Most service advisors fall into one of three traps with first-time customers: they’ll either avoid recommending a complete inspection, they’ll try to bundle the inspection into a service, or they’ll just inspect the vehicle without the owner’s permission. Unfortunately, all of these approaches can jeopardize the customer experience, and reflect poorly on your shop. Let’s take a look at each one…
The service advisors who shy away from recommending a complete inspection to first-time customers are typically doing so for one of two reasons: either they’re afraid that they might find something and will have to sell the customer on that service, or they’re afraid that the customer will think that they are on the hunt for additional dollars. These are the advisors who will typically tell their technicians, “He’s a first-time customer and I don't want to scare him away, so let’s just do the oil service he brought the vehicle in for. We can catch the other things the next time he comes back.” In either case this is a disservice to the customer, and a disservice to your business. Regardless of why the service advisor is afraid to sell, your customers may very well leave and be completely unaware of the risk they are taking with their vehicles, and in some cases, with their lives. Everyone loses in this scenario.
The second trap service advisors fall into is trying to “bundle” the inspection. This is when the advisor tells your customers that the oil service, or whatever they brought their vehicle in for, “includes” a complimentary safety or vehicle inspection. What these advisors don’t understand is that telling your customers that an inspection is “included”, is no different than telling them you are on the hunt for dollars. There’s no doubt about it: you lose with this approach as well.
The third trap advisors fall into is saying nothing at all about an inspection, then telling your customers that while doing the oil service they also inspected other things, and discovered that those other things need attention as well. Unfortunately, your customers are now under the impression that you have been doing things to their vehicle that they haven’t authorized.
What’s the secret to selling complete vehicle inspections to first-time customers? It’s really pretty simple. Since fear is the primary emotion that drives most first-time customers, the first thing you need to do is put the customer at ease. You can do this by smiling, and engaging them in a friendly dialogue about their family, work, etc., when you first meet them. It’s called building rapport. Then, just like a doctor learning about the medical history of a first-time patient, you need to learn as much as you can about the service and repair history of their vehicle. This will typically raise questions about the vehicle’s service history, which will provide you with a great opportunity to build value in your inspection.
You can further build value in your inspection by painting mental pictures, and putting their fears that you’re going to “try to sell them something” to rest. One way of accomplishing this goal is to close out your presentation by saying that when they pick up their vehicle, you’ll provide them with detailed notes on anything that was discovered during the inspection.
When we are discussing this subject with shop owners, or advisors, we tell them that they need to approach their customers in the same way that a good doctor would recommend a complete physical to a first-time patient. Rather than raising the anxiety of the patient, the good doctors will actually put the patient at ease by taking the time to properly build rapport. They’ll tell the patient that odds are there’s nothing they're going to discover that will be of concern, that it’s a great way to take care of our bodies, and that the physical will help the patient remain healthy for a long time. Ironically, it’s no different with your patients. Just think of the vehicle as your “patient”, and the owner as a concerned parent. If you take this approach, you have my promise: you’ll be thrilled with the results, because your sales, your customer satisfaction, and your profits will all go straight up.
Since 1990, Bob Cooper has been the president of Elite, a company that strives to help shop owners reach their goals and live happier lives, while having a positive impact on their employees, customers and communities. The company offers one-on-one coaching from the industry’s top shop owners, service advisor training, peer groups, along with sales, marketing and shop management courses. You can learn more about Elite by visiting www.EliteWorldwide.com.