The Advantages to Your
As automotive professionals we all understand that maintaining a vehicle is the most important part of its ownership. Maintaining a vehicle is the single biggest way to protect the investment available. We also know that it is the most forgotten item from the customers stand point, and is usually the last thing they want to buy. Since there is always so much pushback in maintaining their vehicle because they don’t see the value we thought we would discuss how to add value to maintaining their vehicle in this month’s column.
Most of us spend a large sum of money for repair information access and are not using the information access tools to their potentials. Most information systems have information you can use to be your “silent salesman”.
Silent salesman you say? I don’t have a silent salesman! If you own a computer based Information system, you do, you just may not be using it for all that it is worth!
For instance did you know that on top of having all that great technical data you use to fix cars and trucks, there is a silent salesman built in as well? Well there is!! Let me explain, within most good information systems there is a section where you can put in your customers make, model, year, engine details and approx. miles and it will kick out not only a recommended detailed service interval list required for that mileage for the Technician to follow, with all the technical specs required to perform that service, but it will kick one out for the customer as well, and that is what this article is about.
You see, the customers version of this recommendation list is written for the customer, NOT the technician and as such is written in plain simple terms designed to be read by someone far less astute than a Technician. AND it contains paragraphs on why you should perform the specific service for that vehicle and what it could help down the way. All this information is available but in most cases, most users have no idea what it is or where it could be used. The following will be 2 very different examples as to where to use the information, and why….
Example 1; print this information the night before a customers scheduled appointment and when the customer comes in for that appointment you can go over everything that is recommended and attempt to sell this when the vehicle is being dropped off. Effective? Yes, but only slightly!
Example 2; print this information the night before a customers scheduled appointment and when the customer comes in for that appointment, hand it to them and state, “this is some information about YOUR vehicle that we looked up and printed for you to take with you. It is from the same information system we use to know what your vehicle is due for, but is written for the consumer instead of the Technicians. We will be performing a comprehensive inspection of every item on this list today to make sure that your vehicle is as up-to-date with its maintenance and as reliable as possible. Then we will be calling you once that inspection is done to let you know what your vehicle actually needs based on that inspection”. This opens the door for the customer to read about what his vehicles needs instead of simply hearing it from a salesman that is trying to sell him or her on something. While he/she is reading about what is recommended he/she will be thinking about how much each item may cost and in our experience he/she will be calculating higher than what the actual price would be. By doing this the customer becomes MUCH more amenable when we tell them it is less and is much easier to get them to say “yes”. If they have calculated too low, then you could ask them when the last time they paid for that specific service was, was it exactly what you are going to do and that basic maintenance and maintenance schedules have changed a lot in the last couple years. Remind them that regular maintenance is what keeps their vehicle as trouble free and reliable as they need it to be and that you will only being doing what the Information system AND your inspections indicated were needed. No need to tell anyone how to sell here, we’ll keep that for another article. Effective? …Extremely!
Remember that when the average person reads something that has been printed by a “computer” it becomes real, it becomes factual. While there have been many commercials written to make fun about this, how many people do you know that still believe it? And even when the engineer reads something if it has statistics and specifics about his/her vehicle it becomes much more believable than if the Service Writer (again, in their mind, “a salesman”) says it. Also keep in mind that almost every person that takes this information with them in the morning will make time to read it at some point before you call them because it was written about their vehicle, and they are curious……hence the silent salesman. Simply put, this couple page report can save you hours on the phone convincing the customer on whether they need something or not, because it is already written and in their hand as you are talking to them. You could/should maybe even reference it now and again so that they keep it in their hand and refer to it themselves.
How much better could this get? Your customer is already reading about what their vehicle needs long before you even start your estimate to call them about. Your job is already partially done in that they know what you were looking at AND WHY! This information packet that we gave them in the morning told them everything about their vehicle, and now you get to educate them a little more during the sale of any additional NEEDED service, repair or maintenance that their vehicle may need!
“Educate them” you say, why do I have to educate them? Education of the customer leads to trust in us, which leads to loyal customers. The more they know about their car, to a point, the more comfortable they become and that means easier sales, and customers that return over and over. Please note and be careful; not every customer may want to know about their vehicle, and for those you’ll need to read their faces and watch to see if their eyes roll up in their head, they start looking around or they seem nervous… let them go. Trying to educate this type of customer will only hurt your relationship with them and relationships are vital to the success of every business!
OK, so you now know what we mean by the silent salesmen, at least for this article. If you try this and it doesn’t increase sales, you may not be trying hard enough. You may not have Service personnel that are confident enough in their sales ability to work with these silent salesmen. Only time will tell, but we have been speaking with our customers (the shops that service the end user) for the last year and anyone who has really put forth the effort have seen an increase in sales……and so should you!
By-The-Way; every facility out there should also have another great silent salesman, “The On Hold Message Machine” but you already know about the importance of this………..right?? That’s for another day, and another article!