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Transparency in Pricing - It's Now a Mandate, Not an Option

By Bob Cooper

There was a time in our industry when shop owners were the only ones who knew the cost of their parts. Additionally, the amount they charged for their repairs and services was typically not public knowledge. If customers wanted to know how much it would cost to perform a specific repair, they had limited options; they would have to either call for an estimate, or visit a repair facility. The service advisor would then page through a catalog, find the price, and then share that price with the customer. As we all know, times have changed, and after decades of confidentiality in pricing, technology has now done more than just change how we diagnose and fix automobiles; it’s actually made pricing transparent. The days of holding your prices close to your chest are not only gone, but if you continue to follow that age-old policy, you’ll more than likely struggle in the coming years.

As we all know, the web has dramatically changed how you operate your business. It’s changed how you market, how you communicate with your customers, how you order parts, and how you diagnose and fix automobiles. Yet the one thing most repair shop owners are reluctant to accept is that unlike in the past, pricing on every conceivable repair and service is now available within moments online. Now we all know that those prices found online can be as incorrect as often as they are correct, but the reality is this: as we move forward, more people are going to be turning to the web, not just for finding the right repair facility, but for a range in pricing as well.  It’s currently happening in every other industry, so there is no reason to believe that it won’t become even more commonplace in our industry as well. Here are the things I am going to encourage you to consider…

First of all, you should accept the fact that an increasing number of your first-time visitors will have either already searched the web for a range in pricing, or they will do so within minutes after you provide them with an estimate. In many cases, they will do their price comparisons with their Smartphones, and they’ll do it while they are still at your facility.

This brings me to the second point that I am going to hope you consider, which I refer to as integrity in pricing. With the ease of access that consumers now have to pricing information, in the coming years the top shops will be competitive in pricing, and they will be proud of the value delivered. Now before I go any further, I am not suggesting that a shop can’t charge more than its competitors do, but if the prices they charge are viewed as out of line with other well run facilities, there is no question: they’ll lose their customers, and their reputation, both at the same time. The proof is in every other industry, because history has shown us that no matter how good the hotel, airline or restaurant may be, if their customers don’t feel that the pricing is comparable to similar service providers, those companies never survive. 

So here are my recommendations for those of you who want to grow more profitable, successful businesses in the coming years. Start doing what your potential customers are already doing, and survey your legitimate competitors. I’m referring to facilities that offer services and benefits that are comparable to yours. Secondly, ensure you are competitive with your prices. This doesn’t mean you can’t charge more, but you have to be comparable, and you have to believe in the value delivered. 

Finally, I am not suggesting that you should quickly provide a price to every price shopper, or that you should provide a price before you have built value in the service. What I am suggesting is that you need to embrace the fact that your customers are no different than you and me. They have access to pricing info 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and they not only expect transparency, but they demand it. There is no question: transparency in pricing is now a mandate, not an option, for every shop owner, worldwide.

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. To learn more about Elite, visit www.EliteWorldwide.com.



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These are points well taken. The internet makes it harder for parts store and for repair shops to get the markups they need due to on-line competition.  

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