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Bring in More First-Time Callers

Elite Worldwide Inc.

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By Bob Cooper

With vehicles being built better than ever before, and with service intervals continually being extended, you are going to see your customers less often. This means that your service advisors have to be razor sharp when that phone rings. Although there is no silver bullet that will allow you to bring in every first-time caller, there are a number of things you can do to get more appointments. In this article, I would like to share some of the best practices we teach in our service advisor training that will bring immediate results.

In order for your customers to buy from you, three things need to occur: They have to like you, they have to trust you, and they have to view you as a credible expert. So when your phone rings, the first thing your advisors need to sell is themselves; not the service or repair. The best way of accomplishing this goal is with a professional, courteous and upbeat greeting, such as, “Thank you for calling Elite Auto Care, this is Bob. How can I help you this morning?” Starting out by immediately thanking the customer shows appreciation, volunteering the name of your company helps assure your callers that they’ve called the right number, and providing a first name is the first step in building personal relationships with your callers. By asking how they can help, your advisors are asking a question that will allow them to control the conversation. By being upbeat and using the right tonality, their likeability goes up, and the customer’s anxiety goes down.

The second thing your advisors will need to do is slow the conversation down so the callers don’t feel rushed. Your advisors will have to become good detectives by asking a number of questions, because when your customers are responding to the questions, it will take their focus off the price, and will help them begin feeling more comfortable with your advisors at the same time.

When it comes to asking for the appointment, one of the best tips I can share with you is this: With rare exception, your advisors need to offer every caller a choice of appointment times, and whenever possible, one of those options should be to bring the vehicle in now. For example, “I can squeeze you in now, or would 2:15 be better for you?” When it comes to auto repair, customers love finality, which is why providing the “now” option is a powerful sales tool.

Now here’s the absolute best-kept secret for dealing with the tough first-time callers. Every one of your advisors needs to be aware that many “price shoppers” are asking for price just to start the conversation, and beyond that, with rare exception, callers don’t know the questions they should be asking. This is why in all of our service advisor training classes we encourage the students to write down a list of the questions they think an educated caller would ask. Once they have their list completed, and committed to memory, then it’s easy for them to say something like: “Well Larry, I know price is important to you, and it should be, but if you call five different shops today, you’ll more than likely get at least five different prices. Some of the other questions you might want to ask are how long they’ve been in business, whether or not they have certified technicians and a drug-free workplace program, and you might want to have them walk you through the diagnostic processes as well. You might want to also ask them if they always explore all of the options that are available to customers when it comes to any recommended repairs, what kind of warranties they provide, and if those warranties are in writing.” Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve closed hundreds, if not thousands, of tough first-time “price shoppers” using this technique, so I know it will work for you.

If you’re still not quite sold, then consider this: If you take my recommendations, when those price shoppers start calling other shops, you know as well as I do, they’ll more than likely ask some of the questions your advisors suggested to them. Not only will your competitors be caught off guard and struggle with the answers, but in each case, the callers will be thinking of your advisors. This is when your customers will not only realize how well your advisors handled the call, but they’ll trust your advisors, and you bet; they’ll now view them as credible experts as well.

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 elevating the industry at the same time. 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



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