It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, how long you’ve been in business or how large of a business you run—to grow your sales, you have to find your “why.” That’s exactly what Danny Smith, owner of six Same Day Automotive Tire Pros stores in the Tulsa, Oklahoma, area did.
Danny was a master technician turned business owner after starting Same Day Automotive with his wife 20-plus years ago. Starting out, Danny was a command and control manager. Ruling with a tough guy approach and a will of steel, his business would yield 3-5% growth annually.
It wasn’t until the Tire Pros annual convention in March 2017 when I met Danny. I spoke on the “Molloy Process,” the “Language of Commitment” and “ICHYWT! (I Can Help You With That!).” My talk centered on the idea that it’s easy to find one or more cars per day just by improving employees’ communication skills and discovering your “why.” This, I argued, leads to increased closing percentages on appointments and sales calls. After my presentation, Danny walked up to me, looked me in the eye, and said, “This commitment thing, I’m all in! Let’s do it!” That was the first step in finding his “why” and making a big change.
The main premise in my work is this: The only time commerce occurs in any dealership on the planet is when the salesperson or service advisor exchanges a commitment with the customer. To discover how effective the Same Day team was at exchanging commitments with customers, we hooked up our cloud-based call-tracking software to Same Day’s phone system. We routed calls through my proprietary SalesMaxPlus software for analysis and to establish a closing percentage baseline. After analyzing 169 calls coming into the business, we found the problem: Customers were making the commitments 67% of the time, while employees were making commitments only about 2% of the time. And of course, customers will do that since, especially in this industry, they need you. But commitments from employees are the driver in the business world. The No. 1 reason you hire service advisors is to make commitments on behalf of the company to help customers.
So, how did we change the trajectory of Same Day Automotive from growing 3% or 4% annually to 20% annually?
First, we conducted a classroom session and told employees that, going forward, Same Day was becoming a commitment-based company with clear and measurable standards with regard to communication, most importantly, regarding sales conversations on inbound calls, sales at the counter and sales on outbound calls. Then, we set up weekly 30-minute Power Sales Training sessions—which continue to this day—so that employees could practice making and exchanging commitments with customers. In addition, we provided continuous feedback on the team’s closing percentage. We measure closing percentages by store, by salesperson and by product/service.
From doing this work for 21 years, I’ve observed that most people have never been taught to clearly articulate their commitment to help others. My philosophy is to improve the language and communication first, then work on marketing. Once we had the language skills of the employees moving in the right direction, we focused on making improvements in digital marketing. Without increasing Danny’s marketing budget, we improved efficiency by doing a more thorough job. Subsequently, call volume has improved across Same Day stores by more than 800%.
Through more than two-and-a-half years of using this approach, Danny has turned his dealership into a commitment-based organization. He grew his business a staggering 42% without investing in any other programs or additional advertising. He doubled down on continually improving his team’s communication skills. So, in the first two-and-a-half years, Same Day has grown 57% with no increase in advertising expenses. And one more thing: Danny purchased another store during that time.
Most importantly, perhaps, the dealership found its “why” — the reason they exist. That reason is to help people. They exist to keep their clients’ cars fixed and on the move. They exist to do whatever it takes to help the customer and each other. They have learned how to express that commitment in speaking on the phone and at the counter. They are a network of commitments. This extends from Danny, the leader, to each of the six stores and into the service bays.