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Your SA is a superhero. Keep capitalizing on it.

By nature, the job of a service advisor is incredibly hectic, making it hard to streamline processes in a day that’s constantly filled with interruptions.

On this week’s episode of The Digital Shop Talk Radio, we teamed up with the crew at DRIVE to bring you Mike Button (Owner of Affordable Automotive, DRIVE client) and David Saline (VP of Sales, DRIVE) who will help us explore:
– How integrating your PoS can not only save time but dramatically increase the value of your inspections
– Techniques and tools to better manage tasks throughout the day, so your service team can stay laser-focused on sales
– Ways to prep your staff for changes in the shop, getting them to buy in from the get-go

For more on shop efficiency from another AutoVitals customer, check out this DRIVE blog post about Roy Foster’s Automotive – it’s a great read!

Episode Transcript

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

Tom Dorsey (00:03):
Good morning and good afternoon. Welcome to this week’s edition of The Digital Shop Talk Radio. I’m Tom Dorsey, and today we’re going to be talking about how do you get your service advisor to handle more work? How do you drive that productivity in the shop, especially when you’re doing things like transitioning over to a digital inspection, maybe transitioning over to a new point of sale. There’s some new things to learn, some new balls to juggle, and those things tend to trip over each other. And so we want to talk today. I’ve got a couple of great guests on for you. Welcome back, Mike Button from Affordable Automotive in Chico, California.
Mike Button (00:36):
Hello, thanks for having me.
Tom Dorsey (00:38):
And if you folks probably recognize this handsome gentleman here with the slick new hairdo is Mike’s been on in the past, and if you’re following the show, Mike’s been in an expansion and we’ll get a little update on his expansion. I’m hoping today here working on that third shop. And remember we talked about some really unique concepts that Mike is working on up there in Chico when he’s not battling wildfires and joining us from Drive. I’m really excited to have one. I believe it’s the first time you’ve ever been on the show. David is David Saline, he’s the VP of sales at Drive Shops and Mike is a Drive client and I thought it would be a great idea to come in and get that other side of the dynamic on how are we managing these transitions and some of the best practices when it comes to driving that efficiency and productivity in the shop, both at the front counter and from the technicians and just building a good team and environment altogether. Welcome Mr. Saline. Glad to have you on Buddy.
David Saline (01:36):
Thank you, Tom, it’s a pleasure to be here today with everybody.
Tom Dorsey (01:40):
Yeah, we’re really excited to have you on and I think I’ll go ahead and just get us kicked off some of the things. I know, Mike, you’ve been a busy guy, right? I believe in the last I would say, well at least the last year, probably the last eight months, you’ve switched over your point of sale. You’re working on this kind of a new more team-based concept in the operation, and so I’m sure that as posed its fair share of challenges for you. Why don’t you tell us how that last with Covid aside, how’s that last year been treating you?
Mike Button (02:19):
Well, overall it’s going well. Getting back to the point of sale aspect, when I went to the second shop, when I expanded to second shop, I realized I needed to change my point of sale system. My shop management system system I was using for the past 20 something years was not able to expand to multiple locations and having switched to protractor, now I’ve got a cloud-based software that can be accessed remotely from either shop, either location, location, multiple locations can be added to where it really gives me the actual what’s going on in the shop and the shops can talk to each other through it and it really has been a game changer for me and that was the big reason and Protractor checked a lot of the boxes that I needed checked as far as if I’m going to upgrade and going to do this, I want to do it right and hopefully only do it one time because it is a lot of work.
Tom Dorsey (03:30):
Well, I know boy, and we’ve had, I mean we can tell you the stories, but we’ve had some folks have had the opposite experience making a switch and not necessarily about tractors, just switching point of sale in general and kind of jumping in before you get maybe the full picture on how that’s going to impact. And then there has to be some process changes, right? Because a lot of times, maybe some way that you did something on your other point of sale doesn’t really get supported or there’s a better way to do it in the new point of sale and we got to learn some new tricks at the front counter, well, all throughout the operation really. How have you managed that? Because then there’s the other kind of layer of complexity there is the integration between AutoVitals and Protractor and kind relearning some of those best practices.
How did that go for you? I mean, what was your game plan around that? Because I know a lot of folks are considering that. I mean, there’s a lot of new cloud-based point of sale offerings out in the market right now. I know a lot of shop owners listening to this today are in the same boat. They’re thinking about it, they’re considering it, they’re maybe in the first steps of it and there is definitely some pitfalls that you need to avoid and there’s probably some pretty smart best practices around the implementation from a training and operational perspective that you might’ve had to learn the hard way.
Mike Button (04:46):
Absolutely. We’ve had some ups and downs with the launching of the software initially, it’s all about training and training and onboarding and doing it as quick as you can. For us, we didn’t want the downtime because we are such a busy shop and we didn’t need any more hiccups than we already do get day to day. So first thing I did was I reached out to other shop owners that are running, and so I wanted to hear it right from the horse’s mouth. When you talk to companies that run software and companies that offer these products, a lot of times they don’t have that same point of reference as a shop owner or even worked in a shop. And so I went directly to my 20 group members that had already gotten Protractor up and going, already worked out all the kinks and all the headaches.
So for me it was a little bit easier transition. Now granted, there were some things that they didn’t know that I was going to run into, so we did have to face a few obstacles, but really boils down to training both ProTrac and AutoVitals have great training program, getting everybody to do the same thing. I’ve got five service advisors and there’s probably 10 different ways you can write a ticket through. So getting the similar practices done and making sure that the guys are doing the same way has been one of the bigger challenges for me. But we’ve ironed it out. I think you look at this point in time and you realize, okay, this is where I wanted to be. I just didn’t want to go through those growing pains. But if you can shorten those growing pains that time, you’ll see all the positive stuff on the other end of it. So yeah, I would highly recommend reaching out to other shop owners who have implemented, whether it’s Protractor or any other software and how it integrates with AutoVitals and knowing all of the little details about it. I think it’s important to get that information from an owner’s perspective.
Tom Dorsey (07:04):
Yeah, most definitely.
David Saline (07:06):
Tom, sorry, Tom, Mike brought up a good point here and one of the things we teach Drive too is anytime you’re going to switch or do anything like that is the first step is research. And just like Mike was talking there, he researched you reached out to other shop owners out there, but I was going to say it’s also reach out to AutoVitals. If you’re an AutoVitals customer and you’re working with AutoVitals, you want to keep their system in place, reach out to them and talk to them and find out what do they see as the best integrations, what do they see with issues, what other issues have they run across with shop owners? So you can be prepared for what you’re going to go through in those steps because there’s a couple big points Mike talked about was he did a lot of research first, research it really well and understand it.
And a lot of the software companies will also give trials when it comes to the point of sale service. So you can give a trial, kind of play with it, get to understand it, see if it actually is a fit for your shop because as Mike said, there’s so many different point of sale services out there. You want to make sure it fits your location, your workflow, your crew, because there’s certain things that every shop does something just a little different. And what works for a Mike’s shop may not work in somebody else’s cases because it’s not what they’re used to or how they operate their shop.
Tom Dorsey (08:26):
Yeah, no, that’s a brilliant point, and I really want to throw it to you from this perspective is to say from a coach’s perspective, as you work, and a lot of times you do a lot of heavy lifting to get a shop to a certain level, you finally kind of get engagement and kind of a collaboration. And I’m sure that takes a little bit of time, especially when brand new and then you work towards some goals and now you get there and then the shop comes to you with, Hey, I want to change my point of sale or some kind of big sea change, especially from an operations perspective. And I mean it seems like for me at least, if it was me from a coach’s perspective, the first thing I’d want to do is say, well pump the brakes. Let’s talk about this. Do we really need to do this because boy, are we going to open up a can of worms potentially this can go off the rails. We got to start over. So Dave, kind of walk us through a little bit. I mean, what does that look like from your perspective? Do you say, Hey, we’re going to jump right on and figure it out together, or do you kind of counsel against it or is there an audit process maybe that you go through to say, you know what? And do you have recommendations to say, you know what, you need to do this. You’re right, but do it like this or go to this?
David Saline (09:39):
Well, the first step that we would say as a coaching standpoint of that, when you’re working with a shop that wants to change any software, but point of sale is the big one where all your most valuable data is coming for for your shop. That’s where you get all your numbers to manage your shop and it tells you everything about your shop. But the first thing as a coaching’s point of view first is we would want to know what system are you using right now? What are you looking to go to? And my first question would be, do the shop owner is, are you using your current system to its full potential right now? You’d be surprised how many people out there switch softwares because they say, my software doesn’t do this, or it is incapable of doing this. And then some other shop owner, after they’ve made the switch, it says, well, mine’s been doing it for years here.
You find it in this report or you find it, you do it this way. And that’s one of the first things I would tell a shop owner. I know Mike vetted his choice very well and thoroughly first, but when you’re looking for your software, what are you looking to achieve at it? And look at your current software and see is it capable of doing what you really wanted to do? You just don’t know how to operate it because most, I’m going to be honest, most point of sale software companies, when they introduce you to a software here, here’s all the bells and whistles, you’re going to love it and everything’s great. And then they say, yeah, we will train you on it and everything else. Well, the training consists of installing it on your computer and rushing you through it for about two or three hours and saying, play with it.
If you have any questions, call me back. And I know AutoVitals has a whole different approach to training than that on there, but there is companies out there and when you go actually start playing with it, you start entering things one way. And if you would’ve injured them correctly the first time, you wouldn’t have to have all these workarounds that are driving you crazy later. Now, Mike, I’m sure you’ve seen some of that with software before where shop owners can come up with some very unique workarounds on their software, and when you actually pull the strings far enough to get down to the bottom line of it, if they were entering it correctly or using it correctly to begin with, they wouldn’t have had to work all those workarounds.
Tom Dorsey (11:55):
Yeah, and I mean I highly encourage anybody out there, whether you’re going to be switching point of sales in the near future or not, you need to put down on paper your operating process. We call it from a digital shops perspective, we like to call it the DSOP, the digital shop operating process, right? Well, here’s why. Because A, you kind of segment and notate what each step in your process is supposed to look like. Then you can get that consistency. Like Dave’s point, well, there isn’t 400 ways, but if now when you’re going to consider maybe moving point of sale or some other thing, well now you can see exactly how it’s going to impact that process, right? That SOP and you can say, well, this isn’t going to work here or this isn’t going to work. We need to figure a work around. You can focus on that little piece, make those process changes in that document, train that into your staff, and it’s really going to take a lot of that kind of freewheeling, figure it out on your own, do it on the fly out of it. You can test it, refine it, look at your KPIs. If it’s not, you’re not gaining the efficiencies or whatever you’re trying to accomplish, well, you can go back to the drawing board and work on that segment of that process instead of throwing the whole baby out with the bath water and just scrambling to find something new, especially when we’re trying to pull out a covid and we’ve had a good end of the summer and everybody’s busy and it’s a hard time to make those big types of changes in your shop.
David Saline (13:26):
And I was going to say, just a point that you mentioned there, Tom, is also knowing what all the pieces that integrate with your current point of sale software is. Like AutoVitals is an integration, but you may have some kind of credit card processing, you may have some other software, KPI management software. There’s so many things out there that can integrate to it, and that’s one of the first steps with advice. What does the new one integrate with? How many pieces do you got? What’s going to break when you pull that point of sale service out and stick a new one in? How many things are you going to have to reintegrate? And it requires, you’re talking about your operating procedures at Drive, we call it your playbook, and it’s much more than just your operating procedures for your software in a comprehensive playbook, but you should have one for your shop. It pertains to everything you do, your workflow, your production, your sales, your marketing, exactly. Every single thing that you would do in your shop has a written procedure for it. And when you can put that all in a playbook and every employee’s doing it the same, the shop runs a lot smoother.
Tom Dorsey (14:33):
So Mike, I take it you’ve updated your playbook with your process and the changes that you’ve had introduced. Is that something that’s open for as a resource for anybody on the team, or is it something that you focus on in say your weekly meetings or in your training sessions and focus on developing either those changes to the best practice or just reinforcing those best practices when you might notice some of those shortcuts or some of those other workarounds that tend to always work themselves in based off of how busy we tend to get? Sometimes how desperate I am to get stuff done?
Mike Button (15:13):
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, our playbook’s pretty much wide open. It’s a great tool for onboarding new staff. It really gets people up to speed and it’s a fallback, Hey, guess what? When a policy gets broken and somebody decides to go rogue and do it their own way, well, we go back to the playbook and we go, this is what we agreed on. This is how we set it up, this is why we set it up. And so for your managers out there that need to enforce the policy, it’s nice to have an operations manual or playbook, whatever you want to call it, that you can fall back on and say, Hey, this is what we talked about when we hired you. This is what we agreed upon. And there’s changes that need to happen to that playbook as you go on, as you introduce new software, as you find efficiencies through what you were doing and you found a better way of doing it, then yeah, you go in there and you make those edits. But yeah, it’s a critical tool to run if you want your shop to run without you being there, you’ve got to have something in writing that shows them that path that they’re supposed to be on.
David Saline (16:25):
Yeah. Just to add to that, Tom, I’m sorry, just to add to that, on that playbook, as Mike says, it’s an open book and he brought up a very big piece. It’s kind of a living, breathing document all of its own. It’s constantly modifying, it’s constantly changing. There’s many different things. In Mike’s case, I know Mike’s story here. He’s went from one shop to three shops. His playbook is changed every time he’s at a new location to it. I mean, it’s the same playbook you had when you had one location versus three locations is very different. But not just expanding into locations. When you’re expanding your shop in general, the playbook you use when it’s just you and a couple techs is much different than the one you have when you have a service writer in techs or when you hire a manager or when you add a marketing person.
Every time you add a position into your shop, your playbook is constantly expanding and the playbook is kind of the backbone of everything. But another section in the playbook when we’re talking about software integrations and everything else, that digital inspections and how you’re using ’em, all that is its own section in a playbook. But on top of that, there’s another complete section. And that’s training. How much time do you dedicate to your training? What is your training lineup? Because you can have a binder that’s a 1000, 2000, 3000 pages for your playbook. And when you orient somebody to your shop, you don’t just go throw the book at ’em and say, here you go. You’ll know everything you need to know is right in this book and you’re good to go. There’s an actual step-by-step plan on how you train ’em on that way, on their way through so that they follow your workflow. And I know Mike, I’ve talked to Mike, he’s been on a show with me before, but the workflow in these shops, it is so big on getting the owner freed up. If you’re looking for that free time from your shop is having a agreed upon workflow that everybody follows and nobody skips a step in it.
Tom Dorsey (18:31):
Yeah, no, that’s a critical first step. If you’re looking for more absentee owner type of a role, you definitely have to have a bulletproof process in place that everybody understands and they can do it habitually, right? You call ’em at two in the morning and they wake up and they can repeat what the next step in the process is. But now, so let’s talk about how do we audit that? How do we know? Because if we’re talking about how does our service advisor handle more work, how do we drive productivity and efficiency up there at the front counter? How do we know that our playbook, our digital shop operating process is the most robust? What are we looking at from a KPI perspective? How do we kind of test it to make sure we don’t need to make another change?
Mike Button (19:16):
Well, the KPIs tell the story. You have to find your breakeven, find out what it takes to make the shop operational. You set a goal out there where you want to go. If your KPIs aren’t driving it to that goal, then you’ve got some tweaks to make. If you see a lot of turnover, if you’ve got a personnel that are leaving, they don’t want to work for you anymore. If you’re losing your customers, if you’re looking at your new customer counts and you’re not gaining new customers each week, how active is your database? Those are certain KPIs, real key performance indicators that need to be looked at and not just every once in a while. Those need to be looked at and managed on at least a weekly basis. And when you start to see the ship sinking, you’ve got to do something about it. And a lot of times it starts with policy or procedure. Something in that playbook is not clearly understood, and I think that’s when you need to get right on it.
David Saline (20:31):
Well, and just from where we, the training and consulting side of working with so many shop owners over the years at driving everything, it starts with adding the basic policies and procedures into your playbook and you start following those. Then you expand upon those, and each one of them, as Mike was saying, you’re looking at your KPIs and every area of your shop has a different KPI, it’s a telltale sign of how it’s performing. Your service writer, the number of leads they convert to sales, their average ro, all that. Different things are in there to look at it. And you just start tweaking your policies, your procedures in your shop and training your employees on ’em. And then the most valuable thing I can say, and I’m sure Mike would agree with you, is getting honest, open feedback back from your employees. As shop owners, we can dream up the best policy in the world on this is how the workflow’s going to go and everything else, and this is the best way to do it. And you go lay it out there and tell your employees to follow it, and they give you that look and a deer in the headlight looks and tell you it’s not going to work. And you got to be able to willing to willingly listen to hear why they think it’s not going to work and adjust it if needed. Sometimes pushback because it’s change and sometimes the pushback is because there’s actually something that causes that not to work
Tom Dorsey (21:57):
And they know about it and you don’t. They do it all day long and it’s not in your current process, it’s not overt, right? You just don’t notice it. Or maybe it’s an underlying thing that has one of those workarounds that this has never become an issue, but then you make that change and all of a sudden it’s a big crack in the floor. So Mike, how did that work for you? Because you changed over, like you said earlier, you changed over the protractor because you had the three locations and you needed that enterprise type solution and you had to have the cloud and be able to access the data and information kind of more freely. But what did you notice from the front counter once they kind of got everything down and they got their playbook updated and relearned some of their processes, what has been the benefits for you?
Mike Button (22:45):
Well, I’m not here to promote any type of software. This one works well for us. And for one, I really, really like the integration with AutoVitals. Now, AutoVitals is a staple here in our shop. If it goes down, anything happens, those guys throw a fit. So it’s something they rely on and depend on to be as successful as they are. So they bought in early on, it didn’t take much to get out of our old software and onto something else. They know that change is inevitable and they knew that, especially with the expansion that we had to go with something else. And so as far as the advantages of switching over, I’m a big numbers guy and our former software, it didn’t have reports like Protractor does. So where I can really dig into certain areas and find the efficiencies that we can improve on. And so that’s been a great benefit for us really be able to pick things apart and just dig down in and find those things where before it could be months before I could realize where the problem was and now I can act much sooner.
Tom Dorsey (24:00):
Yeah, it’s interesting. So David, do you see that on your end? Do you see the shops that are maybe transitioning over to a more robust point of sale like that and they have access to more data? A, are you capitalizing on that? Are you taking advantage of that? Do you change the reporting requirements and things like that if they have that extra data? And then wouldn’t that cause you to say, Hey, everybody else who doesn’t have that data, you kind of need to start considering this because this data is important, it’s going to help us to give you better insights and do our jobs better, help us help you, right.
David Saline (24:33):
Oh yeah. The more data that we can get from a shop owner, the better we can help them guide that shop to their end goal of what they really want to achieve. And it starts off first managing by a few of your normal KPIs and watching them, you get really good at it and you just keep expanding it. And I know Mike watches several different KPIs in his shop, but their shop owners that watch down to how many times the phone ring each day and they can tell you how their marketing’s working by how many phone calls. And you’ll hear people say, well, what about all the parts people and them calling and says, well, we’ve got those averaged in. We know when things are working. We know if the phone rings this many times a day, it’s going to equal this much in sales.
So the more you can dial those numbers in, the more data you can get. That’s very important. Now on another point that I think that was right here too is I always look at it as a shop owner, service writer, technicians, they all have their own jobs to do in the shop. And your point of sale service, your AutoVitals, everything you got working together is to help you manage your time in the shop to help you manage the time and complete tasks on a schedule. The best thing I can say is a brick layer can only lay so many bricks in a day. It doesn’t matter if you pile two tons more brick there and jump off more mortar, he can only lay so much in a day. Now when you get to that point where Mike’s at, you’re actually trying to make each one of your positions in your shop so efficient that there is no more they can do in a day, they’ve capitalized on every minute they were at work.
Tom Dorsey (26:17):
That is the sweet spot. And that’s really what drives us right, is we are trying to get you to that level, right, to that pinnacle. In other words, stretch as much of the value out of the technology as possible to give you efficiency and productivity tools. And one of ’em, matter of fact, we were talking yesterday, Mike is in the new TVPX version, our new AutoVitals X version. We’ve built in a lot of that functionality. With that in mind, instead of having to always you get to a level, you get to that pinnacle and then what’s the, oh, I got to hire somebody else. I have to expand my business. With technology, we’re actually able to almost clone you or to at least some degree is enable you to just kind of do more with the same amount of time by multitasking through automations and other functionality where you don’t even feel like you’re multitasking in a lot of times because it’s in that playbook, it’s in that process and you follow the process and these things happen.
Let the tool do its job and you kind of direct it and reap the benefits of that. And so when we’re getting those things, and we were talking a little bit, and to Dave’s point is that it’s the things we don’t expect it, it’s the tow truck that pulls in. It’s that customer that calls to cancel. It’s these unexpected things that really kind of throw the wrench into it. And when you have a robust task management process, it enables you to really just pivot, transition to the next and focus and go get it, go after it. And a lot of times, I know just through necessity I would say probably is we tend to manage a lot of tasks either in our head on a post-it note on a whiteboard maybe and whether they get done or not. And we always say, well, we got really busy.
We didn’t know that this was going to happen. And a lot of times tend to kick the can down the road through some type of an excuse. I’m not saying because we’re lazy. I’m not saying because we don’t want to get the work done, but other things take priority. It’s usually the person’s writing the check and is waiting for their keys, takes the priority over a lot of those other tasks. And so if you could, Mike, talk to me a little bit about, I know you’ve gotten a peak at the TVPX, that task manager, how do you think that that’s going to benefit you? How do you see yourself implementing that with your front counter to be able to do what we’re talking about here is get the service advisor to be able to handle more work.
Mike Button (28:53):
And that’s always been an interesting concept. It’s the same guy that’s been here for the last five years working the same amount of time each day. How do I get that guy to do more? I know he can because it’s there. And so having access to that task manager I think will be the deal maker. That one’s going to keep them. It’s easy. We chase shiny bright objects. I mean we get pulled off of things, it’s life, we’re just human. But to have that bar or that icon at the top of the screen and it’s kind of your to-do list for the day, and I think it will really help get these guys to get more done in a day. I just think about life before cell phones and how inefficient we were back then and now look at us. And so this is just another piece of that and I think that it’ll benefit them.
There’ll be more money in their pocket at the end of the day, they’re still working the same amount of hours, they’re just more efficient doing it. And it’s not me over their shoulder saying, Hey, have you done this yet? Have you called this person? What’s going on with that car? Where are the parts for that one with an actual to-do list in front of them that they can access throughout the day? I think it keeps ’em on task and if they do happen to get pulled off of what they’re doing, they don’t have to start over. They know right where to go back where they left off. We know what it’s like when a technician gets interrupted in their job. Usually they forget to tighten something and when they have to go back and start the whole job all over again, they couldn’t remember where they left off. So having this available to ’em, I think it will be a game changer.
Tom Dorsey (30:45):
And we’ve even taken to the next level, you should be able to see my screen. And I’m showing for folks out there that haven’t looked at the TVPX yet are haven’t seen the task manager functionality, this is what it looks like. What Mike was saying is right up here, you have your notification that you’ve got some outstanding tasks and these are automated. See, that’s the kicker. That’s what we’re talking about here is how do I get that service advisor to be able to do more without having to do more. See? And that’s really what it’s about. And so imagine being able to automatically set a task review and complete inspection results as soon as that technician hits submit on the tablet, it’s going to automatically create a task in here for you. And then you can go in and matter of fact, once you audit that inspection and send it out to the customer, you don’t even have to go in there and click that you finish that task.
It’s going to automatically complete the task by the action. And so the more of that, and this is what I’d like to do for folks out here and for Dave and for Mike, is how do we even take that to the next level? Because we don’t know all of the operational situations. We hear a lot of them in our Facebook forum. We get a lot of good feedback, we get the feature requests that come in, but we build it to what our understanding is and we could really use the help on how do we take that, what else should be automated, what else should auto complete? What else can we work in here? Team concept. We talked a little bit about that on the show last week as we were talking about when we’re in there in our downtime and we’re doing a lot of maintenance and busy work, well, it’s great to be able to take it off of the whiteboard, put it into a system that’s going to give notifications, it’s going to give transparency, it’s going to have an owner and it’s going to have a due date.
And that way it stays more top of mind. Now we might not get it done and it might not be the biggest priority today, but you know what? When you come in the morning, it’s right there on the board and you remember and you get back in the saddle. And so more than anything really, we like that kind of feedback, good and bad on how can this thing, this is great, how can it take me to the next level? So don’t be shy, let us know as you get your hands on it and you start to incorporate that into your process, ask demand more from us. That is the deal I’ll make with you is we want to create this thing to be that tool that allows you to drive that productivity to a whole nother level. And in return, we’re asking you to give us the feedback to help us get there.
David Saline (33:21):
Well, just a small piece on this piece there, you have a list of tasks for your employees to complete on there. And this is where you can actually have some fun in the shop. You can actually put bonuses or some kind of game in, see who can complete the most tests in a month or a week or a time period and how fast do they get ’em done Because you got to looking at it just one point right here, and I know Mike, you can weigh in on this here in a second, but when companies and their employees are completing jobs and being really successful at it and productive morale goes out the roof in the shop, and when you get a team with a very high morale, their productivity increases to a higher level. And it’s an amazing thing when it happens. You thinking, well, we’re as busy as we can be, but the team is happy, their morale is good, we’re getting all this workout, and then you just watch next week more than that comes in and the team tackles it and they take that win. They’re happy, they actually succeeded in doing something above and beyond what they thought they could do and it boosts morale and it just makes it shop run that much better.
Tom Dorsey (34:34):
Yes, no, that is a fantastic point because then when you have that transparency, you can gamify it, right? Like Dave said, you can put little fun things around it. You can build some goals in a direction, you can push towards some big hairy goal that you thought last year you can never achieve. But as you had to eat an elephant, well one bite at a time and so you just knock it out. As we win, we want to win more. And that really motivates and gets that momentum going. So then pretty soon nothing’s impossible and we’ve eaten the whole elephant. So now that’s a brilliant point. And here what we’ve done in the task managers segmented it down. So over here in your little floating taskbar, it’s not just about the technicians, it’s about the customer, it’s about AutoVitals. So you can get alerts and get tasks and communicate with AutoVitals about the vehicle or to a team in the shop.
And so the flexibility in there really allows you, depending on what you need in your operation to set this thing up, to take that efficiency to the next level, or I should say that productivity to the next level. And that’s by allowing the service writer to have a lot of these things that he would be writing on a note thinking, trying to maintain in his head, trying to find that note that he had wrote on and eliminate all that go right to a single location, keep ’em in track. And then like I said, they don’t even have to really worry about going in there and managing creation of the task or completion of the task. They just do their job, but at the same time, they could easily come in here and create a task. They can create themselves a new task. So just got off the phone, that customer wants to call back in 10 minutes, being can call that customer back in 10 minutes. It could be a task like that. You use a special marker, depends on how you do, but the ability to come in here and add a task and assign that task on the fly is really a solid tool for that service writer to be able to take that productivity to the next level.
David Saline (36:35):
Well, just to add to this point here, you’re talking about distractions there for a quick second, and Mike, not that you never had any of this going on in your shop, but as a shop owner myself, you have a service writer up at the front desk and they go to start. It could be anything. It could be starting to order parts for something. They could be looking up doing an estimate for a customer, then the phone rings and then another customer walks in the door and then shortly after that their parts vendor shows up to deliver some parts and before you know it, they forgot where they were at and what they were actually going to do. And it could be hours that pass by in some cases.
Tom Dorsey (37:18):
Yes. And here, I mean it’s as simple as reprioritize. I drag it to the top, Hey, oh gosh, I need to get this thing done. I’ve had all these other tasks come in on top of it and I can just drag it right back to the top and puts it as a priority for me. I can come in and on the fly, just create a new task, assign it, attach it to an ARO so that it stays in the shop notes, all of that important stuff, and put a due date on it, write on the fly, stop that habit or scribble and stuff on a notepad or a post-it note, just type it in here because it’s going to stick with you and you’re going to be able to find it when you need it. So let me get out of this thing
Mike Button (38:00):
And just future requests maybe, I don’t know, but tying training to that task manager.
Tom Dorsey (38:08):
Oh yeah,
Mike Button (38:09):
Finding a way to, for the technicians and service advisors, if there’s any type of training modules you want them to do and getting it tied to that.
Tom Dorsey (38:19):
Oh, I like that. I like that mean from a lot of different perspectives because we could create its own training environment project, let’s call it a training project where you can go in, but then if we can pull in a library of training collateral, either Drive collateral, AutoVitals collateral, that depending on what your assessment of that individual is and what their needs from a training perspective are, you could assign them, watch this video, this video, do these things your next week I want you to be at 70% inspection rate. And then we will take a look at that on our one-on-one and see where we’re going towards that end. If it’s working and do more of it. If it’s not, well let’s find some more training material or put you with somebody you can shadow so you get it figured out or show you the door. I don’t know. I guess once you get down to the end,
David Saline (39:18):
Tom Dorsey (39:18):
A brilliant idea. Mike.
David Saline (39:21):
Mike, I know Mike is very invested in training in his company and everything. And just a couple quick fats for you, Tom. The average business lose 15 to $20,000 a year per untrained person in the business. And if you invested that $15,000, you don’t even have to invest half of that into training each year into training the employee and you don’t lose that money. Plus they probably make you more because they’re more productive. And as we started off the show, you were talking about moving over to a new point of sale service or any kind of major change that you’re doing in the shop plan ahead and set up a training program for everybody that’s going to be affected by it. Start training ’em early before you even make the switch. Train them for what the changes are going to be, what should they expect when it actually happens. Then it’s continual training to make sure that they’re following it and operating it the way you want ’em to operate it.
Tom Dorsey (40:22):
Well, that is a huge cost to your business if you leave folks untrained. I mean, that’s a great statistic. I’ve never heard that before and it’s incredible. I believe it a hundred percent because every time I got to go ask somebody and interrupt them, not only am I taking a time away, but now it’s much more likely that somebody’s going to make a mistake somewhere along the line because they got distracted and they got out of their focus, right?
David Saline (40:49):
Well, every time somebody has to stop and ask another employee in the shop how they do this, you didn’t lose productivity of one person. You now lost productivity of two people. Yeah,
Tom Dorsey (41:01):
No, that is a fantastic point and I think that’s really a great idea. I mean, I can see how, I’m sure Uwe’s over there just champing at the bit because you guys notice I don’t have my expert panel of experts on with me today or they’d be feeding me some stuff, but I think Uwe’s probably over there got his mind race in there on how we can implement that because I think that’s a really good idea to incorporate the training project and then feed the training collateral right into the system. I mean, ideally they can just pop it right onto their tablet. They get assigned, if you’re talking to tech Boom, he pushes a button and there’s that video that he needs to do that training with. He doesn’t even have to go and sit at a workstation or do it from home. He can use his tablet actually to incorporate that and we can show it right on the desktop browser for the front counter.
Interesting. See how that comes out. And for all anybody else out there that’s got brilliant ideas like Mike Button, put ’em on the Facebook form, like I said, hold us accountable, demand better from us in the development of this tool because I really believe that from, as a software company, we’re doing projects and we have to do project management all day every day. And so we use a lot of tools and we’ve emulated some of those to bring that benefit to the shop owners. And so we really understand the importance of project management and task management and setting goals and accountability of course, right deliverables, but to be able to bring it into the shop to that level in a way that is not intrusive, it doesn’t take a lot of retraining on how to even nothing worse than train somebody on how to use the project for training. You have to go through a bunch of training just to use the training. That’s not going to be good. But if we can incorporate that in a really seamless and easy way, it’s going to be a huge benefit, I believe, for the shop. So any of those ideas, bring ’em in, hit us up on the Facebook form, call me up. And I know you probably want to come on the show also, so I’d love to have you on and talk about your ideas too.
Hey Dave, let me ask you, because for folks that don’t know, David does you were doing every day Facebook, how often on a week are you doing it and how can folks catch your show, David, if they want to?
David Saline (43:23):
Yeah, so you have the Drive Shops Facebook page and we go live every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for a half hour at 1230 Pacific Time. And we’re talking about the current management issues that shops have if it’s marketing to increase their car count down to finding employees. The playbook’s been a very big topic lately because let’s be honest, nobody had a playbook for 2020,
But I guarantee you a lot of people like Mike Button has adjusted their playbooks now and they knew have a new chapter of their playbook that says if 2020 Everett comes back again, we have a new playbook for that. So we talk about the management issues in the shop on our Facebook Live. You can join us, like I said, Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays. And anybody having questions about anything as far as shop management, how’s some better ways to do it? How do I start on creating my playbook for my shop? Give us a call at Drive. We’re here to help everybody out there. We want to help all the shop owners improve the industry and let’s just take this industry to a whole new level.
Tom Dorsey (44:33):
Yeah, and I’ll tell you what I know about Drive. There is no organization out there that’s going to do a deeper dive. I mean, I would almost say that they probably hire retired Proctologists or something over there to do the shop audits because these guys go deep. Maybe we cut that reference out, but it’s really incredible. I know a lot of Drive shops and as I was sitting down at conference with some folks, I think we were talking about it together, Mike and I, and I didn’t know the level of audit that you go through. There is no stone unturned and what a great partner to have in a second set of eyes and the wisdom that comes with that because you’re managing one shop or three shops or 10 shops, they’re managing hundreds or thousands of shops and have that experience and have a long history of that.
And so just like to Dave’s point is to say nobody expected 2020, nobody expected this covid thing, but there’s a whole bunch of smart shop owners now that have lived this experience and know what to do if it ever happens again. And they’re going to be ones that flip that switch with a quickness and thrive through the challenge. And we’ve seen that. I mean, I’ve seen some incredible metrics Drive shops, AutoVitals shops, people who are focused on best practices and saying, running that playbook and are able to kind of see what’s coming and adapt. Gosh, we were hearing shops were closing and they’re out of business and they’re asking for deferments. And then there were other shops, their car count was down 50%, their revenue was up 30%, 40%. And they maintained that from the spring all the way through the summer. And then the question is, do I even go back to trying to chase all those cars? I made more money this year than I did last year. I did a lot less cars, 30% less in some cases, but still grew that top line or bottom line.
David Saline (46:43):
Yeah. Just to add to that, Tom, what we’ve seen over at Drive was there was a slowdown in March at the beginning of April. There’s about a one month slowdown in there, but then it’s like somebody flipped a switch. The average AROs went out the roof and then the shop owners started thinking outside the box and they started pick up and delivery services offering other services like We will pick up a few groceries for you, we’ll deliver you some toilet paper. There was all kinds of things that were thought of outside the box. And then next thing we know, shops were slammed with work and we ran across more shops that were in a crunch to hire new employees during the pandemic than anything because they were just exploding with work and they were maximizing on everything that was out there. And the way they did it is they offered an outstanding service.
And part of that is like AutoVitals is a key part to it. That’s part of your customer service experience with your customers. And when you offer service, nothing beats service. And one of the things we told our shop owners early to do is call your customer base. And you’re not calling ’em to ask ’em for a sale. You’re calling them just to see how are you doing? And the first week we had shop owners doing that. The next thing we know, we had our Drive clients calling in telling us that our customers were blown away. They’ve been in lockdown now for a few weeks. They haven’t left their house. And they says out of everybody that they know, the only person to call ’em was their auto repair shop to see if they were doing okay. And it blew their customers away. And it really gave an opportunity for shop owners to showcase how involved they are with their community, how they care about their community, and just that they’re there for their customers in this time. Yeah,
Tom Dorsey (48:37):
No, that’s a great point David. And it is not too late if he didn’t do that. No time like the present to start that, call your customers and say, how you doing? Is there anything I can do for you? And you’d be surprised at the results that you get out of that. And then you got guys like Mike Button who through this year, this year that nobody would want to go through again. He’s actually expanding his business. He’s working on bigger and better things. And I kind of teased it at the beginning and I said I would get a little bit of an update, Mike, if you could give us an update on where you’re at because your concept of what you’re doing in your operation is it’s really interesting.
Mike Button (49:15):
Yeah. Well, a couple things. The main shop, the one behind me that I’ve had for 24 years now, it’s going great. We’re hitting numbers we have never hit before. Got a full production crew. Everybody’s doing well. The second location, which I opened about two and a half years ago is I drove by this morning. I kept driving because the parking lot was completely full. I go, okay, they got it figured out. So that afforded me the opportunity for the third location because these two shops are operational, they don’t need me here. They’re doing great. And so it’s allowed me to go after a pasture mine, which is the older classic cars. So the third location was an opportunity to buy some real estate in California and remodel a shop, which I love doing that as well. And now I can focus on my passion, what I like to do, take something old and make it nice again, make it usable. And I have, I’m not kidding you, I’ve got probably 20 customers in the hopper right now with some big projects. So yeah, we’re going gangbusters down here and I’m excited the future, and that’s great times for us for sure.
Tom Dorsey (50:31):
Yeah. Congratulations brother. Couldn’t happen to a better guy. And that’s what it’s all about, right? Is have a goal. Don’t take no for an answer. Roll up your sleeves and go after it. And then good stuff happens to you too. And I think the marriage between a company like Drive, a company like AutoVitals and an aggressive and goal oriented and driven and motivated person, sky’s the limit. And you get out there and really what it’s all about is serve that community, right? We’re aficionados and there’s plenty of other people out there and they want a great place. And whether it’s just get in the car repaired to make it down to the soccer match and drop the kids up, well, I guess you can’t play soccer anymore, but whatever. Get ’em to the take the Covid test or am I restoring or am I a hot rodder?
Or I got some my high school car that I’m still in love with and I maintain and I want to make it better. And always. And those people really are attracted to that success, and they come in and do business with you and they become lifetime customers. You can’t beat it with a stick. Gentlemen, I know this time, this hour flew. I really appreciate you guys coming on. This was a great discussion. Again, if anybody’s interested in getting their playbook updated, reach out to Dave. He gave you his contact information, reach out to Mike through the Facebook form or call him down at the shop. I mean, this guy, where’s his, he’s more than willing to help. That’s one thing I know about Mike Button. Boy, I’ll tell you another quick anecdote. What’s the guy’s name out of Stockton? Is it Stockton or Sacramento? I met him at the conference with you. That guy loves you, man. Oh
Mike Button (52:12):
Yeah. I remember. Yeah. He called me the other day, says, Mike, I’m looking at buying a second shop. What he think we talked for about two hours and I talked him out of it because it wasn’t a good deal. But yeah, he’s a great guy,
Tom Dorsey (52:23):
Man. Mike has that effect on people, I’m telling you because Mike’s got a huge heart. Anyway, I don’t want to keep rambling. I really appreciate you guys coming on as a great show. Next week, tune in, same time, same place. We’re going to be talking about, we got two great shop owners on. We’re going to be talking about, do you have your technicians estimating to the ARO or not, right? We’re going to have kind of a little debate battle. So we’ll see you next Wednesday, 10:00 AM Pacific, 1:00 PM Eastern. Until then, get out there and make some more money in COVID 2020.

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