The following article is a guest post from Bob Cooper of Elite. It originally appeared in Elite’s Auto Shop Idea Center.
8 Keys to Selling Auto Service
- Know your customers’ buying habits. You’ll need to know your customers’ buying habits as well as their service histories. You should always request your first-time customers’ service records, and should ask them about their service histories verbally as well. This information can be extremely helpful during any sales process, especially when it comes to selling maintenance. Great doctors are always interested in a patient’s medical history, just as great service advisors are always interested in a customer’s service history. This information not only indicates which maintenance services are due, but will give you valuable insights to your customers’ buying habits as well.
- Have the right tools available. People believe what they see, so whenever possible, you should get your customers visually involved. At Elite we are big supporters of complete vehicle inspections, proper documentation, and visually showing your customers what was discovered. Sharing photos with your customers throughout the service process is a great way to keep them engaged, and to visually build value in the service.
- Emphasize the benefits. You’ll need to know the key benefits of every service you offer by heart. You’ll need to know, in very specific terms that your customers will understand, how they will win by authorizing the maintenance services that you recommend. You’ll need to make sure they know it can maximize their fuel economies, protect the value of their vehicles, protect their warranties, help them avoid unexpected and costly repairs, and provide them with peace of mind in knowing that they’ll have good, safe transportation.
Not only should you know these benefits by heart, but you should write down the benefits of each of your most popular maintenance services, and then review the list of benefits before each and every sales presentation. When it comes to selling maintenance, the overwhelming majority of shop owners and advisors put the focus of their presentations on the parts and labor, and unfortunately, that’s a mistake. As is true with all sales, your customers will be motivated by the benefits they’ll receive, not the parts and labor that go into the job.
- Be prepared to cost-justify.When it comes to selling maintenance, one of the single greatest mistakes that shop owners and service advisors make is being unprepared to cost-justify the services. You’ll need to be able to quickly explain to your customers, in clear financial terms, why the service is a great investment for them. Here’s an example: If you estimate that a customer is going to invest $600 in maintenance over the course of a year, then you need to break that number down into a daily amount. This way, when you are recommending your services, you can remind him that although he feels that $600 is a good amount of money, he’s going to be able to benefit from the service for a long time.
By following your maintenance schedule over the course of a year, the customer’s investment will end up being just $1.65 a day ($600/365). In essence, for less than a couple of dollars a day your customer will protect his warranty, he’ll be protecting the value of his vehicle, he’ll be squeezing every mile out of every gallon of gasoline, he’ll be reducing the risk of costly breakdowns, and he’ll have the peace of mind that he’ll have safe, dependable transportation. If you are not prepared to cost-justify the investment, then you can rest assured that the only number your customers will hear will be the price of the service. This will not only lead to lost sales, but if your customers don’t experience a breakdown within the next few months (that is attributed to the declined service recommendation), then they’ll look at the service you offered as nothing more than an attempt at an unwarranted upsell. At this point, you’ve not only lost the sale, but you’ve lost your credibility as well.
- Let the customer know you have great news. When you call your customers, make sure you begin your presentation by telling them that you have some really great news. This will not only set the tone for your presentation and put your customers at ease, but it will send a strong message that as a professional, you feel the service you are about to recommend is truly a great value.
- Use an assumptive close. Instead of asking your customers if they would like you to perform the recommended maintenance services, you should say, “All that I’ll need is your go-ahead, and we’ll get started on it right away.” Assumptive closes send a strong message that there is no logical reason for your customers to decline the services that were recommended.
- Schedule the next appointment. There is no better time to schedule the next appointment than at the time of car delivery. Your customers are standing in front of you, they feel comfortable with you, and it’s easy for them to say yes. If your customers leave without making an appointment, then they’re going to be fair game for all of your competitors. In addition, taking good care of your customers’ vehicles is a process, not an event, so it stands to reason that you’ll need to see them again to perform the services that will be due at that time, to complete a periodic safety inspection, etc.
- Never put money ahead of people. Here’s one of the best kept secrets to not only selling maintenance, but to building a great business. Customers are intuitive, and they can quickly tell if a service advisor is interested in their credit card or their well-being. If you sell from your heart, and if you never put money ahead of people, it will show through every single time. Not only will this help you increase your sales, but it will help you generate lifelong customers at the same time.
Since 1990, Bob Cooper has been the president of Elite (www.EliteWorldwide.com), a company that strives to help shop owners reach their goals and live happier lives, while elevating the industry at the same time. The company offers coaching and training from the industry’s top shop owners, service advisor training, peer groups, along with sales, marketing and shop management courses. You can contact Elite at email@example.com, or at 800-204-3548
If you’re a shop owner or manager, there’s a good chance you’ve learned the value of strong leadership either by choice or out of necessity. Leaders are required to keep employees motivated, productive, and directed towards a common goal. Repair shop leadership is about more than making sure vehicles are repaired correctly – it’s about making sure that customers feel valued, like their time and money are being treated with respect. For independent businesses, leadership is about making sure that both employees and customers know that your shop plays an important part in individual lives and in your community.
If you step away from your shop, is there a leader to take your place?
If not, you’re in a high-risk situation. If you are in an accident or face a health challenge and are temporarily unable to oversee your business, it’s not going to be in good condition when you return. Many owners find themselves unable to step away from their shop at all, working every day it’s open for years without a vacation – this leads to burnout and an inability to step aside for long enough to do longer-term strategic planning. And years from now, when you go to sell your shop and retire, buyers will not be interested if the shop requires your presence to turn a profit.
What can you be doing now to promote leaders within your ranks? This will be a topic of several blog posts over the coming months. The first characteristic of any strong leader, however, is the ability to manage a company with a well-defined culture that employees appreciate and contribute to maintaining.
To figure out how to build your shop culture, first you have to ask “What are my shop’s goals?” Your goals might include happy customers, turning a profit, taking care of employees and their families, or contributing to the wider community. Once those goals are in place, you can set aside some time to meet with your employees and discuss whether they share those goals, how good of a job you are doing in meeting them, and what processes could be put in place to improve them.
If you’ve never done this before, you might be surprised to learn that your employees don’t know what’s important to you, and what larger goal you have with your shop. You might also find out that the time taken to have this meeting will pay for itself many times over, as easy-to-implement ideas can save hundreds of hours of wasted employee time over months and years.
If you implement some ways to measure and bring attention to how well you’re meeting those goals each month you might also see continuous improvement as employees strive to improve their results. This small investment in your culture can improve morale, results, and the sustainability of your business whether you need to take a short or long leave of absence. It will also prepare you for the next element of shop leadership: mentoring your shop’s next set of leaders.
To learn more about how Repair Shop Websites can help you improve your business results, call us at 866-665-1605 or email us at Team_RSW@repairshopwebsites.com.