,
John Long (00:00:48):
Auto service,
Tom Dorsey (00:00:49):
Auto service Schertz, Auto Service. Thanks. John
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:00:54):
Thomas is just behind. Yeah,
Tom Dorsey (00:00:56):
I couldn’t see behind his head there. I was trying to read the sign cheating. But welcome gentlemen, I appreciate you guys coming back on the show. Looking forward to a lively discussion Last week we talked a lot about paying back and paying it forward and giving back and in our Chris Eve of Christmas Eve episode, and oddly enough this week we’re on the eve of New Year’s Eve and so what a great opportunity for us to talk about how we overcame the challenges of 2020 now that we get to put it in the rear view mirror. But unfortunately it’s not looking like there’s a lot of sun shining as we move into 2021. And so what does that mean? Because a lot of people had some pretty big goals and we came into 2020 guns a blazing. I mean we were cranking on all cylinders and then we didn’t hit the brakes.
We hit a wall in March, April, and a lot of people had to rethink their business model. A lot of people had to adjust their goals, had to pivot, had to take risks to overcome these challenges. And then also, unfortunately, a lot of people didn’t and maybe they didn’t know how. And so today I want to talk about what happened, how did we overcome it, how did you guys overcome that? And most importantly, give some help to folks on what to do and what to look forward to for 2021 and how to be prepared if another CO type sea change type event hits the industry. Sound like a plan.
John Long (00:02:36):
Sounds good. Yep. Perfect.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:02:38):
If we have just an hour for that.
Tom Dorsey (00:02:40):
Yeah. Well
John Long (00:02:42):
Adam and I, we’ll go at easily an hour and a half.
Tom Dorsey (00:02:46):
You just got to speak fast like I do. And of course folks in the audience, we’d love to hear your stories, your input, chat that in hit the q and a button, whichever is your preference. And as we get into the backside of the show where we love to open it up whenever we have John and Adam on, it’s always a treat. It’s always an opportunity I think for us to pick their brains a bit and we want to make that available in today’s episode. Just use the chat function and we’ll get your questions answered live on the air and appreciate all of your support and input. So if we could, let’s get kicked off. Adam, why don’t you start us off and just give us an update of where you’re at and how are things going and what was your big lesson learned in 2020?
Adam Bendzick (00:03:31):
Yeah, great topic of items to go through year for sure. Our last year. I mean we go into every year wanting to hit maybe that 10 to 20% growth increase somewhere in between there. And this year that certainly won’t happen in terms of sales or whatever, but I do feel like we’ve grown so much and our culture and our team bond and different things from going through a situation that you would never expect everybody had to gather together to just make the most of what we had for the entire year. In doing so, we will hit the same numbers we did last year. We ended up last year just over $2 million in sales and that’s about where we’re going to be this year, which is awesome. It’s been a tremendous amount of growth in the last three to four years and you always hope to keep on progressing within that. And I had visions of making another 10% sales revenue kind of deal, but it’s just not going to happen. But we are going to hit about the same thing as we did before, which is kind of a milestone in itself considering the circumstances. So that’s been great. But I think the biggest takeaway from 2020 is really looking at the team and really appreciating how good of a job that they do and how well they work together to get through that drop off that every business faced this year.
Tom Dorsey (00:04:59):
And if you put it in perspective, you probably did 20, 25% just to recover from what you lost because, and so now if you can repeat that right now, you’re set up. So if we open back up and we’re rolling in 2021, you might have to bump the bar. The 20% might be too low for what you’ve already accomplished through 2020. How about you, John? I know that you just opened up your second location and people got to be going, oh, you’re crazy to open up a new business during these times. How’s it going for you? How are you keeping that team focused and how did 2020 treat you?
John Long (00:05:44):
Yeah, it’s definitely been a challenging year on all aspects. We did open our second location August 30th, finally, we’re trying to get that opened up in early June. So we had a couple month pushback on that, which was tough because in prepping for that new location, I hired on a bunch of additional staff that I had. They were, they were ready to go in June. So in our original location that’s a seven bay shop, at one point in time I had five service advisors in there, four production people and 12 techs. And I worked out of that shop for two months with pretty much that entire team, which was good because then all the new people got to really gel and got to really know our systems. So that was good. But it was also just a challenge because you’re in this whole mess of covid where you’re supposed to be socially distancing and I’ve got all these people stuffed into one location.
So it was challenging on that. And then we finally did open up our sales overall this year at our original location are going to take a little bit of a dip, which we anticipated with the new location pretty close and we’re robbing some customers from there. And that’s mainly because our original location we had outgrown, we didn’t have any more room to grow there, so we knew we needed something a little bit closer to kind of rob some of that. Overall between the two locations, we’re going to do just shy of 3 million this year. And like I said, the new location’s only been opened up four months and we’ll do about 4 50, 4 75 out of that and then just over 2.5 at the original one.
Tom Dorsey (00:07:29):
Yeah, so I mean that’s a good start. Again, that’s a success story when you look at the environment that you were operating in. And to Adam’s point earlier, is it really, it allowed us, I think to sit down and think it through and work on some of the foundational elements of the business. You weren’t just going gangbusters and just kind of reacting. You really had to think it through and plan and then implement a plan and measure the results of that plan. It became so much more critical, I think to build that culture, right?
John Long (00:08:10):
That was even more important for us. Just we had so many people there, we really had to have everything planned out pretty well. So we’re not all tripping over each other, which we still kind of were, but everything just had to be planned out, thought out, very meticulous. We had to be prepared for everything.
Adam Bendzick (00:08:26):
You’ve developed such a reputation for yourself that you have a great existing location, you don’t want to not have the staff prepped for a new location. And then the experience from one shop to the next is completely different because things aren’t coordinated properly.
Tom Dorsey (00:08:44):
And if, correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe I have video evidence of just how you went about making sure that that customer service was going to be consistent locations. And I’d love to be able to show that to our audience there, if that’s okay with you. Absolutely. Fantastic. So without further ado, let’s take a look at how John Long and his crew prepared themselves for opening up that second location. Can you guys see my screen? Everybody see my screen there? Yes sir. Yep. We’re working with a bear at Shirtz Auto Service. Let’s take a look.
Something new.
That is awesome stuff, awesome stuff, John and everybody involved in that. And folks, really, the reason that I’m talking about why I wanted to show that video is because a lot about what we’re doing from a goal setting perspective and building a culture stems from I’m sure John, what it took for you to prepare something like that, right? The creative element. If you could walk us through a little bit about how that thing came together, because that’s just not, that didn’t happen in an hour.
John Long (00:14:14):
No, no, it definitely did not. That was a lot of fun making. It goes back to we we’re open up our second location, and I don’t know if everybody’s seen our first video that we did to a car guy that I played at the conference earlier this year and it’s been online and everywhere else. And so I went to Wayne, one of my service advisors who did the first video, he’s actually done our recruiting video and I said, Hey, I want to do something else for the new shop that we’re opening up. He’s like, yeah, great. I’d love it. Wayne’s the best at this stuff. He is great. Way back in the eighties, he produced a wrestling show on ESPN. So I mean, all this stuff is there for him. He’s great at this stuff. So we started bouncing ideas off of what song are we going to use and go through?
And coincidentally enough, it ended up being living on a prayer, which was another Jovi song we did. The first song Car Guy was a Bon Jovi song too. And originally I wanted it to kind of be how the video is of living on a prayer where it’s kind of behind the scenes of them setting up for their concerts and traveling and roadshows and stuff, and it’s just kind of funny, fun stuff for them. And that’s kind of how I envisioned it. And it’s not how it turned out at all in my opinion, but I think it turned out much better with what Wayne did to it. So Wayne came living on a prayer, then it was like, okay, what can we do working off of that? And it’s like, oh, working with a bear that kind of goes through that. So we went through that whole process.
Wayne wrote the song, did that, wrote the story behind it, and then it’s one morning we got our video guy out here and got Saturday morning, got a bunch of people from actually both shops showed up to help with the video and make the video and we just went through it and some of the stuff we made up on the spot throwing Edgar in the dumpster, that was made up on the spot on that one. And that was not really a fun because it was pretty hot and that bear suit was pretty hot and it was beating down on me in 80 degree weather. And I’m sitting out there sweating. I’m like, okay guys, let’s get this shot done quickly. Please. I’m dying here. Expect
Tom Dorsey (00:16:23):
From all those actors on location.
John Long (00:16:25):
Yeah, no, I was a diva too. There’s no doubt about it. Every in between shots, I was yelling for water. I’m like, bring me water. Where’s my water?
Tom Dorsey (00:16:37):
That’s fantastic. And so what a great way to, I mean, think outside the box and have a project that brings your team together and really just gets everybody involved, gets everybody having fun and just really strengthens the culture. You run the risk of turning them all into superstars, right? They’re going to ask for more pay now because they want royalties on the video ad revenue. But talk to us a little bit about how the noticeable effect that you saw through the planning of that project, the execution and then the success of that project
John Long (00:17:17):
As far as bringing the team together. I mean, they’re tremendously for us. Like I said, we asked for volunteers to show up Saturday morning with no pay and all kinds of people here. They came out of the woodworks just to support us because that’s just what our culture is and it’s fun and we’ve developed that and nurtured that, and that’s just where we’re at. We want to have fun while we’re working. That’s one of our core values is just having fun while you’re there.
Tom Dorsey (00:17:47):
Yeah, no, that’s awesome. So living the core value, right? And you might not have to go to that extreme shooting pretty much a professional Jovi parody video. And matter of fact, we were talking with Ross Crosby last week and he was talking about same type of thing. Everybody showed up in the morning without pay volunteered and they went out and did landscaping around the city sign and just come together as a team, accomplish something, get your mind off of all of this. Covid has, well craziness, so let me just put it that way, the worry that it entails and then accomplish something, right? Accomplish
John Long (00:18:33):
Something. And that’s what it was for us. It was another thing to, like you said, get our mind off of everything else that was kind of going on, get us focused on something else for a little bit just to forget about everything.
Tom Dorsey (00:18:47):
And Uwe, a lot of times in AutoVitals we always talk about quick wins and it’s really, it’s how if you were imagining you’re teaching your child how to play baseball, you’re not going to start training them to hit the home run. You want ’em to make contact with the ball, you want ’em to have that first victory Uwe. If you could talk to us a little bit about how you parallel those quick wins, not only internally, but then also how can folks that are looking to set goals for next year, how should they be thinking about quick warrant wins in terms of goal setting,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:19:30):
First of all, I think we have to think about that hindsight 2020 has now a new meaning
Tom Dorsey (00:19:40):
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:19:43):
Because looking back at 2020 is now in a completely different context in my opinion, although a lot, I mean people who are driven and a curious just added another challenge to their list. There was not a lot of new things in terms of, oh, I never faced this before. It was just the dimension was much bigger. But one thing was really to me, amazing to see, and John just made that point just in the other direction, that more and more shops have started thinking about process. And so in John’s case, it was too many texts, so to speak, to put in one location, remember the episode with Levi Arnold who all of a sudden had to run his shop with two people and he was one of them and still make things work and it wouldn’t have worked without process. So to your question, oh, there’s another thing I noticed.
We have found more and more shops who due to the drop in car count, had now more time per vehicle and realized, dang, a comprehensive inspection is going to get my AO up. That was an epiphany. And so there’s one thing to say that constantly and everybody’s nodding and there’s the other thing to experience that and say, it pays off to do a comprehensive inspection, now I have the time to do it. So if you are in those situations and see the positive and then develop the positive to a habit, I think that’s just awesome. But you just need to be open and back to the quick wins, the moment you realize it, turn it into a habit and encourage people every day. We all know how hard that is to change a habit, whether that’s weight loss or increasing, it’s just hard to do. How
Tom Dorsey (00:22:08):
Do you know when that habit is developed? In other words, how do we track our performance and our progress towards that goal?
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:22:21):
I mean we have for the quick wins developed the way that focus in the, if you’re really at the beginning, pick a few can jobs you know are not doing very well at, whether it’s cabin air filters or alignments or whatever, set a baseline and just watch them even on a daily basis, maybe better on a weekly basis to get the ups and down, kind of average it out. That would be the first thing. And talk to your people in your shop meetings about, Hey, our goal, we on average sell, I don’t know, you tell me eight cabin air filter is normally a week, but we have a car count of 60. So something, there’s a huge potential. And then go to that level of detail and then watch how it increases and have people have the epiphany, wow, that works. And it’s not with so much effort because we always get this pushback, oh, I have to put more work in and I don’t have time anyway. But then when you realize it’s just a small incremental step and it pays off already in the same week, that encourages everybody to keep going.
Tom Dorsey (00:23:42):
Yeah, it is so critical to have that memory developed because, and it is just like in soldiers, right? Once the density of battle comes upon you, you have to just instinctively react and that’s how you’re able to carry through. And it’s no different in any service business really because you have slow times and busy times during the busy times. If you have the habits built, then you make much less mistakes and that’s critical to the success of your business. Adam, if you could talk to us a little bit about, because as we were talking, I think really it was a great accomplishment in your shop to just stay flat for 2020, but now you’re going to set some goals for 2021 and specifically I want folks to take away today. How do you pivot? How do you do the analysis? How do you know you’re on the right track? And then what’s kind of the hard choices or decisions that you need to make to rethink your milestones or rethink even your goal, lowering your goal or hopefully increasing it, raising the bar.
Adam Bendzick (00:24:45):
Exactly. So I’m a big spreadsheet guy, which I’ve shared plenty of times on other shows before. And I have a spreadsheet where it’s like at our peak potential with the staff that we have, what can we target for sales and hours build and so on and so forth. Then I have a minimum type goal where it’s based off of what do we do the prior year? If we did a prior year, we should be able to do it this year. And then I have a break even goal that’s like literally if we hit covid or this and that, what is the bare minimum that we need to do in terms of not losing money? Once you have that stuff established, then I start looking at, alright, what’s going to bring us from X amount of sales to a 10 or 20% increase? And kind of piggybacking off of what Uve had said is just trying new things.
So when we first ever got AutoVitals close to seven years ago now, one of the first things we did was we took a picture of the brake fluid moisture tester and lo and behold, we’re selling brake fluids flushes at a 50 to 60% rate just from that one picture. Now this past year, one of our techs, and we don’t do it through the shop as a whole, but we’re going to is removing cabinet air filters. We sell, it was something like 500 cabin air filters this past year and whatever you want to charge for time, 0.2, 0.3, 0.4, whatever hours, take that times your labor rate. I mean that’s a 50 or $60,000 sale increase pending car count just off of one little thing like a cabin air filter and we have a tool to take a picture of it. And then it is probably the most disgusting thing that we could probably show our customers that they should do that most shops don’t do and it’s such a great thing to just increase just a little sale. They’re a huge profit margin item, a very low expense. Anybody can do it from your shop. You don’t need an atec to be able to do it. So just little things like that that I try to focus on. Take our average build out hours per ticket from 2.1 hours to 2.2 or 2.3. It’s like these little incremental things when you expand it over the entire year, that makes such a huge difference. So just trying stuff kind of swing for the fences and hopefully you hit those singles and doubles and everything like that in between.
Tom Dorsey (00:27:06):
Well, I mean that’s a brilliant point because you really break it down to the individual sale, what’s working and what’s not and where are the big holes and then you just fill some holes. And so that should be your first, really first exercise before you go setting your goals is to look and see a true and honest assessment of what you’re really doing because then you’ll see where the opportunity lies and a report to help you do that. That analysis is the technician effectiveness report, it’s the pencil whipping report we like to refer to it as why? Well, because then you can break it down to an individual and what they’re recommending based off of their inspection efforts. And as long as your service advisors are picking up and you you’re pushing that 99 to a hundred percent of tech recommendations over to the customer, well then you at least know you’re educating that motorist for that need.
Easy to go in and do the audit on the inspection results to take a look at the pictures because what Adam said, the most disgusting thing you can show somebody and their children are breathing the air that it’s passing through there. So there’s that whole incentive built in is that cabin air filter. And if you’re not even selling ’em or you got guys that recommend them a third of the amount of somebody else, you can really target that for that quick win right there and then start to incorporate that into what your projections of your sales are going to be. And that really set an honest assessment and bar for yourself. John, if you could talk to us a little bit about how that works in your shop. Is your process similar to Adam’s? Do you have the spreadsheet and breaking it down to the individual product sale or are you looking at more broad goal setting?
John Long (00:29:02):
I’m a big numbers guy just like Adam. I look at it kind of in more in the broad sense of terms, but I actually do look at individual expenses. One thing Adam touched on is kind knowing your daily bottom line number. What are your expenses per day that you minimum have to do? That’s key for us. And knowing that, and then you also got to look at your expenses. If the times get real tough, what can I cut? What’s cuttable? What do I have to have to keep operating our business? What can we cut? And at times this year, there are a couple of things that we did have to cut right now I’m going through that as well again and I’m cutting a couple other little minor things out because there’s a saying, sales is always the big equalizer, sales fixes a lot of problems, but if your sales do dip and right now ours are dipping a little bit, you do have to make some tough choices sometimes and cut a few little things here, here and there. Are they big items? No they’re not. But little things that’ll add up, but you have to know your numbers and you have to know what your bottom line is.
Tom Dorsey (00:30:10):
Yeah, definitely. And if you could, so to Adam’s point, he’s talking about just trying stuff out and a lot of times there’s low risk in that there’s not a lot of risk in pulling out a cabin air filter, but sometimes especially back in March, we probably had to take some bigger risks. How do you do that assessment, the risk versus reward when you’re looking at, hey, my plan isn’t going a hundred percent to where I thought my expectation and now I got to have to make those hard choices. How much do you look at taking on more risk to achieve that goal?
John Long (00:30:50):
That definitely does factor in it. Risk is a huge thing. The biggest thing for me is I always talk to my team, get them involved, see how much they’re willing to risk as well. It’s a team effort. It’s not just myself, it’s not just my two partners, mark and David. It’s kind of everybody gets involved because if we’re going to either go down swinging as a team or we’re going to succeed as a team, it is all of us together. It’s just not one person. So you have to just bring it to them and say, Hey, I’m thinking about doing this. This is kind of what it’s going to cost. This is the risk I think that are involved. What do you guys think? No, that might be too risky and this is why. And so forth. And okay, well let’s not do that. Let’s move on. Let’s try this or what do you got? So it’s get your team involved to get everybody involved. Like I said, you’re going to go down as a team or you’re going to succeed as a team
Tom Dorsey (00:31:41):
And it becomes less risky really when everybody’s on board, right? Correct.
John Long (00:31:46):
That’s exactly it. Getting everybody on board, like you said, could be less risky on board and everybody’s willing to try it.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:31:54):
I have a question, John, often leading by example is the key to pull the team, right?
John Long (00:32:01):
Tom Dorsey (00:32:02):
He was
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:32:03):
In the you guys, do you have examples where you were on the edge and leaving your comfort zone to pull the team
John Long (00:32:14):
Doing this? This is out of my comfort zone doing something public. Even going to the digital shop conference earlier this year and speaking, that’s really out of my comfort zone. And I think you remember that as well. You twisted my arm and I don’t know how many times to get me to, and that’s out of my comfort zone, but that’s leading by example, guys, you have to step outside of your comfort zone to do things. I
Tom Dorsey (00:32:37):
Sit there and do it with no pants on much out of it. Exactly right. And now you’re running around on video in a bear suit. I mean, look at what happened. I
Adam Bendzick (00:32:45):
Mean it’s just crazy. That’s the ultimate success story.
John Long (00:32:51):
Well, like I said, I did have a stunt double for one scene and I was a diva during shooting.
Tom Dorsey (00:33:02):
That’s fantastic. But that’s the whole it in a nutshell is push yourself to see what you can achieve and then just don’t sit back on your laurels and look at your ribbons. You set the next big hairy goal and you go after it and you’re constantly putting yourself outside of that comfort zone within reason because we don’t want any nude tightrope walking that’s a little too far outside of the comfort zone. But if you can stay right in there and then that, I think Uwe really shows because I mean look at the young man that was singing in the video. I mean, that’s not what most people expect to be doing when they show up for their tech job in the morning.
John Long (00:33:49):
Yeah, I mean even in that video, there’s a couple times where we asked for some people to be outside their comfort zone. Edgar’s a great guy there. At the very end of the video, he bites into that piece of fish and he didn’t know that coming into that day that he was going to do that. That was something we were like, we sprung on him and he fought it for a couple hours and finally the end he goes, okay, we’re doing this in one take, one take only and that’s it. I’m going to bite into this. And that was the end of it. And then same thing with my stunt double, he didn’t know he was going to have to dress up in a bear suit and ride a motorcycle through the shop that morning. That was outside of his comfort zone. And it’s just because like said, leading by example, doing stuff outside my comfort zone forced, I wouldn’t say forces, but it helps prepare others to do that as well.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:34:39):
And if I may add, I mean just judging from your success at the digital shop conference, I mean presentation was always full and people got a lot out of it. And so I assume simply speaking from my experience, because you couldn’t get me in front of five people a few years ago, very similar, but once you get this experience and having really positive feedback, you want to do more, right? Because Yeah,
John Long (00:35:15):
No, I definitely agree. I was all up for doing the conference again this year. Adam and I were supposed to do a joint presentation this year. I was bringing him in on it and that’s actually, this video was originally going to be for the conference. I was going to display it at the conference again, but unfortunately we’re not going to have that opportunity. But there’s always next time and next year and I’m open to doing more public speaking now after I’ve got that one thing out of the way. But it still is outside of my comfort zone, there’s no doubt about it.
Tom Dorsey (00:35:50):
That’s fantastic. And again, that’s what leaders do, right? Leaders lead by example. Leaders, when you’re a leader, there is no uncomfortable, I guess you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable at all times because you bear the weight even bearing the weight of their suit.
Adam Bendzick (00:36:11):
Yeah, there’s a lot of self-reflection that you do within owning a business and trying to create an atmosphere where you have that team building and a good leader and everything. I mean, I was just looking over just about a year and a half or so ago, it’s this insights discovery program. One of my friends was involved with a business that does this type of stuff. So he kind of helped me do my assessment and everything and it kind of opened up my eyes to okay, what makes me tick a bit. And then now my perception of how everybody else ticks is just a lot more engaged. And I have a note right by this that says allow myself to be vulnerable. And that’s just allow people to share their feelings and share my feelings and be open. And the culture that’s within our shop starts with me unfortunately.
I mean unfortunately or unfortunately. And if you have a bad attitude and you’re going into it and you’re not looking at this as being a good leader and you’re not delegating responsibility properly, then your shop suffers. But the more you are open to these things, then you are a shop like John who has people literally like, no, how can I help on a Saturday? I don’t care if I get paid. I don’t want to get paid because I know that costs the company more. I just want to be there because this is going to support all of us in the long run. And everybody has this future perspective of not only, okay, John, you own a shop with Mark and everything like that, but everybody else is like, I kind of own this place too because this is my paycheck and this is going to develop where my future leads and where the rest of my career goes.
Tom Dorsey (00:37:52):
Yeah, no, that’s such a great point is that you want everybody pulling the rope in the same direction because if not, then you’re in trouble. So Johnny, what would you say 2020 in retrospect, what was your biggest victory in 2020? Getting that shop open?
John Long (00:38:10):
Yeah, that’s got to be it. This shop has been a long time coming. It’s probably been the second location has been almost three years in the making. So it’s been a lot of struggle with this shop with the city, TxDOT and just everything else. It was a huge, huge struggle. So finally getting it open on August 30th was just a massive accomplishment for us.
Tom Dorsey (00:38:34):
And then you get Covid, man. I mean you just had to have been like, oh my gosh, what are we going to do? And that’s that time where you do the self-reflection, right? Adam is just all of a sudden there’s nobody around. I can’t really hand the baton to anybody else. I got to figure it out. And that’s a scary, those are the days that you stay up at night. Right. How about you Adam? What would you say your biggest victory of 2020 was?
Adam Bendzick (00:39:02):
Biggest victory has nothing to do with numbers or anything like that. It’s honestly just keeping the staff that we had going into it and not having to make changes or losing the person to a competitor or whatever it might be. That’s absolutely my biggest victory. Helping them in different ways, getting through it. When we did Covid or when Covid hit, we had to do a couple of furloughs and everything probably everybody else did. And then in that time, one of our guys, our general service tech, he used to farm and he knows a lot of farmers and everything and he had a friend that owns a pig farm and they had some issues with how am I going to sell all this meat? I got to take ’em to the butcher and all those things because they just couldn’t do anything with it and we, not to say stepped up or whatever, but I wanted to do something for our team and then also helped as farmers. So we just bought, I think it was three or four pigs and distributed that throughout our team and it’s like, I don’t know how long you’re going to be on furlough, I can’t forecast that, but I’m going to try to do these extra little things, get you some ham and get you some bacon and
Tom Dorsey (00:40:10):
There’s a full
Adam Bendzick (00:40:10):
Freezer, these different things to just help you through that timeframe. And it made me feel good because you’re helping. But nonetheless, I think they appreciated it too. So there’s a certain level of buy-in to there’s, we’re not just some big corporation that doesn’t care. We really do care about them individually and the biggest takeaway is just to be able to retain everybody was huge for us.
Tom Dorsey (00:40:36):
And I think in your answers, it is really telling because team becomes the first and primary objective and if you start out there folks, then the rest falls into place and you give respect to get respect and as your team sees that you walk the walk, then I mean that’s how you get those guys charging the machine guns because they’re on that team. They’re not going to let you down. They’re going to go above and beyond and outside of their own personal comfort zones to really stand out and to accomplish and help you to accomplish Uwe. What would you say your biggest accomplishment, your biggest success of 2020 was?
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:41:22):
Yeah, I was thinking about that. I think the biggest positive momentum is really as you know, I didn’t have enough projects, so I bought a foreclosure property and just with the help with your help with Christo’s help and turning that step by step into something beautiful and how just people want to help out and enjoy that process, I think was really and still is a very enjoyable
Tom Dorsey (00:42:09):
Well, and here’s a couple of observations I’ll make is a, you now own a pickup truck, which that’s true. Every day you become more and more American buddy, I got to tell you, so you got rid of that German battery powered thing and now you have a four wheel drive pickup truck, so that is a huge accomplishment. Couldn’t
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:42:31):
Do it without, it
Tom Dorsey (00:42:33):
Couldn’t, right, exactly. But seriously, I think the biggest thing that I as an observer is you are meeting just about everybody within what 10 mile radius of you. And I don’t think that you were, when I first met you and when we were bootstrapping AutoVitals, I don’t know if you met the next door neighbor and now I just see that you, you’re like a social butterfly now, buddy.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:43:08):
Oh yeah, it’s true. There’s a lot of change going on as usual, and I enjoy the ride and Covid has not stopped any of it. I mean, not that it is easier, but it’s not big enough to really stop the drive. Yeah.
Tom Dorsey (00:43:33):
Well that’s awesome. So now second question. Flipping the coin, what would you say John was your biggest failure, if we can call it that or miss
John Long (00:43:46):
Not hitting our overall target numbers for this year At our original location, I wanted to do what we did last year, which was just shy of 2.7 and we’re going to miss that. And then I wanted to do about 600 K here at our second location. We’re going to miss that by a little bit. But overall, it’s still, I consider it a successful year. We grew, I grew our team. Our team is a much better place than what they were at the beginning of the year and we still did a lot of training. So I mean even our miss I think is still a win when I look at it that way.
Tom Dorsey (00:44:25):
Yeah, it could have been a lot worse. And there’s a lot of people that shuttered the door and just never reopened them. Correct. A lot of them out there and so yeah, it could have been a whole lot worse. How about you Adam? What do you think was your biggest miss or regret,
Adam Bendzick (00:44:42):
This kind of individual thing? Not necessarily the shop. I’m really proud of what we did as a team and how we got through everything that way. But individually, it’s kind of settled a goal to make the shop function completely independently of me every single day where I love filling in and I love being part of the team, but if somebody’s day off or somebody’s sick or anything like that, I don’t want to necessarily have to fill in for somebody else’s role to keep the shop flowing like it should. So that’s more of a family goal, I guess you could say. Just not having to stay till 7, 7 30 at night to finish up paperwork after hours because I was involved in handling something with the customer. I love all those things and helping with customers and helping the team. And that’s why I can’t just say like, no, but there’s got to be a certain level of separation to say, alright, my goal for 2021 is to really focus on if we close at five 30, I want to be out at five 30 or quarter to six or something like that, just as much as I want the rest of the team members.
So I kind of made a list of goals for 2021 and that’s one of my highest things that I want to do.
Tom Dorsey (00:45:56):
That’s fantastic. Yeah, you stole the thunder from the follow-up question, but the thing is is that there are thousands of people out there and everybody listening in this show that are going to be saying, how did you do that? Because I think that is a common goal across not just automotive repair shop business owners, but any business owner service type business owner that when you’re a one man operation, yeah, you got your team behind you, but I mean you’re your accountant, you’re your marketing guy, you’re the maintenance and repair guy, you got to end up doing so much stuff and sure you find yourself locking the door up 11 o’clock at night a lot of times and that becomes, unfortunately, it spirals a lot of times that becomes the normal, right, I’m getting out at nine o’clock, 10 o’clock at night, and you go years doing that and you start to get burned out and you start to lose the luster and then what happens is you start to miss the opportunities because you’re just not focused and you’re just burnt out on kind of everything. If you could just kind of touch a little bit on how you’re going to approach that goal, how are you going to get it done?
Adam Bendzick (00:47:04):
Yeah, I mean we can definitely talk about it, but I think I could probably show you just as easily if we can do that.
Tom Dorsey (00:47:12):
How to share your screen. Oh, Adam loves his pictures.
Adam Bendzick (00:47:19):
So are we seeing my screen here at all? Yes. Okay, so personal slash business goals for 2021 Adam’s top five list, counting down number five is I’m going to swing for the fences instead of bunt. Don’t fear of striking out a little guy hitting a home run here. There’s all those quick wins and everything like that that we talk about, but it’s the okay, do you say I want to make a five or 10% increase in my sales revenue or do you want to shoot for 20? Knowing completely that it’s not going to happen because it’s just too much of a goal, but swing for the fence is just get halfway there, something like that. So I’m going to keep on focusing on that. Number four is I’m going to compliment my staff more. This goes back to just general team building and everything. I think I have a good relationship with our staff, but sometimes I get so focused on what I’m doing with numbers and spreadsheets and everything like that that there can be 2, 3, 4 days go by and we had a great week and I don’t say anything about it. I know that everybody knows that I appreciate what they’re doing, but it’s just being more vocal about saying it. So this is actually a two part slide and I said, great job, John. Thanks Adam. Part two is then the takeaway from John is not only is Adam really smart and good looking, he’s also telling me how good of a job I’m doing.
John Long (00:48:51):
That first part may be borderline true
Adam Bendzick (00:48:58):
To each their own
Agree to disagree. Number three is pride stopping me from achieving my goals and self-reflection. It’s just basically a proud lion picture and not really engaging the entire team and doing the right things based off of what the team feels. I think I’m probably more look into the future and push the envelope a little bit more than maybe a tech in the back might do or a service advisor or whatever it might be. But they have really great input and not having it be like it’s got to be my way or anything. I’ve really tried to open up over the past several years to engage with everybody and not be so proud. Number two is I want to give more crap with requests and bug fixes.
And then last but not least is leave work on time. Delegate better, adjust my own expectations of myself knowing that I’ve just got to stop at five or five 30 and whatever I accomplish for the day is what I accomplish for the day and leave work at work and spend the time at home. I think in doing that, I need to be a head coach without also being an offensive coordinator, a quarterback, linebacker and all those other things. It’s just like, no, my position is to coach the team. Their responsibilities are X, Y, and Z. If we don’t have enough people to accomplish all those other tasks that I delegate is we would have to add somebody or maybe a couple people, but nonetheless is like, why am I in business to work 12, 13 hour days or am I in business to maybe develop a retirement or something of a legacy to leave behind for my kids and everything like that, but not in the process, lose perspective of how much they mean to me when they’re three, four years old and growing. So that’s my top five lists. I almost made Uwe’s number one, but just it couldn’t from the family aspect.
Tom Dorsey (00:51:16):
So just a little quick feedback from the audience. You’ve got, I think a vote there that you should be, you’re in the wrong business. You should be framing those pictures and selling them artists because the graphic work was incredible.
Adam Bendzick (00:51:33):
Those are all hand drawn at 11 o’clock this morning.
Tom Dorsey (00:51:38):
You’ve got great Adam words to live by. So I think he got a lot of support from the artistic side, but then I think a really good impact from the words have meaning side of it as well, and that really is. But folks, honestly, and all jokes aside, you don’t have to go through a lot of big production to set strong goals and to give yourself that direction, sketch it on the back of a paper towel like Adam did and work on it from there. And that’s really what I wanted when I was kind of bringing in John’s video to, because that process of where you say, well, what are we trying to accomplish? Well, what do we have to work with? Well, how are we going to use this stuff that we have to work with? Who’s the best person to push the lawnmower and who’s the best person to and go through all of that kind of thought and analysis.
And then you really get a pretty clear direction. And then you just have to be honest, analyze those numbers, use the reports that AutoVitals provides through the business control panel, the technician effectiveness reports, those types of things to really look and see because it was a great, I thought analogy too is to say you can’t be the offensive coordinator or the quarterback and be the head coach looking at the field to see the opportunity. Where are the holes developing each play? Where’s the weak side of your opponent or your competition? You don’t see it when you’re down on the line trying to make the blocks. And so you need to be able to step back and take that big picture and then analyze that and then it becomes pretty simple. Well, how do we take the opportunity here? Well, we can run the ball off of the tight end, that’s where the open hole is and let’s score some yards and what’s going to happen?
Well, they’re going to close it down eventually, but then you pivot because then it opens up another opportunity somewhere else and you can see those things when you’re taking that snapshot and it doesn’t take a long time. You pull a couple of reports, I imagine, John, you have some go-to reports that you like to use. And it’s probably over time has become a pretty quick process almost where you can glance at it and go, Hey, let’s do more of this. Or oops, let’s pump the brakes here and see what’s going on and maybe reconsider our process, our investment, whatever it might be. Once you notice those red flags, if you could talk to us a little bit and give folks some ideas and tips on what they should be looking at when they’re doing that type of analysis in their goal setting.
John Long (00:54:21):
Well, as far as reports and goal setting goes, I hate to use this term, but it just kind of depends on what you’re looking for and how your shop is set up. I don’t think there’s any one standard thing that says, Hey, you have to look at this daily. I just think you have to look at all your KPIs or what’s important to you because what’s important to me may not be what’s important to you and what may not be what’s important to Adam on it. So you have to figure out, okay, what’s important? Number one, what should I be looking at because it’s important to me? And then figure out, okay, how do I look at this? Where do I need to go to find it? And then that becomes this second nature once you figure out what’s important to you and your shop.
Tom Dorsey (00:55:08):
And so how did you prepare then? What is your goal for 2021? Is it to kind of tread water? Are you going to be really aggressive? Do you have kind of a three-part goal like Adam has of big hairy goal and then kind of the midterm goal or the medium goal? Yeah,
John Long (00:55:29):
I do have some goals for next year. I don’t have ’em all written out and laid out just quite as nicely as Adam does.
Why not? But there are some things. First, I think for the first quarter, part of the quarter I just kind of want to tread water here a little bit and see how everything’s going to shape up on it. But for later on we are looking at another acquisition, so there could be a third store in the mix for next year. So we’re looking at that and I have a pretty good idea that it’s going to come through on it and then it goes, going back to what Adam says, he wants to spend more time with his family. I definitely, I know I need to spend more time with mine and do that than I’ve told my staff that I’m nobody’s replacement. You have somebody call in sick. My store director’s got to figure it out because I’m not going to be the replacement next year.
And that way I can also look at things from the 30,000 foot view. And I think that probably is what kind of hurt us a little bit this past four months is because I have been a replacement for people this past four months at our new location. So I haven’t had the time to look at the 30,000 foot view. And that could have contributed to us missing some of our goals. And I suspect it probably is part of that because I haven’t had that time. And that’s one thing I’ve told ’em. I said, look, next year I’m not a replacement for anybody. I’ve got to look at the bigger picture of things.
Tom Dorsey (00:56:59):
One thing that’s very similar and should probably be on everybody’s, at least in everybody’s thoughts as they’re setting their goals, is that both of you are willing and planning to spend and invest your way forward. It’s not circle the wagons and where can I cut and how am I going to survive? How am I going to try to just get by through here? Adam is saying, Hey, if I have to, I’m going to hire a new staff to be able to get out of there at five 30. John did, right? I mean new location, all of the hiring that had to happen there. And as you kind of reevaluated roles over the year and created new roles, I mean all of that costs money. And really it boils down to Adam, how do you do that analysis to say, here’s the expectation of the gain. So here’s how much I can invest
Adam Bendzick (00:58:07):
Monitoring pace. And I mean that in a way of not forecasting for an entire 2021, Hey, I want to do 10% more and be at $2.2 million or $600,000 or whatever your shop goal is. That’s all going to be different. But what did you do last January? Was it $35,000? Okay, what’s 10% above that 38,500 quick math in my head kind of thing. All those things is not something that you can quantify as a big picture item. You got to shrink it down and to say, are we on pace for exceeding our goal? So I had created just a little quick spreadsheet of course, of literally every single two pay periods of where I think we can be at for our total sales revenue. And then we actually, in doing so, we’re creating a team structure. I’ve finally got a great team that is a hundred percent behind each other the entire way, and we’re going to go with the team structure as opposed to flat rate pay and give it an entire year’s legit shot at it.
And I think that’s a thing that is great for me that I feel successful with is that we’ve finally got a team that’s totally willing to do that. John has that too, but you’ll know you have the right people when you can do things where they’re not thinking about, gosh, is this going to be something where now my paycheck could have been higher this week because of if I could have done it myself or now it’s going to be lower, it’s a team thing. No, they’re really looking at it as like a entire shop wide thing. The betterment of the team is where they’re at. So I guess the way that we’re going to gauge that is literally every single two pay periods looking at how is our revenue this two weeks versus historically last year. And we’re going to monitor that as we go throughout the entire year.
Tom Dorsey (00:59:55):
Yeah, that’s brilliant. And for folks that want to get help with that, you can reach out to Adam directly, hit ’em up on the Facebook forum because I think once you have that plan, you have your projection in place, you want to run a SWOT analysis against it, you want to look at, and it’s the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for each of those. And you can break it down into a pay period if a happens during this pay period. Well, we do B to overcome that and to be prepared for that. If this opportunity prevents itself, here’s the plan for that. And so we can actually grow beyond what our expected performance would be and beat that goal, right? And you really start to be on the lookout for those things, taking advantage and leveraging your strengths, avoiding and mitigating your weaknesses, being ready to identify the opportunities, and then how do we handle and overcome the threats?
And if you have that in your weekly or biweekly process and analysis, you really start to react very quickly. And a lot of times you avoid the threats or the weaknesses altogether. And it is a great thing to actually start to instill into your crew as well and have them start thinking critically about those things even in their own job performance. And it might be to, you might think, gosh, it’s just kind of the mundane steps. We do it all day every day. But if they can start to look at where those strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats lie in their process, you get a lot of good insight that helps you to tighten it up at the top level.
John Long (01:01:45):
Go ahead, jump in there and take that a little bit further, Tom, on something that I’ve done over the past two days with my team at each locations is we had a morning meeting the past two days, and I’ve kind of opened up the books to them and I said, okay, guys, this is what we’re spending each day on these things. On our rent is this much. We are spending, teammate relations is this much. Our shop supplies are this month. Our janitorial supplies are this much every day. This is what we’re spending. Just to open that up and get them to think about the whole bigger picture. Because a lot of times they haven’t been exposed to that, especially a lot of our technicians haven’t ever been exposed to that. They just think, oh, these owners are making money hand over fist and this and that. But you open up your books and say, okay, this is what we’re spending in these areas on a daily basis to open up our door every day. This is kind of our bottom line on it. And that just kind of gives ’em a different perspective. And I had a bunch of questions from a lot of different people that over the past two days, and it really opened some of their eyes up.
Adam Bendzick (01:02:53):
So that’s interesting that John brought that up because we didn’t coordinate any talking about this. We didn’t before Facebook messenger or anything like that, but I literally just met with my two top technicians at the back as we’re developing this team pay structure and said, here’s everything, full transparency, here’s what we make or the shop can take home. If we do this volume of sales, here’s what we hear and here and here. And they could see literally you can make a hundred thousand, 200,000, $300 for an owner afterwards, or you can make $10,000 or you could lose money. Having that full transparency, I think not necessarily open their eyes but made them understand that, okay, if I’m making whatever, it’s not correct, but say it’s $50,000 and the shop’s doing $500,000, it’s like, where’s that other $450,000 going to? Why can’t I get 75? And it’s like, well no, this is why. However, if we make 500,000, 600,000, you’re accounting for 10% or 12% of our entire sales revenue, now you can get an extra $5,000 a year if we do this number. So that full transparency is so important. Just to throw it out there, it ties back to digital vehicle inspections. Why are they successful? Because we’re transparent with the customer. Are we just going to be transparent with the customer or are we going to be transparent with our entire staff? Brilliant, brilliant. Just be open.
Tom Dorsey (01:04:23):
Yeah, because one of the most important things I think that you can know is where’s my break even? We have to do five cars to just break even today and then all of a sudden, man, I’m going to come to work on time. I’m going to hustle swapping those cars out in the bay so I can get on it because, and now I can really say, oh, we’re breaking even by noon. Let’s break even by 11. Let’s start to, because what does that translate into? That translate into my personal opportunity. If I want a raise, I can’t be coming up and saying, Hey, gosh, we broke even at three and I want to go home early, but can I get a raise? You’re just not seeing the big picture.
John Long (01:05:03):
Yeah, exactly. And that was part of my presentation. I mean the title was, where does the money go? Where does it go? Just to open it up and like Adam said, be transparent with them.
Tom Dorsey (01:05:15):
That’s great, great takeaway. And so hopefully we’re actually at the top of the hour. We could have went all the way into 2021 I think with these two and this topic. And I feel like there’s a follow-up episode somewhere in the future kind of around some of these to do a little bit deeper dive because I think this is a very helpful topic to a lot of people a lot of times, you know, got to have some goals and you know, got to increase revenue, but where do I start and how do I know that I’m not going to put in this effort or effort and investment and then have it all blow up in your face is you really want to emulate the success of your peers and what a great place to start. And it starts, I think, again at building that foundation, building that culture and building those habits in your team and then add in that transparency.
And you have a whole bunch of very involved kind of co-owners of your business. They’re just not listed at the Secretary of State, but they’re out there and they’re taking ownership and that’s really the most critical success factor I think to being successful and to meeting your goals for 2021 is get your crew involved and them have them feel that ownership and it starts that respect and culture, man. Awesome, awesome talk guys. Like I said, I think it really is going to help a lot of folks out looking forward to your feedback. And if you didn’t get your question in, go ahead and ask that on the Facebook forum. You can reach out to these gentlemen on the Facebook forum if you have something you want to talk to ’em on the site about. Don’t be shy, right? The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
Adam Bendzick (01:07:01):
If anybody needs a copy of the slides presented in today’s program, just let us know
John Long (01:07:07):
Especially, or if you want to go view the video again, you can just go to YouTube and go to our YouTube channel, church Auto service and then you can view it yourself at your
Tom Dorsey (01:07:17):
Own. Yeah, make sure you get out there and that video. Subscribe to John’s channel. Share that video. Let’s get that thing viral, right? I mean, because it’s a great marketing tool for everybody getting people having fun around automotive repair and if they happen to live next to you, then they’re going to think of you and come down and see you. We’ve got a lot of requests for the slides. Lauren needs those and then you’ve got other people in there, they want your drawing. So I think that was another success to add to the 2020 tour book there buddy.
Adam Bendzick (01:07:54):
There might be a different profession. I’m just going down. Yeah, man.
Tom Dorsey (01:07:58):
Got a side hustle
Adam Bendzick (01:07:59):
Now. Crazy what a guy can do with a black Sharpie and some pieces of white paper
John Long (01:08:04):
In 15 minutes, no less.
Adam Bendzick (01:08:05):
Imagine if I threw into it and all that stuff.
Tom Dorsey (01:08:10):
We’d be blown away.
Adam Bendzick (01:08:11):
Tom Dorsey (01:08:12):
Alright folks, I appreciate you guys coming on, really. Thank you very much, Uwe. Thank you very much. Folks in the audience. Thank you. Tune in next Wednesday. We’re going to do it all over again. It’ll just be a new year and we’re going to have some great guests on for you and we’re retooling the Jeopardy edition, so look for that coming up. I’ll probably be reaching out to some folks here and inviting you on to come on and play some jeopardy with us. We’re working on getting the questions a little bit easier and kind of reformatting it so that it’s closer to some of the top questions. We’re harder than the bottom questions, so we want to work that out so that people aren’t afraid to come on and play with us. Until then, get out there and make some more money and get prepared for 2021. Thank you everybody. We’ll see you next Wednesday, 10:00 AM Pacific, 1:00 PM Eastern. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you, Tom. Thank you guys. Thanks guys. Thanks guys.

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