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I've noticed that whenever I price out shock/strut replacement estimates based on our parts pricing matrix and labor guide (All Data), we always seem to be on the "high" side compared to our competitors in our area (Pepboys, Merchants, Midas, etc.). Are shock/strut jobs considered a commodity item and priced at a reduced rate like batteries, or brakes?

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When we have a car in the shop and give a price, we are giving our price on doing the job our way. This means using top brand parts and performing an alignment afterwards. We make a good profit on our strut jobs. If we are giving a price quote against another (mostly chain) shop, then we accent the fact that we use first rate American Made parts, and ask the prospect if the competition is using American Made parts. Most of the time they don't know. We work off of that and put one hell of a selling job on them to get the business. Sometimes we will discount our quote to get the business. We LOVE doing strut jobs. If Quick-Struts are available, we always use them and stress the benefits to our clients car and to them. We LOVE doing strut jobs!!!

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As always and in anything we sell if we are going to position ourselves by value instead of price then we have to sell exactly that, our value. We have to sell benefits and what makes us different than a chain store or the other shops that are positioning themselves on a price basis. Once you are effectively doing this you will find your job becoming much easier. If you are constantly getting the price shopping customer your demographic or marketing could be completely off.

 

A more direct answer to your question is we do not play the commodity game with practically any of our services. Many shops I see do however. This would include set prices on shock/strut installs.

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Because of the internet, parts and labor pricing is all out the open
now. In other words, anyone with an internet connection has access to
the exact same information as you do.

That has pretty much made all repairs and maintenance a commodity,
in the customer's mind.

They believe everyone does oil changes. Anyone can do a strut job.

Therefore, customers think it all boils down to who has the best price.

So, the first and most critical question is:

Why should that customer use your shop rather than all the other
choices they have? (Can your service advisor answer this question
confidently?)

carolinahigear gave some great examples of what that looks like,
in their shop.

Now, here's the big takeaway:

The time to educate the customer about WHY they should use you is
throughout every step of the sale.

The biggest mistake I see is: service advisors are not armed with
a strategic, step-by-step method for doing that.

Then, when it comes time to sell the job, the customer hesitates
or questions the price or reaches for their phone to compare
your prices with your competition...

And now, the service advisor finds themselves, in a defensive position,
having to try and justify the price, after the fact.

All of the objection handling in the world cannot make up for
what really needed to be said earlier, throughout the sales process
to make sure that customer understands WHY they should use your
shop for this service and all of their automotive repair needs.

For some insights on how and what the customer is thinking, here are
a couple of videos:
https://youtu.be/-Uab-r8WJUs?list=PL7p4IMvCsbZolGwR0_8LmQFgFkHoyj6t3
https://youtu.be/yGrLq6cVHAU?list=PL7p4IMvCsbZolGwR0_8LmQFgFkHoyj6t3

Once you understand how the customer thinks, it will change your
business forever!

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Time for you to do some recon. Go out to your competition and get your car's oil change, get to see them in action. Leave the oil change stickers in place and see if they notice you have the oil recently changed, put new filters and see if they recommend new filters. Pick the front counter people's brain, tell them you are considering doing the struts and ask for an estimate or quote. for about $250 bucks you can stop at 8 of your competitors and the information gained would be priceless.

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If you are getting undercut because of part pricing that is a conversation you need to have with parts supplier. I am never embarrassed to negotiate pricing with my suppliers on anything (parts, insurance, supplies, heck just got $22 knocked off our monthly trash bill). It keeps my total operating cost minimal and my stress cost minimal as well.

 

If the competition is using economy grade struts and you are installing top level struts make sure the customer knows. I'll install the economy monroes if it means winning the job, but the warranty is not the same. But I also only install quick struts if they are available and have no problem letting a customer walk out the door if they don't want quick struts. I have had on two occasions rusty Ohio springs crack in the compressor. No job is worth a hurt employee so I only do jobs on the compressor when quick struts cannot be sourced.

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We install quick struts all the time with free install. It keeps us competitive. They pay list for the 2 or 4 struts, buy new sway bar links at list, and pay for the alignment. There are exceptions of course, like vans where the cowl has to come off. Luckily we work on European cars enough where a strut job is big money at the dealer, and quick struts aren't available. Struts and springs plus mounts on a c class Benz is 3 grand at my place, probably 5 at the dealer. Joe backyard isnt doing it himself. If you ever had the pleasure of replacing Mercedes springs you will appreciate a good compressor. The springs need to be pretty much coil bound to get the struts in. Hairy.

 

We've had springs spiral out of the compressor, DUCK! I hate springs, missiles really.

Edited by alfredauto
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