Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Dealer Principle - Part 2

The trust we build or loose in the sales transaction is then transferred to the service process. Dealerships should begin to build the service department into their sales process. Customer should be offered an opportunity to talk with the service manager and ask questions about service. The service manager should be the individual that explains the new car warranty to the customer. This will eliminate the chance of confusion and misleading statements by the sales department. If we are truly going to revolutionize our industry for the better CUSTOMER RETENTION should be the standard, not sales volume.

Customers should be taken thru the parts department and advised that this dealership has hundreds of thousands of parts and parts inventory to fix this brand of cars.

When this brand of car has a service or parts issue, the selling dealership has an obligation and an opportunity to repair the vehicle as well as the customer. The dealership can start the relationship off right by selling the Creative Effort to the customer and Stop Selling the Business. This is the time to build the customer relationship. By not trying to sell that car as selling the effort, the dealership will retain the customer forever.

Imagine that your dealership walks the customer thru all of its departments; the service, parts and body prior to negotiating the deal. The dealership is setting a tone that not only do you have the auto maker guarantee; you have the personal guarantee of the DEALER PRINCIPAL. This is the highest level of assurance you can give to a new car owner.

Customers make purchasing decisions based upon a relationship. Build that relationship and maintain that relationship over the course of ownership and you will RETAIN your customers. Hard sell them into a payment or price and the next opportunity they will be down the road to another dealership and brand.

M5™ Management Services Team has spent countless hours of travel and research on improving the performance of new car dealerships. Customers ask for sales techniques. They ask for closing techniques. The answer to closing a sale starts way before the closing situation appears. Closing the sale starts by answering the telephone. Building a relationship and retaining the customers will happen by providing a tireless effort to set the customers’ expectations and live up to those standards at each and every opportunity. If you fail, refer to the standard and exceed it. Your customer will appreciate the effort and stand side by side with you through the ownership lifecycle. You will be rewarded by loyalty unseen in the history of the automobile industry.

Steve Shaw
M5™ Management Services

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Dealer Principle! Part 1

The problem with Dealerships is Trust. Customers have a sense of wonder and excitement in their hearts most of the time they come to purchase an automobile from the new car dealership. Many customers dream of that new Mustang on the showroom floor. They fantasize about the roar of the engine starting and revving up by pressing the accelerator. Our customers begin to lose trust in us about the time they enter our establishments. They want to love us as much as they love thier cars. Our process sets the tone for one of trust or one of deception.

The generations of the fifties and sixties surf music set the tone for our love of the auto industry. That baby boomer generation is still around. They may be migrating towards the greener pastures now, but make no mistake they are still around today. That generation and their kids and grandkids are more and more knowledgeable about cars, computers and the environment. They certainly do understand how to Google a car dealership and find out any and everything about the store. They know the invoice, the sticker price and what their next door neighbor paid for the car. They most likely are an educated consumer. If they are not educated, they know someone who is educated.

This is the best customer we can have. A customer who knows the business and understands what we do. However, this customer is not one who accepts anything but the ultimate in customer service. This customer wants to be treated like a customer who is making an investment in our dealership. They are making their largest or second largest investment in their lives and they should be treated this way.

We must respect the customer for their knowledge and their choice to purchase from your dealership. Remember the customer has choices today. They can buy from you, or not. Even The New General Motors has dealerships just a few miles away. If the next dealership is too far to drive, well the customer will just purchase at Ford, Audi, Honda, Toyota or another brand.

The dealership industry is revolutionizing itself right now. Customers can even purchase cars On-Line. Some forward thinking manufactures are developing new model for auto sales and delivery. Car dealerships must covet the trust of the customer and keep it in a sacred spot. Once it is lost, that trust is hard if ever to regain.

To learn more about customer RETENTION please give us a call at 205.358.8717

(Next week, how to over come the trust issue)

Steve Shaw
M5™ Management Services

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Lee Harkins
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Sunday, July 19, 2009

We should be OUTRAGED for customer defection

As an industry, as a collective group of car dealers, we all should be outraged to see our customers fleeing to the independent shops. Let’s face it; the new car customer is our customer to keep. Each and every day we send another customer, two, three or three thousand fleeing from our dealerships to the independent shop. Why is it that our customers a running in droves from our dealerships?

I will tell you the answer!

It is simply trust!

Our customers do not trust us - the new car dealership.

It is time we start earning that trust back. It is time to shake things up out there and start winning those customers back. It is time we go out on a limb and change the way we do business.

Many of you know that I wrote a book called “Cheating the Dealer”. My peers have raised their eyebrows at my title; they have called my names and suggested that I betrayed the brotherhood. My book is a positive look at the industry and an attempt to unravel the mystery that is the car dealership. In nearly 100 pages of sleuthing and research, I have attempted to show the customer the reasons why they should service their car at the dealership.

I have nearly 100 pages that barely scratch the surface for the consumer on how and why to use the new car dealership for service and parts well beyond the warranty period and into the coveted customer pay arena.

We need a full scale effort put on by all of us to start changing the minds of the consumer, our customer that defected to our competition. Let’s start by telling them who we are and what we stand for and that we want to retain the ones we have and recover the ones we lost. I can also tell you just by conversations that I have had with my readers that they are certainly defecting to the independents. And they are leaving a lot faster than we can sell new customers.

The perfect example of this is as follows:

Wednesday I received an email from a customer who was driving a BMW 330i. She was due for her first service outside the covered maintenance period. She was quoted $450 from BMW Dealership. She was astounded by the price! She could not believe how much this OIL CHANGE was going to cost. Her next step was to defect to the independent shop.

I told her in my email response, that I was not sure what a service cost from BMW so I advised her that I would look into it. She then purchased my book “Cheating the Dealer” and decided to take a piece of advice I gave her. She read: READ YOUR OWNERS MANUAL! This is Shocking Advice! She read her owner’s manual and discovered the exact service required this visit. She called the dealership back and had the necessary repairs completed! She had the repairs completed at the DEALERSHIP!!!!! She was an educated consumer. This is exactly what is supposed to happen.

The service advisor at the dealership may say that he lost a $450 sale. Wrong answer! The dealership was about to lose a customer for life. The dealership took care of the customer properly. They serviced her as she needed to be serviced. She bought the correct $200 work and left happy with her dealership.

I want to encourage dealers out there that the days of high priced over the top services are over. I want to encourage dealerships to get aggressive with their pricing and recover that customer s who have defected to our true competition. Get aggressive and retain the current customers in your driveway.

I researched the habits of customers in my book project. I asked questions regarding their needs and wants. Customers want to be treated fairly. They would like to have their cars serviced at our locations. They just want to be serviced and not sold. They want us to be the location of choice. As Lee Harkins President and CEO of M5 Management Services, says, sell the creative effort, stop selling the business. That means sell the value of your dealership; sell the customer on your effort, your commitment to them and your service to their needs.

Let us go out there and make a full scale effort to win our customer s back. Car people are entrepreneurial, creative and smart. Let’s do this. I want to focus on this effort. I want to rally the cause. I want a full scale, multi level, multi organizational effort to bring this together. I want the dealership customer back in my store – and yours.

Steven E. Shaw

My consumer book is available on line currently at as a digital Ebook. It will be on Amazon in a few weeks. Get Ready America!

Stay tuned for the OEM Version coming soon!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Social Networking and Servicing Cars

In today’s Internet world of twitter, MySpace, facebook, 24 hour news networks our customers want, excuse me, they demand instant gratification. As instant gratification is becoming the normal or the benchmark, how many car dealers are still making appointments for later in the week? How many service departments are making appointments for tomorrow? Does it make sense to tell a customer that they cannot see the car doctor until later on??? If I put my customer hat on right now and I have a problem with my car, guess what, I am headed down to the dealership for repair. I demand that you look at my car now. I am the customer…

Imagine the new way of doing business through social networking…your dealership has a facebook page a twitter account and all of the social networks. You are leading the industry. Your customer needs service so they open up their blackberry and go to the FB icon and post on your wall that they are on the way in. Bamm. Done! Your customer made an appointment for right now. The service advisor comments back immediately and advised he is waiting for them. Upon arrival you already have the pre-write completed and a waiting to perform a perfect walk around on the car.

The customer is expecting this because you have told them in your fan page that is the standard at your dealership. Every car gets a complete walk around and courtesy inspection.

The customer drops off the vehicle and either takes the alternative transportation you provide or facilitates their own ride home. How easy is that? You just saved the customer all the hassle of calling into your dealership. You saved the trouble of a customer navigating your switchboard. You saved the customer time and they utilized a service that was FREE for you. Imagine the win win situation.

Oh but wait, your customers are still on hold.

Steve Shaw,

Next week I talk about ways to utilize twitter in your department.

You can follow Steve Shaw on Facebook and twitter and especially at Join today and keep in touch. 310-597-7726

Comments or suggestions?
e-mail Steve Shaw

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Monday, June 1, 2009

When Doors Close, New Ones Certainly Open

View from the 101

To My Staff at the LA Auto Gallery


As I leave the dealership to pursue new challenges and opportunities in my life, I wanted to take a moment and say thank you to everyone for allowing me to practice my trade in your dealership. It is important for us to recognize that we share more than just eight hours per day. We share each other lives and together we can improve and inspire each other.

This last year was exciting and rewarding. The men and women here at the Los Angeles Auto Gallery are some of the best and brightest that I have enjoyed working with in my career. I have been fortunate to watch as real craftsmen worked on Porsche, Audi, Ferrari and Maserati Vehicles. I learned to appreciate a quality of repair that I have never seen in the business until now. You really have set the standard for my life.

Of course driving the supercars was not too bad either. Although I did not ever show it: it was pretty cool. My all time favorite if you believe it was the Audi S8 with the W12 engine. The Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound system blew my girlfriends hair back (almost as if we were in a convertible) as we drove down highway 10 one evening. We rocked out to Billy Squier - the Stroke…I am here to tell you that was freaking cool. If I had a buck - twenty, that would be the car for me!

Although the Audi car was my favorite, each store has a different personality and culture. I wish only the best for the men at Porsche who have dedicated their lives to the brand and the dealership. Many of you have more tenure here than my entire years alive. The Audi boys are talented technicians that seem to be only getting started in this amazing business. I offer my support and encouragement of continued success. I hope you follow your dreams and desires too. Your leaders were inspired each day by your work and dedication. The Ferrari team has finally found their stride and I can only see success in the future for that team. The new found leadership is just what you needed to make the store triumph in these tough times.

I hope that I was able to bring some new ideas and opportunities and friendship to the dealership and the people here. I also hope you feel that the store is being left in much better shape than it was when I arrived. I always worked with a business like demeanor and a warm heart. I will miss the friendships and will look forward to returning as a guest. I am sure my successor will give his entire heart to the dealership and the staff. I believe in his ability to take this company to heights once only imagined.

Please keep me in your thoughts and stay in touch via email or phone. I am always about. Now I am off, as my General Manager Jeff says, To chase my dreams.

Steven E. Shaw
Cell 310-597-7726

Steve Shaw is now working full time as a Dealer Coach and Consultant. He is working on projects with M5 Management Services and his training series with Chris Collins, the Profit Exploder, is debuting in the next few weeks. Stay tuned to the blog and the website for exciting information…

Projects Coming Soon:

• Profitability Summit and Job Fair with M5, this summer
• Video Training Series with Chris Collins, this summer
• Cheating the Dealer Book…Getting back in touch with the Dealership, this summer

You can follow Steve Shaw on Facebook, Myspace, twitter and especially at Join today and keep in touch. 310-597-7726

Comments or suggestions?
e-mail Steve Shaw

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Orphan Owners are going to kill GM and Chrysler

Has anyone really thought about the defection that is occurring here in the automotive dealership world? Our customers are defecting in MASS to the independent shops already. Did the manufacturers really think that customers are going to stay loyal to a brand when they cannot even get service for the cars?

My local dealership has gone away. Now what do I do?

Do the experts at GM and Chrysler think that they make such a great car that the competition is not going to swoop in and suck up the customers. The new Dodge Challenger is a hit! I would even like to purchase one for myself. However, if I have to drive for miles to my nearest dealership for routine maintenance, I am certainly not excited about that situation. This just gives the customer more defection points! Now an oil change is more of a point of defection because the dealership is just too far away.

Remember defection points. Ford Motor Company has been preaching about “Brakes, Batteries and Tires” for years now. Keep the customer loyal to the dealership. Do not let them leave.

Defection Point – Any point in the life cycle that the customer can defect from a dealership and go to an independent shop. This primarily occurs when a customer needs, brakes, batteries or tires. As the independent shop is PERCIEVED to have a better value for the items and services.

I really do not understand how Chrysler is going to survive as the “New and Downsized Dealer body Chrysler”. How is GM going to service with a shrunken dealer network?

Ponder this: If every Chevrolet owner showed up at the dealership today for service that was going to the independents, the Chevy dealership could not handle the influx of business. Cars would be lined up down the street. GM parts depots would be overrun with orders. Parts suppliers would be building spare parts and the chain goes on and on. However, the independent suppliers are not complaining. The aftermarket brake guys are expanding, building parts, fixing cars. What happened in our thinking to believe that closing stores is the right move to save the manufactures?

I heard the advertisement again this morning about a certain oil change shop. It stated that the customer tried calling the dealership for service and they were given an appointment for next week. If you believe the rhetoric from the commercial, what is going to happen when there are 2000 less dealerships in the United States? How long is it going to take to schedule an appointment?

However, dealerships are living the exact opposite. Dealerships are taking customers in NOW. Not tomorrow and certainly not next week. Our business is declining and we want work today. But where is the manufacturers’ effort to save the dealership? The Chrysler and GM effort is to save itself. Open your eyes and ears corporate guys. We dealers sell the products. We service the product. Without us there is no GM and Chrysler.

Where is the outcry from the automobile manufacturer? These are your customers. Do we just sit idly by and wait for someone to steal our customers. Do we just wait as our industry gets turned on its head? What are we all waiting for, let’s get together and make something happen. In fact we should demand that the automakers participate if not lead this effort.

Demand for Service Marketing

I am calling on the manufacturers to create a full scale marketing plan with multi level and multimedia to draw the attention to the customer about the NEW CAR DEALERSHIP SERVICE DEPARTMENT.


Imagine if the manufactures such as Chrysler and GM told their customers how great the dealership service department is performing. Imagine if FaceBook, MySpace, Twitter, pictures on Flickr and all of the known and not so well known social networks were full of fan pages of the new car dealership. Imagine the viral networks filled with testimonials of how wonderful the customer was treated at the new car dealership service department. Imagine if you turned on your television or radio and heard the General Motors talking about Mr. Goodwrench again. Imagine the warm and fuzzy feelings we could all have knowing our most precious investment was being serviced by the most highly trained technician in the world. Imagine how our customers would feel making the trek anywhere we asked them to trek. Finally, imagine how full the shops would be with real repair and maintenance work. Imagine how many customers would be converted into sales customers. That’s what dealerships do. I shudder to think how busy we dealership could be today.

If you follow my logic, then realize that the manufacturer would be supplying parts to the dealership. That would help keep the lights on at GM. Obviously parts suppliers would be busy making parts. GM then could focus on building cars. In the dealership world we have something called “absorption” or “fixed coverage”. This is the amount of the expenses that the fixed operation covers. A successful dealership is 85% fixed coverage. Imagine when the fixed ops pays all the bills. This means every car sales is a profit. A profit! Imagine profits from dealerships. What a concept.

Consider Service Satellites

Let us turn underperforming sales departments into service satellites. Imagine a dealer network where customers were not forced to choose between the competitive dealership service departments. Dealership s could focus on the true competition, the Aftermarkets. I suggest that underperforming dealership sales departments could revamp and focus on service. What are we going to do with all those empty service bays? It breaks my heart and my head to drive along Main Street and see a once thriving car dealership sitting empty.

A scenario could be having one or two dealership sales facilities across a community with service satellites populating the outer areas. This only makes sense. Dealership sales departments could become profitable. What a radical idea. Customers could be serviced by entrepreneurial dealership service departments. Car dealers are smart entrepreneurial folks. They certainly know how to move the metal. They also know how to turn a service customer into a sales customer. I suggest that we let the dealerships find there balance. Put a dealer in charge of the market area and let him run his business.

My suggestion is allow the dealer to do his job and sell and service cars. Without us, death to the brand is just around the corner.


Steven Shaw
cell 310-597-7726

Comments or suggestions?
e-mail Steve Shaw

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Sunday, May 3, 2009 Rolls Out ROAMSers Community is introducing ROAMSers, the most exclusive dealership community on the Internet. ROAMSers is dedicated to the dealership service and parts professional. Join us today. Interact with the who’s who in the business. Service Advisors and Service Managers alike can find relevant information on improving their performance in the fixed operations department.

This website is not like any other on the Internet today. This website is dedicated to Fixed Operations Professionals ONLY! Be the best – JOIN TODAY. Already the best, share your knowledge and be recognized for your talents – JOIN TODAY!

Sign up for a Free Membership NOW. CLICK HERE!!
The first 100 users will receive a 1-year membership absolutely FREE. Users can post their Key Performance Indicators in the community. Go to our training center and share your knowledge or just ask questions. Download training calculators to boost your stores performance.

Learn tips and techniques from Ray Branch, The Professor. Ray is the founder of The KEEPS Corporation and also the inventor, designer and builder of the highly acclaimed ROAMS program. This program is the Automotive Industry's new Fixed Operations standard for measuring sales and net profit improvement performance in retail dealership service and parts departments across the country. Professor Ray regularly talks to dealers via teleconferences and webinars. Ray Branch is here at

Leigh Silver with Mobile Productivity, Inc is here helping us to coordinate the groups of managers out there. Leigh is seeking the best talent in the business to join his profit groups. His mission is to build a resource of talent to swoop in and help solve the issues in fixed ops: a Task Force of men and women to call upon for advice. Many managers are just starting out in the business and others are more seasoned and experienced. We want you to share your knowledge with others and us. Get recognized for your talents. Become a World Class Trainer and Coach on the website's training center. Are you the best in the business parts and service manager? Then we want to learn from you too. Together we can grow beyond our wildest dreams…and we can dream.

Ask questions of Steven Shaw, the original Dealer Coach. Utilize our on line training center. Post your questions to the coach. The only question that is bad is the one you have and never. Our goal is to assist the newest manager to get settled into the job of service manager all the way to the most experienced Director. Do you know top 5 things to do on your first day on the job? Use the dealer coach as a sounding board to make sure you are on the right track. Sometimes that’s all it takes to make sure profits are the end result.

Jay Huffschmidt is our resident SEO Coach. Jay has insights to the world of the Internet and how to drive traffic to your website and ultimately to your dealership. Jay has already driven and many other websites to the top of the search engines.

Membership has its privileges!


Each week we will reveal the “Play of the Week” a written and proven process designed to increase the performance and profitability of your dealership service department. Imagine a sales meeting leading to a $7 increase in ELR! This week!


Also, look for the “Coaches Corner”. Each month we will seek out the most influential person in the business of fixed operations. We will find out what’s on their mind and how are they dealing with the day to day of the dealership world. I am not talking about small time either. This is the Major League.


No one has a lock on all the answers; each one of us has strengths to share with each other. I encourage you to post your best practice, solution or process in the training center for all to access. Post more and move through the ranks of a new guy to becoming a coach and trainer here on the website. Lets talk about the basics of gross profit improvement, expense reduction and net profit explosion…Service Manager 101 – Understanding Gross Profit. Or Marketing 501 – Marketing for the Dealer Principal. We will discuss techniques to drive traffic today!


We already have guys lined up for months to talk to you about how to increase your performance…Chris Collins, Nick Neumeyer, Bob Cawley, Dave Vaden and more

Chris Collins
in the original net profit exploder. He coined that phrase along with “dedicated to multiplying your net profit”.

Nick Neumeyer, one of the best service advisor trainers on the drive today.

Bob Cawley, the parts and service director who built the largest Ford Fixed Operations Department in the country today. Watch us as we chronicle Bobs Transformation of his new deal…our own reality Internet documentary

Dave Vaden with M5 Management Services…a performance enhancement coach and implementation coach. Dave is a recognized speaker for many manufacturers and independent performance enhancement groups.

This is just the beginning…we might even surprise you with some other great coaches showing up for the big game! This game never ends, it is about continuous improvement, correcting course and continuous growth…

Are you ready to get in the game of your life…if you are ready to win, put yourself in and sign up today!!!

Go to and sign up it is absolutely FREE for the First 100 users. Check it out today…

Mr. Steven Shaw has been coaching service and parts professionals for over 15 years. already has 1000’s of followers, readers and fans. You can also find mydealercoach on Facebook, twitter, flickr, blogspot, AutomotiveDigitalMarketing, LinkedIn, wigetbox, and more…

Join this exclusive community today!

Comments or suggestions?
e-mail Steve Shaw

Make your #1 on-line resource for dealership coaching!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sell the Sizzle

What a week. Service Managers I think you can identify with me on this one. A normal day for me goes like this:

1. Walk the Parking Lot everyday, touch every car and write on the windshield
2. Hold a production meeting everyday, talk about FRH
3. Hold a service advisor sales meeting everyday, talk about sales
4. Follow up on the Work In Process (WIP), close tickets
5. Review the Forecast VS. Actual, look at the money
6. Coach and Counsel the employees each day, baby-sit!

(For more information on my day, go to or click “MY Method” I have prepared sample checklist for each day, week and month)

Come on people what more do you want from me?

Now I must perform an inspection on each and every car and make sure that the service advisors do a walk around too. And just when you think you have had enough, Les Silver walks in the office to teach about MPi. Actually Mark Halterman, Business Development Manger, with MPi, showed up with his install coaching team on Wednesday to help take my store to the next level. I do not have time for this!

It gets even better. I was about as busy as a manager could be last week when Mark arrived. Not only was I doing everything as I listed above, I had two service advisors who needed extra attention. More baby-sitting. I just returned from picking up a car from a customer in Beverly Hills, interviewing an additional service advisor, and trying to keep the place together at the exact time the MPi crew shows up.

Now Mark began to tell me about the process workshops that were to take place. My blood pressure began to boil as he talked. We were to map out each process from “meeting and greeting” thru “write up” and presentation of the “MPi Know Your Vehicle Report” he said. Then he dropped the bomb. He also said that we should talk about the Service Advisor walk-around as well. I almost came unglued. I found myself giving every excuse why it could not be done. I found myself caught up in the day-to-day grind. And I am the Dealer-Coach. HA!

I actually considered making a run for the border, Mexico. How about Las Vegas? I considered Vegas however I just came back from there last weekend. Ok, now I am broke and my blood pressure is boiling. Anyplace but here was on my mind. I settled for a diet coke and a walk around the building, I cooled down and returned to my office.

Mark began selling me on the benefits of the entire process. In fact he did so well that I actually bought what he was selling. It made so much sense. It was exactly what I wanted; just said in a different way. I wanted to SELL THE SIZZLE. Sell the inspection (meaning offer it complimentary) to the customer at write up. Let the customer know, in advance, that we are going to perform a Quality Vehicle Inspection or as MPi says World Class Inspection. That was exactly what Mark was preaching to me. I was just not hearing him. Sometimes I just need a break or maybe a slap in the face to stop and listen to what someone is telling me.

Finally I agreed. Sipped my diet, stopped cursing and took a breath.

Mark, my service team and I worked through process documentation. We created our dealership playbook that evening. It took about 2 hours to develop. The next morning, all day and through the evening, Mark trained my technicians and service advisors. He trained on the MPi process at my dealership. He also trained on sales techniques too. We learned the benefit sandwich sales technique along with others.

Mark taught us one new technique called “Safety First”. He taught us to sell safety BEFORE the prime item.

I am confused…safety first?
Before the Prime Item?

(Stay tuned for my blog next week on this one)

Every person received the RULES of the game. Everyone had a chance to speak out on the subject too. When we were done, each one of my writers admitted they learned just a bit from Mark. That is a great compliment.

Les Silver, President and CEO of MPi even paid a visit to my store that next same day. His presence added credibility to the process and aided in the buy-in from my team. Overall my entire team appreciated the efforts of MPi. We got it done in the midst of all the confusion of running a car dealership service department.

Lets go back a month; we installed the MPi software at the dealership early March. My Key Performance Indicators (KPI's) were already off the charts. I even showed incredibly high usage of the QVI (inspection) op code. My team always inspects cars. The things that should have been up were up and the things that needed to be down were down.

I will admit that since the installation, all of my numbers are up even more. We set an all time record for gross profit and service net profit in March. I hesitate to put real #s on the blog as my dealer goes crazy. Also, utilizing the MPi tool, I am now looking more at process indicators than the actual up sell dollars. The dollars are there when the process is followed.

Did MPi do this? How much contribution did the MPi software have in this improvement? I cannot give you an exact answer. I can say that my team of service advisors is focused on the process of selling now. Obviously we are focused on improving our KPI’s and growing our customer pay business, however the process is where the emphasis is being placed.

These are the metrics that we now review:

• Does the service advisor request the vehicle inspection 100% of the time?
• Does the technician perform the requested vehicle inspection 100% of the time?
• Does the service advisor complete the “treatment plan and the recommended action plan” 100% of the time?
• Finally, is the customer presented with the Know Your Vehicle Report 100% of the time?

In my store, we are getting close to 100%. Close means World Class!

I can site many examples of the improvement we have seen; my favorite example of what MPI has brought to my dealership is this story:

On the Saturday before the launch of MPi, we performed an Oil Service on a 911 Porsche. We also did our Quality Vehicle Inspection and a warranty repair. The car was given a clean bill of health and we ordered a warranty part for the customer. The customer came back in on Wednesday, four days later, the first day of the MPI launch. The same technician RE-INSPECTED the car utilizing the MPi Tool. The technician was actually required to inspect the car and note his findings in the computer. Interestingly enough, he discovered the customer needed rear tires and rear brakes. My service advisor explained to the customer how we have a new program designed to improve our vehicle inspections and sold both the tires and the rear brakes. My hats off to the World Class Inspection Tool – not just the QVI op code!

In our Fixed Ops Manager Meetings, we no longer just talk about forecast vs. actual pace, account receivables and KPI's. We talk about being World Class. We talk about ensuring our place in the dealership world for a long time. We talk about all the other stores that are closing around us. We talk about how we must be different. We talk about PROFITS!

This comes with continuous steady improvement. Some may call it cliché I just nod and agree but inspect what you expect from your people. Hold your people accountable for the processes and the numbers will follow.

Steven Shaw www.

Go to and click My Method at the top and see the time saving checklist that I have created.

And stay tuned next week for a special article from…

Comments or suggestions?
e-mail Steve Shaw

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Friday, April 3, 2009

Successful in a Down Economy, One Dealership's Story

South Bay Ford is the #1 Ford Car/Light Truck Dealership in the Nation for Retail Parts and Labor Sales.

South Bay Ford Dealer Principal, Gary Premeaux (Primo) gives the credit to his talented Service and Parts Team. Gary and his team started out over 15 years ago in a small run-down location in Hawthorne California. Now Gary has a state of the art facility that sets the standard for new dealerships.

Let’s talk about the team that Gary Premeaux put together. Gary hired Bob Cawley 12 years ago from an Arizona Ford Dealership. Gary and Bob realized before most that retail was the way of the future. They created the retail standard that Ford Motor Company adopted as a pattern for their dealers.

After spending too much of his time entertaining friends that were waiting 90 minutes to get an oil change, Gary realized that things needed to be done differently. He challenged his service team to create a world-class service department that met customers’ needs. He demanded things like:

1) 30-Minute Oil Change Service Or its Free - The entire process (including Advisor walk-a-round, an oil change and vehicle inspection) was completed in 30 minutes or less. Only a handful was ever given away. The boys in the shop did a great job of getting the cars in and serviced.

All Technicians did oil changes. South Bay Ford was one of the few dealers that encouraged all Technicians to do maintenance. The Technicians learned that they could make money doing services and maintenance. Even the highly skilled “Master Technicians” found that they could sustain a consistent pay check by filling in their day with maintenance work.

Gary did have a standard; maintenance was not a loss leader! We needed to make money doing maintenance. He wanted to retain a minimum of 70% gross for service labor and 30% gross for parts on maintenance business. That percentage was sustained over the past 11 years.

This meant new pay plans for the Technicians. Each Technician had a maintenance pay scale, a repair pay scale and a fleet pay scale. The cost of labor (Technician Rate) was based upon our acceptable sell rate for labor in each category. It was a stable system with guaranteed returns.

2) Saturday Service
– The decision was made to open on Saturday and to provide full service six days a week. A creative rotating work schedule was implemented that allowed them to be at full staff every day of the week. All team members were given the opportunity to give their input in the new system. The new work schedule required hiring an entire team, as one team was always off duty. In the Saturday Marketing Plan, they did mailers, voice mail (before it was popular), distributed flyers in parking lots and made a real effort to have a successful launch. The first Saturday went so well that the dealership produced 224 Flat Rate Hours. That was more than any day during the previous week. It was an instant success.

3) Advanced Production Systems
- The dealership converted from a conventional dispatch system to a true Advanced Production System. Gary eventually brought in the team from ATcon, now M5, to teach and train the staff. Dave Vaden was the leader of that training. Bob Cawley and Dave Vaden instantly built a relationship. With Dave’s help they were able to improve the Labor Selling Gross to over 50% (Ford Financial Statement), another Premeaux standard.

4) Leadership in Customer Satisfaction - Gary insisted upon a strategy, close supervision to see that the plan was carried out and CSI incentive pay plans to ensure that his customers were treated right. Gary has been leading the Region with the number of customer surveys returned and CSI scores since the inception of South Bay Ford.

And this was just for starters. Premeaux had a clear vision for the future and he set the tone for the Parts and Service Departments. Even back in 1996 Gary was designing the “New South Bay Ford”.

The fun part of this article for me is that Gary and Bob hired this kid named Steve Shaw to be their Service Manager during those early years. It was exciting for a young kid to work with and learn from this talent. I remember those grueling meetings with Gary, he never settled for anything but the best from his managers. Gary also encouraged me to complete my MBA. Gary has a way of getting the best from his managers. Obviously it works! I stayed with Gary for about 3 years before setting out on my own as a consultant. I never worked in the new dealership however I visit whenever I can. Bob Cawley always had time to buy me a burger at Hanks Bistro Cafe, located in their waiting room.

Bob and I developed “PIG Meetings”. “PIG’s” is an acronym for “Process Improvement Groups”. Every Thursday the managers bring up the entire staff, in small groups, and have a free exchange of information concerning everything in the dealership. We were able to change our world because we talked to our staff. We listened to their needs and created an environment of trust and accountability for everyone.

The service department was soon growing beyond belief. The dealership hit its low point in February of 1996 when they flagged just 2,800 hours. Today the dealership produces between 7,500 to 8,000 hours per month at the new freeway location and 2,000 to 2,500 hours at their Fleet Service Center. That is an awesome improvement.

In 2005 Gary built his New South Bay Ford. It now sets the standard for new car dealerships. Building a dealership like this is no small task. Every one must be on board and understanding the clear vision. Bob kept his employees informed with PIG Meetings for years.

Premeaux, who never settles for second best, hired Ron Kiepke to manage his multi-million dollar parts inventory. Gary truly understands what fixed operations will do for a dealership. Recently, Premeaux closed his other location, Ford West, and opened a new Fleet Service Center. This truck center is located in the old building. Big trucks and fleets are essential to any city, especially in Los Angeles. The dealership services most of the LAX Airport support, the local city governments, police and sheriff vehicles, taxi cabs, buses and even limousines make their way to his fleet shop. In total, South Bay Ford has 130 Service Bays, 60 Technicians, 12 Service Advisors and a very competent support staff.

After 12 years as Director of Fixed Operations, Bob Cawley resigned to spend more time with his family in Arizona. After consulting with Bob, Gary promoted Ron Kiepke to Bob’s old position. Paul Gipple was promoted to fill Ron’s old position as Parts Director. With these highly skilled and experienced professionals in place and a tried and tested system to operate, the dealership is poised for the future.

Only the best is in store for the future of this Ford Dealership. Congratulations to Gary Premeaux and his team at South Bay Ford for becoming the #1 dealer in the entire country for retail parts and service sales. GREAT JOB!!

Co-Authored by Steve Shaw and Bob Cawley

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Truth in 24 – An Inspiration

I find myself in the mist of the most amazing cars in the world; the European Car World. My dealership sells Porsche and Audi as well as Italian supercars Ferrari and Maserati. I suspect that many of you will differ from my opinion here today. However my blog today is about AUDI. In my humble opinion the Audi is the most technological and sophisticated piece of machinery on the road today. As I watch the video “Truth in 24” I am reminded of this truth.

“In life and in the 24 hour Le Mans it is the journey.” It is the journey we take today, each step that helps us achieve the little victories along the path. Each small victory and sometimes losses help us correct our course and move forward and closer to the ultimate victory. And in the case of 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Peugot Team had the faster car. That was in-disputable. Audi just had the better team and better strategy. Audi executed its strategy flawlessly.

In our lives others may have a prettier wife, more money, faster car, boat, bigger house or they may just that one thing that we do not have. It is our drive though that will take us beyond all that. It is our passion that we have to win the race. It is the determination we carry with us as we move through life making decisions and correcting course each and every day that will lead us to our ultimate victory. We all have that podium that we want to stand upon.

I aspire to achieve greatness and stand on my podium. I blog and work my website to inspire others to drive forward in their knowledge and success. I want to share stories and make other aware of the trials, the failure and greatness of others. As the drivers and engineers of Team Audi spoke their words I wanted to share a few of my favorite quotes from the video here

• No one aspires to be 3rd Place
• A defeat is good for the corrector if you take it the right way
• You never share two things, a car or a woman

The one lesson I have learned working at the dealership is that we are only as good as our last month. Resting on our laurels and previous victories or championships never amounts to the victory or championship this month or this year. I subscribe to the theory if you are the defending champion, you are not battling to keep your championship; you are battling for the championship. Once you enter the race you gave up the prize and must battle to win it back.

This is the big secret of Le Mans: Every year you face challenges that you never faced before. That is no secret for us; we are driving forward at our dealerships and our lives. Being resolute and steadfast is the key to overcoming any obstacle placed in front of us. Team Audi had a strategy and followed the strategy throughout the race. Decisions were made and held to even in the toughest of scenarios. The Audi engineer was put to the test in the final hour of 24. He made the correct decision, overruled everyone and held to it even under fire. He was proven correct and led his team to the podium. I say congratulations to everyone who leads themselves and or their team to victory. It is the human factor that will take you their every time.

To get your FREE full length download of "Truth in 24" visit Apple's iTunes store by clicking this link: FREE Truth in 24
or visit

Steve Shaw

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Networks are Stealing Our Customers

The independents do it better?

What? Who are these people make false claims to our customers. This is a rallying cry to everyone in our industry. Let’s get off our asses and show the independent guys what we are made of. The new car dealership does it far better than any independent shop can ever claim. Let’s start by comparing the shops…

• Your dealership has the highest skilled and trained technicians.
• Your dealership has the highest skilled and trained service advisors
• Your dealership has the technology to fix your car
• Your dealership has the tools for your car
• Your dealership has the parts from the manufacture to fit your car correctly
• Your dealership has the nation-wide Parts and Labor warranty in case of a failure
• Your dealership has the most competitive prices, far better than the competition!

Your independent shop has…

• .
• .
• .
• .
• .
• . I am drawing a blank

I do not understand then why is CNN advising the public to go shop for auto repair at the independent shop. CNN reported that the independent shops do it cheaper and save hundreds of dollars for the consumer. The fact is that most dealership offer competitive prices on services, maintenance and the major repairs. The new car dealership has the right tools to accurately diagnose the problem. The new car dealership has the right technician trained to correctly repair the problem.

I have numerous independent mechanics in my neighborhood who charge as much or more that my dealership charges. Almost daily customers come to my shop with a repair bill and a problem. The problem is that the untrained shop technician charged the customer hundreds if not thousands of dollars and the car is still not fixed. The independent mechanic or shop owner tries to arm the customer with false claims that this component should be under warranty. Or sends the consumer into my shop and says “there is a recall for this part’, “Go to the dealer for this”. The consumer arrives to find out that is not the case at all! Now the customer is mad at me - the dealer.

Do you want to know why this happens? It is because we the dealer have lost the PR Battle. for one am not going to sit idly by and let the independent shop owner, the muffler chains or the tires slingers beat me at my own game. I have a tool, my blog – and my website, along with my social community to counter act these false claims and ideas.

In 1997 Ford Motor Company started a program called “Around the Wheel”. This program was instrumental in helping the Ford Dealerships improve the retail business in the stores. As a Ford Dealership Service Manager during that time, I would drive around and visit the other independent shops and look for Ford cars and trucks. Although unscientific, I noticed a sharp decline in the amount of Ford cars in the parking lot.

Many customers have bought into the independent repair chain marketing programs. These programs advise customers that the muffler shops and jiffy oil change places do a better job than the dealership. They also claim that the prices are cheaper. This is certainly false. Most dealerships that I know of do lube work around the $9.99 - $29.99 price range. In a recent survey I completed in Los Angeles the oil change guys were starting around 19.99 and on up to 39.99 for simple oil services.

Many customers cite mistrust and mystery as reasons for not shopping at the dealership. The mistrust comes after the purchase when customers start looking around to prove they got a great deal on the car and find that someone would have sold the car for $100 bucks less. It builds a feeling resentment towards the dealership. When marketers suggest a better alternative, the consumer buys right in.

We as dealers need to clarify the mystery regarding the dealership. We need to show our customers how our dealership works. Invite them into our shops and see the hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment. Show them our shops, tool boxes and most of all our people. That is our greatest asset. Our people make us the best at what we do. Our staffs are the best at what they do. Our force is what makes us who we are. They are the ones working hard to improve the lives of the American people. They are the ones keeping us safe on the road today.

I suggest that we need a wholesale marketing campaign focused around the dealership. Advising customers that the only mystery of the dealership now over. We need to build a trust with the buying public and drive our customers back home. Back home to our shops. Back home to our Dealership. I am going to start today, either single handedly or with your help I am going to change the way the public thinks about the dealership…

And I challenge CNN, FOX and the rest of the media to report on the facts about the business that I love; the new car dealership. Come visit my store and let me show you how customers are treated and care for especially in this economic environment!

Steve Shaw

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Ask and Ye Shall Receive, 20% off

My dealership needs a minimum twenty percent reduction in costs to ensure our survival in the market place.

Like many dealerships, we were looking to reduce our expense structure. After months of watching the numbers come in and working hard to improve the bottom line, we decided on a new strategy. This new strategy is a wholesale reduction of variable and some fixed expenses.

Our General Manager drafted a letter similar to the one below…

Dear Vendor Partner,

We value you as our vendor and appreciate the years of service we have had working with you. We would like to continue our relationship for many more years to come. In order to achieve this continued relationship we are requiring a minimum of a 20% reduction in your pricing. Once the economic situation turns around we are willing to renegotiate the terms.

Please send a letter with your current pricing as well as the new discounted price level that you are willing to work.

If you are unwilling or unable to lower your prices we have already contacted a replacement. Please consider this as our letter of termination of your product or service.

The General Manager

(Please feel free to copy my letter)

This letter was sent out to every vendor we use on February 1st. To date all of our vendors, with one exception, have agreed to the price concession. The vendor that did not participate is no longer with us.

Here is a list of potential vendors: computer people or IT, shop supplies, wheel weights, gloves, sprays, chemicals, tow companies, body shops, dent doctors, advertising guys, newspapers, license plate frames and more. Have your controller run a list of every single vendor from your DMS. Or just attach this letter to every check that is going out at the end of the month for goods and services.

Be aggressive

Do not take this lightly. My suggestion to all dealers is to do the same thing today. Make your vendor partners share the burden of this economic time. It is your survival that depends upon controlling your expenses today. We all know that there are multiple vendors for almost every situation in our dealerships.

In fact, the license plate lady was in the shop on Friday. We were out of plate frames. My general manager personally asked her for a price reduction.

She stated, “We don’t have 20% mark-up in the plate frames”.

So my boss said, “Well you won’t be selling us plate frames then. Thank you”.

That was the end of the conversation. We will have a new plate lady tomorrow. And I am sure the plate frames will be the right price.

Get Creative

Look at the car wash soap. Look at the wheel cleaner. My wheel magic guy was able to reduce soap by over 50%. Along with the discount we switched to a different product. A barrel of the original concentrate soap was $610. Now it is less than $210. That is a huge savings. My detail manger was in the office discussing the new product. It works just the same at the expensive stuff.

We all want our cars to look great on the line, right? Imagine instead of waxing and polishing the cars to a perfect condition, just so the cars can sit in the weather for days or weeks to be sold, how about we wash the new cars for the lot. Make them look great. However, when the car is sold, then use the premium stuff for the customer. The customer needs to take the car home at its very best. I suggest you can save a few dollars everywhere you look.

Every dollar counts toward your profit, or loss. Which will it be for you?

Steve Shaw

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Cure for Everything is Effective Labor Rate - ELR

Since my last exercise I have had so much response regarding increasing ELR. Immediately questions arise about customer satisfaction and decrease in production. I suggest that we can have it all. We just need to train our service advisors how to sell effectively. I have made a career of walking the parking lot touching the car and keeping my WIP to a minimum. I also have traveled and worked with hundreds of service advisors. We always look for ways to sell service more effectively.

It all starts with a daily service advisor sales meeting. I have been a preacher of the technician production meetings. Each day I walk out to my shop and have a quick round meeting about production.

…What’s up guys? Just a hello, how were your FRH (Flat Rate Hours) yesterday? What’s going on today? Any issues. I know the answer to that. We meet every day. The issues are over. It’s all about production now…

As of February 1st we do the same thing with the service advisors. I mean SALES PEOPLE. Dealers, is that no what we are here for? We are here to sell things. I think we forget that sometimes. We get stuck in our routine. We mundanely meet customers, fade heat and try to fix cars. What happened to selling something?

So we are having regular service advisor sales meetings. My new agenda looks like this. Arrive at work, 7:30 AM. Some may argue that point. I grab a cup of coffee and head to my office. Of course I check my email and go to the ROAMS tool and print out yesterday’s sales reports.

1. Report 1. Summary Report.

2. Sort by individual service consultant.

3. Yesterday

I print the reports and head to the meeting. I usually run a RAP Report from ADP as well.

“Who sold the most FRH yesterday,” I ask? We quickly review the service advisor sales, gross profit and ELR. Simple and Effective, I say. Quickie incentive pay out and we are starting our day.

I have one store that has moved the needle from $121 per hour as of Jan 31st to $138 per hour today. I think that is quite an improvement. If I tell you about the others it just may make you cry.

Unless Chris Collins manages your store, he is the king of ELR. I know one of the BMW deals have an overall effective labor rate of $167. CRAZY GOOD STUFF!

Congrats to his team and to mine as well. They are moving the needle. Time to walk the parking lot again.

Steve Shaw

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Stimulus Package

President Obama is trying to do it for the nation; I say its time to stimulate ourselves! Let's increase the profits of our service and parts departments. The goals are real simple, get our effective labor rate UP, increase gross profit and straighten out the expenses. Raise the gross on parts while you are at it!

Spread out your appointments. Customers need time to spend with your service advisors. It is my suggestion that we make sure our processes measure up to the challenge this year. Our customers want satisfaction! And we service managers will give it to them.

Go down on expenses. And lick up the profits this year. Your dealer and I will be watching and cheering you all the way and every way you do it!

It’s time to get those cars in the shop, get them up on the racks and get ‘em back out on the street. I want you to do it so well that they keep coming back all year for more.

Congrats on a job well done.

Steve Shaw

P.S. Don’t forget the car wash!

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Thanks goes out to Jay Huffschmidt (my crazy Marketing Manager) for the car wash image of Brooke Banx. It was taken last year on my service drive during the filming of Bikini Driving School.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Super Bowl Exercise

You will be world champions with this mind game.

I have one service department that is breaking even or loosing money consistently. I consulted with Chris Collins at and developed a game plan. After careful review of my financial statement, we realized that the simple solution is increasing the labor rate. I need $20 increase in ELR to send my dealer to the Superbowl next year. More if we can.

Sounds easy.


Oh yes will be. Here is the game plan. I utilized my ROAMS tool.

First I went to Report 17 and chose FRH Frequency. I reviewed where my service advisors hit on the grid. Then I went to “grid design”. I input my target ELR and hit submit. It was that easy. I need to move the needle huge this month. I want to go from $120 per hour to $150 and send my dealer packin'. That was actually the easy part. And for anyone who has tried to get service advisor buy in, well the hard part is to come.

Step 2. I held a meeting on Thursday evening. All of my service advisors came from across the stores. We talked about our dealership profitability. Is it a sin for a company to be profitable I asked? Why else are we here? I submit to my service advisors that if the company is not substantially profitable, we are out of business and ALL of us will be in the unemployment line. That usually wakes them up.

Step 3. I shared with them the financial information of the company broken down by the Flat Rate Hour. Based upon 1 hour of service, I showed them the dealership profit (loss). It was an eye opener for everyone. And where on the surface one would think that a high line European store with an effective labor rate way over $100 would be swimming in the black, its just not the case these days. So as we walked through the exercise I could see their minds churning.

Step 4. I asked each advisor to write down what our dealership offered to our customers. List each service and list everything we do well. Our strengths. Then in the next column, I asked them to list the competition. Most advisors listed an entire page of our strengths. And they could only list ONE of our competitors. A perceived lower price. After a careful and jubilant discussion of our dealership and how great we are, I asked them to write one more item on their list. Their name.

“Is their any better service advisor better than you at sales” I asked. I hammered it home, “Is the tire guy better than you?” And as Nick Neumeyer from MOC Products watched on, the preacher in me rose up and we drove the devil out of my dealership. The devil is lower prices. We are going to sell work here! My service advisers were fired up to sell that night.

Step 5. With new grid in hand, and the first sale of the month, we sold a 9-hour job for $186 per hour.

Thank you and good night. I have a Service Advisor Sales meeting in the morning.

Steve Shaw

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

I stayed home from NADA and made $100,000.

Well you did it. You made the trip to New Orleans. You partied hard. You had fun. You walked those aisles of vendors. You sat through seminars on many different topics. Tell me you learned something. If you tell me yours, ill tell you mine. Ill tell you about my weekend at the dealership.

We held a good ole fashion service clinic. We said to all our customers “Spend 30 Minutes with the Car Doctor”. And on Saturday they did. The dealership with some help put on an event that is nearly unprecedented. Let me share a few statistics.

2650 Invitations
125 Completed Reservations
15 Walk Ins
140 Completed Inspections

10 Cars Left in the Dealership
15 Appointments Made
$1,000 Average Repair Order Estimate

$25,000 Generated and sitting on my lot by Monday night

$6,500 Mailer and Food and Gifts
$3,000 Reimbursed by sponsoring vendors attending the event
$3,500 Net Cost

Lets talk about these statistics. I sent out 2650 invitations to my current customers. We used James Kennedy and AIM Productions for mailers. They have a custom piece that has proven itself over and over to drive traffic to this type of even. Each piece was hand addressed to the customers. AMAZING!

125 customers called in for reservations. 15 additional customers walked in through out the day. That gives me 140 total inspections. My technicians had one appointment every half hour. The customer response was tremendous. Customers loved getting under the car and seeing their vehicle in the air and spending 30 minutes with my mechanics. It was fun for everyone. During the recap and beer session I had with my mechanics at the end of the day, they loved it too.

The customers could see the car; see the oil leaks and the other issues on the vehicle. They could feel them too. It was quite an event. And I submit the customer satisfaction that we will derive will be off the hook as well. My general manager mingled all day with the owners. We generated $25,000 worth of revenue for Monday and a priceless amount of goodwill.

We also provided gift bags with our company t-shirts and gave away free Nitrogen caps. This is another call to action for our customers. When they return for the services that we noted, they will receive free nitrogen for their tires. I make my own nitrogen.

And I sold spots to the event to my vendors. They paid for one half of the event. And they helped entertain the customers during the paperwork process. They were required to give away gifts and prizes too. This was a win for everyone.

My service advisors have over 100 customers to call early next week to schedule appointments for work that they know about and want to have completed.


Overall, I expect to generate $100,000 in parts and labor sales from my event. How did NADA work out for you?

Steve Shaw,

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Driving to Work

It occurred to me that my current blog may be out in left field and too far from the current tasks we have each day at the dealership.

So today I wanted to clarify my intentions.

In every position at the dealership, whether it is your first day on the job as a porter, parts guy, service advisor, technician or manager, we are just expected to fulfill the position that we are assigned. Rarely is anyone providing training or guidance to us. We are just expected to follow the lead of someone. Who takes the porters thru the ropes? Who introduces the new people to everyone in the organization?

Most positions are filled due to a necessity. And it is usually a crisis more than a need. Imagine how we treat this entry-level position. What is the difference between this position and any other in the store? How much times do you as managers spend with the new guy? How much time did the dealer or GM spend with you when you were hired as the service or parts manager?

So who trains us? Who gives us the background on the organization? Who actually took the time to tell the manager what effective labor rate is? Do you think that every dealer owner knows how to calculate this? I submit to you that the answer is NO. I submit that many of us learn by trial and error. The automotive dealership world is the most lucrative business that I have ever heard of. The business has the most talented people in sales and service. We are expected to make fix cars, sell service, wash, wax, review repair orders, understand the product and still make a profit doing all of this. And to top it off, rarely are we given a direction, a guide or even a hint of what is expected. We are just told to do it!

And I am here to tell you that we are a driven group of people. We are looking for the answers to all of those things in the shop. How do I increase production, sales, rate, gross and so on….

We typically pick up things as we go. And we do make mistakes. We do not know everything and we can certainly learn from one another. And we can ASK questions as well. Each day I am reminded that the dumbest question is the one we did not ask. I fancy myself as a smart guy, however EVERY time I assume something. I can be proven wrong. So whether it is about numbers, people or any issue that you are having, please ask. Ask us here at Ask someone for help in the challenges you are having. Because there is no shame, there should not be any fear in improving yourself and your store. I am sure your dealer will be happy you did!
So as we move forward in the blog and on my website; I will fire off stories about my work, my challenges and occasionally I will go to left field and write about crazy self-improvement methods I am working on. I like being the guinea pig. And I like being the one walking the path that only a few care to walk. As I learn on my path of self-discovery, I will share and learn with everyone. I want others to come along. I want feedback and comments and questions to help guide my thinking and writing as well. The more questions I receive the more influence you will have on my journey…

Steve Shaw,

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Friday, January 23, 2009

My Challenge...

As you may have been reading, here on my blog and at, I have challenged myself to achieve greater things in my life. I want to reach out from inside myself to be a better manager, mentor and person.

I write to share my stories. I write to give you an insight to another manager’s trials and struggles to improve himself and his dealership. I surely do not have all the answers. I do have experience pass along. I also have the wisdom to take your knowledge and improve my dealership and my life as well.

So here it is…MY CHALLENGE…as brought out in my current reading of ‘Psycho Cybernetics’.

Pick 5 people who I look up to. Find the 5 people whose characteristics that I respect and would like to emulate. Determine those five persons whose characteristics if added to my strengths will help me improve my own life. Determine what characteristics they have that I could adapt to my style and improve myself. Read everything I can about them. Study their lives. Understand that individual so well that I can carry on a conversation with them. My self-improvement characteristics

1. Self Determination: Persistence or follow through. As a director of many stores and departments, it is important for me to hold my managers and employees accountable for their actions. It is important for me follow thru on the actions that we discuss in my stores and at home. Many projects are started and some are finished and others lay dormant, just waiting closure.

2. Confidence: Please, sometimes my head is so big I can hardly make it through the doors of my home. Other times I shrink at the thought of change.

3. Humility: Funny as humility a confidence seem to oppose each other, the almost intertwine. As ones confidence grows, ones humility should follow along.

4. Leadership: As a director of a dealership and even as a member of my community and family, it is important to take on the lead role at work. As a member of my community, recently I have shied away from being outspoken on issues or being seen around town. And as a man in my family, I want to improve our lives.

5. Inspiration: All of the qualities I have chosen lead into this final quality of inspiration. Working the website, mydealercoach, I want to inspire others to be open about their strengths and weaknesses. The greatest strength is to understand where we are weak and seek to improve. I will take the lead, share my improvement areas and hope that others will follow. Once we as a web community understand how together we can help each other, improvement will come.

Each characteristic that I have selected is equally important. From self-determination or follow thru, confidence, humility, leadership and inspiration; I have my share and maybe an abundance of that. However, I believe I can improve in many areas. As we move forward I will discover those areas of weakness, share in my writing and improve those qualities.

Share your thoughts here on my blog at or send me an email at

Steve Shaw,

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Find out whats on Steve's Mind today. ...

It’s a new year now, what is going on with our industry? Car dealerships are closing all around us. There are talented men and women looking for work. There are dealerships “hunkering down” for the recession. Sales departments are bare. Dealers are nervous. Managers and employees alike are wondering when the other shoe is going to drop and they too will be out of work.

I have always taken the out of the box approach. And I submit that we should do the same today. Lets get creative, lets have fun and lets God Damn sell some parts and service. I mean lets get strong and sell. Lets do what they pay us for. Obviously we have to be cost effective and efficient when it comes to our departments, but lets get on the driveway and sell work to our customers. They need to keep their cars running, so lets look them over and make recommendations, lets make deals and lets sell. Sounds easy huh!

I have talked to many an expert on the subject. And every one says today is the day when the fixed operations is going to carry the mail. My mentor Jim said, “anyone can run a dealership in the good times, when times get tough it’s the good men who make the good times”. I submit that we can help our advisors sell service, work the deal with the customer and do not let anyone leave the store until the bought what they came in for. Some money is better than no money.

I also suggest that we spiff our advisors to do their job better. Throw a five or ten at them. How about a new plasma TV? Want me to sell something, pay me to do it. As I am ducking for cover from you throwing things at me, unless your service advisors are different than mine or any one else’s service advisor, they need to be motivated. Money works too. Have a contest. Make it fun. Go sell some coolant exchanges, sell a brake job or a set of tires. How many batteries are dying in your own parking lot. I bet the local auto parts store is full of our customers getting a new battery right now. I also bet they are buying wiper blades too!!!

Since this is my blog, I may tend to ramble on a bit, but come on people, lets stop letting the nay sayers get us down. Lets stop saying it’s the economy stupid.

Lets go sell something today.

Comments or suggestions?
e-mail Steve Shaw @

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Big Easy, NADA Convention 2009

Here we go again. It’s that time to pack our bags and head south to New Orleans, home of Mardi Gras, the French Quarter, Hurricanes (the drink) and the best Cajun Creole style food you can imagine. And I can imagine … mmmmm good breaux….

This year, New Orleans hosts the biggest group of entrepreneurs from both sides of the Mississippi, The National Automotive Dealers Association NADA. And as this is my blog, I have a few words on the subject. Car dealers as you walk the aisles of vendors and push your way through the crowds of your peers; I want you to ask yourself a question. Why are you here? I assume that its not the Cajun food or the Hurricanes down in the French Quarter and let’s hope it’s not for the other entertainment you can find on the street. Although a set of beads might be a fun souvenir and a great story to tell. You are probably here to discover the latest and greatest tool for increasing the profit and customer satisfaction of your dealership.

In today’s economy everyone is focusing on the fixed departments. Parts and service must be tuned up and running on all cylinders. You did not get to your level by sheer luck; it took skill, hard work and some luck thrown in there. My guidance today is real simple. This year leave your pocket book at home and your ink pen back at the hotel. Learn everything you can from the vendors, many have some great ideas and products. Grab your bag of goodies and high tail it back to your store. Put everything in your freezer. And say to yourself, can I live without this? In one month decide if the bag of goodies is worth thawing out…Not until you have done this:

Go for a walk in the parking lot with your service manager. This is FREE. You will pay no one but yourself with new tool. This is you and your staff walking around the lot. Find out what is going on in your store. Get engaged with your team. Listen to the people and find out what is on their minds. Develop the new habit of doing this parking lot walk with your service staff every morning. Remember it takes 21 days to make a habit. Write today’s date on the windshield each day and ask questions to the staff. When did this car arrive? Why is it still here? Why is their grass growing over the tires on this particular car? Imagine the answers you will hear.

Next, go talk to your service advisors. Talk to them about sales just like you talk to your salesmen up front. Motivate them to sell today. Never under estimate your value to perk up a department. We as service and parts guys and gals need your example and presence more than on occasion to inspire us to deliver higher results to the organization. I suspect you can move your effective labor rate 1 or 2 dollars just by talking about it with your staff.

When you are serious about an increase in ELR, hit me up. I propose that you talk to the ELR Guru, Mr. Ray Branch. Ray has analyzed more repair orders than anyone on the planet. He knows ELR. I used Rays’ ROAMS Tool in many locations around the country and every time it generated at least $10 dollars increase in ELR. And it is so easy to use.

And if you want to skip NADA all together and save the hang over until next year, ill give you my thoughts…to increase your sales and gross profit, call Dave Waco at MOC products. He has a proven and effective program to drive profits in both parts and service…to increase your traffic, call Shawn at Car Dealer Promotions CDP, he will reconnect you with your customers, and especially get those lost soles back into your service drive…finally if you need someone to train and motivate your staff, call Chris Collins. His passion is turning around stores. I rarely put my name out there for vendors or consultants, these people and their companies know how to do the deal!

Finally, this year there is not Big Easy solution. Invest in your biggest asset, your staff. They will reward you many times over.

Steve Shaw,

Comments or suggestions?
e-mail Steve Shaw @