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Episode Description

Aram Tatarian (Aram’s Auto Repair Center) joins our host Tom Dorsey (AutoVitals) and co-host Michael Bennett (ATI Coach) to share the TOP 3 things his shop does every day that helped them achieve a 40% increase in weekly revenue and how they sustain that week after week.

Episode Transcript

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

Tom Dorsey (00:03):
Good morning and good afternoon. Welcome to this week’s edition of The Digital Shop Talk Radio. My name is Tom Dorsey and I’ll be hosting today I’ve got a great show lined up for everybody. Today we’re going to be talking about the three key takeaways to increase your weekly revenue by 40% in a digital shop. And to help me tell that story today, I’ve got a couple of great guests. First I’d like to introduce Mike Bennett. Mike Bennett is a coach with ATI also the owner of Mike’s cars. Mike, say hi. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Michael Bennett (00:44):
Good morning everyone. As Tom just said, I do work for ATI full-time as a coach, but I’m also still an owner of an automotive repair facility in the industry. We do use AutoVitals and so I have the unique perspective of not only using it as a tool, as a shop owner and experiencing the credible success we have with our customers at the shop level, but as a coach, I get to interact with the shops that also use it very much on the training side through various tools like the business control panel and really help dial in the success points that have really tended to make a real difference in average repair order value and therefore top line revenue. So very excited to be here. Thank you.
Tom Dorsey (01:25):
Yeah, no, thanks for coming Mike. And yeah, so a little disclaimer. Mike is also an AutoVitals customer, uses that in his location in his shop there, but also like you said, and we’re going to dig in today about how we can really use that tool to help also coat shops to improve. And so we’ve got a perfect Guinea pig example here with Aram Tatarian from Aram’s Auto Repair in Fresno, California. Say, hi Aram, tell us a little bit about your shop and how you came to ATI and marrying that with AutoVitals.
Aram Tatarian (02:03):
Well Tom, thank you so much for having me on your show. It’s an honor to be here. Yes, my name is Aram Tatarian. I’m an owner for Aram’s Auto Repair in Fresno. I have been with AutoVitals since January of 2017, and I’ve been with ATI for about nine years now. And we have definitely seen huge jump in our ARO average ever since we started using the AutoVitals program.
Tom Dorsey (02:38):
Well, that’s fantastic. And so I mean that’s quite a long time that you’ve been with ATI. And tell us a little bit about how you got started with ATI. I mean, what were you looking to do with your business and then what made you decide to go ahead and go digital and add the power of the digital shop alongside of your ATI coaching?
Aram Tatarian (03:05):
Well, before I joined ATI, it got to a point where I was in business. I’ve been open since 1997, so we did pretty good until I joined ATI. But it got to a point where it was stagnant, it was not moving. I basically ran out of ideas what else to do to increase the revenue to give me a little bit more freedom. So when I found out ATI really jumped on it and we’ve been implementing a little lot of time the program, and it’s done very well for me. I’m very happy with it.
As far as going digital, I knew that with the new technology and everything that is going around us, we had to be ahead of the curve. We had to be one of the first shops in the area to implement this program for us to stay ahead of the game. So I was with another company a year prior joining AutoVitals. It was kind of a difficult program to implement. It wasn’t as smooth as friendly using. So my service advisor and I, we took a ride January of 2017 to the headquarters of AutoVitals to see what this program is all about. And the minute my service advisor Billy saw this, he said, this is what we need. And when I saw that he bought the system in his head, I knew that I had to join because unless he buys it, he’s the one who’s got to push the program since he’s the one who’s writing the service. So I knew it’s going to be successful from that point on. So we decided to join.
Tom Dorsey (04:58):
Yeah, fantastic. That seems to be a common theme that I hear a lot is that when guys first start, or I should say shop owners, I’m sorry, I’m not trying to be sexist, but when shop owners first get started with ATI, they’re really looking to do exactly that is to start to build some processes that allow them to, like you said, have some more free time or be able to get away from the business a little bit and start to work on the business. And Mike, can you talk to us a little bit about where you guys look at it from ATI’s perspective is what areas are you looking to help these shop owners in so that they can achieve that goal of working on the business? And how does a tool like AutoVitals help you to accomplish that?
Michael Bennett (05:42):
Well, absolutely. Yeah, it’s probably not the venue in which we want to go into a long conversation about what we try and do with shops and shop owners and moving them from a working in point of view to a working audit point of view. I think that’s probably a given to be for the most parts. The standard dream and aspiration of a shop owner is to not necessarily have to be a functional part of the daily operations. Now that being said, one of the things that oftentimes we find is that a shop owner’s probably one of the more talented individuals in the shop. So whether that’s from a technical point of view and his ability to interact with vehicles or evaluate conditions on vehicles, or it could be from the service counter point of view and their ability to communicate with customers and talk about necessary repairs or just have good really strong sales skills.
And so one of the things that I think a lot of shop owners have looked to a system like AutoVitals in the digital platform has been to be able to improve that communications, whether it’s from the bays to the counter and the counter to the customer. Certainly there’s the concept of giving information to a customer in a format that they’re most comfortable with. That’s kind of a given. We’ve had the conversation of the digital age want to consume information, but in all honesty, from an ownership point of view, this is a tool that really allows a shop to have a much clearer, much more transparent communication with customers, improves the customer consideration, it improves the customer’s ability to interact with the shop and understand a little bit more with their vehicle. So the trust factor goes up exponentially. And a lot of times that understanding then becomes a return asset to the business because now what you’re able to do is have people on the counter and service advisors who may not have that owner mentality or owner skillset that really are able to have very thoughtful, very informed conversations with customers.
Because in essence, what we’re doing is we’re putting the vehicle in between the shop and the customer in a very transparent way. The communication, as you can see here in a picture, a picture is worth a thousand words. And that really helps process on the front counter with the service advisor and being able to communicate so much more better opportunity and need begins to educate the customer so much better early in the process. And the end result of that is we tend to see higher customer satisfaction, higher average repair order value, and then in most cases higher customer retention and top line revenue. So from a coaching point of view, this is a tremendous tool that allows us to bring technology to a shop and have them up their game right away and their ability to communicate with a customer and provide really quality service on the front counter.
Tom Dorsey (08:51):
Yeah, thanks Mike. Aram, we had the great pleasure of meeting Billy out at the digital shop conference in January and he got to hold a breakout session where he talked a lot about what Mike just covered and how he was able to really embrace the technology and start to leverage that to like what Mike said, improve customer communication. And I would imagine the takeaway from that is if you’ve got improved customer communication, it’s shorter communication time, you get faster responses, faster approvals. Can you give us some insight on how Billy has been able to leverage the tool to do that, and what has been the effect of improving that communication as far as from your perspective as the owner?
Aram Tatarian (09:42):
Well, since Billy really saw the vision, saw the picture, how AutoVitals tool will help really have the customer make the buying decision, it took the pressure away from him to start selling. He doesn’t have to sell. The customer buys when he sees and he makes a wiser decision. He makes, he doesn’t call back and cancel authorized work. He doesn’t feel like he’s been sold something. He didn’t need that part of it. It took a lot of the pressure off of him trying to push a sales. So the other part was preparing the customer to receive the information. This is all new stuff, so we get a lot of new customers in that they haven’t been in the system yet. They have not received the information yet. Like I said, not too many shops own this yet. So he does prepare the consumer, the customer, when they first come in, we definitely make sure that we have a good cell phone number or we have a good email address. And he does tell them that you are going to be getting an email or a text message right now and that’s going to establish the communication between us and you. Please don’t respond to that at the moment. But after we done the inspection and we have diagnosed your vehicle, I am going to send you a link with all the pictures and all the information necessary that you can see. Please review the information that I’m going to send you and get back to,
Tom Dorsey (11:37):
Oh, looks like
Aram Tatarian (11:39):
Go over the information. Sorry, sorry. That’s
Tom Dorsey (11:43):
Aram Tatarian (11:46):
I don’t know how much you missed, but in any case, he does prepare the consumer that he is going to send the email and the text, the information about the car, have them review it, have them look at the pictures, and he asks the consumer or the customer to call back within 15, 20 minutes after he’s done reviewing it so he can go over the pictures if he’s got any questions. And at that point you can give them the estimate of what’s going to cost to fix the vehicle.
Tom Dorsey (12:19):
And so let me ask you something. How much, so it’s kind of a two part question. So being able to, like you said, being able to educate the customer versus selling to ’em. Billy said a great thing that I thought really caught on was that he thought it was going to be more work, but it’s less work because it saves him so much time being able to put the work in to prepare the pictures like we see here on the screen, prepare that inspection result for the customer, zap it out to ’em by a text, and it freed him up to do more work and to get actually more stuff done. So would you say that that’s one of the key takeaways to help you to increase that weekly revenue per service advisor is making sure that they’re taking the time to mark up those pictures and to add notes to help the customer to understand as soon as they see that picture, what the information is you’re trying to convey versus having to do those follow-up phone calls?
Aram Tatarian (13:21):
Well, to be honest with you, Tom, I can’t say that it doesn’t take time. It does take time, but let’s look at it in a different angle. I’d rather spend 10 minutes additional time preparing the pictures and the videos. If I can increase 40% my revenue, it’s well worth spending 10 minutes extra to prepare for that. And again, it makes the sales so much easier that it’s, and the wow factor to the customer, I mean, we hear it day in and day out. Wow, we’ve never seen this before. Is this my car? Oh, I can’t imagine it’s leaking this much oil or whatever the circumstances is. They are just amazed the quality of the picture, the information. They have no reason to go anywhere else to get information. It’s right at their fingerprint fingertips. They can watch it, they can see it, and they can make a wise decision.
Tom Dorsey (14:31):
Yeah, no, that’s awesome. And it’s kind of like what Mike was saying is that it’s actually what we’ve seen, we’ve got so many inspections completed over the years that, and one of the surprising results that we’ve seen is that your retention actually increases. Why? Because when you get that level of transparency as a customer, like you said, it’s the wow factor is great, but also it’s a level of detail and transparency. I don’t get at any other shop in the area, none of your competitors. And so why would I go to a different shop? Of course I’m going to come back to you because hey, you show me the things that nobody else has ever seen and it gives me a much better understanding to make a confident decision. Mike, in your training in a t, I mean, are you guys working on that is how to educate versus sell at the counter, and how does a tool like AutoVitals benefit that training?
Michael Bennett (15:23):
Well, yeah, no, that’s a hundred percent it. I actually just was chuckling a little bit as Aram was talking. That is really the key to what we try and talk about with engagement with a customer. The concept of selling work really is honestly, it’s archaic. It really
Tom Dorsey (15:43):
Passe, right?
Michael Bennett (15:44):
Yeah, it’s very passe. Owners don’t want to be sold anything. What they do want is they want to be educated. And so we talk about a path of education to a purchase decision. You put information in an owner’s hand and help them understand exactly what they’re seeing and exactly what the issues are or the benefits are of a fix. They’ll make the decision that you want them to make, which is to go ahead and approve the repairs today, whether that’s maintenance or repairs. So the terminology by today’s standards, what I say all the time, I said, we’re no longer salespeople, we’re educators. We educate to a purchase decision. So very true, all of what we here, the more information that we put in a customer’s hands that they now have the experience on their own, their ability to seek out information, evaluate the pictures, to search out videos which may help me or help them understand what we’re talking about is massive because it brings them back to the table in an already purchase frame of mind.
One of the things that Aram was mentioning just a little bit earlier that I thought was really key was how important it is for the setup of the inspection. The conversation at Dropoff is the key component that honestly we try and work with shops the most. And I’m not going to say it’s not one of the more difficult struggles because with all that’s going on during the morning and the dropoff process and so forth, service advisors can be very distracted, but it’s the investment of that little period of time to set the expectation to the customer to the point where they’re actually expecting it and want to see this report when it comes through. That’s step number one, picking up the engagement. And I know we would have some KPIs we could talk about here when we talk about the motorist engagement with the view time, the read time on the inspection, one of the things that we see, there you go.
There’s a stat really quick. Imagine that. So one of the things that we see that really highly into this is two items. One, you have to have the conversation upfront so that the owner of the vehicle is expecting it and wants to dig into this report. They understand what it’s going to be and how it operates. And then the second thing is how well is that inspection prepared to communicate? And it goes back to the picture that you were showing there, the time and the rate of picture edit exactly correlates the amount of engagement time that a consumer has with the inspection. And we know statistically that as that engagement time goes up with the inspection, the predisposition to the purchase decision has also equally gone up. You’re just going to get a higher approval rate, conversion rate and average repair water value dollars. If we can get those two things in place, better expectation and understanding upfront which of what will be coming their way, and then great pictures that communicate exactly what we’re talking about just runs that interaction time up. And therefore all of the sales KPIs follow place, he hit both marks as to what we see on our side when we’re trying to coach a shop through improving that conversion rate and proving that average repair order value, especially if they’re using a digital product, AutoVitals, it just does such a tremendous job of engaging that consumer if you set it up.
Tom Dorsey (19:14):
Yeah, no, Mike, and I think you nailed it. The three key takeaways really is to set those expectations at the counter and you got to capture the cell phone number and the email, right? You can’t send it to ’em. Then what’s the point? And if they know what they’re to expect and they know what to look for, they’re going to open it up and they’re going to engage. And the second key takeaway is going to be to edit those pictures and get those images with the arrows in the circles and the notations in there to put yourself in that motorist shoes. I know nothing. I know where the gas goes. And so when you show me under my hood, I’m afraid and I have no idea what I’m looking at. And so if you can help guide me to what I am looking at, well then I’m going to engage with that.
I’m going to pay attention, I’m going to look at it. I’m going to watch the educational video and the content, and that’s what’s going to drive that. It’s on that side, that 242nd, 322nd, 522nd customer engagement inside of the inspection sheet because the data doesn’t lie. I mean, that’s the most important thing is that the data tells us, just like Mike said, if you’re in there, if that customer’s in there and they’re going through and spending the time to review the information, the approvals come, it couldn’t be more black and white than that. So one of your goals needs to be get that customer reviewing the information for a good amount of time, a long period of time, and you do that marking up those pictures and adding that educational content in there to give them the ability to do that research. Because we know the internet has changed a lot of things about our lives and the cell phones have changed a lot of things, but one of the main things that it’s changed is that people don’t want to use this as a phone anymore. It’s not for calling people. I’m afraid to call people. My kids don’t call anybody. And so when they’re your customer, good luck getting them on the phone. But they will sit there and review and watch the videos and learn about things so they feel comfortable when they do have to come in and actually talk to you.
Aram Tatarian (21:24):
Tom, a couple quick things I want to go over real quick. I had noticed previously before we’re using the system is a lot of times if the wife brings the car in or the son or daughter brings the car in, you call them back trying to tell them the information about the car. You go through the whole spiel, give them the prices after you’re all done, five minutes later they go, you know what? Could you call my dad? Could you call my husband? So here you go, you got to start all over again. What we have noticed is, and we encourage them to share the pictures with the decision maker, and we have noticed that after they watch it for the 240 or 302nd, it goes into a pause for a few minutes. Then all of a sudden they start watching it all over again. We know that video’s gone to the decision maker. It is amazing how that works. I don’t have to explain all over again. Over
Tom Dorsey (22:19):
And over. They see it. Well, and you’re in a college town, and so you’ve got kids that their parents are paying the bills and they live, who knows, out of state miles away. And so what a great tool to be able to send that information out right away to the decision makers. Hey, if you’re running fleets, same type of thing. You’ve got a fleet manager somewhere that needs to get some information to get the PO and put the request up through the command and how great it’s that. I can get that information to ’em immediately. And it just expedites the whole process to decision making process. And like you said, Aram, you don’t have to keep repeating it over and over and over again because all that takes time.
Aram Tatarian (23:03):
And the other thing we’re doing for educating the consumer, especially for their first time, they’ve never seen this before. We had pulled one of our shop vehicles in and we did a complete inspection on that with pictures and everything, and we have a tablet sitting at the front desk when they come in. Billy plays that video, that whole inspection to them, and he tells them, this is our vehicle. This is what you’re going to be seeing when we send you the pictures and they can thumb through and see what we’ve done to our car, and we’re going to do the same thing to their car. And they walk away knowing what to expect.
Tom Dorsey (23:44):
Yep, yep. No, exactly. And so in your case, that’s led to a significant increase in revenue generation per service rider in your shop. And can you tell us a little bit, Aram, about how once you started seeing that revenue increase moving in the right direction, what has Billy been doing to even raise that more? What’s the next steps for Billy and Aram?
Aram Tatarian (24:14):
Well, I think what’s happening is once the Billy and the technicians, they have seen the increase of revenue, they get excited because ultimately we have to share with them the joy that we have or the fruits of our labor. So we do a lot of dinners, we do a lot of outings, we do a lot of functions with the employees. We encourage them to do it more, and they, they’re excited. I mean, when we first started, they were taking four or five pictures reluctantly. Now we’re up to 10 to 12 pictures. And I mean our revenue with ATI standard back in 2016, it wasn’t bad at all. We were doing really good. And we’re not a specialty shop, we’re not European shop, we’re not transmission shop. We were doing about $557 a repair order in 2017 or 2016, 2017. It jumped from 557 to 715 for the year. And from 2017 to 2018, we jumped to 743 and really haven’t done any more than utilizing the tool. It works. It does work.
Tom Dorsey (25:33):
So Mike, put your coaching hat on and what would you say is the next step for interim there? I mean, that’s some pretty incredible growth, right? And sometimes, hey, growth can actually be a double-edged sword sometimes, and you pile on a whole bunch of new business, but the process isn’t any kind of there. So what would you say for a shop that’s shown that level of growth in that short amount of time? I mean, how do you make sure that that’s going to be sustainable?
Michael Bennett (25:59):
Well, yeah, exactly. So of course arm’s talking about quite a few of the success steps is of course one thing. And obviously we’re going to talk about a much broader topic is about sharing those successes. So again, creating a strong culture and having buy-in from your employees is huge. It becomes self perpetuating. I use the analogy all the time of 38,000 plus franchises for McDonald’s all over the world, and yet the McDonald’s french fry tastes the same everywhere they go. Why is that? Well, it’s that way because they have the standardization of process With volume of work obviously comes more pressure. And in many cases, a lot of times what we have to do is we have to start working on how to deliver and how to deliver at a slightly larger rate. So two things become a natural byproduct here. We do have to begin to tighten up a little bit on processes, usually kind of away from the digital process to be quite honest.
This goes into things like shop flow, productivity measures more of what we would call dropping into a little bit more of the management of the business side of the business as well. So shop and productivity become huge. And then a natural thing that we begin to work on is happy customers beget happy customers. And so one of the things that we also have to begin to prepare for when we’re doing well with these rates of growth is inevitably happy people are going to tell their friends about it and being able to now use these resources. So there’s an unintended benefit to a lot of what goes on well here with the inspection process. So again, if we kind of drop back to the beginning and we prepare this customer well, we send him a great inspection, he engages it well, and we get purchase, there’s two situations that may occur.
One, we may have some work that we recommend on a future or for future attention, or quite honestly, I mean, we deal with people with budgets from time to time, and although a good deal of work may be recommended for this visit, they may have to split it up over a couple of visits. So again, working with making sure, okay, now that we’ve got this valuable information that we’ve interacted with the customer with, what’s the next step so that we create the next opportunity. So it’s really working on those follow-up processes, which again, with the digital shop product becomes kind of just a next natural. You’re going to move into your ability to exit, schedule that customer, and then when we send them a reminders about recommendations we’ve made, we’re going to retouch ’em again with that digital inspection that will now get their mind working. Oh, that’s right. That was an important thing we need to do. So once we kind of perfected the shop’s use of the inspection process, the digital process in the actual transaction of the moment, now we’re working on how can we use that to create the next opportunity? That’s the natural next progression for us in many cases.
Tom Dorsey (29:00):
Keep that funnel full. Yeah, fine tune, right? It’s like a high performance athlete. Once you get up to that level, you’re just talking incremental improvements and you just got to measure and train and repeat and measure and train and repeat, and then you’ll get to that top level. Fantastic stuff, guys. I mean, I think we’re out of time for the day. Really appreciate the story, the information. Hey, Mike, if people want to reach out and how can they get ahold of you?
Michael Bennett (29:32):
So I would probably tell you, I mean obviously if they’re within the ATI family and they have any questions for us, I mean obviously the communication paths are open. We have an owner’s ATI Facebook page, which they can reach out to as well. Anybody who’s outside of the ATI family that would like to either some information just on some of the stuff that we typically talk about in the inspection process or maybe some hints on best practices, certainly they can reach out to me directly. And that would be via email. So that’s M as in Mike Bennett is the last name, B-E-N-N-E-T-T. So it’s [email protected]. And I would certainly welcome any conversation one way or the other. If there’s something I can do to help any of your shops, I’ll be more than happy to try and put ’em on a good path.
Tom Dorsey (30:14):
Yeah, that’s fantastic, Mike. Really appreciate it. And you guys can also reach out to Mike on our Facebook forum. You can go onto the AutoVitals Facebook forum, ping it on there. Aram’s on there as well. So don’t be shy if you got more questions. Let’s continue the conversation in the Facebook forum. Aram, really want to thank you for coming and telling us your story. It’s an incredible success story and we’re really excited to continue to follow it and see how high you can take this thing. Really appreciate the work that you and Billy have been putting in and the feedback you’ve been giving us to help us to improve the product, to support you guys out there. I can’t thank you enough, sir. Really appreciate it.
Aram Tatarian (31:04):
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to share, and thank you for putting this program out for us to use, so I appreciate that.
Tom Dorsey (31:12):
Good. Fantastic.
Aram Tatarian (31:13):
I Appreciate ATI.
Tom Dorsey (31:15):
Yeah, fantastic. Well, and I’ll see you guys in March, I’m hoping, right? We’ll see you in San Antonio.
Michael Bennett (31:20):
Absolutely. See you
Tom Dorsey (31:21):
Guys then. Yes. Yes, definitely. Okay, well, hey, that’s it for us today. Tune in again next Wednesday, 10:00 AM Pacific. We’ll have another great episode of Digital Shop Talk Radio where you get to hear some more stories like this, get those juices flowing, and learn some ideas on how to take your shop to the next level like Aram has done. Until then, have a great day. Go make some money. Thank you very much. Thank you.

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