By Bob Cooper
From the time your advisors first pick up the phone, all the way through your service recommendations, there is one thing that is happening over and over again: The sales process. Putting first things first, every new customer needs to be sold on your shop. They then need to be sold that they made the right decision in calling your shop, have confidence that whatever problems they may have will be solved, believe that your advisor is someone that has their best interest at heart, be sold on your vehicle inspection process, and be convinced that their vehicle is worth the investment. If your advisors do their jobs well, hopefully that caller will make an appointment. Yet as we all know, when that customer finally walks into your shop, you and your advisors still have a long way to go. Your customers will need to feel comfortable with what they see and hear, and if they do, they’ll then be open to your advisors’ service recommendations. If your advisors do a really good job in presenting the service recommendations, and if they build value in the services, then there is a good chance that the customer will authorize the recommended services. Make a mistake anywhere throughout this entire process, and you’ll lose the sale, guaranteed. So consider this.
Wouldn’t it be great if you had a superstar salesperson that helped your first-time customers feel comfortable with you, your facility, and your employees before they even picked up the phone? Well, if this sounds too good to be true, consider the fact that when one of your customers refers a friend to you, you can rest assured that this friend has been told quite a bit about you and your company. I am sure you will agree that those referred customers are the best customers, and the reason is simple: They have been sold on you.
When I was still operating auto repair shops I was always intrigued by how my competitors never realized how important those songbirds were. It seems as though they didn’t consider how most customers will trust us with their vehicles and their credit cards, but when they reach the point of trusting us with their friends, they are not only in a league of their own, but they are doing our job for us by selling their fiends on us. This is why my shops had a policy (that we use to this day at Elite), where we asked every first-time customer, “By the way, may I ask who referred you to us?” If they were referred, within 24 hours of vehicle delivery we would be on the phone with the songbird that referred them. On those calls we would take the time to tell them about the customer, and how we solved their problem. We would then thank them for their trust in us, and mention that their trust is something that we would never take for granted.
I used this simple policy to grow some really great shops, and although I knew that making the calls would typically cause our customers to continue referring their friends to us, my motive came from a different origin. I made the calls because I felt in my heart that if someone is kind enough to entrust us with their friends, and then take the time to sell those people on the fact that our shop is the right choice, then at a minimum, I owed them a call…. to say thank you. I also discovered that with rare exception, they weren’t looking for a referral commission or a complimentary oil service. They were looking for the peace of mind that their priceless friends would be in good hands. Make these calls and you will quickly see why I call them the “million dollar calls.” Not only will they drive up your sales, but they will strengthen your relationships with your customers, and serve as a valuable reminder of how lucky you are to be running such a great shop.
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 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 learn more about Elite by visiting www.EliteWorldwide.com.