skip to Main Content
The Digital Shop Talk Radio Logo.

Episode Description

When changes in motorist behaviors are opportunities for a better future of automotive repair we want to seize them.

Frank M Scandura IIIFred Gestwicki Jr, and Uwe Kleinschmidt discuss the opportunities and threats of that approach and how AutoVitals will release new features in the future.

Episode Transcript

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

Tom Dorsey (00:00):
Team, and if you’ve been following us on Facebook and if you guys are engaged with the discussion going on there, you know that over the last couple of weeks there’s been a little bit of a firestorm going on and AutoVitals has taken a big bite out of that crow and listened to customer feedback concerning an update, a release that we did with the photo editor. And we took that input, we acted on it, and we went ahead and released a solution that has been very helpful and we want to talk about today, how does AutoVitals come up with features and new releases? What’s our process? How do we engage with our shop owners and the customers?
And so to do that, we’ve got a couple individuals. We’re really welcome to have Frank Scandura from Frank’s European and Fred Gestwicki from Fix It With Fred. And these guys are always active on Facebook and the inside of that development process. And for the first time on Digital Shop Talk Radio, I’m honored to welcome Uwe Kleinschmidt, our founder and CEO and first in line for that help and a crow last week. But we want to get him in and let him address what is the process and how does it work. And so you probably saw the title of the show and I want to ask Uwe right off the bat is what the heck does that mean? Why Henry Ford’s forces shouldn’t be AutoVitals Products? Uwe.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (01:54):
Thank you.
Tom Dorsey (01:55):
You’re very welcome.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (01:57):
Thank you very much guys for having the opportunity to talk about this. One of my favorite topics and Henry Ford’s statement, you probably heard it when he was asked how he came up with the car and developed is he said, if I had only listened to my customers once, I would’ve built foster horses. And the gist of it is, especially if you are in an environment where change is dominant, I think we are in the independent aftermarket, then you have to listen to the wants, but you also have to be a lot smarter and have to try to find out what the needs are because it’s very hard to predict tomorrow’s wants, if that makes sense. And so Henry Ford and many other great innovators were able to do that and took a leap of faith and put a lot of energy and money in and created something where the wand has been created. It didn’t exist. And so that’s, on the other hand, there are tons of technical solutions out there. I would almost say hundred thousands who never see the market because some smart engineers mostly think up a solution and then are starting to search for the problem. And that’s also something a risk you take when you innovate. And so we are trying to identify the need and we are trying to listen to the want and combine them in a way that our product helps the shop in the current situation, but also for the future.
Tom Dorsey (04:01):
So Uwe, in my opinion, it takes a brave man to wade into that industry of independent anarchists like the automotive independent aftermarket is. And guys, and I’d like to get your input on that is how you see it from the shop owner’s perspective. Because what we would just said is, hey, a lot of times we’re going to be looking at needs that you don’t even know that you need. And the things that you want and need are something that you can turn and use and introduce into the shop with the least amount of disruption to your business as possible. So Fred, I’d like to ask you respond to what Uwe said and then how does that translate to the implementation side when you actually have to stand in front of a customer and use those innovations?
Fred Gestwicki (04:58):
The example of Henry Ford is great because I’m sure when Henry Ford decided to make an automobile, he was just trying to replace the horse. And I bet that Henry Ford considered adding a heater, adding safety equipment when they were talking about a horse. The people on a horse didn’t know heat was an option. They didn’t know air conditioning was an option. They didn’t know a windshield was an option, they just wanted to carry more people. They just wanted to go faster. And I doubt that Henry Ford was waiting until someone asked for a heater. He knew that need was coming and AutoVitals is doing that same thing when DVI first came about, technicians were very resistant to, oh, I got to carry this tablet around with me now. Now I’ve got to take pictures of things. And a lot of shops have taken the innovation of DVI and used it for quality control inspections, check engine light inspections, detail shops have before and after pictures in their inspections.
I mean, there’s so many things that when a DVI came out, the resistance was, oh, it’s different. It’s not what we want. We just want a way to do inspections. We don’t want a way to take pictures. We just want a better way to do inspections. And what Uwe speaks of is the need and the customers need that transparency. The customers need that understanding and they need to see what’s going on with their car. So when we talk about these innovations, we have to combine the want and the need to kind of anticipate going right along with what you said. Henry Ford’s first heater he put in a car, probably sucked really bad. And that was okay because now my Hyundai, I just put it on 72 and drive around and it just does its thing. I don’t change the heat, the cold, I don’t do anything. It’s just automatic. And Henry Ford’s first heater sucked. So in the DVI world, we’re doing that same thing with different additions. Initially the timer told you in 20 minutes to call the customer, now we can know exactly how long the motor is spent researching the inspection. We’ve innovated and moved forward where we’re fulfilling the need. And sometimes what you want isn’t lined up with what you need, so you may have to put the need in front of your want.
Tom Dorsey (07:09):
Hey, and Frankie, you’ve been around the block once or twice with us as far as product releases and development cycles go. What would be your input on that as far as implementation goes into your shop and in response to what Fred just said?
Frank Scandura (07:26):
So for those who don’t know, in the early days you did a release every three minutes, something that was, Hey, hey. And I personally got to the point where I said, listen, you guys are killing me. I just can’t do this anymore. I went to Santa Barbara a number of times to get a grip on the program to really understand it. And that’s what a lot of shop owners need to understand. You’ve got to take the time to understand it because you’ve got to be the person answering those questions. You got to be that person implementing what you want done in your shop. Fred, you’re dead on. We don’t know what we want. We don’t know what we need, we just don’t. We’re running around with our heads on fire, still thinking it’s okay to take pictures on my smartphone and fax or email those or text those to customers, which is just as archaic as a Model T.
It really is. And what we are doing here at Frank’s is I don’t just want to do inspections. I want to do them better than anybody else. I don’t want to just fix cars. I want to do it better than anybody else. I don’t want to just give good customer service, I want to do it better than anybody else. I need to know what technology is available out there for me to do that better than anybody else. And if every single shop in Las Vegas had AutoVitals, I’m still committed to doing it better than anybody else. So for one like the to know what you’re thinking, how many times, and this is kind of like to me, you’re opening up yourself here. And I really admire that because you and I have had a number of private conversations about features and about ideas and sharing thoughts and what about this and what about that?
And I’m sure you’ve had that with a number of other people to get their feedback. And this is really an opportunity for everybody to understand. There’s a lot that goes into this. It’s not just one brilliant German in the back room coming up with all these crazy ideas all by himself, although it starts there. And to be innovative is something that end users never see when you really think about it, they never say it. AutoVitals is more transparent than most companies because you’re involving all of your customers in your innovation and it gets frustrating sometimes. Everybody, you’re going to be talking about this photo editing for years as an example. You really are. And it is what it is. But that’s part of the innovation.
Tom Dorsey (10:04):
As long as it gets better, as long as that discussion to a better product, which leads to better efficiency and productivity at the front counter, then it’s a win. And sometimes there’s growing pains.
Fred Gestwicki (10:14):
And to go with what Frank’s saying, we are having a show about a car that was invented, how long ago was the Model T invented? Right? A hundred years. And this inspection editor, the photo editor, is that in the AutoVitals world, this is a huge innovation that we will talk about for longer than you say, Frank, I feel this will be a milestone. To make this big of a mistake will help us do even better because mistakes are the best learning method.
Tom Dorsey (10:43):
And that’s a great point because I’ve been working here quite a bit with this guy and every time we bring something up, it’s never how do we incrementally improve it? How do we smash it apart and remake it into something that’s completely innovative and different that delivers some result, it makes something better. It makes you faster, stronger, better looking like, you can tell it’s working with me, but I’d like for you to address kind of what does that process look like from what your vision is and what you’re trying to accomplish, the resistance that you get to some of these things. Because a lot of times guys, I mean to be honest with you, what we’re talking about is a lot of times is taking the control away from that front counter or from the shop owner’s process and putting it and trusting the tool and the automation and the process to do some of that work for you. And I think it’s hard to let go sometimes. What do you think Uwe?
Uwe Kleinschmidt (11:52):
That’s a lot of stuff. So let me first say what Frank said in the beginning. We were released every three minutes, we realized completely that’s suicide. And we still, especially after last week, it became clear to me that it’s just implementing and testing software and release. It is probably the smallest part of everything I, because the bigger part is to say why is it now a better feature, especially if it asks you to change your process. And number two, where do I get trained on it? Because shops are not there to test our tools. The tools are there so you can run the shop more efficiently and more effectively. And so I can promise you in the next release there will be really three major changes. Number one training is being built into the program. So you don’t don’t need to go into any webinar anymore. It will be on the TVP. You click a button and you will be trained. Number two that if we implement a feature which requires a change in how you use it, you’ll will have the opportunity for about three months to switch it on. And then after three months, you’re going to get a popup every 10 minutes, which tells you it’s time to the thing.
And thirdly, we have already thought about this and implemented the TOBO community, which is about 30 to 40 shops who represent every one of our customers in a certain way. And I didn’t do a good job of utilizing that TOBO community to really prepare a bigger rollout. And so we are going to make a change there too. More involvement of the TOBO shops. It’s going to take a little longer, but I think the benefit is going to be big. So that’s the promise I’m making when it comes to changes, process changes, I would like to use this feature, Fred mentioned that you can see now live in real time, how many seconds a customer is looking at an inspection result. And five years ago we would listen to our customers and to you guys and take whatever you say as the holy word about what’s good.
Meanwhile, since we can now measure what motorists do with the inspection results you are sending them, we have now a second source of information how we can judge what’s good or bad because we get direct feedback from the motorists simply by them using the inspection results. In every shop owner who has spent some time in auditing the inspection results sent out over the last week or months by putting yourself in the motorist choose probably knows what I mean. I would venture out and say across the whole outer vitals network, still to this day, half of the inspection results cannot be deciphered by the motorist at the value they could bring because they rely on the fact that the service advisor has to explain something verbally on the phone so you understand what’s in the inspection result.
That is just not really appropriate anymore in my opinion. Everybody has been conditioned by Amazon to do the online research and it can be turned into a huge benefit for the service advisor. If the service advisor takes the time and edits the images and puts the remedies proposed in the image notes that takes what, five minutes more. The phone call later is going to be completely different than in the past. It’s not about explaining what the inspection results shows anymore. It’s now answering questions, how much, what options do I have? What does it mean to my car? And so we just changed the quality of the interaction with the motorist and putting an online component to it, which is huge. Everybody’s used to online education, now everybody does it except for communicating with the OD repair shop. So that’s where I think, and I underestimated clearly how long it’s going to take to establish that. But as long as we learn together and we have an open communication about us listening to you and you listening to us, what we find in the data we see from the motorist, I think we are set
Tom Dorsey (17:48):
For a really bright future. So Fred, when you have to take and implement that, and I mean it is a behavior change and a lot of times it might be almost antithetical to the behaviors and the habits that I’ve developed over my career. If I’m a sales guy at your front counter, I’m used to doing it. I’ve been trained to do it this way, I’ve been doing it for years this way, and now all of a sudden you’re asking me to do something that’s completely foreign to me. How do you get that and will, I mean, do you think that that is going to be helpful to you if you’re able to turn it on, turn it off, try it out, type what Uwe said for next release and being able to make that behavior change take place faster.
Fred Gestwicki (18:37):
For most shop owners that are very resistant to change how we’re just born, our nature resists new things. Being able to switch it on and switch it off and wean yourself into it would probably be easier. Now with our staff, we get very good buy-in by doing what Frank said, being the owner, finding out about it, being knowledgeable so that you can answer those questions and that we’re adding training into the TVP that is outrageously great. That will help the advisors. So in our staff we recognize, hey, there’s a new photo editor and it’s going to be really weird and it’s probably going to suck for a day to get used to it. So acknowledging that that’s going to suck helps telling them, I’m here to help you. You get behind to let me know, I will help you. I’ll help work through this.
So we tackle those changes as a team, as one unit because if one person is struggling with something, but three people are doing it, one of the three will come with a solution faster and share it with the other people. And I’m sure Frank has a bigger shop than I do. I’m sure he’s experienced that same thing. He gets good buy-in from his employees. You acknowledge that it’s going to be bad and rough. It’s hard because changing is hard, acknowledge that other people are going through this so you can always reach out to another shop, how are you getting through this? And I’ve done that a lot on Facebook and through different messaging, find out what other shops are doing to get through it and then just turn it on and go with it. Once you adapt to the change, if we were to roll AutoVitals completely back to the software version from one year ago, everybody in the AutoVitals community would freak out.
Every single person would hate it, but that’s what you wanted and you complained when we changed. So if we went back, it should be what we wanted and it’s not that case. So we found by joining everyone together, having them work together and acknowledge the difficulty, help them through it. And if it’s just so hard, like the carry forward feature for example, we tried that and we did that for two weeks in our Wednesday team meeting the second week they said no more. We have gone through where it’s no new, it’s no longer something that we’re adjusting to and we just don’t like it. So as a team, they decided to turn it off. And for the shop owner, this helps because let’s say I say, here’s our new feature and we’re going to turn it on. Do you guys want to turn it on yet?
Yeah, yeah, let’s turn it on. They don’t like it. They’re not all mad at me. They decided as a team, so if they decide to turn it on and it doesn’t work, they decide to turn it off. Everyone’s bought into their own decision better than a command from high up. And I think AutoVitals is doing the right thing by giving that option. One of the hesitations from the shop owners is not the fact that there’s a change. It’s that they have no control and they’re just suddenly everything’s different and you have no way to go back. Even if it’s the busiest day you’ve had for the whole year, you’re going to do it the new way. And by acknowledging that and giving them the option to turn it on and off, I think that’s awesome because that’s what we do with our team. You’ll get more buy-in from the shop owners on these changes by giving them that option, even though they’ll all turn it on anyways, the fact they can turn it off will help tremendously.
Tom Dorsey (21:52):
Yeah. You said something that was really pressing is to say that to get that buy-in, you’re going to have to have, what’s the payoff? You got to be able to tell your guys, Hey, you’re going to make all these changes and like you said, it’s going to be painful, but what’s the payoff? The reason we’re doing this is because some payoff. Do you guys feel that when we put out this release notes and information before our release and even as we’re going through the discussion and development on Facebook and through conversations, do you feel like you know what that payoff is going to be and you can communicate that to your crew?
Fred Gestwicki (22:32):
I just wanted to add that the carry forward feature, the reason my techs wanted to turn it on is they were trying to shave three to five minutes off because their inspections are down to 20, 25 minutes. They want to get down to 15, which is outrageous to me. That’s so, so fast. But they’re doing quality inspections. They turned it on, they went through the change, they adjusted to where it wasn’t new and it hadn’t sped them up. So the only reason that they didn’t want to maintain the feature is it didn’t produce the benefit for our shop. And that goes right along. And I didn’t include that. I’m sorry I left that out. But that’s what it was driven by was the benefit. And when the benefit wasn’t achieved, they decided to go back to what they knew because it was more efficient. I just wanted to add that. Yeah,
Tom Dorsey (23:14):
Sure. Go ahead.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (23:15):
So yeah, the carry forward feature is a typical example where we had, as they say, you have five shop owners and 10 different opinions about how it has to work.
So that’s what we are dealing with every day. And we didn’t do a good job in going through the iterations to really nail the benefit because we were trying to accommodate five different ones all at once and took it too far. But for example, the photo editor, to go back, I was blown away the guests and the first episode of the digital shop talk, Tyler and Joe reported by changing their process of spending more time on editing pictures. And that was a process change. Tyler was very vocal about how he was a little afraid of doing that process change created $150 more ARO for a shop, which was on AutoVitals for four years and an average ARO already 480 500 bucks.
Tom Dorsey (24:32):
And what Tyler said was that he couldn’t believe it. By spending more time doing something, he actually saved, he actually gained more time to sell, to engage with his customer.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (24:46):
And he was not the only one. Right? This is an example where it paid a huge, if you take the step of implementing change exactly the way Fred, you described it. And so that is sometimes necessary to gain. And the other thing we have to say, we as consumers, we use the smartphone with every new invention we can get our hands on or we have kids who tell us to better get in line and learn, otherwise they don’t communicate us with us anymore. And so it’s just a decision. I think we as tool supplier and shop owners can make together and say, oh, let’s sit this one out. Now it is motorists as consumers are just going to ask for more and more and more just because everybody uses a smartphone every day to make decisions. I have to tell you, I switched the rec center of the pool I’m swimming at and I go now to the local university pool. I thought I have the technology under control and I’m overusing my smartphone. If you go in there and you see all the UCSB students, they have the smartphone phone glued to their hip no matter what they do. I mean, it’s scary to a degree. And so long story short, the smartphone is an amazing tool to make decisions and educate yourself. And if we are not taking that into account and rely on the phone to do the education, more and more people will
Tom Dorsey (26:43):
Not be your customer anymore. Hey Frank, so same question right back to you buddy, is do you feel that you’ve got the value and you understand what the purpose is before you’re doing your training and out to your guys?
Frank Scandura (27:03):
Absolutely. And I really didn’t have a problem. Let’s talk about the editor of You have to edit everything on a ticket. Where it became a major problem for us is being in the middle of something else, looking at it for whatever reason. And my morning huddles, every morning we meet with the advisors and I look at the inspection so we can make repair decisions. We do a lot of complicated diagnostic work. And so for me to go look at a picture to discuss it with the service advisor and a shop foreman and not be able to get out of it, that was the worst thing in the world that ever happened to me in my life.
Exaggerating. And then same thing, the service advisors, we look at each other’s stuff from time to time for whatever reason. So the come back to it now, button is absolutely the fix for that and it’s absolutely perfect, and that’s what we needed. So it’s highly valuable. And Fred, I do things a little different. You said you discuss it and this is what’s coming on and I don’t want you to feel too bad and it’s going to be okay and don’t worry. And Frank walks out and goes, Hey guys, look at what’s new. This is how we’re going to do it now. So it’s a little bit different here. And my guys would never go back. We had a couple weeks ago some bad weather, which took our internet down and they were so mad. They were so mad that they didn’t have AutoVitals to work with and well, AutoVitals wasn’t down. It wasn’t a problem with AutoVitals, it was the internet. Every time it rains, for whatever reason, Cox loses their mind out here. So that’s what they’re mad about. Oh, I don’t know what’s going on. I can’t see it. I can’t do this, I can’t send it, I can’t send it. What am I going to do? We’re all going to die. So
Tom Dorsey (28:51):
Technology becomes so critical to how we lead our lives. So I mean to wrap up guys, I think we’re almost out of time, but I just want to kind summarize with you and give you an opportunity again to communicate out is to say that we’ve identified some ways to improve how we communicate our updates, how we plan those updates and those feature development. But also I think the ability to turn on and off to know what’s coming to get the training on the fly right there in the software, that whole, how do I replace the engine on the plane while I’m flying it? So as I’m standing there with a customer in front of me, if I know what’s coming, I can get the information that I need and I can revert if I need to because I’m on the spot or it’s really busy and I don’t have that muscle memory down yet. I can do that. And then also, I think is the third part of that is to communicate the value to the customer base before rollout so that they can communicate that to their staff and we know what the benefits are going to be to make these changes.
Uwe, am I missing something and where do we go from there?
Frank Scandura (30:14):
Can I ask a question real quick? Yeah, of course. Will that include training on other aspects of the program for new employees
Uwe Kleinschmidt (30:25):
On the TVP, it’s probably the new employee. I think it’s a different training. With our academy, I think we’re doing a good job there. The new employee has to first get into the groove of what’s the process and so on and so forth. I think that’s not just a 32nd video of how to use feature X, Y, Z. So I think there are two types of training,
Tom Dorsey (30:53):
Oh, I’m sorry,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (30:53):
Go ahead. But I want to respond to Tom. For me, where I’m struggling big time is we are trying many ways to reach out to shop owners email with a newsletter. Facebook, what we have not done yet is basically put it in your face on the TVP, so you have to click on it, you get annoyed by it. We wanted to reserve that just for the announcement of an event or if we have some really urgent announcement to make. Would you guys agree that we should put, I don’t know, weekly tips of how to use the program with a link to the training videos and push them through the special message on the TVP?
Frank Scandura (31:47):
Yes, no.
Fred Gestwicki (31:48):
Have they come up like an incoming message from a customer? Don’t interrupt the entire workflow because somebody’s clicking and editing pictures and bam, this is, they just want to throw the mouse across the room. You don’t want to anger somebody, but if it came up like a text or a website contact and they can click it and do it. Frank, what do you think?
Frank Scandura (32:07):
100% agree. I had a situation not long ago when something kept popping up and I wasn’t prepared for it. It was an urgent situation. I did not, I’m not normally on the tablet and I almost threw it out the window. It was very, very bad timing. So you never know when that’s going to happen. So Fred, that’s brilliant. Just give me a red message, new feature, coming out with a countdown, even if you can, you got so many days or hours to learn about this and don’t get mad at me when you didn’t click here to learn.
Fred Gestwicki (32:37):
Oh, countdown. Love the countdown. That is genius where they know how long until they can turn it on, not until you have to use it. How long until you’ll be able to use this so you can be trained and enjoy the new feature when it’s released,
Tom Dorsey (32:52):
Consider it done, bam. See, that’s how it’s done right there. You got to witness it. If you think that that was a great idea and you want to get engagement like that, join on the Facebook forum. Get into the conversation. You just saw a solution be birthed, and I’m sure we’ll hammer out into Frank’s suggestion there. I mean, once we get the training through the TVP interface developed, I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of discussion on Facebook and opinions are going to come in and it’ll develop from there to where it may start to be a tool that you use to do some basic training or new hire training or refresher training and stuff like that. But you have that opportunity. You just got to get in the Facebook form and make your voice heard because we listen to everybody and everybody’s opinion counts, and everybody comes up with great ideas, and it’s that collaboration that moves us forward.
Guys, we’re out of time. I really want to thank you both, Frank and Fred for joining us and joining giving us your opinion, representing the shop owner there, Uwe, I really want to thank you for coming in here and making yourself available and being transparent and addressing that issue and hopefully that Crow wasn’t too salty and tune in again next Wednesday for the next episode of Digital Shop Talk Radio. We’ll be having a couple more great shop owners in talking about success. Until then, go make some money. Thank you very much. Thank you. Great day.
Fred Gestwicki (34:26):
Thanks. Thanks
Tom Dorsey (34:27):

Back To Top