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In this episode hear from Sara Savio, a Service Manager at Made In America – Made In Japan, Brad Harriff, a Service Manager at Roy Foster’s Automotive, and our hosts Uwe and Bill. They have an in-depth discussion on The Digital Shop® processes for highly efficient operations. 

Episode Transcript

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

Bill: Good morning. Good afternoon. My name is Bill Connor, and you have reached the Digital Shop Talk Radio. For those of you that have joined us live, we certainly appreciate it, and we encourage you to chat your questions in if you have any.
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So, today, I’m here with Brad Harriff, service manager for Roy Foster’s Automotive. Welcome, Brad. I believe this is your first time with us.
Brad: Yeah.
Bill: Awesome.
And I’ve also got Sara Savio, the service manager for Made in America – Made in Japan. Sara’s joined us on several other occasions to share her wisdom about the automotive industry, so I’d like to welcome both of them.
Today, we’re going to take a deep dive into digital shop processes of these two highly efficient operations. And so, as the consumer, staffing, and other driving forces of the industry continue to change, the change to a complete digital shop is needed more than ever.
Today, we’re going to discuss this a little bit differently. In the past, I’d normally focus with shop owners in here. And now what we’ve got is people who are more or less boots on the ground. They’re ones that make this stuff happen on a daily basis.
So, we’re going to talk about what are the processes that are used in highly efficient digital shops, what are process changes needed to make a successful shop, and we’re going to give you some solid ideas to put in place for building a team culture and securing a strong future for all the staff members of your particular shop.
Today’s focus is going to be delivering service you can trust, which is one of the key components of the NAPA AutoCare program. And so, we’re going to be talking about building trust using the digital tools and shop processes to be highly effective at delivering service you can trust on each and every visit to your shop.
So, Brad and Sara, you guys ready to dive in here and dig in?
Sara: Let’s do it.
Brad: Yeah. Surely.
Bill: Awesome.
So, first thing I’m doing to do is just show you the business control panel and show you some of the reasons why I’ve invited you two on here to share your expertise.
So, I’m going to find out which one of these monitors it’s on. And it should be this one. Now you should see the business control panel.
What I’m really interested in here is that these shops both have a high average repair order dollar amount. They’ve got a respectable inspection rate, so even though they’re not perfect and they’re not inspecting every vehicle, they’ve very consistent at what they do. Their edited pictures percentage is in a decent range.
And then, as we go down the list a little bit further, we can also see that the average number of pictures is consistent. The inspections are being sent out to the customer, so when they’re doing inspections, they go out. And more importantly, when the customers get them, you can see in both of their cases, they’ve got an average motorist research time that’s really high.
So, these are all some numbers that tell me that processes in the shop are good. They’ve got a reasonable number of average recommendations, so this tells me that technicians are actually spotting need. And more importantly, we’ve got the holy grail of the business going on here. We’re looking for three hours plus, and so, we can see that one is a 2.89, which is almost three, and we’ve got one at 3.71.
So, these are all really great things. So, when I picked these folks out here, I picked them out because I know they’ve got really efficient operations, and I want to dig into the details of what makes them kind of superstars at what they do.
Let’s start going down through here, and I’d like to first talk about a little bit of compare and contrast of what we did in the past, and now how do we equate what we did in the past to doing it today with the digital tools? And more importantly, especially when we’re talking about the NAPA AutoCare program, what are the things we’ve done to build trust in the past and now changed over and transitioned to doing them in the digital world?
With that being said, what I’d like to do is start out with Sara, because I’ve worked with you a long time, and I know you’re an industry veteran for sure, as is Brad. So, let’s talk about some of the things that you did in the past to build trust, and then let’s start examining a little bit of detail of how we now do it with the digital toolbox we have.
Sara: Sure. So, I would say that the single biggest difference I see in building trust in a digital shop versus what we had prior is in those days, we would bring the customer out into the shop area, and we would show them the oil leak. The customer’s saying, well, there is no oil on the ground. Why am I not seeing oil? Well, we explain that there are lower engine covers.
But the benefit of the digital shop is that we can take those pictures without having to take the customer out to the shop, edit the pictures, putting arrows pointing to the specific leak, noting in the inspection while we’re editing what is leaking and what it is that needs to happen to resolve that particular condition.
So, by digitally showing the customer what we’ve got going on, we’re building the trust, we are reducing the time away from the desk where we could be working on other estimates, [and] editing other pictures to make the shop more efficient.
So, I would say in a nutshell, the difference is the efficiency that we gain while we’re able to show them exactly what their concerns are in the pictures that we take.
Bill: So, Brad, I assume your experiences are similar. Could you talk a little bit about past, present, and what you’re doing to build that trust with the consumer?
Brad: I 1000% agree with Sara. I don’t want to sound redundant, but it is exactly that. I still use when people call and say, I love your inspection. It’s great. It’s so informative. I tell them, absolutely. It’s miles better than the way we used to do it, where I’d sit there and talk your ear off 20 to 30 minutes on the phone trying to go over the inspection verbally.
They get lost two to three points into the inspection or into the conversation, but when you’re showing them everything and they know everything that’s going on, they know exactly what we’re recommending. They know why we’re recommending it. And they understand the importance and the value of what’s getting recommended.
So, that by all means here builds absolutely more trust than anything we do before or after that process.
Bill: So, part of the AutoCare program is, especially if they’re gold certified, they’ve got to have some type of digital inspection platform. My particular mindset is that every customer that comes in the door, we owe them a safe, reliable and comfortable vehicle. And we do that on each and every visit by doing an inspection.
So, can you talk about how you present that information to the customer at drop-off to let them know kind of what’s in it for them? What is your unique position in the marketplace as an AutoCare center or as a shop building trust? How do you explain that unique position to the customer in way that’s what in it for them?
Sara, you want to take –?
Go ahead, Brad.
Brad: Sorry. I didn’t know if that was directed to me. We have dual monitors set up up front, where they’re actually on a swivel base. So, what we do when a customer comes in, we go over the way the way we’re processed. We make sure that we have the first step of what they came in for. We make sure we have the notes of what we’re looking for, making sure that their primary concern is getting addressed.
And then, at that point in time, we flip the screen over and we go, OK; this is the inspection we did yesterday for this customer. Here is everything that we do. We have all of our information on it. We have the tech who looked at it, a picture of the service advisor, a picture of their car specifically, as well as we have the outlying inspection all squared away and organized. So, that way they know exactly what they’re expecting. They know what they’re going to receive and they know exactly what is expected come the time the inspection is sent to them.
Bill: So, before we move off of that, let me hear what you’re saying correctly. You guys have actually bookmarked a fully completed, fully edited inspection on your browser bookmarks bar, and you actually pop that up there and show the customer how the tool works, so that way when they get that on their device they know that a picture with an eye icon on it, basically they can tap it and the notes are there and so on. So, you’re doing a little bit of education on how to use the tool when they get it.
Brad: Correct. Because when we first started using AutoVitals – and before that we used Bolt On and it’s kind of the same – we just told people, hey, we’re going to send you a digital inspection link, look for it and give us a call back.
Well, most people would get the link and just assume, OK. Cool. It says give us a call for an update. And that didn’t really get them looking through the inspection process. So, once we started educating them and telling them, this is what you’re going to be looking at. This is what you are going to look out for link-wise so that way you know what to expect. That way it doesn’t lead to the confusion of, I couldn’t really understand their inspection process, so I may not be able to full understand what they’re saying or what the rest of the process for the repair is going to be like for them.
Bill: Sara, you want to expand on that a little bit? You’ve got a little bit of a different, unusual way that you work with the customer that seems to be very effective. If you would, talk through your process.
Sara: Sure. So, whether it’s a new customer or a return customer, setting the expectation at drop-off seems to be the most important and most effective part of the whole process for me. After, of course, we need to document the cause, why they’re coming in, whatever going’s to happen. And then, I will do my best based on technician assignment to give them an idea time frame-wise of when I anticipate having an inspection done.
I let them know that we perform the same inspection every vehicle, every time. There’s no charge, no obligation. This is for complete transparency so they know exactly what’s going on with their vehicle.
At that point, once everything’s all signed in, before I let the customer go, I explain to them how the process is going to work. Through the inspection we are looking at lighting, belts, hoses, fluid levels, conditions during suspension and brakes.
Once the technician is done with any testing or that inspection, he’ll submit it to me. I’m going to put any little notes or arrows on the pictures, so that they can understand what we’re trying to draw their attention to, and then I let them know that I’m going to forward that to them by both email and text message.
At that point, I advise them when they get the text message to click on the link. That’s going to open up the inspection, where they’re going to see the technician, a picture of their car, and then they’re going to see collapsed colored bars that are going to identify the sections in the inspection. So, when they click on the blue bar at the top, that’s what we covered [in] our testing. When they look on the green and click on the green section, that’s going to open up everything that we’ve checked that’s good.
Anything in the yellow section are going to be items where we made knowledge of a little bit of something, but we’re not necessarily going to recommend it right now. We just want to keep an eye on it. And then anything in the red section, those are going to be immediate need items based on condition of the vehicle itself and once again reiterate that they’re going to have pictures and notes attached to that.
And then I let them know anything that’s due by mileage for maintenance is going to be at the section at the bottom. So, when they get that, open it up, take a look, see if you have any questions.
At that point, I’m working on pricing and options. When I have that ready, I’m going to shoot you a text message that says to give me a call for pricing and options, and at that point in time, I’ll be a wealth of information.
That is extremely important to me to let them know that they’re going to get the inspection, look at it, click on the educational videos, look at the notes, and really do their information gathering at that point, seeing if there are any questions.
But I can actually control the number of calls that are coming into the shop by setting that expectation before they walk out the door. The number of calls that we get in [that say], hey, where are we? Have we had a diagnostic yet? Those calls are significantly reduced when you control that by letting them you you’re going to get that text message letting them know to give me call for pricing and options.
Bill: So, you deviate a little bit. AutoVitals standard practice is for the service writer to edit it, estimate it, and then send it and then let the customer call. I believe, Brad, that’s the process you guys use in your shop.
Brad: Yeah. Yes.
Bill: And Sara’s a little bit different. She’s actually letting the customer know look this over and then I’m going to be giving you a call back as soon as my estimate’s complete. So, it’s just a little bit different than the standard process.
You’ve done it both ways I’m sure, Sara, so do you find any advantage or disadvantage of doing that? What is your thought process behind why you changed that a little bit?
Sara: Sure. So, psychologically when the customer feels that they’re calling you, they feel like they’re more in control. I have initiated this. But the way I have my system set up, I may be working on five or six estimates. I could have five or six estimates ready.
But by them understanding and knowing that they’re not going to call me for that information until I’m ready and I have the time that I can spend with the customer. I think one, it is increasing my motorist research time, because they’re really looking at this. They’re wanting to know what we’re going to talk about. And then once again, controlling my scheduling so that I’m not having five people all call at the same time. And I want to make sure that I have an equal amount of time to spend with everyone.
So, in reaching out and calling them or having them call me, I feel that, once again, we’re empowering them. They think that they’re in charge, when in reality, I’m controlling my time.
Bill: So, when we talk about delivering service you can trust, if you can compare the level of trust that they have versus standing at the car looking at it, and then try to remember it and go back and explain it to somebody else. Can you compare and contrast the difference between them being able to have something they can look at more than once versus in the bay? Does it create more trust, less trust? What is the difference between the two?
Sara: I think that it absolutely builds the trust. I’m looking at my TVP and I’m looking at my motorist research time as I’m doing other things and you look at those numbers grow and grow and grow. What I do find also is that after that initial view, I will go back later, and they may have shared it with somebody – shared it with a spouse, shared it with a parent, shared it with a neighbor that knows more about cars.
And what we get back when we’re talking to them is, wow. I’ve never seen anything like that before. The inclination is not really to have those long discussions anymore. They can physically see what’s going on with their car, which really boosts the approval rate, and that’s going to boost your hours per ticket, and it just creates that peace of mind for the customer, that they’re being taken care of, this is their car, and we’ve spent this time.
Bill: Brad, you let me know if you’ve experienced the same thing. Because I hear this from many, many service advisors across our AutoVitals network. In the past, they used to have to explain it to the initial person that called, and when they’d finished, they’d say, oh, let me have so-and-so call back so you can explain it to them again.
Do you find that a lot of that has gone away using the digital process?
Brad: We still get it every once in a while. I would probably say at least once or twice a month we’ll get somebody who does that. Typically it’s either an older gentleman or lady or it’s a really younger kid, because we’re a college town. We’re about a mile away from the university, so we get a lot of parents calling, saying, hey; my kid’s car broke down. Can you get it over there?
So, I notice that a lot that when – and I hate to put it this way – but when the 18, 19 year old wants to be an adult and wants to go through that process and goes, hey, talk to me about it. I can make the decisions. Thank kind of stuff. It’s really respectable because it needs to be learned early on. But we still get a lot of, hey; I want to be the adult. I want you to tell me about everything. I want to make the decision. And then, you explain it to them, and they’re like, hey, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Can you explain it to my dad?
Whenever we run into it, if they haven’t already forwarded it to the parent or the spouse, or whoever is more educated in the cars that they want to talk to, I just usually ask, hey, what’s their phone number? Do you mind if I give them a call? Or do you mind if I send them the inspection? So, that way, I can kind of initiate it and be in control. Because I don’t want to just blindside this person by saying, I’ll just send them the inspection. But I do tell them that we can either call them and send the inspection or they can forward it directly to them.
Bill: Here’s an interesting question that came in, and I’ll let both of you address this.
A customer comes in for an oil change. Do you still do a complete inspection? My concern would be the amount of time my customer is tied up waiting.
So, could both of you talk a little bit about your position in that and how you handle that? That may be more of a training issue than anything else, but let’s have you guys go through that a little bit.
Brad: Yeah. Absolutely.
Do you want to go first, Sara, or do you want me to go?
Sara: Yep. Go ahead.
Brad: OK. I’m going to be blunt because that’s just who I am as a person. We do not have waiters. We just absolutely have eliminated all waiting customers.
We get people all the time still that go, hey, I don’t have a ride back. We can resolve that with a Lyft account or we have a business Lyft concierge service. We do not have a shuttle yet so we can’t figure that part out. But I do everything in my power to resolve that. Do you have someone to pick you up, who can get this for you?
Because every single time we have a waiter appointment, we rarely get sales off of them. If they can see the time that they’ve stayed here, they’re going to get more impatient the longer it goes. And we probably get 15 to 20 cars a day and [we have] four technicians. There’s no way we can accurately, efficiently, and directly help each one of them as much as we need to.
We can’t go through the whole process with every single one of them if we have 15 to 20 cars and four people are waiting. It just turns into a kind of thing where service advisors are rushing through to get the inspection done to move on. Techs are rushing through to get to the next car.
So, we have eliminated waiting customers.
Bill: So, when you eliminated waiting customers, you’ve done it in a way where you’ve explained to them the value of giving you time to do a full complete inspection, what’s in it for them, and then that would reduce that some?
Brad: Yeah. Exactly. I’m not as blunt up and up front with the customers. I’m not going to sit there and tell them like, hey, I don’t have time to do your car correctly, so I’m going to wait. That’s absolutely rude. That’s how you lose customers. That’s how you get bad advertisement, which is not what you want.
I explain to them that this is our process. We do a full digital inspection. We like to look through everything for both your safety and ours, and we like to make sure that everything is taken care of and each customer gets the same and equal opportunity to get their problems addressed and their vehicle properly maintenanced. And that takes a couple of hours. That’s not something we can do in 20, 30 minutes. We feel that it’s more important for you to get better service than it is for us to get that $30, $40 off an oil change, or whatever you guys get.
Bill: Sara, how about you? In order to deliver a safe, reliable, and comfortable vehicle, do you take a similar approach to that, or do you take in a certain number of waiters per day? How do you [do it]?
Sara: At this point in time, we are so busy, I’m booked out for even a drop off for an oil change for about a week. For a new customer calling in, in some situations, that’s good. If they absolutely have to wait, they’re probably better off at a Jiffy Lube, where they’re not going to have somebody that’s looking out for their best interest, that’s going to give them the peace of mind that when they get back on the road that everything is going to be functioning or at least that they’re educated.
The inspection isn’t always going to sell everything. I feel that it’s our responsibility ethically to present everything to the customer, but at the same time, everything isn’t going to be a grand slam all of the time. So, the inspection has to be done every time the vehicle comes in.
Bill: Could we also say that is a permission-based inspection. So, the customer already knows you’re going to do an inspection and what’s in it for them. So, it’s not like you’re doing that.
So, I’d like to encourage the person that asked that particular question to go an episode or two back, and there’s an episode from some really, really high volume shops that have a different way that they address that, in that they’ve got an inspection sheet built that they can get an answer back to the customer within 15 minutes, and then that answer is either we need to schedule a vehicle health inspection for your car for a later date, or you’ve got a safety or breakdown concern that means you need to get out of your car today and give me some time with it.
So, I’d highly encourage you to look up that other episode.
Brad: If I can, Bill. Just really quick.
Bill: Sure.
Brad: Just to elaborate a little bit more. Twofold: one, if a customer’s wanting to wait and they’re head-butting you about the inspection, they’re not going to buy that differential service. They’re not going to buy that transmission fluid exchange. They want their oil changed and they want it done.
They have the Jiffy Lube mentality of getting it done, which, hey, that’s your life. There’s plenty of customers here. It’s a hard part in our business, especially with Roy, the owner, when we first started doing this. We went from a mentality of, hey, we’ve got to take everyone coming through the door because they are a customer and they have money. They need to get their car serviced. We’re in business. We’ve got to get that.
It was a very hard transition to switch to, like Sara said, I’m a week and a half, two weeks out before I even have a customer coming in to get a tire repaired. It’s OK to have that. It’s OK to be booked out that far. Because you’re focusing less on treating the customer like they’re ticketed, like you’re at the DMV.
I don’t want to just have my customers be a number. When I go to a business, I don’t want to be a number. I want someone to focus on me. I want someone to pay attention. If I go to the dentist, and they go, hey, I’m going to get your teeth cleaned in 10 minutes, I don’t think my teeth are going to get cleaned.
It’s OK to have that mentality of, I’m taking so good of care of my customers and I’m making sure each one is getting addressed properly that I have to book a week or two out, because it’s that important to me to take care of each individual person. And you just can’t get that with someone who wants to leave in a half an hour.
Sara: Absolutely.
Bill: One of the things that we didn’t talk about also, in the past, when a customer would pick up their vehicle, a lot of times we would raise the hood and we’d show them the new water pump and things like that. So, do you guys use the work order section along with pictures, notes and video on that to send to the customer to recreate that same experience of trust?
Sara: We do sometimes. There are certain situations and certain customers that we will absolutely every labor line that’s on the work order, they always have notes after repairs, but not every time is there a picture after the repair. Is that something that we could work on a little bit more? Probably. I would say yeah. That’s something that we could work on a little bit more.
But in the cases that we feel that it’s necessary to have that picture documentation, we absolutely take those pictures and we review it. We send it to the customer, so they’ve got [it] there. They can go back and review that at any time.
So, yes and no.
Bill: And how about you, Brad? It’s just another way to build trust even after the fact.
Brad: At no point in my career here or in automotive had I had that resale where I walked the customer out to the car and went, this is what we did. Here’s what we replaced. As you can see, [here’s] the new part. I never really felt like I had to prove that to them. And that’s not saying that I was right, because I’m sure customers walked away going, did they really do it? What can I do better to that kind of thing?
What we do as a process of our resale at the end of it, which is a common business practice to kind of re-sell the job like you taught us, Bill, it’s really the kind of thing where I go over it all fully. Here’s your invoice. Here’s everything we did. Do you have any questions on anything we did? Anything I can show you? Anything that I can better answer a question?
And for 90% of my customers, I feel like I’ve throughout the rest of the process built that trust as to what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and what the benefit is, that when they come in, they either don’t have questions or if they do have a question, they don’t have that hesitation to be like, I don’t know if I can really [ask] that question. I don’t really want to bother him. They know what when they come in, everything else is dropped. They know that they’re my 100% focus.
Bill: Cool. So far, we’ve talked about building trust with the consumer, your end user client for the shop. Let’s talk about some of the internal communications that we use to build trust with the staff in the shop. Can you talk a little bit about your vehicle chat communications or using the smart markers?
I’m going to see if I can pull up a screen and show what Sara does in her shop using the smart markers. While I’m doing that, if you want to start talking a little bit, Sara, that would be great.
Sara: Sure. We had a few fires to put out this morning. I usually come in at 6:30 in the morning. I set up my technician’s day. I will always have dates and times and when the inspection is done. You can see on the MDX under Bruce, I need a note from him.
So, they’re basically clues to the technician as to what I am expecting the order to be. They know that top to the left, that’s where I start, and if I can’t get to you, I move on to the next vehicle and the process just continues to go from there.
The technician chat is nice. We can do a group chat if I wanted to call everybody in and say, we’re going to have a quick meeting. As you can see here, when we’re opening up this particular vehicle, it’s just quick communication that I can have with the technician, and when we get down to the test area we were having some tablet issues, so I wanted to make sure that the communication was working.
But we’re able to communicate on the fly, which prevents [the] other three technicians in the office asking questions and I can continue to my multi-tasking ninja self and put together an estimate while I’m getting my questions answered.
Having on the TVP your incoming customer communication, up at the top next to the done for today button, that is at this point where I’m able to get that communication directly from my customer. So, in this particular case I’m just getting confirmation that we had an appointment and he is replying back, and I did not know we were checking the brakes on this vehicle. I do now.
So, I can make sure that when I am pulling that in and scheduling, I’m taking a little closer look and I’m making sure I’m setting those time expectations accordingly.
Bill: One of the things I’ve seen that’s pretty interesting here, though, is that when you’re communicating back and forth with each other, everything here has got a date and time stamp on it and you’ve also got a read receipt. So, does this help you build trust that everything was sent and acknowledged on the other end?
Sara: Oh, absolutely. Yes.
Bill: And so, Brad, when it comes to the internal communication in your shop, I know that you said that you don’t do quite as much internal communication that way as Sara does. What are the tools that you are using to keep that technician from having to gather up behind a service writer with a big pry bar standing with their arms crossed waiting?
Brad: Are you talking general trust throughout the whole shop or specifically with vehicle workload?
Bill: This is your show. You just tell me the things that you’re doing digitally to build trust internally with your staff.
Brad: Several things, I suppose. It’s kind of the same thing that Sara has lined up.
We always list priority from top to bottom. We say, hey, you do that. You go from there. The tabs of the notes for actually having when your parts are going to be here knowing that hey, you can pull the car up because we’re not doing to have parts here for a day or two or however long it is, they know they can move on to the next one. And it’s our job in the office to make sure that’s in a proper order. If I don’t have parts here for a day, I put that job to the very bottom, and the tech knows that instead of us okey-dokeying the tech and going, OK; cool. I just want to [annoy] Eric and put his all the way down to the bottom because I want to make him mad because he’s working on it right now.
He knows now that, okay; cool. That’s at the bottom. Parts aren’t going to be here until 11. I know to move on to the next one at the very top. That’s something that he doesn’t have to come to me [and] ask why it went down to the bottom, why he has to pull it out. He just comes in and grabs keys and keeps moving.
So, that’s kind of the priority of it. Because before how it was, when we had the envelopes like we were talking about on Monday, it was literally just a work order process on the wall. They’ll pull out one from the middle of the pile just to see what kind of work they have for today. And then they don’t put it in the back. They don’t put in the middle of the pile anymore. They put it right back up to the front. Now, the order’s out of line. So, we have to yell at them after they pulled it in and racked to get it out to get this one back in.
So, it’s definitely helped with that. It’s reduced the stress and the tension from the techs since we switched to that digital process.
Bill: So, when we talked on Monday when we were preparing for this, both of you made mention that using the digital tools to get information from the tech to the service advisor and so on, you said that you had estimated it saved you a pretty good amount of time in the office that that you could repurpose.
Could you talk about your average time savings and then what each of you do with that time? Obviously you’re going to use it for something else. What are you using that time for?
Brad: So, kind of like we touched on – I think Sara mentioned it, and I’m sorry if I take your thunder, Sara. It’s really the kind of thing where if you look at it from start to finish, the actual editing is still taking some time, but we’re able to multi-task. We’re able to, as we’re editing an inspection, we can take a phone call, talk to our customer about when to set up an appointment, that kind of stuff, who we have to transfer it to, we’re able to multi-task in the sense of, now I’m not sitting here trying to figure out scribble, I can actually check three or four different vendors to see if they have the parts. That way I can then get it here sooner.
So, it’s not so much in the process of A to B. It’s more, how is it saving me time at the end of the week? If I’m saving 30, 40, 50 minutes because I’m able to multi-task and I’m able to get to these inspections quicker, I’ve then helped the customer out quicker. I’ve then saved myself stress and headaches because I don’t have to kick myself because O’Reilly had it today as opposed to NAPA having it two to three days from now.
So, it’s saved process in multiple different ways.
Bill: What would that time window be on an average repair order? And obviously, you guys aren’t doing one hour repair orders. You’re doing three hours plus. And you’re probably estimating a lot more than that. So, what would an average for a repair order you think be?
Brad: Time frame-wise, probably 10 [to] 15 minutes.
Bill: OK. I could see how that could add up. And then you’ve repurposed it by doing other things and you’re so-called multi-remembering; you’re multi-tasking.
Brad: Yeah. So, if this inspection A only saves me five minutes or takes me 10 minutes longer, and this inspection B saves me 20 minutes because it’s not as lengthy, I can repurpose that 20 to 25 minutes at the end of the hour doing something else productive: finding parts sooner or editing a different inspection, or making sure that the tech that had a question 20 minutes ago is getting answered.
Bill: And you’re not wearing out your sneakers running back and forth to the shop to look at the car.
Brad: No. My hands are staying pretty.
Bill: Awesome. And how about you, Sara. Are your hands staying pretty?
Sara: Not always.

I think that we definitely probably reduced time actually physically spent by anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes, and yes, the time is absolutely repurposed. In our scenario here when I have more cars than I have enough available hours for technicians, and diagnostics are waiting for three, four or five days before we even get to it, I absolutely want to have that phone call with the customer that we didn’t forget about you. You’re third in the row at this point. And just those follow-up calls that as much as we set the expectation digitally, we can’t forget the human portion of the job and the business and the relationship building that we’re doing.
So, by freeing up the digital side that gives us the human aspect to where we can build that rapport with the customers and keep them informed.
Bill: Let’s look at [something] a little bit different. Let me share my screen again, and I’d like to talk about some of the elements of either the NAPA AutoCare program or other tools that other shops can use to work with the customer.
And so, I’m going to switch over and share Brad’s shop here. Let me move this out of the way.
What I’m going to do is I’m going to go down to system settings and I’m going to switch over here to –. What I wanted to do is point out here [that] the AutoCare program has the synchrony finance that’s actually involved with it. And we know in the past that our service writers didn’t really have time to roll this out for the customer.
So, Brad, could you talk a little bit about having that information right embedded into your inspection result header, where a customer can choose to use it if they want to?
Brad: So, one of the biggest hurdles we had with using easy pay was just advertising it. We always felt like we – not so much taking advantage of the customer, but it’s more like, you don’t want to insult them by being like, hey, if you can’t afford this, we have this option, because some people take it really personally whether they have a million dollars in the bank or $10 dollars in the bank. Some people can take it really personally.
So, what we did was in our header we added that statement talking about it. We just went over basic points. It’s kind of a blink-and-you-miss-it kind of thing as they’re scrolling through, but it’s there and it’s important. A big thing that people don’t focus on with the easy pay is that you can also offer it to people who can afford it. You can have a million dollars in the bank, but if you’re getting zero interest for six months plus most promotions are taking $100 bucks off or taking 10% off the total bill, it’s just saving you money and it’s allowing you to stretch out that dollar.
So, we did that and I was able to make it a link. So, as soon as you click on that, it’ll take us you to Roy Foster’s Automotive financing page that just goes over more of the information. So, whenever a customer says, hey, I can’t afford it; hey, I can’t handle this kind of thing right now. We always tell them, hey, not a big deal. At the very top of that inspection I sent you, there is a statement talking about our easy pay finance, click on that, that will kind of go through and maybe it will help answer your questions or maybe it will help settle your mind or hey, it’s save you $100 bucks if you do it.
I’ve always had a hard time with doing the sales pitch portion for credit cards and that kind of stuff just because I didn’t want to insult somebody. So, doing it that way, I’ve noticed people are more like it puts it in their hands instead of me feeling like I’m shoving it down their throat. It’s like, hey, this option’s here. We offer it. It’s there for you. You are more than welcome to use it even if you have all the money in the bank. It’s a good option.
And they can click on that. And they can better educate it. It might be [a situation where] I have four to five people on the phone, so I’m not trying to rush through it, but if I forget something or I forget to mention something, they’re not getting taken care of. So, they can go at their own pace to learn about it.
Bill: Cool. So, this is a part of the AutoCare program that a lot of service writers don’t really feel they have time for it or whatever, so you’ve just automated a process, and it’s just right there if the customer needs it, fine. If they don’t, fine.
And then, also part of the AutoCare program, NAPA [has] all the blue and gold colors here, so I always like to point out that you can come in here and change your colors so that all your communication is actually the colors of the particular brand. And it looks you guys, even though haven’t adopted the full AutoCare logo here, it looks like you’ve got the blue in here for a color for sure.
Brad: Yep.
Bill: We also want to point out that in the AutoCare program, they’ve always got sales drivers. They’ve always got promotions going on. So, I just pulled up an example from Roy’s shop here, where it looks like NAPA had a promotion where they’re actually giving away brake pads. And they’ve set this up as an email, so they can send this out to the customer, and you can see that they’ve got the pretty little ducks on here and the information that goes here.
So, this is just another way to take advantage of the sales drivers. And I know in the past at our shop as an AutoCare center, the sales driver they kind of come in and you have them, and by the time it’s time to remember to roll them out and put them on the counter, we’d forget to put it up or whatever. But here, where you can set up these campaigns as soon as the promotion hits your door and then set a launch date on it, this is one of the ways that you can actually still leverage the AutoCare program and collect some of that free NAPA money to help your customers out.
I know that we were talking to Roy earlier that they’ve done this quite a bit in the past, but right now they’re kind of off this because they couldn’t get to more cars right now even if they want to, so to say. But this is something that if you’re an AutoCare shop and you’re getting those sales drivers coming in, this is a way that you can schedule them and have them go out when you’re ready to have them go out, so to say.
Any kind of feedback on using the campaigns and marketing like that? The campaigns are great to get customers to come in for the repair reminders and service reminders, but I think both of you guys right now are at the stage that you’re not really in a new customer acquisition mode, so to say.
Sara: Correct.
Bill: Anything else that you would like to add on [regarding] the internal communication, building trust internally with your staff? I mean, for a service writer, for me, especially when I was writing estimates it was really great not to have to walk back in the shop and be comfortable with whatever they were trying to show me – those pictures with the arrows and stuff on it. They were as much for getting the service advisor or the estimator comfortable as they were for the consumer.
Sara: Absolutely.
Brad: Mm-hmm.
Sara: Yeah.
Bill: So, let’s switch bases a little bit. What I’d like to do is, from both of you, I’d like to talk about the most three to four critical steps that have to happen in your shop in order to build trust with the customer.
And so, let’s get one from Sara and then let’s get one from Brad and kind of go back and forth, because I bet you’re going to have similar things. So, let’s see if we can manage it that way. Do we flip a coin or do we just [do] ladies first?
Brad: Ladies first.
Bill: All right. There we go.
Sara: The single most part of the whole process is building the relationship with the customer and setting the expectation. So, dialing in the drop-off script, letting the customer know what the process is going to be, and showing them or visually like Brad does or explaining to them what they’re going to see on their phone and letting them know how the process is going to unfold, that is key throughout the whole process of building trust, setting the expectation, and letting the customer move forward from there.
Bill: So, Sara, if I was going to have Brad be a customer calling your shop. He’s never been there before and he calls the shop and gets you on the phone, can you walk him through that conversation?
Sara: Sure.
Bill: There you go, Brad. Dial her up.
Brad: Do you want me to be ignorant or do you want me to be friendly?
Sara: Oh, yourself.
Brad: So, if I call and let’s just say – I’ll give you the hard one that I always deal with – is I have a 2008 Challenger. I need a water pump. How much do you guys charge?
Sara: Hey, Brad. Well, that’s a really good question. We definitely have some questions about your Challenger. We absolutely want to make sure that we’re performing the right repair and I’d like to get you scheduled in so we can check it out, make sure that everything else in the cooling system is good. We want you to invest your money the way you want to invest.
So, I do have a drop off appointment. My first available drop off appointment so we can go through testing and just going to get a real good idea of what’s going on with your vehicle, is going to be next Tuesday at 6:45 in the morning. Does that work for you?
Brad: I could. How long is it going to take to get it done?
Sara: That’s a really good question. At this point, we are working on vehicles in the order that they come in to the shop. So, your drop off date is going to guarantee that we’re doing to inspect it at that point, but we’ll absolutely stay in touch with you to let you in on the repair process. I would count on it being here for a couple of days before we get those definite answers. But I want you to know that you are in the right place. Once we get that vehicle repaired correctly, we’re going to stand behind that repair for three years, 36,000 miles, and you do have a nationwide warranty.
Brad: OK. A problem that I [ran into] with the drop off. Sorry to go off character. What we tell people – and if this works with you, great. If not, then it’s just advice – that eight o’clock drop off appointment is for everyone. That’s for you to meet with our service advisor to make sure that your needs are getting addressed.
Because, like you said, everybody assumes that if you drop it off at eight, they’re going to look at it at eight. I tell people that because it sometimes helps with them going, OK; cool. So, this isn’t my car being worked on at eight. This is me meeting with the service advisor.
So, that’s what I do.
Sara: Yeah. One thing I did want to say with that. That makes a lot of sense. I do open the shop early at 6:30 for drop-offs, so my goal there is to kind of stagger the time when everybody’s coming in and not everybody’s dropping off at eight o’clock so that I have the time to go through setting those expectations and going through what’s going to happen at that appointment.
Yep. I can see where that would definitely be valuable for you.
Brad: Yeah, I took a lot from you, so I appreciate that.
Bill: Cool. So, Brad, as you’re up here now, let’s get the number two most critical thing that has to happen on every visit to build that trust.
Brad: My thing is communication throughout, but I would say my number two point would be something more along just making sure that the customer’s primary concern is getting addressed. A lot of eager shops that I noticed with the conventions that we went to, a lot of people who were just starting off on it were getting so excited from the possibility of additional services getting sold, maintenance services, that kind of stuff. They start focusing so much on getting the hours per RO up that they forget to address the primary concern the customer came in for.
Even if they’re going to mention it eventually, I’ve noticed a lot of people jump off with, yeah; I usually look through the inspection. Here’s everything in red that we want to address. Their heart’s in the right place, but it’s so important to make sure that the customer’s primary concern that they brought it in for is getting addressed. Like, hey, we found with your cooling system, your water pump’s leaking. We want to recommend replacing the water pump, flushing the coolant, this, that and the other of what you primarily came in for.
Now, since we’re [inaudible], do you have any questions? Do you want me to go over the rest of the inspection with you? Do you mind if I go over the rest of the red section so that way I can let you know what else is going on as well?
Bill: Cool. And so, you’re addressing that you’re getting the need that they come in for initially, and then say, by the way, for your convenience, maybe we can get a couple of these other things done to save you a trip back to the shop. Or if it’s a safety or breakdown item, of course we want to make sure that they stay in a loaner car or something a little bit longer. But basically, you’re making 100% sure you cover what they brought it in for, and then you’re saying, also we told you we’d be doing this inspection. Let’s cover these items and maybe we can get them knocked at the same time.
Brad: Yeah. And the way we phrase it by is we don’t list it so much as – it’s not a sale. It’s not a hey, while you’re here kind of thing. It’s more like we want to do these services as preventative maintenance, so that way we only see you here in the next six months for your oil change. We’re going to save you time now by costing you an extra day as opposed to costing you having to get back in line to get your car looked at. We want to make sure these get addressed here to save you time and save you money in the long run.
Bill: And Sara, so let’s get the third thing that’s a critical step that has to be completed in every business no matter what and why.
Sara: Editing pictures because the pictures are the building the trust. The arrows that you put on there, the descriptions that you put on there, telling them what they’re looking at – we’ve all been doing this for a while.

So, we know what a serpentine belt looks like if we expand, kind of zoom in on it, and we’re pointing to the little cracks. We want to explain to the customer what this means.
So, when you crop in that picture, and you put your red arrow and you’re showing all the cracks in the ribs and then you’re typing that the serpentine belt is cracked and needs to be replaced, that is selling the job, if you will. That’s educating the customer. And the more we educate the customer, the more they’re going to approve the work.
Brad: Yep. I’ve run into issues especially with belts specifically where you sell a drive belt to someone. You know it’s a drive belt. You know it’s a serpentine belt. Then they tell their friend that they got their timing belt replaced last week.

So, you’re 100% correct, because it is important that they know the [distinction] between the two and they know there’s a difference. So, 100% correct.
Bill: Is it safe to say in both of your cases that if you prepare an inspection for the customer properly that it’s in a form that your mother could understand that’s never worked on a car without any need for assistance or calling or asking anybody else anything about it? So, you’re giving them all the content they need at the right time in the buying cycle, and it’s in a way that the most un-motor-educated consumer can understand it without any additional help.
Sara: It is, but also going in and adding the educational videos into the inspection and letting the customer know it’s there. What is a water pump? Why is a water pump important? Why is coolant important?
The videos that are at our disposal to use to add in to the inspection for the person that knows nothing about a car, they are easy to understand, short enough to where you’re not going to lose their interest, but it explains in layman’s terms really what that system is all about and why that particular repair is important as well.
So, setting up your inspection with those educational video links [is] highly, highly suggested.
Brad: Yeah. I’m sure Sara can agree but it’s super important to –. There’s a really fine line between dumbing it down and being way too over technical. You don’t want to insult the person by telling them, hey; square block goes in the [square] hole. You don’t want to do that. You want to actually educate it and like she said in layman’s terms, in terms that everybody can understand. But you also can’t dumb it down too much. You have to be somewhat technical. And that way you’re selling it correctly yourself.
Bill: We’re getting to the top of the hour here. When it comes to the NAPA AutoCare program, it’s a big program. There’s a lot of pieces to it. And we just touched on a few of them to deliver service you can trust.

So, if you’re using NAPA TRACS Enterprise to get those labor codes embedded in your inspection sheets so you can import them, so that way whatever need the technician spots, they can get imported into your system to educate that customer using the pictures and arrows. That improves trust. When you’re done with the vehicle, to review the repair order, along with maybe some pictures of the repair that was done itself to further build value into what we’re doing. That’s another thing.
To use the finance link that’s available, put it in your inspection results because we know the service writer doesn’t really remember or have time or maybe they don’t even believe it. So, put it there where your customer can do it. Take advantage of the sales drivers by building the campaigns right when you get them.
And sometimes, when you’re really, really busy and you can’t get in any other customer, if your customer is going to get a $100 rebate on struts or shocks or a free set of brake pads or whatever, even if you’re busy, it’s not bad to actually put that out there and get it to them and let the customer take advantage of some free NAPA money. For sure.
So, we’re at the end of the hour. You guys have anything either one of you would like to take away for somebody besides listen to everything you said and put it in place in their shop?
Sara: One thing I would like to throw out there real quick for everybody is make sure you’re exit scheduling. Make sure if your customer can’t afford everything right now, that you set that up – you can set up your next appointments 30, 60, 90 days out. You can schedule an appointment. You can schedule a reminder. And those pictures are going to be attached to it. So, when the customer gets that appointment reminder, they’re going to see that picture. They’re going to see that leaking valve cover gasket. They’re going to see those ball joint boots that are torn that have grease all over the place.
And that’s going to build the urgency back in when those reminders are going out to get that customer back to you.
Brad: Yep.
Bill: Anything else you want to add Brad, there? I see Sara’s gone full circle. She’s already come from the appointment to the drop off, and all the way back to the next.
Brad: She’s perfect. She captured it. I got nothing. If anybody has questions, email me. I’m happy to answer them, I suppose.
Bill: Awesome. I’d like to really thank you guys for coming in here and spreading some wisdom, for sure. Like I said, as two really highly effectively and efficiently run shops, I certainly appreciate you sharing. I’d like to encourage people to go to and join us live. That way you can get your questions in where we can answer them live.
And also, go to your favorite podcast platform and search for the Digital Shop Talk Radio. Listen while you’re driving. Listen while you’re in the shop.
Like I said, go out there and make some money and create a wow experience for your customer, all by the way, by building service you can trust.
Brad: Sorry, Bill. One thing did pop in my [head]. It’s OK to change. That’s a big thing I’ve seen a lot of stubborn shop owners have, is just not willing to change. Change is important and it’s pertinent through life. It’s going to happen whether you want it or not. If you’re comfortable, you’re not growing, Roy always says. So, it really is the kind of thing where you if are given every sort of comfort – regular food, house over your head, TV to watch – you’re going to give up every single one of your ambitions. It’s OK to change. It’s OK to make improvements.
Sara: Absolutely.
Bill: And change at your time frame, rather than when you’re forced to by other things going on in the industry. So, now you can do it when you choose instead of being forced to.
So, once again, I’d like to thank you. Have a great day, and go out there and make some money and wow your customers.
Brad: Thanks, Bill.
Bill: Thank you guys.
Sara: Bye.

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