skip to Main Content

Different kinds of shops have used the DVI to increase ARO. Adding Workflow to a fully perfected DVI process can create results thought impossible using traditional ways. Tim Phaler  – General Manager of Import Auto Clinic, shares his best practices with Bill and Uwe.

Episode Transcript

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

Bill Connor (00:06):
Good morning, good afternoon. I’m Bill Connor and you reach a Digital Shop Talk Radio where we join you guys on Wednesday afternoon to talk about all things about the digital shop. If you join us live. Thank you. And you can sign up to join us live by going to and registering. We also encourage you that if you want to listen to us on your favorite podcast platform to just search for the Digital Shop Talk radio and you can listen to us that way. So today I’m here with Tim Phaler, the general manager of Import Auto Clinic. Welcome Tim. And Tim is with us for the first time as a panelist, so this is going to be good. And of course we have Uwe AutoVitals, very own Chief Innovation Officer, and today we’re going to be discussing using the DVI digital vehicle inspection to increase ARO and more importantly, how to go ahead and combine that with workflow along with a fully perfected DVI process to create some results that most people thought were impossible just using the old traditional ways. We’re going to cover methods used for continuous growth and what are the plans to continue leveraging the digital shop for the growth of your business. You’ll take away some solid information to put the digital shop to work for your shop, and as always, you’ll learn from our guest panelists like Tim operating shops just like yours. So welcome Tim and Uwe if you would. How about you get us started.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (01:30):
Happy to do so. Tim’s results are another example for what’s possible. I mean, tell me any other technology process change or anything where those huge steps are possible. And so the trick though is it’s not just the introduction of a product, it’s getting the whole team behind a new process. Often it changes the belief system, which is one of the hardest things to do. And so I’m super excited to have you on Tim because you also have a kind of unique situation because you came into a shop which had already signed up for AutoVitals, but not using it or rarely using it or using it in a traditional way. Here’s a product, here’s a tablet. Go ahead. I don’t know, you’ll probably enlighten us what you found when you started. So welcome. And if you could give us, how did it all begin?
Tim Phaler (02:51):
Oh man. Well, first off, I’m super humbled even to be here. I am green in this industry, green two years. I was always a small little tire guy or a lube guy back in my twenties, but never done anything as far as running a shop goes before. So the owner took a really big chance on me coming in. He’s had 40 years of clientele here. He’s three generations of customers. So we’ve got very loyal customers and good customers, but we also have a lot of newer customers, younger customers coming in. And there was this software that was here that was never being used. And when I came in, he didn’t know much about it because he had another service manager who used it but didn’t really use it. It was more just checking boxes than it was. He was a lot of the phone calls and spending 20, 30 minutes on the phone to sell a $700, $800 job.
And once I saw this software and I realized it was a lot easier to have other people know what they were going to be talking about before they called me or before I called them, I started and it took me a good six months to a year to, I don’t want to say perfect it, but to really get comfortable using it and realize the full potential of it. But it’s been just significantly different. I mean, we’ve seen $5,000 jobs sold with a two minute conversation because everything on the report is there and all they do is go through and say, okay, well I see everything in the red and how much would it be to do the red and the yellow together? And it’s literally made conversations. It’s made our time much easier. It’s a little bit of time preparing the reports, but it’s less time on the phone, it’s less explaining because everything’s explained in the reports and we put bullet points, we put paragraph descriptions. I mean everything’s in there so that we don’t have to repeat ourselves or to try to sell it over the phone. It’s sold with the report. So yeah, I was kind of thrown into it and hey, figure it out because I don’t know what it is. So it was fun. It was a fun experience.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (04:58):
So Bill, I think we’re done with the podcast.
Bill Connor (05:02):
Cool. Bill, I think there was a little bit more to it to now I got, so we’re going to have to go in. We’re going to have to go in and dig in here a little bit.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (05:12):
Tim, could you tell us size of the shop specialty? What did you find when you started? Where did you start? Did you have a trial and error approach? I mean, lots of questions, right? Gosh,
Tim Phaler (05:29):
Yeah. So when I first started we had three techs, two master techs, and just a general service. We’re a general service repair shop, so most of the time it’s we’ll do diagnosing oil changes. We don’t do any big rebuilds. We try to stay away from a lot of rebuilds or engine repair and transmission. We’ll sub that stuff out just because we don’t like to have cars stuck on a rack for over a day or two at most. So a lot of the big stuff we stay away from, we do four techs now. We have eight bays. Typical car time is about four and a half hours per car. Our ARO now is close to the 900 range. We tracked $1,100 last month. With our ARO, we had a great month last month. Obviously signs of the time is people are repairing cars more so than they’re buying new ones, so that we factor that in too. But what was it when I first started, you were asking how was it perceived?
Uwe Kleinschmidt (06:30):
Is it one service advisor or two?
Tim Phaler (06:33):
Well, there was one initially and now there’s two of us. So when I got hired on, I was hired on as a service manager and it was a frustrating process for the owner to deal with it first because I didn’t know what I was doing. And I remember my first couple of months we were doing phone calls and that took ages for me to try to use the reports and then once I started realizing I can just text message people and have them call me when they’re ready and I’m not interrupting them, they see what this report is. Once I found out, wow, these reports are really nice and I got the text on board because the text love it too. They love because they’re the ones that are explaining, I’m not diagnosing the cars, they’re diagnosing the cars. I’m just telling people what’s needed from their cars when they come in.
So I’m kind of the conduit so to speak, between the techs and the customers. So the techs love it because they get to write the responses down and it makes them feel as if they’re a part of the process too. And I believe that that’s a big part of this system is the techs feel that they have a say in what gets sold and a lot of it is on them. So hey, I tell ’em, I said, listen, if you want to put it on there and I’ll sell it, if it’s not on there, I’m not going to sell it. That’s your job. Your job is to put it on there. Your job is to get everything in writing. I’ll figure out these intervals. I go through all that stuff, but with one person, it was a lot. Now there’s two of us that are out here doing it.
The other, the service writer is actually the owner’s son who’s came on board and he’s picked up on the inspection reports and he sees the value in it too. I mean, he just probably sold a $10,000 job that was a 15 minute, 10 minute conversation because everything was in the report. So all the guys are on board with it. The guys love it. They’re younger, so it helps. They’re not afraid of technology, so they’re comfortable with the iPad, but getting them to do detailed inspections was tough because they take about an hour to do. So we really do take our time. We don’t rush through them. We communicate that with each and every single customer that we need their car for a minimum of three to four and a half hours per oil change. We try to regulate that and the guys do a great job and we have some really good inspections.
I think with leaks, we get videos instead of a picture of the leak because I think a video sells more so than a picture. If you see something leaking on your car, we start with the license plate or the front of the car and then we move into where the leak is coming from. So that creates a visual story in their head. Like I said in the descriptions, we’ll write literally everything that I’m going to tell you on the phone. I write it in advance, so it’s almost as if you’re hearing it twice. And a lot of the times when you have that inner voice that says your brake flush is due every two years and it would be a good idea to do. And then I say it again, it’s almost as if you heard it twice and it’s easier to process that sale. So the guys just, the guys love it. It’s really taken off here. I’m a huge fan. One
Bill Connor (09:36):
Of the things that you’re actually doing that I hear is your technicians aren’t just giving it pass fail. They’re actually going ahead and giving you some proper documentation of what it needs, why it needs, and why the customer should part with their money. It’s just not you. You’re not using like we did in the past where you just got a red, yellow, green checkbox. You’ve got a lot more to it.
Tim Phaler (09:59):
And that’s what they were doing beforehand. When I first got here, whenever I go back and look at the old inspection reports, it was literally just click. It was just check marks, check, check, check, check, check, check. There wasn’t many pictures, there was no descriptions. It was just checking boxes. And once we decided, I mean I’ve got one up on my screen, it came in for a check engine light, a cranks cheff sensor was low. And I mean it’s so detailed. He says, wiring to the sensor is okay at this time, no visible damage. Crank sensor looks to a failed, internally replaced cranks, crankshaft deposition sensor, relearn module, verify repairs. That takes a 15 minute phone call away because they can just read that and know exactly what we need to do.
Bill Connor (10:40):
Not only that, it sounds like you’re putting the technician into the mindset that they really believe that they’re writing up a prescription just like a doctor would.
Tim Phaler (10:48):
Correct. Correct.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (10:51):
So that didn’t happen overnight. I assume there was some pushback in the beginning. It takes so much time because they haven’t seen the results yet. And so how did that evolve? What did you set up as a cultural aspect? So it paid off in the end and how long did it take?
Tim Phaler (11:19):
It probably took a couple, maybe four or five months. I think a lot of it was just also a positive mindset telling the guys, thank you for doing this. Hey man, great inspection. I appreciate that. Giving them feedback from how the customers receive stuff. I think people do really well with positive feedback instead of pointing out the things that they missed, point out the things that they did right and how we can make it better. So with some of the guys, they would just check mark still, there’s just check mark, check mark, and I would go in there and say, Hey, listen, I don’t have time. You’re going to waste both of our time. If I’m going out there and trying to figure out what leaks, instead of just saying oil leaks, tell me where it’s leaking from. Give me if this can be repaired or if this can be monitored or if this can be taken care of.
It took probably about six months to get when we got a new guy come in last, gosh, it’s in January. Wow, it’s in January and that just seems like it was a couple months ago. But he sees the benefits of it because he has work to do. They like working. None of them want to not work and they all like doing work. So if it’s better for they don’t get paid, we don’t pay our guys based off of hours their flat rate because we’ve just found that it works really well as a team where they see that they can all just come together and do stuff. And so the incentive per se isn’t there based off of how many hours they have, but they’re just good people and good hard workers and they love anything that makes their job easier and keeps them busy so they’re not cleaning the shop or staring at paint dry.
Bill Connor (12:55):
One of the questions that always comes in when you’ve got your flat rate guys, and thank you Jeff for going ahead and kind of texting this in. Is there interest to know is are you giving your technician a flag time allowance to go and do the inspection? And if so, what does that range? You say it takes about an hour to do. He’s saying in his shop that he allows this guy 0.7 for inspections. So can you talk through your process on that?
Tim Phaler (13:20):
It’s kind of a case by case basis. We give it away for free with an oil change because we know that we’re not just going to have somebody leave here with an oil change. Most of the time if it’s a specialty check engine lights or noise leaks, we do charge an hour for the customer for that and we include that inspection in it so they know that they’re going to spend anywhere from 30 minutes, 45 minutes at most an hour doing something that they’re not getting paid for, but they’re not on flat rate. So I guess it depends on a case by case basis. Either way, even if we didn’t charge for it, we make it up in the end and then some. So I mean I think the technician would because you pack on hours and there’s no reason why even doing it for free so to speak. I say free loosely won’t benefit somebody in the long run,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (14:14):
So you’re not paying the tech for the time they do the inspection if it’s part of the vehicle help you, but for any specialty inspection, you charge the customer and pay the tech. So how do you pay your tax? I was not clear, is that
Tim Phaler (14:33):
Hourly? Just hourly? They’re hourly paid hourly,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (14:35):
Yeah. And is there a prorated bonus or something like that based on results?
Tim Phaler (14:41):
We do. Do we have a performance structure here? If they hit a certain amount, they know that they get a little bit more for that. But again, the culture is we such a good culture here that that’s not really their driving point is just to work well together and they’re excited when people leave happy. One of the things that anytime that someone can spend money with a smile on their face, we know we’ve done a good job. Awesome. And the techs love that too. People bring them cookies. People ask for certain guys to work on their car because their face is in the inspection report and they know that some of the times the techs will do a video sometimes in the inspection report so people have a personal relationship with these guys.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (15:31):
Really cool. So does it happen that the customer comes back and says, I want tech A to welcome my
Tim Phaler (15:37):
Hundred percent? It happens. It happens a lot. We joke today we’ve got a 2000 tundra and everybody knows that’s going to Wes because Wes’ hands have only been on that car and the customer knows that too and they get to meet the techs. Sometimes it’s created a really good family atmosphere here.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (15:59):
And if Wes wasn’t there, would you reschedule the appointment?
Tim Phaler (16:03):
Wes doesn’t take time off, so it doesn’t matter. No, no. We’d give it to somebody else, but yeah, he’s not allowed to take any time off.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (16:13):
I see.
Bill Connor (16:14):
So one of the things everybody kind of talks about right now, we’ve got some silly season going on, we’ve got texts coming and going and so on. Do you find it a lot easier to go ahead and now that you’re fully implemented, do you find it a lot easier to bring somebody into your group than it was to go ahead and change your entire group over?
Tim Phaler (16:37):
When we brought somebody in, they came from Manny, Mo, man, Mo and Jack. So they came from there and it was a way different structure than what he’s seen before. But coming in, we explained to him this is the process. This is how we do things. It is a non-negotiable. You’re going to use these tablets, you’re going to do these inspection reports, and a couple of the texts would just go through the ropes and go through the routines with them. So it really wasn’t a trained process that I had to do. The techs walked them through it and they picked up on it pretty quick and he saw the benefits from it because like I said, he was staying busy and he was doing, I think it makes people feel good when you suggest something and then you get to do it. I think it creates a confidence in you to do more work and to do better because you’re seeing that, hey, they’re actually doing the things that I say and that makes me feel good. So he picked up on that and he’s just taken off here and he’s just fantastic. A lot
Bill Connor (17:41):
Of digital tell me that when they’re bringing in new people, they said it’s kind of an unusual feeling for new person to come in and find out that a shop really cares about helping them go ahead and be successful rather than just coming in and saying, what can you do for the shop? It is also more about what the shop is going to do for them to go in and help them succeed.
Tim Phaler (18:09):
If they’re not happy, we’re not happy and that’s the end. And we’re a small enough shop to where we are. We work with each other 50 hours a week, so we see each other almost as much as we see our families. So if the continuity here is off, we’re small enough and personal enough where we can pull somebody aside and talk to them and really just walk with them through not just life, but how we can help them out and how they can be better because that’s what we ultimately want. We don’t want anything stale here, period. We’re all about growth and encouragement.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (18:45):
Very cool. So do you have regular shop meetings where you go through inspection results or do you have a meeting every morning? Walk us through
Tim Phaler (18:58):
That. I wish we did. I don’t have the time to do that. I get here at seven. Our customers, we open at seven 30, but our customers sometimes will come in earlier. The guys always joke because when they come in, I’m ready, I’m game on. I’m like, Hey, you’ve got these four cars, five cars today, this, I don’t care what order you get ’em in, just get ’em done. So I can collectively go to each and every single one of ’em. We’ve tried to do meetings in the mornings before, but the problem is with the phones ring. I mean ideally that’s where I’d like us to get to. We’re just not there yet, so I know there’s benefit in doing that. We did a big rally, what was it a couple weeks back? Oh, the Thanksgiving, the weekend week of Thanksgiving. We were crunching to do a pretty good number for us that week and all the guys came in that morning and we had a little huddle and we rallied and the owner saw it, he was here in the morning and he’s like, man, that was awesome.
You should do that more. And I was like, I would love to do that more. That’s where we’re going for. So ideally that’s where we want to get to get to daily, just meetings in the morning. So the guys have a general idea, but also the software gives them that idea, I can get here early enough and I can arrange the order of cars so that they know if we want. We don’t micromanage if they want to work on their task, hey, they’re ordered, they’re relegated, Hey, here’s one through four, here’s the cars that need to get looked at. They know that if there’s inspections, you do all the inspections before you do any repairs and if something changes, we’ll come out and talk to ’em. So the software really allows us not to have to do those morning meetings because everything’s on their tablets. So when they clock in, they can look at it and say, okay, well I know I have these four cars coming in and I have these three cars to finish. So yes, I want to do the meetings more, but there’s a lot of things I want to do that sometimes I don’t have the time for. So
Bill Connor (21:00):
When you go ahead and bring in a new employee into your group, do you have a fixed onboarding process for a technician? Do you go ahead and have somebody teach ’em this is how you’re going to go ahead and do the work order part first. This is how you go ahead and fill out the information for the jobs clock time and so on, and then somebody working through the inspection sheet. What is the onboarding process for a new employee in an existing shop?
Tim Phaler (21:27):
We do one. We have a couple of guys out there that are really good teachers. We’ve got a Marine who’s on staff here and he just loves taking people alongside, just showing them the ropes. And then we’ve got a season tech who’s been here about nine or 10 years who’s seen a lot of the change happen and they’re always available. I mean the software is easy enough to where they can learn it on the fly if people nowadays are glued on their phones anyway. So thankfully it’s user-friendly enough to where they can figure it out. We give them a few practice cars to just kind of, Hey, have fun on here and then we’ll walk through it afterwards. The texts are always available to ask questions. I think people pick it up pretty quick because it’s quick buttons and if you can’t click buttons in today’s time, then you have no business picking up something electronical. So he picked it up rather fast. We’ve really only had two guys that came green without using those before and both of ’em within a month we’re flying with it. There’s still things that we work through, but they’re really well.
Bill Connor (22:40):
Are there any particular metrics, KPIs, maybe the business control panel or other places that you look at that lets you know their behaviors are going in the right direction?
Tim Phaler (22:52):
To my shame, I just learned this business control panel probably a week ago when you sent me the message. I do my own spreadsheets so that I can track their hours and I can track the productivity that each tech is doing. So I will be looking at that more. So we could probably cover that at a later time, but I haven’t utilized that enough to my own. We’re going to
Bill Connor (23:15):
Bring you back and hold your feet to the fire on that one.
Tim Phaler (23:17):
That’s fine. I like that. Bring it on.
Bill Connor (23:20):
Awesome. So do your service riders, do you and your other service provider, do you go ahead and monitor the motorist research time and use that as an indicator how well things are going or
Tim Phaler (23:35):
David, our rep sends us the reports of how long each person is looking. I don’t think I need to monitor it because I hear it from the customers firsthand. We rarely will get a customer who says, oh, I didn’t look at the report, I don’t have time. And as blunt and as Frank as this might be, if they don’t have time to look at the report and they don’t really care, they’re probably not a customer we want, we want people who care about their cars. We want people who want to invest in their vehicles and what we do here. And if that’s something that they don’t like or they don’t want to be a part of, well maybe we’re not the shop for them and that’s okay. There’s plenty of shops that are. So we know that a lot of the times, nine out of 10 calls, if not even higher as soon as they call and they’ll say, Hey, I looked over the report, let’s go through it together. Or I had some questions on it so we know people are spending time on it just by the daily interactions that we have with them.
Bill Connor (24:32):
Let’s take a new customer that they call on the phone or come in. Is there anything you’re doing to go ahead and leverage your process to explain to them what you’re doing from end to end? Can you talk through that?
Tim Phaler (24:44):
Yeah, that’s a really good question. We have that happen frequently. So when they come in, we get all their information, we do talk to them and let them know, Hey, are you okay with text messages? Are you okay with communication via text? And 95% of the people say yes. And then when they’re here in the shop, we show them an inspection report. We have a few that we’ve saved in our tabs and we show them what it is they’re going to get and what it is they’re going to see. And we explain the process that, hey, we’re going to look over every aspect of your car. We’re going to text you this report with the link for you to look at. Green means good. Yellow means, hey, this is just stuff we want to pay attention to in the future we could possibly address if it’s going to help you out while here, red will be things we want to address today. Blue items or things we don’t know a history on, but we can look up Carfax service history or if you want to pull up your records before we talk, that’s great. So we really explain with this whole process to them when they come in so they’re ready for it when they get that text message and it’s not a surprise for them. So we really prep them in advance that this is how we do things here.
Bill Connor (25:49):
I wish I could get everybody to go ahead and follow your process, you just said, because a lot of people they view the yellow is future and what you just said there is very important. Can we go ahead and do it for you today for convenience of not having to go ahead and come back. So there’s a lot of places that really should probably start thinking about adopting that, not pushing it off for the future, but let the customer make the decision. Do you want to do it today to go ahead and save a trip back or whatever else?
Tim Phaler (26:16):
We even write that so in the future attention, we even write that in parentheses, well hey, this would be a good idea to do while you’re doing, if tires are cupping and we put that in immediate attention, they’re cupping because of the shocks. The shocks aren’t blown, one of the two are. Well literally tell ’em, Hey, this is a good idea to do while it’s here. Let’s take care of it. Good idea to do with your tires or good idea to do with your flash shirt. So like I said, once we started developing the double communication, man, we really saw sales take off for us. So it’s almost like that voice in the back of your head that you read and now someone tells you it and it just helps. It helps you make the decision easier
Uwe Kleinschmidt (26:59):
It looks like. And it looks like, if I may, the report is not a human voice necessarily. It’s like you Google something and then find something exactly for your vehicle and then it gets reinforced by the service advisor, although the service advisor wrote the report, but that’s not necessarily linked in my opinion. So I really like that idea of reinforcement of the message as a method every single time. And what I also like is your blue color. So to me it sounds like that’s an unknown thing. You don’t know what the history is, you haven’t done it, and so you involve the customer to find out more about it or use Carfax. That must also make customers feel very involved and taking care of the health of the vehicle.
Tim Phaler (28:02):
Yeah, go ahead. Go ahead. Apologize. No, I was just going to say most people pay attention to what gets done on their car. And we had a guy come in today and he brought me this stack, this big of a service record and he is like, Hey, I just wanted to give you this. And I said, Gary, I don’t want to touch that one. I don’t want to be responsible for losing it. And two, I don’t need to spend an hour looking through your service records. I can just pull up Carfax and see a lot of it and just give me five years back and we can go from there. But it just kind of goes to tell we have customers who have spreadsheets Excel, right? We have a guy who just loves Excel and he shares us his Excel spreadsheet of his service records all the time, but it makes them feel good. They’re like, oh no, I did that in 2015. I did it at this files. And it says, okay, cool. We’ll just we’ll note that and we’ll just put it to good or Okay, well, we adjust things on the inspection report on the fly too if the customer calls and tells us they did something because that’s stored for their future visits. Right? That’s cool.
Yeah, constantly.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (29:04):
I think that engagement, that engagement is golden, right? It’s not just a one way communication here. What’s wrong with your car? I love that. And do you present the red stuff first or the green stuff first, or is there no set process?
Tim Phaler (29:24):
There’s really not a set. I mean it’s organized to where it’s good. I think anytime you tell somebody good news first, nice. Most people know when they’re bringing a car in that if they’re bringing it in for a specific problem, they go to the red, they look there, it is presented with a green, yellow, red, blue for us just because worked well. So yeah, that’s kind of where we go. Most people, it’s funny, don’t even address the green just when they call, they’re like, Hey, I saw some of the things that I needed. Let’s talk about it. They don’t even go, oh, I’m so glad my brakes and tires look good. Yeah.
Bill Connor (30:04):
So do you find that your condition-based inspection, especially as thorough as you’re doing it, doesn’t it kind of really trump what the OEM recommendations are because you’re actually hands-on looking at the vehicle and examining it rather than going and by a OEM recommendation that their whole job is to sell new cars every so many years?
Tim Phaler (30:24):
Yeah, I think so. We do use the maintenance schedule, the intervals too, and that’s been a good selling point where we will literally, I think when people hear manufacturer recommends doing this at this interval, we literally write that in the description with spark plugs at 120, Hey, manufacturer recommends changing spark plugs out at 120. We write that and people see that and they instantly trust it. They don’t trust to take their cars there because they’re obviously coming here for a reason, but they trust what the manufacturer says when it comes to service intervals. So we write use that to our advantage.
Bill Connor (31:03):
What’s really kind of interesting is we have more and more shops that we bring on and that we’ve got in our AutoVitals network that not only are they increasing their average repair order dollar amount, they’re also doing it where their weekly revenue is going up at the same time and they don’t have to go and have as many cars coming through to shop to do it. So when I looked at your business control panel, I see that you’re experiencing that exact same thing.
Tim Phaler (31:28):
We really perfected it during covid because we had more time. So I think as hard as it was lowering our car count, covid really allowed us and myself to see the importance of spending the time on these reports and what benefits it have because our car count did go low. We have seen less cars come in, but we’ve been able to, I prefer no more than eight cars a day, eight to 10 max a day. If we have too many cars, we don’t have enough time to get a lot of stuff done. So we try to schedule it to where each tech, no more than three cars, four cars a max a day per technician, depending on who they are.
Bill Connor (32:21):
So DVI, digital vehicle inspection isn’t the only thing that really you’re using to go ahead and do this. You’re actually managing your workflow with the today’s vehicle page to go ahead and actually maximize your staff that you have. And that seems to be key, taking a really good inspection and combining that with understanding and internal communication through the shop and so on. So can you talk about your communication internally in the shop? Have you got it to where the technicians don’t have to come up and stand behind the service rider and wait for ’em to finish what they’re doing?
Tim Phaler (32:55):
Oh yeah. One of the things that we chuckled about is how systematic I am in doing these things where when they submit the reports, I try to have it done and out to the customer within 30 to 45 minutes and we’ll send the message. If we don’t hear from the customer by 30 minutes at most, we’ll give them a call. So there’s never a lack of work for the guys to do. There’s always, while we’re putting an inspection together, they’re doing another inspection, we’re selling the jobs, and then we just try to manage, I guess it would be what gets done during the rest of the day, which is what we use for the today’s vehicle page. We’ll just move cars in order so that they know, Hey, when I finish this car, okay, I’m onto this car and then I’m onto this car. We still go out and talk just as much as I like to depend on technology.
I know that they’re not on it all the time, so I do go out there and talk to them. But if they need a part for a vehicle, I do ask them. I say, Hey, just send me a message. Don’t come in and tell me because if you tell me something, I’ve got 10 other things going on and I’m going to forget what you need, but if you send it to me over chat, I’ll see it and I’ll get it ordered right away. So it has created, that took a while for them to get on board with because it’s just a waste of time. I said, waste your more time when I have to ask you twice because I forgot. So use the message and send it to me. I’ll see it and you’ll get your part with it. So it’s kind of both. They don’t come in and stand over our shoulder anymore, but they trust us when they send the report that everything that they mentioned is going to get on that report and it’s going to get sent to the customer.
Bill Connor (34:32):
So do I hear you say that you have your day arranged where all the inspections and estimating is done early in the morning and then your uplift on that is actually done during the afternoon and you kind of arrange your day like that?
Tim Phaler (34:47):
Yeah, I really don’t work in the afternoon. I’m kidding. I get to kick back with my feet up in the afternoon and watch the, no, we try really hard to do that. Everybody’s really on board with that too, which is nice. It doesn’t work out all the time, but generally that’s how we try to do things. Sometimes there’s a lot of wrenches in the game, but most often, even if there’s work that’s carrying over from the day prior, the guys know that inspections come first because I can always prolong work that’s sold, but I can’t put off inspections.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (35:26):
And your customers know that you said it before, they drop off their car in the morning and the earliest, depending on the walk, they can get it back is four hours later if it’s really just an oil change. So basically they have to take care of transportation for the day. There’s no waiter. You have no waiter.
Tim Phaler (35:50):
We have six loan cars available for
Uwe Kleinschmidt (35:53):
Customers. Oh,
Tim Phaler (35:54):
Perfect. Which is amazing, but we do all we can to avoid people waiting. Yeah, I mean, that was the old way of doing things that I remember 15, 20 years ago is get ’em here waiting so you can show ’em everything and now you don’t need to do that. These reports have made that null and void and even better because they’re not coming out and picking rocks off their tires when the guys are working at ’em and bothering the techs or pacing around the shop like three or four hours. We just communicate that in advance. We’ll give somebody a ride home or we’ll give ’em a loan car or Hey, everybody’s got Uber. So most of our customers are very understanding to that. And again, if they’re not, we’re not a 30 minute chippy loop.
Bill Connor (36:50):
If these business moving to a model of trying to get to where everything is done based on appointments,
Tim Phaler (37:00):
We stress in appointment only. Most of our regulars have learned that if they don’t, they’re still okay knowing that, hey, it might be about six hours before we get to it. And they’re understanding to that. So we do work off an appointment only basis now. We don’t get many pop-ins anymore.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (37:25):
And the lno help you, I assume? I’m sorry, Bill, because I see that a lot when shops are struggling. Nobody wants to say no, and the loaners allow such an incredible flexibility. So the investment in loaners pays off multiple
Tim Phaler (37:45):
Game changer. It gives the customer they can’t, they will no longer be able to use the excuse, well, I don’t have time. Oh, that’s okay. Well here’s a loan car for you. It also gives us time. If a four hour job or a three hour job can’t get done today, I can push it till tomorrow in a loan car for the night. And I know that it’s not something that we have to rush. So it really helps with scheduling too.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (38:14):
That brings up a question you so much flexibility. So much flexibility and avoids the interrupt and switching calls back and forth just because a promise time needs to be. Yeah,
Bill Connor (38:25):
That brings up a question is do you do something special at pickup to go ahead and actually schedule that next appointment with him
Tim Phaler (38:35):
Pre covid? I did. Were seeing now people are starting to drive and they’re coming in at a more frequent basis. Covid just messed everything up where the people that we were seeing every four to six months were coming once a year. So we do do automated. We keep records of their recommendations or their future attention stuff and they get notifications through Autobio. So we have people all the time that call and say, Hey, I just got an email about this. Can I schedule that? I don’t do as much scheduling in advance as I probably could or should, only because I found that 80 to 90% of them, we kept putting them off and we kept putting them off because they didn’t hit their miles that they were at most of. We get a lot of repeat customers, so I don’t know if that’s as needed. Again, it’s not something that I’m saying we shouldn’t do. We should probably do, but we don’t do it as much because most people come back pretty frequently. We’ve got a good customer base here. So yeah, it’s just not something we’ve incorporated.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (39:43):
What do you think about the idea scheduling them for the next inspection instead of a service in the wall?
Tim Phaler (39:53):
I love it. They come anyway and I hate to say that. Right.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (40:00):
Okay. No, that makes sense.
Tim Phaler (40:02):
Yeah. I don’t mean that in a cocky or a confident, it’s just they do. They love who we are and we joke, I was telling Bill earlier, we’ve got a dog, customers come and see our dog. We have a couple customers who come every Friday to say hi to the dog and bring ’em treats. I mean, we’ve just got a really good customer base, and I think a lot of that is the inspection reports. It creates a level of trust and there’s a lot of integrity behind it. We’re not just pushing stuff transparent. Oh my gosh, talk about transparency. Hey, listen, I’m showing you everything before we talk about it. So I think it creates those where they love. We do have people who come and they say, Hey, I’m just going on a trip. Can you look at my car and do one of those reports? Yeah, no problem. Come on, buy. Yeah, I’m not against, I agree. I probably should do
Uwe Kleinschmidt (40:55):
That more. I totally hear you. This is the most important thing. If you have no need, if you have created such an awesome shop culture and customer relationship, congratulations. I mean, there’s no need to change that.
Bill Connor (41:12):
So one of the questions I always anticipate coming in from the audience is do you inspect every car on every visit or do you just have your technicians cherry pick only if they think that something needs to be done?
Tim Phaler (41:24):
Oh, no. No, they don’t. No. I mean, if it’s a light bulb or a tire repair, generally not. And that’s usually, we do those for regulars anyway. But I mean, yes, every single car gets an and they know that they hate when cars come in a month after, and I put an inspection on there, but I mean, we just had one today, literally just today. It was here 1200 miles ago and it’s $900 worth of work. And a lot of the times they’ll say, well, it was just here. I said, if it’s here 500 miles or less, sometimes we don’t do an inspection. I just tell ’em to look at things and if it needs it, let’s put it in there. But if it’s been a thousand miles since we’ve seen the car, absolutely it’s getting inspection. If it’s coming in here for a noise a hundred percent of the time it’s getting an inspection and they know that and there’s no pushback on it because they see the benefits of it.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (42:28):
Awesome. I’m blown away. I mean, I really see how you created an environment in which it gives you so much flexibility and freedom, but certain things are non-negotiable, right? So appointment setting for hours and so on and so forth, which really focus on keeping the technicians productive.
Tim Phaler (42:53):
Yeah. Yeah. It’s good when everybody’s on board. Sometimes some take, but that’s where myself or Garrett come in and if they struggle with it or if they don’t like it, well, how can we help them like it? Because they’re going to like it because this is what we do and that’s where our job comes in where, Hey, listen, I really need you to do things this way. And like I said, they’re just, they’re good people. They have a good heart, and I think anyone that gets into this business doing what they do, they care about people because they want to see people safe on the road. Their hands are on it. I joke, I relay it to tattoos. And you don’t want to have a bad tattoo artist because listen, I’m a walking advertisement for you, just like they are with the cars they work on, their hands are on those cars and they care about it. Their picture is on the inspection reports that get sent out. If they do a bad job, well guess whose name’s going to be listed in that review. Oh man, Wes’ Hands, were all over this car and he did such a bad job on the, they’re not going to. They might mention that. So these guys, they care about the work that they do and they take pride in their reports. We have a, it’s awesome that
Bill Connor (44:08):
They care about their own personal brand along with shop.
Tim Phaler (44:13):
We have a guy who comes in and he loves when it’s a first time customer. We always try to give him the first time customers because he takes so much pride in sending these reports out that he’ll come in afterwards after we talk and goes what they think about the report because he wants to know the feedback from the customer. And it’s just cool because does such a good job. And a lot of that is us relaying that to them. Hey, tell the techs I can’t stress enough. They want to be involved just as much as we do. And they love hearing results and they love hearing that people appreciated these reports or the feedback that just makes them, gives them more incentive to do a better job.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (44:52):
The ownership is unprecedented, right? I mean, if you have the guy come out and ask what the customers think about the report, I mean, you have achieved so much.
Tim Phaler (45:03):
Yeah, he gets excited. Literally, we should probably create a tab in AutoVitals where the first time customer or something so that they know that’s actually something we’re going to do. I’m going to,
Bill Connor (45:15):
That’s what smart markers are for.
Tim Phaler (45:17):
Yep, we’re going to do
Uwe Kleinschmidt (45:18):
That. That’s what smart markers for. Yep.
Tim Phaler (45:21):
Look at that.
Bill Connor (45:22):
There we go. So we’re getting close to the end here. What I’d like to do is see if we could go ahead and get your top things that a shop that’s struggling or a new shop should do. So give me your number one thing that a shop should do that’s either struggling to get the guys to do inspections or that’s just starting out in the digital world. Your number one thing, and we’ll kind of work from there.
Tim Phaler (45:47):
Honestly, I would say take the time to learn it and spend time on the reports. Don’t try to rush it. Don’t just put something sloppy out because if you can develop a system and a good presentation to send these customers, they will say yes to the work. People want their cars to be safe and reliable, and they’re okay spending money to do so. And if you send a report that’s sloppy, I think it gives a bad representation of your shop. So spend the time on these things, spend the time learning what they want to hear or what they want to know. And I can’t stress enough the importance of just fine tuning the report to send to somebody. That’s one of the things that myself and Garrett really take ownership in, is we fine tune these reports to send to people. And so I would encourage any new shop to really develop a discipline of, I know it’s not ideal. You’re sitting on a computer and sometimes you have a car that it took me an hour and a half to do for the first couple of months, what I can do now in 20 or 30 minutes. But the results to me, the results speak for themselves, at least for me, the stress level, having to discuss things over and over again. I don’t have to do that anymore. So I would say develop a discipline in getting a good report done.
Bill Connor (47:19):
So you’re looking at the time versus return on investment.
Tim Phaler (47:23):
Yeah. Very good. Oops, there’s the dog.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (47:32):
What’s his name?
Tim Phaler (47:34):
His name’s happy if you couldn’t tell by that bark. Yeah.
Bill Connor (47:41):
So when you’re thinking about what is your number two thing that you would want them to,
Tim Phaler (47:51):
A new shop starting out or a struggling shop either way. Yep. Number two. God, it’s hard. I mean,
Bill Connor (48:00):
I didn’t tell you this is going to be easy. Come on now.
Tim Phaler (48:02):
I know. No, it’s okay. I don’t have any hair, so we’re okay. Honestly, I would say just get everybody on board. Find guys who are willing to learn, not guys who are stalemates and just want to do things their way and not grow. I mean, we’re constantly growing and evolving here and changing these reports. It’s not like we have a one time fix all end all. We’re seeing things that can be used to our advantage all the time. So I would say be open to change and take advantage of these videos. Take advantage of, I love, I don’t tune in live. I don’t get the opportunity to while I’m here, but I listen to what everybody else is doing. And that’s a lot of the, it is what helped me so much is seeing what other people have done and learning from them. Like I said, I’m green. There’s people who have been doing this for 30 or 40 years, much longer than I ever have. So I want to know what’s worked for them and make that work for me. So take advantage of everything that you guys do. There’s podcasts that are available. I mean, just watch and listen how other people are doing things.
Bill Connor (49:17):
Very cool. So did you guys work as a team to go ahead and obviously basically you’re coming from a place that doing the inspections using the tablets. Did you guys work as a team to go ahead and actually develop your inspection sheet or did you use one of our generic ones and then Mark is asking that if you’ve made your own, have you shared it in the library where other people can take a look at it?
Tim Phaler (49:44):
From what I know is we used the generic ones when we came on, they were there and I just used those to edit and I edited the type of, forgive me for what I’m trying to, the intervals or the recommendations, we’ll put things. So we’ve just put things as needed in one. So I’m pretty sure it was a generic sheet. I didn’t have to start one from scratch, which I’m really thankful for because I had enough thrown at me when I first came. But yeah, I don’t know if they’re shareable. I don’t even know how to do that. I can, if you want to tell me Bill afterwards, we can make something shareable that we’ve done. But I mean it was pretty generic. There was a few we took off. We found that people didn’t like the videos. I’ll
Bill Connor (50:30):
Tell you what would be better than going ahead and sharing it. If you would go to the Facebook forum later on and just post the customer link of one of your completed inspection results so people can take a look at what you and your eyes feel, what good looks like. That would be great. Yeah,
Tim Phaler (50:44):
I can a hundred percent do that. Yeah, I can make one. Let’s see if I can get on there. Yeah, that’s fine. We can do that.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (50:52):
I know we don’t have much time, but I was really intrigued. You are still with Garrett. If I understood the Nome correctly, you are still fine tuning and it’s very important for you. So what is that process? Is it ad hoc where you tell him something or he tells you something? Or do you have a set time where you say, what are the changes of the week we have to incorporate? Or how do you do that?
Tim Phaler (51:22):
It’s mostly just kind of as needed as things come up. We’ve started this last year, we’re going to sit down with each of the guys and do a yearly inventory on how things have gone through. And a lot of the times they’ll come in and tell us, Hey, I really need these things added to the reports. Can you add these to the reports? And it takes a minute. Yeah, of course. We’ll put that in there. It’s shimmying.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (51:45):
It’s a right away thing. So they come and you say, yes, it makes sense. Give me three minutes and then you have it.
Tim Phaler (51:53):
Yeah, exactly. Garrett and I will talk a lot about the inspection reports, and like I said, lately we’ve started to put little parenthetical statements in there that it’s stuff that I used to tell people over the phone, but I think I told you now it’s the listening again. So we just started doing that maybe in the last couple months. And so that’s stuff we just, Hey, this works. Let’s do it. Or this doesn’t work.
Bill Connor (52:20):
So would it be kind of along the lines, your technician comes to you and said, this is a condition that I’m seeing over and over again and this is the job I expected to produce. And then you would go ahead and add both the condition and the action to the inspection sheet. So it’s just half friendly
Tim Phaler (52:34):
Transfer case service wasn’t there about a year ago. And we started that wasn’t really sold on a regular interval at the shop. And I am an off-road guy, and I was like, well, I would change my fluid every 30,000 miles. Why aren’t we doing that? And the guys would say, well, it’s not on the report. I was like, oh, okay. So we added that to the report right then and there. So we’re doing that on, I mean I’d say every so often, every couple months, more things are added to it or taken away or fixed or edited and they tell us and we do it right away. It doesn’t take too long
Bill Connor (53:15):
Because of the changing and advancements in the industry. Everybody in your shop really treats that inspection sheet, like a living, breathing document that gets changed and morphed as different things come into shop. And that’s the reason why it’s actually designed that way in the first place. But a lot of people haven’t discovered that to go ahead and keep ’em up to date actually yields a higher amount of approvals in the long run.
Tim Phaler (53:39):
Yeah, I agree.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (53:42):
I’m actually wondering, tell me whether I’m crazy, but whether we invite a few service managers and service advisors and do a podcast with a critique of an inspection sheet and then develop, develop. And we are not saying who is it is, there’s no assignment of problems or anything, but get the spirit going and everybody can start brainstorming and we have done this and we have done this. So we go to a concrete level where everybody can learn. I don’t know. Bill, what do you think, Tim? What do you think? Would you participate?
Tim Phaler (54:32):
I think I like it. It reminds me of a show called Ink Masters that’s on Netflix where the guys get together and they do their, and then everybody’s critiquing their fine lines if you can’t tell ’em a tattoo fan. And I think that’s a good idea. I really like that.
Bill Connor (54:47):
One of the more interesting things about that is also we’re talking about a vehicle health inspection that everybody uses, but we have shops right now that are developing inspection sheets that are system specific because we all know that if we touch a system on a car that we really own to restore that entire system to operate as it was designed from the OEM. So they’re actually getting their regular inspection sheet leads to paved inspections on systems and so on. And so that’s definitely something to go ahead and consider as we move forward is to work through not only the main inspection, but maybe some other system specific ones,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (55:27):
But even the maintenance. So my goal is actually not what it sounds like. Meaning build the perfect inspection sheet because every shop might have a different perfect inspection sheet, but learning how to engage and collaborate on the process to build the best inspection sheet for the shop and what’s important and what needs to be taken into account so that the culture of collaboration and learning something new as Tim pointed will be, I
Tim Phaler (56:00):
Think it would be
Uwe Kleinschmidt (56:00):
Cool fostered this
Tim Phaler (56:01):
Way and it would be good to see what other people are doing. I remember there was a guy you had back a while, I don’t remember his name, but he’s got a beard and he’s an Oceanside and he presented his and I was looking at the stuff that he does and I learned so much from his reports. I think that would fantastic. Just to see how other people are doing things and what we can add to or take away or Yeah, absolutely.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (56:28):
Yeah, that was Neil Daily and what I loved even more, he did inspection clinics in his shop, right? So he led all techs, do the same vehicle and then compared the inspections and learn this way in the shop. That was amazing.
Tim Phaler (56:49):
Bill Connor (56:49):
Actually, didn’t he go one step further and he actually estimated each one individually to look at the dollar difference between them and it was really ugly
Uwe Kleinschmidt (56:59):
Bill Connor (56:59):
Really enlightening.
Tim Phaler (57:01):
That would be fun to do. Yeah.
Bill Connor (57:04):
Cool. So we’re at the top of the hour. I’d like to thank you again, Tim, for joining us. I know that you already volunteered on air to go ahead and come back and do it again. So we’re going to go ahead and hold you to that and looking over your business control panel that also I had like to encourage people to go ahead and join us live so we can answer your questions on air like we did a few today by [email protected]/radio. Find another shop owner in your area that might need some assistance to go ahead and help bring the prices in the industry up in the eyes of the consumer. And instead of being the low price leader in your marketplace, maybe refer them to a digital shop, talk radio or to a podcast. Podcast of course can be searched for at the Digital Shop Talk radio on your favorite podcast platform. So once again, I’d like to thank you Tim as usual, a lot of fun and a lot of information gathered from Tim here. And I guess we’ll call that a wrap. I’d like to tell everybody to have a great day, go out and make some money, and wow your customers.
Tim Phaler (58:09):
Here you go. Thank you guys.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (58:10):
Thank you. And congratulations again, Tim. You have created an awesome team and I’m in awe. Thank you.
Tim Phaler (58:20):
God is good man. We’re really grateful here. So thank you guys. Thank you guys.
Bill Connor (58:24):
Thank you. Bye.
Tim Phaler (58:26):

Back To Top