by | May 14, 2020

Local Market Monopoly Episode 6

How Russ Knight Built A Thriving Business Simply By Spreading Goodwill

Disclaimer: The transcription below is provided for your convenience. Please excuse any mistakes that the automated service made in translation.

Clarence Fisher: Welcome back to local market monopoly. I'm Clarence Fischer, your host. And this week we have on the show, someone who I really, really admire his name is Russ Knight. He owns a Christian brother's automotive franchise. And this guy, I mean like no matter who I talk to faith, either just heard for Russ, they're about to go, uh, or they're about to get a call from Russ or they're about to go see Russ or Russ is on his way over. It just it's crazy. So we were leaving an event and Russ was giving me a ride to my car. So, I mean, we parked the event was like several blocks away. Russ has given me a ride and I'm thinking Russ, you're everywhere. Like how do I get to be everywhere? So would you please carve out time to come on my show and not only share with me, but share with my audience, you, how you become like such a household name in the market and how you just dominate through seems like this good wheel and, and networking. And so he said, sure, sure. I'll do that. And so we have him today and as I was recording it and asking him these questions, it just dawned on me like this interview turned out to be so much more than that. So you're going to love it. Stay tuned.

: You're listening to local market monopoly with Clarence Fisher, uncovering the tools tactics, and strategies. The most successful small businesses use to dominate their local market and own the block.

Speaker 1: Russ, my man. Welcome to the show.

Russ Knight: Thanks Clarence,

Clarence Fisher: Man. I am so glad we could. Cause you are like all over the place. So like, and when I say all over the place, I mean all over town, like everybody knows Russ it's become over the years that I've known you bad. It's like if I can't maybe get through to somebody and then I say, I know Russ, and then they, Oh yeah, sure. Come on in. Right. So you have a heavyweight around town. So tell everybody about you, Christian brothers, how you're helping your customers first.

Russ Knight: You bet. So we are an auto repair shop. We're a franchise there are over 200 Christian brothers now nationwide and about 30 plus States. So the idea is we want to be transparent and honest and make sure that a customer understands and we communicate via priorities of what the customer needs to say. We don't want to twist anybody's arm and sell them a cabin, air filter, or a flush. We want to recommend what needs to be done and to take care. So a lot of times folks are first focused on fixing what's broken when they come to us. But then we want to say, let's look over the vehicle and tell you from maintenance, Hey, this is what's coming or this is what's due on your vehicle to keep it running, to avoid the future expense or future problems.

Clarence Fisher: Excellent. Excellent. Excellent. And so you have built, I dunno if it's primarily, but I know a lot of it comes from networking in the community and being part of the community, kind of what holds my ears up is even as I've been working with nonprofits, and businesses, and I think, you know, I told you this, the last time I saw it, I get emails. I get calls. And either you have already been there or they are, for instance, there was a nonprofit that I was working with, had no idea that they had already contacted you, but they were like, they're working with, with Russ working with your store. And then someone else emailed me last week and said, Hey, I hear that you know, Russ, so you've got this omnipresence that's happening. And when I ask you about it, you say it's networking is connecting. So, you know, what are the advantages that around here, we talk about local market monopoly and kind of dominating the market, Didn't mark. What are the advantages that we can get from being great from networking?

Russ Knight: Well, let's back up a little bit because I think part of my story relates to how I operate now, but I got to, we opened the shop in May of 2015, but before that, for about 20 years, I've been a sales guy working for other people and doing my level best to connect in Tulsa, to build connections, those kinds of things. And really it's been mainly the past 10 years driven by the fact that I've been through a lot more job change than most other people that I know. So I feel like going through that experience and the feeling of desperation of, Oh, please, please, can I just get back to being employed, knowing what that's like and feeling like damaged goods or kicked to the curb or what I bring to the market as being rejected has helped me because I feel I summarize my career not to be self-deprecating, but to say, I feel like I've been Mo the summary of my careers, that of a mediocre sales guy because in some cases it was my efforts.

Russ Knight: That was the failing. In other cases, it was the offerings that I was promoting or the organization didn't understand how sales worked or how to even sell their own product. So I think what's happened is through that and through the fact that when I needed help, I connected to a ministry here in town called OJT that had already started. And we, I just kind of helped in through some gasoline on the fire there. But, I started when I needed help. There were a few people who helped me and I feel a great burden and responsibility to pass that on. And furthermore, I feel like that God wrote a story on my life through the job search and all the things that I've had to go through and learn through that, that intentionally, I believe that it's my job to shepherd that story and to help other people along the way.

Russ Knight: So I think that has built the foundation for where I am and how I operate today. And I think so that everything runs through the filter of how can I help you and as best I can do. And I think this is the advice that I have for folks who are looking to build their network, is to find a way to be connecting and say, everything is about serving others, whether it's what you post online, whether it's the offerings that you make. Like when I walk into a dentist's office or an accounting firm, that's close by and say, Hey, we want to help you with auto repair. My heart is, yeah, I want them to come to see me, but we're really at a point in our growth and development that it's not that I'm desperate for more cars. I walk in the door feeling like if they let us serve them, it's a benefit to them.

Russ Knight: And I really believe that. And so same thing like with fundraising or something else, if you believe in your cause and you go to the person that you're asking for money to say, Hey, we want you to partner with us. We want you to participate. You get to be a part of this, even though you're doing what you do, you're funding our ability to go out and help kids or serve people in need or whatever is the effort. So I think really the focus is everything is about serving others and that's the lens, to begin with. And I think that is what I have benefited from.

Clarence Fisher: I love it. So coming from a position of service and you know, when you said at the very beginning of considering yourself a mediocre Salesforce person, I really connected to that. I related to that because part of my networking has come as a result of feeling like I'm not the most excellent salesperson. So like the way that I kind of understood it, or it's been told to me is there are hunters and there are farmers as far as salespeople go. And so hunters are typical, you know, your people, they get up, they make 105 calls and they are like hunting, hunting, hunting. And then you have farmers who are building relationships and connecting people, which takes a bit longer, but that is where they feel most comfortable. Do you kind of agree with that assessment?

Russ Knight: Absolutely. And so what I see somewhat from a lot of sales candidates that I meet is that they want to couch themselves just like I do as more of a farmer, but what the employer wants is somebody who's going step that up and delivers some numbers that produce results. So the thing is that most salespeople that I meet believe themselves to be farmers and relationship builders, but they kind of have to balance that against the need to make a lot of contacts. So one of the things that I talk about a lot for the job seekers that are in transition is that's a sales role. They are selling for me incorporated, as they're going out, looking for contacts to get employed again. So what I see mostly is that they don't take any part of that Hunter mentality to say, just with like any other sales role, I have to make a certain number of contacts and to put in the top of the funnel to get the results at the bottom that I need.

Russ Knight: And then we can evaluate through the middle, through the process and say, Hey, wait, my, my content isn't clear enough. It doesn't clearly communicate my value proposition or whatever, but we can't evaluate that until we get it out in the market enough. And so I think that there's really, there's a lot to them, especially with job seekers. And I know I'm kind of jumping around here, but if you think about it, it can go with some other things as well, but there's no such thing as a perfect resume. And so spending a whole week in the basement, spending 40, 50 hours writing this document to only take it to the next recruiter or hiring manager and have them say, well, I would change this and that or the other. So you want to get it to a point where you're comfortable with it and you're ready to, you can take it to the market, but there's kind of a diminishing return. Once you spend a few hours with it and you get it to the point of 80, 85%, if you're comfortable with it, if it communicates what you're about, if it speaks to the results you've delivered, it's time to get it out there and then evaluate and make changes based on the results that you're seeing. Are you getting meetings? Are you getting interviews? Are you getting second interviews? There are things to evaluate at each step along the way.

Clarence Fisher: So even if you self identify as a, as a farmer, I mean, you still have to hunt.

Russ Knight: That's exactly right. I see so many times that people will say, Oh, well, I'm not a farmer. I'm not a smile and dial. And I'll tell you the same thing about me, but I have had to do it. And it's, it's made me better. You know, it's interesting. We were at the global leadership summit this a few weeks ago. And one of the speakers was a guy named JIA. He is, he does a program called 100 days of rejection. He just had a great fear of being rejected. So he set out to go for a hundred days in a row. And every day he was going to find a way to be rejected. And so he tells you, it's kind of a video blog that tells the story of kind of what all he did, but it got him to be better at asking questions and evaluating how to do that.

Speaker 1: So it got him through his fear of the rejection. I also think that there's really an aspect of how you feel when you're going to ask them something. When, when he started out, he had some fairly ridiculous requests that he had to make a people of his own design. But sometimes as salespeople, we feel that too, that we were walking in the door and we're asking somebody to do business with us or whatever. And if we feel like that, what we're bringing them is a solution to a problem that really helps minimize some of that fear to say, no, if they say yes to us, I'm making their day. It ought to be that I ought to be bringing them a really good solution. And so if we have a confidence in what we're doing, and we walk in the door, it allows us to kind of minimize some of that fear to become the Hunter a little bit more so than is our natural inclination.

Clarence Fisher: Oh, that's great. That's great. And that was an incredible presentation on rejection. I mean, that book, I haven't picked it up yet, but I need to get that book as well. Cause I want to dive a little deeper into that. That was great. So people who want to be like, how did you become, I guess maybe you've explained it. It's such a great connector because when we spoke, you said something about wanting to connect people. And I find that if you, if you become a great connector, that people will call you contact you because they know that you're pretty much the shortcut to anything.

Russ Knight: That's what I want to be. I want to be, I say this in earnest that, I mean, I know people who have struggled with addiction, but my addiction is when somebody says that connection, you helped me make, got me hired. That is just a shot of dopamine. And it's like a narcotic for me. And I just get are such a rush and a charge because what I've done, all I'm doing is making an introduction. I'm not saying this person is perfect for you. I vetted them completely. But to say, from what I see from what I know about what you need, and from what I've seen about this person, I want to put you guys together and see what might happen. And so when then when it happens and they make a good fit, it's just such a charge. And it's really from, that beginning point of serving others, not only do I get to serve the job seeker or the person that's looking for help, but I'm, I'm connecting them with the employer and I'm helping them solve a pretty significant problem too.

Russ Knight: So it's such a, it's a double win, but to think about maybe that's not your thing, but I really think being a connector is begins with that. I'm not a, I've worked for a recruiting company, but most of the time I was never in the position of being the recruiter, meaning I get paid for making those connections and evaluating the candidate, comparing them to the needs of the employer, and then making a really good fit. What I've seen is somebody calls me and says, Hey, I'm looking for an organization that does this, or what types of companies are looking for hiring these types of candidates. I'm just connecting the dots. And so I feel like I want to know about all kinds of industries and all kinds of things going around in Tulsa. Somebody will mention that they work for a company and they'll say, Oh yeah, I know what that is. And, they compete with these guys and they do this. And it's it really, I don't think I come with a natural curiosity, like a really good journalist or somebody who asks very good questions, but I have over time, just committed myself to know and knowing about Tulsa and in a lesser extent, Oklahoma, but to know what's going on and what organizations are doing what, so I can just put people together.

Clarence Fisher: So you have worked with an employment agency before?

Russ Knight: Yes. So worked for a company that did outplacement and employment. So they were, they were a recruiting firm. And so that was after my experience with the job search ministry or read the, even during, when I was volunteering. But the idea was to say, I really enjoy this. This is something that really charges my batteries. It's something that I get a rush from of being able to help people in that way, especially in the midst of a difficult season or a prolonged season to be able to connect them really is something that I find very satisfying. So one of the things I think it's important to identify as a salesperson is what's your fear motivator. What's your response to fear? Is it? And I heard again at, at the conference a few weeks ago, I've always heard of is fight or flight.

Russ Knight: And the other one, the person presented was the third option, which was to make friends. And that really is my default is to try to make peace, find a way to make a connection. But if it's only to the fight or flight, my response is flight. I would rather fold and not I'm fighting is not in my default DNA. So I think for somebody who's outselling or at the beginning of their career, building them, their network to say, how can I serve? How can I be known for this many years ago, I worked for a print company. So we printed all kinds of paper and business cards and letterheads and brochures and all that stuff. And so one of the things that I did is I tried to identify an area that was kind of underserved in that and to find a better way to do something.

Russ Knight: For example, business cards, it's not a big winner for the print shop, but found a way to make it where it would be an easier thing for the employer to order cards. This is back even pre-internet maybe, but to be able to take that, that need of, Hey, I need a business card and create a form or even a web form that made it easy for that employer to order cards. And so we found a few that we're able to really start serving well, where we were printing a significant number of cards or orders of cards on a regular basis, but to find that niche and find a way to solve a problem and serve it in a big way. So that's kind of that's one example.

Clarence Fisher: That was great. I wonder if that definitely helps you. I was going to ask you sent me business, making that connection of, Hey, this is someone that needs, what you, what I've seen you offer. And then also you've called and left a message and said, Hey, I heard this. Maybe this is something that could help you and positioning this particular service that I know you offer. How do you keep up with all of that, with all of the people that you are around, I guess when you wake up with this desire to serve, I guess, okay. That's my question is how do you keep up with it with all of these relationships that you have in this mental Rolodex of yours, of who can help? Who and what

Russ Knight: Good question part of it is I have intentionally tried to build like the mental Rolodex is sketchy because I'm pretty scattered, but, I would say I have intentionally tried to build my LinkedIn network as though it's like a digital Rolodex. So I want to make sure that I don't get to a point of Z at the end of my Rolodex where I can't help somebody or can't make a connection. And I really just trust that. I'm really thinking, how can I serve them? And I tell you, Clarence, I think that the points that I'm meeting with a candidate or a job seeker because that's my heart and passion and somebody else might apply this in a different way. Mine really has been through helping job seekers, but whatever it is your thing that you're serving in to say, if, when I'm in that moment when I'm in that mode of connecting, sometimes I feel like that's when the Holy Spirit works through me and I have a name that comes to my mind, I haven't thought of in years, or like, like has happened with you is I've just been listening to something on the radio and it's prompted a fault.

Russ Knight: And I said, so I'm trying to take the next step. So that's another really good thing that I think is worthwhile is somebody posts a meme, for example, on LinkedIn or on Facebook. And they say, Oh, it's a Richard Branson quote or whatever, take care of your employees and they'll take care of your customers. Yeah. That's true. Wonderful sentiment. What do you do with that? Take the next step. And so tell me, how do you apply that? Don't just post that and leave it. Tell me how do you apply that? Another one that really has been fundamental for how we operate here at Tulsa Hills is the one that's been going around for years. That's a conversation. It says CEO to CFO. What if we train our people and they leave and the response is what if we don't train them and they stay.

Russ Knight: So the, it's the paradox of do we invest in our team and get them, help them get better while they're with us, with the risk of them going across to our competitor trained. And so that they can just cherry-pick our folks. I think that it puts the onus on the employer to treat their people in such a way that they wouldn't want to leave. We've got to make them better. We've got to give them the opportunities to get better. And then the onus become is still on us to make sure that we treat them in a way that they don't want to go anywhere. So I think that I don't know that answers the question, but it's kind of, taking the next step. And so instead of just posting a meme or see, or liking somebody's content, explain how that, what that means to you or how you've applied that and how can that help somebody else again, that's the lens. I want to share this. Not as an Oh boy, look at Russ boy, he's, he's got it together. Cause he doesn't. But to say, this is how I've put this into practice and it just helps connect the dots for folks more practically than just the little another meme that goes out there.

Clarence Fisher: And that's one thing that I have really noticed about in even working with you. Some of the things that I consider are great things that, it's kind of crazy being a marketer. I am paid to people's horns. And one thing that I've noticed is like, you're really quick to deflect everything that all the good too, and this may come from your faith as well, but away from you. So, and then coupled with, I guess what I'm hearing right now, your desire to serve, ironically, do you feel like that draws more people to you?

Russ Knight: I do. I really do. I think if it was like, well, yeah, of course, you want to come to meet with me because I know everybody in town, I can make that kind of joke with my friends and it's all because I don't have, that's not my, my driver. That's not my motivator. I don't get to wear a badge that says how many connections I have on my lapel. And if I did what's point, the point is to be able to say, I can leverage this and connect people and say, you know, from what you're talking about, this really makes me think of this person. We should put the two of you guys together. You know, I was talking to your friend that we connected with Kevin. It just struck me because what I saw, what you have done with Tommy, with helping him write the book, extreme mileage, and get that promoted and out there.

Russ Knight: I really think that when somebody has a story to tell, I think that in that they are in a position of industry authority or helping other people reach that point. I think that getting them to take that next step is important. And to be a voice of saying, I hear you, I see what the value that you bring. Here's an idea about the next step. Here's a way that you can push this forward a little bit more and have been in the position of the advice-giver a lot. And I always tell people, Hey, take my advice for what it's worth free. And it may not apply to you. But in the instance of saying, if I'm moving from being primarily focused on operating my business to helping other people with similar businesses, that's a point to save. I need to talk to somebody about possibly writing a book because now I'm at a point of consulting with others and showing them how to do this or something like that. But that's just the thought of how can I help you? What's the next step and to push and to be willing to, I guess, to take the risk of jumping out there, and maybe it's my lack of filter, but it's the ability to just say, Hey, let's get in the with here. Let's think about this. What would be the next step with this? And to maybe be that push to help connect somebody.

Clarence Fisher: That's what I was going to ask you. What do you think are the fears that people have in taking that next step? What keeps them from? Cause you know, everybody has had these fleeting thoughts of, Hey, this would help. So-and-so what keeps them from taking the next step.

Russ Knight: It's a fear that they feel like I'm telling you what to do. That it's a fear of looking like you're prideful. I think that's part of it. It's who am I to tell this guy or this lady what to do or how to do something. And it's the way to kind of address that in your mind. For me, at least is to say, Hey, look, I'm just, I say this expression all the time. I am one beggar pointing another towards bread. And I feel like that I'm just coming alongside them, not as a, Oh here am I as this great expert. And I'm doling out crumbs. I'm saying I'm coming alongside them, putting myself in their shoes and saying, what would I do if I was in this boat, how would I advance the ball? Let's think about that. And then to just help push, and to beat shoulders shoulder with the people that you're talking with.

Russ Knight: So if you're investing time with somebody to say, how can I, how can I come alongside you and help you? This is exciting to me what you're doing here and to help push them forward. And I think that when we, you know, a lot of times at the auto repair shop customers, there's a counter and we're trying to refigure our lobbies so that there's not so much of us versus them mentality with the physical setup of a counter. So I really try to think about with everything that we present, how does this sound, how does this feel from the other side of the counter? You know, I've done some, I've had a couple of situations where I don't feel like we did anything wrong, but the way that the customer initially presented and the problem that we found, we needed to do something more to take care of that customer.

Russ Knight: And so where we've had to, you know, they come in and they say, they mentioned the condenser and we say, no, we think it's the compressor. And we explain why it makes good sense to me. And the technician explains why. And then a few weeks later they come back and now the condenser is out. There's no explanation that that customer could understand. That's going to say, Oh, okay, now I believe you, it's just going to sound like we sold them something that wasn't right. And so I understand, I believe what we did was right. But I have to think about it from the other side of the counter and say, this just can't pass the sniff test. So we've got to take care of this. So I think in a lot of cases that if you've got that flexibility to do that, that's great.

Russ Knight: But also to just think about it, about how does this sound from the other side, how does this sound from, from them? Does this sound like I'm kind of like if you're a genuine salesperson trying to build your network and you're out trying to connect with business owners or whatever in a given market, if you approach them with a sales message, they're probably going to shut you down? That's what I do. I won't make the connection if they're clearly selling the merchant processing or that they're selling funding or whatever, it's clear that they're from someplace else that they've picked me off because they saw my profile and are selling me. So that is a major turnoff. What I want to see is somebody who is going to come and say, Hey, I found this thing that might be useful for you. Here you go lead with value and say, whatever that looks like. And however you can, you want to do that. But to make sure that whatever you're doing, you're leading with value. I want to give first with no strings attached in the hopes that you'll see me as an expert. And then maybe when it comes a time, you'll bring me your vehicles for maintenance. But even if you don't, I want you to see that I'm willing to give you good counsel and help first,

Clarence Fisher: Man, I love that. I love that quote. You gave it too. I'm a beggar pointing another towards bread. And ultimately, do you feel, do you release yourself after that? Cause I would imagine you'd have to, like, after you give the thought that you've had, do you release yourself from the result from the outcome?

Russ Knight: Absolutely. Because, and it depends on the person that I'm connecting with. If, it's to my friend, who's the big shot with a publicly-traded company and the president of a division or whatever. I'm really careful. Cause I know he doesn't want me just sending people to him. What I'll do there is I will send that person's contact information, tell them why. Tell this my friend, why I thought to connect them and put the ball in his court. So if I'm meeting with a candidate and I'm giving them advice, one of the things that I did, and I know when I was job searching, I would have a friend. I can think of a specific instance when I was meeting with a former, a mentor, and a former boss. And he said, Hey, I want you to meet with this guy. And he's over in Enid.

Russ Knight: And I heard either, I don't want to go to Enid. I drive through Enid. And so I didn't follow up. And so one of the things that I've learned, the hard way repeatedly through my sixth skull is that we have to keep following up. We have to follow up with every possible lead doesn't ever discount. The possibility of a connection to say, if my friend connected me to this guy in Enid and maybe it's because he was building a business here in Tulsa and he needed somebody like me, or it was a remote sales job that I could work from anywhere yet, I discounted that and didn't follow up. So to say, don't ever discount any possible connection because if it's, I feel a divine connection at that moment, and I feel like that those leads and ideas are from God. And so if you're discounting that, I mean, you're missing an opportunity, but to never set anything aside, especially when you're in the position of growth and whether it's building your network or looking for sales or looking for a job, you can't ever set anything aside, take every opportunity that is put before you

Clarence Fisher: Man. That's great. That was great. So that brings us to one of the number one mistakes I'm sure in all of the sales is to not follow up any other in particular, this connecting and networking, any other pitfalls kind of mistakes that you see people make.

Russ Knight: I think they're not thinking about the other person. They're so focused on their sales pitch and on moving product or service or whatever that they're not thinking about it from the other person's perspective. So I think most of the time if you can turn that around and think about it from their perspective, a resume really is a sales tool and people don't think of it that way. They think of it as a disclosure statement for my career. Good, bad, and ugly. But what happens is your name is at the top, but the entire rest of the document has got to be focused on what kind of problem you solve for somebody else. So even though your name's at the top, then it's about, this is the kind of problem I solve. Here are the kinds of results I've delivered. These are the good things I've brought to my employers because you're trying to connect the dots because the reality is on interviewing most people who are on the other side of the desk, the interviewer stinks at interviewing.

Russ Knight: And if we recognize that and even take it from a sales perspective, that person is, they're looking for a provider who's going to serve them well, who's not going to try to twist their arm and sell them, upsell them on the cabin, air filter or whatever is the extra thing that you might offer. But to say, I genuinely want to be in your shoes and say, let's think about this. How can I best serve you if I was in your role? Why would I buy from me? And so if we can turn the tables, I think that's really the pitfall that most folks make is that they, they come selling their wares of whatever it is just trying to Huck product or

Clarence Fisher: That's. I love it. Like turn it around, turn it upside down. It's really all about the person you're serving, right?

Russ Knight: If that's your approach down, if you're one of those salespeople that some people say, I know that this is some circles and offensive expression, but I can sell ice cubes to Eskimos. I hate that expression. I don't want somebody who's willing, who's willing and able to sell something that that person doesn't really need, or isn't going to really solve a problem for them. I don't want somebody who is so salesy that they can do that. I want somebody who's going to say, I see the problem you have. And I get that you have budget constraints and other realities that are beyond this one decision. So I want to think with you about how we can best serve you, maybe just so if I'm approaching a fleet company that they've got their own mechanics, I mean, they've got 70 trucks and they've got some folks that do a few things, the oil changes and whatever.

Russ Knight: I approach them and say, Hey, let me, we just want to backstop you. We can do the programming that you would maybe otherwise have to send out to the dealer, or maybe some of the deeper stuff. The more complicated things that you guys wouldn't do in the house. Let me backstop you. I'm not coming to them and saying, Hey, I want you to down your operation and send me all of your fleet work. I want to come alongside them and help them solve a problem. Not in a pushy way, but in a, how can I help? How can I serve you? And if they say, you know, we've got Bob over here across the way in this rundown place. And he has taken care of us. Great for 30 years, then I say, man, stick with Bob. That sounds like you guys are in good shape.

Russ Knight: If there's anything we could ever do to help you to backstop you, maybe something that you would end up having to send to the dealer, give us a shout. But again, I walk away with that thing. I planted a seed. I've served them well, but I certainly, and they're not going to walk away from that conversation saying that I tried, tried to twist their arm and sell them something that they didn't need or want. They're going to say, man, that was an a-okay and decent guy, whatever, we'll move on down the road. But I just feel like that most salespeople are gonna make the mistake of, you know, the boss says, I need to make X number of sales or sell this many dollars worth of whatever in a certain period of time. And so that's where the relationship aspect comes in to say, I want it to be I'm planting seeds for the future. I don't know exactly how that's going to go. I'm not exactly driving the process. And maybe that is what makes me a mediocre sales guy. I'm not going to intentionally push somebody through a sales funnel or sales process, but I'm going to try to offer solutions, plant seeds, and begin a conversation that should hopefully yield a productive conversation where we can talk about what we do.

Clarence Fisher: That's great. And it's definitely working. So Russ, what inspired you, to do what you're doing now?

Russ Knight: Fortunate. I met Tommy Keeter when I was in college, we went on a mission trip together. It was just a neat connection. So Tommy and I have been friends for a long time. He was the best man at my wedding. So when he saw me working for others in a sales capacity and said, Hey, I've been doing this with Christian brothers. Now for a couple of years, I see what you bring to the table. I think that you would be very successful with this. So from team leadership and sales and setting a culture of serving people, customer service, and marketing, these things are all in your wheelhouse. You should look at this and at least go through the process of exploring it. And it was, it's really just been a blessing. I've been very thankful to be a part of it.

Clarence Fisher: Ca you share a lesson with us that you learned early on in your business that affects how you do business. Now, still?

Russ Knight: Early on, I would say one of the biggest challenges that I faced being a flight versus fight guy. When a customer got really upset about something, I really had to step back and evaluate and almost take myself out of the equation. And at first, I wasn't very good at it. If I would get a negative review, it would keep me tossing and turning all night, not sleeping, but to okay. As a shop from a, what was the process that we went through here? So if this customer is upset with us, maybe they'll never come in again to see us, but somebody with the same mindset will. So let's think through the process, where did we miss? Did we miss in what we did on the vehicle, the repair, or was it in communication and expectations? And so to really evaluate those things or to say that maybe it's a, that we didn't write something on a ticket and that there was missing detail.

Russ Knight: So to think about it and evaluate from a, I mean, the process of I've heard of called post-mortem to go through and evaluate step-by-step what happened. And so, but to remove yourself from the process, because especially if you're considering the possibility of needing to refund somebody I've done that, but I've also had systems situations where I had to tell somebody, no, we did everything right for you. I know that you're upset, but this is not our fault. And let me explain. And here's the detail that explains why. So those kinds of things, I think really are that was really a good lesson for me because now as I face those things, I have better confidence. Or as I'm helping another newer franchisee, who's doing the same things tossing and turning feeling like they own every mistake. But to say, no, let's learn from every one of these. Because if you make a mistake, something goes haywire and you don't take something and learn from it and do something different than absolutely. It's a failure. It's a myth. It's all those bad words that you don't want to use. But if you learn something from it and apply it for what's next, then at the very least, you can say I've gotten better as a result of what happened here,

Clarence Fisher: Man, I've learned so much this morning and I truly believe that I become a better person than when I am. I spend just a little bit of time with you. I mean, the way, the way that you focus on others, I don't, you know, I personally aspire to be, let me ask you another question in closing here is like, I do want to steer it, this question to your automotive shop. What do you feel like is the most important thing a person should consider when they are thinking about choosing a repair partner? And I'm going to say partner because I've seen the way that you do this. And it is really a partnership.

Russ Knight: Absolutely. I think if somebody, we had a lady that pulled into the lot, a couple of years ago, she was playing golf up the Hill at the Oaks and she had this shiny red Lexus and she had one little thing, attire or whatever, something going on. And she said, she just raved about another shop. I even forget the name of it, but it was over in East Tulsa. And she said these guys have taken great care of me. They're my place. But I just happened to be close by. I had this question. I wanted to see if you could help me with it. We were able to take care of her center down the road with a $0 service, whatever we did fill up the tires or whatever. But then she ended up, she told us the name of that shop, but I got to pick up the phone and call them and say, Hey, I've got to tell you, this lady was raving about you guys, that she did that, whatever you guys have been doing, this is great.

Russ Knight: So I think it really, the thing that you want is to have that build that trust, where a customer's going to say, you're my place. And I think trust is something that every single business, whether it's a restaurant, a hospital, that there's always something that's happening behind the scenes that we're trusting. That vendor, that person, that we're paying is doing something for us. But with automotive is the same way when we want to, we want to make, we want to eliminate that wizard of Oz behind the curtain. We want to say, we want to show transparency and say, let me show you, what's going on. Let me explain to you why we're saying what we're saying. Let me explain to you why this is, needs to be done. This is what's going to happen. So as you're evaluating, choosing a shop, you want to find somebody who's going to give you transparency.

Russ Knight: Who's going to explain things clearly. And that you're going to just feel like, Hey, I know that these guys are looking out. For me. Trust is something that gets built over time but can be destroyed in a moment. And so again, kind of like what we were talking about employees and the onus is on the employer to not only pay well and train people but also create an environment they want to stay in with a business. As you build trust. The onus is to maintain that and to deliver that excellence every single time. And so that's kind of how we approach it, but I think that it really comes down to that big ambiguous question of trust.

Clarence Fisher: Yes, yes. Love it. So how does someone get in touch with you?

Russ Knight: You can find us Christian brothers automotive, Tulsa Hills that's, you can hunt us down. I'm pretty available. Pretty easy to find if somebody was looking for information about the job search ministry that I referenced, you can look that up online at OJTtulsa.org, they also have some folks that are doing the same thing down in Edmond in Oklahoma City. But to just say, you know, really the, whoever is listening and is saying, Hey, I like what this guy's talking about. I think that there's somebody near you, even if it's not me that can, that will come alongside and help, that will engage in whatever it is that you need to begin a discussion and help point you in the right direction.

Clarence Fisher: I mean, there's so much to, to get from this call, we're going to put all of those links in the show notes. So definitely make sure that you go to the show notes and get all of the resources that Russ has mentioned. Russ, thank you for your time this morning. That is so awesome. There you have it. Russ Knight. He is, uh, he owns Christian brothers automotive. If you're in Tulsa, there's Tulsa Hills. Some of the things that you're definitely going to want to rewind and listen to are basically coming from this position of service when you're waking up and be a job. Do I don't want to say ministry, but I guess it is helping people find jobs, the link that your resource that he gave. You definitely want to get that, but there's so much to pull from this interview that we just did. Rewind it, play it, take notes, share it. And until next week. Own the block,

: : We appreciate you listening to local market monopoly. Be sure to rate, review, and subscribe to the show and visit ClarenceFisher.com for more resources that will help you dominate your local market and own the block.

“Give first, with without expectation…” – Russ Knight

About This Episode

In this episode, Clarence talks with Russ Knight, owner of a Christian Brothers Automotive franchise, about how Russ went from being a self-proclaimed mediocre salesperson to becoming one of the most connected and influential businessmen in his local market. 

Here are some of the fascinating things you will hear in this episode:

  • How to build a powerful network even if you have no business contacts right now.
  • A simple method of outreach that works for both salespeople and organizations trying to raise funds.
  • Looking for a better job? Russ explains why a traditional resume doesn't work and what you should do instead.

So listen here to find out how to become the authority in your market by simply spreading goodwill.

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