Editor's Blog

Power of Riding Along

September 5, 2010
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I was lucky enough years ago when I moved to Phoenix to tour George Brazil’s amazing shop. Even better was spending time talking to George about business.    

Our conversation over lunch focused on the need for powerful repeatable systems for running a company. And we both agreed that the cornerstone is having written policies and procedures.  

Then George leaned in and said, “Policies and procedures are great. But…don’t expect what you’re unwilling to inspect.”  

The message was clear. If you want to think your team is performing the right way, don’t check on them because you may not like what you see and hear.  

But any company that wants to get ahead and stay ahead of their competition knows that getting out in the real world by doing ride-alongs is essential to assuring the three main things any technician must do:
    1. Sales [also known as good communications]
    2. Operations
    3. Technical
My old partner once told me, “I don’t have the time to do ride-alongs with the techs.”  

To which I responded, “Then, how will you find the time you need to fix all their mistakes?”  

I continued, “And furthermore…every time you do a ride-along, the tech hears what you know… they get better at sales, operations and technical performance. So, what else could you be doing that’s more important than ride-alongs?”  

He was speechless. The sad fact is he always remained resistant to doing regular ride-alongs. And I can assure you he’s not alone. In my consulting work over the last eight years I encounter this resistance on a regular basis.  

Here are the Top 4 reasons you don’t ride along:

1. You make the false assumption they’ll be on their best behavior when you do ride along. But the truth is they may start out that way…but…they will slip back to their true habits if you’re riding along long enough and often enough.  

2. It’s going to make the techs nervous. Yes, it will make them nervous but only if you ride-along once in a blue moon. If your ride-alongs are done at least once a month, they’ll relax and be more at ease.  

3. You know that you’ll take over the job and sell and/or do the work so they’ll end up a glorified helper. And you’d be right unless you train yourself to step back and make it clear that they’re in charge of running the call. Save your coaching till you get back to the truck after the call is done or better yet, do it after you get back to the shop but take notes so you won’t forget  

4. You also think you don’t have the time to do the ride-alongs. So, I’ll ask you the same question: “When will you have time to fix all the mistakes or make up the lost revenue going down the drain?” You have nothing more important to do.

Ride-Alongs Are A Must

I want you to commit to two days a week of ride-alongs. It will allow you to bond with your team members.  

If that’s too much of a commitment, start slowly with just one day a week. You can even split it into two half days. But, you need to ride with the tech and not just meet them on the job. That’s because this is the perfect time to coach as you’re in the truck before and after a job or even riding to and from the shop.  

Want to take it to the next level? Make sure you have good sales statistical tracking, sales process, operational protocol and a sound procedure for troubleshooting and fixing stuff.  

Ride-alongs done the right way can be the quickest way to get your team culture headed in the right direction through investing your time and energy with those who affect the success of the whole company.  

The other neat thing about regular ride-alongs is they’re going to reduce your callback ratio and build more sales. What could be better!


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