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As previous episodes concluded: An inspection is not effective without an underlying process bought into by the team. Different shop types have different processes. Brittany Schindler and Brenner Newman will share their process 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 (00:05):
Good morning, good afternoon. I’m Bill Connor and you’ve reached the Digital Shop Talk Radio where we gather every Wednesday at 12 o’clock central time to get our panelists to go ahead and share some wisdom with you. Today I’m here with Brittany Schindler, general manager of Rod’s Japanese Auto Care. Also, we may have Brenner Newman, operations manager for Sav-Mor Automotive joining us shortly. He was having some computer opportunities for improvement a little bit earlier and we’ll see if he can join us. We have Uwe AutoVitals, very own Chief Innovation Officer here today. Also today we’ll be discussing how to overcome typical hurdles, introducing the digital shop or the digital shop in your shop, and these could be typical hurdles, bringing it onto the whole shop or it might be hurdles that come up when you’re bringing in new employee. Our panels will share with you what their process is and how it’s been evolving over time, and the digital shop is part of providing transparent and convenience for the motors for sure, but it really requires teamwork in the shop to provide some really great results. You’ll take away tips on this important topic to put the work in your shop and as always, we appreciate you joining us here live. If you wouldn’t mind, let’s go ahead and get us started and go down the path again for anybody that’s joined us live, if you have any hurdles that you’d like to go ahead and have discussed, please feel free to chat ’em in.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (01:33):
Thank you, Bill. Thank you Brittany for joining. We really appreciate it. So today we want to kind of doing a summary section of, I don’t know, the last four or five podcasts we have done where we drilled into individual things, but we really wanted to focus on what are the potential hurdles. It doesn’t mean every shop goes through every single hurdle, but we want to identify what those hurdles could be and ideally how can you identify them and overcome them. More importantly, and like Bill said, for the audience, if you are encountering certain things you want to address here, feel free to put your questions in. And what I would like to do first is I’ve been thinking in preparation of this podcast about a few, and I don’t know to how many hundred shop owner service advisors, technicians I’ve been talking in the last few years, but what my list would be, I would just through that and Brittany, if you don’t mind, tell me whether you encountered any or all of them and then pick the ones which were the most difficult or took the longest for you to overcome.
So we start with the big hitters, is that okay? Absolutely. Okay. So the first one I want to mention is something I discovered extremely late. I didn’t even know it existed as a problem until I talked to a few shops, and the problem is that the consistency of the inspection was basically non-existent because the previous paper inspection process was dictated by paper inspections on the toolbox. Wherever that is, technician goes to the car, looks around, goes back and from memory, checks off whatever he or she saw and taking that to the next level. Some then decided if there was nothing substantial to see everything was okay, it wasn’t worth the time and they skipped the inspection altogether. So there was a cherry picking going on that only the things the technician believed the service advisor can sell was actually recorded and sent upfront. So that’s the topic of technicians optimizing their time and there was no consistency. The second one is service advisors applying sales pressure because that’s the way you sell. You send inspection, pick up the phone and start going through the inspection sheet and you talk 90% of the time and the customer talks 10% of the time because that’s just how it was. Instead of trying to send them, give them time and wait for the call back and that if that doesn’t happen, then you call, but still try to engage them in a way that there’s room for asking questions.
The next one is fleet customers don’t do an inspection. We’re not able to sell to fleets anyway. They run their cars down to the ground, buy new cars or new vehicles, why bother? Right? So it was like a switch in the head, right? Oh, it’s a fleet customer. Let’s just skip that step. Right? Next one is number of inspection topics. It was really interesting that once we introduced the digital inspection and we were able to on the fly, change the topics, some inspection sheets grew from fifty two, a hundred and twenty because the shop owner thought, wow, we have this huge opportunity to check it out thoroughly and I can make the technician go through it, and the result was mutiny or ignoring topics. Let me just keep it at that. I have five more, but maybe we don’t remember the first one anymore. What’s your take, Brittany?
Brittany Schindler (07:07):
I mean, yeah, we started with a paper inspection too and it was a 29 point inspection I remember, and it was just like pencil whipped. There wasn’t much info for the customer at all and there wasn’t much info for me as a service advisor too. When I was newer, it didn’t make sense, so it didn’t give me much value to give much value back to the customer. So of course my ARO was like 200 bucks or something back then, something so lame and I felt like we weren’t doing our part as professionals and actually being thorough and explaining to the customer exactly what was going on with their car and telling them that we went through it with the fine tooth comb to make sure that their car is safe for them and safe for others on the road, and it’s going to last a long time for them. It was that paper inspection, man. I mean that was a long time ago. That was eight years ago or so. But yeah, not very thorough at all. Not very educational to the customer. And then once switching over to AutoVitals, it’s just a whole new world for everybody.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (08:14):
So of the ones I mentioned, how did you make, for example, the change that the technician takes the tablet to the car instead of running back and forth between the car and a toolbox?
Brittany Schindler (08:25):
There was definitely a pushback for sure. It was handed ’em a tablet and they’re kind of like, what, and I’m supposed to take pictures now, I’m a picture taker, and they had to figure out how to get their flashlight for taking the pictures underneath the car. So there was definitely some pushback and then we had to just work through it. But what I did was, or what we did as a team was we have to set your negotiables and then your non-negotiables. The non-negotiable part was that, hey, we’re switching to system and then the negotiable part was what’s the best way to implement this? What’s going to make you efficient, what’s going to make it best for the customer as well? So we had the non-negotiable part and then we talked about what we were going to do, getting them involved, the technicians and even the service advisors involved in creating the inspection that we now have today, it empowered them so they felt like they were the ones that they literally made the inspection, they made the digital inspection.
That’s the most awesome thing about AutoVitals too, is you can change it at any amount in time and you can make it whatever they want on it, whatever we all agree to, that’s on it and it really got a lot more. And then what I had them do is I had them do inspections on their own vehicles and then we would still do the full edits and make sure all the informational videos were on there, all the notes and everything, just like it was going to be sent to a customer and we’d send it to the technician or we’d send it to the advisor after their cars got inspected and I said, Hey, look at this final product. Share it with your family, share it with your spouse. And then there was even more buy-in because they were getting showed it to their spouse and look at what we’re doing at work now, and they’re like, holy cow.
That’s like a whole new world of what automotive industry is doing. This industry has a bad rap of being kind of shady or whatever. We know all about cars and the customer doesn’t, but here we are given the opportunity with AutoVitals, actually able to educate the customer so that they feel confident in what they’re looking at and what you’re doing to their car, and it’s almost like they’re back in the shop with the technician rather than just a sheet of paper with some green and red and yellow on it. It was much, much better for everybody.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (10:37):
Did you have pushback by the text to see the picture? The customer sees their portrait picture on the inspection as well?
Brittany Schindler (10:46):
Yeah, there was pushback and then again, when you show them the final product, the technicians or the service advisors, it is more tailored strictly to that specific customer and it just looks way more professional.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (11:02):
And how long do they take you that there was this light bulb going on? Was it the light bulb in the paycheck or was it the light bulb in their spouse told them? Wow. And they felt really much more pride in what they were doing or all of the above. Was there a specific trigger which made the light bulb go on?
Brittany Schindler (11:27):
I’d say it took six months to get fully dialed in to it and taking enough pictures, and then we had the metrics after that showing the technician, Hey, look, when you take more photos, your ARO goes up. The less cars you’re racking. I share that with them and I encourage every shop owner to please share these types of things with your team, these super important KPIs that they should know about that your team is creating for you or for the business. We should show them that this is working. So I showed them that it was working. I always, always, always shared customer feedback. I’m like, oh my gosh, you guys, these customers absolutely love the inspection. They think it’s out of this world. I’ve had customers sitting here who got their inspect on their phone and then there was another waiter in there and it was their first time.
They’re like, look at what I got. And they were about to get their own inspection anyways, but they’re like, take a look at my inspection. They couldn’t wait to tell anybody. They just had to tell the next person right next to ’em, which was just another customer in the lobby and showed them how their inspection looked. They were just so excited. And then I went and told my technicians, I was like, dude, they love the pictures that you took. It makes way more sense to them. They’re super confident and they’re super happy. They’re going to fix everything on their car, whatever it was, and I feel like sharing feedback from your customers is super helpful to the technicians. It makes them feel better, and what they’re doing is working
Bill Connor (13:01):
With such a high percentage of technicians in the marketplace being paid or compensated flag hourly, you’re saying it’s really important from the beginning for the service rider to go ahead and share that success from every repair order that they’ve done and inspected with the technician to build that positive reinforcement. Because a lot of ’em, they start out by only caring about the hours that are approved, but they don’t care so much about the path that it takes to get there,
Brittany Schindler (13:27):
Right? Yeah. We got to share the business practices with them and the business side of things too, like the KPI like the direct correlation between photos taken and ARO. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t or labor hours per ticket. You don’t have to show ’em the ARO, the dollar part, but the labor hours per ticket is a number that we should share with the technicians.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (13:49):
And I mean, six months is a long time where there are people who say, I can’t take it anymore. Can we go back to how we did it previously? I had more hours then
Brittany Schindler (14:04):
There was those questions before and we joined AutoVitals when it was brand new and it was rare that there was a time that it was down even when you guys were brand new, it was very rare that the system didn’t work as it perfectly should, and now that never happens, of course, but I’d say it took six months and I think one time it was down and then I went and handed them their paper back and then they were almost like, well, what do I do with this? It was almost forgotten about and they were like, this is so much more lame than the inspection that we were just doing. And there was a lot less pushback, and again, I just had to keep showing that value to them and discuss with them like, well, what do you feel like we should be doing?
What’s the best way to implement this digital inspection? Again, the non-negotiable and the negotiable part. I just keep getting them involved in how do we make this better? And they’re like, well, I just hate how I have to go to tires after I go check the transmission fluid or whatever it was. I’m like, okay, well no problem. Let’s change it. Let’s move this here. Does everybody agree? They’re like, yeah, why didn’t we do that before? I don’t know, but we’re going to change it right now. And it changes immediately. So then they’re like, oh, okay, sweet. And then they’re like, you’re right. This is way better. We can make changes anytime we need to. They’re the ones that are making the changes. It’s empowering them and making them buy in a lot more.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (15:35):
Did you use the technician effectiveness report by showing it looks like you are pencil whipping? Were you so direct with them using the report?
Brittany Schindler (15:46):
Yes, very direct with the TE times, and then they love seeing it on their tablet too. We do the work order and the inspection, and they were able to track both of that and they actually liked seeing their numbers constantly on their tablet and how good they were doing. And then most people liked to be good at things, so they kept seeing themselves get better, so they were even more proud of themselves by seeing this. Very cool.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (16:10):
Very cool.
Yeah, about, I mean, you were a service advisor. Now I’m asking you what did you have to change to take advantage? And so one of the biggest changes demanded is basically realizing that spending the time on editing pictures is spent way more effectively than trying to explain something on the phone by showing a unedited picture because the technicians have done their work. Now you have to translate that into layman’s terms. So if somebody sits in a business meeting, clicks the link, looks at the picture, what’s this? How do I have to hold it so I make sense of it? Right?
Brittany Schindler (17:08):
Right. Yeah. What exactly am I looking at
Uwe Kleinschmidt (17:09):
Here? Yes, exactly.
Brittany Schindler (17:11):
Yeah, I had to keep looking in the customer view like, Hey, what does this look to the customer? I’ve never been a technician. Yes, this is my dad’s shop, but I’ve never worked on cars with my dad growing up I did not do it. I wasn’t technical savvy at all. So it was helpful I guess for me in that way that I wasn’t a tech and I could decipher it and I had good culture and good team members and technicians that could help me if I needed to. Like, Hey, what exactly is this in this picture? He’s like, oh, just point the arrow here and that’s this and that. And then I would learn more and then I would learn from that and I wouldn’t have to ask again, but asking those questions from the technician just to make sure that it was correct, and my goal was, and a long, long time ago was make the inspection so well that the customer doesn’t have to Google anything and I want it to look perfect to them. So I would constantly be looking at the customer review and making sure that it made sense to someone like me that doesn’t know anything about cars. And even though I was learning even more about cars, I would show some family members that knew nothing either to make sure that it made sense to someone who wasn’t in an industry at all.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (18:23):
How long did it take you to stop the urge to pick up the phone immediately after you sent the inspection?
Brittany Schindler (18:29):
Oh man. So this is a long time ago, Uwe. It didn’t take too long within a couple months because I was super excited to get that inspection to them and I really wanted them to look at it, but I wanted to look at it with them. So I tried to get it to where, Hey, hopefully you can get on a computer or you can put me on speakerphone while you’re scrolling on your phone. Either way, I’d like to go over it with you just to make sure that it made sense and while I was going over it with the customer, I would be looking at the customer view too, so I know I’m looking at the exact same thing as them, and then I would find things in there like, oh, we got to edit that next time and write myself a note after the phone call and change it to make it better again.
Bill Connor (19:13):
Oh, it’s interesting when you have that customer that comes in that every time they come in, you know that you can explain it to the husband, then to the wife, then to the mom, the dad and the grandpa, and it’s kind of interesting when you do that really good edit and you send it out and they go ahead and make all that communications amongst themself and you only end up communicating with one person. It’s like, I just saved X amount of time.
Brittany Schindler (19:36):
So true, so true. It saves on a lot. Yeah, everybody’s looking at the exact same thing. Every note that we have on there, all the educational videos from AutoVitals, you can Google it and it’s going to say the exact same thing on Google, no matter what you type in. It instilled their confidence in us and it just proved our transparency that, Hey, we are just trying to do the right thing for you and make sure that everything that’s going on with your car,
Bill Connor (20:01):
You’re controlling not only the timing, they get the message, which is after you’ve done your estimates, you’re controlling all the content they need to make good decisions. And not only are you answering Google, you’re responding with the exact condition of their vehicle at a fixed point in time and nobody else can do that.
Brittany Schindler (20:19):
So true. Yeah, you can go tell a customer you need something done on their car and they go Google it, but it’s not their car that they’re Googling. It’s not their exact condition that their car is in with the same miles and it’s not the same picture that they’re going to be looking at. I have an actual picture of your car and we live in a college town, so there’s lots of college students here and they have parents back home where they have their parents’ mechanic or whatever, and then they would even share that inspection with their parents’ mechanic and then they would agree with everything, and then they would kind of be blown away by our inspection like, wow, I can’t believe they’re doing this in depth digital inspection that tells you absolutely everything you need to know about your car. And then they just confirm with them too.
Bill Connor (21:07):
If a technician is pushing back and I don’t want to do this and so on. What are some steps that you would take as an implementer to help them see the light, so to say,
Brittany Schindler (21:17):
Again, share the value of it, share why you do it, share the KPIs of the labor hours per ticket with pictures taken, share customer’s feedback, share customer’s reviews that they’ve given to you about what they feel about the digital inspection. I have some customers that have been coming here for the last eight years and they don’t know any differently. One customer came in recently, he is like, he thought it was normal thing that all shops do digital inspection when he was showing his family or friend, and they had never seen anything like that and they all wanted to come in here. And then I go tell my technicians that same thing. I’m like, guys, our customers seriously love these inspections. They love your pictures, they love that it makes sense and we take pictures on the whole inspection and I recommend a picture per recommendation or at least 95% of them.
And then we also take pictures during the jobs that we sell, so the before valve cover, gasket leaking, valve cover off, valve cover, washed valve cover back on engine clean with the oil that was leaking. I mean that right there shows so much more value too to the customer. And again, I send it to the technicians randomly. I’m like, Hey, look at this is a final product of what you did. And then they’re super, super proud of it. One technician, he cannot pull an engine out without setting up his tablet and hitting the record on the video of the engine literally coming out of the customer’s car. He’ll either have someone do it or he’s made a little stand for it and he’ll just push a button himself and lift the engine out because he really wants the customer to see exactly what he is doing and all the processes that he went through. But
Bill Connor (23:03):
For the technician that’s a little bit hesitant to come on. What you really want to do as far as the service advisor and implementer is show them how they’re winning by getting more approvals earlier and more often to go ahead and guide them down that path
Brittany Schindler (23:17):
And then staying transparent because we all know in this industry that this industry has had a bad rap in the past for being shady or taking advantage of people, and here we are proving that we’re not because the teams that we have in our shops, they aren’t those types of guys. So this is just helping proving it, help showing the customer and yeah, I mean the customer feedback is huge for the technicians too.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (23:48):
I love your spouse idea because there’s probably not much more weight the opinion can have when it comes from your spouse. How did you come up with that idea? Do you remember?
Brittany Schindler (24:06):
My dad, I think it was my dad’s idea. We had everybody. Every time we hire a new technician, even still today, we have ’em do, that’s the first car they do is their own car. Hey, you’re going to do inspection on your own car, cool. And then the advisors are going to edit it and then they’re going to send it to you and you’re going to see what it looks like and then you’re going to see how cool and amazing it is and I’m like, holy cow. That’s a lot of information for the customer that we didn’t even have to spend hours typing out. It’s just automatic with AutoVitals, which is so nice too. And again, that too is a lot of buy-in for the technicians like, Hey, you just have to take a picture and then hit one condition because usually hitting one condition, it’ll already give you an auto action and it’s going to be super fast, super quick, it’s going to be efficient, it’s going to make your labor hours per ticket go up. Customers are going to love it. It’s going to make you seem like a super professional technician and yeah, we’re not going to miss anything on anybody’s car.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (25:01):
Have you changed your technician interview process and built that in?
Brittany Schindler (25:06):
Yes, I have. And I even tell people, I’m like, they love it when I interview people. They’re like, holy cow, you guys are really progressive in this industry. And I tell people that too. I’m like, we’re a very progressive shop. I mean, we have self-driving cars for crying out loud and people are still doing paper inspections. It blows me away. And again, the bad rap of the transparency that this industry has had in the past that we’re trying so hard to change with AutoVitals is huge. It’s like why I wish everybody in my whole town was doing digital inspections. I wish everybody all shops that are open right now were doing digital inspection because I feel like the whole industry needs to change as a whole and I don’t care about competition or anything like that, but I think the industry as a whole needs to change and I think it’d be really cool if everybody was doing digital inspections.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (25:55):
Interesting. Back to you as a service advisor, how long did it take you to make motorist research time a quick indicator for next actions?
Brittany Schindler (26:11):
Sometimes I looked in the inspection time that the customer was looking at it. I was like, why? They only look at it for 90 seconds? I have a ton of stuff on there. I was like, there’s no way They looked at everything, but then you can kind of judge customers. Some customers are like, don’t care, just get it done. Which I love those kind of customers. And then you have your super analytical customers that I’m like, geez, they look at it for 6,000 seconds or whatever. They got really into depth, so let’s have a really deep conversation with them over the phone so they knew, kind of reiterate it a little bit and make sure that they got the point thoroughly from the inspection and that, I’m going to say the exact same thing that they read on the inspection for a really long time,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (26:55):
But I would assume, and I don’t want to put what in your mouth, but some of the 92nd customers were also customers where they didn’t even know what to expect. They just got something clicked on it, looked at it, and so I assume you had to go back and say, oh, maybe at drop off we have to do this different and manage the expectations. Very
Brittany Schindler (27:19):
Uwe Kleinschmidt (27:20):
How long into the process did that happen? The light bulb going on and what did you do?
Brittany Schindler (27:27):
So yeah, I guess I did look at the motorist time and was like, I want to make sure that they are looking at it, so we have just a new spiel or whatever at the counter it was like, Hey, we’re going to be doing a digital inspection on your car. The technicians in the shop have no paper. They’re going to be taking pictures of everything on your vehicle to make sure that you know exactly what kind of condition it is for longevity and make sure it’s safe for you. Others on the road, there’s going to be lots of pictures. There’s also going to be detailed videos and descriptions of what those services mean. So go ahead and take a look at that After I send it to you, there’ll be a link and it’s super easy and mobile friendly and take a look at that and then call me and we can either go over it together or you can go over it by yourself. So yes, we definitely have to make that at the front counter known to the customer that that’s what they’ll be getting and kind of what it entails and it gets people excited. They’re like, oh, sweet, you’re going to be taking pictures and stuff and that’s really cool. Their specific vehicle,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (28:23):
Do you show a laminated version or bookmark the link or something like that?
Brittany Schindler (28:28):
Yeah, I do have a screen my service advisors do at the front counter that they can swivel around to show for those super analytical people that are like, what do you mean? I’m like, okay, well lemme show you real quick. So here’s what it’s going to look like similar, but it’s going to be tailored to your course specifically. And then, yeah, I got them excited and they’re like, okay, cool. That’s really awesome, and then lemme send it to them. I even have a little card that I hand to every customer. It says what to expect while your vehicles here at Rod’s. Oh, even
Uwe Kleinschmidt (28:58):
Brittany Schindler (28:59):
At the front counter.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (29:01):
Very cool.
Bill Connor (29:02):
In fact, a long, long time ago, back in never, never land where you started out with your really low ARO, I’m assuming you had a lot of customers that were waiting customers and so on that came in and just hung around and wait for their car. How did you go and transition them from being that waiter and wanting to go and have an answer about their car in 15 minutes to a drop off and turn ’em into real customers?
Brittany Schindler (29:25):
It’s all about reeducation and changing this industry and wanting to be at the forefront of changing this industry for the better. We’re not the type of people that go run out in the parking lot anymore and just go adjust timing on the distributor or whatever, just a carburetor real quick. We don’t do that kind of stuff anymore. We’re not mechanics, we’re technicians. So I think just part of reeducating the customer, which we have tried very, very hard to do and we’ve gotten down I think pretty well now, is just that we are different than what you’ve might’ve seen in the past, especially eight years ago when we first started, it was just a reeducation process. Hey, we have a new way of doing things. It takes a little bit longer, but it’s way more thorough and it’s going to be good for the long run.
Sometimes I had customers that were here and we take a picture of a leak and it was just seeping, right? I’m like, well, yeah, we can totally keep an eye on that. I took a picture today, when you come in next visit, I’m going to take another picture and we’re going to see how it progresses in between the two. So that just showed even more value to the customer right there is like they’re really going to be taking care of me. They’re going to know exactly how things progress on my vehicle because they take pictures every single time they come in. So just reeducating our customers in the way that we do things. Now in this industry, us shops that are on AutoVitals, we are the forefront of this industry nowadays. So it’s not just some piece of paper that you go sit down on the couch with the customer and say, yeah, I see these check marks here by the technician. It’s not very valuable doing it that old way. It’s much more valuable when you can show them pictures of their car,
Bill Connor (31:03):
Any tips for a shop that the technicians are saying this inspections takes too long. And then you look at the inspection and all of a sudden it looks like they’re trying to diagnose every system on a vehicle rather than just fail it and give the service rider an opportunity to say, we need to perform testing on this system. Any tips on that?
Brittany Schindler (31:25):
You have to sit down with your team and all agree that that’s the best way that your shop does it. I can’t say that what works for my shop is going to work for your shop too. But yeah, we do not give any diagnostics away on the inspection. If there’s an oil leak, take pictures of oil leaks. Oil leak needs a die check. You need to figure out exactly where the oil is coming from. If one of the tires is loose, minor player or a major play in the steering and suspension, we need to do diagnostics, move on. We need to just keep moving on, figure out where and what is taking so much longer on the inspection. Block off two hours in the afternoon and have every technician do an inspection on the same car and time each one of them and see who did the fastest and see what part of it took the longest.
Where are we going here? Are we pulling every single fluid out? Can we just take a picture of the fluid reservoir? There’s lots of times where you could take the power steering, fluid reservoir cap off and just take a picture of the fluid inside and it looks super brown. You don’t need to take fluid out. You don’t need to put it on a tray a lot of the times. So those types of things are going to help cut it down, but you have to do it with your team again. It’s going to empower them and make part of that change. And yeah, I would highly, highly recommend blocking off two hours one day of the week or something and doing one inspection on one car with your whole team to see how you can speed it up. What is unnecessary? Why is there so many check marks on your inspection too?
What can we delete? What can we make different but still be just as thorough and educational to the customer when we recommend differential services? I don’t have a guy’s pull fluid if I don’t have any history and the customer has no history either. They take a picture of the rear differential and then we write on there, here’s where we service your rear differential. There’s oil inside of it, it’s due every 30,000 miles just like your inch oils do. Every so often this fluid gets used and lose its viscosity needs to be changed every so often too. There’s so much stuff we can do even with just a picture of the differential with no fluid involved in it. So that helps speed us up too.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (33:44):
Compare and contrast. Yeah.
Wow, time flies. I want to go to the more sophisticated topics, which I consider the buy-in kind of the one-on-one, right? Buy in tax, buy in service advisor, and then come to topics. How did you realize that specialization and have a production manager or a dedicated estimator, although it has nothing to do with the inspection per se, kind of the whole process in workflow opened up that opportunity for specialization, right? That’s one topic. And the other topic is lots of shops feel because thinking in the efficiency gains that waiters are interrupts and interrupts a poison for a smooth workflow, and so they rather get loaners to make that expense, buy loaners and have customers who come in and say, yeah, you can leave your car here. How is tomorrow? Or whatever the scheduler allows. We rather taking the risk of maybe disappointing a customer who thought he’s going to get out of here in whatever the time is in hour or less, but not disrupt the flow
Brittany Schindler (35:31):
That can go back.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (35:31):
Those are two topics. So how did you incorporate things like that in your show?
Brittany Schindler (35:39):
We talked a lot about under promising overdelivering and what that means as a team and what that means to us. So saying, Hey, we do things differently. So again, reeducating at the counter that we’re going to be taking lots of pictures and videos, so it is going to take longer. We don’t just do a 30 minute oil change. We don’t do that here. And even when they wait, hey, it’s going to be a minimum of two hours, which we actually don’t have waiters anymore. But just setting the expectation but then getting it done even sooner to the customer or right on time, whichever under promise, over delivering. But yeah, we just have to reeducate the customer, I feel like for those interrupts and let the technician know. And the cool thing about AutoVitals too is the TVP, we could see how long the technician has been on it and how much longer he has. We could see the inspection in real time and we could be writing it up as he’s going to make us as efficient as possible at the front counter too, which is really cool.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (36:45):
So did you buy loaners and reduce the waiters and took the risk of maybe having certain customers not come back?
Brittany Schindler (36:55):
We do have four loaner cars and then we give Uber rides to customers too. So none of us actually have to leave. We just set up an Uber ride for the customer and then have them go since it is going to take a long time and I’d say it’s well worth it. I mean, my ARO went from 200 and last month average was 1200. So I’d say that’s pretty good with all the practices that we’ve implemented over the years and yeah, I think it was like 4.4 hours last week per ticket. So
Uwe Kleinschmidt (37:26):
It’s amazing.
Brittany Schindler (37:26):
Yeah, have progressed very, very well because we really took the bull by the horns and we really implemented 100% what AutoVitals has to offer and it’s clearly worked very, very well for our team and our business and the technicians that we have. Absolutely. They absolutely love it. So
Bill Connor (37:48):
It’s you really put your service riders where they’re not in a position that they’re there to fix people’s cars. You’re there to go and solve their problems either transportation wise, financial wise or whatever. So it’s kind of interesting that you use Uber and you use loaner cars in combination to solve them problems and still be able to get the offs.
Brittany Schindler (38:06):
That’s right. Yeah, it’s taken a long time. I mean there’s been a lot of trial and error over the years to figure out what is best for our shop specifically, and we’ve all agreed on the changes that we make. I’m definitely not the dictator type of manager. I want to be more of a mentor to them and talk about it as a team as a whole to see what the best way and the best route to go. And it’s been working well. And I’m not saying that we’re perfect by any means because we’re not, but we try really hard to be the best that we can and we know that we’re happy with where we’re at, but we always know that we can be better. So we constantly look into that.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (38:49):
Do you remember when you introduced production management?
Brittany Schindler (38:54):
Uwe Kleinschmidt (38:56):
It’s so natural to know.
Brittany Schindler (38:59):
It is. And I pay my guys differently maybe than other shops too. I don’t have pushback because I pay my guys hourly plus a flat rate bonus, which is a team flat rate bonus. And I guess I could say for sure that that’s tremendously helped. When my guys were on flat rate, there was animosity, there was give me, give me, give me, and it wasn’t very fun. And it was like pencil whipping inspections because I don’t pay for an inspection. You get no flat rate time for that. So there was some hurdles that we had to jump through, but the way that we’re doing things right now with the hourly rate for the technician plus the flat rate team bonus, that has been the way to go for specifically our shop.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (39:43):
Were you concerned at any time this might not pay off?
Brittany Schindler (39:48):
Yes. Yeah, definitely. Making sure I didn’t know
Uwe Kleinschmidt (39:54):
Sleepless nights not paying off or
Brittany Schindler (39:57):
Yeah, probably. And are we doing the right thing? There’s always that with running a business and making big changes. But I think seeing the positive feedback from the customers especially was where it really, really paid off and then seeing it in the numbers and then AutoVitals was crashing that one time and giving ’em paperback and the technician had no idea what to do with it and they wanted their tablets back and they wanted to really provide the customer. We have really, really good culture here too, so it’s kind of mandatory that you definitely care about the customer and the car and everything and they really wanted to be that professional for them. Their name’s literally on it. Their picture’s on the inspection, right? The picture is on the inspection. The technician is so them doing a really good job for the customer makes them proud.
Bill Connor (40:48):
The shops we’ve talked to that have went to the estimator or production manager, they talk about the advantages. So that way the estimator taking that emotion out of estimating from the service advisor that got more profitable estimates and their service advisors were able to do this, having the production manager handled dispatching made it to where there was one person accountable to go ahead and make sure things went through the shop. So what are some of the things that you discovered maybe to make you change and maybe some things that were the end result of doing it
Brittany Schindler (41:19):
To make us more productive,
Bill Connor (41:21):
More productive or make your staff more comfortable?
Brittany Schindler (41:26):
I feel like the TVP really really helped with that. We used to have clipboards out in the shop and I would have to constantly go out there and rearrange clipboards depending on who I talked to and when parts were going to be there. And then we had it on the TVP and then I was able to actually type to the technician and then we were able to discuss things that way or I would go out there and make sure that things were in the right order and we all agreed that it was. So production really changed that way with having the TVP up at all times. And it’s mandatory. I mean my service advisors have four screens up in their area and one non-negotiable is the TVP has to be on its own screen at all times. There can be nothing covering it ever. So they can see what the technicians are doing along the top row and it is kind of ultimately up to the service advisor to make sure to text the technician, Hey, you’re in the red and it’s flashing now. Are you almost done? Or whatever it was or going to be done soon.
Bill Connor (42:32):
That kind of covered a common question is my service advisor says I don’t need more than one monitor. And you’ve pretty much handled that pretty well right there.
Brittany Schindler (42:43):
Yeah, you got
Uwe Kleinschmidt (42:44):
I actually, sorry for interrupting. I remember those times when AutoVitals salespeople came back to me and said, when I told people who considered AutoViitals to buy a second monitor, that was too much of an expense.
Brittany Schindler (43:05):
It’s a must. I mean that keeping that TVP up and keeping an eye on things the whole time, plus even if you’re not looking at it and say you’re on your POS system in the middle screen and all that on the other, you could still see it flashing. You could see the color changing, you could see a message pop up on your screen and it’s making your talk about efficiency that you say that piece of paper was so efficient. But what about TVP? I mean, holy cow, that was a huge world of difference for efficiency. We could really keep an eye on things. We can really keep things in order. We know the technician had 20 hours yesterday on his tablet worth of work to do, and this morning he’s got seven, so we could really judge the day and how we’re going to make that day go right there in the morning. And it’s just really, really helpful for efficiency if we want to talk
Bill Connor (43:54):
About it. It’s funny, some of the early shops that complained about the monitors, now they’ve moved over to where they got an estimator of production manager and they can’t live without three monitors.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (44:04):
But one thing I really want to stress and that was is also still a big deal. The TVP can only be as good as its input. So if technicians don’t check of work or percentages of work, it’s kind of misleading, right? They’re way further than the TVP suggests. And so advisors get concerned because there’s more red flashing than there there really is in the back. Right? Was there any problem for you that the tech checkoff jobs and work
Brittany Schindler (44:45):
Orders? Absolutely. There was my advisors, I taught them, I’m like, Hey, these are the hours the technician has left to do. So make schedule appointments tailored to that promise customers differently because of that or where they’re at. And a technician would all of a sudden be like, bam, check off 14 hours done. Well now we don’t have a car for you. So now whose fault was that? And then it goes back to the, Hey, let’s talk about that. This as a team guys, everybody, look what happened. He forgot to check off the jobs as he was going. The service advisor had no idea that he was about to be done. Then we didn’t have a car for him and he had to go home or clean the shop or whatever it was. Do you think he did that again? No, because he didn’t want to go home, but we could see how long he was clocked into it for. However, some technicians are very, very efficient and they can get a 14 hour job done and six and a half or seven. But we learned from that. But we all shared what had happened with that one technician to everybody, and we all agreed that the best practices to complete the job 100% on your tablet when you are done with it to make sure that the service advisor can plan the day properly.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (46:05):
That Oh, Bill, go ahead.
Bill Connor (46:08):
So unlike back when you used to use a whiteboard where things you’d have to erase things and redo ’em. If the technician will go ahead and use the tool properly, everything is recalculated automatically and the service advisor can maximize every minute that technician is ready, willing, and able to work,
Brittany Schindler (46:24):
Right? Yeah. Talk about again, efficiency and then getting your flat rate bonus. You want as many hours as you can get usually for that. And it’s going to keep them accountable for themselves what they should be doing. And then they figured out why and what happens when you don’t?
Uwe Kleinschmidt (46:41):
Are you saying don’t introduce a new payment system until the tax have figured out how to check off jobs?
Brittany Schindler (46:51):
Uwe Kleinschmidt (46:54):
I’m just kidding. But you could, if you get paid hourly on a team bonus, relax, right? Yeah.
Brittany Schindler (47:02):
Yep. And I
Uwe Kleinschmidt (47:03):
Team bonus, you need the team culture.
Brittany Schindler (47:06):
What’s that?
Uwe Kleinschmidt (47:07):
You need the team culture that this doesn’t happen.
Brittany Schindler (47:09):
Very true. I wholeheartedly believe in team culture is my number one thing here at work. It’s when I have good, and again, I’ve been doing this for 11 and a half years now. So there’s correlations that I see directly with that is good culture, good business, bad culture, bad business. It is a direct correlation here at my business anyways. So it is extremely important to me to keep up on that
Bill Connor (47:37):
With what’s going on in the labor market now. And we got a lot of shops that are switching from flag hour to hourly. Is it more important now than ever for the shop and service writers to understand and manage that labor inventory right to the minute because it’s all coming out of your pocket? It’s not.
Brittany Schindler (47:57):
Yep. Because if you don’t know your technicians are your hourly rate times two, because it’s usually 50 50 parts in labor, take your hourly rate times it by two, divide it by 60. That’s how much your technicians cost a minute. My technicians cost somewhere around $5 a minute. So it is very important to keep an eye on this tool of AutoVitals that has tremendously helped my business be as efficient as possible. And everybody knows exactly what they should be doing at all times and what the best way to do it because they know how much it costs us. But doing these inspections that may take way longer than the paper one is still so, so much better for the business and for the technician as far as flat rate hours and labor hours per ticket.
Bill Connor (48:55):
Question come in that they would like you to go ahead and share the stats for your shop as far as base technicians, advisors, approximate sales and so on, if you wouldn’t mind.
Brittany Schindler (49:04):
Yeah, I have six and a half bays. I have four technicians. I have two advisors, and last week we did 47,000 in sales and yeah, 68% GP and
Bill Connor (49:21):
Not at a $200 ARO
Brittany Schindler (49:24):
Last week. ARO. Gosh, I just did my numbers too. It was 1400, 14 24 ARO last week.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (49:35):
And what portion is Asian or Japanese and what is domestic?
Brittany Schindler (49:44):
I had say it was probably 80% Japanese and then the other part domestic. Okay. Yep. I mean, we are lucky that we do work on a lot of Japanese cars and then we live in Washington where we do not salt our reds. So we do not have super rusty cars, thankfully.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (50:02):
Very cool. Dang, time flies. We have eight minutes left. I would love to talk about can jobs, but I don’t know whether we have enough time because that was another efficiency booster to tie actually populate the estimate automatically through the inspection findings. I believe it was a big deal,
Brittany Schindler (50:27):
Especially when all the technician has to do is click on a condition and then auto actions forum, and then it goes back to the advisor and the advisor can pull that report and have it build the inspection right there then and there too. Right? That is another efficiency thing. I’d say. You have to know all the tools that AutoVitals gives you and how to use them and ask your rep from AutoVitals that you are using everything and talk to other AutoVitals shops and see how they’re doing it too.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (50:59):
Jeff is asking what point of sale you use. That’s how I want to
Brittany Schindler (51:03):
Oh, we have max checks
Uwe Kleinschmidt (51:07):
Still, huh? For all the years.
Brittany Schindler (51:10):
Still got, yeah, I like it. Good. I’m super fast at it too, so
Uwe Kleinschmidt (51:15):
Brittany Schindler (51:16):
Uwe Kleinschmidt (51:18):
Maybe I can tell you a story. A friend of mine runs a shop in Tucson and he was on a UNIX based point of sale, but since he’s specialized on Honda and Acura, he had canned jobs by numbers and his service advisor had the numbers all memorized. So writing up service looked like the following service advisor talk to the customer and his right hand use it, the number portion of the keyboard to type in the job codes for the estimate. I mean, that’s pretty amazing.
Brittany Schindler (51:57):
Yeah. I could probably click on it with my eyes closed probably right now.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (52:04):
And then there was no UNIX anymore and he had to switch to Windows and he said, that slows me down. What’s going on?
Brittany Schindler (52:12):
I think you can become efficient again at a new tool, right?
Bill Connor (52:17):
Yeah. Sometimes you got to slow down a little bit before you can go ahead and take that next run. So that’s pretty common when technology changes and nobody in the industry likes change, but the OEMs force it on us every six months with whatever they dream up next. So if you’re in this industry, you might as well get used to constant change for sure.
Brittany Schindler (52:35):
100%. You have to be. And it’s a very, very progressive industry. Extremely progressive. I mean, everybody knows things about cars nowadays. Everybody knows what a Tesla is, everybody does and and things like that. We as shops also have to be progressive
Bill Connor (52:53):
And the things of a technician going ahead and just saying, I’m going to change this without going to the manual and seeing is there a calibration that I need to do after this? Is there a programming got to be done? Those days are over, you can’t just wing it.
Brittany Schindler (53:05):
Uwe Kleinschmidt (53:08):
Was there at any time during those many changes, the thought, wow, this is just too much change?
Brittany Schindler (53:17):
Uwe Kleinschmidt (53:18):
Brittany Schindler (53:19):
Nope. It was not ever too much change. It was just what’s the best way to implement it as a team as a whole. Should we take it nice and slow? Yes. Let’s take it nice and slow and perfect it. Let’s be the professionals that we tell the customers that we are.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (53:35):
So change is okay, but don’t implement it hastily. That’s basically yes.
Brittany Schindler (53:40):
And Don, don’t be a dictator when implementing it either type. I really feel like having the involvement of the team and making the changes, again, your negotiables, non-negotiables, you have to figure out what those are to you and then talk about it with your team. Getting them involved gets way more.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (54:02):
I think that’s the perfect closing statement.
Bill Connor (54:08):
Yep. Teamwork is all about it for sure. And like I said, when they participate, they take ownership of it and it makes your whole life a lot easier. Brittany, do you have anything else you’d like to add or Uwe before we go ahead and wrap?
Brittany Schindler (54:22):
Nope. Feel free to email me or talk to me on the Digital Shop talk if you have any questions for me.
Bill Connor (54:30):
Yep. And I’m glad you mentioned that. So for those of you that are listening, we certainly appreciate it. Brittany, I’d like to thank you for joining us today. Unfortunately, Brenner had a little computer problem, so we’ll get him on another episode a little bit later. I’d like to encourage you to go ahead and maybe get other folks to go ahead and register for the digital shoptalk at, or maybe go ahead and get them to sign up for the podcast by searching on their favorite podcast platform for the Digital Shop Talk Radio. So once again, I’d like to thank you, Brittany, and for those of you that have joined us today, thank you. Go out there and make some money and continue to wow your customers.
Brittany Schindler (55:09):
Thanks for having me. Appreciate it guys. Thank you, Brittany. Yeah, you’re welcome. Thank you.
Bill Connor (55:13):

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