skip to Main Content

Shop Owners, who took a step back and planned to change belief systems before introducing tools and processes of the Digital Shop® have scored amazing results. Join this episode when three Shop Owners dissect what changes they have made in their shop – Dustin Brown, Dennis Eidson, and Jeremy Neff, representing completely different types of shops.

Episode Transcript

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

Bill Connor (00:05):
Morning, good afternoon. I’m Bill Connor and you’ve reached the Digital Shop Talk Radio. You can please go ahead and chat in if you have any questions or comments. We’d love to go ahead and hear from you while we’re live. To reach us live, if you’ll go to, you can go ahead and register to join us every Wednesday at 12 o’clock central and we’d love to have you. And for those of you that prefer to listen to us afterwards, you can find us on your digital or your favorite podcast platform by searching forward to Digital Shop Talk Radio. Today I’m here with Dustin Brown, Brown’s Automotive Experts, number one, two, and three, and I’m sure he’s going to start making me count higher one of these days soon. Dustin has been here with us before and again, we’d like to welcome you and thank you Dennis Eidson, Honest-1 Auto Care Roswell, he’s been with us here before.
Thank you Dennis. We’re glad to have you here. And we got a newcomer here to share their wisdom with us, which is going to be Jeremy Neff, Neff’s Diesel Repair and Performance. And I believe, if I’m not mistaken, this might be the first time we’ve had a representative of the diesel repair shop industry with us today. So we’re going to go ahead and pick his brain for sure. These guys are representing three totally, completely different type of shops, and that’s what we want to do is explore things that are the same and things that are a little bit different. Of course, we got AutoVitals, very own Chief Innovation Officer here with me today, and we’re going to take a step back with our panelists to discover some plans. They have to change their belief systems and I can tell you from past experience, it doesn’t matter whether you believe you can or you believe you can’t when it comes to becoming a digital shop, whichever way your belief is, you’re going to be a hundred percent correct. So we’re going to talk about these processes and these guys have scored some amazing results and I’m going to share them with you here just a minute. And when you finish up listening to the episode today, you’re going to take away some really solid information for discussing this challenging and hardly rewarding change with your particular shop. So that being said, Uwe, while I get ready to share my screen, if you go ahead and get us started, I’d certainly appreciate it.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (02:14):
Sure, thank you gentlemen. Let me start with everything is hard to do when it involves the change of a habit or the change of a belief system and probably a change of a belief system is even harder than just a habit because you really have to dig deep and with everything. If you try to do that while you have to run an interrupt driven business, that takes the difficulty even to a higher level. And so I’m really glad that we have three representatives of three completely different shops, and I bet we’re going to find more commonalities than there are differences. Although we are being told my shop is different more than I can count.
And you see the numbers on the screen and let’s just look at the ARO. The first line shows the date when we started collecting for this statistics. So if we just use Brown’s Automotive and Experts location one as an example, the ARO in July, 2014 was $401 and it’s now 727. That by itself deserves a break because we’re in awe. That doesn’t seem like possible with little incremental steps along the way. There has to be some fundamental change implemented over time, probably not cold Turkey overnight, but even I know of shops even who I will never forget. One of our most successful shops decided in the busiest week, 4th of July week to switch to digital and went in the middle of the day to the techs, ripped the clipboards out of their hands and said, here’s a tablet. We are doing this. Now digital, I don’t know whether that’s a method I can recommend to everybody, but even that has been done. So I’m looking forward to explore what has changed for you guys when you were interested in going digital. And correct me if I’m wrong, but I assume that approaching the subject was, okay, let’s switch from paper inspection to digital inspection. What’s the big deal? It’s just digital now what we have done on paper before. Am I on the right track kind of man.
Bill Connor (05:35):
So the other thing I want to make sure that we go ahead and explore here is not only did their ARO go up in all their cases, their weekly revenue went up. So it’s just not a focus on increasing ARO at the expense of overall revenue. It’s a combination of things that drive both of ’em at the same time.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (05:53):
Yes. Yeah, I would love to explore that later. Simply doing digital inspection is not going to help you getting to such a high weekly revenue. Yes, the ARO increase helps, but there’s more to it. So Jeremy, you said initially you thought digital inspection’s a good idea. Let’s just replace paper by the tablet. How did that work?
Jeremy Neff (06:27):
Well, we originally switched to, it was a different company and there was a lot of disconnect between the office and the technicians. Initially, there were some things we liked about it, but we ended up switching to AutoVitals. But anyway, on the initial decision, it was just easy to show customers what the tech saw, so it gained their trust in us. There’s a lot of shops around that just say, do whatever, but to have the pictures to back it up saying, this is your truck or your vehicle, that was the biggest decision or biggest point that made the decision basically for me to be able to do that.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (07:15):
Right. Thank you. Dennis, how was it for you? Do you remember?
Dennis Eidson (07:20):
I always knew that our ARO was pretty good compared to other one shops, but in different industry groups that I’d been to, NAPA meetings that I’d been to, I always knew that average repair was smaller than most shops. And I feel like when that car comes into the shop, it’s a revenue producing asset. And if you don’t do a good inspection, if you don’t show the customer what’s wrong with your car, you’re going to miss out on revenue opportunity. So clearly my goal was to grow ARO and grow revenue. I think the side benefit is the feedback from our customers is off the charts. I mean over and over every day, every week we have a customer say, oh my god, I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ve never, oh my god, our alignment machine is broken this week. And so I’m subbing my alignments to a very large chain nearby and I go in and I saw they had the little paper inspection form. I was just laughing. I was like, how can you not be in the digital world? So it’s good to know the large competitors haven’t caught on yet,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (08:30):
And you’re probably thankful they haven’t.
Dennis Eidson (08:32):
Well, I think there’s a lot more than just our digital inspection that sets us apart from our competitors. But yeah, that’s one issue.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (08:41):
Thank you. Dustin, how was it for you,
Dustin Brown (08:45):
Shannon? We were the dive ride in kind of guys. We got rid of all the paper and we used all aspects from the work order to the inspection for the text and bringing tablets. And what was challenging at first, don’t get me wrong, especially in 14, there’s just a logic capturing signatures, authorization signatures, you had to figure out how am I going to do this now that we’re all digital? That was tough and we found a workaround with the point of sale system to get that done. But yeah, we dove right in. It feels like if I was doing it the way we’re doing it now in 2014 or 15, I would’ve made bigger strides faster. We’re a lot more in tune to using a business control panel, monitoring data, sharing information with the team, showing them how things like research time inspection, sent edited pictures, correlate with increased ARO, and we monitor it weekly. And if I would’ve been a little more aggressive all those years ago, I think it would’ve been a lot faster for us. But there was a bit of a learning curve that everyone’s going to experience, especially throwing away all the paper and you’re dealing with the guys at the time that didn’t know how to do it. Obviously now it’s just what we do. So you come work for us. That’s what you do. There’s no changeover, there’s no trying to get people to change habits anymore. This is how it’s done.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (10:19):
Well, that third
Bill Connor (10:19):
Location was a lot easier. You had a nice pattern to work with.
Dustin Brown (10:23):
Yeah, the third location, by the time we got there, we opened it in 19th, so there wasn’t any question, this is how it’s done, this is how we do it. So everybody came in and I still just, like Dennis said, it amazes me how many technicians you bring in that have never seen it before. I’m like, wow. Especially since I’ve been with AutoVitals were so long, I just can’t, I feels like everybody’s doing this now. I’m like, who’s not doing it? It doesn’t seem like anything new and fresh and different at this point. It feels like old news. Okay, what’s next? But I guess there’s still a lot of shops not doing it, which is yeah, what kind of blows my mind to be honest with you.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (11:09):
Yeah, it’s really simple. After you have implement something hard and it works hindsight 2020, why didn’t I do that from the beginning? But we are not remembering that it took, you said it was a learning curve. Other people, we named the episode belief systems because I think it’s a little bit deeper than just a habit. I just want to throw out two examples. Inspecting every car, A lot of shops in the past did the paper inspection in a way that they look at car and if they found something with their eyes, then they did the inspection. If it looked, there is nothing to gain. Really the paper inspection was skipped.
And now that belief system for consistency reasons and for so many other reasons like motorists are now demanding a digital inspection. Once they know the benefits for them, it is not just for the shop. And how do you establish in your shop a hundred percent inspection rate, I imagine pushback. I’m not getting paid. I don’t know too much time. I mean, you know that better than me. I’m just telling you what I’m hearing from shop owners. And so there’s a belief system change that a hundred percent inspection. Another example which blew my mind is service advisors are kind of, how do I say that? They’re the master of ceremony in the shop. In other words, they’re in full control doing things and that includes the explanation of what’s wrong with the car. And now they have to use a photo editor to put stuff on a picture and wait until the motorist is going to research this. And that’s a huge change in belief. So I really want to, so for you guys that might sound all, what is he talking about? We are already over this, but I really like to help all the shops you just recognized, you are not doing it yet. Help them understand what belief system changed for you. When did you go to a hundred percent inspections to use that example or what other belief systems did change once you recognized how helpful? And that makes I making sense.
Dustin Brown (14:10):
Yeah. I would chime in and say getting them to believe in the benefit and the value of it has a lot to do. I think with sharing data so that they can see what’s in it for them, what’s in it for me, why am I doing this? Why does this make sense to spend extra time? And so showing them the importance of it and how they correlate. That’s really got buy-in for those guys and now everyone believes in it and I don’t have that kind of pushback until I get new employees. But they get bought into it also because the other employees that are doing it are now reiterating the importance and why it works out for our store and why it works out for the company as a whole. And again, what’s in it for them technicians, getting ’em to inspect in a car could be tough, but then you show ’em.
I pulled up in a meeting, I showed a number of recommendations compared to ARO and compared to hours per ARO, and when the technician’s like, man, this guy’s recommending 12 things and his ARO is way higher and he’s getting more hours per car, that’s less cars he’s racking, that’s less inspections he’s doing. All of a sudden they’re like, oh. Then it’s like a light bulb goes off and now I’m like, he’s recommending the inductions. The injectors are 30, the 60, the nineties on top of whatever the car needs and he is getting 12 recommendations per car. You’re doing six and his hours are higher and your hours aren’t as high. So I think that sharing that data is really what has really propelled us a lot and being just open book on that stuff.
Bill Connor (15:52):
Very cool. Dustin. What was the hardest thing that you had to go ahead and what’s the hardest belief system for the technicians you had to change and how did you do it? And then maybe we can hear from the other ones along the same lines. What was the toughest things to get ’em to do differently and how did you do it? What were the barriers they threw up and how did you go and move the obstacle out of the road?
Dustin Brown (16:17):
The biggest barrier was the time that it took, how much time it took. And boy, they sure wanted to bring up every single second. That tablet didn’t work. Every time the internet goes out, all this thing’s a piece of shit, it doesn’t fucking work. It’s part of my French. But that was the biggest barrier, how much time it took. And then having to show them and train them on how to do it effectively and efficiently instead of, here’s my tablet, oh, I’ve got to check the belts, look at the belt, click. I’m going to look at the hoses. Look at the hoses click like, Hey, let’s get under the hood. Check all your fluids, check your belts and hoses. Go to the tablet, fill it out. Take the one or two pitcher you need. So training them on how to be efficient with it. And we pay them to deal, we pay ’em three tens per digital inspection.
So we do compensate them for their time, but just get ’em to go fast and not spend 45 minutes an hour inspecting these cars as they’re navigating the program and showing them why it’s set up a certain way, how the flow is and to follow it. Don’t be bouncing all over the inspection. Kind of go through the way it’s laid out. So that was my biggest challenge. And then to get them to believe in it and at the time was worth it really is to do with showing the data and then making a big deal on it. Dude, he bought everything, making a big deal. He bought everything, dude, you got 12 hours on that job. Get to work. Parts are on the way. Right. So reiter that.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (17:57):
How long did it take you, if you remember?
Dustin Brown (18:00):
I don’t remember. I mean the first year, year was a challenge.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (18:07):
Dustin Brown (18:07):
Was, but then as personnel changed, it seemed easier. And as we got more comfortable as owners with it too, going in there, learning the system, fixing the glitches, Hey, I clicked this thing needed attention and it hit the wrong thing. I had a wrong setting. And the inspection, all of that took some time to kind of navigate. So there was some backdoor stuff that the techs don’t see and don’t care about that when that didn’t work, that was a quick excuse to say, see, balls is stuff waste time. So there was definitely a learning curve on the ownership and implementation side, getting it together. It wasn’t like we didn’t just hook it up, turn it on and go, right. We had our inspection that we were doing prior to digital that we wanted to look like the digital. So we had to set all that up so it wasn’t completely changing what they were doing.
Bill Connor (19:03):
Dustin, would you say the technician’s belief system changed faster by getting more approved hours or by going ahead and giving them three tens to do the inspection, which had a higher effect on ’em?
Dustin Brown (19:14):
The hours. The hours because the three tens to inspect was there prior to digital. We’ve been inspecting cars. That belief system of inspecting every car when it comes in was beat into our company through my father. It’s been there for years. So we were already full on board if every car gets inspected. So it was more the showing them the hours and they couldn’t pencil up them. You can’t pencil it. Kind of, but not as much.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (19:47):
Yeah, the reports would immediately reveal, but you pencil it and then you have some explaining to do.
Dustin Brown (19:55):
Yeah, absolutely.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (20:00):
Jeremy, do you want to go
Jeremy Neff (20:03):
Next? We were doing paper and the pickups have quite a few more checkpoints. We were paying for the inspection and everything that we went digital, we had kind of the opposite problem. They were trying to do ’em so fast and they would just breathe through. So I had to actually tell ’em, slow down and make sure we get everything because we need to make sure we get everything the first time so we don’t get into a repair and this, oh yeah, by the way, I know we checked it good, but it’s actually failed. So what we did to get everybody’s, all the techs buy-in was if the vehicle came in for an oil change or a diagnostic for running poorly or whatever the complaint was, everything the technician found on the inspection and the customer bought or would buy within three months, the technician gets 3% of the labor and the parts of the, we call it basically upsell.
So that pretty much revolutionized everything around here. And then they find every single thing because if they sell it and the customer buys it, we just put a three month window. So the service writer has an opportunity to remind them that the job still needs to get done and they come in, that technician that found it, sometimes he doesn’t even always do the job, but we keep track of it and we give ’em credit for it and we pay it, we put it towards, the way we do it with taxes is we put it towards a tool bonus is what we do. So we keep track of it in a spreadsheet and then every week we do the upsells and I put it in there and then I give ’em an update and the tool trucks come around every week. So yeah, after we did that, it was easy. They started finding everything.
Bill Connor (22:01):
So in a diesel only shop, I believe the first time I ever talked to you was quite a while ago, but you had focused mainly on the diesel work, the stuff that anybody else didn’t do, and now you’ve expanded your shop and you’re actually more bumper to bumper and you’re doing some other vehicles besides that. So did your mindset change a little bit about inspecting the whole entire vehicle so you could get everything bumper to bumper, not only on the trucks but on these other vehicles that you’re using to expand into your building.
Jeremy Neff (22:34):
So that was just a luring process on my end because the smaller cars, we got a gas technician in March, so I had to create a complete separate inspection for just the cars. And then we got a heavy guy, so I had to do another inspection for the heavy duty trucks like the semis, and we’re still editing those as we go. So yeah, I just created complete different inspections and then credit different time for ’em, if that makes sense. Because our diesel pick up the full inspection, we credit seven tenths and it takes every bit of seven tenths unless there’s an older truck, then it takes sometimes over an hour to get everything.
Bill Connor (23:20):
And so I would assume all three of you have pretty much trained your technician. The inspection sheet is not to go ahead diagnose everything on the vehicle, it’s to go and do a discovery that leads to other pinpoint testing and things like that. Did it take a while to go and get them to understand this? I’m not asking you to do a dissection of this vehicle that I need visual clues that I can use to educate the customer to just move them a step or two further down the road?
Jeremy Neff (23:50):
Yes. It took a while, so just take a picture and know it. You don’t diagnose it. Are you sure? Yes, we’ll get paid for it.
Dustin Brown (24:00):
Yeah, especially the fluid leaks, right? Everyone? Yeah, that’s a big one. 20 minutes looking where that fluid leak’s coming from.
Bill Connor (24:12):
Go ahead Henry.
Dennis Eidson (24:13):
So for us, I’ve always paid a half hour for the inspection. And I guess what I learned early on, and this was true of technicians and service advisors, I mean this process creates additional work for them. I mean before when you were doing a pencil whipped inspection or a paper inspection slip of the tongue there, but we do a paper inspection, we weren’t paying for that, but it wasn’t really taking that long. They’re getting paid a half hour, our average tickets are up. But for some folks don’t necessarily want more work. The technicians say, oh, I want more hours, I want more hours. But they like more hours of changing spark plugs and radiators and time belts and water pumps. That’s the kind. So early on we had technicians that were shorter resistant to the inspection even though we were giving ’em a half hour.
That was a good motivation to get ’em in. But now our average ticket and the numbers you showed I think are a little different than the numbers I show. I’m seen a bigger increase than what you reported. So they’re making more money. It was easier. The service advisors saw the benefit a whole lot faster. And what I hear from service advisors is when you send a customer a digital inspection, the sales process is almost non-existent. You don’t have to go into a big long spiel explaining everything that we found on their car. The customer sees it and says, wow, that’s bad. I need that fixed. So getting technicians to buy in was a little harder. Getting service advisors to buy in was easier. But my case, I did lose one technician who just old school guy just did not want to do, didn’t like the iPad, just was happy making his 35 hours a week, didn’t necessarily want more hours. And so I would encourage folks to, for me it was that’s not the shop we are anymore. It’s time to find people who are more in tune with doing it.
Bill Connor (26:22):
So in their transition to the digital inspection back when they’re in a paper world, basically it was a just check on a red, green or yellow. Did you have any kind of a challenge getting the technicians to go and understand that this digital inspection just isn’t a check on a red, green or yellow. It’s that I need some additional information because our job is to educate to the customer to the point where they don’t have to get information from anybody else. How was that transition or how did that mindset go?
Dennis Eidson (26:52):
Well, I mean I’ll go first in this one, but I feel like the younger, more tech savvy technicians didn’t have a problem picking condition and picking a recommended action and putting notes on a picture. So our higher end, older, more experienced technicians, just the technical aspect of what they needed to click on the tablet for red, yellow, green, if you call it that. And then what service packages are you recommending for this? And please put a customer friendly note on the picture. It was a steeper learning curve for those more experienced older school techs. So what we ended up doing, and I’ve talked about this before, I have a technician that’s moved into a role of he’s in charge of inspections, he’s in charge of training, rolling out, changing editing. He doesn’t turn as many hours anymore. He spends more time making sure that our digital inspection processes is buttoned up and going the way we want to.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (27:58):
So can you talk about this more because it’s an interesting phenomenon. We also have seen, especially in high car count shop that there is a specialization towards what I would call an inspector. And so go ahead.
Dennis Eidson (28:17):
I call him my inspections manager and I’ve been trying for a long time to have him do that full-time with the labor shortage that we’re all experiencing with hiring technicians. I haven’t been able to pull him into this full-time yet, but he’s the expert on the inspection. So what he’ll do is once the technician submits the inspection, he’s reviewing it, checking it, and he can fly through it and he really can fly through it, but he’s going back to that technician and saying, here’s a bad picture. Here’s a bad comment. Let me help you do a better inspection so that if he’s spending five or six minutes reviewing an inspection, now that number goes down to two or three and then he says he presses update work order button and tells the service advisor the Honda Odyssey’s ready to go. So then the service advisor builds that estimate.
The service advisors can and does review inspections, edit pictures, talk to technicians. But for the most part, all the service advisor has to do is send that over to the customer, hit send, and then start building their estimate and then wait 20 minutes to call the customer and take an order. So I felt like all of my service advisors can do it, but I have one guy that’s really, really good and really, really fast. And that way because we’re not at TVPX yet, I keep trying, but we’re not there that way. I have consistent comments on worn out brake pads. I have consistent comment on oil pan leaks. So we’re doing that manually with the old version of TVP because I got one guy that sort of drives that.
Bill Connor (30:02):
Very cool. So is it safe to assume for all three of you that you’ve explained to your staff what’s in it for them and then do you involve them in every aspect of getting these inspection sheets built and set up and so on? Can you talk through that process a little bit? Dustin, you’re on mute.
Dustin Brown (30:25):
There you go. I involved key players. I definitely didn’t involve everybody. That’s too much information overload and too much back and forth takes forever. I pretty much, my brother Nolan and I sat down and did 95 to 98% of it all and then reviewed it with the guys what we put together and got their feedback from there and got a little bit of tweaking from that end. Right. Oh, it would make more sense to do this. It make more sense to tie this with like if you recommend a brake flush, it can’t automatically go to dot three brake flush because someone got dot four now dot five, right? So they have to click dot three, dot four, do five, tell the advisor what kind of fluid flush you’re selling, but then it automatically goes onto protract in the estimate. So there was some feedback there, but I pretty much set ’em up myself and Ed and kind of grabbed and said, this is what we’re doing, this is how you’re doing. Is that what you’re looking for there Bill A little more. A little less
Bill Connor (31:32):
Definitely on the right path for sure. And I actually remember when you come out to a digital shop conference that we had several years ago and when you went back to the shop, that’s about when it seemed like you guys went back and you’re just on fire getting stuff going and reorganized. So did networking with other people that were doing the same thing and you doing the same thing that you’re doing here today. You’re sharing your struggles, what you did that were good and what didn’t work good and so on. Did that go and help to network in a group like that?
Dustin Brown (32:03):
Oh absolutely. Yeah. Hands down that gave us some motivation fire and you are like, man, a lot of us struggle with the same stuff, right? We’re struggling getting the guys to fill it out, getting the guys to complete it all the way and you’re talking to people about what they’ve done differently to get ’em to get their techs on board and get them moving and how they just stuck with it and made it happen. Yeah, super motivating. And I know with Covid we haven’t had one in a while, but I look forward to doing another conference. You can put that together. I would be there. But yeah, I would encourage everybody to go to those because it’s a big motivator for sure.
Bill Connor (32:45):
But the good thing is when we find folks like you that have done really well to go ahead and share not only your successes, but pretty much all of you have went ahead and had some probably failures along the way and had to reorganize and go at it a different way. So you guys being willing to share that is really helpful to everybody even in a digital environment like this.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (33:09):
Yeah, I mean I learned there’s always something to improve and since technology and behavior is still changing and as bad as covid is and influenced all aspects of our life, it seemed to have expedited the use of digital media or digital communication and forced us to invest more. And the outcome seems to confirm that was absolutely the right move. And so I feel we are just at the beginning, there’s so many more opportunities on using digital. But back to the topic. So then as you said for the service advisor, it was easier than for the text Jeremy and Dustin, do you confirm that? In my experience, it was the other way around with a lot of jobs.
Dustin Brown (34:23):
Go for it, Jeremy.
Jeremy Neff (34:25):
What’s that?
Dustin Brown (34:26):
I’ll let you go first.
Jeremy Neff (34:29):
For one of the service advisors, it was okay and we got additional service advisor and that particular one, I worked at a dealership, a couple dealerships, and it didn’t seem to matter what we did. They weren’t getting the recommended service. The tech customer didn’t buy foot on the ARO for future sales and then he didn’t go through and check all the points and it was just seemed like week after week saying, Hey, you have to do this, this is what we’re doing and you have to do it and here’s why. And it just came down to we had to let that one go and we’re starting out over with another one because it was over a year of doing that. I just got tired of doing it.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (35:13):
And why do you think that is this just habit and the lack of willingness to change or applied issue or all of the above?
Jeremy Neff (35:24):
Probably all of the above. He was, he didn’t think he could be as organized as he needed to be and he’d be okay. He thought that he could just do everything by the seat of his pants kind of person and then we’ll see how this new one new one goes. But he was just probably more stubborn in setting his old ways compared to how far advanced we are ahead of the dealerships around here.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (35:57):
Thank you. Go.
Dustin Brown (36:00):
Well, our advisors, we got some pretty long-term guys that have been doing it forever. So they’ve been selling off the paper forever and they’re just comfortable with it. It’s what they do. And some of them it’s a challenge. They just want to estimate to pick up that phone and call that job. That’s the way they’ve always done it. So there was a challenge of just sending the inspection, send that inspection. So we monitor it every week and we correlate. You sent 90% of your inspections and our ARO was higher last week you spent since 70%. The ARO was lower. That was a big one. The other big thing is the conversation at the counter, setting the expectation for the consumer, letting them know, Hey, we’re going to do this inspection. You’re going to get this text message, this email, we have printed copies of the inspection laminated so they can show them what they expect to see when they open up their inspection report.
So having that conversation at check in while they’re got the phone ringing parts guys being delivered, that’s just one more thing they’ve got to talk about. Getting them to do that is huge because once they see it and the customer is going to expect it, now they have a little more skin in the game to make sure, hey, I told this person I was going to send one. I better send him one. And the customers hold him to it as well. Hey, where’d that inspection go? Did you do this? Like you said, you’re going to, so training on that end on the front end side, training ’em on the check-in, just like training ’em when they check ’em out, ask for that Google review. So that was a challenge, but showing the results, I can’t get over this enough. I feel like I’m a broken record here, but pulling up the business control panel, laying out those graphs on top of each other, showing the correlation, that’s when I rarely got the aha moment from these guys to where they really, really saw. And that’s when they really started believing in what we’re doing and believing that it works and seeing it. Because sometimes just looking at the number every week, it’s harder. It’s harder to see the big picture when you can really graph it out over a month, a two months period of time. So yeah.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (38:33):
Thank you. Your conversation
Bill Connor (38:35):
With the customer, is it a week, sir? Would you like us to do a inspection while you’re here or is it more along the lines of while your vehicle’s here, we are going to go ahead and do a digital inspection. We’ll be sending it to you as soon as we get it done. Yeah, there did go.
Dustin Brown (38:51):
There’s no question. This is what we’re doing. You’re getting this inspection and really if anyone says no, don’t inspect the car, that’s huge red flags and we start not wanting to work on it. Right? I said, of course we’re going to look at your car because that prevents the sense you was, Hey, my radiator wasn’t leaking until you worked on it. No, it was, here’s a picture. So if they don’t want the complimentary digital inspection, we won’t work on the car. We will not. There’s so much our belief in inspecting every car before it comes in. It’s so rooted with us that it’s a disservice to the customer to not inspect the car. You’re not giving them an educated decision on what to do with the vehicle. For one, there’s a liability issue if you’re the last one to look at the car, last one to touch it, I don’t care if you didn’t touch the brakes, I don’t care if you just pulled it in and did put a belt on and left.
If that ball joint pops after you looked after that car was at your shop, you’re the professional. You’re the one. You are the one that let the car leave with a ball joint. That’s a safety issue. So there’s a huge liability that we carry as shop owners that we are trying to protect ourselves from by inspecting every car. And when we get customers that don’t want the inspection, we go over the liability stuff and we tell ’em, this is so you can make an educated decision, your car’s overheating. It needs $1,200 worth of work. You want to know if it’s also going to need, know the 1200 down the road. Does it need brakes and all joints and all this stuff also. Or you just do the 1200 bucks. Hey, I’ll see you next month when that belt breaks or whatever. So yeah, we are so belief in the inspection that we won’t customers, they don’t get a choice.
Bill Connor (40:41):
We got a question to come in, you want to go ahead and take it live? So any of you successful people using a person to manage your shop and inspections from technician chasing parts, creating estimates? We’re a shop with three techs and I handle techs parts and customers. And I’m also the owner. So I think this gets into similar to what some of our shops talk about with a production manager. So do you have anybody that kind of takes on that additional task to relieve the service advisor from some of the load?
Jeremy Neff (41:16):
Yeah, we have. So the texts billed the estimate for the main complaint and then everything in addition to that we found on the inspection. The service writer does, they build that estimate and then that estimate gets forwarded and QC, if you will, before it gets sent to the customer. For our parts person, she does a lot more stuff, but she QCs it before the customer ever sees it after the techs built it and then the service writer did. So that’s working really well because everybody’s human and everybody misses some parts and every once in a while just they catch it and it’s better to be caught before the customer even sees it than to look foolish.
Bill Connor (42:06):
That’s interesting. And we actually hear that more and more often where the technicians are participating in the estimation process and shops that do that have really found that it’s actually taken away a lot of the US against them from the front office because if the technician doesn’t want to participate in that process, they have no right to complain about it. If something isn’t the right time or the list of parts isn’t correct or whatever else happens,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (42:29):
And that, if I may, that mainly concerns the hour estimated correct. The text is involved in the number of hours put on the estimate
Jeremy Neff (42:43):
So they could see exactly what kind of condition the vehicles in. So they do the labor and they estimate additional parts if needed just because they’re looking at it. And that’s soap us out a lot with make sure we have enough parts, we can always return the parts, but having to pull the vehicle out and reschedule for the next week waiting on parts, that’s a huge loss in efficiency. So we found after we did this, it’s helped out quite a lot.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (43:15):
What is your average hours per ARO Jeremy? On the diesel work,
Jeremy Neff (43:23):
If I remember right, I averaged out the last 90 days. It’s between almost six to seven hours per ARO. That includes just the oil chain and stuff like that. So we have jobs that are 40 plus hours,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (43:38):
So that sets it in perspective to passenger vehicles. Yeah, so I’m saying for you spending the time, letting the tech spending the time on this more thoroughly pace of big. Right. Yeah. Inefficiency. That might not be true for a high car count passenger vehicle shop.
Dustin Brown (44:08):
I want to chime in here and Bill, go ahead. Bill helped me with a lot of this. Our techs aren’t doing the estimates, they’re just working, trying to get hours and that’s just kind of, I dunno, for whatever, but we would spend a lot of time estimating all the work they find on this inspection. It was taking forever. And ultimately what we did is I changed my point of sale system. I went to Protractor and I let technology do a lot of the estimating work for us and we put in canned jobs. So I mean if any brakes when they click action, they got brakes, machine rotors, brakes to replace rotors, brakes with calipers. I’ve got all these can jobs options that they have to click, and the guys in the office hit that work order update and boom, 80 to 90% of the inspections done.
So utilizing that technology that’s incorporated with the software and the communication, that sped up a lot of the process. Now, what it did do is it did give us another problem. And the other problem was they hit work order update, estimated call the customer. Well, they didn’t see the one for the fluid leak valve covered gasket or something that we don’t have canned jobs for because it’s almost impossible to have a canned job for every little thing on any cart you might see. So they might take a picture of some breather hose that’s cracked on a Volkswagen and parts needed breather hose and whatever they need. But there’s no canned job breather hose. So we were finding that, oh, we’re missed this. You should estimate that. So we did have to do a little bit of, we do audits, we do work order audits weekly.
We audit the inspection, we audit the estimate, we audit the deferred work and we go over it with the guys. And there’s more to the audits, make sure notes get on there, all this stuff, right? Fluids and everything. But weekly audits, we just pick five or six random work orders per shop, audit them, and now the guys know they’re being held accountable because you set the expectation, you monitor the results and you follow up with them. So that’s what we’re doing with that. But using the technology helps speed up estimating and it was a lot of work. Bill and I spent weeks on that job. It was a lot of work, but it paid off and it paid off.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (46:37):
It paid off.
Bill Connor (46:39):
When you start going ahead and doing the audits, have you found over time that after you a bunch of times you could actually ask them what they could have done better and they could tell you what they should have done?
Dustin Brown (46:50):
Yes. Yes. Because they start seeing what you’re looking for. Yeah, I utilize that a lot, right? Trying to get these guys to look at their own numbers every week and what is your game plan to improve these numbers? And as we coach them and they get better and better, they can start seeing things themselves and get them more involved. That’s a big thing to do.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (47:19):
Is that a lunch meeting once a week or how do you organize those audits?
Dustin Brown (47:29):
My brother does, and he comes in usually mid-afternoon. He calls and make sure they got time and they’ll blast through a hand up full of ’em while they’re juggling other stuff. But it tends to be early afternoon, the morning times when all the rush is there, checking cars out, selling the work the afternoon, they’re bringing in parts, the techs are working. So the advisors seem to have that little bit of more free time. And then at the end of the day, they’re cashing everyone out. So we found around after lunch around one to two o’clock is a good time for that. And then when we talk about the other stuff, like inspection, sent ARO, we do that every Tuesday morning, they fill out all their numbers on a spreadsheet and we do a group call between the three managers and we look at everything from discovered services, closing ratio parts, GP inspection, sent edited pictures, research time, and the guys, each store manager goes over their numbers that they inputted and they provide us with, okay, this week, okay, so last week one of my stores had a very low a DS discovered sales number, right?
So, okay, what do you think that is? Well, you either didn’t inspect the car rides or you didn’t estimate everything that the guys found. So they come back the next week, they say, we’re going to focus on that number, and the next week we hold ’em accountable. Hey, your number improved. Great job, man. Oh yeah, the guys were pinch whipping inspections or Hey, the number didn’t improve. Whatever you tried to fix that number, it didn’t work. Let’s try something else. So that’s scheduled, structured every Tuesday, nine 30 in the morning, and it’s 10 minutes per shop. So 30 minutes. Every manager’s on the phone, 30 minutes, and we all look at each other’s numbers holding other managers accountable as well.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (49:20):
Very cool. You started
Bill Connor (49:22):
Using the business control panel as a diagnostic tool, and when a number’s not where it’s supposed to be, you ask them, what do you think we need to do to go ahead and make this number move back to where it’s supposed to be?
Dustin Brown (49:36):
Yes, but I don’t use the control panel for se. I make them input numbers into a spreadsheet. So I don’t want,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (49:44):
This is brilliant. This is brilliant. They own it from then on. It’s not a, I tell you, they tell you what I’m saying is by you making them do it, they own their own numbers and have proposals of how to improve. That’s brilliant.
Dustin Brown (50:03):
Yeah, they’re thinking about it while they’re putting the numbers in, right? Oh shit, what am I going to say about this? amo?
Uwe Kleinschmidt (50:11):
That’s brilliant. Do you have an estimated percentage lift for the estimates when you started using CAN jobs or switched to Protractor compared with what you’d done before? Because I assume the moment, as you said, you use technology, your estimates were a lot bigger overnight almost.
Dustin Brown (50:39):
Yeah, and I can’t tell you, I don’t have that number as with percentage. But yeah, now every single job that they recommended struts on that at 80,000 miles, it’s getting estimated like, no, he’s not going to buy struts. I’m not going to waste my time. So he got 1200 bucks on every but right there just on four struts and an alignment on any higher mileage car. So it definitely increased the dollar amount of discovered services for sure.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (51:05):
And how did that go with the service advisors? They all of a sudden had to estimate more, but how long did it take until they said, wow, it actually works. I’m selling more. It’s not just more work on the front end.
Dustin Brown (51:21):
It’s a constant. You’re constantly having to remind them you’re constantly right, that number, they don’t estimate as much. They owe drops. Look, you’re selling 30 to 40% of everything you estimate. Do you want to sell 30 to 40% of 500 bucks or 30 to 40%, 2,500 bucks. So that’s constant. People have moods and people have ebb and flow. Of course, you got to just kind of make sure they don’t get back in their bad habits. There’s never like a, Hey, I don’t have to work on this anymore.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (51:59):
Right. No. Makes sense.
Bill Connor (52:01):
We’re down to about seven minutes left. How about we
Uwe Kleinschmidt (52:04):
Get, let’s just add another hour.
Bill Connor (52:08):
Well, we may need it. So maybe we get these guys to go and summarize the top three things that they would advise a shop to do to go in, improve their numbers.
Dennis Eidson (52:20):
Let me go first. I mean, number one, a lot of this, I think Dustin has said quite a bit, but number one is reinforcing every week what the numbers say. We’ve had a tough stretch in the last three months from HR personnel, hiring, firing, dying scenario. So I haven’t been as good at having that weekly meeting as I once was. But when we did it, number of recommendations and pictures taken and edited pictures and motorist research time, every single one of those metrics is explainable in the BCP. I’ve talked about this before. There are a thousand metrics in the BCP. You need to find five or six or seven that totally drive your business. So that would be my advice, number one, two, and set it before, some folks aren’t going to get it. You may have to make some tough decisions if they’re not technically savvy, if they don’t want to do more work, if they like building bigger estimates, get rid of ’em.
And number three is not really advice, but it’s again, our feedback from our customers on digital inspections is the most positive. Forget about ARO it. It’s the positive feedback from customers on doing business with us. They can see what’s wrong with their car. They know we’re telling ’em the truth, and they love that digital inspection and they keep coming back for more. The last thing I’m going to say on that is I gave a customer a $62 refund last week on an oil change that we did because we didn’t do an inspection. She said, well, that’s why I come to you is for the inspection. I can get the oil change anywhere. It’s the inspection. So to make her feel better, I gave her back 62 bucks and said, come in, we’ll do an inspection next week.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (54:16):
Very cool. Very cool. Thank you. Let’s hear from Jeremy. Be next.
Jeremy Neff (54:25):
Well, the three things I got is the biggest thing with, we’re getting a lot of new customers in our new location and to be able to show the customer what the tech sees, even if they come in just for an oil change, they trust us basically overnight with anything else we recommend because it’s their vehicle and it’s the picture. So go digital. It’s so much easier to gain trust. The next one is implement some kind of incentive for the tax and the service advisors. You’ll get a way easier transferring from paper to digital, but we learned that about halfway through the digital. Oh, we just do incentive. That worked way better. And then the third one for us says we have weekly meetings at lunch. The shop buys everyone lunch and we go over all the numbers, what went well, what didn’t go well, what our goal is for the month. Because with diesel trucks, we have trouble doing weekly numbers. We do a whole month to a quarter. So we’re in third quarter in a couple days. So that’ll be the majority what the meeting’s going to be today. But yeah, meetings and just be open with your whole team.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (55:46):
Thank you. I don’t want, we have three minutes. So the lunch, would you actually do that on a fixed date like every Wednesday or something like that?
Jeremy Neff (56:04):
We switch to four 10. So we alternate three of the texts and two of the tens. But it’s always Wednesday at lunch.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (56:13):
I see. It becomes a habit no matter what. Very we. Cool. Thank you, Dustin.
Dustin Brown (56:23):
All right. I would say the number one thing to get ’em to believe in it is ensure your technology works. Make sure you invest it and you’ve got good wifi. They’re not cutting out, you’re not getting any kind of kickback because this tablet’s not turning on. Have an extra tablet for when they drop it, when if something breaks, you’ve got something there like you’re doing it. So number one, make sure you whatever, the most expensive, best internet, wifi. Get the extenders, get it. Make sure it works all the time. That will make them say, this shit sucks. Why aren’t we doing this right away? And then number two, just hold ’em accountable. Have ’em do it. Make ’em do it. Keep to your guns. We’re doing it. We’re doing it. We’re doing it. They will get better. They will start liking it. And on top of making ’em do it every time and sticking with it and giving ’em that positive reinforcements when you sell the big jobs.
And look that inspection sold that job, right? Then the number third thing would be share the results. Share the numbers, sit down with them. Show the group. Show the team, everybody, Hey, this is working. Show ’em. It’s working with the data that AutoVitals has. I mean, like Dennis said, there’s so much there. Pick five or six that those guys can really, really relate to. Hours per ARO relating to time they spent looking at it. Average ARO tech on is big on the average ARO as they are, how many hours per car, right? So ARO for the advisors, average hours per ARO for the techs. So share the numbers, use the graphs and that business control panel to your advantage. Show how they correlate to each other and just do it and make sure that technology works.
Bill Connor (58:16):
So alls I can say is Wow, Uwe, you’re going to have a heck of a time picking your top three takeaways from this one, for sure. Holy cow, I’d like to thank you guys. Awesome. Oh yeah. I’d like to thank you guys for participating today. I hope that you will come back and visit us again one of these days soon. Lots of great wisdom here that you guys have shared. I’d like to encourage those that are listening now, either live or in the future, to go ahead and find somebody else, another shop owner in your area that might be struggling a little bit, and invite them to a digital shop, talk radio live like this, or send them to a podcast. But once again, I’d like to thank you guys for being here, and I’d like to tell everybody to go make some money and go wow, the clients that come into your shop every day.
Dustin Brown (59:02):
Thank you. Awesome.
Bill Connor (59:04):
Thank you guys. It was awesome.
Dustin Brown (59:05):
Yeah, have a great day. See you next time.
Bill Connor (59:10):
Thank you guys. Bye.

Back To Top