EPISODE #51 • JAN 15th, 2020

Maximizing ARO

By Editing Every Picture

Ep. 51 - Maximizing ARO By Editing Every Picture

Editing every picture for your digital inspections can be tedious work. Just ask Billy Catching of Aram's Auto Repair in Fresno, CA, who makes it his personal goal to edit every single picture that is included in the inspections sent to his customers. By doing this, he is maximizing the potential of the RO on the current visit while creating a detailed history of the vehicle and setting his shop up for more work approved on future visits as well. Stay tuned to see how he does it.

Posted by AutoVitals - The Creators of The Digital Shop on Wednesday, January 15, 2020
Read the Transcript of "Using KPI's to Measure Causes & Consequences [Ep. 55]"

Host: Tom Dorsey, AutoVitals

Guests: Sergio Garza and Ray Konderla, Rick and Ray’s Auto Plaza, Fort Worth, TX


[Tom] – Good morning and good afternoon! Welcome to this week’s edition of the Digital Shoptalk Radio. I’m Tom Dorsey, this is episode 55, and I got a good one for ya! I’ve got Sergio Garza and Ray Conderla from Rick & Ray’s in– Where are you guys at? Fort Worth?


[Ray] – Fort Worth Texas.


[Sergio] – Fort Worth Texas, yeah.


[Ray] – Cow Town.


[Tom] – All the way from Cow Town! So what we’re gonna be talking about today is kinda how you troubleshoot, how do you use that business control panel and your metrics to get down into the nuts and bolts and find out what are the root causes of the challenges or the problems that you might be trying to solve. So thank you very much, Sergio! Thanks, Ray, welcome!


[Ray] – Glad to be here, Tom!


[Sergio] – Thanks for havin’ us.


[Ray] – Thanks for the invite.


[Tom] – Yeah man. So you guys are pretty inspirational, you know. Haven’t seen you since conference out there. Two years ago, you guys won Top Shop, right? Shop of the year?


[Ray] – Yeah!


[Tom] – At Digital Shop Conference?


[Ray] – It was very surprising, humbling. Sergio of course gets a big head when we win awards like that.


[Tom] – His head looks bigger!


[Sergio]  – I had to get different headphones!


[Tom] – Barely fits on the screen now!


[Ray] – He has to get bigger headphones!


[Sergio] – It’s three feet across at the top.


[Tom] – Yeah, at least! That’s an easy place to set a place down, you know, when you’re busy and need an extra hand. And just going over your– I think you guys are probably close to a 50% ARO increase or something like that since you’ve been with AutoVitals?


[Ray] – Little bit over 50%, yes sir.


[Tom] – Yeah, really phenomenal. And so that’s what we wanna talk about, and help folks that are maybe new to the program, or struggling to get to that level on the program.


[Ray] – Sure.


[Tom] – Because as we start to learn in the digital shop, it all comes down to the metrics.


[Ray] – Yeah.


[Sergio] – You know, there’s no more of that kind of gut feeling, gut reaction, reaction to a fire. Using our metrics, we can eliminate fires, right?


[Ray] – Yeah.


[Tom] – Proactive instead of reactive in the shop. So what do you guys, I mean what’s a regular program? Are you doing regular reviews of KPIs and then you have shop meetings to talk to the crew about them on what you discover? What does that process look like?


[Sergio] – Well, I’ll take this one, Ray. What happened was, Ray came in and said he had purchased AutoVitals, we did not invent anything. All we did was we followed the picture policy you guys published. You know what I’m talkin’ about?


[Tom] – Yeah, oh yeah.


[Sergio] – So we followed that religiously. So over the course of the next year, we created a really good courtesy inspections, uniformed courtesy inspections. So as Ray went ahead and audited myself and my service writers, and he was able to find that we were inconsistent in what we were offering our customers. We had a good picture policy, a good inspection program and procedure, but we had a less than perfect way of monitoring what we were offering our customer. So what he came up with was something very, very, simple, and it was something we called the Checklist. Or the Nowhere to Hide Form. That’s what the ATI calls it. And because of that checklist, there were two or three other consequences that were born of that cause. We had a good picture policy, we were now building tremendously large estimates. And I’ll let Ray take over from here.


[Ray] – We were a repair-only shop. You bring your car in, you bring it in for a water pump, we do the water pump, and we’ll see you next time. There was no follow-up, no checkin’ out the rest of the vehicle. The benefit of the digital inspection report is you get time to– One, you spend time and actually get intimate with the vehicle and see exactly what it’s gonna need now and then the stuff it’s gonna need in the future. Going back to your original question, Tom, the way I have to measure the service writers, what they do is we have a daily tracker and it’s a one line that gives me an RO, gives me mileage, gives me what we sold today, what we estimated today, and then we carry that forward to the next step. Any declined repairs are scheduled for an exit appointment. So that’s how we measured it. Sergio was talking about the Nowhere to Hide form. We thought we were all that about givin’ good service until we started really diggin’ into a customer history, of a client we’d been servicing for three or four years. And then we realized that we weren’t really recommending a lot of the maintenance items because we were a repair only shop. We weren’t really focused on maintenance. So we really took the digital inspection, allowed us to reinvent ourselves and we are a repair and a maintenance shop. And it really allowed us to focus on that. Sergio brings up the idea that once we started getting a lot of pictures then we started to break the digital inspection down into estimates. Our estimates went from maybe $600-$700 to $3,000 estimates. And then we had to be concerned about how we presented it. Everybody in the entire history of the industry has always had a, “let’s do this now “and this other stuff can wait.” And it becomes a later pile. Well, later piles end up in the trash if they’re not processed properly, right. So we kind of took that a step forward. But going back to your original question, the checklist, the digital inspection, the photo policies and procedures that we have. We take 21 pictures, specific items on every digital inspection. And then the service writers have to make sure that the technicians follow the policy. If the pictures aren’t there then it’s up to the service writers to submit that back to the technician with the instructions. “I don’t have pictures on these 6 items. “I can’t call the customer until I have it done completely.” So it was a very team-oriented thing where everybody held each other accountable and we were able to implement it and be very successful.


[Tom] – And that’s critical, right. One thing sets the other thing up. You mentioned the Nowhere to Hide form from ATI. Those images and being able to capture all of that and being able to show that over time and also then set a goal as for an exit schedule. And if you get them committed at the exit schedule, it’s like you said, it is later, but you’ve at least got the commitment, you’ve got the reminders going out there, you can show them the commission and reinforce the need for them to get in and to actually show up for their next appointment. And you see that appointment rate increase, right?


[Ray] – Yes.


[Tom] – See that commitment increase.


[Ray] – Yeah.


– Brother Ray he says substitute, because as Ray describes it, it’s not as fluid as we’re makin’ it sound.


[Tom] – No, it’s real easy!


[Sergio] – So Ray says to us, “we work on the 90% and not the 10%.” Because for everything you want to implement, there’s always gonna be someone who says, “See, that didn’t work!” It takes all the air out of your effort. We had one or two reviews that actually specified that we were checkin’ everything out, that we were givin’ a long list. And it fed our trepidation as service writers for that particular day. But then we got over it, we continued to do what we were supposed to do. Because it takes Eric– Eric is our coach.


[Ray] – Eric Twigs.


[Tom] – Oh, Eric Twigs, you’re lucky!


[Sergio] – Yes, we’re blessed. And he said to me one time, it’s always the one thing you take away, he said, “you have to have intestinal fortitude “to do this, because it is kind of tough, “and we don’t deal on the 10%, we deal on the 90%.” When you have that attitude, you implement these things. It’s not always 100%, but what happens at the end of the month? Your average Average RO just went up 50%. So what we’ve done is we started measuring things. We would go to these conferences. We would go to these classes with ATI. We would meet other owners and we would hear, even in our 20 groups, “My service writers have a 70% closing rate.” Well, that’s terrible! We didn’t know it was terrible until we started measuring! At 70% or 80% closing rate, you know what you’re doin’? You’re only fixing what’s broke!


[Ray] – Yep.


[Sergio] – You know, so why don’t we design a checklist. And then Ray and I ran into, is it a belief system? Is it an education system? Ray and I went round and round about power steering flushes. And it wasn’t until I went to a class on power steering fluid that I was able to understand the importance of that fluid. It was a belief system. Then after that, it’s just kind of automatic. Something that has to be done at certain mileages. So you’ll find that in your shops as you try to implement the picture policy. And then from the picture police, the Nowhere to Hide. The Nowhere to Hide, the daily tracker, which means today’s list, and not tomorrow or later, but February 27th, March 22nd, and April 15th. Those are dates of appointments and items we’re not doin’ today. It’s a pain in the ass.


[Ray] – Yeah.


[Tom] – But once you do it 10 times, it becomes second nature. And when you don’t do it, you feel kind of like you didn’t give the service your customer hired you for. Go ahead, Ray.


[Sergio] – And it pays wrong.


[Ray] – What I was gonna say is Sergio hit the nail on the head. We went round and round. The problem, Sergio and I have been working together for a long time. So my voice gets old. And I’m not a good communicator. So the good thing about education, going to some of these basic classes, is you get a different voice with a different presentation. Most of the time they’re good communicators, because that’s what they do for a living. So that helped tremendously with Sergio, and my other service writers. Going back to the belief system. If my technicians don’t believe it needs to be done it’s not gonna get recommended. If my service writers don’t believe it’s a need it’s not gonna be recommended. We had an issue with struts. When did we do struts? Do we do them 10 years? 100,000 miles? What’s the standard in the shop? And then what’s the benefit to the customer? Some of us believe that our struts were a convenience. They were a comfort. Some of us believed it was a safety issue. So we had to really hone down, as a shop, and decide, what is the standard we are gonna suggest struts at? And why are we suggesting them? Fortunately we had a brake class that came in and he spent 20 minutes talkin’ about struts. Talkin’ about the safety triangle. Suspension, tires, and brakes. All three of those are critical for safety. And so until we had that class, we just didn’t agree upon what was needed at what time. And so it took a while to buy in. Once we had buy in it was easy.


[Sergio] – And that’s something in your shop, there’s always gonna be that one or two guys. And they could be shop leaders, and they could be the guy who just kinda changes oil, but it doesn’t take a lot to poison a shop. And sometimes we, Ray and I, we love our employees, we love our brothers out here, and sometimes we don’t make good decisions. And it takes a while for us to make a good decision, and once it’s made, you’re always like, “Man, we should have done that eons ago.” It’s not a simple process. But if you measure the right thing, we decided on measuring not just average RO, not just car count, we measure something called Declined Repairs and Lost Sales. And we’re able to calculate that and we’re able to assign how much did the service writer– If you have a service writer who’s recommending, on average, $3,200, and you have another service writer who’s recommending $1,200, something’s wrong. You need to have a conversation.


[Ray] – Yeah and that’s actually a great KPI to use to measure success. To say, “what is my decline rate?” Because if you have a higher decline rate– Something to go back that you said in that 20 group meeting, I can go in and say, “I got a 78% close rate, “I got an 80% close rate at my front counter.” But if they’re only recommending two jobs per inspection, your 78% close rate ain’t payin’ the bills!


[Sergio] – Right.


[Tom] – And so there’s the flip side of that, it’s the other part, it’s the how many recommendations are you actually presenting to the customer. That’s where that decline rate comes in. You got a high decline rate, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It means that you’re presenting the full story to somebody and then you can go from there. So tell me a little bit about how you kind of drilled down. On your daily tracker, you see that ARO might be dropping, maybe decline rate is increasing, so, okay, maybe– Let me ask you this, let me not even– You tell me, on your daily tracker, decline rate increasing, ARO decreasing, what do you look at next?


[Ray] – So, our average RO has actually increased consistently the last four and a half, five years.


[Tom] – Oh yeah I know. But I’m just sayin’, hypothetically right, if we’re troubleshooting and we’re seeing a dip. Let’s just say it’s for one guy, right. The other guy’s kickin’ butt and he’s growin’ the ARO, but we got this one guy.


[Ray] – Okay, we do have a guy. One guy that does provide a lot of estimates. And so the problem I had with the one guy is we weren’t holding him accountable. He’s got seven different hats he wears in the shop. And when he handles an RO, he wasn’t handling it properly. So what we did, Sergio and I both sat down with him and said, “this is the expectation, “I wanna see a checklist on every work order that you handle “and if you’re not gonna handle it right, “give it to somebody that’s going to. “Because we’re losing money “if you’re not handling it right.” So we started holding him accountable. He started doin’ the checklist, he started writin’ estimates, he started settin’ appointments, and it took a while. He’s one of the longest employees I’ve had, but because he wasn’t dedicated as a service writer, he wasn’t takin’ that role seriously. And until we started holding him accountable, he wasn’t progressing. Since we started holding him accountable, he’s starting to write big estimates, he’s starting to make good sales. It wasn’t that he couldn’t do it. It was we weren’t holding him accountable. So if you don’t have a way to measure and hold somebody accountable it’s never gonna get better, right?


[Tom] – No.


[Ray] – Or if you don’t have the fortitude to hold somebody accountable it’s not gonna get better. So there is accountability’s big and the ability to measure is big and if you don’t have those two factors in place then it’s always just gonna be BS. “Well, I couldn’t do this because I was busy “or this happened, or that happened.”


[Tom] – You’re in a little rowboat goin’ to a big waterfall.


[Ray] – Yeah, certainly.


[Sergio] – What we’re doin’ well, Tom, when the shop is doing well you feel good. Sometimes you get slow and you start second-guessing everything that we talked about, and you start lookin’ at each other, and you say, “you did this!”


[Tom] – Yeah.


[Sergio] – It’s a team effort. One thing that we were workin’ on– I lost my train of thought there ’cause I just yelled. Go ahead, Ray, let me catch it again, it’s gonna come back, someone just walked by and distracted me.


[Ray] – The idea that it is a team effort. We started doin’ videos of our sales presentation because until you start seeing yourself and being able to critique yourself or somebody else being able to critique you, we as a team, it wasn’t a beat up on Sergio moment, or a beat up on Gary moment, it was, “You did this really well.” And I’ve got a grading scale that I do. There’s seven different categories I grade from 1 to 10. On the control of the conversation, did we present all the needs, did we present the Why to the customer? What’s the benefit of the customer doing this? Seven different categories, and we as a team would sit down and critique each other. I’d pick a good one and we’d go through that video, maybe take 15 minutes to go through the video, the sales presentation, but we can see who’s doing something well and the language they used, and it’s like, “Man, that’s really good.” Or, “man, I really screwed up on this one.” And so if it’s not a threatening environment, the team critique helps because you can help each other have a conversation. This is what I normally say in this situation, this is the way I present. It helps from a team perspective.


[Sergio] – Yeah and half the time, I don’t need Raymond to tell me– I’m sittin’ with Raymond, and Raymond’s of course doing me the courtesy of going through my sales pitches. We record our sales pitches. So he’s doing me the courtesy of critiquing me. That is a great blessing, so I can’t be sensitive to his remarks and then we don’t agree on everything, I promise you, we don’t agree on everything. But you have to be open for criticism. But the funny thing that happens is, when you’re watching your own video, you see what Raymond’s seen. So you saw, “I sound like crap on that one, “I have to slow down!” So you end up improving only because you are watching the video yourself and you’re able to critique yourself. And half the time, Ray’s suggestions, I’m on it. And believe it or not, over the course of six months, you become a different salesman. Your pitch changes, your voice changes, you slow down, enunciate. There’s a lot of little details that, over the course of time, adds up to– And it’s not really average RO that Ray and I look at. Yeah, that’s a nice consequence of hours per ticket. Because hours per ticket is what we look at. And so for the longest time, Ray is another, he’s another– He’s one of my best salesman, he’s my second best salesman. He has the second best average RO, but he’s a crappy estimate builder. But he owns the shop and sometimes I go on vacation, he grabs three or four tickets so I’m able to measure that. One thing I was gonna say. Ray said, “hold your people accountable, and measure.” You have to be sure that when you add to the information on your point of sale, you make sure you only give that service writer his or her tickets. Because sometimes, like in the state of Texas, we have state inspections. You can add a state inspection to a ticket and it just waters down my efforts. It obscures what an average RO is. You can’t really work on it!


[Ray] – I’ll kind of take that through detail. State inspections, we don’t do a digital inspection on. Bring it in, we make sure it meets all safety requirements, and then they’re outta here. We do a lot of shops down the street that don’t do inspections. We have customers that get their repairs done somewhere else then they bring it here for a state inspection. The problem that Sergio’s talkin’ about is all the state inspections basically went into Sergio’s portal and he was the credited service writer on that. So when we started measuring a lot of things we’re measuring now, Sergio has 12 inspections, and every one of them doesn’t have an opportunity for a sale because we don’t do a digital inspection on it. So Sergio may handle 15, 20 mechanical repair ROs. And then on top of that there’s 20 state inspections that are put in there, so his average RO may be $600. But because half of them he can’t do a sale on, they just watered down his numbers. So we had to start making sure that we were real clear on what service writer was actually assigned and make sure that there were actual numbers. The problem with data, if you put the wrong data in, you’re gonna get the wrong data out.


[Sergio] – See, and yeah–


[Tom] – It’s really critical when you start settin’ things up that all these things that are specific to your shop that you take in consideration and make adjustments for.


[Sergio] – Yeah, Ray’s the one that–


[Tom] – Boys, that is awesome.


[Sergio] – He came up with a service writer, and his name is State Inspection.


[Tom] – Exactly!


[Sergio] – Because our writer could not help us with that. That’s the other problem that we have, is Ray and I know our writer. And there’s gonna be questions from the people in the audience who might not have our writer. It complicates everything, because we don’t know Mitchell, we know our writer! And we know our writer isn’t perfect, but there’s a lot of things about our writer that are incredible. And we’re able to– You know, the lost sales, that helped us tremendously! We monitor it. We have a KPI for it. And we’re able to–


[Tom] – I wanna kind of revisit that because I think that’s critical. Most service writers, they judge themselves on success or failure based on average RO. If you have a good average RO, we celebrate as a shop, he had a good average RO. And the closing rate. So if I’m at 80% because I sold almost everything I offered, that’s the way we typically measure stuff. The problem with that is, if I start building a big estimate, and I start getting a lot of declines, then as a service writer if my worth is based on my closing rate and my closing rate goes to 25% then what’s that say about me as a service writer? And now do I all of a sudden suck?


[Sergio] – Yeah.


[Ray] – I look at it differently. If I build a $3,000 estimate, I expect all $3,000 of that estimate to be done. And it may be broken down in four visits, right? So I’m still getting close to 80% close rate but it may be stretched over three or four visits. But if I build a now and later pile, and I leave it as a later pile, and it gets pushed off into the trash I have no marketing follow up because it’s a later pile. I have no way to track the return visit if they came in to fulfill any of those declined repairs. So what we did is instead of doing an all or nothing proposition, you’ve got $3,000, I can get it done by Thursday if you wanna go ahead and do it. There are a lot of customers that will walk out if that’s the options they have. “Do it all, or do nothing!” Right?


[Sergio] – Sure.


[Ray] – That’s not a good presentation. So before Sergio or any of the service writers even make a phone call, they have a plan B. Of course we want them to do $3,000 today, right? But the likelihood of that happening may be low. So I wanna break this estimate down in the highest priority to the lowest priority. And I’m gonna spread it out over maybe six months, if I have six months. But the thing I don’t wanna do, if my tires are 4/32nds, and my brakes are at 4 millimeter, and they came in for a water pump leaking, I don’t want to ignore the brakes and the tires, right, because they will need to be done. They don’t need to be done now. They told me they only have $1,000. Let’s get the water pump done, thermostat, and the cooling system flush. The brakes and the tires don’t need to be done today, but we cannot wait for two months. So I’m gonna schedule that on an appointment for the end of March. That’ll give you plenty of time to pay the water pump off and you’ll get an email reminder that that appointment’s due and these are the items that need to be done.


[Sergio] – With pictures!


[Ray] – With pictures.


[Tom] – With pictures.


[Ray] – And so what it allows them to do is I can still get it done in one day service because I schedule it on a day I know I’m slow, right, I only have three appointments that day.


[Sergio] – That’s big.


[Ray] – If I wait for them to bring it in when it’s convenient to them I might have seven appointments! I can’t get it done today! Now it’s inconvenient for them because they need it back this evening. So I wanna control when we’re gonna see that vehicle again based on the highest priority and how quickly they need to see it back. And then second, I wanna schedule it on a day I know I can get it done in one day.


[Tom] – Exactly.


[Ray] – So the why for the customer is big.


[Tom] – Exactly.


[Ray] – They’re not gonna fulfill appointments unless you give them the why, right?


[Tom] – Yep.


[Ray] – So Tom, I don’t know if you know our story. A year and a half ago we really started working on appointment fulfillment. Our appointment fulfillment, even when I include the 5k services that we regularly do, was 12%, okay. That’s awful. I mean you can close your eyes and throw a dart on a–


[Tom] – Fall down into 12%.


[Ray] – It’s way bad, right? The problem was we weren’t explaining the why to the customer, right. So once we start explaining the why– And it was a belief on our service writers. Service writers, if you ask 100 service writers, 80 of them are gonna say, “Customers don’t like appointments,” right? That’s bullshit! We know that’s not true! The reason customers don’t like them is because we don’t explain the why to them, the benefit to them. One, they’re not gonna forget about it, right, because they’re getting an automatic email. Two, if that date doesn’t work for them, a week before their appointment, they get it, and they can either confirm or reschedule. If they click reschedule, then I call them back and reschedule it for them, right. Three, I can get it in and out in one day. I’ve got transportation waiting for them. A loaner car, rental car, whatever. I’ve got financing available.


[Sergio] – That’s a big one.


[Ray] – They’ve got financing available that’s already set up. So they drop their keys off and they pick it up that evening and it inconveniences their life at a very minimum. As minimal as possible, we inconvenience them. So the why to the customer is huge.


[Tom] – Much higher likelihood that they show up, right?


[Ray] – Yes!


[Tom] – So what KPIs are you guys lookin’ at to know that that process is being successful?


[Ray] – So I look at my appointment fulfillment now compared to what it used to be. My appointment fulfillment was at 12%. It was about an average of 320 average RO. Now my appointment fulfillment is 62% and average RO is over 800.


[Tom] – Wow!


[Ray] – So it’s a beautiful thing.


[Tom] – Clear the moon, Alice!


[Ray] – Right! It was ridiculous! And what was really cool is my service writers all of a sudden are like, “Man, my customers like appointments!”


[Sergio] – This stuff works!


[Ray] – Yeah! The other benefit to the service writer. If I do all this work, right, I build an estimate, I source parts, all that stuff, and I break it down. If I don’t set it for an appointment, the next time they come in, I’m gonna have to do all that work over again. Or I might have to go back in and do un-declines and transfer, whatever your point of sale system does. If you do it on a procedure of setting all declined repairs for appointment, all I gotta do is I know the customer’s coming in Tuesday, so Monday night I click the Order Parts. All the parts show up magically the next day! Customer comes in, they give you keys, and $1,000, and say, “I’ll pick my car up at 5,” right? My technicians are like, “Man, that car came back,” right? One thing that really irritates a technician. They give you a laundry list of things that need to be done, and you come back and say, “All they wanna do is a water pump.” What does that do to the technician’s morale?


[Tom] – Yeah.


[Ray]  – Man, it crushes it, right? If you come back and say, “Today, they’re doin’ the water pump. “April 2nd, they’re comin’ in “to do the brakes and the tires. “May 22nd, they’re comin’ in to do the rack and pinion.” All right. Then it gives them hope, right? And it’s really cool, ’cause the tech’s like, “Oh man, I checked that one out, “he came back for all this stuff!” It’s really reassuring for the technician, instead of being deflating, right?


[Tom] – Yes.


[Ray] – So another thing to consider when you’re dealing with tech’s egos.


[Tom] – Yeah that’s a great point. Because that’s it, you put in all that work, you wanna get paid for it, right?


[Ray] – Mm hmm.


[Tom] – You wanna feel like the work that you did was valuable. And a lot of times it’s just, tie the knot, do the next step, hit the send button. Set the expectation, go for the exit schedule.


[Ray] – Right.


[Tom] – Because so many people just refuse– Because it’s assume the sale! Once you got the pictures and the technician notes and your story straight in your digital inspection program, you assume the sale! “What do you mean, you’re not comin’ back “to get this stuff done?!”


[Ray] – Right.


[Tom] – “You didn’t look at those pictures?”


[Sergio] – There are consequences to the successful exit scheduled appointment. And Ray and I deal with that. For example, Ray, he does a $1,200 estimate, and it comes in and there is no declined repair on that exit scheduled appointment because that person has a third appointment a month later. So believe it or not, that actually affects my service writer’s average estimate declined repairs. But we’re happy with that!


[Tom] – Oh, yeah.


[Sergio] – Believe it or not, there’s consequences even to good causes that are negative but we can live with them. And that’s why–


[Ray] – It’s not really negative, it’s the way you measure, right?


[Sergio] – Yeah.


[Ray] – So on the daily tracker, they, instead of writing over on the side the next three appointments, all they do is they write in exit appointment fulfillment. So that way I know when I’m lookin’ at the daily tracker, I can say, “Okay, that came in for $1,200, “the estimate was already built. “We sold $1,200.” Normally I would say, “Why didn’t we set any exit appointments?”


[Sergio] – That’s right.


[Ray] – But because they noted, “this customer came in “to fulfill an appointment that we made back in December,” right? So it’s a success, it’s just on how you measure.


[Sergio] – Yeah but here’s the deal. At the end of the year, for example, we found over the course– Because I understand Excel, so I’m able to sort and copy and monitor, and I come with these reports all the time to Raymond, you know, “Raymond, check this out.” This is when I found out that we were losin’ money by having certain people not do the process, right? And that’s one of the points that we have. When we have a report for a month, or a report for a week, or a report for a year. It doesn’t tell you who’s who. It just tells you a shop average RO, a shop parts margin, and a shop car count. That’s not good enough! Well, Auto Writer doesn’t really help us with some of that. AutoVitals does, but Auto Writer doesn’t. So we kind of pinned it down to service writer. This is why it’s important to assign only what that, the service writer– So at the end of the week, for example, this is when we found that last year my average RO was 944. And my sales closing rate last year was 28%. That tells you how many estimates I built above that so my average estimate was in the ballpark of $3,500. So once you get that status, or that statistic, you’re able to see what the other service writers are doing, and they start shootin’ for those numbers. And at the end of the month and the end of the year, your average RO went up. As a consequence to making sure you’re measuring correctly, you are holding people accountable, you have a process in place, and then Ray comes up with these other ideas because Ray has a different perspective because we’re in the trenches. We don’t see what Ray sees. He has kind of a drone view and he’s able to see things that we don’t. So he was able to come up with the checklist. He’s able to see, listen, Ray came up with something called the incoming interview. Ray, go ahead.


[Ray] – So one of the problems we had when you get a new customer, you don’t know long they’ve had the vehicle, you don’t know how long they plan on keeping the vehicle, and you don’t know if they even understand the recommendations the shop makes to them on any maintenance items that may need to be done. So all of these things were questions. Plus, customers sometimes they’ve been going through an independent shop that believes in repair only. They were goin’ to Rick & Ray’s Version One, right? Where we really sucked at maintenance, or sucked at any type of suggestions. So unless I have a conversation with them before they leave, I’m gonna hit them with a big estimate because it has 120,000 miles on it, right? Shocks are original, I don’t know if the spark plugs have been done. They’re due now.


[Tom] – Yeah, everything’s due!


[Ray] – I don’t know that the flush has been done, it’s due now. All these things, they need new tires, they need new brakes, you know. So what we were doing in the past is we were scaring customers away because we weren’t setting the table on the drop.


[Sergio]  – There you go.


[Ray] – So what we did now is every new customer comes in. It takes probably two minutes to fill out two forms. As a matter of fact it’s on my website.


[Sergio] – Sure is.


[Ray] – Under “New To Us”, you can do it digitally, right. What it allows me to do is it allows me to have a conversation. There’s a checklist. And it’s a health checklist. All my flushes, spark plugs, brakes, battery, fluids, filters, struts and shocks, either they have been done, they haven’t been done, or unsure, right? So I don’t care if anybody just goes down and clicks a bunch of unsures.


[Tom] – Just like the form the doctor gives ya!


[Sergio] – Yeah!


[Ray] – Exactly. And so because they fill this out, before they even leave the shop, I’m able to have a conversation. If you’ve done nothing on this, but on the form they circle they want to keep the car for 15 years, and they think they can keep it for 200,000 miles, and it’s 120 and they’ve done no maintenance, well I get to have a conversation! “Either you need to start lookin’ for another car, “or we need to start doing some maintenance, right?”


[Tom] – Yeah, and that’s where that canned job scheduler comes in, right? Because you introduce the concept from that canned job scheduler that says, “In my shop, we flush this every 50,000 miles, “we change these every 75,000 miles. “This is how it rolls. “This is why. “Because you don’t wanna replace your car “every 4 or 5 years. “You wanna get some–


[Sergio] – “And here’s the pictures!”


[Sergio] – We get pictures with that, too, so that really– if you can’t do it that way, like I said, the checklist created the cost, and then Ray came up with the consequence of an interview. And let me tell you something, it’s not easy. Yesterday we had a customer who didn’t leave very happy because we bombarded them with “All these things that I don’t need,” because I talked to him, established a relationship. He’s a dentist, I’m really good at that.


[Tom] – He does the same thing to his patients! Right?!


[Sergio] – I didn’t do the interview! So you gotta hold people accountable. Hey, listen, we work on 90%, remember that. There’s gonna be 10% that don’t fall in that category, but we’re okay with that. So we have the interview, and then we monitor the estimates. We exit schedule the appointments. And so those are the KPIs that we monitor, that Ray monitors. And believe it or not, we’ll run into something else. Ray also came up with a booklet to help us get commercial accounts. And we were doing so well with everything else that we kind of put it on the back burner. But there’s always work to be done. If you’re a shop owner, and you’re in the trenches with your service writers, you don’t have that perspective, you don’t have that time to actually work on your business. So we’re blessed that I have Ray, he’s upstairs. He’s in his office right now. And Ray has me! So it seems to work out really, really well. I just wanted to kind of add that to the conversation.


[Tom] – Teamwork makes the dream work! And that’s great, you guys have that culture, you’ve got that transparency, and the digital shop just makes it more efficient, more effective.


[Ray] – Oh, yeah.


[Tom] – Because now you get to share through that digital medium that dynamic that you’ve created between yourselves and your team to your customer.


[Ray] – Oh, yeah.


[Tom] – You could never do that in the past, right?


[Ray] – No.


[Tom] – And that opens up so much more credibility and loyalty from a motorist perspective. And like I said you guys have it down, right? You use that tracker, you follow your process, your intake process, your picture policies, your exit scheduling process, and you assume that sale. And just like you said, when you bring them in on that new customer intake, and you say, “Here’s how we do stuff at Rick & Ray’s. “And I’ll tell you what, you can make a decision right now “to keep goin’ down the road.”


[Ray] – Amen!


[Tom] – “To some shade tree guy, you knock yourself out! “But if you’re gonna be a customer here, this is what to expect.” And you know what? That is how you fire the customers that you don’t really want to do business with and you focus on the customers that you do because they’re coming in three, three and a half times a year. And they’re spendin’ that money. They’re finishing out those $3,000 ROs that you’ve presented to them. And like you said, over time you collect the whole kit and caboodle. You don’t have to put the pressure on them to do it all right now today. Why? Because they’re gonna come back to your shop. You don’t have the fear of losing them to somebody else because you’ve got that relationship. And they’re goin’ to you for more than just price. They’re going to you for value and customer service.


[Ray] – Yep, that’s it. And Tom, you brought up a good point. You’re not afraid to recommend stuff because some service writers are afraid to present a big estimate because they might walk out and not do the water pump, right?


[Tom] – Exactly.


[Ray] – You go to a doctor, and you’ve got a toe infected. They start with blood, they check your heart rate and take your blood pressure, you’re not there for any of that! You’re there to fix your frickin’ toe, right?!


[Tom] – Right.


[Ray] – The doctor doesn’t ask you, “should we check this “or shouldn’t we?” He has to look at you as a whole holistic approach, right? So if we take that same thing, I can tell you this, if the doctor didn’t check your heart, your blood pressure, and didn’t check your heart, and something happened then that’s malpractice, right? So Serge and I, the term that we use is, “We do not practice malpractice.” I don’t care if a customer wants us to look at safety items. We’re gonna look at safety items, right?


[Tom] – Yes.


[Ray] – Because it’s my responsibility as a professional to make sure they’re vehicle’s taken care of even if they didn’t ask me to check it. Now some customers might say, “I don’t want you to do anything.” You know what? I’d rather they say that now instead of me spending an hour and then them not appreciating what we did for them. So like you said Tom, you fire your customers if they don’t want to do it your way. Because you know your way is the best way for them. They may not appreciate a good service. They’ve been getting crappy service forever!


[Sergio] – Well who’s the professional?


[Ray] – They don’t even recognize good service. Who’s the professional, exactly!


[Sergio] – Yeah, who’s the professional? I’m not gonna call and tell my plumber how to do his job. I’m not gonna tell my electrician how to do his job. So we’ve had a couple of those, like, “If you don’t want us to do this, “I apologize for taking off your wheels, “but if you come back next month, “I’m taking off your wheels again.”


[Tom] – Exactly!


[Sergio] – That’s just the way we do things.


[Ray] – If you don’t want us to do it, don’t come back! Because we’re gonna freakin’ do it! We run our business the way we run our business. And if the customer doesn’t appreciate that level of service like you said they can go to the shade tree guy down the street. They can get crappy service down there. But I’m not gonna get sucked in to doing crappy service.


[Sergio] – Sayonara!


[Ray] – We do exceptional service.


[Tom] – Let me give you a coupon. Let me give you a coupon for the guy down the road!


[Ray] – Refer your friends!


[Tom] – Well man, we gotta jump, we’re out of time. We’re a little over but that’s okay because that was a great conversation, man. You know what? You guys have my wheels spinnin’, I gotta tell you, I’m thinking about how we can further improve, and I know who’s gonna love hearin’ this, buddy, how we can further improve some of the metrics that we’re trackin’ through the BCP to serve that better and make it a little bit easier on how you guys are trackin’ that. Brilliant discussion guys, I really appreciate your time! Lookin’ forward to havin’ you both back on, boy, ’cause I’ll tell you what, time flies when you have two passionate operators like you two on this show, and I guarantee you, man, you helped a lot of folks reconsider how they’re approaching things, thinkin’ about taking the next step on gettin’ that drop off script down, gettin’ their processes put in place, gettin’ that picture policy implemented, goin’ for that exit schedule and sellin’ that whole ticket. And what an outstanding, like you said, what an outstanding motivation it is for your technicians to see that their work is actually being appreciated and carried forward.


[Ray] – Yes.


[Tom] – So reach out, we really wanna get you guys back on. Maybe cut a few months out and give you some time to get some of that stuff, some more metrics in place, and some more stuff for us to talk about. Thank you very much. Again, tune in next Wednesday, same time, same place, 10:00 am Pacific, 1:00 pm Eastern Standard Time. You’ll find us live streaming on Facebook. Also hit that Subscribe button on the podcast. You can go to AutoVitals.com/podcast and hit the subscribe. That’ll give you a notification alert when the show’s about to start so you don’t miss anything because, as we saw today from these two, you don’t wanna miss a single episode, because you take home nuggets of gold every single time. Sergio, Ray, appreciate you guys, thank you very much!


[Ray] – Had a good time.


[Sergio] – Bless you guys.


[Sergio] – Hello, Uwe!


[Ray] – Thanks for the opportunity!


[Sergio] – Yep! Until then, get out there and make more money in 2020!


[Ray] – Yes sir.


Read the Transcript of "Using KPI's to Measure Causes & Consequences [Ep. 55]"

Host: Tom Dorsey, AutoVitals

Guest: Billy Catching, Aram’s Auto Repair, Fresno, CA

[Tom] – Good morning, and good afternoon. Welcome to this week’s edition, episode 51 of the Digital Shop Talk Radio. I’m Tom Dorsey. I’m here with Billy Catching from Aaron’s auto repair in Fresno, California. We’re gonna be talking picture editing, how to make more money in 2020 and Billy, welcome again buddy. Thanks a lot, it’s been, seems like it’s been forever since I’ve seen you.


[Billy] – What has it been like 50 something hours maybe, that doesn’t seem like an attorney at this point in time.


[Tom] – It does, boy, that was a long, great weekend. Yeah, we were out at Digital Shop Conference. If you missed it, watch the videos. You missed a good one. And there’s plenty, but let me tell you, there’s plenty of open tickets available for next year, so go ahead and get in line. What was your big takeaway buddy? You know, I saw you in many different roles at Digital Shop Conference, Billy.


[Billy] – This year was different for me because I gave a presentation last year. So while the experience was great, I didn’t get to attend as many breakouts as I did this year. Again, I sat in on Frank’s class, Frank, that dude’s a rock star. I really liked the way that he presents information and kind of a fun and informative format at the same time. I sat in with Fred and Kim and really enjoyed that session as well. And a learning kind of– Yeah, yeah.


[Tom] – It was great.


[Billy] – Yeah, and it was interesting. They challenge you to kind of put that into place when you’re actually learning your customers and how they want to be sold to or how to purchase, I should say. So that was fun, I really enjoyed it. Food was good. The account that the location this year was spectacular. I really enjoyed that, yeah, really enjoyed that.


[Tom] – Yeah man, I had a lot of fun hanging out with you too, buddy. I gotta tell you, how about a Saturday night? Did you have any highlights from Saturday night by any chance?


[Billy] – Yeah, so somehow or another I managed to get a guest pass to the auto vitals holiday party. I wanna call it like the Hey, we’re finally done with a conference party and–


[Tom] – Inmates escaping from the asylum–


[Billy] – Yeah, yeah, and somehow or another, I thought it was a good idea to jump on the karaoke machine with Uber and do a German version of Nina and 99 left balloons, so–


[Tom] – That was epic. And if anybody didn’t see it, I posted it on my Facebook channel so you can get in there and go ahead and take a look.


[Billy] – Yeah, I’m not so sure it’s worthy of watching again, but it’s good for a laugh.


[Tom] – Oh, that wasn’t even the highlight. You had a solo act too, didn’t you? I mean, I gotta just tell you any man who can come into a room full of people like that, I ain’t related to it seems to Miley Cyrus, blowing out those pipes. That was pretty impressive, I had to tell you, you are a man among man Billy Catching.


[Billy] – Wow, That’s fun. Yeah, Mr Belmont wanted to know if we could, if you and I could do an encore at the conference next year. I’m not sure I could get quite enough booze to do that one again.


[Tom] – Yeah, I’m sure. I’m sure it has.


[Billy] – Maybe the Bourbon boys Will help, I don’t know.


[Tom] – Oh my goodness. Hey, shout out to Ben and A Ramsey. What a fantastic time we had, those guys or something else. You know, everybody at the conference. I mean it was just a great event all the way around, man. Just like family having fun and you know, and helping each other and learning from each other. And you know, I can’t wait for the next one. I mean we gotta start having two a year maybe, who knows? East coast, West coast.


[Billy] – I wouldn’t mind, That would give me a reason to go to the East coast. Exactly, you’ve gotta time it, right?


[Tom] – Wintertime out here, summertime out there or fall or something. You know, and I just wanna give a recognition too, and a big shout out to Dustin and our producer, you know, I mean give a guy a microphone and he becomes a superstar. I need to get him on the show. What am I doing hosting this thing?


[Billy] – It was nice meeting Dustin, that’s for sure.


[Tom] – I only wish I had video. Actually, I think I’d do and I’ll be posting that soon.


– [Dustin] Yeah, I saw you with your phone out there, Tom. Yeah, I think that you got some video there for… Yeah, John lawn came over to me and said, “Tom has been a good journalist.” I guess is a good way to put it when I was up there recording everything.


[Tom] – Yeah, you know, I consider it blackmail evidence journalism. Okay, sure, it sounds better or probably something like to tell my kids, but yeah, I got plenty of footage, you know, and you’ve got to keep something in the gas tank, right? You know, so drop those things when they’re more appropriate. So, you know, keep your eyes open.


[Billy] – That’s fun.


[Tom] – You guys were awesome, man. I gotta tell you, you guys are awesome. You know, just that just, I don’t even know what to say.


[Billy] – There was some point in time there becomes a loss of words and–


[Tom] – Yeah, that came fast on Saturday night, that’s for sure. Stunningly fast, all right, let’s talk business What’s that?


[Billy] – What do you wanna talk about Tom?


[Tom] – Yeah, let’s talk business. Let’s help some folks out. So Billy, a incredible picture edit rate, right? I mean, and the most incredible thing is how you’ve been able to maintain it. It’s not just some big spike. It’s not just, you know, this is something that you’re building on. You’re growing, you can tell it’s a rock solid piece of your process. How did you get there? Because I doubt if you went from zero or 10 or 20% to me, Billy, Billy Catching, I think you ran something like 90% picture edit rate over the last 365 days, am I correct?


[Billy] – Yeah, the email that I received yesterday was warning me that I was outside my upper threshold of 75% edit rate at 93, six. So, I think that the only reason that it’s not at 100% is because I occasionally will take a day off here and there and that drops the average.


[Tom] – Is that right?


[Billy] – No, I’m teasing. I’ll miss one or two every now and then. But no, the process began with attending the conference last year and honestly it kind of started with Frank and his opening last year I believe when he was talking about the article that he wrote about the moral obligation. I’m not gonna lie, I asked my guys to take a certain amount of pictures. I don’t discourage them from taking more, and there were a certain amount of pictures that maybe I was glossing over or just hiding from the customer review. And I kind of felt like at some point in time I was kind of cheating my tech. He took the time to took those pictures or take those pictures. So either there was something in them that he wanted me to see and try and discuss with the customer. Or maybe I was just going so fast that I was assuming that those were like good pictures because I do ask them to take a certain number of good pictures in each inspection as well. And I listened to Frank and then talk. He was talking about the moral obligation. I began to just realize, you know, there’s probably been a time or two since we came onboard back in March of 17 that while letting him pictures for our customer’s car, I probably got to some point mentally where I felt like, you know, this customer’s probably not gonna wanna hear all this. There’s a reason why their cars in this condition as it sits. And and listening to Frank and talking about the moral obligation, I was like, you know what? My customers deserve to know all of the information. It’s not really fair for me to decide how they should maintain their car. It’s a much better practice to over give them information about where their car is and then let them decide. Because maybe this was the light bulb went on in my head, maybe their cars in this state of disrepair because the person that was looking at it prior wasn’t giving them this opportunity. So it’s not like your customer claims underneath their car on a creeper to do inspections. They’re trusting that the information they’re being told is accurate, it’s honest and that it’s necessary. Well, the pictures that were able to provide through auto vitals, answers in checks, all those boxes. It’s not like, if I’m telling a customer that their brake pads are only at three milimeters remaining and I’m backing that up with a gauge demonstrating that picture, there’s no longer a question. It’s, it’s not about honesty. Sure, could I take pictures of another car? I could, I guess, but that wouldn’t be that moral compass or that moral component that Frank speaks to. So, and it builds trust a lot faster because if somebody told them, “Hey, your car’s probably gonna need brakes on its next oil change.” Let’s say they were having it done somewhere else where they don’t necessarily do repairs. Maybe it’s just an oil change your place or something. Now they come in and I’m showing them, yes, that is a valid concern. Or maybe no, maybe I’m showing them their brakes are still at six millimeters remaining and yeah, you can let this go to it and put that in a future recommendation and we can discuss it on your next oil change with their arms auto repair. So I’m getting that, I’m trying to get not only to buy into the customer, I’m trying to get a buy into being a return customer.


[Tom] – Yeah, I know that’s a fantastic point, right? It’s give them all the information and give it to them in a way that they can understand it, right? Because if you don’t, they’re gonna get it anyway, he’s not gonna get it from you. Who do you think you’re gonna get it from, Billy?


[Billy] – Well they’re gonna get it from Google or somewhere else if you’re not giving them that path too. So that was one of the things that we do in our inspection reports is we also link a lot of different videos to some of our supporting product vendors so that we’re still trying to keep them on the path that the products that we like to use and for the reasons we like to use them so that they don’t have that necessary desire to go outside and start grabbing maybe bogus information or google repairtv.com. Because let’s face it, we’re all fighting that anyway. You give them a fair price and a reason why they’re doing it. And you try and remove that desire to look for a cheaper price or look for a way to do it ’cause you’ve already done the work for them and then it just makes it easier for them to purchase the repair from you. Instead of, you know, Oh, I’ve got a cousin or an uncle or Hey, I got a coupon, I got set a Harbor freight tools in a six pack. I know I can knock them out.


[Tom] – You had no doubt about it. So you know that’s a really good point too, right? Is that you know, they’re gonna get the work done. You just have to provide them with enough information to get them to make a confident decision to buy. And if you don’t, you know, and then there they’re gonna go to Google, right? And then anything can happen on Google. You don’t wanna ever give them a chance. Second guess your advice, your expertise. And so you have to be full and complete with them. And instead of spending that 20 minutes on the phone, right? We just do it through the picture editing and provide not only the full information, but very clear in layman’s terms, right? In customer speak, what does it mean? And it’s like Bill’s mantra, right? Bill a Connor will always tell you is you have to give them, you know not only the reason, the why and the how, but what to do about it is in right in there. You don’t need to tell them that over the phone. You don’t need to twist their arm when they’re in front of you or you caught them on the phone finally. You give them the information that they need to make an action right there in the notes, in the picture edit and you explain what the next step is. And you know, I thought that was pretty brilliant, pretty slick, which you said, you know, is a way to plant the seeds for your vendor products, your BG or whatever it might be right in there. Just not, “Hey, we recommend this stuff because super good.” It’s, you’re gonna get some BG fluids, you’re gonna get these filter, whatever it might be. It’s just a assume the sale is how you’d say it in sales speak. Assume the sale and plant those seeds right there in your editing and in your notes. I think that’s really a brilliant idea, Billy. And I know it’s paying off for you buddy


[Billy] – It is, it is in tenfold. And going back to the editing, like you just stated the, the more time. Yeah, does it, is it kind of a pain sometimes to edit every picture. It is, ’cause there’s a lot of hats that I wear during the course of the day and there’s times that feels like the dam broke and the water’s all running downhill. But by taking that time, carving out that time for that customer. Tom, I can’t tell you how many times it’s like I said, it’s led to a customer buying additional repairs that maybe I, while I was type and didn’t think was ever gonna happen. And it just, it’s proofed out right there. And you know, it’s interesting in the Facebook forum, Bill Connor and I were kind of in a discussion about edit, not edit times, but by viewing times. So that’s another thing that I pride myself on as I have a very high customer research time. I think it’s somewhere just North of 300 seconds or so on average like last 30 days. But it’s been as high as like 400 and some seconds. But again, that’s because of the high edit rate and I’m giving them a lot of information those pictures. But what it does, let’s do on the backend secondarily is it does shorten the phone call time is now they’ve already come to a conclusion, “Oh, my car is in pretty rough shape. “I probably put some money into it.” Or maybe they’re already to that point where they’re done putting the money in and then we at least have a successful conversation about, well, I’m actually gonna get rid of the vehicle so I don’t wanna waste a bunch of guys as time. Can you just put it back together for me? And those are the things I’m not looking forward to. I’m much rather looking forward to them purchasing the repair. But the phone conversation time is now immensely shortened. It’s not a 15 to 20 minute, here’s why this, this, this, and this is wrong. But some of that goes back to a kind of a sidetrack here. So when you have the ability to monitor the customer research time, use that as a tool. I was talking to a lot of people at the conference that will tell me that their service advisors take the time to build out these nice inspections. They do these editing, they send them on and they’re like a race horse trying to get back to the barn. They’re chomping at the bit to get to sell that work. Relax, watch the timer, watch the customer, do the work. Don’t pick up the phone right away because you having your for doing the opportunity to digest all the information, you’ve just laid in their lap about their car, let them take in that information. Now if you see that one of the tricks that I use and I learned this from Fred last year’s conference is use that timer to your advantage in such a way that you leverage it. If you just sent that estimate and you can tell that that customer hasn’t looked at or they’ve looked at it for 20 or 30 seconds, just enough to open it and go, “Oh, that’s about my car.” And then they moved on, don’t take their phone call. You’re doing yourself and you just spent all that time doing that work. Force them to put some time in learning about the status of their car. Don’t take that phone call. I just have a convenient way of, I set the expectation of drop off. “Give me 15 to 20 minutes while I built that estimate. “Once you receive the information, give me a call.” So if they didn’t hear that, they didn’t process that at the drop off. And now 30 seconds later, I see their name come up on the caller ID. I just remind them conveniently that “I’m sorry, I do need “to still finish completing your estimate. “Can you give me an additional 10 to 15 minutes? “And by the way, please go back “and take a look at that report “so you become familiar with what we’re gonna discuss.” So I’m driving them right back to it. So, you know, sometimes they’re gonna be stubborn about it. Maybe they didn’t hear, maybe they’re preoccupied or maybe their day is so hectic. They think they don’t have time. Make them make the time that you took in building that estimate and doing the research. It would pay off.


[Tom] – And that’s a hard thing to do, right? It’s a hard thing to do. I mean, most, you know, you tell some guy, I don’t even think you are insane. You never tell me, I, you’ve never worked. You can’t tell people that you’re not gonna take their call or you’re not gonna sell them over the phone or whatever it is. But it’s a new day.


[Billy] – But again, that is a it’s a change in your habits, just like you’re trying to change your customer’s habits and how they wanna take care of their car. So you gotta be willing to put in the work too. You can’t just ask them to do all the work.


[Tom] – No, exactly. And so then, you know, so, okay. So let’s, let’s talk a little bit about, because that’s pretty, I mean, that’s impressive, right? That keeping that a high of a picture at rate, you have to have a process in place, right? You have to have kind of a step by step process that you go once you get that inspection result. Let me ask you this first, right off the back, cause it’s gonna help a lot of folks that are listening, Billy. Do you start editing the picture? Do you have the technicians start to update you before they’re done fully with the inspection so you can get ahead of the game and start editing pictures?


[Billy] – No, because we have a smaller crew, I don’t need that nest notification. I just have them submit. And then the second that they submit the inspection, I’ll go ahead and change the status to create an estimate and then I’ll take the time to just start to go through the the pictures, give descriptions as to what good, bad or indifferent, what the technician is trying to demonstrate. Again, we kind of, we have a picture process where we have a certain amount of good things. Those are easy to go through. You don’t necessarily have to draw arrows or circles or stuff. You could do a lot more verbiage just in those. So those are a quicker edit. And then as you start to get into things where the tech is trying to demonstrate a condition or a concern, then those pictures will take a little bit more time. But I will go through and make sure that I give, like I said, each picture gets, if nothing else gets a verbal description of what they’re looking at. Because that way they are at least, they’re getting somewhat of an education about what’s underneath their car, what their fluids look like, what their tires look like, what have you, even if they’re all in good, we measure them, we demonstrate and we talk about them. And then once I have all the pictures edited, I will personally take and hit the view tab so I can see exactly what’s gonna be presented to the customer. Just like it’s gonna come across on their phone or in their email, ’cause I wanna make sure I’m putting out something that looks professional. If there’s a picture or something that just doesn’t relate quite, right when it’s in a bigger format or something, then I might have the tech just retake that picture. Maybe it was a little bit blurry or something. And I’ll have them retake that picture and then I will go back and just edit it a second time and then I’ll hit the View button. If everything looks copacetic, I send it off and hit, then change it to waiting for approval. And then I start to watch the timer and then at that point the timer becomes my friend.


[Tom] – Yeah, yeah, exactly, right. And you know, if you think of it, it’s just all that timers do is racking up the amount of money that you’re increasing your AR where, you know, you have every barrel order by. So let me ask you this, in your picture policy, what do you have your technicians do? Because they gotta help you, they gotta set you up for success, I would imagine to be able to maintain that high edit rate, right? So what do you have in your picture policy? Are they using notes for shop eyes only or something like that to give you the information, Hey, this is what this picture is so that you can just bang out the customer detail.


[Billy] – Yeah, so this is a personal preference and talking a lot of people to conference. Some people encourage their texts to drop arrows and circles and put their own notes. And while I don’t think that that’s a bad thing, it just doesn’t quite work for me. I’m a little bit more of a perfectionist personally. I don’t want there to be any grammatical errors. And one of the things I’ve noticed is that when the guys are taking the pictures either on the tablet, I know some people use their cell phone. When they drop the circles or more importantly the arrows, they don’t quite always land in the right spot. So what I do is I just tell the guys, put whatever you’re describing in the shop eyes only notes. If there’s no grammatical errors or anything like that, it’s just a quick copy paste and then drop it in the customer notes and then I’ll add the arrow or a circle and change the color of it to demonstrate what the tech is trying to get across. But that’s a personal preference. But I’ve seen firsthand what it looks like. ‘Cause I told you again, I use the View button. So if I let the techs do that, it doesn’t always look the way I’d like it to. So we’ve just changed our policy. Hey, drop it here, I’ll do this with it and we move forward.


[Tom] – You know, that’s a great point. I mean that’s a great tip for people, you know, because there’s more than one way to skin a cat. So it depends on your operation, what’s gonna work best for you. But you can have them annotating the images off the tablet directly. Or like whoa Billy do you want to, just tell me what you want the customer to know right here in the shop eyes only notes and let me wordsmith it, let me put the bow on it and you get back to killing out your build hours.


[Billy] – I’ll put the lipstick on it, dress.  Miley Cyrus with that lipstick on.


[Tom] – You’re gonna have to send me that video.


[Billy] – I have that one. I don’t have that one. Somebody got it though. There’s the evidence is out there. We just have to smooth it out and then, it’ll appear one day when you least expect it. You will get a lot of feedback. Yeah, you gotta like, like when I really least expect it.


[Tom] – We’ll have to do a show on it. clips from that night, you know? So let me ask you this, Billy. You’re gonna get a bunch of people are gonna in matter of fact, go ahead and fire away in the Facebook forum. Don’t be shy, you know, give us some feedback. Ask Billy some questions, you know, let them help you out. You’re gonna get folks to tell you, ” You know, that’s all great for you, Billy Catching. “But I am, you know, my car count. I have too high of a car count. I can’t do it, it’s impossible.” Right? What do you tell them folks


[Billy] – Then you need to manage your car count better because I’m serious, when I started with Aaron’s and even before we came to Auto Vitals, we had a higher car count. But because of the way that we’re choosing to edit pictures and take that time to give a more thorough, not only investigation of a customer’s vehicle, but we’re also allowing them the time to go back and make that purchase. You can’t do that if you’re running around with your hair on fire, you just can’t, you got it. For us, it was much better to take the car count down by 20, 30 cars a month. But our ARO has gone from five to 60 something to just short of 800 something. It’s been down here the last couple of weeks. But we closed the year at almost like 780. And my goal was 800. When we started with Auto Vitals and this was in March of 2017 we’re at 562 or 565. So yeah, we’re doing less. We’re maximizing it and making more. So would you rather work harder or smarter? Is what I would tell those people. So I’m not lazy by any stretch, but I’d rather use the abilities and the tools that we have and make more money with what we have than try and make it up for it by slamming two more cars through the doors.


[Tom] – Yeah, exactly, and there’s no better position to be in. Then being able to, you know, be a little, you know, picky in the customers that you do business with even, right? You don’t gotta take them all in because we know those turn into a lot of other issues sometimes, bad reviews all the way down to lawsuits, right? Because you know, whatever. And so, you know, you don’t wanna be in that death spiral that desperate, I just got to take it all in this morning. You probably going to have to transition and that. You can’t do that overnight either. But you can start and that will change the way you mark it, bring it in those folks. You know, which ones are engaged with you and which ones are really following your plan and looking at that information and planning for the future. And those are the folks who wanna see. And it’s a really great position to be in, right? To be able to make a kind of those decisions.


[Billy] – And I would ask you this question. So so to those people that would ask that question, I would ask them what their inspection rate is. Because if you’re really going that hard core, are you really making sure that you’re looking at every vehicle? I think, when we looked at the metrics at the conference, I think our inspection rate is just a couple of tenths of a percent under 90%, with like an 84 85% cent rate on those inspections. So while we do look at more cars than we actually send, I think that the only reason we have that discretion of the 6% or 7% is because that’s our older clientele and they don’t wanna mess around with a cell phone or with an email. So I can’t send them that. But my guys still do the inspections so that I can see what the car looks like and then I can still use my words, kinda go old school to still talk to those customers and make the presentation in that format. But in talking to our product advisor, Marty, he was telling me that there’s a lot of shops that hover anywhere from 30 to 45% inspection rate,


[Tom] – And the application, you know, sometimes we get guys that just wanna do their quick lube stuff, but they don’t do the general side and they’ll grow into it, right? Because it’s like anything else, right? It’s, once you start to get the results, well then you want more of it. You do more of it, you figured out. And that’s why conference and guys like you, I’ve got to tell you Bill, I really appreciate, you know and I’m sure, and I know a lot of people appreciate you man, is just the willingness to be open and share your experiences and help folks figure it out. And that’s what it’s all about, right? And so those folks that are maybe not body and all the way, they haven’t drank the Kool-aid and got up and blasted out some Miley side . Not yet, but they’ll come around.


[Billy] – Yeah, so that was another thing that was a bigger takeaway this year than last year. I mean, the first conference I attended for 2019 was great. I picked up some really good things, I brought them back and implemented some stuff right away and this conference we’re gonna make some other changes and implement some new processes and tweak some of the ones that I knew that needed some attention. But I’ve been kind of just lagging on my own part. So we’ll do that. But one of the things that that struck me, and it got mentioned quite a few different times by the presentation of people that were giving, like the opening ceremony of the guys that are presenting, you had them up on stage. It was, a lot of it was talking about teamwork, community.


[Tom] – Culture.


[Billy] – So that was the big takeaway for me is that at the end of the day, we’re all in the same boat was the term we were using. We can either bail water or we can sink. And so if we can teach each other and help each other learn how to bail water better and not let the boats sink and your business go down, but elevate your business and keep it buoyant and above the waterline. That to me is a calling. I feel like I owe my fellow men and my fellow industry compatriot. I felt like I owed that to them. You know, as a kid, I remember my grandfather telling me the day that you fail to learn or keep your mind open to learn something is the day you become dumber. So it’s true if you, you have to be willing to keep learning and keep educating yourself. Just because you do something one way doesn’t make it the best way. Maybe by hearing and listening to the way somebody else does it. Maybe you tweak your process, maybe you change your process completely because you find something that works better for you. And like you said, there’s no one way to skin the cat Verbally. So at the same time, there’s no two businesses are gonna run the same way. No two service writers are gonna do the same thing. But as long as you keep bouncing ideas off of each other and you keep trying to learn and grow from that interaction, it’s gonna make you a better person. It’s gonna make your business better.


[Tom] – Yeah, yeah, 100% right. You know, your walls won’t stay in if you build your house on sand and that’s what it’s all about. You got to get those fundamentals down. You gotta be willing to, you know, be humble and be empathetical and open your mind up to how somebody else’s approaching it. And there’s nothing wrong with, you know, taking a day or a week or a pay period, whatever it might be, in implementing some thing that you see as being successful for somebody else and get a taste of it. Maybe it’s great for you, maybe all of a sudden you have numbers like Billy Catchings hat, right? Boom, you could just see right from, you know, like you said, when you learn that stuff last year from Frank and from Fred and from everybody who spoke last year at the conference, the proof is in your BCV, you know, you can’t hide from, it was a rocket ship. And then the best part of it is you’ve maintained it, right? You’ve maintained it and grown upon it, and you can see the other influential metrics. And now, like you said, there’s lifestyle changes, right? Now, you’re not as pressured in the car counts drop, but you’re making more money and you’re in that sweet spot, man. And that’s really where everybody wants to be able to get to and it’s so hard, and a lot of times we get into our tunnel because all we have is the fires around us, right? And you to be able to step back and you know, take a breath and look around and learn from folks, folks who come on this show, folks that come out to the conferences or they go out to your 20 group meetings and things like that. Get active, participate, try it, right, try it, if it, you know what, here’s the deal. If it doesn’t work well then say that. Get on there and say, “Hey, this didn’t work for me and here’s why.” Because, you know, why it’s gonna help the next folks, you know, make those decisions just like your customers do on your reviews. Hey, this is what happened with me. Maybe it’ll happen with you or you know, I can make a decision on if it’s gonna work, it might be right for me and if it’s a good fit and then just go for it, right? And so you’ll really be able to pay it forward like that and share your success, man. There’s nothing wrong with that.


[Billy] – No, there’s, and there’s nothing wrong with being successful–


[Tom] – Rolling with it, right?


[Billy] – Being successful–


[Tom] – In California might disagree.


[Billy] – What’s that?


[Tom] – I said the state of California might disagree.


[Billy] – They just pull for taxes. They like you because then they may get more money to spend themselves, so no doubt.


[Tom] – That’s right, I just wish they’d spent some of it on the puddles, but you know, I keep wishing, I keep dreaming. Really appreciate you coming on the show, buddy. It’s always a pleasure to have you on. You are welcome here, anytime my friend, you know, really proud to call you a friend and you know, you’re part of the Auto Vitals family man. And we just like, you know, looking forward to having you back on and hearing some more of your success and seeing your story and watching you grow, man. It’s a beautiful thing.


[Billy] – Yup, thanks for having me.


[Tom] – My pleasure buddy. Hey, so I know you probably got some pictures. gonna let you get out of here. Tune in next week, same time, same place. 10:00 a.m Pacific 1:00 p.m Eastern. 

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