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All episodes this year have revealed amazing insights into what different kinds of businesses plan for 2022 in these special times. Continuing this tradition, Jeremy Neff, owner and operator of Nefs Diesel and Performance Repair, joins Bill and Uwe to share his preparation and execution for 2022.

Episode Transcript

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

Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:06):
So welcome everybody to the episode 153. My name is Uwe Kleinschmidt. I’m the CIO and founder of AutoVitals and I’m trying to fill big shoes here today because Bill couldn’t make it, but nevertheless, welcome Jeremy. Thank you for joining us in 2022. For everybody who doesn’t know Jeremy, would you mind introducing yourself a little bit and your business car count, size, location, weekly revenue, that would be great.
Jeremy Neff (00:58):
Okay. Jeremy Neff, owner and operator of Neff’s Diesel Repair and Performance here in Elko, Nevada. We started in 2008. We bought a local business back in 2008. We moved to a much larger facility we were operating out of, it was less than three quarters of an acre. The shop was 2200 square feet. That included my office, the waiting room where the service advisor met. That was the whole shop, about 2200 square feet. The shop size we’re in now is roughly 12,000 square feet. We got a room for parts, excuse me, and a 7,000 square foot dedicated just for a shop. We currently have four technicians. We have another one starting on Friday and we’re going to go up to five and then we’re going to promote our shop foreman to shop manager. I’m getting that probably a little bit later count. We have anywhere from 25 to 30 vehicles here at any given time and in various stages, whether waiting for parts, waiting for approval.
We work on fleet vehicles, union Pacific. We do a lot of ARI fleet vehicles more so people that work at the mines. We do a lot of their vehicles. The whole town, the whole county is about 50,000 people, so it’s not very big. We rely on a lot of vendors in Utah to bring in our revenue. Our owner’s break even is give or take, well it’s right around 24,000 per week, give or take a couple thousand given the parts cost that week. We primarily work on diesel pickups. We hired a gas technician last year and then we’ve ramped up that advertising and everything and it’s picked up really well. He is booked out about a week and a half to two weeks at any given time. So that’s where we’re at right now.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (03:12):
So what’s average hours per? Oh,
Jeremy Neff (03:18):
Average hours is in the neighborhood of seven to eight hours. Our average ARO is between 12 and $1,400,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (03:31):
So that’s kind of a different business than peas costs. Yeah,
Jeremy Neff (03:37):
We were finding the passenger car, the gas vehicles, the average ARO is significantly lower. So we’re trying to find a happy medium as far as how much to go after the issues found on the inspections after we addressed the main complaint estimate. So still some speed bumps, growing pains there,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (04:02):
But that’s good problems to have, right? Growing pains, yes.
Jeremy Neff (04:06):
Yeah, that means we’re doing something at least I guess instead of staying stagnant.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (04:14):
So we had in the last few weeks, panelists who had talked about 2021, what their goals were, how initiatives were started, either because of the Covid pandemic or in spite of it. And would you tell us what was 2021 for you and has the covid pandemic affected your business and if so, how and what did you do about it? So lots of questions.
Jeremy Neff (04:54):
No worries. So 2021 was absolutely crazy here because it was our first full year in our new location. We moved in December of 2020, so 2021 was kind of crazy. We had a lot of issues and stuff to figure out with the new shop. One of ’em was to find how do we find a happy medium with technicians and service writers because we went from three technicians at the old shop to five technicians and then two service advisors and a parts person here. So it’s constant battle to figure out what’s a good number. We are pretty sure we got it figured out now as far as the pandemic, when we had people quit, I had to figure out a way to attract high quality people and driven people to not just quality work. Nobody likes working with people low on the tone scale for example.
So we changed it up in September last year we went to four tens and we advertised the crap out of that and that has probably got more quality applicants than almost anything we’ve done. So basically it comes down, they’re only working half the month, they’re only working 16 days. I’m still working seven days, 12 hours a day. But we’re working in figuring that out too. The sweet spot training new technicians and or service advisors on the iPads with the AutoVitals, it’s pretty streamlined with the videos on your guys’ website as far as training. So that speeds that up. We don’t have as many steps say, here’s the paper ro, we don’t have any of that. So it’s streamlined. They get just like a chat message alerted that there’s a new vehicle or there’s a message that customer wants to know something. So that’s helped out a lot. Training new people, service advisors and technicians with that.
Yeah, that would’ve to say that the four tens is really inviting to quality people. And as far as the customer base goes, our new location is on Main Street, so we were able to put a huge sign out front and that’s helped out a lot. And then we’ve blown away customers and companies with the digital inspections as far as being able to show companies that the parts actually failed and we’re honest about it and it is needed because it shows right there in the picture. So we’ve gained probably four to five companies trust in the last year based on where we’re located. So they see the sign every day and then we back that up with the digital inspections and they really like it. So in the little town like Elko, Nevada, we didn’t notice so much of the pandemic as the rest of the world. I feel like we’re kind of in our little bubble over here. How
Uwe Kleinschmidt (08:35):
Many percent, if you can say is commercial customers, small business, big fleets?
Jeremy Neff (08:42):
So I would say at least between 50 and 60%, probably at least especially this last year, we’ve picked up a lot of local vendors that go out the mines. Yeah.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (09:01):
And do you deal with fleet managers as well?
Jeremy Neff (09:05):
No, we just mainly online with ARI Donlin. We’ve picked up an account with them. There’s no contracts, it’s just the drivers of the company say they trust us. So the company, the owner of the company say for Rise Broadband, the internet company, they started coming here because I just started telling about everything we do when they set up because we’re a hub now for them because our building location, everything. So they start bringing all their stuff in there and they like seeing everything we send to them and if there’s any issue with the fleet, then we send the inspection to the owner of the company or whoever’s in charge of their vehicles and they say, look, it’s got to be fixed. It makes it easy and speeds it up. But we don’t have any direct contact. If there’s an issue, we just call whoever is overseeing that particular ARO on their side.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (10:15):
Very cool. And how did that work? It seems like a catch 22, right? You have to first convince somebody that the digital inspection is such a great thing before they can say, oh yeah, I want to use more of your services and become a loyal customer. So how did you market the digital inspection? Is it word of mouth basically amongst your customers or what did you do?
Jeremy Neff (10:49):
If I can talk to ’em face to face, all I really do is brag on our team and then I say, look, if you try us and you don’t like it, no hard feelings. It is what it is. Be honest and let me know if you don’t like something. But if they try us, then my team here is phenomenal and they just blow ’em away. But if I can talk to ’em in person, that helps a lot.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (11:25):
I see. And I
Jeremy Neff (11:25):
Need, I’m going to get out more this next year and to the local companies and let them know how we do everything. That’s part of the goals for next year, this year I guess already.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (11:40):
And so it’s really the standard footwork. You go to customers directly, potential customers or is there something like a world away club or similar things? Often cities have an office for commerce and so you can find out who might be a good customer, but it’s footwork I assume, or is there some online thing you can do, sending emails and so on?
Jeremy Neff (12:16):
There’s a couple of ways that I should be doing it. The new customers, almost all the new customers we got last year was they’re pretty much referred. Most of them they just ask local businesses or local individuals say, where do you take your vehicle when you have issues? And they just say, well, we start taking the tennes and it’s been good. And we track that when new customers come in, if they’re referred, we have a referral program set up now that in the front lobby there we have, yeah, it was a lot set up,
Go get it, go get it.
Then we have, so the people that referred that customer, we write their names and phone number on the ticket, put it in the cooler, and then at the end of this month we’re going to draw ’em and whoever gets drawn first, they get the pick of the cooler or $500 worth of meat beef. My cousin cuts his own beef and everything out there in Ruby Valley, so he doesn’t come me a deal, which is fine. I would rather that than supportive and everything. But we’re just really fortunate that it is a small town and word just gets out slowly and it’s kind of gotten a lot bigger, but we’re pushing the referral deal more so that our customers get the money that we would be spending on advertising, if that makes sense. Prizes and whatnot. Our last one, we had a little pellet smoker that we gave away and the customer that won it, he spent a lot of money with us and he referred two other people that spent a lot of money with us. So he got double the tickets in there and he came, I never win anything, this is great. And he was super happy.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (14:15):
No, that’s awesome.
Jeremy Neff (14:18):
So the chamber of commerce, they have what they call business before hours. It’s not really before hours. It starts at eight and then they have business after hours, they do it once a month and a lot of business owners go to there and I used to go to them, but lately I can’t keep up with everything here. So for example, they got one tomorrow and they have ’em at a business. So we can actually be featured that month and we can have it catered and the business owners can actually come to our building and we can go through a little demonstration. So I’m gearing up towards, I want to do that this year. So there’s a lot of stuff we can do. We just need to get our team complete so I can have time to do that. Sounds like an,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (15:14):
Which brings up again the question for the goals and it looks like it’s all about team development and building a scalable business then spending advertising money on something, right? So that’s awesome. Those are the good problems when you grow. So tell us about what were the goals for 21 and you already hinted on 22 and how do you track them and how do you involve your team in meeting them?
Jeremy Neff (15:54):
So I listened to a lot of books on goal setting and one of ’em was it stayed with me. The higher you set your goal the better. Even if you don’t even hit it, it’s still better than setting a low goal and hitting it. So I set a goal personally for the company but didn’t tell them I set a little bit lower goal that I knew they were going to beat anyway and what we ended up doing, and I checked the numbers before meeting with you yesterday and we beat it, but the accountant still, the bookkeeper’s still inputting numbers and the last time I checked we beat it by a hundred thousand. I thought it was only by like 20, but last time I checked by over a hundred thousand we beat it. That was my goal. That wasn’t even there.
So that was one big goal and we didn’t know and I didn’t have any idea if we’re going to make it in the new shop because all the growing pains and everything we went through last year. But yeah, they did awesome. I got key players that just awesome. That’s all I can say about ’em and I really need to tell them that more in front of ’em instead of because I have a bad habit of nitpicking all the little stuff micromanaging. But yeah, that was the biggest thing that we just kept running numbers every week and we go over numbers every week in our meeting. We have weekly meetings on Wednesday, we buy the company lunch and we sit down, we go over what was good the week before, where we’re sitting this week and what we forecasted for the week we’re currently in. And I tell everybody every number, every time. So transparency is huge with team members. If you’re working for somebody you don’t know what the numbers are, then you don’t have a gold hit or aim for then, then you’re just a number basically at that point I feel
Uwe Kleinschmidt (18:09):
It becomes assembly line. Yeah. And so have you ever feel there’s going to backfire if you’re completely transparent or were you highly confident that it will work when you started it?
Jeremy Neff (18:27):
Well, there’s always that worry that what if we’re doing really good and they don’t see a bonus or whatever, but there’s all kinds of checks and balances. So what I’m working on for this year is a profit sharing bonus deal instead of a billable percentage bonus because it’s kind of like the donkey and the carrot, the donkey’s always going after the carrot and if he never gets it, then he just kind of gives out. And last year we had issues quite a few times with parts. So the technician would’ve something tore apart and we’d have to cover it up and pull it outside and then a month later push it back in and then try to remember where everything was at and that sets everyone back.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (19:26):
Jeremy Neff (19:29):
We’re trying to develop a profit sharing deal where when the company, not if the company does really well, everybody gets a piece of it, not just when, so-and-so had all the easy money jobs, all the maintenance jobs and I think that’s going to help everybody else keep everybody else on track too. That’s the goal anyway. So there’s less BSing around the morning. There always is. So if somebody’s not performing or somebody’s work half a month, they’re probably going to get chewed out by their team members saying, Hey, you’re cutting into everyone’s profit here, including the companies, what are you doing? That’s the idea behind it. So that’s, see how it goes. I haven’t developed it yet. Yeah,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (20:31):
That’s a trend we have been seeing. And I mean the worst what could happen is that they don’t tell their peers directly but go through you and expect you to fix it. But if the team culture is like you describe it, it’s probably going to balance itself out. So that’s awesome.
Jeremy Neff (20:58):
And being transparent. To answer your question, I don’t think anyone here or anyone coming aboard would look at it as I’m pocketing everything. Because if they asked, I would straight up tell ’em, this is what I take home. I have one guy here say, well, that’s less than I take home. Yeah, exactly. You do a lot more work, you have more responsibility out there, you do more of the manual labor and that’s fine. I’m fine with that. I would love giving out raises and love giving out bonuses because that means they’re doing well, the company’s doing well and some of ’em look at it, they haven’t realized that yet because some of it, they’re just start starting out, so they don’t know all the policies and procedures yet. But yeah.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (22:01):
So does it mean you also give them a kind of a career path, especially the young guys? Do you share with the young guys that one of your employees is making more than you? I mean that must be some light bulbs going on left and what opportunity they have to work for you,
Jeremy Neff (22:23):
Right? When we bring somebody or when we offer somebody, we always do it in office. Now I figured that out the hard way. It’s way better to have ’em sit down in front of Sarah and I, Sarah is the service manager, but he’s going to be the shop manager. So I tell him what the goals are of the company, where we’re going in the next five years and the 10 year goal. And then I tell ’em, I put it, I love doing spreadsheets. So I put it on the big TV up here and I show ’em, say, look, if you’re this much billable, this will net you this much money. But the new one, I’m going to put it up there and say, look, the company’s sold this much money, the company’s bills were this much, so until we meet this amount, you get this percentage. If we go over this and the GP is still there, then you get another percentage, another half a percent, but not just you, everybody does. So yeah, I’d show them right on the board and that’s what I do to new hires. When I first do the initial offer, I say, look, this is the potential. This is where we’re headed this year. This is what we’re doing at five years and then 10 years.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (23:49):
Very cool, very cool. I mean transparency to your customers through the digital inspection. Transparency internally. Awesome. Congratulations.
Jeremy Neff (24:02):
So another thing I’m finding out that because of the transparency and the bonus structure and everything, the team members, the employees, they start telling everybody else too. So even if they’re maybe a customer, once they hear that everything they’re getting and that I am transparent with everything we do here, I can’t just trust them and then we’ll get more applicants and more customers that way too.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (24:34):
It’s awesome. Let’s talk about, we talked yesterday a little bit about two things and we have about half an hour left shop manager role you mentioned and then completely independent. I want to cover your goal of building make specific inspection sheets because you also have the goal of make specific canned jobs. And if you have a, maybe we start with that. The challenge for a lot of shops is canned jobs are generic and then the service advisor has to figure out what the vehicle specific stuff is, and in your case it pays off to make specific inspection sheets because you can then have make specific hand jobs. And in today’s world, you shared the tech has to select from a longer list of dropdowns. What is the make specific job and you want to eliminate that. Tell us about how you go about it and how are the technicians involved in building this if in any way?
Jeremy Neff (26:02):
Okay, so in 2021, the amount of different technicians we started getting in, so one’s worked on Fords, one worked on big trucks, one’s worked on Chevys and one’s worked specifically on Rams. So what we are finding is our large inspection for the not meeting light duty pickups, we are starting to get a lot of inconsistencies as far as I’ve worked on all three. So I have a pretty good idea what to look at even without the inspection. But they’re looking at, say the guy that’s really good on the Fords, he was missing some common issues on the Dodges or he would fail something and then he’d have to scroll through 10 can jumps and hope he clicked on the right one.
And we didn’t realize, I didn’t realize that that’s probably what was going on until later in the year when we were finding. So they’d do the inspection, do the DAG or the maintenance item, oil change, and then I would do the QC and I would go over the inspection, their inspection before going out there and I say, okay, and make sure they look at that and I would find all these other items, but we’ve already messaged the customer so it looked terrible on our end, messaged the customer again to tell ’em that they had additional stuff wrong in addition to the stuff we already sent. So the idea of going vehicle make specific is only putting on the checks that need to be on there with only the canned jobs that need to be on there. And it’s going to take me quite a while to make it.
Once it’s made though, it’ll be phenomenal because it’ll speed up efficiency and the common stuff on certain makes models. Hopefully the plan is they won’t miss as many times. So I’m going to stop QCing and it’s going to be the shop manager doing the qc, so hopefully it’ll speed up QC time too to where he just browses over the inspection, then goes out and looks at it. Yeah, they got everything. This is great. And then the newer service advisors, they always have a little bit of issues picking up on finding all the canned jobs, so this will speed that up as well. So we’ll have certain canned jobs for the certain makes. So like you said yesterday, the estimate will almost build itself as far as the regs go, and then that’ll speed that up. I did, I’m starting my quarterly reviews with the team for the end of last year, and the first service advisor is the newest one.
And that was one thing she’s just struggling on is being efficient with building the recs, estimate the stuff they find on there. And I said, I have a plan for that this year. As soon as we get everyone in place, I can start on it and it’s going to be awesome. And as far as including everyone, once I build one and whoever gets that vehicle the first time, I’ll let ’em know, say, Hey, I’m going to do this with you to see if I need to rearrange some things. If it’s good the first take, we’ll let the next technician do it the next time the vehicle comes in and I tell ’em if it takes to change it, but if you don’t tell me I can’t change it. So I tell ’em upfront, it’s not going to be perfect the first time or the second time, maybe not even the third time, but the more you tell me, the more communication we have then yeah, so I’m going to tell ’em to screenshot it and send it to me in a chat the issue. So that will speed up communication and then they won’t be in here sitting there talking to me and then somebody will ask me a question and I’ll be off the left field and forget all about it. So there’s all kinds of stuff that is going to speed everyone up, I feel, and everyone’s in agreeance to, we’ve gone over it numerous times and we’ve come to the conclusion this is probably going to be the ticket, the solution for it,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (30:33):
And now you have to put the work in and create how many inspection sheets
Jeremy Neff (30:39):
Right now we’re going to do three for the pickups and then we’re going to do one for over the road trucks and then slowly build the gas vehicle ones. Those we only have one mechanic, two those. So he’s just going to be patient with me. Those, I’ll probably have him, if he has some spare time, I’ll have him come in and say, just give me a list of stuff, look on the schedule and see what’s coming in the next week and say, I’ll start on this one. What do you want me to start with? And is it close to any ones we already have available as far as inspections? And the more transparent, more communication you have, I think that people respect, oh, probably respect that more daily I they’re more willing to help you at that point.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (31:40):
You mentioned your workload, would you consider maybe asking your service advisor or service manager to be responsible for the inspection sheets?
Jeremy Neff (31:54):
The shop manager? Absolutely. He can build it. So one thing we found the hard way that if you’re pretty sure we might be wrong, but if we’re editing an inspection at my workstation and the technician is working on that inspection, there’s a lot of issues when I hit save on my end and messes them up. So we found that out. We messed up, I don’t know, three or four inspections before we realized what was going on. I hadn’t edited one and I didn’t know the shop foreman was out there editing it when he had spare minutes. I was like, oh no, we got to stop doing that. So absolutely, I’ve showed him how to do it, obviously because he’s been doing it, and that would definitely be one of his tasks to do because we’re planning on telling him, okay, you keep your toolbox here, but it’s going to be over in there in the corner and you’re not going to work on vehicles, you’re going to work on helping everyone else. So that’s going to be in his review. His review, quarterly reviews next week.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (33:04):
Very cool. Go ahead, sorry.
Jeremy Neff (33:11):
Yeah, absolutely. Have the shop manager do that. The service manager, she’s crazy busy with all kinds of other stuff. So her workload’s already up to here,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (33:24):
Right? Yeah. But there is a truth to saying the people who have the highest pain are normally also the ones who are the most proactive to ease the pain or eliminate it. So from that regard, she has a high incentive to save time on building the estimate.
Jeremy Neff (33:46):
Yes, that’s a huge investment. But the idea is, like you said, to be proactive about it and it felt like the last two or three months we spent being reactive until we pinpointed it and figured out that we could fix this. I’m pretty sure this is the issue, and everyone was on board and agreed. So that’s the other thing, you got to let everyone know what you’re doing and if they have an issue, you don’t have their buy-in, so you got to work through their issues or hiccups that they might see because if you don’t have their buy-in and you just change something, their drive goes from here to here because he didn’t even ask me. That’s not even the problem. So the older I get, the more I’m learning, I
Uwe Kleinschmidt (34:37):
Jeremy Neff (34:39):
Yeah, if you make changes and don’t tell ’em, you’ll have every technician knock on the door and say, what’s this?
Uwe Kleinschmidt (34:49):
Yeah, I remember we, I’m guilty as charged when we would make changes to the software and release it on a Monday morning. So customers started treading the Monday mornings, learned our lesson for sure. Shop manager. Tell us what made you to create that role and how does it fit in your profitability calculations and what do you expect to get better?
Jeremy Neff (35:29):
So one of them is the consistency of the inspections. So he’s been with the company for and a half years now. He’s gone through all the growing pains with me, so he knows all the policies and all the procedures probably better than I do because he’s out there doing them and I’m in here making them. The biggest, the one it finally clicked probably two or three weeks ago when it would, instead of three or four hours to pay the bills, I paid bills twice a month to pay the bills. It would usually take four hours if nobody interrupted me. It was starting to take almost two weeks because, so I was doing all the QCs on the inspection before sending it to the customer. After we found out all these inconsistencies, we decided that we do a QC on the inspection before send it to the customer.
So I would do those and then once the vehicle was done, I would do that qc or if the technicians had a question, they got to the point where, well, I’ll just go ask Jeremy because Bucks working on some right in the middle of some bucks is going to be the shop manager. So I just go ask Jeremy and it got to be, well, it still is until we make the change. I’m not working on the company anymore. I’m just working for it as a consultant for everyone and I tell everybody in their reviews, it’s real hard for me to ask you guys for help because I’m supposed to know everything about every job here and I don’t. So if I don’t know and I just tell him, look, I don’t know, I’ll figure it out, but I don’t know right now. And so that has probably, so the stuff that the shop foreman needs to do, he’s also shop foreman right now, keep the programming computers up to date, the diagnostic scanners and everything up to date, it’s not getting done. So I’m trying to do that as well, as well as being the IT guy for everyone too.
I’m not giving everybody and equal go around say, Hey, how’s your day going? You got everything you need, you do. Okay, good. You’re doing an awesome job. I’m starting to lock myself in my office. I just need to get this stuff done. And I always thought working down there at the small shop, I was in the main front main lobby. It wasn’t a lobby, it was just a little tiny room in front of everyone. I said, well, when we make the move to the shop, I’ll have my own office. I’ll be able to get everything done. And it’s not the case, it’s just the more people we have, the more questions seem to come my way.
So I just pulling my hair out, I can’t get anything done. And I asked everybody what they thought, mainly the guy that we’re going to move into that position. He’s all, no, I agree. Because there’s some days where he says he can’t get anything done to be billable. I was like, well, if you’re not getting anything done to be billable, some stuff done, why don’t we just make you this guy and so I can at least get stuff done and they can be more billable as a team. As far as I know he is still for it until I show him the hat I drew up for him. But yeah, I literally spending every minute working on the company or working for it instead of
Uwe Kleinschmidt (39:40):
On it. Yeah, it makes sense.
Jeremy Neff (39:44):
A lot of balls were getting dropped
Uwe Kleinschmidt (39:45):
And so will Buck miss the hands on work he’s doing now and he cannot do as much anymore.
Jeremy Neff (39:55):
We’ll find out in the next few months. We may find out. I might find out in his review, his review is next week for the last quarter or last year,
He approached me. So he is only a month older than I am or two months older. He approached me a while ago. He says, yeah, my hands, they’re starting to cramp up and I know exactly what he’s talking about. I was a welder with the grinder and everything for years when I wrenched for just even an hour, my hands just start walking up and curling up and I know exactly what he’s talking about. As young as we are, we’re not getting any younger. So I told him, this was probably four years ago. I said, well, once we get grow enough, then there’ll be a position where you won’t even need to do that. There’ll be a position where you will deal with a lot more people and a lot more problems, but the hands-on. So we’ll find out. I’m sure I’ll have to send ’em to a lot of trainings initially as far as being a manager supervisor type position. But I think he’d be good at it.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (41:19):
And it looks like your culture, from what I’m hearing, sets him up for a good start because your team’s incentivized to work as a team. You’re in a growing faith and share the growing pains. So those are all amazing, an amazing starting point for somebody like Buck to take more responsibility. There will be no hostility or why am I not the manager? Why did you pick Buck stuff like that? That’s not going to happen. Right?
Jeremy Neff (41:55):
Buck’s been with us for over 11 years,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (41:58):
Jeremy Neff (41:59):
That’s why, yeah, I didn’t even think about people like that, but for the most part, everybody’s in agreeance that that needs to happen so they can get questions answered and everything. Yeah.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (42:12):
Cool. Jeremy, we have 15 minutes left. I would love to review a little bit for everybody. Interestingly during the show, the attendance through tripled. I don’t know what happened. Great. So let’s summarize what we talked about and also at the end, I would love you to think of people in the audience who are going to listen to it now or later offline, who are in a similar situation, growing pain, working hard every day, seven days a week, how to work more on the business because it’s easy to say, but very hard to implement. And so let’s start on the summary. So if I may, what I heard is you are driven with transparency and it doesn’t matter what it is, it is towards the customer, it’s internally. I’ve never heard a shop owner publicly say they share the take home pay with their staff. That’s the ultimate transparency in my opinion. And based on that culture through transparency, you have built a team where, and the team is growing, where you hire high quality techs who fit in that culture. And since you can’t do it anymore, you will make a highly experienced technician who is already the ship foreman, the shop manager.
And at the same time, you want to help increasing throughput and make the inspection already a cornerstone, but you identify a few difficulties and inconsistencies and to eliminate them, you will build, make specific inspection sheets, making the work easier for the tech and especially for the service advisors because the estimates almost built themselves. You don’t have any challenges in recruiting new customers as it seems.
Jeremy Neff (45:00):
We’re very fortunate,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (45:01):
Yes, the word of mouth is working amazingly. And so those are maybe the top two things. Shop manager make specific inspections, including can jobs, anything I forgot.
Jeremy Neff (45:26):
Yeah, the biggest one probably all shop owners have, if they started out as a technician, is learning how to let go of certain responsibilities and let the person appointed take over and take responsibility for it.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (45:47):
And the worst is let them make their mistakes without taking it back.
Jeremy Neff (45:54):
They have to make the mistake. And then you step in and say, look, I did the same thing. I’m not mad, but did you learn? Yeah. And that’s ironically the hardest thing that Sarah, the service advisor, she started out as a service advisor, now she’s the service manager to let go of certain tasks. And she always made fun of me for doing that because I was always doing the service rider. And then she came in and it’s hard and I really think Buck’s going to struggle with it, but I think shop owners, that’s the hardest thing to do, I think, is to let go of certain responsibilities slowly. I still haven’t got it down. I slowly learning that, but yeah.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (46:50):
And would you recommend starting small or would you say, let’s take a big piece of my responsibility and delegate to somebody who has been with you for 11 years in this case and then relentlessly be there with help but not intervene?
Jeremy Neff (47:14):
That’s a good question. My thought is when this new technician starts cut his workload in half and then once the last technician to the team starts in our current location, then eliminate the other half. So kind of like quitting smoking, I guess everybody, I’ve never had to quit. So they say that it’s better to do it small and steady until it’s virtually gone. So that’s the plan. Anyway, we’re going to do half his workload. So the service advisor that’s in charge of him, once this new technician starts, we’ll put only half a day’s worth of work so he can concentrate on helping. And like you said, if there’s any spare time building the make specific inspections and that’s,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (48:08):
There won’t be spare time, there won’t be spare. You have to make it kind of an iron calendar for yourself or actually for Buck in this case.
Jeremy Neff (48:23):
Right? And that’s going to be a lot of responsibility for the service advisor. She’s going to be coming in two weeks or whenever the other company lets her go. And then the other reason behind letting Buck start half is to gradually let me let go of those responsibilities. It’s just hard because nobody can do it as good as I can, but you can’t do everything when you do everything. Nothing’s done really well.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (49:01):
The fact that you are able to do everything doesn’t mean you have to do everything right.
Jeremy Neff (49:06):
And it doesn’t mean it’s doing better than somebody else can and spend time on it. Yeah.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (49:13):
Cool. Jeremy, that really thank you for opening up in front of a public audience. I highly appreciate that there is some vulnerability on your part, which I really, really appreciate. So I’m not worried about anything you are you have on your plan for 2022. The only thing from own experience I can say if you don’t set yourself some deadlines, it’s easy to push it to the next quarter and the next quarter and the next quarter. I mean, you know how that works,
Jeremy Neff (49:56):
But write that down, set deadlines
Uwe Kleinschmidt (50:00):
And it’s not done by adding the Sunday night to it, right?
Jeremy Neff (50:05):
Yeah. The family kind of gets mad at that because I’ve done that way more than I should.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (50:17):
Again, thank you very much. It was very insightful and everybody who’s going to listen to it, I know Bill is walking around you and ask some questions he should have better make himself a panelist. Let me quickly look for some of his questions here. One second. Oh yeah. Going back to a thing I wanted to ask you but didn’t, what are the key differences between handling retail customers rather than fleet?
Jeremy Neff (51:06):
Yeah, so they’re almost polar opposite unless you’re talking to the actual driver or the company manager of the vehicles. But if you’re talking to the fleet, you have to be direct and not budget all. Oh, interesting. That’s number one thing. They say, well, it only takes this long on all data to do it. It’s like, yeah, but it’s not caked in a foot of mud, it’s been at the mine or whatever. So what I tell my service advisors is don’t budge at all when it comes to the fleet. We don’t have a contract. We don’t have to do anything and they don’t have to come here. They try to nickel and dime us everything. It seems like oil changes everything. Retail customer, if they come in, if they say they buy it online or they say, well, I could buy this online and can I bring it in?
Well, this is just an example. I love doing this example more often, not they take a step back and say, oh yeah, you’re right. So can I buy this online and bring it in and have you put on it? And I says, well, would you go to Albertson’s, buy a steak and take it to the steakhouse and have them cook it and oh, I see what you got to make some money. I see that’s the most common issue we have to come up with or deal with as far as a retail customer. And we started it in 2021. Speaking of the deadline goals, they should have set a deadline, but they didn’t. We’re by the, I don’t know when, because they’re working on it too. We’re going to have an e-commerce site. So we can literally just put everything in a cart that they need, copy the link to it, and then text it to ’em through AutoVitals and say, this is everything you need.
And then they can buy it and have it shipped to our house. Or they can say, yeah, I bought it online, but they bought it from us. So that’s something we’re working on for this year and to be done. But that was the biggest difference is because a lot of the fleet people that are reviewing our quota, our estimate were technicians or they say they were technicians, but it’s really easy for us in Elko because it’s not really all city driven. There’s tons of dirt roads and mines and everything else. So there’s all kinds of stuff that we have to put in addition to cleaning the vehicle before we even look at it. And once you tell the fleet manager, the person on the other line, what’s going on with it, then they’re usually okay with it. So they say, oh yeah, I forgot. It’s cool. But yeah, don’t budge. If you don’t have a contract with fleets, don’t budge on, don’t lower prices. In fact, we up our prices with them because they don’t pay 4% of their bill. So if it’s a big job, we do 78 grand. That’s a big chunk of change right off our bottom line. So we up it for them actually so we can compensate for it.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (54:22):
And in that context, we heard from customers that often fleet managers have this, I would almost say process just to ride a vehicle to the end and then buy a new one. And so the maintenance and keeping it in better shape and create a higher longevity is not the main goal. Correct. So the digital inspection is kind of, I don’t need this, need this, need this, need this. Right. So what’s your experience?
Jeremy Neff (54:59):
So that’s where the maintenance advisor of the actual company comes into play. So if we put all that stuff in an estimate, send it to the fleet company, and they obviously, well, sometimes they just approve it, which blows us away. We’re like, yeah, they never do that. But anyway, if they don’t, we’ll actually send the inspection, the digital, email it to the company vehicle manager, and then he’ll call the fleet and say, look, we can’t be broke down. There’s tons of places on the highway here. We don’t get serviced. Just do what they need to do and just pay ’em because we’re paying you anyway. So that’s how we approach it with the Union Pacific, the Union Railroad, it’s a little more difficult, but if we just text it to the driver, they look at it, the ones driving the vehicle, they don’t want to be broke down. They call the fleet and they say, look, just fix it. I don’t care what it takes. I’m going to one driving, just fix it. So more often than not, that’s how we deal with that. We just go to whoever’s in charge and say, look, this is what we found. They declined everything. And they say, well, I’ll fix that.
You sit there and the service advisor waits for it to be approved and all of a sudden it’s approved and get all the parts on a cart ready to go for the job. And yeah.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (56:30):
And would the service advisor call the big guy at the customer or would you do that?
Jeremy Neff (56:37):
I don’t call any customers. In fact, they screen all my calls up there. If it’s a customer calling for me that they don’t know who it is, they’ll say, well, he’s out for lunch or he is in a meeting or something. I don’t actually know where he is at. Can I help you with something?
Uwe Kleinschmidt (56:53):
Jeremy Neff (56:54):
And I tell every time I’m up there right behind him and they say that, I just tell ’em, oh, thank you. I don’t have the time to deal with whoever that was.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (57:04):
Alright. So they take ownership and run with it. Very cool.
Jeremy Neff (57:08):
Uwe Kleinschmidt (57:09):
Jeremy, it’s been a pleasure and I hope we can invite you back. I know you’re busy and I don’t want to add more to it, but I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did and thank you very much and good luck and great success in 2022.
Jeremy Neff (57:28):
Yeah, thank you too.

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