Auto Shop Coaching Blog

How To Gain an Unfair Advantage

“Not following up with your prospects is the same as filling up your bathtub without first putting the stopper in the drain.”Michelle Moore

How do they do it? I asked this question several years ago, as a new member of my local Toastmasters International club. The meetings were held every Tuesday, and the room was always packed with aspiring speakers.

At the district conventions, the leaders of the other clubs complained about member count being down in the area. When one club leader spoke about their low member count, the others would console her by saying, “It’s not just you; everybody is slow.” (Sound familiar??)

So, how was my club able to grow while everyone else was slow? I got the answer at our next meeting. “Clara,” the club president, asked all the new members who joined within the last 30 days to stand, introduce themselves and tell everyone why they chose our club.

Four people stood up, introduced themselves, and each stated the following reason, “I called several clubs that were listed on the Toastmasters website, but Clara was the only one who called me back!”

Clara is living proof of this well-known fact: “The fortune is in the follow-up.” 

How many customers are currently with your competitor because you failed to get back with them?

Since most businesses are bad at follow-up, being great in this area can give you an unfair advantage. In his book Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferrazzi points out that great follow-up alone would put you ahead of 95% of your competition.

Are you looking to make a fortune while gaining an unfair advantage in your area? Keep reading to discover what to do!

Ideas to grow your businessNon-ATI Members: Discover more valuable tips and strategies to gain advantages, increase sales, and grow your business in ATI’s shop owner events. Register now at

Focus on the Fundamental

ATI Fundamental #19 states that “Appearance Counts.” The fundamental reason that appearance counts is because it creates the first impression.

Follow-up (or failing to do so) also creates a first impression. When Clara promptly called me back, I got the impression that the club was proactive to the needs of its members.

The club appeared to be on top of their game. Do you appear to be on top of your game?

This is an important question to answer because you create a similar first impression by promptly following up. The failure to get back with your patrons speaks volumes!

Consider this: according to a recent study, 68% of all business is lost because of a failure to follow up! By failing to follow up, you are sending the message that you aren’t concerned about your customer’s car.

Creating the perception that your customer isn’t the priority, is a recipe for lost business!

By now, you may be thinking, “Interesting twist Twiggs, but I don’t need better follow-up! I need to focus on new customers!”

Hopefully, I do a better job of inspiring you to follow up with this next story of the retired dentist.

The Retired Dentist

The story is told of a retired Dentist named “Jack” who was looking to start a second career. He began his new career as a sales consultant to his area dentists, with an interesting business model.

Jack would visit the dental practices and offer to contact all their inactive customers for them. If the customers came back, Jack would get 5% of the sales as a commission. Sounds like he’s getting the short end of the stick, right? Wrong!

The dentists were so bad at following up with their inactive customers, that Jack made more money making follow-up calls than he did when he owned his dental practice!

Has your effort to execute follow-ups felt like pulling teeth? Would Jack be able to make his monthly Maserati payments using the commissions from YOUR unmade calls?

Keep reading to discover some basic tools to help you gain an unfair advantage.

Follow-Up Tools

If you only have a hammer, every situation will look like a nail. Since the situations will vary, the key to gaining an unfair advantage is to use a variety of tools.

Below are three of my favorites:

1. The “Three-Day Thank You” Call

This will give you an unfair advantage in your market because nobody does it! When was the last time you received a thank you call from a retail business after you made a purchase?

2. The “Mystery Envelope”

Using this to schedule the next service will give you an unfair advantage because the other shops in your area don’t provide their patrons with a prize just for coming back! (Ask your coach to send you the details!)

3. The “HOW Have You Been” Call

This is not to be confused with the “Where have you been call.” The question,” Where have you been?” sounds judgmental. “How have you been?” sounds like you care. Keep in mind that the typical response rate for this type of call is 15%, so it will take twenty calls to get three inactive customers to return (20 x 15% = 3).


So, there you have it. As I mentioned earlier, appearance counts. By being great at follow-up, you will appear to be proactive in the eyes of your customers, which will give you an unfair advantage in your area! 

Non-ATI Members: For more tips on how to increase sales and run a productive, profitable shop, check out our shop owner events at

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Eric, the Accountability Coach, is an Executive Coach at ATI and has coached since 2009. Eric came to ATI having managed over 60 different automotive repair facilities and having supervised over 500 employees at a given time. He loves seeing members progress beyond what they thought was possible and improve their shop to the point where they can leave for weeks at a time and come back to a business that's better than when they left.