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Leadership skills have been in transformation since the power of team culture combined with digital metrics for accountability has been made the centerpiece for many shop operations. Join our three panelists, all shop owners with impressive track records to explore how they transformed their shops and are still doing it.

Episode Transcript

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

Bill Connor (00:06):
Good morning, good afternoon. I’m Bill Connor. If you’ve reached the Digital Shop Talk Radio where we gather with our panelists on Wednesdays at 12 o’clock central to have them share some wisdom with you. Today I’m here with Brittany Schindler, general manager of Rod’s Japanese Auto Care. Brittany’s been with us many times in the past. We appreciate her coming back. Annmarie Aristigue, owner of Arizona Auto and Radiator Repair also joined us in the past. And of course, AutoVitals’ founder Uwe is here to keep us moving along. Join us today to learn what leadership skills have been used in growing a shop to a powerful team culture. Combined with using the digital shop metrics. We’re going to talk about what metrics are used for accountability and how they’ve been made a centerpiece for many shops that are into digital teams. Join our panelists, all shop owners with impressive track records as they explore how they transform their shops from where they started out to being full digital today. Listen and learn how the industry has adjusted for them and will continue to do so. And as always, teamwork is required to provide great results for all shops. You’ll take away some tips to put powerful team culture combined with using the digital metrics for accountability. As always, you’ll learn from our guest panelists who operate shops just like yours. So if you wouldn’t mind, why don’t you go ahead and get us started here.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (01:31):
I am happy to do so. Good morning, good afternoon, everybody. I also want to mention that we unfortunately couldn’t have Rebecca on as a third panelist as announced because she lost her voice. So that’s difficult to be a panelist and a podcast, but we will have her back for another topic at a later time. So thank you Annmarie and Brittany for joining us. And this is a big topic today. So let’s see how we’re going to break it down. We have selected the topic because it seems to be a huge transition going on in the industry and it has started years ago and it doesn’t seem to stop. And we want to explore what made the transition happen. And as we talked yesterday in the pre-meeting, Annmarie, you are now able to run several businesses in parallel. I don’t know whether that was possible 10 years ago. And Brittany, your results are just mind blowing. And so we really want to drill how did you do that? What enabled it? And so I want to first ask both of you to give us a quick overview. Where’s your shop size, some metrics, maybe like ARO car count, and so on and so forth. Annmarie, if you could start.
Annmarie Aristigue (03:22):
Sure. So my name’s Annmarie and I’m with Arizona Auto and Radiator and Collision Center down here in Service Arizona. We have three techs here at our repair facility and then two techs over our collision center. We average around 500 or so on our ARO and we see about 195 to 225 cars in our car count. We’ve been in business since 1997, so we’ve been doing this a while. And over the years I’ve definitely learned a lot, especially when it came to digital learning, certain things about leadership skills, which we’ll go into later today. So really excited about the topic.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (04:02):
Thank you, Brittany.
Brittany Schindler (04:04):
Right on. Hey, I’m Brittany Schindler. I work for my dad’s business soon to actually be mine by the end of the year. I’ve been a service advisor for 12 years now. We have six and a half bay shop currently. We have three technicians. Our ARO right now is about 1400, and our labor hours per ticket is just over five hours per ticket. And we’re doing only about 30 cars a week and we’ve been using AutoVitals for eight years and it’s been a huge, huge help. So yeah, that’s our shop.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (04:36):
So how many shop owners are doing the pilgrimage to your shop to find out how you’re doing? Five hours.
Brittany Schindler (04:45):
It’s taken a while. I focus a lot on how we can always get better and luckily we have a great culture here and my team’s always down to look at things and get better. We’re never not satisfied with where we are. We absolutely are. We’re stoked of where we are, but to even get better than that, obviously even better. So
Uwe Kleinschmidt (05:08):
Thank you. So first question to both of you. If you compare today and when you started, let’s ask a different question. When you started and all of a sudden or maybe not all of a sudden had responsibility for running a business, responsibility for taking care of your staff and their families, what was the biggest change in doing and how did you prepare Brittany if you Sure. I don’t really care.
Brittany Schindler (05:53):
For me, it was a little different. I was 20 when I started here. I had no plans on even working for my dad. I actually owed him money when I was 19 for a car. And it just literally snowballed into a job. And then I started to become more of the leadership role. As a service advisor, you kind of are at that forefront person that organizes the day and things like that and figures it out with customers and talks to the technician and let them know what’s going on. So you’re kind of like a leader already in a service writer position. And it was a little difficult at first. I didn’t know anything about cars even though my dad owned the shop because I had no plans to do it and everybody was older than me and I was trying to kind of direct them and things like that.
And I think after four years in is when we got AutoVitals, but I was much better as a service advisor at that time. And I had more belief and respect I guess, from my other team members and the technicians and things like that. We all agreed that this was the best way to do it was to do the digital inspection. My dad’s idea in the very beginning was to have everybody do an inspection on their own car so they would actually see how it looks to them or to the customer. And so they know exactly why they were doing it. So my dad kind of led off with that, but just proving of why and how things work to show them and be completely open and transparent with them, like, Hey, this is why we’re doing it and this works. And I gave them customer feedback all the time. I’m like, Hey guys, just so you know, all these pictures that you’re taking are amazing. Customers are loving it. Obviously your ARO and Labor Hours particular, they’re racking less cars, so they saw it there too. So I’m always open and transparent with my entire team and I involve them and any changes that we make and that’s been a huge help to really get them on board and believe in what we’re doing.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (07:54):
So for you, the biggest change was to get from just paying off your car to running a shop?
Brittany Schindler (08:03):
Pretty much.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (08:05):
So if I may, it must have been tough as a 20-year-old, the youngest, no clue about cars, directing technicians what to do and then ask them to put more work in great pictures and notes and all that stuff, which is not directly related to immediate hours paid. So how did that go?
Brittany Schindler (08:35):
Sharing a lot of customer feedback was a huge thing for them because everyone likes to feel good about what they’re doing and hear the feedback from the customers. So I would tell ’em every single time someone said something good about it, I would go tell them and instill that belief. And again, just the ARO going up and up and their pay going, all that really helped. And I wasn’t trying to be super nitpicky and I was like, Hey, we need more pictures. Hey, we need more pictures. We’ve all been there in the very beginning of AutoVitals too. And things got easier with AutoVitals too. We were with you guys in the very beginning and things started to get faster. We had to revamp our internet. We’re like, Hey, okay, I understand it’s lagging a little bit out there. So we changed our internet out there, so we’re trying to make it as easy as possible. And it was one of those non-negotiables. Doing the inspection is non-negotiable, but how we perform it and in what order we perform, it was negotiable. So they were a huge part of where did you want things on the list of while you were performing the inspection. So they technically helped build it. So that was also a huge part of getting them to do full buy-in was actually having them be a huge part of building our specific inspection that we have.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (09:52):
Very cool. Thank you. Brittany and Annmarie.
Annmarie Aristigue (09:57):
Yeah, so for me, I started in finance when I was 18 and I did that for about 10 years or so, and I was not in the automotive industry at all. I just did the books for my husband, my husband’s one that actually started the business from the ground up. He started out as a one man shop in one bay and then slowly started to try to grow it. And when things started the word of mouth, his business started to really vamp up. He needed help. So I decided that I was going to leave the finance side and dive into helping him more in with customer service and stuff. So I had to basically learn the ins and outs of each position when I came aboard because I really did not know a thing about vehicles. And so once I started to do that, I then had to learn to implement process and procedures, learn more about the industry.
Facebook really at that time wasn’t the biggest thing. So when it came out it was amazing. And then when, I think we’ve been about eight years now too with AutoVitals, and so trying to get everybody on board and implementing that process and procedure and learning how to coach them and mentor them, I think that was very new for starting out as teaching our staff and things and trying to improve things. So really getting their buy-in and stuff really helped a lot. And I think the biggest thing too, for us, that was a huge change in preparing was hiring a coach, hiring an RLO and Elite really brought a lot to improving and helping our shop as a whole and just networking with other people and just even being part of the Facebook groups with you guys on AutoVitals helps a lot because it helps us keep intact with the changes, how to implement things, sharing information and then taking that back to our staff and then get in their buy-in as Brittany had mentioned as well. So our biggest change was trying to adapt and knowing the right things, process and procedures to implement to get everybody on board to make things more efficient. And so that for me, I think was the biggest change of putting and preparing for our shop to move forward for success.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (12:33):
And if you look at the day, let’s say eight years ago, you were a shop owner in tandem with your husband and now what has changed if you go through the hours of the day, the typical day?
Annmarie Aristigue (12:50):
So what’s changed for us is that we’ve been able to kind of step back a little bit. I mean unfortunately there are times where we still have to work in the business instead of on the business, but for the most part, working on the business now from afar being the fact that we’re digital, you can just look at the dashboard and you can see exactly where things are. And from that I can educate, mentor from wherever I’m at and expressing to my staff, Hey, we need to increase this, or Hey, I was reviewing these inspections and there isn’t enough pictures there. We need to kind of amp and edit some things. And so it really gives me more time now to be able to implement and add things for our shop that’s better. So that’s been the biggest change is being able to work on the business and not so much in it
Uwe Kleinschmidt (13:45):
Much. And so you were, let’s say eight years ago, you were in the shop every day, I assume? Absolutely. And today you are sitting wherever you have internet and a computer and run how many businesses now?
Annmarie Aristigue (14:02):
So I do run multiple businesses. I’m in real estate too, so I do real estate on nights and weekends and sometimes even during the day. So I really have to prepare my scheduling accordingly. I’m also feeding up fitting the service advisor position right now until we hire someone. So that’s been a little bit challenging. But yeah, I have mobile home park, I have an apartment complex. I have clients that I help. So with having these tools in place, it really helps me be able to maintain and manage things from wherever realistically I’m at.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (14:36):
And you shared in the pre-meeting, you are going to switch point of sales to go truly digital.
Annmarie Aristigue (14:44):
So we’re looking to go from Mitchell to shop. We just currently implemented 360 payment so that we can start doing a little bit of text to pay. One of the other meetings that we had the other day with some other folks with repair shop websites was implementing Face pay. I think that’s another way of places that people are going. So again, taking that time and implementing everything that we can possibly do digitally make things more efficient for people, including my staff, is a great thing. And I’ll be honest with you, without digital, we would be completely lost. It would be not enough time in the day to get everything that we need done. So I’m all in for digital.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (15:29):
Very cool. Brittany, if you compare, oh, go ahead. There was a question
Bill Connor (15:34):
I was going to ask you. How do you get from the point of going ahead and being an outsider to the industry and getting in there to a place where you can go and be comfortable kind of walking away and stepping away? Do you had shared in our prep meeting that you’d like to go ahead and when somebody comes to you with a problem instead of solving it, you like to ask them what do they think they should do about it to kind of prep them?
Annmarie Aristigue (15:55):
Yeah, I like to use, if the staff makes mistakes, the biggest thing I like to do is utilize that as a training session right then and there. You don’t need to belittle anyone, you just need to tell ’em, you know what, Hey, mistakes happen and we’re not going to point fingers on whose fault it was or anything like that. Let’s just all talk about what we can do to solve the issue together and move on. And that’s been a huge key for me as far as leadership goes is we’re all human. We are going to make mistakes, but allowing them to realize that mistake, that’s how we learn, that’s how we can continue to move forward. And I think that’s one of the big takeaways that I’ve asked my staff. I do, I ask my staff all the time, how do you see me as a leader?
What can I do to improve? Because without their feedback, I’m not going to know what I’m doing or doing wrong. And I ask them to be very transparent with me. And sometimes when we have our meetings or whatnot, I’ll have everybody kind of put thing on a piece of paper or even type it up so that I don’t know who says anything and then share that feedback with me if they’re afraid to really open up. But my door is always open and people are really transparent with me and very easy to get along with. And so just asking them for that feedback really helps me even grow and become a better leader.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (17:22):
That is awesome. I mean, I assume there were times when you were doubting this is the right track or was it from the beginning? I mean, it’s never smooth riding, right? But no, I think get the staff.
Annmarie Aristigue (17:43):
Yeah, when you doubt something, when I doubt something or I’m not exactly too sure, I’ll be honest with you, I may express to them and say, you know what? I don’t have the answer to that at the moment, but I have so many people and so many resources to go to that if I don’t have the proper answer, I will go to my resources, my local Facebook groups, anybody and even people within my networking that I’m close to that are other shop owners, I will share my situation and then get feedback too on how maybe perhaps I should address it. So if I’m not really a hundred percent confident on how to address something, I will go find help.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (18:24):
And you are completely open about that to your staff. Absolutely. And they respect that as a leadership skill that you are vulnerable. So I mean, that’s a big change. I don’t
Annmarie Aristigue (18:35):
Make them believe that I know everything. I don’t know everything. Even though I’m a business owner doesn’t mean I have all the answers. So letting them know that if for some reason I don’t know something, I’ll definitely help them. But that’s one of my biggest perks is that I will find out. I’ll dig until we figure it out. So yeah,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (19:01):
Very cool. One
Bill Connor (19:02):
Of the leadership skills I always like of a shop owner is being able to go ahead and educate, delegate, and make it to where their job is to really make their job obsolete where they can go on it and do something else, or at least you have an exit strategy.
Annmarie Aristigue (19:18):
Yeah. Yeah. I had two great service advisors in the past, honestly, that I miss dearly that were very good at their positions, but I helped them grow. I helped them grow into what they realistically wanted to do for a living. Both of them wanted to get into real estate, start doing investments, and because of my background and skills that I had, I basically made that happen for them and then they moved on to that side of the industry. So it’s kind of cool. Yeah, it’s sad to see people go after you’ve worked so hard to put them in place and have them do great things for your business, but at the same time, you got to let them fly and do the things that they’re passionate about. And it makes me feel good too, because I had a huge part in that, saw them go, and now I got to find another person and just make them part of the family again, that’s just the cycle.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (20:11):
Have you thought about, bill covered that in one of the previous episodes about having the bench, right? So if that happens, you can backfill and what seems to work extremely well is an apprentice program. Have you thought about something like that?
Annmarie Aristigue (20:33):
Yeah, actually I have been part of an apprentice program with our college here. So we do a little bit of apprenticeship with the technician side, and then we started doing a little bit service advising, maybe trying to get some of the college, or I’m sorry, the high school kids to come in and they get school credit. So we have been
Uwe Kleinschmidt (20:55):
Annmarie Aristigue (20:56):
To possibly look into doing more of that. We haven’t done it in a few years actually prior to the pandemic it kind of slowed down, so we’d like to get back on track on that. So it’s definitely something that’s still in the works that we’d like to improve on.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (21:12):
Very cool. Very cool. If I may switch, Brittany. Brittany is chomping on a bit. Brittany, back to if you compare the day eight years ago, whenever it was to now a typical day, what’s the difference?
Brittany Schindler (21:32):
Oh, those crazy old paper inspections that we used to have and bring a clipboard out to the shop and drop it in the little slot and try to put it in order and then guess what they were doing. It was actually, so one of the biggest things there was, since I didn’t know a whole lot about cars, I couldn’t just walk up to the technician and gauge how much longer he had on a job. And so I would be like, Hey, what parts have you got done? When are you going to be done? So I can update the customer? And I had one grumpy technician that I totally got rid of because again, I’m focused on culture a lot. He’d be like, I don’t know. I’m like, well, tomorrow in an hour next week, anything, just tell me anything I would like to know. And I had no idea at that time.
But man, with the digital work order with AutoVitals, they check off when they’re done. I’m like, oh, sweet. All he’s got left to do is an alignment now. So I know that it’s going to be done here soon, so I can call the customer and update them that, Hey, we have just a couple more services left to do and then I’m going to update you again and let you know for sure what it’s done. And it’s gone through quality control. So that’s been a huge, huge, huge thing for customers. And I don’t even have to walk out in the shop. There’s no reason for any service advisor to need to walk out there. We can gauge it all on the TVP, which is amazing. We can see how long they’ve been on a car. We can say what’s going on, why are we way over on diagnostics?
Because that was another thing we used to do back in the day too, is give away diagnostics or knock down diagnostics. And diagnostics is one of the things that you should never, ever, ever give away and you should also never go over on time. I think that that’s helped tremendously with having a digital work order and inspection by showing a lot more value. They’re taking pictures of the scan tool, they’re taking a picture of how the oxygen sensor is reading. I used to say, oh, it’s like a heart monitor. I’d say that to a customer, but here we are. We literally have a picture of it, of the scan tool looking like a heart monitor of how that sensor’s operating or if it’s flatlined and dead, it rings more of a bell to the customer of how that sensor actually operates. So it is way different.
I was still blown away at first. My dad has such a good name for himself. He’s such a transparent and really, really nice guy and always doing the right thing. Before we went digital, people would say yes all the time to big jobs without pictures. And now it just kind of blows me away. It’s like we live in a different world from 12 years ago too and even 10, eight years ago, but the way that we do things now, it just makes perfect sense to the customers. Whatever the picture they see, they can go Google it and they know it’s exactly whatever we say it is. Google’s going to tell them the exact same thing because completely transparent with them. With the digital inspection and work order,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (24:30):
How long question, how long did it take you to convince the grumpy technician to actually check off the jobs because now he’s going to be monitored? That was for a lot of technician initially, so you know exactly what I’m doing. No, no, no, no, no, no.
Brittany Schindler (24:48):
It was hard at first. It was hard to, how can I get him to see that this is a good thing for the entire team and without me being so nagging, Hey, don’t forget to check off the job. Hey, don’t forget to check off the job. Hey, we need more pictures. Hey, we need more pictures. I would like to bring it up at our team meetings that we have every Friday at lunch. That’s how I like to bring things up is still today. Rather than going to nig on someone like, Hey guys, why? I just open up a discussion, Hey, why do we take pictures before and after? Why do we take pictures of the good stuff and the bad stuff? Let’s just have a discussion of why we do it. And then I let them kind of just roll with the whole conversation. And then everyone’s giving their feedback.
Service advisors, technicians, they’re like, well, we do this and it covers our butts. And they say all these things and they just had their whole conversation. I didn’t even need to do anything besides bring up the topic. And then that person that isn’t doing it was hopefully listening. And then I’ve even heard them given their 2 cents of, oh yeah, we should be doing this or blah, blah, blah. And then it feels like it was their idea. So I try to really go for the mentor and empowering type of leadership and completely transparent with them, but really empowering them, really gets them on board to
Bill Connor (26:15):
Change their ways. When you talked earlier, you talked about your non-negotiables, the non-negotiables, you’re going to do this, and what you did is you asked them to go ahead and describe to you what they think the benefit to them would be by doing it, right? Yes.
Brittany Schindler (26:27):
Yep. And then yeah, we just had an open discussion of, and that wasn’t just with the technicians, it was the technicians and advisors. So we’d all have a long talk and it was a really passionate conversation actually. Every time we bring something up like that, the culture that we have here, it does have a lot of passion in what we do and why we do things. And when they have their own conversation without me being a dictator type of leader, things go way better and way smoother and they’re more likely to do it.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (27:05):
And you were always convinced of that way. There was another kind of step back where the technician said, I told you it’s not going to work.
Brittany Schindler (27:19):
I don’t think so. I don’t think there’s any time like that. That’s awesome. No, because we would all sit there and we would agree to it at the very end or at least compromise at the very end and finish that conversation. I don’t like to just, all right, well, time’s up, got to go back to work kind of thing. Sometimes we would go to lunch for an hour and a half when we were originally going to take an hour lunch. But those things are so, so important to make sure that those conversations do have kind of an ending to it and a final resolution or compromise, if you will.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (27:56):
Bill Connor (27:57):
When you come up with a final decision about what everybody agrees to do, do you go ahead and say, okay, now we’ve all decided together this is what we’re going to do. Do you also go and to find a timeline that you want to go and see that happen and how are you’re going to measure the change?
Brittany Schindler (28:11):
Yes. I write down notes from every single meeting and then we talk about at the beginning of the next meeting to make sure that we all did what we said we were going to do. And then I write up standing operating procedures. If I don’t already have one written up, I’ll write it up based off of our lunch meeting and I’ll do that in between the two lunch meetings and then I’ll print it out and I’ll say, is this how we all agreed to it? And then have everybody sign it.
Bill Connor (28:36):
So what happens as a leader, if you go ahead and you’ve defined this, you defined a due date and then it doesn’t happen, do you just give up on it? Or how do you attract that with a task or a process that might be a little bit more resistant?
Brittany Schindler (28:51):
I feel like that’s where you really fail in leadership is when you don’t follow through and you don’t hold people accountable for things that they said that they were going to do. So I try my absolute hardest to never ever do that, to not just be like, oh yeah, we talked about it, but we all agreed to do it. Now we’re not doing it and it’s okay, we’ll just keep bringing it up until it just becomes a habit and reassure every single meeting that we have that this is the right way that we’re doing it. And just a simple reminder, not nitpicking, not nagging, but just remember this is how we’re supposed to do it and we talked about it as a team and we’ll bring it up in front of the entire team first too without naming any names or anything like that, but just have that conversation if I need to. If things don’t get done that we said that we were going to do.
Bill Connor (29:41):
And can I assume that you’re actually using the data to do that? So there really isn’t anywhere to hide. It’s not a gut feeling. It’s not what Brittany feels today. It’s actually based on a metric that you’re actually got some data to support.
Brittany Schindler (29:54):
Yes, I audit everything. I love that the metrics that even AutoVitals has. Hey guys, we need to take more pictures. Let’s say that was one thing that we talked about and then a month later, because a month is a long time to really get that metric to come up, let’s look at how more pictures correlate with higher ARO. I’ll show them the chart and then I can even show them per technician privately if I need to be like, Hey, look it Jason’s taking this many pictures and his ARO is way higher so I can literally prove it with numbers to get if I need to. I guess
Uwe Kleinschmidt (30:34):
When you were service advisor, did you use those numbers for yourself?
Brittany Schindler (30:38):
Yes, absolutely. Even editing the photos, the number of photos, yes. All those metrics we use, how long the motorist has looked at the inspection, that’s a huge one for me too. And we have, I think ours is like 10 minutes or something like that.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (30:56):
Brittany Schindler (30:57):
Bill Connor (30:58):
Brittany Schindler (30:58):
Have a lot of information on mine. I’m extremely proud of mine. I actually just recently showed my 20 group, my A TI 20 group, how my inspection looks to the customers and their jaws dropped to the floor. They were like, why don’t ours look like that? So they’re actually all revamping theirs to change it. And that’s also what I love about AutoVitals. You can literally just tailor it to how your shop wants it. Exactly. You can put whatever you want on your inspection. You can edit it however your shop wants to do it.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (31:29):
So did the $1,400 convince your 20 group or more the look of the inspection report? Yes, both probably.
Brittany Schindler (31:37):
They love my numbers and they love the way that the inspection looks. I talk to them a lot about, my goal with the inspection is to instill confidence into the customer so that they feel confident in the decision that they make for the vehicle. I want them to be looking at their inspection and be like, did you know what a PCV valve is? And tell their friend about it. Teach them because they learned all about it too, and they have that confidence and they fully understand what it is even without me telling them over the phone, even though we reiterate if we need to or if they didn’t fully understand it. There’s plenty of customers that don’t even care, like, cool, that’s awesome. It looks awesome, the pictures and stuff, but don’t really care. Just do it. But
Bill Connor (32:25):
That’s also, here’s a question for both of you. Do you find that your process of using digital tools, does that build confidence between the service advisors and the technicians also?
Brittany Schindler (32:34):
Yes, absolutely. Because they’re seeing exactly what the technician is saying and then if they have questions, I always say, go ask your technicians what that part is and what it does. So we’re always all on the same page of how we present it to the customer. The technician’s diagnostics writeup is written just like the service advisor would tell the customer too.
Annmarie Aristigue (32:58):
Yeah, I would agree. And I think too that when they do video too, I think that helps a lot. Or sometimes when they do talk to text when they’re videoing or even typing something up, then if they have something specific they want to say, if they can say it pretty quickly and we can save it on there and send that to the customer too, that tends to help a lot as well.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (33:28):
Cool. So can we name, maybe let’s make it a little bit more in detail. I assume that the KPIs you looked at in the introduction of the digital process and you focused on different ones than today or some of them you kept and others you can now take for granted and focus on something else. Is that true or has it always been the same set inspections and pictures and whatever else you mentioned? How is that? What are the KPIs you look at?
Brittany Schindler (34:07):
I still look at all of them, but I think the number of pictures I don’t need to look at very much because everyone knows what to take pictures of and that they need to take a picture for every single recommendation that they do, or at least 99% of them. So pretty sure we’re all on board with that. So I’m not ever worried about that. I do like to still look at the motorist, how long they’ve been looking at it. Yeah, the research time. And then of course ARO and labor hours per ticket is important ones, but I track numbers daily, so I’m already up to date with that all the time.
Annmarie Aristigue (34:49):
Yeah, I would say the same. I haven’t really changed my KPIs much. I still focus on pretty much all of them, ensuring that the average aro per ticket is there, the motorist time is where it needs to be. I still pay attention to pictures, especially when I get a new technician just to ensure that he’s following the structure and that we’re getting good quality pictures because sometimes I do end up finding that our motorist time will start to decrease a little bit if those photos are not as good or not reflecting towards what the writeup was like. A lot of times I’ll see that the coolant inspection, they might have a leak. Well, it’s sometimes hard to get a picture in their right of the leak, so they take a picture of the reservoir bottle. So it’s kind of trying to make a proper description to that so that when the technical motorist looks at that, they’re going to kind of understand what we’re trying to say. So I pay close attention onto those. Yeah, so I would agree.
Bill Connor (35:56):
It’s interesting. I have a lot of shop owners that actually diagnose with the numbers, just like they diagnose a car and they tell me that when they look at motorist research time, they think about it like fuel trim on a car. If it’s in the right range, then a lot of things have went well and I can start looking at ARO if that’s good, then I can look at hours per hour and so on. So they’re actually starting to use the business control panel, just kind of like a diagnostic tool
Annmarie Aristigue (36:19):
For sure.
Brittany Schindler (36:20):
True. Yeah, you can get way pickier if all those KPIs look good and you do have them down. For instance, my shop luckily does, I still look at them just to make sure, but even just Annmarie said just the other day, the technician drove the car and on the road test it says braking. How did braking feel? Okay, there was no shaking. So he put it in good, put it up in the air. Well, the left rear wheel was seized and now braking is in critical condition, but on the test drive part it still says good. And then the hydraulics part, it said it was in critical. So I was like, I have to pay attention. And I showed my advisors, I was like, Hey, I don’t want braking in good at the top. That needs to go in critical as well, just like the hydraulic part of it because that’s super, super confusing to the motorists, the motorists. So we all talked about that together as a team, and that’s, here we are eight years later still learning and getting better and paying attention, but that’s what allows us, when you get all those KPIs down, thankfully you can get into way pickier, stuff like that
Annmarie Aristigue (37:20):
On more stuff.
Brittany Schindler (37:21):
Uwe Kleinschmidt (37:23):
Good problem to have. Yeah. Brittany, you mentioned you let your staff sign a new SOP. Yes. You do that at the lunch meeting and everybody stops by and signs or how do you do that and then what impact does it have?
Brittany Schindler (37:47):
I write it up and I always like to have an SOP just on one piece of paper. I like the least amount of words possible to get the point across. I print everybody two copies. I say take two, pass ’em down, and then we all look at it together if we need to just read it really quickly or I’ll just read it out loud real quickly and I say, sign one, take one that this is what we did talk about. This is what we agreed to do and how we’re going to do it. And everyone’s like, yep, that’s exactly what I said that we were going to do. So yeah, that’s what we’re going to do. And I’m not, usually I’m mentoring the conversation when it happens, but I’m never trying to say, Hey, we’re going to do this, then we’re going to do this and then we’re going to do this. We discussed it together and everyone put in their ideas. And if someone’s not talking at the table too, I absolutely ask them to because I want their 2 cents in there too, to feel empowered and to know that they were also part of writing that SOP up. So
Uwe Kleinschmidt (38:50):
It’s actually less about the signature, the is just a buy-in after they pass the gates, as we used to say, of being involved in creating it and being, what’s the word? Talk about it. So you have the confidence that it is not just, there’s a German saying, it says paper’s patient, meaning you can write anything on it, it doesn’t really matter, but the signature makes it go live. You have a chance that you get the buy-in. I love that.
Brittany Schindler (39:29):
Yeah. They’re like, yes, I agree. I’m putting my name on this paper, not just my name, my signature on this paper, so if I ever need to bring it back up. And they’re like, no, I didn’t say that. Or whatever. Oh, let’s pull this up here or whatever. I don’t ever need to do that. But
Uwe Kleinschmidt (39:44):
I was going to ask, have you ever done that in a lunch meeting?
Brittany Schindler (39:48):
No. And I would never do that in front of, I do quarterly reviews and I do one-on-ones too, so I would bring it up at that time if I need to.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (39:57):
Very cool.
Bill Connor (39:58):
Speaking about meetings, you talked about you do a daily meeting, then you do one-on-ones and quarterly meetings?
Brittany Schindler (40:06):
Yes. We do morning meetings to talk about how the day’s going to go, where parts are at, where everybody’s at with the cars that they’re on and what’s coming in. And then I do have weekly one-on-ones with each person, but it’s pretty laid back and I’ll usually go to near their workstation just to chat with them for a minute, see if they need anything from me. And then I do, every Friday we do a team, an entire team lunch meeting, but on Mondays the technicians all go to lunch together on Tuesdays, US advisors all go to lunch together. And then I do quarterly reviews too. So I just always want to make sure that everybody’s always on the same page and that also everybody’s happy. I’m trying my hardest to maintain culture is one of my number one.
Bill Connor (40:50):
Those that are unfamiliar with doing the morning huddle, is there a list of things that you’re trying to go ahead and understand to go ahead and set up for a good day?
Brittany Schindler (40:59):
I have a little list of, there’s five things. It’s like what’s here, what’s coming in? Where are parts? It’s like all these questions that need to be answered, just like five things in the morning first thing,
Bill Connor (41:11):
So you want to discover anything that could be a roadblock.
Brittany Schindler (41:16):
And those five things have been the same for years now. No one’s ever wanted to change them. So
Uwe Kleinschmidt (41:23):
Yeah, they want get to work
Brittany Schindler (41:24):
And they want to get to work.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (41:28):
Annmarie, what’s your meeting cadence?
Brittany Schindler (41:31):
So our meetings
Annmarie Aristigue (41:32):
Are pretty much the same. I mean, we verify what we had rolled over from yesterday, when they’re going to be completed for today, what parts do we have coming in? And our biggest thing that we recently added that’s actually helped improve that my team actually brought to me was what cars do we have to pull out every morning when people are showing up to pick up or throughout the day so that the techs don’t have to stop what they’re doing or whomever to go pull out cars. So we started on our board, so every time we know that a customer’s car is complete and it’s going to stay overnight, but they’re going to pick up the next day, we started adding that. So now that’s part of our meeting is which cars are being picked up that need to be pulled out. We write the RO number on the board and then that way every morning it’s just an automatic thing that happens so that way we kind of know how to pull things in. So that was a big, huge hit for us and just pretty much talking about how the day’s going to go, what our goal is, what are we trying to accomplish, and try to make it obviously as smooth as possible and make sure that everybody’s in a good bubbly mood so we can get the ball rolling.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (42:50):
Can I ask you guys how you pay your tax and sales advisors, both of you?
Brittany Schindler (42:57):
Yep. I pay, all my technicians are hourly plus flat rate team bonus, and then my advisors are paid off of base salary plus total sales and gross profit margin. It goes just up from there.
Annmarie Aristigue (43:09):
And we’re the same.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (43:15):
So what did you say? A team flat rate bonus, how does that work?
Brittany Schindler (43:21):
Yeah, so everybody’s hourly or all the technicians are hourly and then say the team as a whole builds out 200 hours that week. That 200 hours is a pie and it got bigger over the total hours billed as a team, a hundred hours, 150, 200 makes sense. This is money. So say that 200 hours is $3,000 that they all get to split. Now, depending on who did the most, so say someone did a hundred hours, let’s just say that someone did a hundred hours, they would get $1,500 of that $3,000 bonus I see for that week. So whatever part of the pie that they did, they would get however much they did in percentage wise, but it grows as a team. That’s the whole thing too, is they encourage each other to get big jobs done because they know that the pie and money is going to get bigger and bigger if more jobs get done. So absolutely hate flat rate. I would never ever go back to it. I’ve done it a couple times and it was horrible. I think the way that we do things is is way better for culture.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (44:34):
So flat rate basically encourages individual first. That’s the problem with it. Team
Annmarie Aristigue (44:41):
Playing. Yeah,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (44:43):
But if you air too much on the team side, there’s a danger that high performers feel lumped in. Have you ever encountered any of those challenges?
Brittany Schindler (45:05):
No, because even still the pie, if you will, the dollar amount for the team bonus is still there, even at a small team hourly completion for the week. But if that person billed out 90% of it, they’re going to get 90% of that bonus and the other guys get to split 10%. They’re still getting, most of my guys make. So
Bill Connor (45:30):
It’s a piece of their pie that they get based on the hours they contributed to the pie.
Brittany Schindler (45:34):
Exactly. So someone did 50% of the hours billed, they get 50% of the dollar amount of the pie. Most of my guys make $12 an hour more, sometimes $20 an hour, more than their regular hourly rate with this team bonus. So I think it works out pretty well.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (45:54):
Oh, that’s cool. Very cool. Dang, we’re almost at the end of the session again. I bill, what do you want to do?
Bill Connor (46:07):
So what I’d like to do before we go ahead and get into getting them to wrap up is to go ahead and see if we can go ahead and over time they’ve learned some skills that they have to go and implement that they didn’t possess before when they started this journey. If you go ahead and share what some of them skills are and how you use them to go in and get your team to go in and actually follow you rather than pushing them uphill all the way.
Annmarie Aristigue (46:39):
So the question you’re asking Bill is what we’ve had to implement over the years, what we’ve learned
Bill Connor (46:46):
To, to go and become a better leader?
Annmarie Aristigue (46:52):
Wow. There’s so many things I’ve learned honestly, but I think the biggest thing was as we learn is networking with the right people, getting involved around the right people of your surroundings, positive people learning the process and procedures following them. And I mean from a leader perspective, if you want to learn, you have to invest time in yourself. And so I do a lot of reading. I liked John Maxwell’s, one of the leaders that I like to do a lot of reading and watch YouTube videos on. And so I’m always looking for ways to do that, to improve myself on ways that I can find different abilities to approach certain things. I mean, even in the real estate world, becoming a leader, people are looking at you and they’re looking for you to do the best job for them and have to mentor them as well.
Even a buying process or selling repairs to a customer. So education I think is the biggest thing. So the more I feel like I learned, the more I can assist and help others. And I think that’s the biggest thing that I’ve learned over time is just investing in myself so that I can become better at what I do and learning how to negotiate and just finding ways to act quickly. A lot of times when it comes to this particular situation, I don’t like to dwell and take a long time to figure things out. So going through what ifs and putting that self through my mind and being able to take care of things quickly, I think has been a huge impact for me. But yeah, I like to invest in myself so that I can become a better leader.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (48:42):
Joan do, I don’t know whether you count those hours, but could you tell us how many hours per week would you dedicate to, I don’t know, reading books, listening to podcasts or something like that? Or is how do you do?
Annmarie Aristigue (48:56):
That’s my morning routine when I get ready. So every morning, so I play with my dog from five to five 30. That’s our little training session. And then from five 30 to six 30, that is pretty much my time that I put into reading. I read a lot of Ratchet and Wrench and I do watch different podcasts, your guys’ podcasts. So just every week I’m trying to pick something a little different, so I pretty much do that. And then on my weekends I probably put in a little bit more time nighttimes. I’m pretty much dead at that point. I don’t have a brain by the time I leave here, so I’m just trying to follow up and keep up with what I had going on throughout the day. But my morning routine is pretty much where I put that time into watching and reading.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (49:46):
That’s an incredible discipline. Awesome. Congratulations, Brittany.
Brittany Schindler (49:57):
Leadership changing over the years. Absolutely. Especially being in my younger twenties to now too. I’m 31 has changed a lot too, and I’ve just learned and grew and then I started training people too, and I think one of my biggest things of getting better and better as a leader is teaching other people how to be leaders. So transitioning from a leader to a mentor and then teaching them how to be a leader, that’s really helped me be better. I watch some of my service advisors that are second in command service advisors here too, and I’m like, Hey, calm is contagious. I’m getting better myself by teaching him things that I know. And then it’s just getting the wheels turning more in my head too of Hey, this is why I do it and this is what I’ve been taught. I also am in a really awesome leadership class with a TI that’s also teaching us how to become mentors rather than just leaders too.
That’s been a big huge help, but I feel like teaching others the things that I know makes me even better of the things that I know, I always tell that to my brother who’s a shop manager who trains technicians. I’m like, Hey, when you train someone or you educate someone on something, have them teach it back to you because I feel like you learn so much more when you teach someone something that you learned. It just works really, really well and builds your confidence more. It builds my confidence way more. And then it also empowers people and then it makes them feel like they really understood exactly what you’re saying or what you need them to do.
Bill Connor (51:35):
What’s the difference for you between a leader and a mentor?
Brittany Schindler (51:40):
I feel like being a mentor is, I feel like it’s just a little bit deeper. It’s just a deeper level than just being a leader that someone just comes to. What I really want to do as a mentor is just instill leadership in everybody so they’re empowered. And again, we talked about this yesterday, I want someone to walk in here and not know who the boss is or not know who the manager is because everyone has that confidence. And I feel like that’s more of a mentorship rather than, oh, there’s the manager right over there, kind of thing. Yeah,
Annmarie Aristigue (52:20):
I would say for me on the leadership side versus a mentors, I agree with Brittany, mentoring is more of getting inside into deeper hands-on hands with that same level of individuals that’s needing assistance and really being a part of that versus leadership is kind of more delegation setting the path. And so that to me is what the differences between our leadership roles and our mentoring roles. And I do a lot of that when I do real estate. It’s more mentoring than really anything because you’ve got to set the parameters and be right by their side throughout every process. And so that’s what we do when we’re service advising or working with our staff is just being side by side.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (53:10):
Any specific books, podcasts, groups you can recommend because they create a lot of light bulbs going on for you?
Annmarie Aristigue (53:23):
Well, in the auto industry, to be specific, I watch a lot of different podcasts because I think we can learn things from other industries as well to improve what we do on a day-to-day basis. But Ratchet and Wrench is obviously one that I follow. I watch your guys’ podcasts to hear what other shop owners have. I listen to a lot of Dave Ramsey because he just things in life in general. John Maxwell’s a really great one and there’s probably a few others if I really put my mind to it. But I do a lot of Facebooking groups too where I read a lot and the senses of certain situations that people fall into and try to help discuss different options and things. So I enjoy doing those types of things as well.
Bill Connor (54:10):
Cool. So we’ve got about five minutes left. So what I’d like to do is we always do is go ahead and wrap up with your top three things that you would encourage a shop owner or somebody listening to do to go ahead and become a leader in their digital shop.
Brittany Schindler (54:27):
Yeah, I would say just be open and transparent with your team about the processes and procedures that you do. Try your hardest not to be a dictator type leader and don’t go around just telling people what to do. Let’s teach people what to do. Have those non-negotiables, this is what we’re doing. Of course that is what you want, but what’s the best way to get this done as a team at our shops specifically, don’t go based off of what other shops are doing, but I feel like sitting down with your team is the best way to get it done and best way to get buy-in of things that you really want them to do.
Annmarie Aristigue (55:07):
Absolutely, and I couldn’t agree more. Getting your team’s buy-in being side by side with them, understanding their position I think is a huge role. Being patient, you have to have a lot of patience, especially when you’re bringing in apprentices and whatnot. They ask lots of questions and things and you let everybody know that there’s never a dumb question. And just knowing when to take those mistakes and turn them into that perfect training time to discuss what they did wrong and how they could have perhaps prevented that from happening and just asking more questions and just being open, like Brittany said, being transparent and always knowing that they can come to you for anything and being readily available and having the resources.
Bill Connor (55:58):
That’s awesome. I like the mindset is that when an employee makes a mistake and they learn from it, they’re a more valuable employee because they’re not going to do it again.
Annmarie Aristigue (56:06):
That’s right.
Bill Connor (56:08):
Uwe, you have anything else you’d like to add before we wrap?
Uwe Kleinschmidt (56:11):
No, I’m blown away. I was thinking maybe we should take this podcast and ask some university to use it as a leadership because I feel Annmarie and Brittany said so many right things, whether it’s at the detailed level, like the signature of the SOP or whether it’s at the high level transparency, culture, digital metrics. I mean, I’m blown away. Thank you. Thank you both of you. Well, thank you for having us.
Brittany Schindler (56:48):
Yes, thank you.
Bill Connor (56:50):
So I’d like to ly thank both of you from joining us again. Hopefully we can get you to go ahead and join us again in the future where you do another check-in on and you guys to see how you’re doing. We certainly appreciate it and I know that our listeners do. Also, for those that are listening, I’d like to thank you. Think about going ahead and going to and taking that link and maybe sending to another shop owner that maybe is struggling a little bit. They’d like to hear from some other shop owners just like them of how they’re doing things. You can also go ahead and find us on your favorite podcast platform by going to the digital shop talk radio, and maybe listen to it on your drive time or when you’re doing your morning exercises or something like that. Other than that, I’d like to thank everybody and tell you to go out there and make some money and while your customers in the process.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (57:37):
Bill Connor (57:37):
Right. Thank you. Thank
Uwe Kleinschmidt (57:38):
You. Thank you.
Bill Connor (57:39):

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