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Episode Description

On this Christmas Eve episode of The Digital Shop Talk Radio show, Tom & Uwe welcome back Fred Gestwicki Jr. and Russ Crosby for a discussion about leadership and building culture, in and out of the shop.

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Episode Transcript

*This transcript was generated with Artificial Intelligence. Errors may occur. If you identify an error please contact us at [email protected]

TOM: Good morning and good afternoon, welcome to this week’s edition of the Digital Shop Talk Radio. I’m Tom Dorsey. And today it’s the Christmas Eve Eve episode of Digital ShopTalk Radio. And we are in the Christmas spirit here over at AutoVitals and on Digital Shop Talk Radio. And so today we’re going to be talking about how do we show that appreciation? How do we give back, how do we continue our leadership after the doors roll down? Right because it doesn’t stop at the door. And so I’m very honored to welcome back for this episode to greet. Yes, I think live and breathe that every day, getting out there outside of the shop, giving back to the community and paying it forward with technicians and other people interested in the industry. Welcome back, Russell Crosby, our Duke of dapper, our count of culture. And Fred Gestwicki we thank you for coming back, gentlemen.

Thank you. Thanks, Tom, for having on it.

TOM: As always, our founder and CIO, Uwe Kleinschmidt, welcome to it’s been a while, but since you’ve been on the show and I’m glad to finally see you back.

UWE: Thank you. Same here, especially if we can talk to Ross and Fred. Yeah, it’s always a treat.

TOM: Well, perfect gentleman. So, you know, I’d like to start off, just kind of give us an update. I you guys have both been working on your individual projects and had a lot going on in this crazy year. Fred, if you kick us off, kind of give us an update on your shop. How you doing?

FRED: We’re doing pretty well, surprisingly well. Unbeknownst to a lot of people, we had a ton of turnover during coronavirus, not from the actual virus, the emotional effects of being stuck at home or not being able to go anywhere or just people go crazy because people go crazy caused the Herd to thin itself. So I actually besides one key employee, becca, she’s been with us for two years. Everyone in our shop has been with us under a year. And it sounds like this terrible thing, I just looked at it as a way to upgrade, a way to make sure the people that I choose to add or the right people and we involved, everybody was hiring. We involved everybody with interviewing and built a really good culture where if someone struggles, they have a bunch of friends around them to help them through those tough times, whether it is work related, home related, just kind of blending the work family and the home family. So a lot of changes this year for Fix-it with Fred, but it’s all been changes for the better.

TOM: Yeah, I know that’s, you know, a lot of rough times. Right and a lot of people are feeling it a lot of different ways. And that’s, you know, that’s a perfect topic on the show for the show topic is just, you know, again, it doesn’t. end when you close those doors and, you know, getting involved in the community, even that little tiny bit can really help somebody change their perspective and change that aspect and really help. Russ, how have you guys been doing in jersey? I know you’re hunting for that next second location. How is that going?

RUSS: Good you know, we’ve encountered similar issues that Fred’s going through and I’m sure a lot of people have, but we’ve used this year and this challenge as an opportunity. More than anything, we’re really working on processes we did. Our second location is being put together as we speak. So I was hoping to have it ready by the end of December. But, you know, my goals are always pretty lofty. So that was a little too much too quick. But we’ve you know, we’ve embodied having a remote service advisor. So she works completely remote, which is working really well. There are certain challenges. And, you know, it’s really about not letting these challenges keep us down. We just got to power through them just like Fred did. Right we’re not going to stop. We can’t stop. So we’re just going to go through it. And, you know, every you’re always going to have you’re always going to have problems, whether they be good or bad problems, you just got to work through them. So and that’s what we’re doing. And the whole team jumped right behind it and pushing through it. So overall, it’s been a great opportunity for us to grow as a team and as a company.

TOM: That’s fantastic. And, you know, as the King of culture, you know, I think I downgraded you earlier in the intro to account, but you’re actually the King of culture. And, you know you know, I remember you telling us a story on one of the episodes, you were on about how, you know, your guys went out and we’re doing like landscaping on the city sign on a Saturday and giving back to the community in that fashion. You know, a lot of times what pulls people together and what helps you through these rough times is being able to stay focused on a project, stay focused on opening that second location or going out and doing some community service and, you know, and staying on the plan. And that kind of makes a lot of the other things less stressful. And, you know, you feel, of course, that you’re not alone. What are some of the things that you’re working on with your team for that location? And did you end up opening? I know when we were talking earlier, it was going to be a drive from where you are now. How close is it? And what’s kind of the plan for you operationally? Are you hiring remote territory manager who’s going to work remotely similar to other folks?

RUSS: Yeah so the other shop is actually 15 minutes away from my current location at 15 minutes. And it’s originally we were looking at doing a heavily, heavily based European shop, but we’ve kind of actually switched gears a little bit and we’re going towards diesel trucks. So we’re going to focus more on big trucks in this building because we’re able to pull in huge, heavy duty rector’s tractor trailers. And I’ve linked up with a body shop who does heavy duty towing. So my location in clinton and my flagship location is right next to a major highway. It’s a huge interstate. So now we can really start promoting that. We could take on these big jobs and get them down to get them down to the other shop, which is 15 minutes away. You know, we’re still at we’re not going to say no to other vehicles that are coming through the door down there. We’re just going to shuffle them around and get them to the right technician. So we’ve invested in a roll back. So I’ve got my own tow truck now. So we’re towing. We’re we’re going to move around and get them to the right, get them to the right people. So we’re going to work as a central the flagship location. It’s going to take all the phone calls and field the phone calls and deal with scheduling and working. And you know what? What a beautiful way to use AutoVitals to its full potential right in. I don’t need to have all of this stuff in every location I need, you know, my team can see the schedule, what’s going on? They’re going to work together.

TOM: Yeah you can, you know, remote dispatch those trucks and your road side. Are you going to start doing, like, commercial roadside, too. Yeah so jumped off on that side of the road.

RUSS: Yeah so we’re getting we’ve got some, some trucks here of our own that have been sitting around and I’m like, you know, there’s a big calling for this. We could really do some big things and really change, change the dynamic of the company a little bit. And I think we’re going to get into that. We do everything like a team like Fred. You know, we’re very team oriented. And if the team can’t get behind it, I can’t do it all myself, nor do I want to. So we’re going to decide it as a group. But we’re going to have Alex, who’s my who’s my shop manager here, and Clinton. He’s basically taking a step back. We hired in a new service advisor where he’s just overseeing operations now. He’s able to kind of start doing what I did when he came on and taking a step back so that he can start to help me watch the second shot. And we’ve staffed up and we brought on some new people and we’ve got them trained up. And we’re hopefully, you know, hopefully by the beginning of January, mid-january will be ripping into that new shop. And we’re really excited and heavy marketing, heavy community involvement right now. Just just so I can get the name out there. People can see us. You know, it’s interesting because the new shop is actually in my hometown where I grew up. And I swore that I would never put a shop in the hometown where I grew up. And, you know, 20 years later, we go in there. And it’s funny, because some of the shops that I worked for in that area were like, why are you coming here? Why are you doing this? And I’m coming to help you. You guys don’t charge enough. We’re going to bump your ARO, right? We’re going to I said we’re coming up. We’re bringing the big guns in now. So you guys better step it up. And it’s all fun. It’s fun and games. We’re good. We’re good friends and they’re good people. So it’s exciting. It’s a

TOM: competition is healthy for everybody. You can compete and you can win it over. So it sounds like we’ve got another pilot for TowVitals. Right you know, the rebirth, the telling

UWE: there would be attempt number three, I guess. Yeah, right. Do it.

RUSS: You know, I’m game.

UWE: the challenge. The challenge rose very quickly. This gets big very quickly. Right it’s one thing to have, you know, a workflow for tow. But the next thing is where all the cars, where are the trucks, you want to know GPS data, then you want to start fleet management around them and so on and so forth. So we haven’t figured out what the minimum viable product is, so to speak, but happy to pick it up again.

RUSS: I was talking to, I think may have been the last time that I was on. I was talking, you know, we’re actually kind of shifting to bringing on a position that I’ve never really heard of in basically a logistics manager, like somebody we know where all the cars are and who’s getting what and where are all of our loaner vehicles. And, you know, those are the things that hurt a little bit when you’re trying to expand. And I got to tell you, you know, I was listening to Fred and Adam and John long a couple of months ago. You guys were all on a call together on the show together and like, pulled a lot of really great stuff out of what everybody was saying. And I’m trying to implement what you guys are what you guys are using as far as, you know, your production management style or service budget style, a lot of really good info came out of that, which is really helping me set this thing up. So Thanks. I appreciate the awesome man, John and Adam. You know, I appreciate you guys.

UWE: I really, if I may say so. 2020 has shown that, you know, you grow with your challenges. Every challenge is an opportunity. And and we have probably never talked more about process than this year. You know, and we talk about roles like production manager, right, and as in John now called the production director, or maybe has a different name for it or it doesn’t matter that we really talk roles and responsibilities and build tools around It is completely new for this industry, at least in the independent shop. Right and that’s super exciting.

TOM: Yeah, for sure. And just real quick, we’ve got a question came in from the audience and, you know, curious about when you said you have a completely remote service advisor. And so they’re asking, how are you able to have a remote service writer with a little overview of what you’re doing?

RUSS: All right. So this is how it works. We use a cloud based word, cloud based point of sale system. So we’re using protractor, which integrates really well with AutoVitals. And because, you know, I had to think about it like this, you know, with having AutoVitals and protractor. I sat at my house and I was writing tickets from my house one day, and I was like, there’s no reason why we can’t do this with Zoom. You know, we can bring up we could bring a Zoom meeting up and then go through the inspection report with the customer face to face. You’re still getting that face to face interaction. So we’ll do that occasionally. A lot of people don’t want to or don’t really need to. And again, at covid was such an opportunity for us because people don’t really want to see people right now. So implementing a they don’t know if Becky’s here or she’s not here, how would they know if they’re not standing in my office? So, you know, her and Alex work very closely together and she’s going through the processes that have been laid out for us. Right so you’ve got your person checking in your vehicle. The techs are looking at it and following the tiles, really just following the processes that are already there. It’s pretty easy to implement someone that’s remote. Now, the issues that we run into were her internet wasn’t super stable when we first started, but we got that corrected. There was there were some other issues with her computer and we just we upgraded her computer. So, I mean, but that stuff is all easy to ship out and get yourself a good IT person. That’s what really helped us. We have an IT person who we can call immediately and he’ll jump on and help us out big time. But implementing and it wasn’t that difficult because of the times kind of actually forced us to do it because she had to be home with her son. And we didn’t want to lose. We didn’t want to lose the opportunity of having a great team member have to step away. And somebody who’s been very much a face of the company for a long time, that could be detrimental. Right so we just know, we figured out how to make it work. And if anybody ever really wants to dive into that’s more they can always reach out to me. I’m available to talk about it because it’s a that kind of makes people turn their head sideways like you’re doing what you know, you have somebody working from home in the automotive industry. I mean, if I could put a lift at my house and do the work on my house, I would. But I can’t because I don’t really want all these strangers in my house. Actually, I take them thinking, come over, we’ll barbecue in the back.

TOM: Yeah, there you go. You get a people on the other side, you’ll be fine. Yeah one of

RUSS: my neighbors would appreciate all the cars, but they’re kind of used to that, you know. They are.

TOM: And so so, Fred, you know, speaking in terms of, you know, paying it forward and leading, you’ve got you’ve got a young assistant apprentice, I think, in there with you today. Who do you got with you both today?

FRED: My oldest son, Eric, is with us. We had an eye doctor appointment and he came to work with his dad. And then you’re writing both covers right now. It’s designed a series of five books at age eight that he’s drawing the covers. They all even go together like the beginning, the middle. And he has a whole series. So he’s using his mom’s desk since she’s not here today and he’s being creative that way. If I need to know what to do, I can always ask your friend.

TOM: Welcome, Eric. It’s good to have you on. Congratulations on your book series. I look forward to the Netflix series when that comes out and know just remember your dad when you’re bankrolling all of that Netflix money and you know who got you started, who mentored you to get you there was

FRED: when you were talking earlier, there was something you said, Russ, that rang in my head. And it was right at the end when you said, oh, just have people come over. Anyways, it wasn’t a joke, but every joke has truth in it. As you know, there’s always some truth back into jokes. You follow the same process I follow. When you meet somebody, you treat them like they’re your friend, unless they give you a reason not to total strangers. Doesn’t matter who it is, doesn’t matter where you are, you meet some new person, regardless of their situation. We treat that you default someone potentially being your friend, not put a wall up and be your enemy. And I think that is something that you see between me and Russ that drives us to pay it forward. If you’re treating everybody like friends, it’s automatic. You’re going to want to help your friends. So if everyone’s effectively your friend, then you help everyone want to help everyone.

TOM: That’s a great Christmas message, buddy. And you know, us will talk to us a little bit about how you doing that, because you know what? I think where I first when I first met you. Yeah you were interested in AutoVitals, but I met you at ATI all through an ATI event. And, you know, I thought and you were like New and atai at the time even, but you were already given breakouts and lead classes. And I thought, how does that happen? You know? And so then, of course, as you know, when they introduced me to you early and I thought, oh, now I get it. You know, I’m just you’re just that guy, like you said, you know, everybody’s your friend. You want to help everybody and you’re just an outgoing guy. What would you say to people who want to be there? Right maybe I’m shy, but not make friends easy. I you know, I don’t I’m barely keeping the doors open. I don’t have time. How do you make the time? How do you get involved? And what would your advice be?

19:15 FRED: For me, it kind of comes a little instinctive, so there’s less thought in it, but what would help someone that is like I wish I could be more giving, I wish I could come up with ideas. You know, there’s all these different reasons and struggles that we don’t pay for, that we don’t give back. What hit me is when I moved my shop five years ago, 4 and 1/2 years ago, I moved one mile a mile. You think that doesn’t matter? Because it’s a freaking mile. But no, I left Perry township and went into Canton township. I went from being outside of city limits to inside of city limits. And there was all this change where like I lost customers that are like, well, you’re not on my way home from work. And I’m like, it’s a mile mile walking doesn’t take long, you know. So what I thought about because I thought for a minute I thought I’d be upset about this. And then I’m like, now I have a better way of looking at this. All the people that come in your shop are trying to help you. Yes you’re offering a service and they’re paying you for it. But the reason they chose you is they believe in you. They believe in what you’re doing. They believe in why you’re doing it. They believe in your people. They believe in your cause. And when those people for five years came to me and just believed in me, I think I owed it to believe in what they believe in, to give back to them, just like when they come to you to get their car fixed. You offer a service, they give you money. When we give back to the community, we give back to the community and the community returns the favor by bringing new customers or just having a good word on the street or just not hating you, not talking bad about you to fill in the blank when there’s not that monetary transition between a service and money. When the difference is like a Monday of last week, I hauled out of the church that me and my wife were members of. They have an event that’s a Christian shop where there’s room set up for kids under three, three to 8 and then 8 to 14 and local charity that were a part of helping. Perry gathers up toys and bikes, and all this. And we set up these rooms. Perry helping Perry that they can’t afford to get Christmas presents. And there’s volunteers that are shoppers that help them shop for their kids for free. So our church didn’t have room to store all the extra stuff from last year. So our middle school lets them have a room in the middle school, even though coronavirus no one’s allowed anywhere. No one’s allowed to do anything. Once the schools closed, you go in there with no mask on. It’s no big deal. I took my truck because they don’t have anyone to haul it. We hauledd all the stuff from the school to the church, went to the church, no branding, no push my business, and just helped nine people that couldn’t buy gifts for their kids get free gifts. If that never pays me back, that’s OK, because 9 families, kids are going to wake up with stuff under the tree instead of the mommy having to explain why they don’t have anything why santa’s broke this year or whatever, whatever analogy. So they’re paying it forward. It has to come from a once inside of you that most people have where you want to help the people around you. And when you don’t know what to do, just ask the way I got involved with hauling the toys and I’ll be hauling them back over the weekend. The way I got involved is I went to my pastor and said, hey, what can I do to help? I want to help. I don’t know what you need. Let me know. He’s like, I don’t know. The next day he texted me. So when you don’t know how to get back to your customers, ask them as some of your top customers. Is there any community things that you’re involved in? Because I’m looking to become a part of the community more. What can I do? Russ Have you ever just outright asked a customer?

RUSS: Yeah, you know, I was going to say to add to that, I’ll also ask my customers to help us with whatever ventures we’re going into because a lot of people want to help. But like you just said, they don’t know how. So we’re I am very much a person that will say, hey, can you help us do this? And, you know, it really paid off this year. And I’d love to talk about that a little bit, but yeah, it’s time like the present. Yeah, it’s you got to ask you got to ask

FRED: Tom. Just a quick story that happened in the main part of coronavirus when everything was on lockdown. And this is a huge paying it forward. And then it came right back to me. We had we think we had three loaner cards during coronavirus. Obviously our car count went down because everything was closed and was driving. And we had a guy that moved to town with five kids bring in his Pontiac Bonneville because it felt unstable. It needs a whole front end, all the tires, the transmissions going out. This thing is just a bunch of rust holding hands. So I had a Pontiac Grand Prix with 240,000 miles as a loaner that was mechanically sound, but it had started making this goofy noise from the radio and the radios, all part of the computers. And I’m like, I’m not putting a radio in his car so that the guy brings his car and I diagnosed it. I’m like, like, you’re not putting $7,000 in this car, man. It’s not worth it. And I thought, you know, our car counts down. I have three loaners. I’m kind of thinking of getting rid of this grand pre. I’m a self-described for $1,000. Yeah the radio makes the noise. It’s mechanically bulletproof. I’m giving this to customers. It doesn’t drip, it doesn’t strand and all the lights are out. So I told the guy, I said, come up here. I have some I need to talk to you about. Even know everything’s closed. If you come up here, you can get a ride or something. You won’t need a ride back. And I told him, I said, I just think this is the right thing to do. Even if you don’t have $1,000 right now, I will sell you, this car for $1,000 you can take it now while you’re here, transfer your stuff into it. Bring me back money when you can. Bill of sale, it doesn’t matter deep. I mean, after he and his wife were done crying because apparently his wife had just lost her job. So they’re in a terrible spot. They don’t tell you that when they drop the car off. I’m like, yay, I did something good. Two weeks later, one of my long time customers from before we had to shop who had passed away in 2019 his widow called, hey, we’re ready to sell our car. I’m like, huh? She goes, yeah, you know, my husband when he was alive told me, whenever we’re done with the car we need to give it to Fred. And I’m like, all right. Well it’s a 2006 Sonata with 80,000 miles on it in mint condition. And I mean mint because there’s no scratches or dents or discolorations anywhere. Now for some of this car for $2,000. And it was right two weeks later. So during coronavirus, I saw the kloner to put myself in a little bit of a tight situation because I was down alone. And within two weeks, the world returned the favor back to me. For me, a better car for a very fair price. And it all worked out. I help somebody, you know, so I just wanted to share. That’s where you get it doesn’t always tie together, but you just do good things and the good things come back. You know,

RUSS: you have to want you’ve got to it’s always got to be top of mind. And you live that lifestyle where you want to help people. And what you put out into the universe comes back tenfold. Just like Fred said, if you’re thinking you wake up, you know, today is going to be a great day. I bet you you’re going to have a pretty good day or today I’m going to help someone, whether it’s buy someone, a cup of coffee or help move stuff, pick up a toy for a kid that doesn’t have anything. The reason part of the reason why I love doing those things is the way I feel inside when I do it what I feel. It’s like the best feeling in the world, being able to help people. And, you know, that’s my wife swears I have that Savior syndrome. She tells me all the time because I way overcommit myself to help and do other things. And she she’s always breaking my chops about it. But

TOM I’ve got a yard full of stray dogs, you know, I have my brother’s life. That’s not quite my thing. That’s not always what she adopts. Everything you got chicken in the house, you name it. Yeah everything we had,

RUSS: we had to stop taking dogs. And my wife, I sent her to the grocery store one day and she came back with a dog. I’m like, where did you even find this thing? You know, after that, we stop with the puppies. We’ve got too many of them. Now, I

TOM: you that was great advice because that’s exactly what happens, is folks want to get involved, don’t really know the first step. But if you look at it from that perspective, what do you do for a living. You help people and solve problems and you just go out and apply yourself to helping people solve problems. Outside of your door is outside your parking lot, you know, more the phone will start ringing. They’ll be asking you to help some more. But that’s an opportunity for you to meet folks and help. And, you know, just like these gentleman said, that stuff comes right back around and helps you. And, you know, that’s what makes the world go around. It makes us all, especially in times like this, you know, where it’s so important. A lot of times, you know, think about how many times during your day you just try to go out of the way to get somebody to smile, you know, just get somebody to smile that you’re interacting with because everybody is so concerned and worried and frowning all the time. And I mean, it really brightens your day. You can probably think about the last time you interacted with an individual that made you smile. Right and how that brightens your day. And matter of fact, I can think of it. I was on my way in today, this morning, and a guy cut me off wearing a Santa hat with a surfboard strapped across me up on to the dashboard. And, you know, I looked at him and he gave me the thumbs up and it literally made me smile. So I actually had that reaction from being almost ran completely off the road by surfing Santa, who I thought was going to flip me off. But he gave me the thumbs up, like in the winter. Uwe would tell us a little bit, give us an update on how? Because you have mentored many people here AutoVitals to continue to do so. And, you know, I know he always approaches it from kind of a more analytical I think I to approach, you know, I’d love to get your insights on, you know, how do you come across opportunities to pay it forward.

UWE: Actually, I would like to tell you the story, my daughter Lena, graduated as a PT And had a great residency and then COVID hit and they just cut the thing and she had to look for a job, right. So eight attempts later, she’s walking in a. Practice and. Despite covid, so she has to wear a mask, which forces her to now take her asthma medicine daily, which was never the case. Right, but it doesn’t matter. She just is so driven to help people. That she doesn’t feel that’s a challenge or a problem, right? And I mean, there is a saying, you know, people some people are blessed with the burden. I think she falls into that category and it just warms my heart right. To hear that. You know, you’re on the street without a job and then do this, right? So that was just awesome. Yeah, and it is fantastic, Leena’s, I know how proud you are of Lena, and she has been an amazing success story. I mean, even back when you think about how it hasn’t been that long, when she was working at AutoVitals creating videos and interviewing all of us and building some of that early kind of team, you know, marketing collateral and stuff. And, you know, how time flies, you know, and but she’s just stayed so focused. And it’s like you said, you know, it ties right into it. She wasn’t focused, I don’t think, on getting the career and the title. And she was focused on her need. Right because that’s what it to be is a need to help people. And then those doors open and it takes you to the place that end up. And then if you apply yourself and you just keep getting up every morning, you know, great things happen not only for yourself, but the individuals that you’re working to help and you know, your family. And I know that you are one proud papa on this Christmas Eve Eve.

UWE: Yes, that’s for sure. I mean, it just shows. I mean, I have to tell you, I mentioned it earlier, right, you grew up with your challenges. I learned that from my kids more than from anybody else. Right not knowing a language and. Just immerse yourself and keep your eyes open and see who you can help and who helps you and the rest is just taking its course.

TOM: That is some fantastic words of wisdom. And if Lina ever watches this, hey, Lena, congratulations. Merry Christmas.

UWE: Shes probably working right now.

TOM: Yeah, I’m sure she is. She’s working, helping people. You know, I just want to bring up Julie Crawford had a great sentiment that she posted in the chat. And, you know, when we were talking about, you know, we treat everybody as a friend and she said strangers are just friends waiting to happen. So merry Christmas, Julia. It’s a great sentiment. And I know Fred actually, as Fred responded in their love that saying I’ll start using it. So there you go. See paying it forward already and it’s going to help everybody. And if you have that kind of mindset. Right and just have that attitude and it was a great little rush to get up thinking, you know, I’m going to make a friend today than you do. And, you know, that friend might happen to just become a lifelong customer for you or provide some other opportunities. And, you know, let’s talk a little bit, too, about how, you know, you guys are both involved in not only ATI and, you know, and helping to mentor and learn from each other from an industry perspective. But also, Russ, you are also involved in some other business organizations outside of that. And, you know, you’re thinking to yourself, how is this guy opening a second location? How are you making a transition to commercial heavy duty and tow and is involved in ATI has time to come on awesome shows like the digital Shop Talk radio and is also working inside of the community and through other organizations to help others improve and be better business people. Give us a little update on that. Russ, what do you think? What else have you been doing and how do you find the time?

RUSS: But, you know, I have to say that my wife is an angel because like I said, I spend a lot of time doing a lot of things. But she’s, you know, she’s part of the team, too. And she knows that everything is everything is for. I don’t want to say everything’s for a reason, but it is, you know, like I know that helping people in our community will ultimately help our shop. People will want to help us. And I like what UWE said. I just want to sidetrack for a second Uwe said immerse yourself. And that’s what I that’s what I found worked for me. I was just diving into different organizations like the organizations that you’re talking about, Tom or BNI (business networking international), this business networking international. That’s been huge for myself and I. We’re now actually in 3 chapters, russes wrenches in 3 chapters. I’ve got my technicians and sitting in seats Alix’s. We’re looking to get into a fourth chapter and I’m a director for BNI wanted to I wanted to be able to get more exposure and the availability to speak to more people and meet new people. And build these networks. Right so I asked if I could become a director for BNI. Now I manage five five BNI chapters, which is so much fun. It’s you know, it’s been really challenging with covid because there’s a lot of people that were not technically savvy. And it was a little challenging doing these meetings via Zoom teaching these people. But it’s been fun. And you get to see the people that really have the grit that want to keep helping each other, because we the people that stuck it out and the organization really want to try and help people. And our chapters are starting to grow again, which is awesome. It took a pretty gnarly hit, but they are starting to grow, which which is really great. And the Chamber of Commerce I’m involved with here and. That was such a such a blessing for me. They have a program that’s called the Leadership of hohnen. And so I got to I had the opportunity to go around right before covid hit and meet executives of Exxon Mobil. Exxon Mobil is located right here in my hometown, five minutes from my shop, which opened a huge door for us for pick up and drop off services. But I wanted to learn more about the community that we work in. And this was a great that was a great outlet. And you get to meet people that you probably would have never met before. But when you start asking questions and start talking and helping and, you know, those organizations like BNI and the chamber always have some type of fundraiser going on, always have something going on. And your people see that you’re willing to put in the extra time. They’re willing to put in the extra time in your business and they’ll come and help you out. They’ll go the extra mile to come and see it. And so I encourage anybody to get involved with some type of an organization. There’s another one called the friendly sons of st. Patrick. We actually have our holiday party tonight. That organization has, I think, made me a better person because they focus on families. All this all we do is we raise money through different charities and it all goes back to the county, the same county. It doesn’t leave. So we’re helping families in this county that don’t have gifts for their kids or families that have children with disabilities, that need ramps built or need special wheelchairs that they can’t afford or insurance won’t cover. This organization finds these people that need this help and we and we go and help them. And it’s been such a blessing. And I feel honored to be able to work with so many other gentlemen in this organization that feel the same way. They just want to help people. It was formed to help people. It’s pretty wild. And it takes up a lot of time, but it’s worth it. It’s you know, I could spend my time doing other stuff that isn’t it isn’t as important, but I’d rather spend it helping, knowing that I help somebody and my team gets behind it. To this year, we had the best toys for tots drive ever. We filled, I think, like 10 boxes of toys for tots. The marine that came by and picked it up said nobody else in the county had nearly as many toys as we did. But that’s our customers. And that’s going back to a can you drop off a toy? Can you help us do this? And people love helping. Yeah, it’s just such a great feeling and they love to get involved. And people are always asking, you know, what fundraisers do we have going on? Because we try to run one all the time. And watching my team get excited and help is really it’s like a proud papa moment, you know, seeing people that, you know, that don’t really like to talk. They’re they’re very much introverted, going out and making things happen, getting people to invest in whatever fundraiser we’re doing for people. And it it’s pushing them to another level, which is really great.

TOM: And, you know, that’s a great that’s a brilliant point because, you know, and it’s like you said earlier, you get involved in help because of the way it makes you feel. Right and so for folks that want to be at that level, want to get community involvement and want to be involved in charitable giving and things like that inside their shop, really don’t know how to start. Start right through your team, get your team involved, get your team and let your team. Also experience that. And then you will then naturally be involved. It all becomes kind of like, you know, the water running downhill. It just starts to drag everything along with it. And before you know it, you’re swimming. And you know, it just takes that first interaction, that first step, that first attempt, and just get them in that mindset of helping, because then it really does project through all of their work ethic and through the day and how they look at their responsibilities, both to your business, but also to your community. Did you have something to add, buddy?

FRED: Yeah, I was going to say the analogy I heard about the hard work in the beginning. I heard it from Darren Hardy. It’s like a. Well, like a manual pumping. Well, that when you first want to get water, you’ve got to pump and pump and pump and pump and pump and nothing comes out. You keep pumping and it trickles out a little and you finally get it working. You can stop pumping for a second and you keep coming out and it’s not as hard to keep it going. It’s the same way with giving back to do. The first thing is you’re going to be scared to do that? I don’t know. I’m just going of, like, go up and email this guy at this charity and be like, I want to do a food drive for you guys, you know, just whatever random thing you chose that is super scary to do it the first time. When your people when I say your people either mean your internal customers, that your shop or your external customers, when your people see you giving back, not only do they gain more respect for you, but they want to help you. Like Russ said, ask your customers. We advertise any kind of charitable thing we’ve done and had an overwhelming response from our customers, whether it be a food drive or a toy drive or donations or any kind of charitable fundraising that we do when they see you giving, they want to give to you’re inspiring them. So you’re going out of your comfort zone and doing that first thing, that first pay it forward thing, make it public. Don’t be shy about it. Tell them here’s what I’m doing. And when you do that, they get inspired to do the same thing. I was talking about how I was hauling toys when I told my advisers, hey, next Monday I have to leave it like 3 o’clock. And they’re like, OK, what are you doing? And I told him what I was doing. I said, OK. On Monday, my one service adviser, Rebecca, came up to me and gave me $250 worth of honey baked ham gift cards. She doesn’t eat ham. She has a $250 worth of gift cards. Do you think they could use this? Absolutely they could use it, absolutely. And I handed it to our pastor and he’s like, I know exactly where this is going to go. And they were inspired. So don’t be afraid of that first step because you might take the step that Russ took. You might be the one to get that ball rolling over before you know it. The people around you are out doing you, which is great. That’s what you want. The output is all that matters. It doesn’t matter who’s giving the input as we’re taking care of our fellow humans. That’s the key to our survival during this troubled, troubled time and coronavirus.

TOM: And that’s such a brilliant point is just give people something hopeful to focus on and something positive to focus on and let them do it, you know, just let them go for it. And, you know, it really helps them as much as it helps the folks that they’re helping and it helps us all, you know.

RUSS: Yeah, it’s a great feeling, you know, it’s I during this leadership of 100 and program I went through, they I, I was talking with one of the execs at one of these corporations and they said, you know, do yourself a favor and go and sit on the board of a non-profit. Most of us watching this are business owners. So we understand how to operate a business. Why not try and give back by sitting back on a board with. It’s something that you enjoy doing, something somewhere that you can help give them. You use your talents and your skills to help this nonprofit. So I encourage people to jump on there and find a nonprofit that you can help out with. And sit on a board there.

TOM: Yeah, there’s so many ways to get started small. Somebody just needs a little extra space to wrap Christmas presents for needy families or something, you know, at night you let them go into one of the bays or something. There’s just so many small steps that you can make to get started. But, you know, to Fred’s point, you just have to be careful when those floodgates do open up because, you know, you can’t up until you’re going to end up swimming, you’re going to be up to your neck. And that’s good because you’re up to your neck and goodness. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Right so just get out there and get it done. So if we can, let’s shift gears. I want to talk about, you know, kind of mentoring specifically in the industry as well. And, you know, both of you are active with coaching organizations. Doesn’t have to be the one that these gentlemen belong to any organization out there. Talk to us a little bit about how you get your team involved in that, because a lot of times I think, you know, it seems like, oh, gosh, you know, this is for the owners. And, you know, it’s going to help me be a better owner, but really, really want to get your team involved in there also, because, you know, they’re the future owners and they’re the future. And it’s just so much more, I think, positive culture and dynamic inside of the shop. When you have people learning to that depth of the industry, you know, they’re not just walking out at the end of the day and focus now on Xbox or, you know, going home and play around and play video games or something. They’re they’re staying focused on the business in it. And it comes back. It’s like what Tracey said, great, you know, making investments in people’s lives.

FRED: I think when all of us decided to open our own business, we thought this is such a great idea and then at some point, we all second guess it. At some point, we all want to throw in the towel. At some point we’re all like, why am I even doing this? It’s not normal. It’s fine. And those that have used the times recommended use some kind of coaching program, some kind of learning program. I know my mind was blown at a certain point, I’m sure his mind was blown to a certain point and then you’re like, oh, cool, I’m going to learn stuff so I can get smarter. So you invest in yourself, you get training, you go to the digital shop conference, you go to any of the other big ranch conference, whatever you want to go to, you go to conferences. You’re like, I’m going to get smarter. And then you go, I’m going to go to work and I’m going to have my shop do better because I’m going to tell them how to do it. I’m the guy. It’s going to just inspire them to be smarter. I realized during coronavirus I mentioned the painful point of me having to replace literally everyone but one person. Talk about a training environment when you have me as the tech and adviser, a CSR that knows how to kind of write an estimate, but mostly just like makes appointments and cash peoples out and a lube tech. That’s it. And I just hired a rusty B tech that have been out of the automotive industry for a couple of years. Guess who’s going to learn something today? Everybody, if something comes up and I’m the only one that knows how to do it, I’m going to teach you how. And that that pain caused me to go wait. I need to invest in these other people. I’ve been investing in myself and only like once a year. Twice a year. No, they’ve got to do a couple hours of training every month, no matter what, all year long, because if they’re smart and I don’t invest back in them, not only do I not show them that I care about their future, they’re not going to be smart. Long, smart people don’t stay smart. Not unless they keep getting new information, so I’ve also got to exercise. Well, it’s just like the pay forward thing. Sure your people, you care so that even when you have a bad week or they have a bad week of training, sending to training, send them to lie online training. If you can’t find online training, stay work for an hour, pay them an hour extra and teach them. Find somebody that knows and have somebody teach them. I’ve had shop owners ask me to teach something to their techs before because they don’t know other shop owners that aren’t mechanics. Anything you can do to help the people around you and don’t return the favor, the loyalty you do when you give somebody a career, the loyalty that that builds between them and you is unbelievable. So with coronavirus and all the stress of everyone quitting and getting fired, I created an environment now that promotes evolution and promotes growth with constant training. If we fail, we look at it as an opportunity to learn. Somebody doesn’t know how to do something two people need to learn how to do it. Just invest in your people the same. We invest in ourselves. Is that where you were going, tom?

TOM: Yeah, no, definitely. You know, it’s just get them involved and you hit the nail on the head. Right you know, and it starts at and we’ve had you on several times now talking about exactly that. It starts at recruiting. And, you know, one of the things you should be vetting people for is do they learn, you know, what was the last book you read? Matter of fact, that was one of the questions I got when I interviewed it. All right. Right what was the last book that I read while I was looking to see if you study, if you, you know, self improve, if you’re interested in learning more things, because if you’re not, you probably don’t want them on your team. And as a matter of fact, they become an anchor. Right they start to drag others down because all the training, again, it’s so stupid. I know, everything is in a death spiral. And so you want to get them involved. And it doesn’t take a lot of money. It doesn’t take a lot of time. I mean, Fred had a perfect example of that. You can go learn stuff through your coaching organization or through your offline activities and then bring it back and have your own class. You know, you don’t have to put them on a plane and send them to technical training. You can start emulating that. You know, baby steps start that right in the shop, even if it’s a half an hour. At the end of the day, it’s a half an hour at the beginning of the day. And just get that habit developed and then and then build it up, you know, crank the throttle up from there and really just surround yourself with individuals who are hungry to learn, because the effect that it has not only on them and that is fantastic, but on your business because you know what? Now they start to take responsibility. They start to care. You have now not just another set of eyes, multiple sets of eyes looking out for your best interest in and understanding what’s supposed to be happening. And what’s right, what’s wrong. And then they can raise those flags. They can prevent some of those issues for you. And you don’t have to be in every place at once, especially if you’re going to open up second locations and add on services and make some of those big transitions that you’re looking to make and look at what’s happened is right out of your team. You’ve developed those leaders and they’re just ready for that challenge.

RUSS: Yeah, tying into what I said before getting my team members to join BNI groups is it’s them building their own network and customers. Right they’re building their own. They have some buy in on who they’re talking to. They have to answer to those people. If we make a mistake, they learn how to handle problems. Right and it does all start at recruiting. And as you guys know, I’m huge on reading. We’ve got the book club here at the shop. Yes, that’s huge. And that’s the key. That’s to keep our minds working. Right we want to exercise our brains. You know, it all starts at it all starts at the head. Right and we need to make sure as business owners that we are investing in ourselves not just once a year, like Fred was saying. But we’ve got to consistently look to learn and look for different angles, maybe maybe even we’ll look at different industries and how they’re doing things and how can we adapt and use some of those things here. It doesn’t it’s not all necessarily automotive training. It’s just training in general sales training, sales tactics. I saw one of my favorite movies is the wolf of Wall Street. Right that guy could sell anything. And I said, I want to learn how to sell like that. And then I want my team to learn how to sell like that and how to overcome objections. So we work on that. We watch the wolf of Wall Street. We literally watch a movie. Right and we look for points. to use as educational moments.

TOM: Uwe did the same thing. You I was watching wolf of Wall Street in a huddle a couple of years back. It’s a great movie, but with this being right, because it really is, because it cuts right through it. It’s not about selling. Right it’s about understanding somebody’s needs. Right and and then just getting them to think about those needs in a timely manner. It really is. And and so and that’s how that digital shop approach works in your shop when you’re interacting with customers, especially the new ones, because you want to kind of train your customer and condition your customer on, you know, how you do business and what the value of doing business with you is. And that’s the perfect example where you and it’s kind of one of those things. It’s like raising kids almost. Right if you do it the wrong way and you get that habit started, it’s hard to kind of change. It’s hard to change and get them back to to, you know, on track with how you want them to be. And so you have to make sure you’re consistent in that application. And that’s where bringing in that team to understand that big picture is so critically important when you’re talking around those best practices and learning how to, you know, sell to a customer, but which in the digital shop isn’t high pressure, you know, isn’t a sale. I’m not scoring a deal. I’m really educating and helping. And when I do that consistently, that’s where that trust builds in and folks respond. And now you’d be surprised they’re approving things that, you know, you’re not even really focused on or thinking, you know, if that’s a couple more months, I got three months down the road on that thing. Oh, no. They’re going to get more things done than you even thought you were going to sell. And that really is the impact on treating people that way.

UWE: I have a question for Russ. Yes, sir. What’s the book you would recommend for book club when you get started, or what’s the book where you had the most unexpected positive outcome in your book club?

RUSS: Oh, man. We’ve we’ve read so many. It’s tough to pick. But one of my favorite books right now that I suggest everybody read and it’s a quick, easy read is “5 feet from gold”. It’s an incredible book. And it’s a Nathaniel hill. It’s backed by Nathaniel Hill foundation. It’s a great, great book. And it teaches you really how not to quit when you want to when you’re five feet from gold, you have no idea how close you are to success, but to continue to invest in yourself. And everything we’re talking about right now is in this book. So five feet from gold. And, you know, another one that basically any John Gordon book. Right John Gordon “energy bus” “the positive dog”. They’re all short quick books, but they get you amped up. They really do. They when you’re going through a tough time. And you’re reading the positive book like that, it makes you want to be positive. It forces you to be positive. Just like I said before, if you walk outside and you’re going to be in a bad mood, well, you’re everything bad is going to happen to you that day. But if you start with any reading, you know, a positive quote or positive a positive chapter in this book, your day is going to be better. You’re going to be those little things that bother you aren’t going to bother you as much. You’re going to be looking for the good things. So, yeah, I would say John Gordon book or a the “five feet from gold.” 56:56 Something that I want to touch on real quick about investing in your team members is invest in their finances, teach them about finances. So something I noticed in our industry is our tool. Guys, I love my tool guy, but these people are coming in, especially your technicians are coming in and they’re spending a lot of money and on tools that they don’t necessarily need. And what we did is we started getting our financial planners in here and talking with our team on a regular basis, like, hey, this is where we should this is where you should be putting your money. This is how you can save Dave Ramsey. I don’t know if anybody’s ever heard of Dave Ramsey. He’s got a great program for living a, you know, a debt free lifestyle and invests in teaching your team how to be proficient with their money, how to be smart with their money, because it’s going to help you in the long run. Trust me, when they’re making the right decisions and not hounding you for raises when all they really needed was some help and some guidance. Right so that that was a big thing. I learned this year. And that’s made a big, big impact on our team here.

TOM: That’s brilliant.

FRED: I don’t have anything as cool as Ross did. Did he hit you baseballs at the same time and they both went out of the park, so I got nothing on that. But I do know a shop owner that down in Columbus, Chris with alternative alternate care. Chris cosied. Yeah she had where she was ready to do an IRA or 401K retirement for her team. But the requirement was she sent all of her team through Dave Ramsey’s program, her going through it now. And at the end when they learned how to manage finances, then she’ll give them a retirement just to beat home. You’re awesome. Russ that’s all I can offer, brother, is support that that’s strong. That’s super inspiring and strong. That made my head spin. I really was like, wow, how can I implement that? Because I know I’m the oldest guy at my shop at age 44. So I got a bunch of young kids. I don’t know what to do. And when it comes to money they’re like, hey, can we go eat out? Let me look and see what’s in my wallet. There’s no you know, it’s very on demand based because they weren’t taught finances the conventional way. And I don’t mean the depression. I’m just saying that’s very inspiring. I think what you’re saying there means a lot because people always say, oh, we want more money because I want to go on more vacations. If I want to do with the money they got, they could be rich with what they got, you know?

RUSS: So let me drop this bomb on you guys real quick. I’m ready. I got my seat belt on. So my wife and I the other day we’re talking and she’s, you know, Russ’s wrenches come a lot farther, a lot faster than I ever thought it would. And, you know, we’ve been working on a vision board and seeing where how far do we want to take this thing. And I told her, I’m not going to stop until we have basically vacation homes in different parts of the world where we can send our team members for free vacation. So we’re going to that’s our goal. We’re going to look to start buying places around the world to send our to send our team on vacation who otherwise may not be able to see the world.

TOM: You know, it is amazing because it in a nutshell, right, buddy, is that you’re focused on that goal. But then that gets you the asset, right? It gets you the motivation to go out and do that. It gets you to take that next step and get you to take the risk of the second location and bringing on tow. I mean, that is really great. If you could boil this episode down right into an elixir, that’s what I’d put in the jar. You know, just little things like that. I think just your team just knowing that that’s how far you think for them makes them go the extra mile for you. I’ve really dedicated this last year to investing, to taking, trying to take care of my people. And their job is to take care of the customers. I love my customers, don’t get me wrong, but my people are the ones that are doing the work. And my goal and my drive is to help better their lives. So that’s really what I want to do.

FRED: That’s a really strong cause, every one of us has it cause inside of us, that drives us to start driving force, our why? That’s a really, really good wise, very similar. The same thing. I’m sure you know, you and I share that. But when your reason isn’t money, your reason isn’t our customers. Your reason is a happy team. The rest of it comes much easier. If a lot of that stuff comes with it, when your head’s in the right place,

RUSS: we’ve got to take care of the people that take care of you.

FRED: That’s your wife. Throwing it out there, that’s for sure. For sure. Yeah, absolutely. And if your mom.

TOM: Happy wife, happy life. But, you know, this is I mean, I couldn’t have thought of a better way to end this episode. I mean, I know we could. It went on for another hour and it’s hard to believe we’re already at the top of the hour. But what a great message to take away on this Eve of Christmas Eve episode. And I know that a lot of people were inspired by this. I think that I want to give actually, I want to fit in Julie’s. This has been an amazing chat, truly inspiring, discussing shop culture and core values. The value of peer coaching, investing in our team, including personal finance proficiency, is so valuable, showing appreciation to their team. And giving back to our world. Well done, gentlemen. Proud to be in an industry with such good people like yourselves. Merry Christmas and choose the offer for a safe and profitable 21. Yes, we all needed you. Thank you. Thank you for your peer support. A rising tide floats all ships. That’s a beautiful sentiment. You’ll be right back at you. Thank you very much, Lauren. Thank you. Great job. And it was great. You know, I really appreciate it. And, you know, it’s a great message right here before Christmas. And really now the next step is, folks, is take some of this stuff. And I know it’s got your wheels spinning. Take it to the next level, but implement it, take the next step. And it is so easy as just raising your hand to get you started. And of course, as always, because this is how these gentlemen roll. If you are looking to collaborate, you’re looking for some offline advice reach out to Fred, reach out to Russ. They are always available. And I don’t want to I don’t want to forget Uwe there. Reach out to whoever you guys know how to get a hold Uwe. You can find them on the Facebook forum. And if not a member of that Facebook form, you need to be because this is where this inspiration really can be catalogued can be archived. And if you have those discussions on there, these gentlemen are more than willing to reach out and help you just have to raise your hand and then help somebody else to do the same on this Eve of Christmas Eve. Everybody, I wish you a Merry Christmas. Hug your family 2020 is coming to an end. You know, it’s been a rough one. But you know what? With inspiration like this and with positive attitude like this is exactly how we’re getting through it and thriving through these conditions and really inspired and looking forward to a profitable and a happy and even a bigger 2021 until next Wednesday, same time, same place. We’re going to have Adam Bendzick John Long and we’ll probably have some other special guests rolling through at the end of the year episode, we’re going to be looking back on this year. You know, the good, the bad, and the ugly and looking for more inspiration coming into twenty, 21. Until then, get out there, makes more money and help people pay it forward and just raise your hand. Thanks for watching. Thank you, gentlemen, for coming here to ask the cheering. Thank you, Tom. Thank you. Thank you very much, you gentlemen.

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