By Joe Marconi
We, automotive shop owners of America, must take the opportunity of a lifetime and turn it into a bunch of success stories. What opportunity? Look around you. The world is in turmoil. COVID-19, social unrest, uncertainty about the presidential election, the economy, how are we going to get out kids back to school, on and on and on.
While the world is spiraling out of control, we have the power to make big changes to our auto repair shops. And it can all be positive!
First, the average age of a car in the U.S. is about 12 years old, attaining well over 200k on the clock.
Second, Uber, taxis and limo companies are suffering. Guess why?
Third, the motoring public in the foreseeable future will be traveling by car, taking road trips like they have never did before.
Fourth, the roads are packed with motor vehicles, as more and more people prefer their own car as their primary means of transportation.
Fifth, as the cars get older and older, more of them will be out of factory warranty.
Sixth, independent auto repair shops have a vast amount of training, resources and replacement parts.
Seventh, the overwhelming majority of cars being build and sold today are still internal combustion engine powered cars. If you factor in the expected average age of car these days, we can safely bet that those gas engine cars being sold today will still be on the road in 2033 and beyond!
Eight, You need more? That's not enough!
Get your plan in place. Get your prices in line with making a profit. Don't give anything away anymore (I am mostly referring to checking, testing, diags of any sort!) Offer world class customer service. Be a leader of your employees. Show the world what you are made of!
By Elite Worldwide Inc.
We're excited to announce the arrival of Sales Master University, Elite's online service advisor training service that delivers higher sales and happier customers to your shop!
What is it?
Every month your service advisors will have access to the industry's top sales training delivered by Ratchet & Wrench All-Star Award Winner, Jen Monclus. Plus they'll learn from superstar shop owners and service advisors to help them with real world application, and will benefit from assignments, testing, resources and more. Your advisors can start learning the moment you enroll them, and can complete each lesson at the pace they choose from the place they choose for only $49 per advisor per month! Enroll your advisors in SalesMasterUniversity.com today and get ready for amazing results.
BONUS: Enroll before July 31st and become a Charter Member and receive Mastering Sales Objections and Phone Procedures for the Automotive Professional, FOR FREE!
Visit SalesMasterUniversity.com to get your advisors on the path to higher sales and happier customers today!
By Joe Marconi
For many of us, it's been a wild ride the past few months. We had to take care of everything, making tough decisions, dealing with banks and the SBA and running the shop from the trenches. But, with things looking better each day, it’s time that we get back into the role of building and operating the company.
For many, the COVID-19 crisis is far from over. However, the sooner we begin to adjust and build for the future, the better off we will be.
Shop Owners are among the hardest working people on the planet. We find ways to get through the most difficult situations. I have no doubt that the lesson’s learned from this crisis will make us stronger and more successful.
By Elite Worldwide Inc.
By Bob Cooper
We all know that these incredibly challenging times are impacting businesses and people all around the world. To help maximize your shop's sales and profits in the face of these difficulties, here are 3 simple and cost-free tips that you and your service advisors can start implementing today.
1. Pick up the phone and call your customers. However, this is not a sales call and shouldn't involve discussion about the customer's vehicle. Rather, this is a chance for you to check in on your customers and their families, let them know you are thinking about them, and offer to help in any way you can. By giving them a call and speaking from your heart, you are showing your customer that you not only care about their well-being, but that your company truly values people over profit.
2. Set up call forwarding during your commute to and from work. By having incoming calls forwarded to your cell phone rather than to the shop's voicemail during your drive to and from the shop, you are essentially extending your hours and allowing more customers to reach you if they are in need. There may only be a couple of calls that come in during these times, but it can make a world of difference for those calling customers.
3. Adjust your 2020 sales and car count goals so that they are broken down to daily targets, and track these daily goals in a descending manner. Instead of feeling discouraged if your shop is far from reaching a monthly or weekly goal, having daily sales and car count goals will allow you and your advisors to look at each morning as a brand new opportunity to accomplish the goals for the day.
Tracking these daily goals using a descending method helps your team focus on what they still have left to accomplish, and motivates them to reach the targeted numbers. For example, if your daily car count goal is 10 cars, and 7 cars have come in, a descending method of tracking will have your advisors saying, "We only have 3 cars left to meet our goal!" rather than, "We've had 7 cars come in so far." When I first began coaching, my average client saw a 15% increase in sales just by making this simple switch from an ascending to a descending method of tracking goals, so this tip is sure to help!
For additional help increasing your shop’s sales, learn more about Elite’s Online Masters Service Advisor Sales Training, or give us a call at 800-204-3548.
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I currently employ a mechanic and friend who has been with me for about 20 years. He was formerly a transmission rebuilder, but we have switched to mostly reman units and have no need for a rebuilder. His pay has remained the same despite his value declining. I am currently paying him roughly $100,000 a year. The problem i'm having is that his skill set is not near that pay level anymore. He does light diagnostic and basic managerial work, but I am not confident enough for him to run the shop for more than an hour. With the current state of the industry our numbers have gone down a bit over the last two years. While still being profitable, I can't help but think about the extra income that would be available by terminating this employee, I just dont know how to do it. Any advice on how to do this? I like him as a person and have known him a very long time, but I feel his is paid about twice as much as he is worth. Any help wouldbe greatly appreciated.
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By Joe Marconi
Due to COVID-19, many repair shops experienced a severe economic downturn, some with a drop in sales over 50%. Without a strong cash reserve and/or SBA funding help, many shops would have gone under.
My 40 years as a shop owner has taught me to always have a cash reserve. However, never would I have ever imagined a downturn like the one with COVID-19.
So, how do we plan for the next financial crisis. And, it will happen. Perhaps not as bad as the the virus crisis, but it will happen.
Here are a few things to consider: Have a separate, and hard to access, cash reserve bank account that has least two months of expenses. Also, secure a line of credit for at least one to two months of expenses. Also, know your numbers, keep payroll in line, and make sure your prices are fair to you too, not just your customers. Keep in good standing with all your vendors and keep your credit score high!
The bottom line here, is truly the bottom line. To weather the next financial downturn, you need a strong balance sheet and net profit to the bottom line.
What other strategies are you considering or implementing?
By Joe Marconi
We sell service, not products. Yes, we sell water pumps, brake pads and air filters. And yes, those are products. But it’s the service we sell, the customer experience, which lives on well beyond the customer leaves your shop.
Think of it this way; when you buy a watch, or a new cell phone, the experience of what you purchase continues after the sale. When we replace a customer’s water pump or air filter, there is very little about those items that lives on beyond the sale.
But, what does live on is the customer experience. The better the experience, the more likely the customer will return to you. So focus on the customer experience, not the products you install.
By Elite Worldwide Inc.
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.
By Elite Worldwide Inc.
By Bob Cooper
In today’s market, service advisors are facing a number of challenges. One of the more complex challenges is when a skeptical first-time customer comes in for an oil service, and the advisor discovers that this customer needs a long list of repairs. This is what most advisors refer to as the proverbial “laundry list.” Unfortunately, what most service advisors will do is either hold back some of the recommendations because they are afraid they’ll scare the customer away, or they’ll struggle through their presentations. So here is what I am going to recommend that you do...
#1. With every first-time customer you need to do a lot of fact finding. Beyond the standard questions you ask, you need to ask them how long they have owned the vehicle, and whether they bought it new. You also need to ask when was the last time the vehicle was in a shop, what it was in for, if anyone else drives the vehicle, and what their plans are for it. In essence, you need to discover if they plan on keeping it, and if so, for how long.
#2. Have a conversation with every first-time customer about your vehicle inspection process, and how they’ll win. Take a moment to tell them about the qualifications of the technician who will be inspecting their vehicle, and let them know the inspection service is being performed for two reasons: to ensure there are no safety concerns, and to establish a baseline for what services may need to be done, and when.
#3. When you build your estimate, always bundle all repairs and services that are relative to each system on the vehicle; the brake system, suspension system, cooling system, etc. This way you are prepared with a price for taking care of everything that needs to be done in each of the systems.
#4. We all know that when we start a sales presentation, and the customer senses they will need a number of repairs, they’ll get anxious. They’ll then immediately ask for a price, or they’ll tell you they just want the oil service done. The secret? Always ask for permission to talk about the price after you’ve reviewed your discoveries with them. For example…
“First of all, Mr. Smith, when you brought your car in this morning, you said you were concerned about a couple of different things, so tell me if I am missing something here! You said the brake pedal was going down quite a bit, and you also said you needed to have your Mustang back by 4 o’clock. If I remember correctly, something about an anniversary dinner; is that right? Well look, I have some really great news for you. When it comes to your brakes, and being able to have you out of here by 4 o’clock, we’re going to be able to solve both of those problems for you. As I mentioned this morning, the gentleman who inspected your Mustang is Jim Piraino. He’s an ASE Master Certified technician, he’s been with us for 12 years now, and I have to tell you; he’s really gifted at what he does. Now we’ve taken a look at all of your service records, and I’m actually looking at a copy of Jim’s inspection report, so let me tell you what we discovered. First of all, I’d like to say congratulations on taking good care of your automobile because your battery, your tires, your suspension, and your drive train all appear to be in good, operable condition. Now, in addition to the brakes, there are a couple of other things that I’d like to chat with you about, so if it’s ok with you, let me tell you what Jim’s discovered, we’ll have a conversation, then I’ll be more than happy to answer any questions you might have, and we can go over the prices at that time as well. Are you on board with this approach, Mr. Smith? Terrific!”
#5. If they can’t authorize everything, and you need to prioritize, always start with what they brought their vehicle in for, followed by anything that has to do with their personal safety, then the safety of others, followed by vehicle maintenance and comfort items.
#6. Never compromise your ethics. If you do the right things for the right reasons, and if you never put money ahead of people, it will show through to your customers. Combine your shop’s ethics with the above guidelines and you have my promise: you and your customers will be thrilled with the results.
For additional help building a more successful shop that will have a positive impact on your employees, customers and community, please feel free to take advantage of Elite's Complimentary Shop Performance Review.
By Joe Marconi
A long time customer came in the other day for a LOF service and an annual state inspection. He also needed a battery, but said that he would come back for it. When I tried to explain to him that we had to jump start the car, he said he knows about it and he will come back.
This did not seem right. Being me, I pushed a little; “Tom, why won’t you let me install the new battery today?” He was silent. I then said, “Tom, you are going to buy the battery from someone, why not buy it from me.” He replied, “Joe, I can’t afford your price.” I replied, “Tell me what you want me to do.” He said, “Nothing, I will put the battery in myself and save the labor.” I told him, “No Tom, I will put the battery in, you pay for the battery and I’ll pay for the labor, deal?” He was silent again, and then said, “Yes, you got a deal and thank you.”
Sometimes, you need to close the book on sales strategy, profit margins, and quotas and just do what you feel you need to do.
Sometimes, a compromise is a win.