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Belief systems and old habits are the biggest holdbacks for shops to embrace going digital. Bill and Uwe welcome Michael Holmes, and Frank M Scandura III, who will share steps, which really work, and not just stop at goodwill. You can stop short or overdo it. Or, you can find the right pace with and for your team.

Episode Transcript

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

Bill Connor (00:07):
Good morning and good afternoon. I’m Bill Connor and you’ve reached the Digital Shop Talk Radio. If you’ve joined us live, we certainly appreciate it and if you’d like to join us live, search for and be sure to join. You can also find us on your favorite digital podcast platforms by searching for the Digital Shop Talk Radio. Today I’m here with Frank Scandura, owner of Frank’s European Service in the Vegas area. Got kind of a Taj Mahal type shop out there. Customers know when they walk in the door, whether they’re in the right marketplace or not based on the attire of the business when you walk in the door. And we’ve got Mike Holmes, owner of Holmes Auto Repair in the Florida area, kind of up there in the panhandle. Both these guys are great panelists on this topic. Plus we have Uwe AutoVitals, very own Chief Innovation Officer back from innovating where it has been for the last couple of weeks.
So today we’re going to cover what belief system and the whole habits are the biggest roadblocks for shop embracing going digital. These two panelists are going to be sharing the steps that really work and not just are using up to shop’s goodwill to go ahead and implement. You’re going to take away some solid information so you don’t stop short or overdo it by moving too quickly. You learn the right pace for your shop and your team. So Uwe, would you like me to start out or would you like to go ahead and start these gentlemen down the path?
Uwe Kleinschmidt (01:29):
Yeah, I would love to share our experience over the last now six years or whatever, and we see the whole spectrum when we look at numbers like increased ARO, increased weekly revenue, increased productivity, then the spectrum starts with I might get 10, 15% a ARO increase because the whole focus is on take some pictures and that’s it, right? There’s no process to change in the shop, there’s no team. It’s just a tool and I can take pictures now. Right? Awesome. And I don’t mean that facetiously, that’s a huge step. It replaces the hand waving on the phone, but then we have Sharps which create results where we still are shaking our head and think, how is that even possible? Increase revenue per employee by a hundred thousand dollars, meaning you keep your staff and have one slam dunk after another. How is it possible that cannot be just the tool, right? There’s way more to the process and what we want to find out today from Mike and Frank, what are those? What’s the secret source kind of, and how did you end up getting your team behind a process which really works? That’s the goal for today. And so I would love to start with just asking you gentlemen, it probably didn’t start smoothly or you might have had some hurdles to overcome. Could you share with us how you experienced and what you learned from it?
Frank Scandura (03:51):
So I’ll go back to the old days. So I was brought up in an environment when I first started working on cars professionally, which means I actually got paid to do it where the guy I worked for is two Bay Gas station in upstate New York. Guys like Bill and I are old enough to remember maybe Mike used to have to take your car to that gas station to get it fixed, how it works back then. And he said, make sure you look the car over. And it wasn’t formal and it wasn’t written, but it was up to me to remember to look the car over. So I was in a habit of checking the cars over. You look for worn out brakes, bad tires, brake hoses that are correct, worn suspension, whatever the case may be, dirty filters. So it was always, and it was never discussed by back then, right? Then I end up at the Mercedes-Benz dealership as a service advisor and it was a formal written 27 point vehicle inspection on paper and it was good needs attention with the two check marks and a little box for estimate. So I was able to take that to Frank’s when we opened up and said, this is what we do. We look over cars.
I thought every car got inspected with my paper inspection process because I told everybody to do it. It wasn’t true and there was no way to measure it. I’d come in on a Saturday, they’d lay all these repair orders out and I’d go, oh yeah, look at all these great inspections. And most of them were pencil whipped and I didn’t know what to look for and you couldn’t measure without doing a lot of complicated math, the sell through rates and stuff that we’re all familiar with as KPIs today. So to move to digital for me became a way to track it and measure it.
So to really answer the question, how do you get the team involved? You have to learn how to be a leader. And that’s hard. A lot of us are technicians, the majority of independent shop owners were technicians at one point or another and we just go in and say, I’m a really good tech so I’m going to have a really great business, a really good tech. And then you realize that there’s a lot to learn. It’s not easy. And I tell the story all the time. I walked in with a bunch of iPads and I said, here you go guys. Start doing digital inspections. And I turned around and walked away. I didn’t have a process, I didn’t have a number of pictures that needed to be taken, I didn’t have any training. Then I go look at all my fancy reports. I’m going, man, we’re not doing these inspections.
I wonder why nobody knew what to do. I says, you know what, the pictures, that’s the secret. Let’s get eight pictures per car. And if I said it once, I said it a million times, I had four tires. I had four shots by one tech because he didn’t know what to do, right? Said that was eight pictures, he felt like he was damaged job. And then we formalized them, we’d actually started with a written picture policy AutoVitals offers those documents still to this day. And we have on our picture policy technician’s responsibilities and the service advisor’s responsibilities for the picture policy. So by having something written and having something that we can actually use as a document to train is what helped us get the results that we’ve done. So it wasn’t, you’re right, it’s not just the tool, it’s creating the process, having people accountable because a technician sends a bad picture up, service advisors got to send it back, man, hey, I don’t know what this is or it’s all blurry, you have to do this better. So it’s learning how to be a leader, creating the process and working your team through it. That’s what truly transformed French European service.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (07:29):
Awesome. Mike, how was it with you?
Mike Holmes (07:32):
Well, Frank hit a lot up the nail on the head. The difference with us, I didn’t work for a dealership. My dad owned the business and I was the technician. I was at Super Tech that was just making all kinds of money, pushing him out, and we didn’t do inspections at the end of the day. If we had a little bit of time left over, we’d look to see what we could to fill the rest of the day. And maybe me, if I was whoever dealing with the customer service fire at that time, you would call him and ask him.
And then one day my dad walked in and says, Hey, you’re going to do the office just that quick. What kind of training did I have? Whatever I could figure out on my own. So I learned those things and like Frank said, we saw a dealership inspection sheet and kind of looked it over and things just kept dwindling and morphing that way. And then AutoVitals came out with the inspection and I know Frank was, and I was on the very beginning of that when it was crude of what they did. But man, it was great and I would love to go back six years and jump right into the product that’s there now because the time that’s been put in to get it to this point and has taken all the pain away, which may be a good thing or not, but the picture policy, absolutely.
If that did anything, we never have had shop meetings. What we do now is talk about our inspection or so that created that opportunity. So the tool created a lot of other processes and policies. We never had a workflow. It created a workflow where you don’t raise your hand. It is kind of like you’re structured in school, you raise your hand or you get permission to speak so you’re not interrupting whoever’s doing it. And I think with the streamlining of everything else is one thing that really makes those numbers shine whenever you look at what those inspections do.
We recently, the picture policy, what really happened on that was we kind of backed off on it a little bit and we were busy so we wouldn’t say anything to the customer. And here you were at the end of the day and the customer was looking over the inspection and said, Hey, you didn’t say anything about my ear filter. Why don’t you take care of that while you’re there? And so then you’re scrambling because it’s the end of the day you don’t have it in stock. So that drove us more into the pictures is what is the benefit right off of the bat. That’s where you can expect to see the original results from the investment. And the technicians, when they see that, then that’s where you can start getting their buy-in. Because we just walked out here, it’s iPads. Nobody wanted to go electronic. I kept telling them, it’s just electric piece of paper. You’re doing the same thing that you did with your inspections before, but you’re just putting it on something and you’re not having to hand carry it. I said, maybe it’s the love relationship we have that y’all want to come in my office and give me a chance to get in your business about something when you could send it electronically. And I really don’t have that opportunity, but that’s the way we got it.
Frank Scandura (11:05):
I love the way you said that too about the iPad because the way I explain it is when you’re recommending something and you take the picture, that’s how you prove it,
Right? No more whipping and Uwe, and I discuss this almost like beating a dead horse to death where if they’re pencil whipping a paper inspection, we don’t want to give them the opportunity to pencil whip a digital inspection. And you can measure the guy that’s over recommending because in his mind, a service advisor never sells anything and the guy that’s under recommending because service advisor never sells anything anyway, and you got to find that balance, right? You got to see, okay, how can I have one guy at a six recommend 40% more fluid flushes than anybody else? What’s going on? How does he end up with cars that need it more than anyway? So it gives you an opportunity to measure and prove what you’re trying to say.
Bill Connor (11:59):
The Missouri policy show me it actually fits for both the service riders and the customers because if you make the service rider more comfortable, that without having to go travel out and see at the vehicle, that’s almost as important as being able to go ahead and show the customer. But they all need to be shown. It’s no longer I’m the technician, I say it needs this, this and this. Everybody wants to go ahead and get that visual.
Frank Scandura (12:27):
The other side is getting buying it, right? What about the guys who don’t understand the value and the reason for doing inspections? That’s where true leadership comes in. Four or five years ago I wrote an article Why Every Car should Be Inspected with actual case studies of my experience of why every car should be inspected and I’ve been able to hand that to shop owners. I said, have your technician read this and see if it’s attitude changes. And I’ve yet to have somebody report back to me that nope, he still doesn’t want to do inspections. The moral aspect of it, I need to provide safe and reliable transportation. The other way I can do that is by looking over your card making recommendations.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (13:07):
So you mentioned the technician effectiveness report where you can see over recommending tendency to over recommend or pencil with. How did you use it in the shop and how did the techs react?
Frank Scandura (13:24):
Great question. So I didn’t really use it in the shop. I used it for my own one-on-one meetings.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (13:29):
Frank Scandura (13:29):
See why? How does every single car you touch need a brake flush? Let me show you. You’ve got to check the history. You got to see this. We’re giving you all the tools and this car is recommended every three years. This car is recommended every two years and here it is, the car was here six months ago, you never even checked history. And it’s kind of embarrassing when you point that out to them. So we make it a policy, a process, how to check history for the front counter and how to check history for the back counter. We use some of the tools, electronic tools available to us.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (14:00):
So the takeaway is use the technician effectiveness report to point out those trends or tendencies in one-on-one meeting with your staff.
Frank Scandura (14:15):
And if you never recommend a brake flush, for example, now I need to educate you why it’s so important, why the manufacturer recommends it be done if it’s two years or three years, whatever the case may be.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (14:25):
Mike Holmes (14:27):
To echo on Frank, and I don’t know if I mentioned it, the consistency that the inspections brought in the shop as well as the service advisors telling the customer was one tech would say 40% left on the brakes. The other one would say five millimeters. One would say one 16th and the other one would say about the thickness of a dime. So when we started seeing and the guided inspections that came out took a lot of their ability to put, there you go. Frank’s got the gauge that took the ability out of the customer to not know exactly what it was or what the technician was seeing. But when that picture shows up with that break gauge and that customer sees it, he knows exactly what it is and he can go on one of the video things and make that decision where you don’t even have to help explain it to him.
Frank Scandura (15:25):
You can’t argue with the red stuff, right?
Uwe Kleinschmidt (15:28):
Frank Scandura (15:29):
Red is bad. Everybody knows it. Look, there’s nothing there. Here’s how much done.
Bill Connor (15:36):
Not only that, a picture with a measurement, if they do decide to go somewhere else and get a second opinion, they can’t go ahead and say, Frank said it had 30% remaining. It’s an actual true measurement. So to me, I’ve always talked about any picture with a measurement from a tool that can be reproduced over time is a lot better than somebody saying it’s this percentage or that percentage or whatever.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (16:05):
So let’s go back to the technicians had one-on-one meetings with you and a few light bulbs went on. What did it take? So it was not just nudging them, but they developed, I want to do this. I am going to spend more time than before when I pencil it because there’s value in it. Isn’t that one of the most important steps going digital to get the buy-in?
Frank Scandura (16:43):
For me, it wasn’t so much the buy-in my crew was already understanding why we’re doing inspections. Even back in the early days, we were paperless before we had AutoVitals, so we were already taking steps to minimize mistakes. If a technician writes down needs front brake pads, like you said, 22.7% remaining, right? He’s using his thumb as a gauge and then that doesn’t get transferred over correctly. And then why should my service advisor retype what someone else wrote? Let’s eliminate that. That’s crazy talk. Being able to just go in there and translate it from technician to human is a lot easier than rewriting it because I don’t know, I made this mistake all my entire career technician writes down needs right rear window regulated. Frank would order a left rear. I don’t know. So you avoid those mistakes. So the buy-in was easy. It was the measuring and proving what I thought was going on.
And a few years ago we did the conference there for you guys, we did your summit or I can’t remember what you called it out there in California and we did the shop meeting presentation and I was surprised that my own numbers we got from going from a 450 to $500 ARO to we’re at 1200 now. And because of our process, right expectations, you will inspect the car, you will write the estimate for the entire inspection, you will present the entire inspection to the customer period. And anybody who’s out there, who’s going, oh man. Oh, I don’t know, 2,500 bucks. Gosh, I don’t think Mike can afford that. Let me tell him about this 1200 or worse like what Mike said, and I didn’t mean I was referring to you Mike, when you get busy and you can actually measure your ARO and your car count and you can watch this, right?
Car count goes up, ARO goes down because you’re not spending the time with the inspection, you’re not spending the time with the motorists. And I have to tell my team all the time because we’re extremely busy. We’ve got 111 cars in the parking lot today. You can’t be too busy to do a good job. You just can’t. And we couldn’t possibly rush through this work and get caught off. It’s just not going to happen. So we have to slow down to go faster. We have to do the job we told the customer we’re going to do. So being able to make sure it was the big thing for me.
Mike Holmes (19:19):
I have to echo what Frank said right now with everybody being as busy as we are, you tend to let that drive your decisions and even follow your own policies and processes. I’ve let it drive me into, well, that’s not the thing we need to do now or just we make the decision for the customer. And we had not been doing that for a while by sending the inspections and the pictures and now they’re back in that role. Well, you have my car, let’s go ahead and do it. Well, it creates a situation. Well, I don’t want to send it. I know that’s what they’re going to say and I can’t get to it when I’m going to get these others done. So the dilemma that that’s created is something that we wish we had five or six years ago that you had that problem of how are we going to get it all done? I mean marketing is the furthest thing from my mind right now, but we have the easiest tool to market that we have ever had with the inspections. We just have to relearn what we’re doing in our processes, take in less. And like Frank said, the average RO definitely is reflective of that. And you get busy and it goes down and if you want to look at the profit percentage, it follows it with the same trend. So that’s just a definite takeaway from,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (20:48):
I imagine it sounds so easy what you guys are saying. I imagine a service advisor who is used to throughput and being the master educator on the phone now changing their habits to do it differently is a huge deal for most of them. And Frank, I don’t know whether you remember at the same conference I presented compared two of your service advisors and they followed, they’ve followed by the book your picture policy, but one had a motors research time and I don’t know, I cannot remember, but like 500 seconds and the other one had 190 or something like that and one had $3,000 less weekly revenue with more cars.
Frank Scandura (21:45):
And I remember that because I said, by the way, this guy’s looking for a job if you know anybody’s hirings because
Uwe Kleinschmidt (21:51):
I remember
Frank Scandura (21:52):
Too. And that ended up being the final result and getting that feedback from me was really eyeopening for me. You could see all the numbers, but then you start breaking it down for individual and you go, oh, don’t you remember we talked about you’re going to send all the inspections? Oh yeah, I do boss. Really? The report says 72% what happened? No, no, that can’t be okay, here’s the list of repair orders by number. What happened? And that’s the true tool and it’s amazing, and I heard him once on the phone say, oh, no, no, no, we can’t do that for you. We’re too busy. And when I hear service advisors say that, it’s very simple. So if I hear you say no, I don’t need you, right? So we had that discussion yesterday. No, we’re too busy. I can’t get you in for three weeks time out guys. That was a maintenance service. What do you mean I can’t get you in for three weeks? It wasn’t a 1969 Volkswagen Beetle that’s running rough on startup that can wait three weeks. So we have to have those conversations from time to time.
Bill Connor (22:58):
So standardized processes, consistent meetings, everybody understanding the why, that’s how you transition your staff from telling ’em they’re going to do it to having them tell you we want to do it.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (23:11):
Yeah. What’s the secret source to make somebody change their habits because that’s what it comes down to in this particular case, right?
Frank Scandura (23:21):
Yeah. Accountability.
And I was incapable of holding my staff accountable in the early days because I was incapable of holding myself accountable. And when I realized that looked in when I go back to leadership again, once I held myself accountable that my yes meant yes and my no meant no, then I could go to the staff and say, Hey, okay, this is what I said I was going to do and I hadn’t been doing it and it’s not right and I’m going to start doing what I said I was going to do. And something as simple as writing down A to-do list, I write down my stuff and I look at the list the next day and I go, I can’t deal with that right now. And I put it aside. Well, I didn’t hold myself accountable to the list I wrote and then I would do, well, let me do these six easy things and then the hard stuff kept rolling over.
Then I’m looking at the list going, okay, this isn’t working either, so now I’m holding myself accountable now. And then what I learned was, okay, if I do the hard stuff first, the rest is easy. So then little things like that, just what comes out of my mouth. I have to mean what I say and say what I mean, and then I was able to hold them accountable. Okay, guys, picture policy, picture quality. This is all what we’re talking about. Sending inspections, reviewing inspections, editing the pictures, just firing off the inspections and not looking at the notes is unacceptable. We still spot audit inspections and we’re constantly looking at what can be different constantly. Travis the manager and I do that on a regular basis during our morning huddles, right? Because we’re talking about a car and I’ll bring up the inspection and I’ll look at it right then and there, right? Hey, what about this? How come you missed that? We talked about this. What’s going on?
Bill Connor (25:16):
If there’s certain things in your process that you view with your staff as non-negotiable, they just have to be done and other things that you give them options on
Frank Scandura (25:27):
The process itself is kind of negotiable. Shop owners, raise your hands if this is true, you come out with saying, we’re going to do this from now on, and you walk away and it gets done for a few days and then stops, and the reason it stops, you’re not really sure because you’re not having open communication back and forth. The reason it stops is there was a roadblock, there was something that wasn’t understood. There was a problem that no one had clarity on because you come in here and just point your pointing finger at everybody saying this is how you’re going to do it from now on, and then they stop doing it. Then we blame the staff, right? These guys never listen. They never do what I tell you to do. It’s like running an adult daycare and whose fault is it? It’s my fault if that’s what’s going on. So by having an open communication, this is the goal I’m trying to accomplish. What say you? What’s your feedback? That’s a great idea. Okay, let me consider that. And then getting that feedback allows me to write a process that everybody’s got a little bit of saying that will actually work and it’s got to be flexible in the future. Look, we’ve noticed that we thought this is the way we’re going to do it, but it’s not working. What do we need to change? Go ahead, Mike.
Mike Holmes (26:39):
I can’t echo what Frank just said. When that technician has some input and then he sees it on the electronic screen and the one in the stall next to him, he brags about it. Well, that just drives the other one. Well, I’m not going to let him out do me? We know our techs are very competitive and it’s not always financially where they are. It’s sometimes just that bragging that they can hang it on their hat. But if when they come to you with some suggestion, if you vet it, look at it and it works, go for it. Use it. Everything in these inspections is very changeable, adaptable. We don’t want to overcomplicate it.
The more you complicate it, then the less they buy in. But I was probably the hardest one to get to change over and I’m the one that’s let it fall down to where we’re not sending them back and looking at what I’m going to do to get it back to where it should be, and I’m going to do away with a bunch of options that they have and start over at square one or not at square one, but with the product that’s there and put ’em back in place because the economy’s going to change. We’re going to slow down somewhere along the line I’m sure, and we need to be prepared for that again, where when it does happen, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel, then it’s already there ready for us.
Frank Scandura (28:04):
Bill Connor (28:04):
Interesting comment, yeah, there’s an interesting comment that come in from that that said, true buy-in starts with the why. As long as the riders understand the why, then they will do the what?
Frank Scandura (28:19):
I agree, absolutely. Yeah. And it’s not uncommon for me to look at a repair order recommendation from a technician and the service advisor has questions and his question could be answered if he asks the technician why, right? Because when you call the customer, you go blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, $952, blah, blah, blah, because that’s all they hear. They need to know the why so they can understand, right? Customers don’t buy parts and pieces. If you guys are still selling brake hazard and rotors stop, you’re selling a complete brake service for an axle brake service and it includes the cleaning and the greasing and the inspecting and this and that, and it’s only $1,147 and 22 cents, and that includes our three year warranty, Mr. Jones. So the why is really important and don’t sell parts and pieces. People don’t buy parts and pieces until you present it to them. Then they go, oh gee, I wonder if I can get my steak cooked somewhere else if I brought it in. You’re muted.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (29:25):
Not anymore listening to you. I would say then work orders and invoices are written the wrong way.
Frank Scandura (29:33):
I would almost agree. Yeah,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (29:36):
Because everything is about what part is we placed with what amount of work instead of what does it fix,
Frank Scandura (29:44):
Which is what I love about the way my invoices are because it’s got what we did front brake service and a little description of all the little details of that and a price for it. There’s no labor, there’s no parts, there’s no total. It’s the price for the job.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (30:00):
I would go a step further and say, here’s the result we are trying to achieve and this is what we have to do to get there. Or here’s the symptom we are fixing, and then you explain. So turn it around in the order and write it in the way that the customer understands instead of saying, we have to do this, and that is bold and that’s the biggest fund on the invoice. That’s just the fine print with the price next to it. I mean maybe I’m too outlandish here, but with that logic, you would probably get a lot more motorists understand and not immediately get focused. Oh, it’s too expensive. Oh, this is going to be solved. That’s so much better.
Frank Scandura (30:49):
That’s the way, I dunno. And I love doing that because the worst thing a service advisor could do is tell the customer, oh, bad news, you need a transmission. Good news, Uwe. It’s just the transmission. And they have one in stock in California can have it here in a couple of days. You’ll have your car by Friday. Big difference in the presentation and how the customer feels about it.
Bill Connor (31:14):
So when you going to make a change in your, so when you’re going to go ahead and make a change in your shop, let’s go ahead and take that. You’re going to go ahead and start your shop down the path of going to digital inspections. Unlike what you did initially of going ahead and throwing the tablets to ’em and saying that, Hey, go ahead and do this. How would you start the process? And do you go ahead and prepare them in advance saying that here in about three or four weeks, we’re going to start changing the digital in it. How would the process look differently today than when you did it years ago?
Frank Scandura (31:51):
I have a very, very dedicated process writing system now. I don’t use all caps in 28 font anymore when I’m trying to make a correction in the shop, Bill’s got a little grin because you’re just screaming at people. Having those regular meetings allows those discussions to come up. I did an exercise this summer where I sent blindly to all of my staff. If you owned this company, what was one thing you would change? And I was fortunate to not get a whole bunch of, well, here’s all the crap that’s wrong. Change it all is very, very refreshing to see, but it’s being accountable to yourself, holding your team accountable, being the leader, right? Mike was mentioning early, asking for opinions and ideas. As soon as you say, well, that’s the dumbest thing I ever heard. Who else has a suggestion? Just washes it for everybody, right?
And zero in on your one guy or gal that’s very, very quiet and never speaks up at the meetings. I’ve got one of those. He’s an incredible introvert and I never knew that until I pulled him aside and says, okay, you never speak up, you never did this, you never do that. But when things go wrong, you’re vocal. What’s going on? Oh, I just don’t want to get anybody in trouble. I don’t want to say anything. And okay, good. Let’s talk privately then if that’s what we have to do. And now that person’s able to speak up in a meetings, he knows he’s not going to read any retribution.
Mike Holmes (33:19):
If I knew tomorrow we were going to talk that a month ago, I would just start having Zoom meetings once a week and say, Hey, this is what I’m thinking. Tell me what you think about it and introduce a little bit more. And then whenever I did put the iPads out, it would already have some of their thoughts and suggestions in it so they could see the difference it did make and also the difference they made as well as what if they didn’t like what they did, you could change it. I think that’s what they love is to see a suggestion or something that is immediately effective and it’s immediately done instead of running it up the chain or well, we got to see or it won’t do it or we can’t do that. Whenever they have a suggestion and you make it and they see it implemented, I think that carries a ton of weight that they are valuable and that you value their input.
Frank Scandura (34:16):
Very true. It’s a good point. Value our people. We’re having a shift in the labor market. Labor’s got the power now for a long time we had it avalanche. Sorry,
Mike Holmes (34:28):
A shift or an avalanche.
Frank Scandura (34:30):
Well, yeah, it’s more like a tsunami and we’ve got to start raising our prices. We’ve got to start increasing. Our pay technicians have been grossly underpaid for decades, at least a hundred years. For some reason people think auto repair is negotiable and it’s not. It shouldn’t be. So the shift in power is changing and we need to really start showing appreciation and we really need to start paying the wages that they’re due. And my philosophy is, Mr. Conner, we’re going to fix your car correctly no matter what it costs you, right? Because it can’t, it’s not my car, not my monkey, not my circus. It can’t be my problem. And it may sound cruel and harsh, but at the same time I know who’s in need and a lot of people don’t notice about us, but we try to give away at least one car a year and we find a car that the customer doesn’t want. We get it fixed up, but we work through a charity 1-800-CHARITY cars and we get those cars to people in need who truly deserve regard. So it’s not always about the money, but I can’t be emotional about the transaction based on especially someone else’s poor financial decisions. Can’t be my problem.
Bill Connor (35:50):
What are some of the most important changes you made that actually made your team successful as you’re going down through this process,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (35:59):
Bill? I don’t want to derail it, but I want to make, ask one question. There’s a bomb exploding next to me here. It’s all about production. And when you introduce something new, you have to, I think, go into with the mindset it’s going to get worse before it gets better. So you have to give your self time and your team to adjust to something new. How do you account for that? How do you motivate that? How do you do that?
Frank Scandura (36:48):
You have to start in the, while they’re looking for a job, part of the process, and you have to make it part of the interview process. You have to talk about your culture. You have to talk about your core values. We’ve got to sign, I don’t know, 30 inches, 28 inches tall in the conference room, core values and core principles of this company. So when the employees are in there, whether the training or they’re in there for a meeting or they’re doing reviews or whatever, they’re constantly reminded of our core values and our core principles. It becomes part of the entire process.
So it’s really about setting the culture standard from the beginning. Then let’s go back to accountability. We had a guy we hired sounded really good. We did all the interview process. It’s usually two or three weeks process to vet somebody. The first car he put wheels on, he left the wheel bolts loose. The second car he worked on, he left the oil cap off and the dipstick out on top of the hood and we’re like, no, we’re done. Pack your stuff, you’ve got to go. This is not the standard of quality that this shop stands for. And you would think being new, you’d be so terrified he wouldn’t make any mistakes. And that’s usually what happens. So if you’re new and you’re making those mistakes now, then we’re done. So it’s accountability, core values and the culture of your company Bill to really set the stage.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (38:17):
So you would tell your team, I’m aware that we might suffer in production, but we introduce something new and we give ourselves a week or two or four or whatever it takes just upfront in the communication.
Frank Scandura (38:30):
Absolutely, yes. You
Mike Holmes (38:37):
Have to assure your team that during that learning process, it’s not going to jeopardize, I don’t know a better way to put it. Their pay, it is not going to affect them, that you’re willing to make sure that you stand behind them and stand up. And if it’s a learning process that hurts financially that you’re going to make the adjustment if you need to. And I think another thing is now we need to teach our technicians. So we need to get the young guys in the shop and we need to teach ’em the correct way. And that way you can build your own tech. It’ll take five years and we’re going to have to invest the time as shop owners in that to get texts back in the
Frank Scandura (39:28):
It is, it’s going to take time. And Ken Andersen, if you wrote in the chat, always include your team to make it a cohesive team. It may take some time at the end, the results are well worth it. And that is really, really true. When you’ve got that black cloud, a guy that comes in every day and kicks the dog and he’s constantly complaining and nothing’s ever right, my life’s miserable and we’re all going to die and it’s all your fault. Many shop owners go, man, that’s my top producer. I just got to put up with it. And the truth is, he’s got to go right? He’s got to go. If you want your shop at that level of creativity, if you want that shop, your shop at that level of teamwork, if you want that culture and that reputation of really making a difference in the community, it really starts by saying no to that kind of negativity. Every one of my team two weeks ago, I think it is now, got a book called The Power of Positive Thinking, and they’re expected to read it and I will ask them in the next meeting, next week’s meeting, okay, where are you guys at? Who’s done with the book? And then I know who really cares about making a change in life.
Mike Holmes (40:42):
Frank, I got to echo also that I have to be willing to make that change too. I have two ladies in my office combined have been there 55 years. When they come in, if I make a decision and think that we’re going to do that, when they come in and say, no, that’s not going to work. I better sit and look at it and I better let them give them an opportunity to tell me because they’re seeing it differently from the outside than I am. And normally they’re right. I have to make that change. And when I do, I say, well, I apologize. You were right. Thank you for bringing that to me and giving them the latitude to give me those things, which goes all through your culture. The entire shop, every technician, even to the guy that sweeps the floor can come and say, Hey, I need a new broom. You got to support him. If he gets out of hand, then you can do it. But most of the time not, he’s not going to come ask you something unless he’s pretty sure that he knows what he’s talking.
Frank Scandura (41:42):
And at the same time, and you’re absolutely right, and I completely agree, but at the same time, make sure you understand why they say it won’t work. By coaches shop who tried to raise their labor rate $10 an hour, their average ARO is about three hours. So we’re looking at a $30 bump on average in their ticket prices, and a service advisor freaked out. So there’s no way customers are going to pay that much. You can’t do that. Oh my god, we’re going to go out of business, we’re all going to go somewhere else. That’s a problem, right? That’s a heart problem. You should be good enough to charge a fair price to be able to make a living as a shop owner and pay good living for your team. So you got to be aware of where that comes from
Bill Connor (42:26):
And you want to have a decent nest profit at the end of the day also. So it’s not about just swapping dollars and paying everybody well, you got to have that net profit at the end.
Frank Scandura (42:35):
Yeah, because I’ve got millions of ideas. I’m a visionary. I can say, oh, 97 things then and go do it. Everybody looks at me like how? Right? So we’ve got to sit down and work out the details and then things like, I want to pick up and deliver all the cars. I don’t want people to have to come in, okay, fine, you’re going to have to hire 97 people. I’m going to pay ’em this much. It’s going to cost that much. You really want to do that? Oh, maybe not, right? So you’ve got to bring me down to earth sometimes. And then where’s that middle ground? What can we actually implement in all these crazy ideas?
Bill Connor (43:07):
So can we go ahead and go into what were the most important changes that you made to make yourself, your shop successful? Going digital, anything that kind of stands out that you’ve totally done different from the way you did before that actually turned your guys into superstars,
Frank Scandura (43:24):
Replaced some of the guys that wouldn’t change. I had a guy for to save his life, could not open the company email, the check emails, right? Couldn’t understand why are we using auto automotives? What was wrong with paper? We shouldn’t do it. We shouldn’t do it. We shouldn’t do it. We shouldn’t do it. We shouldn’t do it. And it just got to the point where, here’s the direction we’re going. You have to decide right here, right now if you’re coming with us or not, because it’s really easy to have your staff who’s not on board and doesn’t understand the vision, push really hard on why it’s not going to work. We’re all going to die if you make us do it.
And I had to do that with a few people. And it was hard, right? Because people with a long time and nothing breaks my heart more than the thought of a grown man going home, tell his wife, I just lost my job. So it shouldn’t be a surprise to him. Never should fire anybody out of banker. They should understand what’s coming. But it really comes down to it’s again, accountability and leadership. I think those are really the key values here that really make a difference. I could have very easily allowed him to do it his way, but then how do I get anybody else to do it my way? There’s the Frank way and it’s been proven over and over again. It works pretty good. So sometimes you just got to replace people, Bill.
Mike Holmes (44:56):
I think if you look at those, their culture wasn’t right for your shop to start with. We probably knew that, but just didn’t recognize it or take, didn’t step up to what we needed to do and change that culture. Sometimes you can’t change the culture. You can try all you want, but sometimes people have to be a boss the second time before they’re a good boss. They have to be good employee the second time for they’re good employees. And those the, that’s the tough thing to do is send them home. Absolutely. But you are actually doing it for them as much as you are you whenever you make that decision.
Bill Connor (45:37):
So when you changed the process to go ahead and have your service advisors send the inspection results and have the customer look ’em over and then call you back, how would that change go in your shop? And did you have some non-believers when you first did it?
Frank Scandura (45:55):
When we very, very first started actually measure it and implement it. I think everybody is an unbeliever in something new. What’s the most hated thing in people’s lives? Change. What’s the most constant thing in people’s lives change. So you have to just teach them. Change isn’t always bad. Sometimes change is good and you have to figure out, some people are just terrified of confrontation and they see things as being confrontational when they’re really not. When a customer says, oh my god, 3000 bucks, you’re out of your mind. Well, does that mean Go ahead, Mr. Jones. You can’t take it personally.
Bill Connor (46:47):
Their vehicle though. And they’re entitled to know the condition it’s in and it’s our responsibility to give them that. So sometimes we have to change that mindset
Mike Holmes (46:56):
And Bill, you’re absolutely right, but when you send that inspection to ’em, they see the pictures, they see that they’ve taken the time to note what’s wrong and it explained to it, it makes it a lot easier when it’s time to actually sell that service and tell ’em why they need it, what the benefit is. Because there again, the why and what is the two questions that are there lumen in everybody’s mind. And if you get past that, usually the price is not a big issue. I mean, how many times have we called somebody? We put off calling, we didn’t want to tell ’em it was going to be 5,000 bucks for the transmission. And you call ’em and they say, oh, is that all I thought it was going to be worse? So you can never ever make a decision for your customer and never underestimate what their need is. It may be an emotional attachment with that car and money doesn’t matter, but to qualify your customer is at the beginning is the wrong thing to do.
Bill Connor (48:01):
You find that by sending the customer the right content during the right part of the buying cycle, that the customers no longer have the feeling that you’re selling them. They’re actually calling you and saying, Hey, based on what you just told me, I think we need to do this, this, and this.
Frank Scandura (48:22):
I didn’t understand that. What do you mean?
Bill Connor (48:25):
So when you send the information to the customer and let the content go ahead and explain things to the customer, do you find the service riders aren’t really having to sell anything? All they’re doing is responding to what the customer has discovered?
Frank Scandura (48:41):
I don’t find that the case. Go ahead, Mike.
Mike Holmes (48:44):
I think at that point you’re answering questions. They have a question because hopefully that information has taken a lot of the stress away from what they’re anticipating and they’ve had time to feel through it. I think me and Uwe one time had had a discussion about being notified whenever they had opened it to know that they had looked at it for a certain amount of time and we said, who makes that decision? How much time they need to look at it. Sometimes they’ll research it. You give ’em time and that’s fine because lots of times they can go and YouTube University and they’ve done a better job of explaining it than I am because that person has talked in layman’s terms to them. So it is not a bad thing. Occasionally it may work against you, but it is a majority of the time. I think it takes the anxiety out of it before you ever have to pick up the phone and call.
Frank Scandura (49:46):
I find that customers still needs to be educated item by item step by step. I could show them a picture of a destroyed control arm bushing and I could have perfect notes, perfect downloads, perfect circles, everything on there clearly explains it. It still doesn’t know, doesn’t mean they know what a control arm bushing is. Correct me if I’m wrong, research shows they’re not clicking on the educational videos. So I don’t find the customers are clicking on those videos and educating themselves. So it’s an important part of our process to still review the inspection. Here’s everything that’s good cards in really great shape. We’ve obviously taken care of it. Here’s a couple of things that need attention. And we give ’em an estimate for everything. If they don’t go thud on the floor, we usually get the, okay,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (50:35):
I think you
Mike Holmes (50:36):
Mentioned everything. That’s good. That’s something that we can’t omit. Whenever you take those pictures, you send them, well, we checked your air filter in. Evidently you’ve been taken care of because it’s nice and clean and the tires are in good shape. All their pressure’s correct, the oils are proper level. So that builds their confidence in you that you are watching out for ’em. But it also builds their confidence that they’re doing something right.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (51:04):
I want to answer the question. I think it’s both. If you have a chance to explain through the picture captions in layman’s terms what you see and what the fix is, you should do it because it goes back to what Mike said, it triggers the question.
Frank Scandura (51:27):
I agree.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (51:29):
The chance of becoming a professor and a lecturer and a salesman is simply too high if you just send pictures and hope they work by themselves. So there has to be a markup for the layman and it triggers the conversation. That’s basically the best measurement. If it triggers the conversation on those items, which are red and yellow, you’ve done everything. If you have to go through and explain it, you are missing an opportunity to have the motorist wanting to buy instead of being sold
Bill Connor (52:11):
When we provide the information, even if they don’t understand it, doesn’t that create the feeling in the customer that we’re being transparent, we’re giving them the information, we’re not forcing them to go hunt it down somewhere else?
Frank Scandura (52:26):
That’s correct. And I think that’s what we’re doing with good detailed inspections. Because the worst thing that can happen is they go ask mother Google and mother Google is based on what she thinks is relevant, not what I think is relevant, not what the customer may actually be looking for. Because when a customer doesn’t know what to ask, they usually ask how much.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (52:51):
I also want to comment on the educational videos because even if they’re not being watched as much as we all like to, there’s the following effect. I will never forget that I visited Larry Moore back in the days in Mountain View in his shop, and he had piles of flyers on his counter about with educational materials. And I said, Larry, do you know that nobody’s going to read this? And he said, yes, I know, but they see, they have the chance to read it and educate themselves. And that was a huge light bulb for me, super effective. And that’s how I see the educational videos also.
Frank Scandura (53:36):
And I do like them and I do want to continue to have that be a part of our process. And it could be just people’s time, right? I have the attention squirrel sometimes. Right?
Uwe Kleinschmidt (53:48):
Frank Scandura (53:49):
I’ll get an article or something. It’s like 18 paragraphs. I’m not even going to read it. Give me the meat of it real quick. Let’s make it precise and let’s get going. And
Uwe Kleinschmidt (53:58):
Maybe that’s, and it turns it, sorry. And it turns it into a question. If you have the layman’s, if you start the conversation with the notes on the pictures and you have not enough time to watch a five minute video or two minute video just to see there is a video, might prevent you from watching it because oh, I’m just going to ask the service advisor, what better engagement can you get? I mean, that’s exactly what we want.
Frank Scandura (54:26):
I love that because we’ve tried the other approach where we sent the inspection and then we sent, we have shop wear, so it lists all the recommendations with the price and people go, Nope, I’m out. And they’ll tap that one thing. They really know something about that airframe, right? And meanwhile, the radiators busted and heater hoses need to be replaced and it’s like, Nope, nope, I’m out. And we really found that it’s more effective. Go over the inspection first. Give ’em the total for everything. Then if they wanted to mull over a little more than we can send that to them and let them do their own approvals.
Bill Connor (55:01):
So speaking of time, we’ve got about three minutes left, so I want to see if we can’t go ahead and get a little bit of a summary wrap from these guys. Time has really flown by
Frank Scandura (55:10):
Bill, why don’t you put the clock on Fast forward.
Bill Connor (55:13):
Frank Scandura (55:16):
Go ahead. So
Bill Connor (55:17):
Give us a top three list of things that you would want to make sure that don’t get missed when you’re transitioning to the digital shop, or if you’re already a digital shop and you’re not having a very good response from your customers and approvals and so on.
Frank Scandura (55:33):
Thank you. Want to go first?
Mike Holmes (55:36):
Sure. I think at the very beginning, you need to get the input and value, the input you get from your staff. And then I think you need to make sure everything’s consistent from one end to the other. And I mean, I think if you do those two, the rest of it would, it’s going to be take care of itself. But you go back to maybe meetings, but then that falls into the input part. So maybe the third one would be to spend time looking over your stats to see what help and guidance they need as far as doing inspections.
Frank Scandura (56:16):
Measure, manage, measure, manage, measure, manage, right? That’s the important Bill. And start with the why do we want to do this? Why do I think this is a good idea? And I’ll throw something out there. Shameless plug. I coach shops and if you think you know it all, man, I got to find a quote. There’s a quote, I’ll get to it that you don’t know what you don’t know. My life changed when I got coached, my life changed again when I went into the 20 group. My life is now next level. I’m in a mastermind over Transformers and doing that with them. Coach Wooten said, it’s what you learn after you know it. All that sets you apart from everyone else. Okay? And anybody who knows, coach wouldn’t know. He was an incredibly influential coach and did a magnificent job. And for me to even write it down and refer to it and have it at my fingertips tells you how much that impacted me.
Bill Connor (57:21):
That’s a perfect quote for young people coming in because they normally come from the factory knowing it all. And then we just have to go ahead and modify ’em from there.
Frank Scandura (57:28):
Bill Connor (57:30):
Awesome. So we’re at the top of the hour. I’d like to thank you guys both for coming and sharing with us today. Lots of good information. I’d like to encourage people that are listening to go ahead and refer the Digital Shop Talk Radio to others in the marketplace that you probably got a neighboring shop that might could go ahead and benefit by some of the wisdom shared by these panelists and other event on there. We can be [email protected] slash radio. You can register and join live or look for us on your favorite podcast platform by searching for the digital shoptalk radio. So you have anything else to go ahead and add before we go ahead and close out?
Uwe Kleinschmidt (58:09):
Yeah, I would like to add one thing which was mentioned, but I really want to repeat it. Repeated. The culture of continuous improvement is the way to go, right? We are never done. There is no, oh, I’m now a digital shop. There’s nothing else to be done, right? No, there’s always something. And by encouraging the team to contribute and give them the results rather quickly, take the input seriously, change whatever needs to be changed incrementally. This is golden, right? Golden. Because everybody stays in that mode and it never ends. That’s the change.
Bill Connor (58:57):
Awesome. So build a culture of rapid continuous improvement and that’s the golden message.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (59:03):
Yep. For me guys, thank you
Bill Connor (59:07):
For everybody. It should be thank you guys. We sure appreciate it.
Frank Scandura (59:11):
Have a
Uwe Kleinschmidt (59:12):
Great day. Thank you.

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