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,

Comments or suggestions?
e-mail Steve Shaw @

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,

Comments or suggestions?
e-mail Steve Shaw @

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,

Comments or suggestions?
e-mail Steve Shaw @

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 @