skip to Main Content

This episode takes shop examples and develops a kind of checklist for you to compare your recipe for success with the successful patterns we have seen at Digital Shops. Watch this special lineup of panelists: Jodi Knepper  – Lee Myles Auto Care & Transmissions Birdsboro and Reading PA, Ken Andersen –  B & L Quality Repair LLC, Adam Bendzick  – Pro Service Automotive, Fred Gestwicki – Owner – Fix it with Fred, and hosts Bill and Uwe. 

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 for those of you that have joined us live, you’ve reached the Digital Shop Talk Radio. We highly encourage you to join us live by going to for his last radio and joining in with us, seeing our smiling faces and get some information that way. And you can also watch us later on, or actually listen to us later on your favorite podcasting platform. So today I’m here with Jodi Knepper Lee Myles Auto Care & Transmissions in Birdsboro, and Redding, Pennsylvania. Hopefully I said that correctly.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:41):
You did good.
Bill Connor (00:42):
Awesome. And I’ve got Ken Andersen, B & L Quality Repair, LLC. This is Ken’s first time joining us and Jodi of course has been here before. And then of course we’ve got Fred Gestwicki and Fred is with Fix It With Fred, and he’s actually been on here with us plenty of times over the years sharing his wisdom and things he’s learned that work well. And he’s even shared some things that he probably wouldn’t want to go back and do again because we all seem to learn that way. And I’ve also got Uwe AutoVitals, very own Chief Innovation Officer here with us as usual. And today we’re going to take a deep dive into one of the most common things we hear from shop owners when we talk to ’em. And that is my shop is different. We hear this all the time when we start asking them what are the common things that you do to go ahead and make your shop successful?
So what is the recipe for success? And they always tell us, well, I’m different, but we’ve learned over the years, and I know for sure I have, having worked with literally hundreds of shops and feedback from form and so on, there’s a lot of commonality here. And what we want to do is examine some of the common factors that drive both an increase in ARO and weekly revenue. So Uwe, if you want to go ahead and start down the path and let’s go. And first of all, if you would, let’s share some of the common things you and I have noticed that go ahead and drive weekly revenue and ARO increase. And then let’s go ahead and hear from each one of our panelists as far as what they’re doing in their shop and so on.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (02:20):
Yeah, thank you. If we are successful today in this podcast, we might be able to develop a little checklist for everybody, so where at least the fundamentals, the common patterns can be compared with how you run your shop and say, I might add this or I dial up this. And so we really want to achieve not only how hard or easy it is and what the behavioral changes and process changes to be put in, but really like a little checklist where you can say, if that’s done, my chances for success have just increased. So I want to thank the panelists to help us determine that. And we created a little overview on where our panelists were and where they are now. Plus we invited two more panelists who unfortunately couldn’t join us, but their story is as impressive, so we didn’t want to hide it. Bill, do you want to share?
Bill Connor (03:45):
I certainly do. Let me see if I can find out which monitor I got it on and we’ll go from there. And I think we’re going to go ahead and pick this one here and let me know if you can see my screen. Okay.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (03:59):
I certainly can.
Bill Connor (04:01):
Uwe Kleinschmidt (04:04):
And so we just want to start with what type of staffing has created what type of ARO and weekly revenue increase in what time period? It probably takes a little time to digest it. Thank you for zooming in a little bit. But why don’t I start with one of the shops who couldn’t make it to the as a panelist, that’s Meineke location 1332 Co-owner Greg Mavic, one of the pilot shops who backed way back in, I don’t know, 17 I think started using our system. And this you can see here, the ARO from January two 18 increased from 279 to 462, the weekly revenue from 29,000 to 48,000. And the staffing changes, interestingly if you go down are minimal. So all he did is added half a full-time employee to be dedicated as an estimator. And that was just recently done, right? So if you look at those numbers, it’s almost the same staff, but changing the process, introducing new tools and specialized made such a jump. That’s incredible. Maybe we talk about, Jodi, if you don’t mind you next for your reading location, you had already two service advisors and five technicians and you added 1.5 techs, a service manager and the production manager.
Jodi Knepper (06:27):
So I’m sorry, you want me to go ahead or you want to keep going?
Uwe Kleinschmidt (06:31):
Yeah, no, please. So what was the thought process?
Jodi Knepper (06:37):
So for us, managing personnel is always a seesaw. You beef up one side and then you need to beef up the other side because the first side is doing so well. So for us, we started with tech, we got slightly more productive techs on the team. So I guess technically we probably had a little more capacity on the technician side, but we did add some new techs. What we started finding was that what works the best in terms of customers receiving information is having, well-edited courtesy checks and everything estimated, and if you’re going to commit to that, then you need the personnel upfront. And so we moved a technician to more of a service manager role and filled in with another technician. We also brought on a parts manager who helps with estimating and sourcing parts to try to help our service advisors focus more on communicating with the customer. So our service advisors edit the courtesy checks, parts estimator does the majority of the estimating. That’s where we made our additions
Uwe Kleinschmidt (07:54):
And service manager’s also a dispatcher or
Jodi Knepper (07:58):
Yes, he does dispatch the work. Yeah, it helps because he kind of has one foot in the shop and one foot in the front office, so he knows what’s going on best.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (08:08):
Very impressive. And as your name said, you have with transmission work and higher than average ARO, but you increase it even more. Do you find that the transmission work is, I’m now going to say it maybe not in the best way. It’s kind of in a way of increasing more because it’s so much work.
Jodi Knepper (08:37):
We have a dedicated team of transmission builders and one person who does r and r, so we almost run that as a separate business. We do still use AutoVitals in on the transmission side for diagnostic. We have a separate courtesy check that we still use AutoVitals with. But yeah, sometimes I do a lot of my tracking. I take the transmissions and put ’em separate so I can understand better the general repair results.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (09:03):
Makes total sense. Thank you. I didn’t put the numbers up on the second location because number one you just started and it has a unique kind of history. If you wouldn’t mind sharing that with us.
Jodi Knepper (09:19):
So Lee Myles is a franchise in our area. There are two locations and the previous owner of the borough location kept approaching us, you need to buy this from me, you need to buy this from me. And we kept going, no, no, no, no, we’re too busy, we’re too busy. Business is growing, we don’t have time for that. So he said, okay, well I’m going to close down. My lease is up. And so we said, well that is bad for the brand, so let’s figure something out. So we took over that location. It was when Covid started and the previous owner shut the business down, laid everybody off. We had tried to work with him prior to this and kind of bullied him into getting AutoVitals, but he didn’t drink the Kool-Aid and take it the whole way. And so it was just kind of like, well, when I’m slow I’ll do some courtesy checks, we’ll see if that helps and that’s just, it’s not going to work. So we took over that location in the middle of Covid from a hard stop and you can look at the chart. It was doing 15 K after we were open a month and now we’re averaging 22. So I did some projections last night and we should break this location’s record for annual revenue around Thanksgiving. Actually, no, I’m sorry, Thanksgiving’s when we should hit the million in about three weeks. We should break this location record for revenue.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (10:48):
This is incredible. So you said something very important and I don’t want to let it just drop into the ether and that is one of the patterns is don’t look at the vehicle health check or courtesy check as you called it, as a cherry picking exercise. It has to become muscle memory,
Jodi Knepper (11:15):
Has to be who you are.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (11:19):
I couldn’t even say shorter than this. This is unbelievable. It has to be who you are. That’s a new slogan. Thank you. Fred, would you jump in?
Fred Gestwicki (11:35):
Yeah, for sure. What’s interesting is the top number of mine was after a whole year of already being digital inspection with another company. So the initial raise of ARO from going from paper phone call, explain, don’t you wish you could see what I’m seeing to look, see what you got that already occurred to get me to 465. The rest of that ARO increases from switching to AutoVitals where it’s a much more intuitive experience for the motorist, more like you’ve said before where it’s a cycle. The motorist, the customer is always looking to the next part of their adventure, whether it’s dropping the car off, waiting for the inspection, they get the inspection, they call authorize, whether they’re going to authorize, wait for the text, it’s done. They pick their car up and wait for the service reminder. That fluid experience really helped people trust us more and know that we are not trying to get you to pour your wallet on the counter. We’re trying to get your vehicle repair and maintenance needs for the rest of your driving career. That’s what we’re trying to get. And the way the smart flow app works thought it was X app, whatever the name is, sorry Uwe if I’m saying the wrong name, but the way the app works being so much easier than other apps helped the technician’s efficiency go up and that’s comparing apples to apples not comparing paper to paperless. There’s no comparison there. So I wanted to share that’s how we achieved those gains where we gained by 50% in sales where we were able to handle more volume of cars by only adding 20% on the tech side.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (13:33):
And did you add the half tech and half service advisor simultaneously or was one causing the other?
Fred Gestwicki (13:45):
It’s the same seesaw that Jodi talked about. You just basically balance. You have one of those old school things that weigh that they do for law and it is never going to balance you add one over here, oh Nate, some over here and just back and forth until hopefully they get so full that it doesn’t matter because if they’re a little behind day to day, that’s all of our dreams just to have so many techs and advisors that when they call off, it doesn’t matter when they’re busy, it doesn’t matter because they can handle it. So some of that was growth with the technicians we had and growth meaning we’ll call it upgrade. If you lose a technician that’s a half a tech and you can replace ’em with the whole tech do it.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (14:27):
I see.
Fred Gestwicki (14:29):
And we added a part-time advisor is what we did because one full-time was not able to handle. And then currently what we’re looking to do is add another advisor and move our half advisor to just CSR and then add another tech is what we’re looking to do right now is to go to where it’s two to four and then have a half person helper.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (14:56):
Thank you.
Fred Gestwicki (14:57):
Yes sir.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (14:58):
Ken, last but not
Ken Andersen (15:03):
Least, last but not least, there we go. That was the number. We were not digital. We’ve been looking into it trying to make the switch or I wanted to get into digital and knowing the advantages of it and basically wanted to improve the efficiency of the techs that I had in the shop already because we could, first and foremost, we had to identify the roadblocks and we could easily see the roadblocks, communications, the amount of time that was being wasted with mechanics in the back. And then the service. I only had one service writer at the time and they were able to work was flowing great, but we kind of hit a plateau because everybody kind maxed out and couldn’t go any further. And then once we found AutoVitals and it really, it was an eyeopener, it tested out a few other systems as well and did not like those ones.
They were not a fit for our shop. But once we hit AutoVitals, it was a huge, it made such a change. It was not funny. The efficiency of our techs immediately within a week and a half basically blew out our front office because the guys were able to do so much work so much faster with simplicity because they were not chasing papers, were not running around, they were able to grab a tablet. The speech to text thing was huge. And that was the big thing that I was more focused on than I was for doing the inspections. We did not start as a primary to do the inspections. We were trying to get an efficiency plan through the shop and AutoVitals fit that. And then the big difference, we’ve only been into it a year, but then we also found that we had, as soon as I got AutoVitals, within two weeks we found another major roadblock.
In our case it was our point of sale system. It was just overwhelmed it. And so we changed our point of sale system. We went to Protractor from I believe was WinWorks before, and just to make it easier because then I could have a service advisor up front and the guys in the back would be cooperatively working. So when my techs in the back would decide, pick a condition and do the inspection, send everything up there, it was easier for my front counter people to keep up with. And that’s what he said, trying to get everybody drinking the Kool-Aid. That made a huge difference. And as you can see, we’ve gotten, so we’ve only been in about a year, we’re not fully into yet. We’re still learning every day. We’re kind of taking small steps, implementing little things here and there. And it made a big difference to the point that now we just added, as you say, one more tech because the work is, we’ve got plenty of work to do and I knew it was too much. You see another roadblock, another bottleneck in the shop was that we did not have enough front counter help. And then of course trying to hire somebody. But then we did get, just a couple weeks ago, I hired a gentleman who’s going to be my production manager and he’s probably going to be 80% production manager and 20% will help you out with service writing the numbers for a little bit of time that we’ve had it actually very impressed, very happy with them and they’re just getting better
Bill Connor (18:39):
Before we move on, the commonality I’m seeing here is that not just a digital inspection, but a quality digital inspection is what gives you your unique value proposition in your marketplace. It separates you from the competition for sure. And at some point here, Fred is going to exit like Snaggle, push stage left. He’s got another meeting he has to go to. So if we could, let’s go ahead and move on and get a little bit more information from Fred if that’s okay.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (19:07):
Sure. Yeah. So I would love to pick up on what Ken said. There’s basically two things I’m hearing, which for the untrained eye sound like wow, you have to run a business plus you change point of sale plus you introduce a different process. I mean, how do you have the guts to do that and how do you take your team with you? That seems like a little daunting. Initially,
Ken Andersen (19:53):
Yes, it definitely was daunting to say the least. We ended up putting, in this case, we actually kind of put AutoVitals on hold because we had to relearn a whole new system. But the advantages of that, my guys did not have to slow down because of the integration. So I kept my tech efficiency up and it did not affect our change, did not affect the front, or excuse me, did not affect the backend as much because they just did what they were doing. They kept going, didn’t have a problem. It was the front end and myself that we took care of and built it up and to this day we’re still working and fine tuning and tweaking it.
Fred Gestwicki (20:31):
And you know what I hear you saying is that there was so much change going on that they got used to the uncomfortable change feeling where when you throw more change at ’em, you’re saying it’s still happening now they’re used to that adaption at all.
Ken Andersen (20:48):
It definitely took a bit to, well, we had a little bit stronger maybe for a while. I mean that was something that once we got ’em on board, the guys as maybe we talked with Jodi mentioned too, once the techs and the service rides could see the turnaround effect with the customer, the digital, the pictures, the wording, our end goal was for direction we’re going to, then they were on board and it was much more and they were involved. That was a big thing. Get your crew involved front and back. Once they were involved, it makes life a lot easier because they’re able to, okay, they put in their input and we make some changes. Oh hey, they feel valuable. They feel that they are, what they say matters and they’re part of the company, what their decisions, we try it out. Not all of ’em works, so we change ’em back, but we give everybody equal shot.
If they have an idea or suggestion, we give it a shot. If it’s going to be something we sit down and have meetings, talk about it. Hey, okay, we’ll implement this, we’ll try this out for a couple weeks, see how it goes. If it really causes problems, we’ll see if we can tweak it a little bit. If not, then we will go back and we’ll reevaluate and try a different approach. But that is getting probably the hardest thing is getting the guys out of a rut. I mean, if you’ve not been a digital shop or you have a bunch of older guys, whatever the case may be, or you’ve been a shop around for a while, everybody gets in a ruts and it can be a very, very deep rut. And trying to get everybody pulled out of that rut to start looking to see beyond the horizon and not just a couple of walls down a channel makes a world of difference.
Getting ’em out of that rut. Then you can bounce ’em around a little bit and then they get more comfortable, as you said, Fred, with a little bit of change. Then they realize that the change is not bad. Most of the time you settle down in that rut and you feel comfortable, cozy and you don’t want to change. This is we’re working this way, I don’t want to change. It works fine, but there is so much more to it than that and they take pride in it now because the pictures, they take the wording, their words are getting to the customer and then all of a sudden they feel a connection to the customer, which as most of the time, mechanics don’t have that connection. And now they realize what they do. They’re connected. So what they say, the pictures they take reflects on them and the company and so they take a lot more pride in what they were doing.
Bill Connor (23:13):
One of the other patterns we noticed for success is judging everything through the motorist research time. So you want to go ahead and move down that path a little bit and let’s look at the commonalities that we have.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (23:26):
I would love to put that on hold a little bit because number one, Fred might be gone soon and number two can just drop so many jewels. I would love to go in them. I know Fred, I got
Fred Gestwicki (23:44):
Something to add too, man, with what he said, personal connection. Are you talking about our special message status Uwe? Have you seen that? When we switched from the old version of AutoVitals to the new version, part of the change, everybody’s like, oh, it’s different. And even though they’re used to change, they freaked out. So we created an inspection topic called a personal message from your mechanic, and it gets its own status. It’s blue, it says a special message for you. They can add whatever they want and they don’t use it all the time. Now they can hit it, not applicable because it’s just a jeep, who cares? It’s a jeep. But we had the other day, somebody brought in this old ranger that looked like it was from the showroom and the mechanic took a picture of the guy’s car in the bay on the lift and was like nice ranger. And that guy, the customer got to experience words directly from the mechanic to him with no fixing the car.
The message, special message from your mechanic that if you’re having trouble with buy-in use what Ken said, use what Jodi said, let them feel like they’re telling the customers what’s going on. Because the younger generation mechanics, they want to know that they matter at the company they’re at. They want to know they’re helping people. They are not driven by the same things that us older people are driven by. So that’s something that when you said that, Ken, I’m like, whew, I bet they’re using one right now at the shop. They’re putting a special message for somebody.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (25:16):
That’s a good idea. We need to go up that. I think, Bill, you have to change the default inspection sheet. I was just thinking the same thing.
Fred Gestwicki (25:29):
I got to return to my class that I’m in.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (25:32):
Fred Gestwicki (25:34):
So I appreciate you guys having me. Thank you so much.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (25:37):
Thank you Fred. Thank you Fred. Thank you Fred.
Jodi Knepper (25:40):
Hey, can I pile on?
Uwe Kleinschmidt (25:42):
Jodi Knepper (25:43):
So I have a friend and I’ve known her for many, many years. So she has helped me through a lot of change. And her saying is, Jodi all change feels like loss. And she’s right. Nobody likes to change. Like well, okay, there’s this really small percentage of people who are just off the side of crazy and they love change, but for the most part,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (26:07):
There you go, raise your hand.
Jodi Knepper (26:09):
For the most part, people like familiarity. They like brain shortcuts. I do it this way. And so if you’re going to change somebody from that, then you have to, Simon Sinek this thing. You have to start with why. You have to be able to clearly explain why are we doing this? Why is this worth it, and how is this a win for everybody, for the customer, for the tech, for the service advisor, for the shop. If you can articulate that, then your team will get behind you and everybody can put the yoke on and pull the same direction. If you can’t, you’re going to be disappointed.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (26:50):
Can I ask you a question about that? Because there are enough moments of inspirational speeches where then the follow through is missing and then it’s just that and inspirational speech. So how does asking for the Y results in whatever it is, more fulfillment, more money, more X. So how did you implement that? So
Jodi Knepper (27:17):
I think that all people are created with a need for significance, right? Nobody wants to come up and just do drudgery day after day. They want to be part of something bigger than themselves. They want to be part of something special. They want to feel like what they do matters and that they’re giving back as a productive member of society. And I feel like this is something that we’re doing, that this is a way that we serve people, that this is something that they’ve never seen before, that they’re going to be so impressed they’re going to be addicted to us because we’re giving them something they just don’t get anywhere. We’re taking time, we’re seeing them, we’re treating them like people. So on that side, I think if you can articulate the noble mission that people want to be part of a noble mission. And our industry doesn’t do that enough.
We just don’t. And so if you stand out as somebody who’s different, you’re going to have an easier time recruiting. We all know that. That’s the big talking point in our industry right now is how hard it is to find qualified people. Qualified people want to be professionals, they want to be special and they want to be rewarded for it. So you also need to be able to explain to them, yeah, I know this is going to take a little bit of extra time to do this for the customer. And you know what, we’re not going to pay you extra for it either. And so this is you farming, you’re planting seeds, these seeds are going to grow. The customer’s going to continue to, if they can’t do this today, that is okay. We’re going to help them say yes. And if that yes isn’t today, then we’re going to remind them and help them say yes later.
So this is what they legitimately need. Nobody’s making up anything. We’re taking pictures, we’re taking videos. You can go to bed feeling good about the fact that you have educated your customer and that their car’s not so scary anymore. Or maybe there are some things that are scary, but now they can plan and we’re keeping them off the side of the road. So I think those things are important. And I asked my service advisors what they thought that I should tell you guys, and one of them said every car, every time that was his thing, that it needs to be consistent. And both of them said it needs to be consistent because if we recommend it this time and we don’t recommend next time, that looks bad. So keeping the technicians consistent and then helping the technicians to think like a customer like this is what we’re going to present to the customer. So what does the customer need in order to understand this? So if that’s arrows, if that’s understandable language, we need to not tech speak everything. We need to view this as somebody who has no idea what I’m talking about is about to receive this. What do I need to help them? How do I need to help them?
Uwe Kleinschmidt (30:13):
And so I want to pick you back on this. And then you said something yesterday in the pre-meeting, I really think is incredibly important, and Ken already mentioned that too. So you basically in shop meetings together, the whole team reviews inspection results, but not only from a shop perspective, what are the topics in the right order? Can we fine tune to save a few seconds or minutes? You also make the texts receive on their personal phones what a customer sees and then you talk about it. I assume
Jodi Knepper (31:04):
We did that in a team meeting recently. It was actually in response to a tech. I think it’s important to understand that the rhythm of our shop is different than any other shop that most of these techs have worked at before. We do things differently. And so one of my techs was saying, you know what? It’s really still taking a long time to get approvals. And so he didn’t understand what the service advisors were doing to these courtesy checks, what happened to the pictures and the recommendations and things that he was sending in. And so the next shot meeting, I had ’em all bring their cell phones to the meeting, usually not okay by the way, for this meeting. And I texted ’em and emailed them a copy of the PDF that the customer gets. So they were able to see the little picture of them and the service advisor, which was fun because right now we did that whole cartoon thing.
So all of my techs and service advisors look like little Pixar cartoons. It’s adorable. So anyway, they were able to see that and then to be able to go through and see what these pictures look like with arrows on them with little green check marks on the corners of things, tap on it and see what the text is, where the recommendation comes out. So they saw the final product and that helped ’em understand, oh, they had to do all that before they ship it to the customer. And then by the way, we’re going to watch this little hourglass countdown for 20 minutes before we’re going to call anybody. So it was an educational process. They understand now why it takes a little bit longer and so why we really need to triage it up and get it out and get the next car in. So does that help? And then the other meeting that we had was having all of the technicians inspect the same cars and do a courtesy check and then comparing them. So that helps with consistency just to be able to talk about, well, this text saw this and this text saw that. And I mean we learned some things in doing that process too. Namely don’t put ’em all under the same cars at the same time when they can hear each other and see pictures of each other taking pictures. But it’s a really useful exercise
Uwe Kleinschmidt (33:16):
Highly. Did you also estimate the different inspection sheets and did different? We
Jodi Knepper (33:21):
Didn’t that night. We didn’t that night. No, Bill encouraged me to do that too, but they were all so similar because they could hear each other that,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (33:27):
Jodi Knepper (33:28):
I see next time.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (33:30):
Cool. I want to mention the second thing, and to me, I don’t know, there seems to be an underpinning of everything that the people feel. We are in constant change and not as a negative thing, but as a, oh, if I propose something and it has merit, it will be implemented in a heartbeat. And so people don’t feel change as a threat anymore, but as an opportunity to bring themselves in and to get better as a whole business. So probably no service advisor will ask for the next point of sale change voluntarily, but still there’s a culture then established that change is okay because it has gotten us where we are. So why would we stop? So how do you instill that in a team?
Ken Andersen (34:40):
That’s an interesting way to phrase it. A lot of it depends on the team and your shop culture to start with. If you’ve got a team that’s already pretty cohesive and works well together, that makes a world of difference. I mean, if you have somebody on four mechanics and all four, they don’t really talk to each other. They all do their own thing. It’s going to be a little more awkward to implement something like this. But if you’ve got a group of guys that by and large they all, Hey, look at this, or they talk to each other, they have questions and they get along well, and then you include them on the business side of things, let them see this change. Here’s what I’m thinking of doing guys. Here’s what the goal is going to be. Yes, we’re going to implement this and yes, we’re going to try it.
It’ll be a little frustrating, but we’ll get through it and we’ll be better off on the other side. Then you have your usual allow. Yeah, moaning, groans. But then all of a sudden they, as you say, feel empowered because once you start the implementation, it’s making sure they are part of the process. It’s not going to be, okay, I’m the owner, this is how we’re going to do it. Take it or leave it out the door. I don’t care. You can’t do that because you’re going to disillusion, you’re going to alienate your guys. You need to actually keep them in the loop, keep them involved in it. So even if it’s a simple change, hey, we’re going to change the inspection format or we’re going to revamp this topic on the inspection format, take a few moments, sit down with the guys, okay, what works for you?
What works for you? And sometimes they’ll also have a conversation, well, I like it this way because I do this, this, this, and the guy next to ’em, oh, well I didn’t think about it that way. Then they work together and then there’s this whole, the change is not going to be so bad because they’re involved in it and they know that what they’re saying is, okay, that makes sense. That’s my idea. I want to implement that. I want to try it this way. And they feel valuable. And that makes a difference compared if somebody just could care less one way or the other. So sometimes the changes, you’re going to have to end up personnel change to try and get a good team together. But if you’ve got a good team together, making them convincing them for change is really not that hard. It’s just making sure they’re involved in it.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (37:03):
Wow. We’re going to take the snippet that Ken said change is not that hard and
Ken Andersen (37:11):
I’ll regret that. I regret that.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (37:13):
Remember what you say, it’ll be used against you.
Ken Andersen (37:16):
Yeah, there you go. Absolutely.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (37:20):
Jodi, do you want to add anything?
Jodi Knepper (37:23):
I guess if it comes down to it, I think that team building in general is important. And so creating that comradery between people where they want to work together. When you think about it, you spend more of your waking hours with the people you work with than anybody else, including your family. And so it needs to be a positive place to be. And so we do things like team meetings. We do do team outings and things like that just to try to help them relate together as people and then care about each other as people. So maybe this change benefits you today and maybe it benefits the guy you went kayaking with last week. So I think that that’s important that it’s a cultural kind of thing, your shop culture. And then I think also one-to-ones with your people are important, whether that’s you doing it or your manager of the shop doing it just to help them. They’ve got goals they want to advance in their career and they want to achieve certain things for their family. So if you can help them see how this change is going to help them reach their goals, you’re going to get ’em behind you.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (38:35):
So you do weekly meetings or daily?
Jodi Knepper (38:40):
We do weekly meetings with the managers. We do biweekly meetings with the shop and biweekly with the technicians and the other service advisors
Uwe Kleinschmidt (38:55):
Can Ken
Ken Andersen (38:56):
Pretty much the same as Jodi, honestly.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (38:59):
Ken Andersen (39:03):
We’re looking at changing it to where it’s going to be for our next level, what we’re wanting to do with the production manager. We’ll probably step it up for weekly for everybody for a little bit of time and then we’ll probably split it back to biweekly.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (39:16):
I see. Yeah. For all the other shops it’s weekly and pro service even does it daily. So regular check-in and talk about KPIs and KPI is not just about inspections but how the business is doing financially too and create transparency, keeps the team working on the same ball.
Ken Andersen (39:52):
That is actually quite really a huge thing, especially if you’re a smaller shop or you’re trying to keep everybody behind you is I will and I do share, we’ve got QuickBooks, I share most of the numbers with them, the grosses, and here’s what we’ve got this week. It’s not just here’s how many hours you’ve got, here’s how much money the shop brought in. And I also involve them and say, Hey, here’s some of the expenses. So they understand. You build ’em back and forth when they break that tool, they drive off the rack with the alignment head still on or other, make some other errors that you have to cover. Then they start realizing that we’re not an empty pot of money here. We are limited. And they start looking at, okay, here’s our goal. We going to be, we are hoping hopefully to have a million dollars out of our location.
I’ve never crossed that number. We’ve always been a hundred, always been short of it. So this year’s goal is to push for that. We’re hoping, we’re really hoping, but getting the guys on and showing them the history and showing the big numbers that a lot of people are scared to show your employees. I mean you don’t need to show ’em every little detail, but you show ’em the information that they suddenly realize the gross numbers and that’s what you’re working off of is the gross numbers for your goal. I want this to be a gross. Why do we want that? I’ll give them, why are we doing it? Well, if you start hitting that, then all of a sudden everybody, there’s bonuses to be had. There’s obviously pay raises, things are being proven, different upgrades of shop equipment, that type of thing, or other outings.
Like Jodi said, we could start this year, hopefully next year. We’re trying to get, as a part of team building, I’m taking my entire shop down to the NAPA convention in Vegas. So we’re going to close the shop for the week, take everybody down there. So it’s not going to be as selective. It’s going to be as a group. So it’s going to be an event that hopefully make people more buy into the company more and that is their business. They take pride in it. And all of that makes a world of difference when it comes to interacting with your customers. It all comes back to that.
Bill Connor (42:06):
Jodi, I heard your why word getting back up in there again.
Jodi Knepper (42:09):
That’s right. It’s always about the why.
Ken Andersen (42:12):
It’s always about the why. Yeah.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (42:16):
Cool. Bill, let’s go back to Motorless research time.
Bill Connor (42:23):
That is, we kind of segued there and then got out there again. But one of the commonalities we see in successful shops is that motorist research time. And for the longest time we talked about 240 seconds being acceptable and now we find that our most successful shops, they’re up much higher. So Ken, obviously he just came on, he started out from ground zero and he averages 438 seconds. Then we got Jodi on the other end of the scale as she’s went ahead and grown and now she’s went ahead and taken on this new project shop. Their average is 641 seconds at one shop and 686 at the other shop. And kind of across the board we see that it’s a great way to go ahead and judge the quality of the content that’s going to the customer. We can tell by the fact that the customer’s open and looking at it, the drop off conversation must have been happening pretty, the conversation must be right and it must be consistent. And then we also see that they must be waiting. We recommend give that customer some time to digest the results and then call the shop ready to engage. And so to me, that’s one of the things that the most successful shops, we see those numbers up there in some pretty good high ranges
Uwe Kleinschmidt (43:54):
And that is already the compression of a lot of change, right? Service advisors take a lot of pride walking customers through a work order or inspection result and all of a sudden they don’t do it anymore. They added pictures instead and let them speak. How did that go? How did change make your service advisors feel? Did they feel okay with it right away? And so while I can gain more time and still get a higher approval, was it a challenge? You want to start Ken?
Ken Andersen (44:37):
Okay, I’ll start. In my case, it was like the service advisors I had did not honestly did not have an automotive background as we kind discussed before, they had people skills, but you can teach from the automotive side. So we were a little bit different in that way. It was eyeopening. As a matter of fact, the service advisor I’ve got now, when we started to, he just came on with me in last December and started using this program and the AutoVitals sending the messages, you could see the big huge light bulb go off over his head when he would send the inspections to the customer and do everything properly, the notes, the arrows, the all of a sudden see the amount of return on that, what the customer would authorize, suddenly you would have four or five, $6,000 jobs because where normally you would be okay, maybe a thousand dollars maybe because you’re trying to explain it to him over the phone.
And he was just, was very enlightening for him. And it also took a load off of him in the fact that he could show, like I say, pictures worth a thousand words. And then when you have a customer’s car up there that puts them at ease. They recognize the vehicle, oh, that’s my car. So the pictures and then giving them the time really makes a difference that it just, wow, it gave him a bit of a relief. But then we’re still fine tuning that. The production manager that I brought on here, he’s from another shop mentioned one of the things he said, well, I can pick up the phone, I can sell the customer what we need. I said, we don’t do that. We don’t sell the customer. We informed the customer. And he said, oh, okay. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And this is week number two for him.
And he started to see this is what it’s doing and how much it frees up. And yes, there’s definitely some prep work to it. It’s not like it’s all automatic, but what happens when you turn it loose to the customer and then watch those research times go and the timer’s going and all of a sudden they call back and it’s like they have questions for you. You completely blew his mind. The fact that it’s backwards from what everybody’s used to. And that is one of the things, it’s very, the change of having those tools available. Like you say, we can’t take our hands and carry the customer out to the shop point everything out like we used to. Now they just have it on their phone, whip it up, oh here’s my car. First thing they see a picture of their car, their mechanic, and all of a sudden it probably puts a little bit at ease and then they look down and we’re trying to make sure that every one of ’em has a green, a good job kind of a thing.
Hey, this was great, nothing’s wrong here. Congratulations. You have a vehicle that you have no oil leaks and there’s a picture of the underside of the engine. It’s bone dry, nice and clean so they can, oh, okay, I do it good. It’s little things like that that gives them, they can add a personal touch to it and it makes a big difference. And we’re still improving on that. We’re still growing on that because we’ve been into it for a little bit of time. But that is direction that it has made them a lot. It’s a lot easier for ’em and has really put them at ease with handling the customer, talking with the customer.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (48:13):
Thank you.
Jodi Knepper (48:15):
So I have service advisors who are technicians. So did they handle it well when they couldn’t just, they just need to send them pictures. My technician, service advisors hybrid, they still talk through the courtesy check with them. They do send it, but they still say, Hey, did you get that? And can you bring it up and we’ll look at it, we’ll talk about it together. So there’s still a lot of explanation, a lot of handholding and a lot of time on the phone. So the interesting thing is I have zero automotive experience, none. I am our ideal customer. 40 something female family drive two cars, et cetera, knows really not a lot. I guess the question that I would ask shop owners who are already doing this and who haven’t bought into editing the courtesy checks is have you sent one to yourself? Have you sent it to your wife?
Have you sent it to your cousin? Somebody who knows nothing about auto repair. If those pictures are not edited, I don’t know what I’m looking at. I can recognize the tire, I can recognize an air filter and then when you show me all that metal under the car, I don’t know what you want me to look at. So we went to, I think it was probably 2019, we went to the digital shop conference in California and we went to a special breakout session that Uwe had done and it was, you talked about you have to stop the thumb. And so that’s been the phrase that I’ve used with our people over and over and over is if it’s just all metal stuff, you’re not stopping my thumb. Doesn’t matter if it’s a picture, I don’t know what that metal thing is, but I know what a green check mark is.
That means it’s good. And if you give me a red circle or a yellow arrow, then I know what I’m looking at and I don’t feel so dumb when we have our conversation later. So it’s part of helping the customer to get the information that they need. They want to understand, they’ve heard the stereotypes that, especially the females that they’re going to get taken advantage of and this is transparency. It’s helping them to understand and it’s helping them to feel confident that you are the good guys. So I guess that’s what I would say. We still do a lot of handholding,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (50:59):
So maybe, dang, we have only six minutes left. What would love to do is so we stay in time and what’s your next step? I mean you both have achieved quite a bit in, but as you both said, change is now culture. How do you set your next goal? How do you get there? Is it a big hairy one or is it an incremental one attainable? Or do you not even think about this and say, okay, approval time is what I have to shorten so my texts are not getting antsy and believe more in the process or what are your next goals should go for it.
Jodi Knepper (51:50):
Okay, Ken, we’re going to be friends. I can see if we’re not on Facebook already, you need to request me. Okay, so since you mentioned approval times, that is something that we can and are actively working on. We’re also in that we’re also just trying to help our techs explain or understand that it’s not going to get as fast as the last place they worked and the reason for that they didn’t have this kind of volume of work that they did at their last place either. It just takes time. So setting some expectations is important. I also have the very unusual circumstance of having one shop. My smaller newer shop is on TVPX and my older shop, my larger shop is on TVP, the regular old Legacy TVP legacy. So we have a goal of moving that shop to TVPX. So that’s part of that.
The smaller shop, I guess our next goal, part of it’s approval times, yes, but we’re not using the communication center is effectively is we need to the alerts and things like that. So that’s going to be the one there. But correct me if I’m wrong, there’s not the same green check mark thing in the legacy TVP is there for the photo editing that you can pull a little green check mark on the I don’t think so. Yeah, see I think I talked to the service manager at the old one last night and he’s like, that would be really great. Who would know? Willing to switch to TVPX now and embrace change because of a green check mark.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (53:23):
Yep. Check,
Bill Connor (53:28):
Take your wins where you get them.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (53:30):
That’s right Ken.
Ken Andersen (53:34):
We’re pushing a couple different things. One of it is increasing ARO and trying to teach the guys that three of my guys have never worked at a dealer or never worked flat rate. So they don’t quite have the time is money concept in their head. We’re trying to point out the fact that you can, we want, I believe it’s work smarter, not harder. We’d like to have a higher ARO work on fewer cars because they’re running, run, run, run all the time with getting some high. A couple guys work on 50 cars in a month. Another guy will only work on 30 or 20 and it depends on what the jobs are. And then trying to realize that they could work longer on one car and make the same money if not more. That and as Jodi said, the communications we’re trying to get to where we can end in-house communications to have the techs quit walking back and forth and have the front office quit walking out.
It’s better. We have wasted, we have a little bit blur yet there on that. But we did realize and tell ’em, it’s basically in our case as is previously on Shop Talk Radio, there was a four minute, $4 a minute. And when you start bringing that up and you realize when you guys are walking from one end of the shop to the other, what else can we change in the shop? We split inventory. So we put all of our oil change things down by the oil change rack, not at the other end of the shop. We try to distribute everything so it’s easy. The guys say things, well how about talking, use your little, push your button, speak in your tablet, it’ll pop up on the front screen and you just get back to work. And those are the two things, things that we’re working on. That’ll probably be, honestly probably our next couple of months. It seems to be about a two months. We kind work on it, get it ironed out and move on. And then we have to revisit things every now and then because everybody’s needs a little nudge every now and then. But it makes, it’s just little things. You can’t make big changes all at once, but it’s just little nudges who you
Uwe Kleinschmidt (55:40):
Have done it.
Ken Andersen (55:41):
Yeah, we’ve had some big ones, but the day to day, once you start getting into their day routine, you keep them small and they don’t realize they’re making the change and you’re doing a lot of changes, changes, but they’re just small little nudges to the course and all of a sudden they don’t realize they’re 90 degrees from where they were, that type of thing. It makes a big difference. So for us, those are the two big things we’re pushing for now.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (56:08):
Thank you.
Bill Connor (56:09):
Awesome. We’re going to have to have these folks back on again. They surely shared a lot for sure. And I’d like to thank them for attending today. We’re up on the hour as usual and it’s flown by probably one of the quickest feeling episodes we’ve done in a very long time. Again, I’d like to thank them for attending today. I wish Frey was here so we could go ahead and thank him. But I’ll send ’em a message here a little bit later for those of you that have joined us live. Thank you. And don’t forget to check out on your favorite podcast platform. Look for the Digital Shop Talk Radio and go that route and also find another shop owner in your area that might benefit some help of the digital shop and invite them to an episode or two or have them join Log or listen to the podcast. So once again, unless you have anything else, I think we’re ready to wrap and tell everybody to have a great day and go make some money and turn their customers into clients.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (57:15):
Thank you. Yeah, thank you Jodi and Ken Short notice they worked out so well
Ken Andersen (57:22):
To do this again. Absolutely. Thank you. Perfect. And I’ll look you up, Jodi. I’ll look you up. Okay.
Bill Connor (57:30):
You got to be careful Ken, find you. Wherever you’re at,
Ken Andersen (57:36):
I, if not, I’ll get Bill on it. It’ll be good.
Bill Connor (57:38):
Yep, we can do it. Alright, thank you guys. Have a great day. Thank you.
Ken Andersen (57:43):
You as well. Thank you.

Back To Top