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Rebecca Levey brings a unique experience to this week’s podcast. She calls two places her home, one in Alaska and one in Texas, and she spends time in both places during the year while running her shop in Alaska. She is going to share with us how Trust and Accountability made this hybrid mode possible and how it produces outstanding results.

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):
So good morning, good afternoon. I’m Bill Connor and you’ve reached the Digital Shop Talk Radio where we gather on Wednesdays at 12 o’clock central to have our panelists share what’s going on in their shops with you. Today I am here with Rebecca Levey, owner of Metropolitan Garage. Rebecca has been so kind enough to join us before and has joined us again today. Also, we’ve got AutoVitals founder, Uwe Kleinschmidt with us here today as usual. So today join us to learn about Rebecca’s unique experience in this week’s podcast. She calls two places her home, one in Alaska, one in Texas, which that’s a heck of a commute, but we’ll learn more about that here in just a little bit. And she spends time in both them places during the year while running her shop in Alaska, she’s going to share with us how trust and accountability made this hybrid mode of operation possible and how it produces outstanding results for her shop and her team.
Join our panelist shop owner as they share their impressive track record and explore how they transformed their shop on are still doing so today. Listen to how the industry has changed and how they’re going to continue to change along with it. As always, teamwork is required in the shop to provide great results. You’ll take away some tips today to put the power of team culture and combining the use of digital metrics for accountability. As always, you’ll learn from our guest panelists who operates shops just like yours. So if you wouldn’t mind, how about getting us started?
Uwe Kleinschmidt (01:32):
That was a mouthful. Let me first digest what you just said. So thank you Rebecca. I’m really glad you could make it after last week. Didn’t work out, but I think it’s for the better because we can dive into more details and tools as you talked about them in the pre-meeting as an intro. I would just say lots of this podcasts we have done talk about the transition of the industry and it seems like the shops with outstanding results, and when I say outstanding, I mean results which were not deemed possible five years ago, whether that’s hours per O or revenue per employee or those things. And it comes down to shop culture and tools used, if I may say that.
And you have a very, how would I call that advanced system in so far that I don’t want to take anything away, but you pay your employee salary. I don’t know. I know a handful of shops who do that, right? So that’s a very bold move, but it seems to pay off and I would really love you to talk about it, how you came up with that. And obviously it’s working out otherwise you wouldn’t keep doing it. But let’s just start at the beginning. If you could talk a little bit about where’s your shop size specialty, a OO hours per employees. Maybe we stopped there.
Rebecca Levey (03:42):
Okay, thanks Uwe, and thanks Bill. Yeah, so you guys have set the bar really high. As a shop owner, I don’t feel super unique. I fix cars. I will say that maybe I’m unique in that I absolutely love what I do and I’m passionate about customer service. Cars are fun too. My real love is tires, to be honest. I can evangelize about car safety and tires all day long, but I won’t take your time doing that. So maybe the most effective thing for me to do is to share a little bit about the shops so people listening can compare and kind of see where I fit. And so people will know whether or not what I do is even relevant to their model. So the shop now, our shop now we have five techs and we have four office staff that support those technicians. As far as the work that we do, Fairbanks is highly seasonal. I think the harsh weather conditions, they do produce a workload that oscillates. So as far as average, we see between 20 and 40 cars a day.
And the intensity of that is something that we have that we have to deal with. As you can imagine, the shop started over 20 years ago and we started a lot of shop owners do my business partner bench pressing transmissions on a creeper with cars on a jack stand and in a neighborhood working for everyone in the neighborhood. And so we had transparency and trust in the bag and that kind of has been our mo and we have fought to maintain that the entire time as the business has grown, if that makes sense. So transparency and trust and all the tools that we’ve developed along the way have really been tools to serve that purpose, to maintain the transparency and trust. When you come pick up your car from somebody’s garage and their kids are running around and there are chickens in the shop and it’s dinner time, you trust that person inherently and to get that same feel and commitment out of employees and your community is what we’ve gone for and what we’ve achieved even by scaling.
So along the way. So I’m going to try and cram 20 years into this hour and I want to look at the high points. And Bill, please chime in. I know you’ve run a lot of shops and you’ll have really probably good insight and maybe you can stop me every once in a while and ask questions. I’ve only been a part of three shops and I’ve only run two. And I’ll say the first shop I was a part of, I ran parts for, I was in graduate school and I ran parts for a guy and he taught me a lot about how to not run a shop.
The main thing he taught me was that a shop is an organism all unto itself. And what an owner gets out of that when that organism is taken care of, when it’s fed, watered, nurtured, if there’s anything left over, that’s what the owner gets. And that was the first principle really of business ownership that I understood is that the business is an entity unto itself and there is no such thing as profit if the business isn’t capitalized and if the business isn’t nurtured. So that’s the first thing I learned. The second thing, really big transition that we made, and I’ll say transition and very quickly define transition for everyone, auto repair has somehow morphed into the retail sector and the entire 20 years has been actually rescuing it, putting it back into the service model, commoditizing what we do is what we’re about. We’ve had to figure out how to make that profitable. So that’s the transition that I want to talk about and I hope that’s clear. Is that clear Bill?
Bill Connor (08:43):
Yeah, it sure is. And like I said, that’s part of delivering a safe, comfortable, dependable vehicle rather than herding people in and out like cats.
Rebecca Levey (08:53):
And the idea of selling work, I think the industry has become so comfortable with the idea of selling work and that’s not a service. We’ve commoditized a relationship and service is a relationship. So how do we get paid for the relationship? And that’s the transition. So the focus,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (09:20):
I have so much to talk about just with this topic because I just don’t know, I don’t want to interrupt you. Maybe I’m just challenging you with a few questions and then we see what happens. So number one, it’s not a good witness statement. Lots of shops don’t even sell the work because they sell parts and wrap the work around it. Just look at your work order, work order never describes as a job what the outcome of doing the job is. It always describes replace part, right? You haven’t seen
Rebecca Levey (10:14):
My work orders,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (10:16):
But I’m talking about
In general, right? Yeah, sure. And motorists see that and say, oh, so the important thing is the part, how can I get that cheaper because I seem to pay a lot of money for it. So it is triggered by the communication because it starts with a work order which becomes the invoice. That’s number one. Bill and I have talked about, we might introduce a different namespace, so the motorist language is different than the technician language. That’s a lot of work, but I think it will pay off. Second thought, we all have started experience super transparency with online purchasing and it hasn’t stopped at the service business, whether it’s auto repair or not. So I believe a better phrasing would be we have to accept that people love the transparency in online research because it’s on their time and their control. That’s a huge value, but enrich it and instead of having people look for 17,000 answers in a Google search, they get the online answer from their trusted repair shop. So it is still super transparent and online and runs the risk of being compared. That is what you refer to as we are going into retail and commoditization. It’s the comparison of price, but well,
Rebecca Levey (12:10):
Yes and no. I think you and I maybe are not talking about Exactly. So let’s go back and may I challenge you, Eva? I love a good check. Yes, sure. So I’ll challenge you back. So let’s go back to that. Things start with the work order. They actually don’t start with the work order, they start with scheduling the appointment and when you schedule the appointment, that’s where the relationship begins. And obviously the relationship may have begun before that with the neighbor who mentioned you or with the review that they read, right? Oh yeah,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (12:43):
A hundred percent agree. Yeah.
Rebecca Levey (12:45):
So it’s the relationship that is the important thing and the trust starts there.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (12:52):
Oh, I’m not disagreeing with you. What I’m saying is when it comes to the money, there’s an invoice and there’s a number at the end of the invoice and then you see what you pay for and that’s the list on the invoice. It’s all wrapped around parts.
Rebecca Levey (13:11):
Uwe Kleinschmidt (13:11):
I think that’s wrong because it should be exactly the other way around. Parts are not the focus parts, it’s just a means to an end, right? So I think we agree.
Rebecca Levey (13:22):
Yeah, we do agree. Parts should be at the end of the invoice and they are. Yeah. So I think we’re agreeing. If you go to a therapist, which is a service industry, you go to a therapist, you are going to pay for the service that you get.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (13:40):
Rebecca Levey (13:41):
And healing is the result. We’re no different. We’re healing people all day long and that’s the service. That’s what we’re paying for. We’re not selling diseases, we’re not selling fear, we’re not selling decay of matter. So yeah, so I agree with you and I have demonstrated, right? We can talk philosophy all day long. The exciting part is we’re all scientists, so we’re going to make hypotheses and we are going to use our shops as our labs and we’re going to see what works. And it’s fun to me having been in this for a couple of decades to see what has worked, and that’s kind of what I want to share today is that transformation. So getting back to the transformation from retail to the service industry and changing the focus, how does that affect the way that you approach your clients? How does it affect the way that you approach your employees?
How does that affect the way your culture has to change? So those three things I think. And what tools do you use to progress? Exactly. Exactly. So let’s go back to one other. The next shift in our thinking and our culture. We went to a four day work week. That was the next big shift, and it was for work-life balance. Mechanicing is a physical exercise, customer service at the level you have to serve people in an industry where things are scary and usually a grudge purchase. That’s heavy work that our customer service, the front office is dealing with a lot. So cramming that into four tens. So that work-life balance, it just made it so people are fresh. It made it so for our employees it was actually a move to take care of employees and we had to see if the bottom line could sustain it. You’re giving up one fifth perhaps of your productivity. Are techs capable of really putting in a 10 hour day physically?
Bill Connor (16:20):
To be clear on this, you’re actually working a four day week period versus a shop that would run a schedule of four days per employee and still open six days a week.
Rebecca Levey (16:32):
Exactly. We’re open only four days. So that building is, the building is empty or has techs happily working on their side jobs. Those are the three days. So that was one leap that we made in order to focus on employees so that they could be really healthy and really happy. And we didn’t know if it was going to work that I don’t even know that was 12 or 15 years ago and everyone would quit if I suggested going back to a five day week or heaven forbid, a six day week. It works now that let’s talk about trust and accountability. I had to trust that my techs were going to take that week seriously and we’re going to actually take care of themselves to the point that they could physically put in that time. It is a luxury in America to work only four days a week. And so I had to trust them. I also had to hold them accountable. I was concerned about the accountability, but it’s interesting, it hasn’t had to be a concern because they are really happy working huckle de buck 40 hours a week. So that’s one demonstration that we made. We didn’t know we were filled with anxiety about whether or not it would work, whether or not people would kind of morph into a 36 hour week. That didn’t happen. Everyone’s there between 40 and 42 hours.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (18:13):
And can I ask you a question? Yeah. At that time, were you paying already salary or
Rebecca Levey (18:22):
Uwe Kleinschmidt (18:22):
You were hourly with bonus or even flat rate?
Rebecca Levey (18:26):
We were flat rate.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (18:27):
Wow. Yep. Okay.
Rebecca Levey (18:30):
So they really had to cram, they had to cram everything into that. So anyway, so that worked and it was anxiety ridden for us because we didn’t know if not having that Friday was going to cut down our clientele if they would be unhappy with having to fit their repair into four days. And it hasn’t impacted it. The business just continued to grow. So that’s one thing about the culture, right? Focusing on the employees. And we’ve done a lot of things along the way that focus on employees. But in the interest of time, let me morph to the next big kind of change that we made in the next big change is going from owner operator to owner. And I want to talk about that. I think it might be something that a lot of shops are thinking about and it’s a really scary thing to pull back from the management and operation of your own shop because you’re really worried about your values, you’re really worried about productivity, you’re really worried about maybe the laziness of human nature.
So what we did was we did go over to a salary and offered salary to people plus what is called a profit share. And the profit share is based on the total productivity of the team and each team member. My KPI is all individual. I couldn’t tell you what the ARO is. It’s not a KPI that I use. It’s not useful or important to me. The KPI that we use are each individual has a target hours that they want to see in their bay. So all five of my techs have their target hours. Those target hours are assessed and revisited at least quarterly, sometimes more often. And I have to make a plug for you. And Bill AutoVitals has really been key to the tax ability to watch their own productivity. It’s a tool. And you talk about the fist fight of going digital, the resistance of going digital and it is a real thing. And if you want me to, I’ll talk about what we did to overcome that. It’s kind of an interest story. But once techs actually see those, they see the tools in front of them to track their productivity. It’s interesting. They use it, they use it, they see it, and it really helps with management and with their supportive team members in the front to make sure that those numbers are happening with the scheduling, with the approvals.
And it helps with technicians, even their humility because they might have target hours and after a few quarters they’re just not getting those target hours. And you can assess with your tee times, is it waiting for parts? Are they on the tool truck? Are they on a break anyway? So let’s get back to a salary. So on salary it’s an offer and I offer them salary or if they want to play the game for build hours, they can totally play the game. And what happens is, and what has happened is people really enjoy the consistency and they enjoy the commitment on my part because if things are slow, if I can’t get the work in the door, I’m taking responsibility for that. They’re getting paid anyway. Whereas they were married to me before if it was slow in the winter and in Fairbanks we have desperately slow times.
And so those were times they had to plan to eat beans and francs because the work didn’t come in the door. This way I’m actually taking responsibility, a great deal of responsibility in the relationship to provide for them during the slow times. And that creates a bunch of trust. It’s just inherent. Now I’m trusting them. Part of the contract, and it is written, part of the contract is they have a commitment to the business of 40 hours. If the work’s there, they have a minimum of 40 hours to produce in that bay. And I was concerned, it’s interesting, I’ve never once had to speak to any of them about that because never once have they dipped below their minimum, nor is there any indication that they are not actually working as hard as they possibly can because that’s just who they are. And the profit share, it’s a team, it’s a team thing. It’s based on the team on the hours that the building produces and their work contributes to that overall profit share. So it’s interesting, it’s actually those individuals are as profitable or more profitable under that structure than they were under straight build hours.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (24:22):
How do you specialize? Do you have Aex, BTEX, C Tex, GS or how does that work?
Rebecca Levey (24:30):
I have only master techs. There’s no cheap oil change at my shop.
And another thing that I’ve done is I require full master certifications, a SE certifications, not because I believe in the certification itself, but because it’s another trust building, it’s a two-way investment. I pay for those tests and I require them to get them and keep them because it makes them marketable. They can leave my shop at any time and they know it and they know that I know it. And so the responsibility is on me to create a work environment that I’m so confident in that I know I can attract technicians. So it’s a commitment and it builds trust on both of our parts. So I know that my techs are free to leave at any point.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (25:35):
Can I ask you another question about scheduling work? Yeah. If they’re all master techs, can everybody do everything?
Rebecca Levey (25:47):
No, I mean we’re all individuals and there are definite strengths. I have a production manager who is, he’s a genius diagnostician, and so he is responsible for the quality for the diagnoses that go out and getting rid of, this is the other thing, getting rid of the competitive atmosphere of build hours. It creates a collaborative atmosphere in which you have a technical institute inside your building and people are collaborating. They are really interested in puzzling things out together and they learn so much and everyone isolated in their bay and competing and really unhappy because this guy got the strut job and he’s stuck with the problem. It turns that around and the drivability problem then becomes of interest to everyone else in the building. Now it’s true. Everyone has to eat their peas and carrots because everybody has to do inspections and annuals and oil changes.
Now let’s go back to the focus on relationships. So the other part of running a shop this way is making sure that the relationships that the techs have with each other are open, are transparent, are clear, and making sure that the technicians have relationships with the customers. These technicians, they love to see cars more than once they have their vehicles that they enjoy seeing and that they actually take care of. And when you have that level of investment, what it does to workflow is really interesting. Now, back to relationships. I don’t have service advisors, I don’t have an estimator, I don’t have a parts person. I have, I’ll coin the phrase which was invented by one of my staff is project managers. The construction industry has them. So the four people who support my techs are project managers and they take a client from the appointment scheduling all the way to handing the keys back to them at the end. So this project manager is responsible for the relationship with his vendors, with all of the parts providers. He’s responsible for the relationship with the technician and with the client. He’s responsible for making sure that client’s going to be by their phone so he can get the approval so he can maintain his relationship with his technician. Does that make sense? He’s also responsible for maintaining really stellar relations with the vendors. As you all know, having a good relationship with your vendor right now is the key to workflow.
And then how do we give the tools to our front office staff to maintain these relationships? And this is where trust and accountability come in. So I promise tools. So let me talk about tools. Now before you
Uwe Kleinschmidt (29:22):
Do that, I’m still confused. I’m not clear where the production manager and where your project manager interface,
Rebecca Levey (29:37):
Where they interface.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (29:39):
Yes. If you could explain, because in the project manager implies you are also doing the scheduling, which begs another question. Do they look at the five texts as a big pool or do they have assigned texts to each? There will be one question and the other is where’s the interface between production manager and project manager?
Rebecca Levey (30:07):
So let’s address the first one, dispatch. So dispatch is a one person is in charge of dispatch to a degree. Dispatch is now shared. All those four people have to take a turn at dispatch.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (30:24):
Oh, I see.
Rebecca Levey (30:27):
Dispatch has been the senior member of the advising team who knows the texts the best. But now true to the AutoVitals model, if somebody gets hit by a bus and your business goes down, that’s not a good model. So we took a page out of that book and having everyone take a whack at dispatch has changed the team culture because it’s given everyone perspective on those technicians. So yes. So primary dispatch there is someone who takes responsibility for dispatch during the week
Uwe Kleinschmidt (31:05):
And you rotate every week or you rotate as they wish or how does it work?
Rebecca Levey (31:09):
No, now it’s right now it’s one week a month is going to a junior advisor. Yeah. Anyway, there are just so many benefits to it
Uwe Kleinschmidt (31:22):
Of course.
Rebecca Levey (31:23):
And then the production manager, how does the production manager fit in? He’s actually the person, if a service advisor has a question about a diag and wants to verify it, he’ll go to the production manager or he’ll ask the tech to go to the production manager. So it’s a matter of checks and balances to really ensure, because the front office are so interested in never acting outside their integrity, we’re used to pinpointing diags and really offering that and they’re very confident in charging as a result, the emotional desire for people to give discounts because this is what we do, is really expensive. I found that the security that my front office staff have in our diags, it means they can actually charge what it costs. And I don’t struggle with people who have the desire for, they charge harder than I would or can because I have an emotional component to it, if that makes sense. So the projection manager fits in that way. He is responsible for all diags in the end.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (32:45):
So I have seen that in Sharps in a slightly deviation that that person is also, and they refer to as the foreman, the go-to guy with a lot of experience. Yes, of course everybody collaborates, but there is often one senior person who then becomes kind of the foreman who gets most of the questions or the most difficult questions. Is that kind of your production manager?
Rebecca Levey (33:19):
It could be, but he’s also the person who is responsible for, you know what, when we install winter heaters, this is how we do it. It looks great. So it’s more than that. He’s more of a mentor.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (33:38):
I see.
Rebecca Levey (33:40):
Uwe Kleinschmidt (33:40):
Me, a foreman is a mentor, but I get it. Thank you. Let’s go to tools.
Rebecca Levey (33:47):
Yeah, so tools. So
Uwe Kleinschmidt (33:49):
Wow, we have only 20 minutes left,
Rebecca Levey (33:52):
So let’s go to tools. So let me talk about going digital and humans and habits, right? So yeah, it was awful just straight up. And what’s interesting is we did a couple things and I think the most effective thing that we did was to work on changing habits in general, not changing from paper to digital and getting at the resistance and what are the tools we use to change habits? And we did this with a hundred days challenge in the middle of winter as a team, we decided to pick something in January, which is the best time. It’s dark and cold. Everyone just wants to drink themselves to sleep at night and eat bon bonds all day. So we had everyone choose a habit that they want to build or break and in order to be a part of it, you have to pay $5 a week. It was pay to play and you’re allowed to fall off the wagon three weeks. If you fall off the wagon, you got to pay $10, you fall a wagon again, you got to pay 15 and the fourth time you’re out. And at the end of the a hundred days, whoever stayed on, we split the kitty.
The first time we did it, only one person actually stayed on and she quit smoking, which was awesome. As a part of it though, you address what is the resistance I’m experiencing when you’re doing this as a team? People talk about it. It’s brilliant. It’s brilliant, it’s open and it’s honest. And the failures, when you share your failures, when you share what your resistance is, that’s almost more important than sharing in the victories. So this last round when we did it this last year, I had one staff member quit smoking. I had two staff members quit drinking for the a hundred days. They just wanted to see what it actually felt like it had been. They’d never not drank in their memory. And one person, he lost 20 pounds and started working out another person overcame, stopped smoking. And a byproduct of that was overcoming a skin condition that she didn’t know was a part of that.
The other two of my one techs. And the interesting thing is I encourage people to choose really small goals because trying to change big things is really hard. So we focused on what do I know I can do every single day? And this one tech chose, he hates exercising, so he chose 15 minutes a day of exercise. And what’s interesting about it is he’s still exercising. It really changed his habits. Now what does that have to do with paper to digital? Well, I can draw the conclusions. I believe they’re real, but these are people who are putting different colored circles and arrows and writing notes on pictures and they’re people who wouldn’t even pick up the iPad and who insisted on the paper to who are now the service advisor asks them a question and the tech says, have you read my notes picture? So that’s how through the transition has been.
And so anyway, that’s one tool is target the resistance to changing habits. It is a bigger thing than just going digital. It’s human nature. We hate changing habits. And then it translates like those habits of in scheduling, we needed to change a habit when we schedule, whoever takes that appointment needs to annotate that they took the appointment so that when we go back into it, we know who did the initial. Just even that getting people to change that habit and do that, it’s been very difficult. And so actually on that one, I stepped in and said, I think I have to be the accountability here. And so I started grading them on their percentage of annotation every week. And it’s remained fun, it’s remained supportive and they want to actually get to a hundred percent because it’s really a relief when you’re taking appointments and the techs want that information too. But the techs are part of this change. They’re a part of this game. They’re seeing the grade that the schedulers are getting. So anyway, that’s another tool. Target habit, target resistance. Don’t target maybe the actual habit you’re trying to change, but in
Bill Connor (39:28):
General when you do this, you’re just picking one thing at a time that has a huge benefit to everybody and how you’re going to measure it. And do you assign a timeframe that you’d like to get it done on or do you go ahead and just let it happen naturally and then move on to the next?
Rebecca Levey (39:42):
No, I have a timeframe. I always have a timeframe and I always, so I make sure it’s really important when you assign a task, this is why with the a hundred days challenge, people had to say exactly what they were going to do, how they were going to do it, and they also had to come up with three strategies. What are three strategies you are going to use when you don’t want to exercise, when you want to eat that cake, when you want a cigarette? What are your three strategies? And they shared those. I had a tech who was going to walk around chewing on straws. So we all knew that he was going to have a pocket full of straws and we knew why. So I always have a timeframe. I always have a very clear, well painted task, and then I have an accountability structure that I know that I can actually keep up with. The worst thing is to assign a task that you’re unable to hold people accountable for. It’s just, it’s uncaring. Yeah.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (40:42):
It’s not a task
Rebecca Levey (40:45):
Or it’s not loving, right? It’s not affectionate. Right. Yeah. So maybe I can give some examples of problems currently that I’m targeting and the tools I’m using to target those problems. Just in the last few minutes,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (41:05):
I just want to summarize and say it with my words because what I find brilliant in that approach is actually two things. One is you take something in their personal life they always wanted to do and they experience and celebrate the victory a lot higher than anything else. The second thing is, like you said, with the straws, you get so much support because everybody has something they’re working on. The collaboration is just so instead of collectively complaining about the change, they’re collectively helping each other to meet each individual goal individual’s goal. Right. That’s brilliant. Rebecca, you should patent that.
Rebecca Levey (42:04):
I think as you said, Uwe, it’s textbook, right? There are books written about this all day long. Oh, I know.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (42:10):
Rebecca Levey (42:10):
The implementation. And what surprised me was the failures, right? People made goals and they failed at them. And the interesting thing was that everyone was in this together and the compassion, the empathy that they expressed toward the individual who failed, it was sincere and it was heartfelt, it was supportive. And so that person, there was no shame or there was no shame in which I felt really good about. I didn’t know in the beginning if there would be shame. You don’t know. You just don’t
Uwe Kleinschmidt (42:47):
Know. You take the risk.
Rebecca Levey (42:48):
Yeah. Yeah. So should I talk about some more tools on Yes, please. Today that we’re dealing with, so currently am doing some, you’re always training your employees to be leaders. That’s the goal is that everyone in that shop be leader. And I do have a parallel what I regard as a parallel structure of leadership and I model these. I model task assignment and thorough accountability. I model those things all the time knowing that that seems to be the only way people learn is through really thorough modeling. Right now there’s a problem with what I see as a problem with a sharp 8:00 AM start not an 8 0 3 start, not an 8 0 8 start. When you have a four 10 week, it’s really important that those 10 hours that they be rocking. So culturally, I have identified something that needs to be handled. How do we go about an 8:00 AM start. There are a lot of reasons, a lot of reasons that we can’t have an 8:00 AM start. And they are all good ones. They have to do with customers, they have to do with process. And I don’t know if you’re familiar with the famous James Clear quote that we don’t rise to the level of our goals or expectations. We fall to the level of our systems. And so we want to look at our systems. What is the system we have in place that makes it, so we have an 8 0 3 start.
So what we’ve done is I took $400 out of everyone’s collective profit share and I put it into $20 bills. And so now the service team has a stack of $20 bills and anytime it’s eight o’clock and a tech shows waiting for work on their TVP, the service team gets to walk back there and hand them 20 bucks. And it’s a fun game. Yes, it involves money. I don’t like to monetize things, but there’s skin in the game and at the end of it, that money, the front office is just going to get to split if there’s any leftover in there. As business owners, I put half of that in there. So I have skin in the game too. And so far it’s really wonderful. We’re green and glowing on that TVP at eight and it has changed. It changes the feel. It’s a way to address something that creeps up on us, I think. And there is an end time for this. It ends at the end of June. At the end of June, they’re going to split that pot or who knows? I don’t know. Maybe it’s going to cost me 80 bucks a week. I don’t know. So far so good though. So far. I’m not out the hole. They’re going to get to split that cash.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (46:16):
I just want to share with you other shop before giving up have created breakfast at 7 45 in your example, and then everybody’s there.
Rebecca Levey (46:31):
Makes sense. It makes sense. Yeah. So it’s just changing process and what can we do as owners to change the culture so that the individuals change their own process, right? I’m trying to change a process that’s decades old. That’s not easy.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (46:52):
No, it’s never easy.
Rebecca Levey (46:55):
And getting that willingness. Yeah. So that’s one.
Bill Connor (47:02):
Could you go ahead and we get a lot of shops that the technicians and service writers, they’re relatively reluctant to change to the digital shop. Can you take your thought process and walk them through some examples they might try with their staff based on what you just talked about
Rebecca Levey (47:21):
To make it easier to go digital,
Bill Connor (47:24):
To change the habit from paper to digital. It’s a culture shift for sure.
Rebecca Levey (47:32):
Yeah. Yeah. And I guess I’ll say it again, Bill. It’s identifying, it’s being aware enough of what the resistance is and resistance is individual. We all have our own resistance is and resistance. It doesn’t live up here unfortunately. Resistance lives way back here. And being self-aware is hard. As a leader, you actually have to be aware for that person and identify what the resistance is. I can give you examples of resistance and it’s the tiniest, really the dumbest things that creates the resistance. One is the iPad. It used to be, but you guys fixed it. I have to log in all the time.
I have to log in all the time. Well, no, A tech’s going to throw it in the corner if they have to log in all the time updates, have your service staff do all of the updates on the iPads, make sure they’re updated all the time. Your connectivity. If your connectivity isn’t rocking, your techs are going to hate that. So that’s kind of infrastructure stuff you just have to have taken care of. The other thing is walk your techs through those iPads routinely, like different functionalities. You’re going to assume that that tech is going to be looking at new functions at updates that have happened. They’re not going to assume your technicians are bumbling around in a dark cave with regard to the iPad. That has to be your assumption. And as long as that’s your assumption, and as long as you take the responsibility as a team member to walk them through the functionality of those iPads, that to me is huge because that’s where the resistance lies. It’s all about handling the resistance. It’s not necessarily about doing something new. It’s about handling resistance.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (49:48):
So let’s use a very concrete example. Techs checking off the jobs they have done to allow the front office to see progress and not yell hollow across and find out some more or less wrong information. So you addressed it individually with how to deal with resistance, but it’s still a habit to establish that you have the tablet nearby. Go on and check off. How long did it take until the tech bought into it and actually it did it.
Rebecca Levey (50:32):
Well, that’s the interesting thing because the focus is so much on relationships. Once the tech understood their relationship with the front office, this is information the front office needs and wants,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (50:47):
I owe it to them so I will do it.
Rebecca Levey (50:50):
So they have a relationship, but they didn’t understand that for a really long time. Like that community, they just didn’t have it in their heads. Oh, I need to actually clock out, tell ’em I’m on lunch so that they know because the parts that they are getting for me. And so the tee times they weren’t using, oh, I’m on the tool truck. I don’t want anyone to know I’m on the tool truck. Oh, but wait a minute, I want everybody to know I’m on the tool truck because they can be going hucklebuck on something else for me. And so I think it was that. It’s the relationships. People actually want to treat each other really well and what they want above all is great workflow. And using both the TVP, the integration between what the service advisors have and what the techs have, it creates a better workflow. Also
Bill Connor (51:51):
With that understanding of each other’s jobs come into play. Do you kind of cross train them or have meetings so that when you’re training a service advisor on how to get information from TVP, the technician understands what it’s being used for?
Rebecca Levey (52:05):
Yeah. Oh yeah. So that’s a another advantage of the pay structure, right, is because people, they don’t want to spend time educating each other and they love spending time educating each other. I don’t know if that makes sense. A tech does not want to spend time educating a new service advisor about what an EVAP sensor does, but for some reason they will drag that service advisor out into the shop and show them exactly what’s going on because they want to, because they are educators. So it is about the relationship and yeah, I don’t know how to say it in different words other than they have a relationship and they depend on each other and they want to perform for each other. And the tool of an AutoVitals as a tool makes that possible to a higher degree than we had before. And so they do educate each other.
And yes, we do have technician meetings in which people share, Hey, when I ask them, Hey, we need to be better at using tee times because they can’t trust the data. And here’s what we’re missing, Craig, you’ve been working 15 hours a day because basically your tablet kicks you out at midnight. Right, exactly. I can’t use your information and if you’re telling me, man, I’m not getting enough work, I don’t have enough data to verify that. So you need to do your part and that works. He wants to do his part. You just can’t remember. Right. Yeah.
Bill Connor (53:58):
Awesome. Cool. So we got about three minutes left. And what I’d like to do is we always do, if you can give somebody that’s listening today, maybe struggling a little bit, three solid tips that they can use to go ahead and improve their quality of life for themselves and the members of their team.
Rebecca Levey (54:19):
Uwe Kleinschmidt (54:20):
Just three
Rebecca Levey (54:23):
Tips. How about hold people accountable with affection? That’s one huge one. And then another one is know the difference between animosity and affection. And when you regard a customer or a colleague or an employee, when you have to take some corrective action or you have to implement a new strategy or you have to help them progress in any way, notice inside of yourself whether or not it’s affection or animosity that’s coloring your intention. And if it’s animosity, my advice is don’t do anything. My advice is sit tight, bite your lip until you can come up with a sense of affection. If you have a sense of affection, whatever you say is going to be the right thing and it’s going to lead you down a really good path. That’s another thing. And that tip has never failed me once. So it’s a really good one. It
Uwe Kleinschmidt (55:33):
Is a good one.
Rebecca Levey (55:36):
And I think the other thing is as a leader, make sure you’re never, ever asking someone to work outside their integrity and identify. Every individual has a sense of integrity. And when people are screwing up, a lot of times it is because they’re asked to work outside of their sense of integrity. And again, we’re not all self-aware and we have to be more self-aware than our colleagues and our employees sometimes and always, we have to be more self-aware than our customers for certain, in order to have empathy and compassion. Didn’t talk about customers at all. That’s a whole nother ball of wax.
Bill Connor (56:22):
We’ll have to have you on episode to go down that path. Right.
Rebecca Levey (56:25):
All right,
Bill Connor (56:26):
Awesome. So I’d like to thank you again for joining us here today and joining us in the past and hopefully joining us again in the future. You shared lots of information that I’m sure people will be able to take and use. I’d like to encourage those that are listening today or in the future to share this podcast or others in our digital shop talk library with some other shop owners in the area that might need some assistance. You can find them or register to join us live at the Digital Shop talk, excuse me, You can join us live, or if you prefer to listen on your drive time or where you’re on the beach, you can go ahead and look for us on your favorite podcast platform by searching for the digital shop talk radio. So once again, I’d like to thank you, Rebecca. Uwe, you have anything else you want to add before we take an exit?
Rebecca Levey (57:13):
I don’t think so. Just thanks so much. I enjoy listening all the time to what’s going on out there.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (57:21):
Thank you. Rebecca, we’re going to have you on if you don’t mind again.
Rebecca Levey (57:25):
Alright, thank you Eva. Look forward
Bill Connor (57:29):
Once again, we’d like to thank everybody. Go out there and make some money and while your customers and your staff in the meantime.

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