Legacy

A few weeks ago, I lost a dear friend with whom I had worked with for nearly 20 years. At the funeral, her daughter talked about her mother’s legacy. I thought I knew Miss Jean well, but I learned much more about her that day. From the outside looking in, she wasn’t anything special – she wasn’t a manager or a leader – she just showed up for work everyday and did her job in the accounting department, which she did very well. She lived a very quiet, simple life.

Her daughter continued talking about her mother’s legacy and her impact on the world around her. As she closed out the celebration of her mother’s life, she asked each of us to consider what our legacy would be when we left this world.

The thesaurus within my computer states there are two meaning to the word legacy: bequest and relic. For this particular discussion, let’s choose relic. My thesaurus listed 8 synonyms for relic of which we will choose two: residue and remainder. Finally, my computer’s dictionary describes legacy as “something from the past”. Boom – case closed. Our legacy is our residue, our remainder – the things we leave behind (good or bad) that define who we were to those who were around us.

To me, Miss Jean’s legacy was one of “others first, me second”. She had an uncanny ability to sense when I needed some encouragement. During such times, it was not unusual to find slid under my office door a card from her with a handwritten note of encouragement. I can’t tell you how many times her thoughtfulness made my day much brighter.

So, what does this have to do with our business environment? Everything. From your associates to your customers to your vendors and everyone in between that you encounter, you will leave a legacy. What will yours be? What will you leave behind for your associates and customers to remember you by? Some may not care, but I believe most people want to be remembered for the difference they made with the folks within their sphere of influence. Don’t minimize the impact you have on those around you. You as a business owner have a tremendous obligation to your associates and your customers. Teach them. Train them. Treat them with respect. Make a positive difference wherever you can, and your legacy will be one you and your family will be proud of. One final thought for you to chew on: you are now becoming what you someday wish to be for today’s thoughts and behaviors shape your future.

How do your customers, vendors, and associates perceive you?

-Eddie Hight, November 9th, 2018

Big Adventure!

Change makes everybody a little apprehensive, nervous, scared, whatever term you might want to use. Some people let it make them lose focus on everything else. Somehow folks got the impression that change equaled “BAD”. However, over the years I have learned not to make up my mind too quickly.

It’s like starting a new job. Everyone is not on their “A game” everyday. Additionally, some folks just don’t trust the new guy easily. Usually it takes a while to really get to know a person, and goes for both sides, you and them.

Another mistake is passing judgement too quickly on new things. When Windows first came out, I ignored it saying, “It’s just a passing phase.” Boy was I wrong! A couple of years later, I was way behind and had to catch up quickly. This made learning it so much more difficult.

Then came along cell phones and “Smart phones”. Some folks thought the phone was good enough and did not want to change. But as technology changed, they were forced to. These days, who would be anywhere without their smart phone?

Along come changes at work. The initial thought is “WHY??” But, again, change is not bad. Maybe a new leader, procedure, idea, job title, etc. is going to be “Great!”, but how will one know if it is not given a chance?

In all these examples, the “change” puts people out of their “COMFORT ZONE”. And we just do not like it. We are comfortable knowing everyone around us, knowing how to follow routine, knowing how to do what is needed, and, knowing how to use the tools provided.

Almost every time like throws me a new curve, it has been for the better! Look at getting out of your comfort zone as something new and exciting! Old routines can get to be, well, just boring. Take on new challenges willingly! Look at new situations, ideas, technology, ect., as a big adventure! Being nervously excited is part of the adventure. Take a deep breath, do it again, now move forward. That’s the first step.

-Joyce Guest, November 2nd, 2018

Automotive Technician vs Automotive Mechanic

Mechanic is defined by the Oxford Advanced Leaner’s Dictionary as “a person whose job is repairing machines, especially the engines of vehicles.” Mechanics usually work with hand tools.

An automotive mechanic can be anyone, certified or not that is more equipped to handle the mechanical aspects of automotive repair.

Technician is defined by the Oxford Advanced Leaner’s Dictionary as “a person whose job is keeping a particular type of equipment or machinery in good condition.” Technicians usually work with technology.

The conventional view is, Automotive Technicians are individuals who deal with more of the computerized side of vehicles. This became popularized as cars started to become more computerized, which presented a need to deal with the on-board diagnostics. Automotive Mechanics tend to be self-taught and deal more with the nuts and bolts of vehicle repair. However, that does not mean an auto mechanic cannot be skilled in many aspects of vehicle repair. Many mechanics have adapted a wide array of skills that has enabled them to become capable of servicing vehicles of all makes and models.

Modern vehicles are much more complex then their older predecessors. With electronic control systems taking over what used to be controlled purely by mechanical, hydraulic, and electrical systems in the past, the modern automobile exposes the ever-widening gap between the skills required to be considered a technician versus that of a mechanic.

Repair shops should not hire an Automotive Technician to simply diagnose problems and then hand off the second part of the job to someone who is labeled as an auto mechanic. Auto technicians typically take care of the diagnosis and repair. Otherwise, it would cost a repair shop much more in terms of payroll. In the end, all technicians are mechanics, but not all mechanics are technicians. It is up to you as a business owner or service manager to hire accordingly.

-Jon Parks, October 26, 2018

Recipe: The Perfect Customer

It’s Summertime and everyone has the perfect dish. Whether it’s a mouthwatering hamburger, a fresh fruit bowl, or grilled bacon wrapped jalapeños, every picture you see on the cover of a magazine looks perfect. Although, I use all the same ingredients and follow the recipe precisely, my creations never look the same. Luckily, I am not cooking for a magazine cover. 

Here is a recipe that is perfect every time: The Perfect Customer!

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The Perfect Customer

Ingredients

– 1 quality used car purchased at a good price

– 1 brush, 1 towel, water and bucket of soapy water

–  3 large scoops of great customer service (meet and greet, test drive, identify their needs) 

– 1 term of making sure the payment is affordable for the customer

– 1 set of agreed upon expectations

– A handful of empathy

 

Take these ingredients and place them into your dealership, allow them to blend and stir them for the term of the contract. On occasion add in the empathy when necessary, laughing and genuinely smiling will also help. When the term is complete be prepared to hand the customers the title, the extra set of keys you made, and thank them for their business. If you feel you are still missing something you can always ask for referrals during and after they paid off your contract.  This is a great recipe for a successful customer. Enjoy and make as many as you can!

-Bill Elizondo, September 7th, 2018

Dealership Promotions

In some areas of the Country school has already started and there are many more students that will be hearing the bell ring between now and just after the fast approaching Labor Day holiday. Speaking of Labor Day, and of kids going back to school (which means they are in the car more often) how many of you readers have taken the opportunity to address either holiday delinquency or travel safety issues with your customers? I mention delinquency because it may be that some of your customers have not properly budgeted for the expenses of back to school. Therefore, you may experience a slight uptick in the delinquency rate.

This is where a good promotional effort would help, especially when it is organized and directed to serve your customer with information well in advance of such an important date or event. I elected to go ahead and write this piece even while knowing that our next upcoming opportunity (Labor Day) is almost in the rearview mirror, so that my dealer friends could properly plan for the next event and even take a look at how their promotion would happen if one were currently scheduled. Promotions are not expensive when properly managed and the effect of direct customer involvement returns more for the investment dollar than any other form of Marketing. Since we know that our customers are sending their kids back to school and within a week we are also celebrating a holiday, it’s a great time to have a “Customer Appreciation Promotion.”

Managers should look 30-60 days down the road and check the calendar for dates that make sense to have a promotional event. A good promotion is a win-win proposition. Dealer and Customer each benefit.

Recently, I listened as a dealer explained his frustration when a customer had experienced damage to their vehicle from lack of routine maintenance. While many of our customers get caught up in their busy days, many more are guilty of neglect of regular maintenance or safety checks for the vehicles that they are operating. Are you prompting your customer to be proactive with maintenance during the deal closing? Remember, our customers are buying higher mileage used cars that seem new to them.

Take for example the upcoming holiday when most travel is done by car. While not many of our customers will be headed out for extended travel, they will be visiting friends and relatives while enjoying the day off. A promotion for your business prior to a holiday when travel may be expected is a great idea. Not only does it promote safety and a demonstration of your concern, it may well serve to motivate customers to visit the dealership and take advantage of special promotional offerings as well as making their payment.  

When hosting a promotion, you can make it easily affordable by offering hotdogs and burgers cooked up on the grill with potato chips. Offer an inexpensive “Customer Appreciation” prize that has been on display and have your customers sign up for a drawing. Since we are suggesting that this promotion provide a safety or educational aspect, do not forget that it also must be fun and provide for customer involvement. Your customers will appreciate a cold soda or water with the chance to stop for a moment and have a plate of food. It is not difficult to hand them a flyer or spend a moment with them to review how they maintain their vehicle. Even if a promotion budget reached the $500.00 level you are many dollars ahead if you avoid one engine failure.

Solicit referrals and have staff on hand to help the customer address the following issues or by providing them with a list so that they can perform the checks with the help of a friend or family member:

 

  • A periodic maintenance reminder date (use a birthday date and repeat monthly) mine would be the 27th
  • Have them check their tire pressure, spare and jack for functionality and knowledge of use
  • Has the oil been checked (27th – monthly) or changed recently? When is the next maintenance due?
  • Do they have a set of jumper cables and a flashlight?
  • Conduct promotions that promote wearing of seatbelts (promote safety and avoid traffic stops)
  • Have a vehicle winterization and anti-freeze program (Memorial Day and Labor Day)
  • Do not loan your vehicle to someone (it might be impounded)
  • Use turn signals and check brake & headlights monthly (another safety and traffic stop issue)
  • Lock your car even when you are driving it (do not become the victim of a crime)
  • Never leave it running when parked or unattended (it might be stolen)
  • Do not operate your car on “E” but try to maintain a ¼ tank or more gas level
  • Keep the gas cap lid tight and try not to use gas that contains alcohol, use a mid- grade gas

 

Even if your customer does not plan on travelling for the holiday, I recommend a pre-holiday promotion that provides support for your customers, checking items like those listed above at least two times per year. Depending upon the climate in your area of operation the customer will have dramatic tire pressure losses between summer and winter operating conditions. Promotional programs such as these show customer appreciation, reward loyal customers and offer the opportunity for viewing the collateral or soliciting a trade-in.

In a day and age when contract terms are extending well beyond three years in some cases, it just does not make sense to be a dealer that is not involved with promotions that help customers protect their investment which is your collateral.

The checks listed in the bullet points above are compiled because they are consistent with real life issues, help prevent problems and reflect our customers experiences and reported complaints. They are proven preventative measures which limit vehicle complications and or breakdowns.

If you are paying referral fees but not conducting a sell-a-friend promotion to generate referral business, please contact us so we can discuss this valuable tool for generating sales. If you are not conducting a CAP or customer appreciation promotion to reward current customers, please contact us for information on this also. The key to effective promotions is that they be executed properly.

We suggest the use of weekend promotions to reward current customers and to assist them by encouraging them to be proactive regarding maintenance issues. At AFS Dealers we have helped Buy here Pay here and Lease here Pay here operators develop many successful promotions that keep them in touch personally with their customer base. We offer communication avenues within our operating system for e-mail and texting as well as contact by phone or robo call. Even today when many customers do not make in-person payments we keep you in direct touch with your customer in many ways.

Talk soon.

-Mike Eskina, August 31th, 2018