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Join Frank Scandura, Jon Belmonte, Bill, and Uwe in discussing what changes your customer interaction went through over the years and the changes that are expected in the future.

Episode Transcript

*This transcript was generated with Artificial Intelligence. Errors may occur. If you identify an error please contact us at [email protected]

Bill Connor (00:06):
Good morning, good afternoon. I’m Bill Connor and you’ve reached the Digital Shop Talk Radio where our panelists share all things about the digital shop and other things going on in the industry. Today I’m here with Frank Scandura, owner of Frank’s European Service, Frank Spin with us many times, got lots of information to share. And then we’ve got a special guest today, Jon Belmonte, CEO of AutoVitals Alias devoss as we’ve previously discussed and AutoVitals founder Uwe Kleinschmidt. Join us today for a discussion about what changes to customer interaction have been going on over the years and maybe what’s expected changes in the future. What are some examples about some of the advantages, pitfalls you might run into as you go along the way? As always, teamwork is required in the shop to provide great results, and you can take away some tips today about changes in customer interaction. What you learn today, you’re going to use to go ahead and find your strategy. As always, you’ll learn from our guest panelists who operate shop just like yours or are tied in to the industry. So Uwe, if you wouldn’t mind getting us started on this path, we’ll see what we can drag out of them.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (01:15):
Thank you. Thank you, Jon. Thanks Frank for joining us. Yeah, motorless interaction has been a interesting development in the last, let’s say digital inspection came out 2013, something like that. So let’s just round rounded up to 10 years. What we have been observing is that service advisors who use digital inspection as more than a tool and go really to the core of the relationship, which is, I’m going to steal a quote from Frank. We were not selling parts and services, we’re selling trust has really changed the world of interaction between the service advisor and their customers. So Frank, if you wouldn’t mind with the trust element in mind, can you remember how it was before digital and could you walk us through your steps, how you experienced it?
Frank Scandura (02:34):
I’ve been doing this a long time. So back in the day, we used to call Mr. Jones to come down to see how bad his car was. We would destroy his schedule, destroy his day, leave work, whatever he had to do. Keep in mind, I have his car, so he’s got to figure out how to get there. He comes, he looks up, he goes, oh, that looks bad. Okay, he better fix it. He has no clue what he’s looking at. And now we can fast forward a few years when the digital camera came out. That was pretty exciting. Now I could take pictures and actually email them to a customer, and of course we didn’t have company emails back then. We weren’t that sophisticated, so we’re using our personal email accounts or maybe we did have a company account if you’re top operator, but even I didn’t have ’em back then. It was always my Hotmail, personal Hotmail account. Now we can go even further cell phones with pictures. Cameras, what an exciting thing. Now I’m texting pictures to Mr. Jones off my personal cell phone number, which anybody who’s done that in a big town like Las Vegas knows that could be a problem because 24 hour town, I get phone calls at two o’clock in the morning. Oh, I was just going to leave a message to make an appointment. Alright, well I’m knocked out of bed now.
So to be able to have a platform where I could still communicate what I want the customer to see was an absolute game changer. And to be able to measure what I was doing made all the difference in the world. And I remember, I think I went to Santa Barbara and visited with you guys. This was before it was a customer bottle bottles, and you and I had a meeting after that and you showed me where I can track my labor inventory and I could measure how many pictures were taken. I could measure how many inspections were sent, and you went on and you told me, we do the website, we do this. I said, would you just sign me up for everything? And I remember your action. Really? You didn’t expect that, right? And I said, yeah, I saw the potential. And we had things going on in the beginning that there were some pain points, the learning curve, and I was going to Santa Barbara once a month to, I needed to learn, I need to learn.
We had somebody come out to do onsite training, and I remember sitting down in a conference room with her in my shop foreman, it was G Sharon, I hope she’s around. And I said, oh, I got to take a phone call. I’ll be right back. I go back in the conference room, I don’t know, it’s five hours later or whatever because you get distracted. I said, where’d you go? Paul goes, oh, we’re all done. Okay. So I had no clue. So it was a learning curve was well worth it. And just to be able to interact with our customers at that level and see, and especially now with the messages coming in and stuff, it’s just absolutely phenomenal.
Jon Belmonte (05:12):
I think you kind of alluded to this, but I’d love it if you could put a finer point on, I talked to folks today and maybe they don’t use a digital vehicle inspection solution. They just take some pictures and they text ’em out. So technically they’re doing a bit of digital inspections. What’s the difference between having a real piece of software that does it and just sending some text messages out, management sending texts with the pictures out?
Frank Scandura (05:40):
It’s even some of the shop programs out there today are on the digital bandwagon where you can take pictures within their software, but you can’t measure if the customer looked at it. You can’t mark up the picture to say, this little arrow pointing right here is exactly what I want you to focus on. I can’t put notes on a picture. And they say, oh yeah, you can. You just do it on your phone and then reload it up. Well, that’s kind of cumbersome. I like it where the technician, all he has to do is take the pictures, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. Now I could train my service advisor to make sure that they’re good, high quality, but you can’t measure what somebody is doing with their phone. So it’s measurement. You can’t manage what you can’t measure.
Jon Belmonte (06:24):
So what are the ways that you do measure? So what are the ways that you measure if folks are engaging or what the impact and the results are?
Frank Scandura (06:31):
One of my favorites is at a glance, and I’m looking at my TVP right now, and I could see who has looked at their inspection in for how long? So I got 220 seconds, 184 seconds. Here’s one 3,368 seconds. That guy’s engaged. He’s not only looking at that, he’s probably showing his friends. He’s probably getting other information. Right.
Jon Belmonte (06:54):
Well, and he probably knows a lot about what’s going on with the vehicle now because he’s been reading it that long.
Frank Scandura (06:58):
Yeah, yeah. 730. Think about
Bill Connor (07:00):
The quality of the inspection versus in the past when we were sending the pictures one at a time or putting ’em an email, they weren’t getting the whole story anyways because we would, I mean, could you imagine doing what we do today where shops are sending between 13 and 20 pictures sometimes part of the inspection. Could you imagine trying to get them out in text messages? So a lot of things have changed along the way and it gives it a more concise report of everything at once versus the customer getting a picture and then a few seconds later getting another one and so on. So that was a big change when we went from using the cell phone to send a picture to getting it all in one report.
Frank Scandura (07:38):
Well, let me jump in real quick. If I’m taking the time to text a customer picture, I’m showing them one or two pictures of something really bad. That’s not the entire vehicle health. And from even my mindset, I’ve been a big fan of doing inspections since I got started in this when I was a wee pup of 20 some years old because my boss made it clear, you have to look over the car and make sure it’s okay. And that was our inspection process, no formal training. This is in the early eighties, no formal training. You got to check everything on the car. So I just learned to check everything on the car. You check the brakes, you check the tires, you check the brake hoses, you check the cooling hoses, you check for leaks, you check for maintenance.
But when you’re just texting a couple of pictures, you’re just looking for the worst of the worst. That is not a full vehicle health analysis, for example. It’s mandatory. Every single car that comes in, we take a picture of the fan belt, every single car that comes in, we take a picture of all the tires. So we have some mandatory pictures on these normal wear items that we’re just kind of laying out the path for the customer. Here’s what you have coming up. Look at your tires. They were getting to be almost six years old. Let’s think about changing them soon. Or I could wait until they’re on the freeway and blow a tire and get mad at me.
Bill Connor (08:54):
So you’re it out where a customer knows right off the bat by what you’re sending them, should I continue to invest in this? Not just only see just the bad?
Frank Scandura (09:04):
Absolutely. Sure. And part of our mission statement is it’s our responsibility to explain to the customer what we’re doing on their car and why. So they can make an informed decision even if it means not doing any service work. So part of that process, and it’s part of our sales process, is how important is this car to you? What is your intention with this car? I hate this car. I just need it to last till the end of the year. I love this car. My grandmother gave it to me. I’m going to keep it forever. Those are two different spending habits. So we need to know those things and we need to establish those relationships and figure out,
Jon Belmonte (09:39):
I think relationships a really important word there in terms of is our relationship transactional? You bring in your vehicle, I tell you something’s wrong, I fix it, you give me money. Or is there actually an ongoing relationship? Do you trust me? Do you trust that I’m going to give you a full status of what’s going on with your vehicle? Right? Do you trust that I’m going to tell you, Hey, this is something we got to fix right now, but this is something that we can fix six months from now. How does a digital inspection support that kind of notion?
Frank Scandura (10:11):
It takes all of the blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, $900, blah, blah, blah out of the equation. And it gives the motorist information they can use to make an informed decision. There’s the educational video, there’s the educational text, there’s a markup on the pictures that everything they need. So my favorite thing is to say, I want to prevent my customer from getting lied to by mother Google. And I can only do that if I give them enough information, even if they have questions. Hopefully they’re asking us first, but if they do ask somebody else, they’re asking with all of the details. For example, it’s really easy to say, Hey, you need a timing belt’s 1500 bucks. You want me to do it? Oh my gosh, I wasn’t expecting that. They start calling around for timing belts and now they’re getting prices for $299. Well, because they never got the information where I’m not going to just do the timing belt. I’m going to do the bros. I’m going to do the tensioner, I’m going to do the cam seals, and this is why I’m going to do all this. And I want you to know this is kind of a complete repair, not just a timing belt for time and mileage. So you can’t do that texting pictures, and you can’t do that if you’re not prepared to educate the motorist.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (11:21):
But let me chime in here because this is really an interesting change in my opinion. Too many shop language, how do I say that? Interaction with the motorist are focused on parts. We replace a part. So it’s so easy to go to Google and look for the part because the focus of the conversation is not what we are recreating and in the car, what function which is not working today will be working afterwards. It’s all about the part. And so that invites people to go to Google and Google the part and look at the shop as just replacing a part. And so I think personally, without jumping ahead, that will change in the future more even than today where the education is focused on what’s the fix, meaning what is the result once the shop has done the work and not so much go into the detail, what parts are getting replaced and can I look it up? Do you see that happening?
Frank Scandura (12:42):
I do. Because people are searching differently, right?
And I think that has a lot to do with it. People are more informed. There’s a lot more information in there ever was before I put it in my book. When I tell a guy he needs something, he goes, I’ll do it next time. He has no clue what I’m talking about. When I tell a gal she needs something, she goes, wait a minute, what is it? What does it do? What happens if I don’t do it? How much is it going to cost? My kid’s going to get hurt? Am I going to die? And she wants all of this information, and the only reason why she wants it is so she can make an informed decision. And I think that’s becoming more commonplace now. I need more information so I can feel comfortable with my decision. I dunno about you guys, but I don’t buy some stuff off of Amazon and I don’t dare go near it without reading at least eight or 10 reviews. I want to know about this product.
Jon Belmonte (13:34):
Well, and I think there’s a nuance in what you’re saying also is not only in how many consumers or customers now want to be informed, it’s also the way they want to be informed. So the days of most of your customers wanting to come down to the shop and actually seeing what’s going on, or frankly even spending as much time being educated on the phone in Amazon. I mean, UBA has pointed this out hundreds of times over the last 10 years at least. Amazon’s a perfect example. I want to go on Amazon and I want to be able to do my own research and see pictures and listen to videos and see reviews and educate myself. But then I want to make a decision on my own If I’m searching and somebody from Amazon had called me before I got any of my work done and said, do you want to buy this? It ends up being a bit challenging, right? Again, as to quote Eva, it allows consumers to be buyers and educated as opposed to being sold to, which really in some ways kind of changes the nature of the service advisor’s role, don’t you think? Or maybe some of the specialties what the service advisor needs to be great at.
Frank Scandura (14:47):
I think there’s enough fear in making a wrong decision on your car that that is still, I think gathering that information, doing that research, finding the data, then they start the engagement with the shop because they’re still so afraid of doing something wrong. And it still surprises me how many people think I don’t have a good source for parts. So they’re going to get the parts and say, here, I helped you. Here’s my eggs. Can you fry ’em up for me?
Jon Belmonte (15:17):
Right? Yeah. So with digital inspections, what does the new service advisor, how’s that role evolving in a digital world
Frank Scandura (15:36):
Relationship? It’s got to be relationship. And here’s the story. And I ran into this guy, he worked for me for a while and he had to go back to Oregon. His mom was real sick. You want to go take care of? And he doesn’t even remember this happening. I just had lunch with him a couple of weeks ago. He’s sitting at his desk and the husband and wife are arguing about fixing the vehicle right in front of him. And he’s just real cold just sitting there. And then he turns to her and he goes, all you use that van for is bringing a dog to the park. Brian pipes up goes, I love dogs. What kind of dogs do you have? Perfect segue from the vehicle, from the repairs to the relationship. Then they start talking about dogs and the next thing you know, they’re authorizing everything on the vehicle. And that’s exactly the lesson I needed to really show me the importance of relating to your customers on their level.
Jon Belmonte (16:27):
So the fact that the digital inspection, it gets to take and get some of the technical education out of the way, it opens up more room and more opportunity for the personal relationship.
Frank Scandura (16:42):
Absolutely. Yeah. And I remember a couple outside the parking lot arguing, we don’t have money to fix this car. I promised my aunt I would take care of the car. She left it to me and I actually intervened. I said, dude, your wife and kids have got to come first. Take the car and park it in the driveway. And you’ve maintained your promise to your aunt. You’ve got the car she gave you, but do not spend money you don’t have on this car. That’s relationship, right? Transaction is, you guys figure it out. Call me. Let me know what you want to do.
Jon Belmonte (17:15):
Yeah, that’s a great
Frank Scandura (17:16):
Story. Listen, and it all comes down to how do I get the conversation started and the days of, oh, hi Bob. Geez, bad news man. Those brake pens and rotors are completely worn out. Oh my gosh. It’s leaking oil too. Oh geez. And those valve cover gaskets are so expensive on that kind of car. Oh my gosh, I could be doom and gloom or I can train my staff to say, Margaret, great news, we found the source of that noise in your engine. This is all we need to do. So now it’s good news because it is good news because if she wasn’t worried about it, she wouldn’t have brought me to car. She’d have just kept driving and turned the radio up louder. And by the way, while we had it, there’s some other things I want to talk to you about and it just helps start that conversation.
Jon Belmonte (18:01):
Yeah, it’s subtle, right? I mean relationships and customer relationships, it really comes down to people and it comes down to perspective and how they’re viewing you, right? Do they view you as a problem or do they view you as the solution? And I’m hearing you, and that’s one of the things that obviously Frank European has been so successful as at is you guys are the solution. They came to you with a concern or a question or whatever the case is, and you end up providing them a solution as opposed to laying a bunch of problems at their feet.
Frank Scandura (18:32):
Exactly. And I’ll tell you, I hear a lot of shops say, I don’t want to tell the new customer everything I find on the car. And I tell ’em, shame on you. What a disservice. Well, I don’t want ’em mad at me. I don’t want ’em to think I’m getting them. Well, they’re only going to think that based on your approach, and I’ll tell you, we’re not getting new customers in love with the guy they’ve been dealing with for five years.
Something changed, personnel changed attitude. The owner changed whatever the case may be, something changed. Now they’re coming here, right? I’m not talking about new people in town because that’s a completely different scenario. I’m talking about the guy who’s been here a long time and lemme give these guys a try. He’s coming in for an oil change. That’s why at the counter we start the discussion with, I am going to perform a additional inspection on this vehicle. We’re going to send it to you. I need you to review it, and then I’ll call you shortly after so that I can just go over the findings with you. I don’t ask the customer for permission to inspect and send him the inspection. Frank’s process is every car gets inspected, every inspection gets sent,
Jon Belmonte (19:41):
Right? Well, and I think we all agree. I mean, it’s our responsibility as an industry to do that, right? I mean, we’re part of an industry. We all are developing a reputation as part of being in this industry. And it’s important that it’s important that shops are giving customers or giving drivers the same experience everywhere. And look, really what it comes down to is are you pressuring them into you lay out, Hey, here’s the status of your vehicle and I’m going to give you some good objective, trusted insights around, you know what? You can wait six to 12 months on that. Or I just want you to have eyes on this for now, right? Or it’s up to you. But gee, I do think this is the kind of thing that it may end up getting worse because look, six months from now, 12 months from now, when it does get worse, it is very important to me and my business that we told you about that, especially if it’s a safety issue. I know I’ve heard that from you several times.
Frank Scandura (20:36):
Absolutely. And there’s a moral component you can search online for why every car should be inspected by Frank Scan or it’s an article I posted on LinkedIn and the moral component. We had a gal come from Church Inova, we did this as a case study where she’s 75 or a hundred years old or whatever, and she comes in and Frank, I’ve got this noise in my brakes. Can you help me? Absolutely. Julia, bring the car down. Let’s take a look at it. Front brake pads are worn out so bad that the rotors are destroyed and the caliper pistons are starting to push out and they’re leaving. Wow, I feel terrible. So I’m going to go, I’m the big shot. I’m going to go tell her how important it’s to get her car service on a regular basis. So this can be prevented. Oh, I take it down to X, y, z, Luby, doobie all the time.
Boom. There’s the problem. They’re not checking the brakes, they’re not inspecting the car. Dump and fill, get out next car. I need my $65 a RO. And that was a real awakening too, where that’s the moral component. You’re doing a complete and utter disservice to your customers if you’re not looking over their cars. And here’s another scenario. I get a phone call two o’clock in the morning, my sister’s getting knocked around by her husband. We jump in a car and we go get her. Had that car not been properly maintained and broke down on the way there or back, how do you allow that to happen? I promise you the tow truck driver was going to say, Hey, if you brought your car to the garage once in a while, they’d have told you that fan button was about to break. Really? I was just in there last week. They didn’t say a word. So the moral component needs to be front and center. There’s a saying, if you do the right thing, the money will come. That principle applies.
Bill Connor (22:17):
So do you see that most of the industry, as they’re changing to the digital inspection platforms and so on, they’re moving from a repair type business to the mindset that we owe the customer a safe, comfortable, and dependable vehicle. And we’re going to do that by inspecting it and presenting them the information. Every visit they come in,
Frank Scandura (22:37):
Bill, I wonder if that’s truly their mindset or if they’re just getting on the bandwagon as the late entry, right? Because you’ve got the early adopters, you’ve got the guys in Miller, you got the late adopters, and why are this is happening, and I’m hearing it from vendors all over. A lot of these smaller shops are shutting down. Why are shops shutting down? Now? Part of it could be the guys are just aging out. They’re saying, okay, I didn’t do the right thing and make my business valuable enough with to sell, just sell the equipment and get out of here. But maybe some of it’s that mentality where I’m just going to fix what the car came in for. Well, customers want more than that. People really want to know what’s going on with their car. And if you don’t believe me, do a paid inspection, tell a new customer, and we do this and it’s very, very effective.
Hi, we’ve never seen a car before. We’ve got this really great 57 point inspection. It’s normally $99. It’s only $49 today if you do it and it really gives us a good baseline for what’s going on with your car. And they go, oh yeah, do that. Now, if they’re willing to pay for an inspection, they’re willing to fix their car. And I think that phenomenon is probably more prevalent. The guys who just, they don’t get on board. They don’t believe all the, I’m not going to buy that crap. Who knows? Maybe they’re still writing repair orders by hand.
Bill Connor (23:50):
It’s kind of interesting when you do that exercise with customers, you can go ahead and see that their perception of value is way over what the shop perceives the value of the inspection is
Frank Scandura (24:01):
And the results of that inspection. Because if you’ve got a service advisor going, oh, he won’t buy that. He won’t buy that. He won’t buy that. Let me tell ’em about this, this, and that. And they’re either selling with their own wallet, which is dangerous, or they’re just emotionally selling. I had a guy work with me, it never rains in Las Vegas. Why should I sell the guy wiper blades? Well, it does rain in Las Vegas, and if he turns on those wipers and he can’t see you didn’t tell him about it, he’s just going to go away. He’s bringing a car into us to know what’s going on. Now, if I tell him he needs wipers and he doesn’t buy ’em, and he turns ’em on into first rainfall, well then he goes, ah, that’s right. Those guys told me I needed it. Now I’ve got credibility. So if you go, well, I’m not going to that guy, and Jon, we talked a little bit the other day, right now I need to hold that guy accountable. Here’s the process. You got to tell him everything as painful as it’s, and we’ve had estimates we write 8, 9, 10, 15 grand on somebody, these euro cars, does it need it all right now? Heck no. Do you need to know what’s coming up on your car so you can make a decision whether or not you want to keep driving it? Well, yeah.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (25:09):
So how do you get your team from focusing on the repair the car comes in to do all that initially perceived as additional work, not paid to then pay off to get to WAO, right? That’s a longer process and people have to change their behavior to get there. Otherwise it’s just a fancy camera and the behavior doesn’t change.
Frank Scandura (25:40):
So it starts with why, okay, why do we do this? Why are we asking you to look these cars over? The article I wrote is very, very effective for technicians who don’t understand why I have to inspect the car. You’re not paying me anyway, because what would you do if it was your mom or your sister? You’re just, are you going to tighten a hose pump or are you going to do a complete inspection on the system and make the proper recommendations? So then it has to become part of our culture, and it starts at the very, very beginning in the interview process. We talk about the inspections that we do, how we do them, why we do them. We have a little TV monitor set up, hooked up to the laptop in a conference room during the interview. This is this, this is this.
I know you don’t know what you’re looking at, you’ll get used to it later, but you have to understand, this is what we are about. This is kind of the frank way, and it just becomes part of the process. And to be part of the team, you have to follow the process. We had a guy we had to let go Friday, didn’t understand why is Frank reinventing the wheel Well, okay, well you can comply or wish you had. We do that because we know it’s the right thing to do and we do it better than anybody else.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (26:57):
But you have changed over time too, I assume, right? Yeah. I mean, so what was your process and what’s your advice to shops who are still struggling getting their team to buy into it
Frank Scandura (27:18):
While you’re on LinkedIn, reading that other article, find a one that says, are you accountable? Because that’s the one I wrote to myself where I had to learn how to hold myself accountable first. And I was always a list guy and I was always writing out these lists of things I need to do. And I’d look at the list and just kind of set it aside, oh, I need to go talk to so-and-so well, I’m not going to do it now. Well, that’s too hard. I don’t want to deal with it. And when I learned that I wasn’t holding myself accountable, I had no right to try to hold anybody around me accountable, my kids and my team, anybody. And I was talking to a shop manager not too long ago and he goes, Frank, what’s the hardest part of holding your team accountable? I said, holding yourself accountable. And literally the guy went like this,
But he knew. He knew that was his roadblock. So it was kind of like that little spirit of conviction right in his heart. So once I had learned how to do that, it was hard In the beginning it was like everything else, anything new, anything different, anything challenging can be very, very hard. And so it’s very easy. Just install a new process for your team and watch them not do it. It’s very easy to go back to your old ways. But learning how to hold myself accountable gave me the courage and the confidence to hold my team accountable. Always wanting to personally grow.
I can remember in the early years just hating how hard it was and not making money. This is too hard, it’s not worth it. I’m just going to set the place on fire and walk away. Wait, I can’t do that. They’ll just rebuild it. So it’s a big challenge. So I had to learn how to, so I was a really good mechanic back east. We were mechanics back then, got hurt, couldn’t work on cars anymore, moved to Las Vegas, get a job as a service advisor at the Mercedes dealership, get some really, really good customer service training. And all of a sudden I’m a big shot shop owner with a service advisor slash technician mentality. I to get out of that, I had to break out of that. I had to learn how to run the business like a business. I remember years ago talking to Jim Murphy, he goes, look, that’s an entity.
Don’t be so emotionally attached to your entity that it runs your life. You need to treat it like any other investment. What are you going to put in? What do you expect to get out? Who’s going to help you do it? I just read a book too called Who Not How So instead of trying to figure out how to do something, you get the who to do it. Who’s going to do it? I don’t need to figure it out. So those are all the steps that really helped me just grow and then be able to set people free. All you shop owners out there who are hearing this, you would be surprised how many of the people you hire want to do the work that needs to be done. Stop walking in the door, kicking a dog and set things on fire just to have something to do. Let them do the job you’ve hired them to do. They’ll do it
Bill Connor (30:21):
As a shop owner. When you decide to go ahead and make yourself accountable, do you just do it and you don’t share that with anybody? Or what’s the next step from there?
Frank Scandura (30:30):
That’s a good question. And I did have a shop meeting where I brought everybody together and apologize that I wasn’t holding myself or them accountable and that I was going to be making changes. Please hang on. It’s going to be a bumpy ride and everybody needs boundaries. If you don’t have any boundaries in your shop and you just let people run amuck and you have no right to complain things, a train wreck, you have no right to complain to dumpsters on fire. It all starts at the top. It really does.
Jon Belmonte (30:56):
Yeah. I mean it turns out the only people who are really going to complain about those type of changes are probably your lowest performers and your best performers. I think we always look at it this way also when it comes to a business, which is while you don’t want to be unfair, you don’t want to be unfair to anyone really. You’re being unfair to your best performers by surrounding them, by poor performers. You’re holding them back. They want to work with people who work at a high level and hold themselves to a high standard. And the reality is, is that the better the team, the more successful the company, the more all of your employees are going to probably make from a compensation stand,
Frank Scandura (31:36):
Right? Yep, absolutely. I’ve had this experience where we have that black cloud negative kicking a dog kind of person all the time. And I remember I had maybe three techs at the time and I was like, boy, that guy, he produces like 60 hours a week. We can’t afford to lose him. And then when it got to the point of somebody dies or you go, and then he left the company, everybody else was like finally. And then overall production increased because that suppression at oppression wasn’t there anymore. And that blew me away. I never expected that. And I coach guys all the time said, just get rid of him. Don’t keep telling me how bad he is. Get rid of him.
Jon Belmonte (32:20):
Yeah. We have two filters that we always put those discussions through. The first is, how would you feel if that person came in and resigned tomorrow? And if your answer is, I’d actually be relieved, I’d be happy,
Frank Scandura (32:35):
Jon Belmonte (32:35):
That’s probably your answer, right? The question we ask ourselves is, how am I going to feel about this six months from now, right? Because I think what usually holds people back is how am I going to feel tomorrow? How am I going to feel the next week, right? I’ll be manned down. Am I be a ripple in the culture? You can’t get too lost. I mean, while that’s obviously important, you’ve got to think about with some perspective, how’s that going to feel and how’s that going to impact the business three months, six months, a year? If the answer is positively,
Frank Scandura (33:10):
There’s answer a
Jon Belmonte (33:11):
Strong consideration in the way you’re thinking about things.
Frank Scandura (33:14):
And a lot of guys put too much personal emotion into it. I feel bad. Oh my gosh. And oh, we’re friends. We went to school together. I said, well, this is business
Jon Belmonte (33:27):
And you can separate. We face this too. All businesses do. You can separate the decision that you have to make with the way you handle it.
Frank Scandura (33:36):
Jon Belmonte (33:36):
So you can really reach out to the person. You can be very accommodating. You can do it in a kind way, you can take care of the person financially, whatever the case ends up being. But that doesn’t really separate out. That’s one of the interesting, I think challenges, and you obviously love this. You’ve built an incredible business, is you need to find the right balance of being very personal and really caring about your people and at the same time being able to separate that and make some relatively impersonal decisions. And again, as I mentioned before, I think what you find is if you can circle back to, well, gee, I’m really doing what’s fair to the rest of the people who are here, the people who are really following the way we want to do things or living our culture who are really taking care of customers the way we want to in the shop and we’re really being fair to our customers, we’re not being fair to our customers. If we aren’t sort of pushing people in this direction and holding them a certain standard and certain accountability,
Frank Scandura (34:44):
An employee should never be surprised they we’re being let go, right? We’ve had a performance plan in place, performance improvement plan, PIP fellow last week, regular reviews, just not saying it. And I remember one guy, it was like every Monday was his first day and I said to him, dude, it’s like 51st days here. It’s based on that movie, 51st dates. It’s like every Monday. I got to tell you again how to log into the email. I got to tell you how to do this. I got to tell you to send, I don’t understand why we have to have this conversation all the time. Well, I’m a little older. It’s hard to remember.
Bill Connor (35:22):
So when you talk about accountability and working with your staff though, if you’re using the visuals on the today’s vehicle page, you’re using the data in the business control panel and other reports, there’s really no emotion left to working
Frank Scandura (35:36):
With on accountability things. You know what, bill? You’re absolutely right because I had one guy who for whatever reason, never understood the importance of sending inspection. It was like, customers don’t care. I don’t care. I don’t have time. I’m busy. Whatever excuse at the moment was, and we just had to sit down and says, look, you need to send every single inspection out to the customer. I need to know you’re in agreement. Okay boss, I promise I’ll start doing it. And we run a report and it’s like, Hey man, I got like 14% of your inspections. Nope, that’s not possible. Alright, let’s run a report. And we pulled all the repair orders. He goes, oh yeah, I didn’t do that one. Oh yeah, I didn’t do that one. Oh yeah, I didn’t do that one. No yelling, no screaming. Nobody’s getting all Ben and twisted up. I don’t have to poke my bony Sicilian finger in his face anymore. Okay, let’s improve. So we got him up to the point where he was finally sending them. Then we learned that his customer engagement was the lowest of anybody in the company. We had three advisors. So the research time of his customers was the lowest. His a RO was the lowest. And so we tied the two together and uba, thank you for pointing it out to me in front of 600 people at the conference.
He also sent his card down who was higher than the rest of them? Well, you know what it was, and it was because he was not doing the process. I’m going to send you the inspection. I need you to look it over and just real basic stuff. And he was the one who was guilty of, oh, he’s not going to buy that. He’s not going to buy that. He’s going to buy that. And listen, when that happens, then you get technicians that either over recommend to try to get something out of it or under recommend. He is not going to sell anything anyway. So now it affects everybody. The customer’s not getting the service they deserve. The technicians aren’t getting the work they deserve, which should be good legitimate work measurement. But
Uwe Kleinschmidt (37:26):
He has been doing what he had been doing probably 10, 15 years before. He’s the most important person in the communication with the customer. And the inspection was just another tool.
Frank Scandura (37:41):
Yeah, absolutely. And you’re right. Those guys who’ve been around a long time are the most difficult to break of their habits. They really, really are. And look, I’m 60 years old. I’m no spring chicken, and I don’t know if I’m more tech savvy or more tech dependent, but it’s a part of my life I have to embrace. I can’t
Jon Belmonte (38:05):
Say you get someone like that over the hump. How do you get them from being resistant to embracing the technology and all the benefits of it?
Frank Scandura (38:14):
If you’re successful at explaining the why we do it, then it works, right? But it’s got to be up to the individual. I had a gentleman, he’s probably 65 now, worked for me and he goes, look, I just don’t understand why we have to do it this way. Well, I can’t make you understand it. I can only say that it’s part of working here. You just need to be able to do it. Great guy for personality, he could sell. But if this is the direction the company is going in, we all need to be rowing the boat in the same direction. We all need to be focused on the same thing. Do we all understand the core processes? Do we all understand the core values? Do we all understand the core principles? Why do shops? And for me, it’s easy. Why do shops from all over the country call me up and say, I’m going to be in town. Can I come visit your shop for a day? It’s not because my name is Frank, it’s because of the reputation we’ve built in and out of Las Vegas for running a good operation based on a processes we put in place. And a lot of people want to see it and they want to experience it.
Bill Connor (39:18):
It’s because you went ahead and transitioned. You shop from being the top sales team to the top educational team.
Frank Scandura (39:25):
I don’t think that I would be able to say we were the top sales team before we went fully digital. I think my a RO when we started was in the mid four hundreds. It’s 12 and change. Now what did we do different? We adapted processes and principles that work to inform the motors of what they need and why. So they can make an informed decision. And so I believe that had a lot to do with it. Sure. I’ve done sales training and we spend a lot of time role-playing with the employees so they’re comfortable making these presentations. It can be intimidating to present a five or $6,000 estimate to a guy driving a 2005 E three 50,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (40:05):
But you said it earlier, you have a moral obligation to educate and then the money happens.
Frank Scandura (40:13):
And that’s exactly what we experienced. I never ever said to my team in the beginning, I’m expecting a 20% a RO increase, and if you don’t get it, you’re going to get it. Never did that. I never, I just always believed if we do the right thing to money and come, here’s living proof, we have a RO goals now, right? You’re expected in this initial shop to have at least a thousand dollars a RO, but it’s not because of any other reason. And because if you do these steps, you’ll get that. And that’s my way of knowing. And if you don’t give discounts, you’ll have the GP dollars we need. And if you don’t do so, it’s the whole package. It’s not just any one thing,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (40:58):
But it’s
Bill Connor (40:59):
Got to be reassuring for the next person that comes in that you can say that based on our processes, this is what you can expect if you follow our processes.
Frank Scandura (41:07):
Yes, exactly. We don’t Go ahead. Go ahead Jen. No, we don’t hire people say, what are you going to do for us? We hire people, say, this is what we’re going to do for you. This is how we’re going to do it. This is the tools we’re going to give you. Right?
Jon Belmonte (41:23):
So wrapping some of the discussion together, I think part of where we started was how far has the inspection process come in the last eight, 10 years as a result of digital? And I think we agree. I think everyone on this call agrees. The standard today is a full digital vehicle inspection that’s fully integrated, has lots of reporting, has content included in it, because it is going to be what helps educate the consumer, has all the reporting and the metrics and the comparison and really sort of makes managing this process internally with your staff ends up making it very unemotional and kind of fact-based and whatnot, and really benefits the motorist or the customer. So where do you think we go from here? It is open to everybody, but Frank in particular, what do you see happening today? You’re out in front, right? I mean you’ve been leading the chart on this with Eva and Bill and others here over the last bunch of years. What do you think is happening this year and where do you think we’re heading in the next couple of years when it comes to motorist interaction, digital inspections, other types of digital tools?
Frank Scandura (42:42):
What I’ve learned recently is while some shops in about customers specifically because of I drink the Kool-Aid, everybody knows it. I’m the first guy to admit it. I do drink the Kool-Aid and because I’ve got the numbers to prove it works, they say they’re struggling with their team or struggling to get people on board. And I say, well, show me your inspections. Lemme see what you’re doing. And they need to learn how to do better inspections. One, that’s where I see this going. So there’s a lot of guys that aren’t getting the traction because they don’t know what an exceptional inspection looks like. And I’ll go and fire off one of those and go, dude, I think it’s got 50 pictures on it. I go, yeah, I’m educating the customer because we also capitalize on the fact that the repair order lines, we take pictures for all of that.
We don’t just do the inspection. So the digital process to me has grown into more than just the inspection, all the facts, here’s all the information, here’s that broken pulley, here’s that new pulley. This is why you trust us to work on your car. So I think that’s the first part is really trying to get shops to understand what a really good inspection should and does look like. And then getting them all together on the same page. And this is going to be the challenge of the century. Is it a brake disc or a brake rotor?
Let’s bring this stuff together guys. So it’s quick calling it different things for different reasons. And I think we’re at a point where we need to get on the same page on what we’re doing so that when the motorist is inquisitive, and they called me up and said, Hey, the guy says I need to watch mc call. And I said, I’ve never heard of that. Did he give you any more information or for me to help decipher it? Because somebody is calling it a purge valve. Somebody’s calling it this. Manufacturers do that, right? They have different names to the same components.
Bill Connor (44:40):
Frank Scandura (44:43):
I think out, I
Jon Belmonte (44:43):
Think that makes a lot of sense, the standardization. So you’re saying that to standardize the way all this information, our data is captured across lots of different places, so then we kind of compare it or we know what we’re talking about in every place.
Bill Connor (44:58):
So the inspection is just really only part of the service visit anyways. So I really like what Frank said about going ahead and using the documentation on the repair order, also pre and post repair pictures and so on, especially because there’s so many systems on vehicles, there’s going to be a lot of liability attached to did you go ahead and do the service? Did you calibrate it when you’re done? And things like that. So I think going on to future, we’re going to see more and more usage of the repair order part of it to also go ahead and continue to build that trust where we didn’t before. And having that in a standard language that anybody can pick up and follow through and see that this is the procedure, how it was performed, this is the end result. This is what the fix was. The fix is going to be, as UBA said earlier, part of the really important part of the equation.
Jon Belmonte (45:49):
That makes
Uwe Kleinschmidt (45:49):
Sense. I mean, there are clear trends. I mean, I don’t know when Google started introducing this, this is actually a subject of a whole podcast in my opinion, because it’s so interesting that Google thinks by just using their data, they know what you are looking for. You’re typing in three words and they say you want to see this in the search result. And so they distinguish between three different intents. You either want to buy something, you want to have a service transaction done, which would mean go to a shop, for example. Or you just want to educate yourself.
Bill Connor (46:37):
Google thinks that they know whether I’m looking to buy a part or whether I’m looking to learn about it. That’s pretty spooky.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (46:45):
I have no idea how they do it. My hunch is they just know where people click after they saw the results, and that’s what they serve up. So for everybody who wants to play with this, just type in timing, be repair versus timing, belt replacement, you get completely different search results. And so I believe that sophistication will continue the trend that people educate themselves on Google, and it’s our job as an industry to not have the motorist end up in some user where some aficionados talk about the details. You
Bill Connor (47:34):
Mean in the shop we’re going to have to stop talking about things with just three letter acronyms,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (47:40):
For example? For example.
Frank Scandura (47:42):
Yeah, exactly right. We’ve got to stop the secret language,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (47:46):
Right? I mean that’s true for anybody, whether it’s lawyers or doctors or software engineers
Jon Belmonte (47:54):
For people at Auto Metals.
Yeah, I agree, Frank. To build on your point, I also think when it comes to information or data as we may call it about parts or type of work or labor, I think I’m excited about the closer integration that we’re starting to see. Well, I’m excited about the proliferation of different types of diagnostic or inspection based devices within the shops at a lower price point, and then with different business models, and then also the ability for them to send data into or send information about inspections or repairs or parts into a digital inspection tool or any other type of shop software. I think that’s going to be potentially really meaningful in terms of further expanding to the consumer or to the motorist. Here’s going on with your vehicle, and I can show you a visual, I can show you even more detail if you want to see it. No problem if you don’t. But it’ll just build up more trust through even more transparency. So the stronger connection and link between those old and new devices and systems like auto vitals, I think that’s really hopeful in the I media term. That’s going to be really great.
Bill Connor (49:15):
So we’ve got about eight or nine minutes left. So when we talk about evolution and changes going on in the industry and how the Digital Shop Talk radio is actually used as a tool to communicate, do you see some changes going on there? Also?
Jon Belmonte (49:33):
Me? Yes, I do. Thank you very much, William. I appreciate the setup there, William.
Bill Connor (49:41):
Oh, that’s why I know I’m in trouble.
Jon Belmonte (49:43):
You’re not in trouble. So yeah, this is, as you can tell from the header, this is 180 fifth episode of the Digital Shop Talk radio. And I think it’s no coincidence that we have a very special guest on the show today. Frank’s been one of the best guests that we’ve had, and we have lots and lots of great guests and Frank’s right up there in terms of dropping knowledge on the industry here as well as other places. So starting in September, we’re going to shake things up a little bit. We’re going to take a slightly different approach. So today I was fortunate enough to be a panelist and a guest on the show. Moving forward, I will actually be the host of the show or one of the hosts of the show. And I’m confident that both Bill and Uwe will be, I will be able to convince them.
I know if I’m talking about Google or SEO, I could probably convince Uwe to come on and be a panelist on the show and hopefully be a co-pilot for those episodes. And same thing for Bill. So that’ll be a change moving forward. We’re also probably going to change up the schedule a little bit. So spent some time talking to our listeners and to other folks in the industry. And we may will try out a couple of different things. So possibly not every episode will be live moving forward. We’re going to test out doing 30 minute episodes as opposed to one hour episodes. And then also we’re going to finally follow through on one of the things that tons and tons of folks have requested, which is, gee, can we take some, or most of those 185, amazing, insightful, incredible and impactful episodes, and can we do more with them in terms of making them more digestible in shorter amounts of time?
So can we cut some of those 30, 60 minute episodes into five and 10 minute bite size and three minute and one minute bite size chunks of information, which I think will end up being a lot more, like I said, digestible and shareable and useful. So we’ve got all kinds of different ideas that we’re going to do that moving forward. And then we’ll also continue to promote, I think we’re going to recommit ourselves to doing different types of content. So there’ll be certain episodes on, gee, how’d you become so successful? Or there’ll be some other episodes on the other end of the spectrum that in other types of content that’ll be more, you might call it a webinar, but it’ll be a little bit more technical or it might address more specific questions around best practices. So it’ll be a little more narrowly focused. So yeah, I’m really excited about that.
I have to tell you that when I got involved in AutoVitals a couple of few years ago, this was one of the areas of the business that I felt like, gosh, this is really such core ethos of who we are as a business, as a company, and the way that Uwe and Bill and Tom previously really built this up, along with Frank and all the other great guests, and I’m really excited to carry on the tradition with them, but just kind of shifting up the roles that we’re all playing within the show. So I’m excited. So all three of you, I mean, thank you very much. I really appreciate not only you have me on today, but how great it’s been to listen. I mean, I’ve learned so much just listening to you guys, so I’m excited to keep doing that.
Bill Connor (53:22):
So am I allowed to make a special request?
Jon Belmonte (53:25):
You’re allowed to? Absolutely. William, please go ahead.
Bill Connor (53:29):
So what I’d like to request is we’ve got really thousands of really great shop operators in our Digital Shop talk forum. I would really love for some of them to go and reach out to Jon through Facebook and say, this is what I’m doing in the digital shop, and I think it’s important for me to share what I’m doing that’s been highly successful with others, and maybe invite themselves onto an episode, or maybe even not an episode, maybe just an interview with you where you can go and record it and use it that way so that way they’re not tied to that 12 o’clock central time slot to go and do it. But there’s plenty of people, and I really think you should probably also hear from some of ’em about some of the things that they’ve done going digital that they recommend others don’t do.
Jon Belmonte (54:13):
Right. Well, you know what, and the thing I love about that idea also, bill, is that I think some folks can be intimidated by a 30 minute episode or a 60 minute episode, right? Not everybody’s going to be frank and be as comfortable and embrace that, but there’s a lot of value in to your point, a five or 10 minute interview if that’s, or 15 minutes or 20 or whatever people are most comfortable with. So that’s certainly something that’s great. I’m excited to build on that. And your point, look, just being transparent, I think that I talked a little bit about the ethos of the company and I’m disappointed that we have gotten, we’ve gotten away from spending as much time within the Facebook forum as we should, we being auto vitals and within the company, we’ve talked about this a bunch of times and I’m committing to us doing more in there, kind of reinvigorating some of the engagement, right? All the shop owners are still there. All the insights and experience is still there and we need to do a little bit more on that. And once again, I’m going to, I expect to drag you and keep you in there as much as we can. And obviously same thing for Uwe and obviously Frank as well.
Bill Connor (55:36):
Well, I’m certainly not going anywhere. I’m always lurking in the background. I just prefer to be more invisible.
Jon Belmonte (55:44):
Alright, we’ll
Frank Scandura (55:44):
See. I like to be right in your face, so I’m good.
Bill Connor (55:48):
You know how to reach me.
Frank Scandura (55:51):
Yeah, I appreciate the kind words. Toron, thank you very much. You want to say that?
Jon Belmonte (55:55):
Yeah, very much so. Very much so. Alright, so Bill, do you want to take us home on this
Bill Connor (56:01):
For your phone? Well, we got to ask SUV if he has anything that he’d like to add before we leave because that’s pretty much our custom.
Jon Belmonte (56:06):
That’s right.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (56:10):
Lately I have just confirmed what you said last. So yeah, no, we had so great discussions of any kind, sometimes even emotional in the Facebook forum where we were just showing how the partnership between the company and its customers has worked. Right. And I would love to see that again because I believe it’s so tremendously valuable for both parties to stay connected, talk about best practices, talk about features, talk about, I mean the best thing in my opinion, what happened was we were honest to each other and shop owners helped other shop owners, right? And those two things should come back.
Jon Belmonte (57:14):
That’s right. Well and shop owners, helping shop owners is really what the floor, that’s the most important, right? So I agree. Alright, well with that, that concludes episode 180 5. We could not be more on time in terms of the ending and I think that’s a great way to end the episode. So thanks again, Frank, for being on. My pleasure, bill Anova, I’m really excited to have you on in a future episode sooner than you probably think.
Bill Connor (57:46):
Awesome. So I love everybody out there. Go out there and make some money and create happy employees and have a great day. Thanks guys. Thank you, Frank.
Jon Belmonte (57:57):
Bill Connor (57:57):
Frank. Thank you. Bye Jon.
Jon Belmonte (58:00):

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