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Episode Description

On this episode of The Digital Shop Talk Radio, we will hear how shop owner Dennis Eidson mastered the basics to achieve shop success.

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Episode Transcript

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

Tom Dorsey (00:00:01):
Good morning and good afternoon. Welcome to this week’s edition of The Digital Shop Talk Radio. I’m Tom Dorsey, and today we’ve got a great show for you’re welcoming. Dennis Eidson from Honest-1 Roswell, Georgia, and he’s got a great story to tell. We’re going to be kind of going through his evolution. He’s been with us about going on a year and a half, maybe a year and eight months, something like that. And it’s been a roller coaster of success. Welcome, Dennis Eidson. Great to have you on, buddy.
Dennis Eidson (00:00:30):
Good to be here.
Tom Dorsey (00:00:32):
And Dennis, real quick, I should have asked you before my senior last name, correct?
Dennis Eidson (00:00:36):
It’s actually Eidson,
Tom Dorsey (00:00:37):
But Eidson. Okay. Dennis Eidson. Perfect. And of course Uwe Kleinschmidt are part of our expert panel of experts and our founder and CIO. Welcome, Uwe.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:00:51):
Thank you. Good morning.
Tom Dorsey (00:00:54):
Good morning and welcome to everybody in the audience and attending. And of course, as always, hit that question button, hit that chat button if you’ve got any questions you want to give some feedback and interact. And if you’re really froggy John Long, I can always add you to the panelist list or unmute your microphone if you want to join the show live. So let’s get started. Dennis, tell us a little bit about, because I was teasing ’em last week, right? Is I go through the shop metrics a lot, it was kind of my job and just kind see where everything, and you really stood out and cut mind. I’ll tell you what I did is I would sorted by ARO increase over the last 90 days and you were way up high on the list, right? So I started digging into your metrics and of course we hung out at the conference and I know you’ve been engaged with Bill and Uwe even to some degree, but not really.
I guess it just hasn’t been top of my radar. I had to have you on the show because the transition or just the journey that you took to get to where you’re at, and when I talk to you about it, you tell me, gosh, I feel like I’m swinging and missing. I’m just getting started. I’m not even where I want to be yet. But really from an implementation perspective, you can really see how it all came together and started to pay off. Tell us a little bit, why did you go digital and how was it to get started and really what was that epiphany to where it all just kind of blends?
Dennis Eidson (00:02:30):
Sure. Well, again, like you said, I don’t even feel like I’m close to the potential that we have here. There are some numbers in the BCP that got a little screwed up a couple of weeks ago. So our ARO and our performance has been great and improving, but we have several hundred tickets that were sitting out there on hold, but those got deleted and it made some crazy number ARO. But we still are doing really, really well. We’ve been in business about 10 years. I’ve got a really pretty small shop. I’ve got six bays, I got 10 or 12 parking spaces. Feedback from our customers has always been great. They’re very, very loyal. I just felt like to grow my business, I’m not growing it by doubling my car count. The way to grow my business is to take advantage of those cars that are here because our customers like us and trust us.
The data will show that it hasn’t impacted that at all and we’ve managed to sell more stuff, provide more services, and we probably don’t think about it that much, but the feedback from the customers and the service we’re providing with these digital inspections is unbelievable. And then I can tell you a hundred stories. We had one yesterday, a guy came in for a pre-purchase inspection on Saturday, spent 150 bucks for us to do pre-purchase and we wrote up $2,200 worth of work and his Carney came back yesterday to do it and I gave the customer a ride to his office a few miles away and he said, that’s the greatest thing I’ve ever seen. That digital inspection made me one buy the car helped me, made me, and then I’m going to have you guys do all the work that you recommended and it’s a picture’s worth a thousand words and this case $2,200.
And I got a lot of those stories and it happens every day. I get that kind of feedback from those stories. So for me it was about growing the business by better aros, improving communication, customer satisfaction. So we had been with another digital digital inspection company four or five years ago and that’s all it was was digital inspections. It was no workflow management, there were no metrics, there were no scorecards, any of that kind of stuff. So ran across Uwe at a NAPA conference and then saw ’em again at the Honest-1 convention in early 2019. And here I’m
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:04:56):
Dennis, if I may ask, are you from this industry? Did you grow up in a shop?
Dennis Eidson (00:05:01):
No, I spent 25 years in corporate America as a consultant, marketing consultant, big six computer consultant, systems consultant. And then 10 years ago I said, I want to do my own thing. And I was attracted to this business because I’m not a car guy, I was not a car guy. I am now, I can pretty much talk cars now, but this is an industry that needs really good customer service and I always tell folks it’s not hard to be better than the competition because the competition’s not real good. And I think I’ve done a pretty good job of putting the right people in place and that’s front counter people, that’s technicians that are customer centric, customer service oriented and honest. One the brand Honest-1, we preach that and 10 years later I’m living it and I really believe that this is just another huge arrow in the quiver of that customer service attitude
Tom Dorsey (00:06:00):
And Uwe, I think you hit the nail on the head and it clicked in my head and it makes sense. The data that I’m seeing and the progression that I’m seeing in Dennis’s shop is exactly because of that. He’s not from the industry. He followed a plan, he followed the plan because you don’t know any better or you don’t know enough not to think that you know better or whatever I just said and whatever that’s supposed to mean, but you get where I’m coming from and it makes sense. I mean, when you’re in a franchise, they have kind of an SOP and you kind of follow those guidelines and then it makes sense that you would then when you took on AutoVitals, you kind of just followed the guidelines and when you implemented it according to plan, it comes together. And I think that a lot of people, folks, I’m looking at you is when you’re struggling a lot of times think about, I guess take the ego and the experience out of it and look at it from the bigger picture. A lot of the best practices and a lot of the things that your trainers and your advisors are going to be asking you to do, they tend to get second guessed a lot. Well, we come to those conclusions through the success of that implementation and it’s guys like John and Adam and Frank and gosh, I don’t want to leave all the turbo shops, everybody out there, they’re implementing it in live in the shop and they’re approving these concepts that we put into our best practices.
It is not just a bunch of software geeks that have never been in a shop coming up with these things. Although sometimes it sounds like it, right? Because some of the best practices we talk about, let the customer call you after you send that digital inspection, don’t call them. That’s so antithetical to the way that we’ve been doing business in the industry for so long that it gets second guessed and you kind of come up with your own plan and then go, wow, gosh, this thing isn’t working. What’s wrong? And I think, Dennis, you are a testament to that. If you get a plan and work your plan, you get the success because I’m looking at your data and you’re up 34% in your ARO in the last year, and that’s through Covid 34%.
Dennis Eidson (00:08:21):
Well, and as I said at the beginning and you mentioned also Tom, it’s as good as we’re doing. It’s like holy crap, I keep kicking myself for the things that we’re not doing well and all that opportunity to continue to get better. And so I’ll get into some of my data here in a minute, but it’s, there’s really little things that you can do that just jump the needle very, very quickly. And it’s in the software, it’s in the AutoVitals coaches, there’s all kinds of mechanisms and ways for you to know, here’s something I need to focus on. Here’s something I need to fix.
Tom Dorsey (00:09:03):
Yeah. So Uwe, what would you say when you look at it, because we’ve had this conversation a lot, we’ve had this conversation with a lot of shop owners and coaches is to say that what do you think is that propensity to try to reinvent the wheel? And there’s a part where you are going to experiment, you got to find out what’s going to work in your operation. But kind of Uwe, where do we draw the line of experimentation to say that these are critical success factors? Don’t try to second guess. If you just do this, it’s going to pay off for you and then you can find the balance according to your specific operation and your culture inside of your shop within those best practice kind of activities.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:09:51):
I mean, that’s a whole nother
Podcast in itself in a nutshell. Let me try to summarize it initially. I mean the big deal is that clearly digital makes so much possible, which was impossible before. Whether that’s the motorist not needing to rely just on a phone call but get evidence for what’s going on with the car or whether that’s in a shop where you can actually measure things. Where before you had to rely on cameras and watching other people over the shoulder and that’s not a great environment, but initially I was so fired up about that opportunity, I still am we, to Dennis’s point, we were just scratching the surface. But what we ran into is really there’s nothing more difficult than being in a high pace environment where you have set your procedures and your habits and now need to change it without jeopardizing the outcome. It’s like you’re running a business, you rely on the income and now you have to change. I mean, that’s a big deal or sports analogy. Again, you are losing all games, but do you want to win one the first one? How do you do that? Train harder. It’s probably not going to help. Right? There is something you have to change and stick with it, and I really learned a super high appreciation for what they call don’t land the plane, fix the engine while flying. So how to, that is the key here and I’m really curious how Dennis has done it.
Tom Dorsey (00:11:58):
Dennis Eidson (00:12:00):
I had a boss in my old life that said that all the time and we got to fix the plane while we’re flying and that was a billion dollar business, but he loved to tell us that every day. So John, tell me what you,
Tom Dorsey (00:12:17):
Yeah, so let’s do this then. So Dennis, why don’t you go ahead and show because Dennis is prepared. Actually, this is another real great reason why we had ’em on here, is to give you guys some ideas on how you can take that data from your BCP and then extrapolate it and populate it into spreadsheets for analysis. And Dennis has came prepared today. I’ll tell you what, he did his homework and so if you could, Dennis, go ahead and share your screen and let’s get into this and I think we can get Uwe’s question answered as we start to look at the data because he actually has it broken out in a timeline for you. Uwe.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:12:52):
Dennis Eidson (00:13:00):
Can you see this?
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:13:02):
Yeah. Yep.
Dennis Eidson (00:13:03):
Perfect. I just want to give you guys some of this I’ve already touched on, but we’ve been in business about 10 years. I have a very stable staff. I’ve never lost a front counter person, so I’ve got a service manager and a couple of service advisors. Two of have been with me from the very beginning, one been with me about six years. So good, honest, trustworthy people that are great with my customers. First five years in business, we were pretty steady growing every year and then in 2016 and 17, 18, we kind of flattened out. We hit a ceiling. Good news is some costs were down, and so I was making a little bit more money, but we weren’t growing. We’ve been slowly growing our ARO for many, many years. But I think Tom, you looked at some of the numbers earlier. I’ve grown my ARO in the last year the same amount.
I’ve grown it for five years, so we’ll see that in a second. But I just knew from industry conferences and talking with other shops and all that kind of stuff, well, our ARO is great. And again, it was on the higher end of theHonest-1 stores. ARO felt like we still had a long way to go. So I started using AutoVitals. I had used another DVI vendor and that really didn’t do much for me. Every time I try to implement to grow that ARO, I was always worried about negative customer feedback. What if we push too hard? What if customers thought we were just trying to sell ’em stuff and we had about 400 Google reviews and a year ago we had 200 and we were at 4.6 stars. Now we’re at 4.8. You go through my Google reviews, you’re never going to find a customer complaining that we tried to sell ’em stuff they didn’t need.
The verse of that is since we’ve been doing better inspections with AutoVitals, I’ve got dozens if not a hundred reviews online, whether it’s Yelp or Google or anywhere else. That point to that digital inspection is, wow, this is something really cool they do at the shop. So that’s just a little bit of background on me. Here’s my revenue trend, and I don’t know if it’s common or typical for a shop owner to share this, but we had steady growth from 2012 to 2016, and then there’s that plateau. We hit we 1.2, $1.3 million 2019 with AutoVitals implemented for half the year with a focus on building an ARO. We went up to 1.4. I had a plan to get to $1.7 million, but this will virus kind of caused the problem for me. So good news is we’re probably going to finish the year back at 1.4, which given the six or eight weeks in the middle of March and April, that almost put us out of business or had hurt. The good news is we’ve rebounded, here’s my car count, and all I want to show you there is that you really feel like we hit a ceiling as our arrow grew, we got to that 75 cars a week. These are paid cars that throw out warranty work or charity oil change kind of thing, but we hit that 75 cars a week plateau. There’s a lot of,
Tom Dorsey (00:16:31):
And Dennis, real quick, you’re kind of plateauing from a revenue perspective as your car count is increasing and almost, I mean you’re taking on, what is that, another almost 20% per week of vehicles, but revenue was flattening out,
Dennis Eidson (00:16:47):
Right? Right. Well, I mean the car count flattened out there too. 16, 17, 18, a little bit, but the good news is ARO is continuing to grow a little bit. So there’s a lot of industry consultants and some people that, former executives even at WAN and elsewhere that talk about car count, car count, car count. Well, here’s a picture of my parking lot. So I got a six base shop and that’s about, I don’t know, I have 11 parking spaces and I think there’s probably on this particular day, 20 cars in the parking lot. It’s not real easy to grow car count when you got the space that I have. So I had to do it with ARO, I mean I really had to. And here’s my ARO trend. So again, steadily growing from 2011 all the way out to 2018, but we implemented AutoVitals and we added 30 bucks to our ARO overnight this year we came to the conference in Los Angeles and added another 50 bucks to our ARO. I’ll talk in a minute about Steve Baker, but Steve called me back in September and we’ve added another 45 bucks to our ARO in a year. We basically added a hundred bucks to our arrow.
So we’ve been growing it in small steps now we’re trying to take big steps. My plan is next year it’d be in the five 50 range on arrow.
Tom Dorsey (00:18:24):
Oh yeah. And you’re just right on target. I mean if you look at that trend line, unless somebody loses a leg or you nuke one of your bays or something, you’re right there. It’s almost inevitable.
Dennis Eidson (00:18:40):
And I’ll talk about, there are definitely other changes you and I talked about a little bit yesterday that I’m still going to have to make to get there, but a hundred dollars increase from last year to this year in my ARO, and it took me from 2013 2019 to add a hundred bucks. So that’s a pretty good testimony right there.
So I get a call from Steve Baker and we have our monthly call a few weeks, a couple weeks ago, but here’s since I implemented AutoVitals and I’m only showing two things, and that’s the inspection rate and the inspections sent, and I’ve divided it up into several very formal phases of our implementation. Of course, the first six months was that half-ass implementation. Then we went to the conference and we came out of the conference and our inspection rate went from 51% to 65 to 73. The inspections that we sent went to 85 to 92. So we got an immediate bump out of the conference in la Covid came along in March and April. I was sort of focused, I call it the PPP phase trying to get money. And so our ARO during that timeframe, I don’t have it on here, but our ARO in those first two or three months of Covid was actually very good.
It was on plan. The problem was our car count, and then this is what I’m afraid too many shop owners probably do, and they get lazy and they take their eye off the ball. And so revenue was still pretty good, but I probably left a lot of revenue on the table because we went from inspecting 73% of cars to 56%, 54%. So had my monthly call with Steve back in September and he said, your inspection sent is good. Your Mr Motorist research time is good. The number of pictures you’re taking is good. You’re just not inspecting every car. And so we’re still out, but we went from 54 to 69 to 73, and that has absolutely, the month of October was real close to the biggest month we’ve ever had, probably would’ve been. But we had those storms that came through the southeast and we lost a couple of days of work last week because of the power. But Steve Baker kicking the pants phase is the one that we’re in right now.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:21:26):
We have to frame this.
Tom Dorsey (00:21:28):
Yeah, no, this is, and that’s what I was saying. You can see it. And so that makes sense too. I didn’t even factor that and didn’t think about it, is that when that starts to gel is you’re right after conference and you go, you put on about a hundred bucks on your ARO between conference and when Covid hits and then Covid comes in and you down trim. But then, yeah, like you said, you start slipping on the inspection rate and here you go. I mean the good news is is that you, sorry, I put my hand on my keyboard and I’m sending messages to John Long in the chat. That’s a bunch of just gibberish. Sorry about that, John. But once you kind of put those together, the funny thing is that we’ve had several shows is people that got through Covid successfully or didn’t have such a big hit, everybody took it in April, but the ones that recovered quickly is they did more inspections through summer and it is almost, man, I wish you would’ve had that conversation with Steven a couple months earlier.
Dennis Eidson (00:22:41):
Well, I think that for us, and I hate to even say this term, but one benefit of covid is we didn’t have customers sitting in our lobby waiting on their oil change anymore. So it gave us a little better opportunity to not feel pressured to get an inspection out to that customer sitting in the line. So our ARO was pretty good during that COVID time period. It was really in June, July and August where it just sort of slipped that we took the eye off the ball. There’s no guarantee. I’m not going to take the eye off. We’re going to not take our eye off the ball. Let me back up real quick. I want to mention one more thing I brought with me when I came to the conference in LA. I brought one of my technicians, he’s not a master tech, he’s a B Tech, but he totally bought in to Covid, sorry, COVID.
He totally bought in AutoVitals reading the chart wrong. And so a gentleman named Mike Gear, many of you may have met him at the conference, but a younger guy, tech technical savvy, he got it. And so he became sort of my technician disciple in the shop and he sort of moved into that role of inspection manager, inspection supervisor. So when the other technicians do inspections, Mike’s coaching them and guiding them and critiquing them. He’s also editing those inspections and we’re at a point where basically he can hand it off to the service advisor and they’re working really, really well together. And that service advisor has total faith in what Mike put on them. And so they can send it off to the customer, don’t have to, the service advisor don’t have to spend a whole lot of time going through it. Certainly they go through it, they want to make sure they know what the car’s situation is, they send off that inspection and then they take that 20 minutes to go ahead and build the estimate. And we’re a pro tractor shop. So obviously there’s a lot of integration there and it’s very, very helpful and quick to get that estimate. But that was one step I did in that post-conference segment, surge segment that helped me then and has continued and I’m challenging Mike now to, let’s step it up. Let’s get from 73 to 85, let’s get from 96 to 98. Let’s take better pictures. So that’s sort of Mike’s role is to make AutoVitals better than it is, right?
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:25:21):
Go ahead, Uwe. So we hear that from everybody who came to the conference. So there is some secret motivation in going in speak with peers, right? So do you know what really kicked in for Mike? Was there a light bulb moment at the conference or what happened?
Dennis Eidson (00:25:53):
He was already so excited about AutoVitals when we rolled it out and before we ever went to the conference. And Mike is either on the call today, maybe on the call, or he’s going to be watching it on Facebook later. And so I’m going to share some comments he made to me that he said, this is just that two days, that three days. He goes, this is the best two or three days in my professional career. I mean, he’s a technician and there’s a lot of the shop owners that are on this call at that conference that were technicians, but now they’re shop owners. I don’t know that there was a whole lot of owners like me that brought a technician Californian, put ’em in a nice hotel and just the networking. He got the people that talked to the sessions, he’s from Western Pennsylvania at dinner that night. I think he sat next to fix it with Fred. So he knew of Fred, he was aware of Fred from his days in Western Pennsylvania. I just think it excited him to be involved in something that important. And I dunno, I guess I would put in a plug for other shop owners to do that with some of their technicians and just get a bigger picture than fixing cars every day.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:27:09):
That’s awesome. Thank you.
Tom Dorsey (00:27:11):
Yeah, buddy. Because what happens at conference stays at conference, but I remember the cab ride
Dennis Eidson (00:27:17):
Well and that was where we all learned that Mike and I were fantastic singing Tom Petty song. I only had a couple of beers. I could have been much better.
Tom Dorsey (00:27:33):
Oh my goodness. And I think there is video evidence of that somewhere floating around, Hey Greg Masewic or somebody has it like that. But no, I mean what a great bonding experience. There were a couple of other wise shop owners that brought some techs and riders out as well. But you’re right, the motivation and the ability to network and the ability, because a lot of times it’s just voodoo, right? It’s just some, just some tool. It’s just some software. When was the last time you thought about going over to Google Conference or something? Never. But it’s not about the tool, it’s not about the software, it’s about other people’s solutions and experiences and sharing of that information. And like I said, for somebody who’s coming in new and is young and hungry and motivated, hearing Frank Scandura, John Long’s breakout, gosh, who am I? Good neighbor, help me out. Uwe, good works,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:28:43):
Good works.
Tom Dorsey (00:28:47):
He’s going to kill me. Anyway, his breakout was so inspirational, right? From somebody who’s young in the industry to come in. And so I guess what I’m gibbering on about is that when we get back to conference and we can travel again in the United States and we can go to events, bring your staff, rotate ’em through however you have to do it, not just get ’em to vision, get ’em to the other automotive industry events. And I think that investment pays off in spades for you.
Dennis Eidson (00:29:23):
Yeah. Alright. Just got a couple more things. My key takeaways, and this is from my experience so far, it absolutely helped me grow ARO. Again, I still don’t feel like I’m anywhere all the way to Bright, not even close. Customers love the digital inspections. I mean, I’ve had hundreds of positive comments and reviews. I had one negative comment from a guy who’s a good customer, but somebody recommended a transmission service and goes, Dennis, you should have known that I had my transmission replaced six months ago at the dealership. Yeah, sorry, that wasn’t in my tablet and we missed it. So there’s no negative feedback. I’ve never gotten one negative other than that one guy complaining about that transmission recommendation. Fantastic metrics and poaching or available from AutoVitals, but you got to use ’em. And that may be something that I’m very guilty of not doing.
Steve Baker, if you’re on the line, thank you, thank you. Sometimes he calls me and I’m in the middle of something else and I go, oh, we’ll talk another day. So I got to do a better job of taking that guidance advice from Steve. Some service advisors and technicians are never going to get on board. And I have recently had to let go of a guy who’d been with me for six and a half years and it occurred to me if a technician’s, this is me being a smart ass, but if he’s capable of rebuilding a carburetor, he’s probably not capable of using a tablet.
It was an old school guy and he just didn’t get it. He didn’t want to get on with the program and it took me a while to finally make that change. His replacement has been fantastic. I got another manager replacement on the manager managers are retiring. So some days if you believe like I do that the software is going to as and will continue to change my business for the better. You might have to make some people changes. What are we doing next? Then more personnel changes. We need to get back on a regular weekly meeting schedule with folks and make sure we’re looking at these metrics every single day. I was doing that for the first couple three months of the year and then of course covid hit and things got sidetracked. We have a new focus on deferred work.
We, the more you propose, the more you sell. If you propose 400 bucks, you’re going to sell 200 bucks. That’s been our last week. Our average actually month of October, our average proposal was $1,200, which is the highest it’s ever been because we were inspecting more cars, putting together the estimates. And so we had the highest ARO we’ve ever had. It wasn’t as good as it should be given that we had a $1,200 proposal per car, but moving in right direction, more training to the service managers. This is not really an AutoVitals thing, but we get a lot of phone calls that you don’t convert in the customer and you need to do that. Then at some point in the near future, I’ll start talking to AutoVitals about CRM. That’s all I had for my little spiel and I probably took more time than I should have. No,
Tom Dorsey (00:32:44):
No, not at all.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:32:45):
No, no, no, no, no.
Tom Dorsey (00:32:46):
That was awesome. Like we was said, we got to frame it.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:32:51):
Can we go into a few details if that’s okay, Dennis? Sure. So I have your BCP up and maybe I share my screen if that’s okay with you.
Dennis Eidson (00:33:04):
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:33:06):
Before I find I
Dennis Eidson (00:33:06):
Share mine up. I’ll let you show me mine.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:33:11):
Oh yeah, you have to stop sharing yours. Okay, can you guys wait now you should see it. Yep. Right. And so I see for example, a number of recommended actions per vehicle is six on average, is that what you try to achieve or do you have a sweet spot there or has that never come up?
Dennis Eidson (00:33:50):
Yeah, somewhere along the way I said that you can get overwhelmed by all the different metrics and things to focus on. That’s not one. When I look at my dip this past summer, June, July and August, we just fell off a little bit. Definitely you saw a decline in the number of recommended services. So it goes to, it all comes back to what I said last week. We had averaged $1,200 last month, $1,200 per ticket when we came out of LA for the first five months a year, our average proposal was over a thousand dollars for the first time ever. So for five straight months we were at a thousand bucks in the summer when we took our eye off the ball and got lazy, it fell back in the 800 $900 room. And then when Steve kicked me in the pants, now we’re back up to $1,200. That’s going to tie hand in hand with church.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:34:55):
So my recommendation would be that the deferred work starts with the recommendations. It’s all starts at the technician and builds Favorite new feature on the TVPX is guided where you basically have almost guaranteed, we just had Adam and John on last week and they had before already way above eight and one is now hitting 17 and the other 1 25 through guided, right? The guided feature of the TVPX. So if you have to focus on the deferred work, my recommendation would be check this out, create a guided inspection. It’ll also help getting your inspection rate even up higher because it’ll save the technician time and makes it more consistent. So the rhythm is going to be established much more quickly with guided because it’s cookie cutter, right? It’s really highly consistent process.
Dennis Eidson (00:36:06):
We’re not there yet with TVPX. We haven’t gone that.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:36:09):
Right? I I’m want just by looking at this, that is something I would highly recommend to consider. The other thing I wanted to ask you is it’s so easy to say you just have to stick with it or you have to put your foot down or whatever language we use to show that we are going to make a change. Can you, for example, for a service advisor to estimate more with your car count? That’s a lot of work to do. And so how do you incentivize or make service advisors to go with, I’m okay with putting more on the estimate. I might not sell as much, but it’s the right thing to do because it becomes deferred work for the reminder and it’s more work in the future. So how do you motivate and incentivize your service advisor to do this? Because 74 cars a week is pretty amazing. I mean I’m blown away by your picture of your parking lot. That’s a logistics marveled by itself to get 74 costs through that parking lot every week. So if you could talk about how the service advisors adapted and then when you had to let the technician go, you were talking about was that freeing up other technicians or were they, oh my god, I’m going to be next or something like that. If you could talk about that dynamic a little bit, that would be awesome.
Dennis Eidson (00:38:01):
Yeah. So in terms of incentivizing managers, maybe I’m probably not the best HR proactive HR manager for that. We have bonus programs in place based on gp, based on certain targets. I have have s sp, I’m not doing it right now, but I have in the past spiffed my service advisors on it’s hitting certain inspection metrics.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:38:38):
Dennis Eidson (00:38:39):
But I also think that they see it so they see the feedback, they hear the feedback, they know that when you wait 20 minutes and you call the customer and you say you have any, did you see the inspection? We know you saw the inspection, we saw you looked at it for 387 seconds. But we always, so they just seem become easier to sell. They’ve seen revenue go up, they’ve seen ARO go up, they’ve seen their bonuses go up. So I’m a old fashioned guy in the sense that to me, I dunno, I assume probably correctly that most people are motivated by money and they’re getting paid more money, they’re more successful at what they’re doing. So I haven’t really had a problem, my error, but
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:39:29):
Let me challenge it a little bit and not because if a service advisor is motivated by money and they have seen and experienced after the conference that, wow, I’m writing a thousand dollars estimates and then it goes down afterwards, shouldn’t there be some, hey technicians, why are you not inspecting more cars drive from within knowing that it’s going to pay off? Have you experienced something like this or is everybody really through the logistics and the operations just busy all day and there is no time, which is always the reason given we don’t have time for it.
Dennis Eidson (00:40:14):
I think putting Mike Lac, my technician in that role to help manage that process has taken some of the time stress and pressure off of those service advisors.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:40:27):
Dennis Eidson (00:40:28):
I think that was a good move on my part to sort of free them up a little bit. Again, I got one of my managers is retiring at the end of the year. I’m in process of talking to someone that I’ve known for years and years about coming to work with me. He and I are talking about a lot of different things along changing the operation so that those service advisors are focused on selling that they’re not burdened with a lot of other stuff. Again, their feedback on, they feel like it’s added work to their job, but it’s made what their goal is to fix cars, fix customer’s cars, make happy customers and sell more stuff. And I guess just to simplify, I think they feel like this is helping. This is AutoVitals contributes to all three of those goals with technicians. I’ll bring it and ask about that, but I need the technicians to do a good inspection. I mean I’m paying them, they’re all getting paid a half hour to do an inspection shop owners say you shouldn’t do that for me. Don’t get any pushback from the technicians technician, the one technician that I talked about. But if we had to get rid of, he didn’t get it. He wasn’t, he’s happy doing his oil changes and checking the brake lights and making sure that the windshield wipers are not correct. And he just wasn’t motivated to do a really good inspection on our car. So he’s not here.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:42:05):
Thank you.
Tom Dorsey (00:42:07):
And real quick, I want to get, there’s a lot of engagement in the chat and I want to get some of it in here. Our king of culture, the Duke of Dapper, Russ Crosby’s in the audience. And first he was also, he brought staff to conference and he was kind of backing you up there is saying having tech at the conference is key, but he brought in I think a great point and you cannot sell if they don’t ask for it. And as a suggestion is to say monitor estimated sales, when we were talking about how do you determine that the service rider is able to increase that estimate rate? And that brings up a point is because, and I think Dennis, you have BCP notifications turned on now, is that correct?
Dennis Eidson (00:42:54):
Yeah, I get text messages and emails when we fall out of image.
Tom Dorsey (00:42:58):
And for folks that don’t know or knew or haven’t set ’em up yet, you don’t have to go and have the monitor open and be chained to your desk to monitor your KPIs and to get alerts when you need to pay attention to something, you can set up alerts that come to your texts and you can set a schedule for that as well. And actually it looks like, is this who’ve showing this?
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:43:26):
Tom Dorsey (00:43:27):
Here are your compliance thresholds we call ’em. That’s kind of the trigger points on when you’re going to get that text or email. If you could, you want to walk us through how we set ’em up and some recommendations on when you, and maybe the time frame. Because here’s the thing is that it’s like anything else. You get a lot of text messages and notifications from your apps all day long and what happens if you get too many, you start to ignore ’em. So I think it’s really important to set the right threshold and the right alert interval so that you see it, you consume it, you take action.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:44:10):
So the top two reasons why to put the alert in my experience and opinion is you want to catch something before it creates bigger damage. So for example, if your ARO is dropping, you should catch that or
Tom Dorsey (00:44:32):
Inspection rate in Dennis’s case,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:44:34):
Right? Yeah, I was going to say inspection rate. If you made that a really strong point in, for example, your weekly meeting reemphasizing it will help by setting thresholds and saying every day if that’s needed, then the frequency of the alerts is pretty high if you want to emphasize on something and then you go back to the text and say, this is what happened. I just got the inspection rate alert. In general, you can overload your text inbox and email pretty quickly. If the monitoring in the wall, which is the time the average is built for, and the alert in the wall of very short. So in this case, this means the inspection rate here is being calculated for an average of the last seven days. And the moment it hits one of those threshold, either at the bottom or at the top, you get one alert in seven days.
So this is the monitoring in the wall where the values are created and calculated and this is the alert in the wall. Otherwise you might get an alert every day and then it gets even worse. So for things you want to measure an immediately get an alert because the behavior of people is not the way you want it to or it is so much better than you immediately want to recognize them in front of the team, for example. Then you short in the walls for both and know that you get a lot of texts in general. The second purpose of this is you have sit down with your trainer, you have created a goal for your KPIs, and now you want to know when you have reached goal without needing to go into the BCP and check every day. So if you say My ARO for this, measuring an ARO for a day doesn’t make sense.
Measuring an a o for a week is, you can argue whether that makes sense, especially if you’re in the beginning of adopting a new program or plan. Measuring it in ARO for a month makes absolute sense, right? And then you find out, yes, it has exceeded my plan threshold and I can go to the next phase of the plan. So for example, with Steve, you could say, Steve, our goal is blah, blah, blah. You write that down in the BCP, at each KPI go into the alerts and the moment it’s hit, you get a message and then say, Hey Steve, what are our next goals? And so this way the thresholds are super helpful. So let me summarize. Either it’s something where you need sense of urgency, it normally drops below an expected value. The moment it does that you have to take extra extraordinary steps to get back on track. Or the other case you set yourself goals together with your trainer and then the moment you hit the goal, you’re get a load. Does it make sense?
Tom Dorsey (00:48:17):
A hundred percent.
Dennis Eidson (00:48:18):
And for me, we set this up, I don’t know if I set this up with Steve or if I set this up with Bill Connor when we first rolled out, but I get those alerts, I look at ’em, I go into the BCP not every day, but a couple times a week. But you set it and forget it and that’s probably a bad thing. I need to come back and revisit this and say, Hey, now that we got the experience that we do, where do I need to be? What things I want to be focusing on? So I probably didn’t know what I was setting up when I set ’em up first.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:48:53):
Yeah, I think less is more in your case because you also see, I mean there is almost no noncompliance alert on the lower. So that’s a good thing if you want to be safe, if you’re going to be aggressive, it’s a bad thing. So you’re not aggressive enough. So it really depends on how you want to use it.
Tom Dorsey (00:49:20):
And that was a good point about setting that monitoring interval because think of it like a sensitivity dial, right? The shorter the period, the more sensitive it is. And so in some things, email capture rate or something, it can be more sensitive like that. Most of the time you’re not going to see a big swing, but in some instances you see swing 250 ARO to 600 and throughout a period of time, the more sensitive that becomes, probably the more frustrated you become with getting these alerts. And so you want to blend that out a little bit. But most importantly, it’s really setting a goal, being transparent about that goal in your weekly meetings with your team and making sure your team’s all on board on that. And then eating the elephant one bite at a time and incrementally raise that bar. And I think that’s a brilliant point, Uwe that you had is that, yeah, a lot of times we think of it as a defensive type mechanism to set up those alerts, but it’s actually a great offensive tool as well. If you’re setting, you’re hitting your ceilings and you’re hitting your goals, it’s time to raise the bar, right? Don’t get complacent. Go ahead and once you get that alert, congratulations, have a cake and some barbecue at the next weekly meeting and then add 25% to that goal.
That’s brilliant. No, thank you. Thanks for showing that. I know that’s going to help a lot of folks and if anybody, if you have any questions about that, of course, reach out to your advisor. They’re going to help you out. You can go into the Facebook forum, you can watch the recording of this when we post it up. You’re going to find that in your settings inside of your BCP. So you go to your business control panel settings, you’ll see where your primary KPIs are, and right underneath that’s going to be your compliance thresholds. And then just play with ’em, get in there and set ’em up and see how they react and get the notifications and then go from there, build it out so that it becomes a very useful tool for you so that you catch things like in Dennis’s case, I mean, gosh, that notification when he came underneath that inspection rate threshold would’ve been great in June or in July, beginning of July.
Great news though is that it was caught, right? Teamwork makes the dream work and you can see that turnaround, it doesn’t take time to get back on track when you start hitting those best practices and getting those inspections done and communicating ’em to your customer, your customers. And Dennis has been a perfect example of that is the customers have this want, there’s a need out there, there’s a need for this transparency, and they react accordingly. And you’d be amazed when we talk about, when you’re talking about thousand dollar offers and take estimates going above, that’s that 300% rule and it’s not a sales effort anymore. That’s the thing. It’s here’s information about your vehicle, here’s my recommendation from doing this thing for a living on how you should handle this. The rest is kind of up to you. And you make that determination. You can do your research, you can verify, and I tell you what, they come back with the approvals and if they’re tight on time or money, they’re going to follow up.
Then the second question is the exit schedule. Okay, great. Here’s what we got to do today and here’s the stuff we can do next month. How’s the third sound for you? How’s the fourth? What are you doing on the fourth two o’clock work for you? Perfect. Because they’re going to commit, they’re going to get the work done. And it’s not a pressure sale at all. It’s education, presentation of information, and then giving them enough tools to understand and make a decision and they’ll make the decision in their favor. And if they don’t, you probably don’t want ’em as a customer. I mean, gosh, especially when you’re limited on parking space, I bet there’s another vehicle that could have fit in that parking lot that would’ve been more in line with the type of customer you want to do business with and cares about maintaining their vehicle.
Dennis Eidson (00:53:21):
Good stuff. And again, so many elements of this that we’re not even there yet. I guess we used it a minute ago, Tom, and it’s the old adage of one bite of the elephant at a time, and then we’ve only taken a few bites. I’m already seeing two benefits. Some of the guys that are on the call are some of the super car AutoVitals shops. Hopefully there’s some number of shops and newer guys that don’t get overwhelmed by the elephant. There’s enough little you can do to have a huge impact on the business very quickly.
Tom Dorsey (00:54:00):
Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, you’ve got a strong culture and as a matter of fact, watch the show, Dennis from last week if you haven’t already. When Adam’s talking about introduction of guided and have Mike just, Mike can run guided and he can get a taste of it and he can see some of his performance metrics and look at it over a week or two weeks or something like that and just make a decision and see if that’s something that you want to add to your SOP. And because then what happens is you get a peer, you get the leader on the floor that’s out there and he’s putting in the work and he’s kind of taking the sacrifice and getting it figured out, and then people are going to respect his peers are going to respect his opinion on that. And if he says, Hey, this is better than sliced bread.
Well, people line up for some bread, they get hungry and they get excited. And it really is a great way to introduce that because at the end of the day, the consistency and just the ability to consistently put the recommendations out there and let the customer make up their mind and make those decisions instead of you making ’em for ’em or the tech trying to make ’em for ’em, the results will speak for themselves. And with your close rate, I mean, you guys are selling at a 30% clip and that’s up 12% year over year, which is incredible really. So it shows that the more that you’re doing the inspections, the more that they’re paying off. And then it becomes just a numbers game. After that, you want to hit a specific ARO or revenue goal and you look at your close rate and your average estimate size, and then you can adjust that accordingly. And it’s money in the bank. It’s going to come in at those numbers.
Dennis Eidson (00:56:00):
Tom Dorsey (00:56:02):
And for anybody else, if you haven’t seen last week’s episode, if you’re interested in guided, same thing. Talk to your advisor, check out that episode and put it in the hands of one tech and have ’em test it out and try it out and report back. And we highly recommend that you implement guided just from the consistency factor alone. And as a matter of fact, you’ll see that that’s where the carry forward works, and there is a big time savings for folks that are concerned about how long a digital inspection takes. If you’re looking to trim time on that, guided is the way to go. So Bill’s got a couple of words of wisdom in here, and I just want to bring these in. He’s saying that the industry owes it to the customer to provide condition based snapshot and estimate all needs found and document properly. And don’t ask the customer if they see the inspection, ask them specific open-ended questions about a topic or two. He says it works like the check engine light over or under, oh, that’s about the, I’m sorry, that’s about the notifications
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:57:12):
Tom Dorsey (00:57:14):
And so for the threshold, he’s saying it kind of worked like a check engine light over or under threshold, set a warning, you get to be the engineer to set the level. So those tools are in there for you. Just check ’em out. If you need help, go on Facebook, ask your advisor, just try ’em. See how they’re going to work in your operation. You don’t have to throw the baby out with the bath water. Again, one step at a time, put it in the hands of one tech and then just test. Oh, we’re almost at the top of the hour, man, this hour flew by. Wow, that’s fantastic. Well, if you got any questions left, if we haven’t got your questions in or you have any other input, get it in now. Dennis, it was great, buddy. I thank you for coming on. I was really excited to have you on. I want to have you on again soon so that we can see the culmination of this, right? As we’re starting to see this swing back and hitting that 500 target. I would imagine by this time next year you’re probably going to be 550 hitting a 600 target. Yeah. So love to have you back on. Gosh, I hope we get to have conference here coming up and see you soon. If not, we got to come out to Georgia and come down and see you. Alright guys, appreciate on of course buddy
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:58:40):
And your sheet with the phases culminating into the Steve Baker success phase. I hope you don’t keep the copyright on it. We want to reuse it.
Tom Dorsey (00:58:55):
Who was going to steal it? We were going to steal it. Steal it. Once you log into Zoom, you sign, there’s a little disclaimer at the bottom. It’s really insane. Oh,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:59:03):
I see.
Tom Dorsey (00:59:05):
So we own it all. No, just kidding know Dennis, that was awesome. Yeah, a bunch of people with Bill saying, great job. Really well done. And thank you very much for sharing that information. A lot of people won’t or don’t want to, but that really, lemme put it this way, digital shops love to share their data. What am I talking about? Why? Because it’s impressive and yours really is. And thank you for being honest presentation in there and saying, Hey, here’s where we were sliding and here’s what we did to get back around. And same for folks that are in looking to achieve those same goals or struggling coming out of Covid or whatever it is. Go back to the basics folks. Make sure that you’re hitting all cylinders in the basics and then start worrying about other factors. But check the basics first. And like Dennis said, even had to make the hard choice of letting a long time, good all around, good employee just wasn’t set up for the new way of doing things. And sometimes you got to make those hard choices, but at the end of the day, the results speak for themselves when you make those right call for your operation. So fantastic job, buddy.
Dennis Eidson (01:00:25):
Alright, appreciate it. Thanks guys.
Tom Dorsey (01:00:26):
Sure, thank you. And same time next week, tune in 10:00 AM Pacific, 1:00 PM E. So we’re going to be talking to leave on Arnold actually from long arm mechanics and we’re going to be talking a little bit. It’s kind of another success story. It’s a great success story and we’re going to be talking new customer acquisition, so you don’t want to miss it. He’s got some really interesting concepts and strategies built around bringing the whole digital shop concept together and then actually using that for new customer acquisition as well. So tune in next Wednesday to hear that show. It’s going to be a great one. Until then, get out there and make some more money. Uwe and Dennis, thank you very much, Bill Connor, thank you Russell. John, everybody in the audience, thank you very much for your participation and we’ll see you next week.
Dennis Eidson (01:01:13):
Take care.
Tom Dorsey (01:01:14):
Thank you. Thank you.

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