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Join Ken Anderson, Bill, and Uwe to explain why the spectrum of success by shops having gone digital is so wide. What effects going digital can have on your business? Learn why planning your succession is key for the health of your business and how solid shop operations are necessary. Lastly, the introduction of The Digital Shop is more than helpful.

Episode Transcript

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

Bill Connor (00:06):
Good morning, good afternoon. I’m Bill Connor and you’ve reached the Digital Shop Talk Radio where we gather with our panelists to discuss all things in an honest and open manner as it relayed to the digital shop today. Ken Anderson has agreed to join us again. He’s been a panelist many times. He’s the owner of B & L Quality Repair, LLC and AutoVitals founder Uwe Kleinschmidt is here as well. Join us for a discussion about why the success of shops already having gone digital is so repeatable and what other are the effects of going digital on your business. Today we’re going to go into some details of why the digital shop is so extremely helpful in this particular endeavor. What are some of the examples or advantages and pitfalls you might run into? As always, teamwork is required in the shop to provide the best results. You’re going to take away some tips today about using the digital shop to improve your operation while planning your business strategy. As always, you’ll learn from our guest panelists who operate shops just like yours. So Eva, if you wouldn’t mind, how about getting us started and we’ll get Ken all wound up here.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (01:12):
Thank you. Thank you Ken for joining again, always a great podcast. Yeah, we wanted to dig a little bit more in reasons why many, many shops who are going digital or they think there are and it’s substantial amount, mound kind of not go digital. They just replace the paper tool by the digital inspection tool and leave a lot of opportunity on the table. And it’s sometimes unclear whether that’s just because they don’t want to go further or whether certain old ways habits prevent them from taking the next step. And as we all know, it’s super hard to change habits. It doesn’t matter in inward area of our life. And so Ken, what we would like to do today is use you as an example where we go back and identify old ways, what was customer interaction like before going digital and what was so ingrained that it is hard to change?
What concerns the service advisor technician communication, what trends in the industry or trends in motorist education have fostered the change or are still preventing the benefits of going digital? And that’s all nice and ddy in a philosophical sense, but we really want to go down to details and help shops to identify those things and maybe take a step to change them. So although you have been on the podcast already, would you mind quickly reminding us how big is your shop? When did you start, what’s the growth phase? Give us some KPIs, number of employees revenue if you don’t mind a OO and those things.
Ken Anderson (03:39):
It started out 13 years ago. Right now it just a two man shop doing everything at present. I’ve got seven employees KPIs for over seven 50 a RO, 7 50, 8 50 range. It bounces a little bit and we are on the track this year to be 1.4 to 1.5 million gross sales. Very cool. I do have two buildings. It is in a, excuse me, it is in a industrial area, so I do have nine bays, total operational bays but four mechanics. But I’m also our mechanics. I don’t have an ALINE mechanics, we’re growing our own mechanics, so I got a couple of a very young crew if you will. Overall and we’re expanding ever expanding. We’re now getting into starting getting diesels and a few other things that we were not before. We’re just an all makes all model shop except for European. We kind of shy away from those. Overall has been, I say it’s been a good ride I have to admit. And obviously starting out in this endeavor, it was
When I came from a dealership background, so it was nice to get out on your own. As has been said before, once you decide to hang your shingle, it’s the fear of failure is going to kick in for most mechanics because it is the mechanics way. I mean I did not have the luxury of coming up on the business side of things. So this is all new. There is a lot of things that happen while you starting out that you want to run your business a certain way as you’re doing everything on the floor, turn wrenches, calling for parts and you are interacting with the customer. And so how you interact with the customer suddenly gets ingrained in you over the years because you find what works for you and then kind of lock into that and you stay there. And that’s one of the things that makes it very, it’s very difficult to, when you start introducing new concepts or more people, it’s kind of hard to let go of that.
And that’s one of the things like we said, kind of a rut. You get into comfort zone that you have a hard time and there’s always been from having come from the dealership, there’s always the red, yellow, green check inspection sheets have been in the industry forever. And so we always offered something along that line so you have a method we incorporate that with at that time point of sale system and we didn’t have a separate sheet, it was just part of the repair order automatically. So everyone got it. And then as time goes by, when you start making some changes, you realize you have to make some changes to grow because otherwise you just can’t do it all yourself unless you wish to be a, if you’re a one or two man shop and that’s all you want to be, that’s great. But most guys, most people want to strive and try to grow. That’s their big thing. Whether they don’t want the growth, look at the big dollars and compete with or be a big dog on the block type of thing. And it doesn’t always work for everybody, but once you start realizing it, you start, you have to be able to look at it and then working with who you’re, for a while I was working by myself because my first part end endeavor was a business partner that split.
So I was by myself and there’s no way I could keep up with everything. I could not produce what I turn the wrenches, get the car. It just didn’t work. It just was physically impossible and I knew I did not want to be a one man shop, so my desire was to grow. So again, fear of failure because this is my life savings and everything. Well, to open up this venture, I’m not going to fail. And I started getting into some of the electronic things and as we started getting into employees, that’s when things changed from one of the hard things to change from was having actually hiring a service advisor or somebody to take over the customer interaction so you could be free to turn the wrenches if you’re doing that because they were still working in the business not on it. And that was a very difficult, I think anybody who’s made that transition, we will tell you it’s a hard thing to let go because how you one, the customers get used to you and that was one of our mottos actually was you’re coming to our shop, you talk to the mechanic who’s working on your car, you’re not talking to a third party that relays a message, gets it wrong.
You’re talking directly to the person who’s going to work on your car and obviously now we don’t do that. We have a service advisor, a little bit of a buffer, but once that transition point is very difficult because you don’t want to let go. You have to let go and you have to try, you want to coach and work with that person you have in that position and it might take you a couple of times to find the right fit, who would fit with how you work. And if at that time by the time you have a service advisor, generally you will have or somebody up front to take care of the load off of you, generally speaking, you’ll have another person in the back with you. So you have to start to have the makings of a, if you will, a corporation, if you’re starting to get a hierarchy going and some of the changes you’ve got to make, you don’t realize you’re making ’em or you come up to ’em as a wall and you beat your head against it trying to say, okay, how do I do this?
But you realize it was yourself holding, you are holding yourself back because you can’t micromanage everybody in your facility and when you do that you lose. So you make a team form a team, talk back and forth and actually everybody’s included, make it a big deal. But then when you start trying to bring up your old ways, like the inspections and like you say going digital, it’s very common as you’ve alluded, we’ll just replace the paper, red, yellow, green with a digital, here’s a picture of red, yellow, green and not utilize and not leverage the rest of the system. Well I, and I think we all know shops that are going to do that and it’s okay, why not look at, it’s kind of hard to see the vision again because you’re so deep in your comfort zone. This is how we’ve done inspections for the last 10 years.
This is how we’re going to continue doing them. It works fine. Our customers believe them and they like ’em. And then you realize if you actually step out of that and actually take that risk that no of the customers really don’t like ’em because they’re just a check sheet and doesn’t really give the customer any information. Here’s a bunch of numbers, customer may or may not understand it and of course that’s then you come in with, that’s where the service advisor or the mechanic would come in and have a discussion with the customer and you try to educate the customer or at least in our location, we’ve always tried to educate so they understand what they’re doing. Why does this need to be on the car with the new digital coming out there and the way Covid kind of pushed that because you couldn’t have the interaction anymore, but that really threw a big loop in it from so the old ways, if you will, when you’re in your little comfort zone and you have a piece of paper and you sit across the counter and you’re talking to each other or you have a picture on your camera or maybe you had a camera, a shop camera that you had digital that you could turn around and show the customer the pictures that were out there if you were that advanced at it, but they were still or just flat file, take the customer to the car and say, here’s what we found.
Here’s that funky noise that you’re hearing. And then suddenly they build trust because they don’t know what they’re looking at. Honestly, 80% of the people that go out there have clue, but they see this part’s broken or moving, they understand a broken part and then they realize that, okay, you’re working. That’s how we used to build relationships and then once you have covid come in where everybody was locked down, you couldn’t six feet and you couldn’t do all this other, there’s really no way to interact with the customer. We used to, that forced a change and that kind of brought up a lot of the digital, which luckily we were going digital before that and then went through that with it, but that made a big difference. But you can’t just swap the paper for the tablet. I mean you have to actually utilize the rest of the features and understand what it is you’re doing. You’re moving the education from your front counter with a service advisor or under the car with a mechanic. You’re moving that to the consumer and their phone and their computer themselves. You’re doing the same thing and you have to think about it as the same thing, but because once everything shifts over, then you’re
Bill Connor (13:00):
A little bit different though because you’re actually moving to a point where the customer is educating themselves by what you sent instead of the mechanic pointing to it saying what it is and so on. So you’re actually putting the customer in a lot different position than they used to be in the past. It’s a position that kind of empowers them, so to say.
Ken Anderson (13:20):
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And that’s what we try to do that that’s where the digital part comes in and a lot of people don’t, I think do not understand that part of it. They’re scared, maybe that’s not the right word, but they’re concerned about giving the customer that much information. It’s not like we’re some hidden behind some magic curtain that we’re working on your car. I mean it’s a mechanical thing or an electronic thing and here’s what we need to do to fix it. Just be upfront and it’s not a dark art of anything where we wave magic wands and incantations over your vehicle and it’s done. It’d be nice if we could some days, but once you have to get that in your head, and a lot of times it can be very hard because okay, well I have digital, I’ve got digital inspections now that’s the key phrase or the big word around the industry of digital vehicle inspections, DVI, okay, well I’ve got it now what do I do with it or how do I, and that’s where it seems like everybody kind of drops the ball.
There’s myself, I’ve never really wanted to give the customer an estimate with the pictures and everything we send them, they don’t have numbers as we know, even if you’re trying to sell the old days, you pick up the phone and you try to explain the broken part to a consumer, to somebody who may not have a clue what you’re talking about. So you’re trying to educate them the best you can with words. You’re trying to paint a picture with words. Well now the DVI, you give that to them, let them look it over, then you call ’em and talk to ’em and you see on sir man on the second picture down that is the tie rod link we were talking about. That’s what it’s called. That’s doing the clunk clunk. You watch your little video, we show you that it’s actually that movement isn’t in there, is not correct. And then there’s that video that usually goes out with the educational minute and a half minute and 45 seconds of what the part is that turns around sales and it’s a soft sell, so it works very good with the consumer. All the things that we tried to do before the old ways, it just moved to a different realm and we are actually more so empowering the customer to make their decisions accurately and not based on dollars but based on what they need on their car
Before you take ’em out and show ’em on the car, well now you send it to ’em and explain to ’em via video pictures again wordage, but then you’re just not doing it in person and that’s the piece it seems that there’s connection from having a DVI to, I still want to talk to the customer. We do. That’s one reason when we send estimate out for the work, we don’t send the estimate out to the work with the inspection because we utilize the digital part on both the work order and on the inspection side. So it’s for the whole system, so when we send it to the customer, we don’t include prices on anything
And I do that intentionally because we’ve all done it. What do you do? You look down a list of things and you’re going pricing first. I mean just inherently we just naturally look at the price first. We don’t either. What’s the most expensive, what’s the cheapest? And then you start working from there. Well, if you take that number, that stigma out of the equation, the customer is more likely to read through and understand what they really need and then they call and we want to work with, we’ve always wanted to work with ’em on their budget. Hey, we can prioritize what needs to be done and what doesn’t. Well, in the old days we did that face-to-face and here’s this estimate, here’s how much money you need to set aside for the next time you’re in. It’s just a different way. We’re just doing it all electronically now, but making that jump is the hard part because you feel like many times a service advisor or owner or even a mechanic sometimes would feel like you’re losing control of the situation, turning it all over to them and you’re not the one holding all the cards and you’ve got to rely on it.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (17:26):
If I may expand on this because this is in my opinion, one of the biggest changes of habit and as you said, loss of control is one of the biggest fears in general. And so if you put yourself in a motorist shoes who have gotten used to since the Amazon days to explore everything online on their own time in their control and now get kind of forced to listen to the service advisor on the phone in the old ways and then that’s not the bad part. The bad part is you have to remember all this there. Exactly right.
Bill Connor (18:20):
Anytime back to somebody else as part of the equation.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (18:23):
Exactly. And I think most people can’t and in a business meeting or about to be late to something, so this portion of not on my timeline, let’s simplify decision-making super easy. Do I need the car? Do I have the budget? I say yes. There’s no real education going on. It’s more like I have to make a decision now in the next 10 minutes because I have a b, c waiting for me. Whereas the digital way is educate, spend time, be fine with losing control apparently, although it’s not losing control because what you put on the picture is your way of competing with Google and the better you do that, the more likely is the customer will never use Google because your education is so amazing that it’s actually not loss of control. It will be a higher value for the customer and as long as there’s a picture of the service advisor on the inspection sheet, they know that information comes from the same person I talked to on the phone last year. Right? There you go. Absolutely. Absolutely. The
Bill Connor (19:50):
Digital process, the digital process, what it really did is it exposed to the shop owner and staff that it’s the customer that’s been in control all the time. The customers in control your destiny and if you educate the customer and let them make informed decisions, your destiny is going to go ahead and be a lot better off than if you are waving hands trying to explain things using different sales tactics and sales pressure, you remove that pressure and take care of it through education. Again, to me it seems like since we’ve gone digital, it’s really made the customer in a position where they feel like they’re in control of their own destiny and that’s really what the consumer wants to do. They want to make their own decisions. Amazon’s proved that a hundred percent, otherwise people wouldn’t be reading reviews and looking over seeing all the features and benefits and so on. So again, we’re just transitioning to moving the customer to where they’re getting what they really want and that’s helping the shops out
Uwe Kleinschmidt (20:52):
And now another change which goes with it, and I have a question for you Ken, is there has to be a drop off a conversation introducing that process? Yes. So my question to you is when did you introduce digital inspections and how much later
Ken Anderson (21:15):
Did you, it was a drop off conversation
Uwe Kleinschmidt (21:18):
Was the drop off conversation introduced, which is you’re going to get a 90 minutes a text message, please check it out and give us a call. Right? Instead of we’re interrupting you and giving you a 20 minute spiel on what’s wrong with ocon.
Ken Anderson (21:40):
Right. When because prior to getting with AutoVitals or having a DVI period on our old system,
We’ve adopted text messaging as quickly as we finally realized that we had to do texting and that made it much easier for a quick connection, Hey please call, we have information on your car and the phone number. That way they could and then they usually would at their time they could call back. So we were kind of on the cusp of it and then once we started sending the other things, at that point we were trying to say to the customer coming in and by all means we were not perfect. I mean we still struggle with it. As a matter of fact, working on a brochure now as we had that talk with Bruce earlier, the counter brochure of what to expect when you come into our facility, but we did try to I guess warn or arm the customer saying that we were going to be sending you something via text. It’s not spamming you, we’re not trying to, this is just information about your car and what we find today on your car. So if you would please look it over and potentially expect a call from us or call us back, we would appreciate that and we get your repair taken care of quickly or something to that effect. We would try to a variety of different things.
It was not always told because obviously again it’s a habits you’ve never had to do before because for drops off keys, you talk about a few things and they’re out the door with their ride or what have you or since Covid there, you never even see the customer. They drop the keys off, you show up, the keys are here and they pick up after you’re closed. So once
Uwe Kleinschmidt (23:28):
And if I may, I think the biggest challenges for a service advisor who was a seasoned service advisor always has a lot of pride in being the expert and telling the customer on the phone what’s wrong with the car and be in control of that conversation now has to take a step back and rely on the process that the customer actually gets, opens the text message, takes time to study the pictures and then calls back, right? There’s fear involved, loss of control and overcoming that is I think a big deal.
Ken Anderson (24:18):
One of the ways to think about it that would be helpful is you’re not really losing. Yes, you’re losing control because you don’t have that all the years of the experience they have had where they maintain the control of the conversation, the same thing can happen and does happen. The better they take care of the inspection or the information you’re sending them. If you documentation that you’re doing is the same thing, you’re talking to ’em on the phone, but it’s going to be in a way that they, it’s not going to have that pressure feeling to ’em and it’s actually going to take a load off of you because almost every seasoned service advisor that has actually
Stepped up and decided to accept this and run with it and not run away from it have actually decided, I mean I’ve heard it, I’m sure you have as well. I wish I would’ve done this when you first put it on. I wouldn’t have thought it so much. It’s really because I am now, I am better connected with my customers, they understand more. It’s a relaxed conversation where I’m not trying to talk over the customer over their head trying to explain something that is simple for me, but I can’t Id even the picture, they see what’s wrong. They ask me questions about the car that I would not normally ask them and then so it open it up a dialogue much easier and they are still in control because as you see, here’s your picture at the top of the screen so that person knows that they are the ones that sent that information, but now it’s being consumed at their leisure or on their time. If they’re in the middle of a meeting, they obviously can’t answer the phone, so it might be 20 minutes later. There’s a few things like that that you just have to adjust for the times
Uwe Kleinschmidt (26:02):
And since business meetings are all boring, they would rather use that time to investigate the inspection results. Just kidding. So that’s one old ways. Turn the direct control into an indirect control and get the educational information out to the motorist and then expect a phone call with buying questions basically. What else have you noticed? So for example, inspection rate by the technicians, which I want to go back to trends in the industry a little bit. I don’t know how long is it ago that Sharps basically focused on fixing stuff? There was no maintenance even thought about,
Ken Anderson (27:06):
Well my commit through the dealership was never maintenance, always warranty work. So that was very interesting. We had very little maintenance coming through, although we wanted maintenance, we knew what it was good for the customer and the car and profitable, but a lot of the maintenance went to the independence. So that’s kind of pre me if you will for that part. But from the dealership side, we were always striving to do maintenance and have maintenance work done, but most consumers, excuse me, did not wish to pursue that.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (27:45):
Bill Connor (27:46):
I think in the mid eighties that’s when it changed though, because before that it was pretty much a repair type business and then about in the mid eighties when the prices or price and value of vehicles started going up, that’s when there was kind of a push to go ahead and get maintenance. That’s when we switched from paper repair manuals to digital where we had access to the OEM information for the recommended services and early to mid eighties I believe that’s when the big push for getting people to actually do the maintenance to keep their vehicles up actually started taking place. Prior to that, people didn’t drive that much. It was very unusual to have a vehicle that was over a hundred thousand miles and today we’re getting to two 50 and up.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (28:31):
Ken Anderson (28:32):
One of the big differences really I know from the dealership side was if it was an import owner, if you had an import owner, they would be the ones that would very stringently stick to their maintenance guides. They would come in specifically, here’s my, I am due for the 30,000 mile service. I am due for my 60,000 mile service. You did not see that pushed at all for the American makes. It was very rare that you’d have a brake fluid. How many times did you change brake fluid? I mean there’s vehicles out there that have original brake fluid in ’em that have never been out 30 years later. It’s still the original brake fluid in the thing.
Bill Connor (29:11):
So that kind of corresponds with what I was saying because in the mid eighties that’s when the imports came into this market and when they came in, they came in and they pushed the maintenance and what that did is it changed the perception of their vehicles till they lasted longer and then eventually the OEMs that are in us decided, you know what? This seems to be the thing to do because we’re getting blasted because they think these Asian cars last longer. The foreign cars last longer, and that’s about the same time that changed change. The maintenance came in.
Ken Anderson (29:43):
That would make sense because you have, how many times have you heard a Toyota owner say, well, I’ve done nothing to my car and it’s lasted this long and they’ve got 300,000 miles on it. Well, what they don’t realize is when they went to the dealership to get things done, there was fluid are being changed, there was maintenance being done to the vehicle and talking with other mechanics in the import to dealerships, the work was being done that way. They don’t look at it as major repairs. The maintenance, they had a different approach to it. It was a marketing thing predominantly based between imports take care of the vehicle and longevity compared to disposable if you will, for lack of a better term. On the American side, there was really no, like you said bill a hundred thousand miles. I mean was it load the family up and go for that Sunday drive and watch the odometer 0, 0, 0, 0 because that was a big deal because, and he made it home after that too.
Then it was really good because a lot of times everything was worn out by then and things have gotten to be a lot better these days. So a lot of the thinking of how we used to do things, we used to do maintenance, but it was hard. It was a hard sell because the American public with the American vehicles didn’t really believe in it. The corporations didn’t push it down. The salesman never said anything about it. It was really nothing listed in their manuals about it. There was, but they wouldn’t, okay. They weren’t educated enough to understand what the benefits were, whereas the import driver did, I mean, and that say back in the eighties, those were the great eighties and early nineties, people walking in with their, I say with their books, Hey, I want all this work done. It’d be a thousand, $1,500 job to have their maintenance done and you didn’t do anything. You just walked in here. I want this done and okay, we’ll take care of it for you.
Bill Connor (31:30):
And the region to country made a big difference also because if you were in the northern area by the time your car was 40,000 miles on it, basically it disintegrated anyways. Now we got into all the composite metals and plastic and stuff like that and they have a tendency to hang around a little bit longer even though some folks complain about having to work on ’em. But so there’s been a lot of changes and it’s really kind of interesting right now with what’s going on with the price of used vehicles and new vehicles, repair shops across the country are kind of backed up because people are reinvigorated and understanding is that this is a huge investment and in some cases it’s going up in value when it used to be the other way around and I better take care of it.
Ken Anderson (32:15):
Yeah, they’re looking at it as a resale value as well. They realize because their car is now more valuable, but they can’t replace it as easy as they could even a year ago, a year and a half ago. So somebody, they would normally take a car and have it for maybe two, three years and get rid of, get another one. Even if they were used cars, they just kind of roll through ’em. They realized now they’re keeping, we’re seeing, like you say Bill, a lot of times two, 300 miles on car is not a big deal and as long as they’ve been taken care of, we finally had a customer pushing half a million miles on their vehicle and they had a lot of issues, but she finally had to retire at a half a million miles. We really said this is not a good investment of money at this point in time. Sometimes you got to have that. We do the same conversation with people in the past as well and you still have to have that conversation with them nowadays, but it’s just,
Bill Connor (33:05):
It’s a little harder these days to go ahead and tell the customer, do not resuscitate this car than it was in the past though because of replacement costs.
Ken Anderson (33:13):
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (33:19):
So let’s talk about old ways in the service advisor technician conversation, okay, right. Old ways are, I have a thing to discuss, you interrupt what you’re doing, then you interrupt the other person you want to talk to and then talk and then you walk back, whether it’s the service advisor going to the service space,
Bill Connor (33:45):
You mean back like when the service writers were scared because the technicians were standing behind ’em with a bunch of fly bars waiting to talk to ’em those days
Uwe Kleinschmidt (33:53):
Ken Anderson (33:53):
Those days
Uwe Kleinschmidt (33:56):
To me, to be honest, how service advisors get a status on what the progress of their work is, the only way is to go to the back and ask
Ken Anderson (34:11):
Exactly. And it wouldn’t have matter whether dealer or independent, same thing you had somebody put their head out the door to yell, Hey, hey Bill, where are you at on that car? Oh, about an hour and a half. Okay. Goes back
Bill Connor (34:24):
Or do that walk of death between the front office and the farthest bay to find out what was going on
Ken Anderson (34:30):
Or they’re avoiding another customer and run it. I got to go check back here, leave with the other guy. That kind of thing. But there was a lot of times, and that was the amount of walking, I mean if it’d be great nowadays if they had Fitbits back then, because boy you would have so many steps on it wouldn’t be funny because you’re walking from one end and it wouldn’t matter if you’re were the mechanic or not because many times you’d have to go up front because to talk to advisor need information or let ’em know where the status is at or hey, I can’t go any further on this one or vice versa. They’d have to come back to the to you to say, okay, where are you at on it or what’s going on so I can update the customer Now,
Bill Connor (35:10):
Do you remember how long that was wasted per repair order that you can kind of guess for people just standing around, walking around?
Ken Anderson (35:17):
I would say it’s probably 20 to 30 minutes at least on a larger ticket because if you had a single line ticket, it would not be that bad. But if you had four or five jobs on a repair order, you try to get all the questions answered at once, but invariably something would come up or so that was
Bill Connor (35:34):
Kind of a service rider time spent and was part of that be technician time also. So when the service writer got there, they’d interrupt the technician and go ahead and talk to them also for a period of time.
Ken Anderson (35:44):
Absolutely. So you actually, it didn’t seem like it at the time because you were living it, but you actually the whole shop kind of ground to a halt or you took all that production down from production to zero and then you ramp back up again and then get going again. It doesn’t pop up that way though. After you interrupt somebody, it takes time to crawl back up again and go. So there was a lot of the walking and talking to now if you actually utilize it and have people that accept the text messaging options and the chat functions in auto vital for example, you just push a quick button, Hey, I need an update, ding. And it’ll might take five minutes, but the tech gets to a point where the turnaround to look at something or get a tool, then they can look at their message and chat back where they’re at. So the rhythm is still going, you’re not interrupting the rhythm of the shop. So in the
Bill Connor (36:45):
Past for a service writer to be comfortable with what the technician said, a lot of times it would go back to the car and lay eyes on it. Whereas now basically they can look at the pictures and the inspection results, get comfortable, modify it, and then now they’ve got the tool made for the customer also.
Ken Anderson (37:02):
But at the same token, you need to have a certain trust, they’ve got to trust each other. So you got to have a good team, you’ve got to be working together. Well even now if you have something, it doesn’t matter what you sent up there, service advisor, I want to see it myself so I can explain to the customer. So there’s a lack of trust. Not every time I’m just saying, but there are many guys out there that still have that they don’t fully believe in the system if you will, or they don’t trust that mechanic. They trust Billy Bob here, but they don’t trust Joe over there. So I got to double check on whatever Joe tells me on the chat messages. That’s a whole different topic, a whole different theory. That’s your shop culture that needs to be worked on there.
Bill Connor (37:43):
And so in the past we had to physically go ahead and trust that relationship. Now today, we have the ability to actually go and measure that through. Is the recommendations the technician making, are they actually getting to the estimate and are they presenting to customers so that trust can be verified in a different way and you can see the trends from the different technicians, different technician, service advisor grouping, so to say pairs
Ken Anderson (38:11):
And if a multi-service advisor, Multi-Tech facility, then you maybe find it better. You might have to shuffle around, okay, this service advisor now will be paired up with this mechanic. They hit it off real well or something. They trust each other and their numbers both go up when they’re working together. You have the numbers you can measure that with and actually see that change and then maybe you can make that decision if that’s how you want to operate your shop. But the biggest thing is you start having, again, a lot of people that just replace the paper with a tablet don’t realize how deep that this can actually go and what information they can clean off of it. And sometimes they may know that and they scared to know the numbers, they don’t want to know how bad it really is.
Bill Connor (38:54):
So in the past, plus we had to walk through the shop and today you just turn your head up and look at the today’s vehicle page and have that understanding at your fingertips.
Ken Anderson (39:04):
A lot of it, yes,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (39:07):
But that’s another habit change, right? I will never forget how, I don’t know. It came through A technician chatted in and said, I don’t think you used the world bastards, but something to that effect. You allow now my boss to monitor every minute of my work. I quit because the TVP. Now if you, and so that’s the question for you Ken. How long did it take your technicians to see a benefit to check off the jobs done on the tablet? Because it’s an additional step. You have to take the tablet and say, I’m done, or 50% done or whatever,
Bill Connor (39:56):
Or even have open when they’re working on a vehicle,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (40:00):
Have the tablet open when they’re working on a vehicle so the service advisor can immediately see the progress and doesn’t need to come to the back and ask how far are you or check in, how far are you?
Ken Anderson (40:14):
Yeah, we’re not perfect at that still. We still have a few as far as having it open, you’re
Bill Connor (40:21):
80% perfect. I looked,
Ken Anderson (40:25):
Are you checking my numbers to get on me in the backside?
Bill Connor (40:27):
Ken Anderson (40:32):
We really don’t have a problem with the guys are open, the tablet’s open when they’re working on the job, understand the, and they do understand the reasoning for that. The part is that the 10 to 25, 50, 70 5%, they’re we’re starting to really focus on that and it’s all small steps you can’t take making the switch to digital is not like here I have the digital poof next week where we’re rolling at these fancy numbers. It’s taken, honestly, it’s taken us a good year and a half. There’s a lot of other stuff along the way as well, but honestly year and a half to two years, this is a long-term commitment and a long-term effort. But once you step by step, you got to break it off, like you say, eat the elephant one bite at a time if you will.
Bill Connor (41:22):
That transition is really similar to when you go and buy that first complicated scan tool or lab scope. It comes into shop, you use it, you use a little piece of it and then after a certain period of time you discover how you can actually use it to solve problems or make money.
Ken Anderson (41:40):
And especially on the mechanic side, if a scan tool, this one offers a lab scope, suddenly the first time they use that they realize what information they get off of it. It’s like a big light bulb. And so next thing you know that thing’s being used on every vehicle instead of just a select few.
Bill Connor (41:56):
So how do we turn them light bulbs on sooner for everybody?
Ken Anderson (42:01):
Well start LED. Low voltage. That’s a good way to start with Honestly, every shop’s different. And as you brought up Bill, we did things backwards at our shop, but it’s find out what works for in your team environment, in your shop, in your culture. We started, we didn’t push the inspections at all. Matter of fact, we started doing that and then we stopped and we just worked on the work order side. So we had started using replacing the tab. You go ahead
Bill Connor (42:38):
And explain what you mean by working on a work order side because a lot of shops seem to miss using the work order part of it to go ahead and build value into what they’re doing is show that complexity to the customer.
Ken Anderson (42:51):
That is by and far our main usage of AutoVitals is the fact that it is able to utilize the work order. It is not just the DVI and that inspection, that’s all it handles. It also is able to, the tech is able to record show pictures of the work they’re doing on the vehicle previously on our old system, our old ways, they’d either write down what they’ve repair or we type it out. They had a terminal by their computer or by their bay and then they would type out what they were doing. So they’d have to write this story, no pictures, no nothing, just explain it. Well now they can just take a picture. Here’s a few words Mr and Mr. Customer, here’s the water leak. It shows show a little video that we, where the hose is split and leaking water or the water pump’s leaking and then take another snapshot of when the new parts are put on.
Just a quick little, hey, kind of boost the pride in the job that here’s proof of what I did to prove, I’m not trying to scam you, I’m being upfront honest with you. And that was the work order side of being able to send it and it’s to document what the tech is doing. Even if we’re doing a big dash job, like you’re doing some HVAC work where you have to take the dash out of the vehicle, the tech, they’ll take a picture of it and the customer will come in, well, why does it cost so much? Why is it so expensive to have this little $50 part put in? And then you pull up the pictures and say, well, this is how we had to get to that $50 part. And then a lot of times it shocks them and they, well, is my car going to be the same after that? I say, well, we hope so. If not, we’ll stand behind it and fix it. But this
Bill Connor (44:31):
Is kind of an interesting full cycle of the process for the customer. They come in with a symptom or concern. You’re going to go ahead and do the vehicle health check on it regardless, so they know is their vehicle worth investing in. You might go ahead and find out what the problem is during that inspection or you might go ahead and do some pinpoint testing on it where you get the results actually on the work order where you can actually send them. And then you actually, on the actual operation, you have the pre and post repair pictures that you can actually send that part to the customer also.
Ken Anderson (45:02):
Yes. No, we’re not on every single one, but there’s a lot of times we’ll see if it’s, we’re trying to do a lot more of the done. We obviously are very good at pictures of what’s broken and what’s bad, but we are also trying to make sure more of a routine of getting the pictures of the good and what’s been replaced or what’s done. That way that customer sees it before and after shot, just like breaks.
Bill Connor (45:23):
In the past, we used to make that customer feel good by going out there and opening the hood and showing them, hey, there’s the bright shiny stuff. And now
Ken Anderson (45:30):
Bill Connor (45:31):
Can do that digitally.
Ken Anderson (45:32):
Digitally. We can’t take ’em to the hood anymore and show ’em the time, isn’t there, especially the consumer that drops off for four hours and picks up after hours, you never see that person, but you now quantify and you put value to what work you did and you send that to them so they understand. And it also makes it, again, your mechanic, it kind of gives them, takes pride in the work that, Hey, I did this. Not everybody, it’s not for everybody by every means. Some guys that don’t really care don’t want to do that, but majority of the mechanics that I’ve dealt with or we appear, do they want to take a picture of what was wrong with it? Because they want to show, hey, here’s what was wrong and we can confirm the customer, Hey, we diagnose it as this and we finally get down to that piece and yep, that’s the one that’s broken. Take a picture or video. And that’s just proof that, yeah, we were right. We weren’t just taking a guess at it.
Bill Connor (46:26):
Do you find using the same process for all customers is the best way to do it versus going ahead and letting somebody arbitrarily decide, I’m going to do it for this type of customer, but this one I’m not going to do it for. You just treat ’em all the same.
Ken Anderson (46:39):
Pretty much It’s not. And it’s kind of up to the mechanic. I mean, we’re trying to push it a little bit harder so we get more of it universally, and that’s going to be just proof of changes to proof the job was done correctly. If they, well, you didn’t fix, you charged me this and you get some of the, occasionally you still get that customer that wants to argue with you about something or about price and you don’t want to be argumentative. You’re not trying to be combative with the customer. It could just be having a bad day and they’re starting to unload on you and then you present this information to them and well, here’s the steps we took. Here’s the pictures and here’s the video. And all of a sudden they kind of, oh, well, you’re being honest again, if that transparency part comes up, we’re not trying to hide anything from ’em. Here’s what we did. It’s upfront. We’re not hiding anything behind the curtain from you behind.
Bill Connor (47:34):
So for the consumer, the bad word in the industry right now is diagnostics. A customer, when they hear that word, they go ahead and kind of cringe. So being able to go ahead and document inspections that were done and the testing was done helps go ahead and able to shop to go ahead and actually build value into what they have to charge to actually locate these problems on these complex vehicles.
Ken Anderson (47:56):
It definitely, it helps a lot because again, like you say, that is kind of the trendy cringe word is diagnostics because people think it’s just plugged in as a scan tool and poof, it tells you what’s wrong. So why are you charging me this hour labor a hundred dollars or whatever to fix out? I already told you that the parts house told me it was an O2 sensor. Well, no, there’s more to it than that. But then you started going through and documenting, we will use it to take pictures of the scan tool, screenshots of the scan tool and the tests we went through. Well, here’s proof of that. The O2 sensor is just fine. It’s working beautifully. Here’s where your real problem is. It was a mass airflow sensor, and here’s the reason it is that way. Here’s the steps that we took to take it to get to that. That’s our diagnostic procedure to realize we put the correct part on for you and not the wrong part and have you come back and have the same
Bill Connor (48:51):
Problem. It’s no longer a car or truck, it’s a network computer that’s drivable.
Ken Anderson (48:56):
That’s what it is. Yeah. You got cars that are how many computers? 18, 20, 30 computers on a vehicle? 50
Bill Connor (49:04):
50 on your, yeah, really common. Especially now that we’re getting into the ADOS type features
Ken Anderson (49:10):
And that amplifies it even more. Absolutely. So been able to do even like on ados, you, that’s a good something if you can get into that where you are able to show what you have to take pictures of the carbon, what you have to do to realign the census
Bill Connor (49:27):
For liability reasons, you better document what you did because if something goes wrong later on, somebody’s be looking for, I mean, no consumer wants to be accountable for anything. So basically insurance companies or lawyers are going to be looking for somewhere, so you better have documentation. You did it right, and you followed the OEM procedures
Ken Anderson (49:47):
And that was one of the ways talking with the mechanics and one of the ways to help them get onboard is we are in the business with doing the system. We’re educating the customer, but we’re also proving that you did the work and you know what you’re doing, you’re competent and it, so as a side effect of this, we have the CYA factor, and then all of a sudden they start looking, oh, okay, yes, the primary is that we are educating the customer, so we’re giving them the information, but we’re showing everything that we did in the meantime that holds up because okay, here’s what we did. And so if they come back and say, well, you didn’t do this, you didn’t do this, and here we have documentation that yes we did. And they’re, ah, okay, I’ll go on to somebody else. So
Bill Connor (50:31):
Years ago we used to repair vehicles. Now we restore complex system to operate as they were design when they left the factory.
Ken Anderson (50:39):
Yeah, I control all, delete, reboot. That was one of the ones back in the day. But that it’s very true, very, the days of points and a quick little mechanical screwdriver and a matchbook can you fix your vehicle is long gone. And the perception of the consumer is that we’re still given a screwdriver and a matchbook and you can fix my car to the mechanic is really, for lack of a better term, really a nobody because they have a computer, they plug in and tells ’em what’s wrong. Anybody can do that percept
Bill Connor (51:14):
Effect when they expected ’em to walk out to the car and tap on the fender and it start right up
Ken Anderson (51:19):
Or the jukebox, either one. Yeah, it is. That’s something that we still to this day, it’s getting better. But that’s still something that any shop combats, if you will, is the perception of what the consumer sees, what they think of as a mechanic or a technician, and the fact that it is not a grease monkey in the back with a hammer and hitting things. Sometimes it is if for suspension, but a lot of times there’s a lot more complexity to the car than they realize that what these guys gals have to do to work and fix their vehicle and keep them on the road and the pictures and the video. And again, it kind gives because the tech is not talking to the consumer. They really don’t intermingle very much anymore. So many shops do if that’s your layout, but there’s a lot of ’em that aren’t that way.
So suddenly that gives the tech a word, a way to get in there and prove, Hey, I did my job. I know what I’m doing. And take pride in their work and show it off because they want to do that. So it makes, in my case, my techs, I’ve got the four of ’em after about a couple weeks of showing them replacing what was existing with that they took to it and liked it. Service advisors, not so much that took a little bit more to get into there, but they were a little bit more ingrained in their rut old ways. But once they got past the old ways, it was beautiful.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (52:56):
Five minutes left. Just a little reminder,
Ken Anderson (53:00):
What do you think bill? Time flies. Time does fly and it’s good. There’s a lot of information. I mean, if there’s anybody that’s watching this or listening to these, as you say, bill, go back into the library and start listening to ’em as you’re driving down the highway or if you’re driving to work and start picking up little ideas, it’s phenomenal when you want to reach out to try and how do you get out of your comfort zone? What steps do you to take to bypass some of your old ways or get ideas to help somebody else get out of their old ways at peer to peer through this program? Be it online, be it another grouping. There’s multiple ways to get the information and pick it up and how other people are doing it as well.
Bill Connor (53:48):
So when you’re talking about the stored up digital shop talk episodes, they can find them by going to digital shop talk radio, and if they actually want to go ahead and chat with their peers in a chat, they go to the Facebook forum for the digital shop, talk in Facebook and go and join in there. And we’ve had so many really good owners actually on over the years as panelists that are always willing to go and communicate. And sometimes they’ll go ahead and start that conversation online and then like you do, you go ahead and I guess you stalk other shop owners call ’em up and say, Hey, how do we do this?
Ken Anderson (54:28):
Well, not quite stocking, but a little bit, maybe a little. But it is interesting. But the information you can get just takes a little bit of time and it is so the return on investment is so good, it’s so well worth it and it is not worth holding onto your old habits. It’s worth taking that risk again, run with a fear. The fear of failure that you’re going to do something wrong, run with it and turn it into something good.
Bill Connor (54:56):
What are your top three things that a shop should focus on when they’re changing from the old way to the new ways? What are the top three areas of their business they should focus on?
Ken Anderson (55:07):
I would say one of the first things before making a big change like that would’ve to be shop culture. Make sure you’ve got a good group of people that work together well and want to work together well. You are not already having internal strife going on. That’s not worth it. It’ll cause a lot of other issues, but also include that way you can include your team in the discussion of going digital and some of the benefits that you feel and let them think about. Let them ask questions back and then see, okay, and get them to get that conversation going on that I can’t stress out the team part of it. That’s what’s made a big difference for us. The shop culture and the team back and forth, including it doesn’t matter if it’s your GS guy or your AEC or Ctec or your front counter guy, whoever it is, ask them questions, get their input, and that will make the transition a lot easier.
Bill Connor (56:08):
My takeaways I got from you today is the top three things maybe to focus on is that drop off the experience with the customer, your internal communication between the service providers and the techs and getting the service writer to go ahead and let go. Let the customer go ahead and review the results and call the shop in a better position where they’re educated in a position where they’re asking buying type questions.
Ken Anderson (56:37):
I would agree. Absolutely. So do you have
Bill Connor (56:40):
Anything else you want to add?
Ken Anderson (56:42):
I’m really thankful that you can summarize it like that, bill. Thank you. You’re absolutely right. I mean that it’s huge, but no, it’s well worth it. Enjoy the adrenaline rush of the fear of failure and run with it and do it. I love
Uwe Kleinschmidt (57:01):
Bill Connor (57:01):
I love that. That’s the fear. The first time we asked you to be on a podcast, right?
Ken Anderson (57:05):
Right. Yeah. That was the fear of the first half. Absolutely. If you have an opportunity, get ahold of Bill and be on a podcast. It’s good.
Bill Connor (57:13):
You have anything else you want to add before we finish up.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (57:16):
I’m good Ken. Thank you very much. It’s been a pleasure to you on.
Ken Anderson (57:24):
Thank you for having me. I enjoy it. And anybody questions or something, reach out. I’ll be glad to answer anything. Usually you can get ahold of me on Facebook.
Bill Connor (57:32):
Once again, Ken, I’d like to sincerely thank you for joining. I’d like to encourage folks to go to the auto and look up fire episodes from shop owners just like you that have shared with us over the years and go out there and make some money and empower your staff to create happy customers and have a great day.
Ken Anderson (57:54):
Absolutely. Thank you. Have a good one. You
Bill Connor (57:56):
Bet. Bye
Ken Anderson (57:57):

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