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It was a busy Friday morning when Tom called me for an update on his vehicle. I let Tom know that his car would be ready at the end of the day. There was a pause, and then he blindsided me with this, “You know, Joe, I did a little research on that water pump you’re replacing on my car. I can get that same part for $30 less. Why does your part cost so much?” I fired back at him by saying, “That’s impossible; it can’t be.” I went on and on attempting to defend myself, but I could tell I wasn’t getting through to him. After a few more words back and forth, Tom finally said, “Look, you started the job, so you might as well just finish it.”

You’re probably thinking Tom went online to check the part. Well, this happened in 1980, my first year in business, and years before the Internet, as we know it today, even existed. Tom simply called a local part store. The parts store gave him a discounted price and then figured he would challenge me.

Consumers checking your prices is nothing new—it just got a whole lot easier these days with the world wide web. Now, let’s clarify one thing: I am not going to tell in this article that there is a foolproof way to train consumers not to go online to check your prices. However, what I can tell you with certainty is that if you continue to feature products and not the customer experience, you are telling people to please check your prices.

Consider this: You’re out to dinner and you ask the waiter for the wine list. As you scan the list, you recognize a brand and then look to the right at the price. Do you Google the bottle of wine to check what you could buy it in the store? We all know that a $10 bottle of wine in the store can cost well over $40 at the restaurant.

Here’s the bottom line: The restaurant is selling more than wine and food—it’s selling the customer experience. And if all goes the way it should, we pay for the meal and the bottle of wine, even when we know the wine is priced higher than we could purchase it at the store. And, we are OK with it.

Our business is no different. We need to focus on the experience, not the products. Yes, we install water pumps, control arms and radiators. But, that’s not our main focus. Our focus is on the value and the benefits of doing business with us. Now, with that said, there’s a delicate balance between being competitive and being profitable. But, as value goes up, price becomes less of an issue.

Here’s the difference between our business and a product-driven business. When you buy a product—let’s say a watch or a cell phone—the experience lives on long after the sale. Every time you put on the watch, or use your cell phone, you are continuing the experience. And if the product is high quality, the experience gets reinforced over and over every time you use it. With auto repair, in most cases, what we do, does not live on after the sale. Once a customer leaves with a new timing belt and water pump, there’s not much about that repair that lives on in the eyes of the consumer, except the customer experience. Your entire sales process—your marketing, the look of your shop, the people you employee and every aspect of your business that the customer sees—must tell the customer that what you sell is worth the price.

Let’s remember one thing: Your prices will be challenged from time to time. So, here are a few more tips. Get the right training for your service advisors, especially in the area of customer service. Make sure your marketing and advertising communicates your brand and your culture, and please be careful with discounting. Claims that you have the best price on tires or brakes only results in consumers checking online to see if that’s true. Highlight your warranty, which has a lasting impression on the customer. Above all, communicate the benefits of doing business with your company.

Let’s get back to Tom. After 39 years, Tom and his family are still customers. I have to believe it’s because Tom appreciates the level of service we have given him throughout the years and the relationship we’ve built. Tom has learned what Warren Buffet has often said, “Price is what you pay; value is what you get.”

This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on May 1st, 2019

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    • By Joe Marconi
      Nick is on the front lines of customer service each day. He is a talented service advisor, with a passion for helping others. Nick and I often debate what’s more important to the customer: price or value? He’ll often tell me, “I know you preach value, Joe, but people care about price, too. In the end, price is a major concern.” I always respond, “Nick, it’s not all about price, it’s really about value. Build a strong relationship, reach the customer emotionally, have them believe in you and they will trust you. And when that happens, price will not be the focus.”  
      Here’s the reality. I would be lying to you if I told you that price has absolutely no bearing on a person’s decision to buy from you or not. However, are consumers only interested in price? I know that sometimes it may appear that way, but the bottom line is this: being competitive and profitable is a fine line we walk each day. When the perception of value diminishes, price then becomes the focal point.  Nick, who debates me on the philosophy of value, learned a valuable lesson recently, which made him a believer that there is most definitely a difference between value and price.  
      About a month ago, a first-time customer called us to ask if we could take a look at her son’s tire, which was losing air pressure. Nick took the call and said, “Sure, we would be happy to help you.” He took down all the needed information and let her know that he would follow up with a phone call as soon as her son arrived.  
      When the son arrived, Nick wrote up the car and dispatched it to a technician and then called the mother to let her know that her son had arrived. He also let her know that he would call her as soon as he knew something about the tire. 
      About ten minutes later, the tech informed Nick that the tire was damaged from riding with too little air pressure and that the tire would have to be replaced. He also said that the other three tires looked new and that it would not be a problem replacing the one tire.         
      Nick prepared an estimate for the tire and called the customer. Nick explained why the tire needed to be replaced and let her know that we could have the tire installed and have him on his way in about an hour or so. Nick then gave her the price for the job. The mother replied with, “Ok, give me five minutes and I will call you right back.” 
      Fifteen minutes later the mother called, and said, “Nick, I found another shop that will install that same tire for $50.00 less than you can do it for.  So, can you put air in the tire so I can have my son drive it to the other shop?” Nick thought for a second and responded, “putting air in the tire and having your son drive his car to the other shop is not safe. Here’s what I will do. I will have my technician put the spare on the car. He’ll also check the tire pressure in the other three tires. Afterall, we want to make sure that your son is safe.” The mother thanked Nick and hung up the phone.  
      A few minutes later, the mother called again, asked for Nick and said this, “You know Nick, you were so nice to me from the very beginning when I first spoke to you and right up to now, and you put my son’s safety first. You also didn’t try to force me into buying your tire. Please install the tire at your price.” Nick, now on cloud nine, hung up the phone and told the tech to finish up the job.  
      Nick learned a valuable lesson that day. He learned that he didn’t sell a tire—he sold something much greater. He sold an emotional feeling. He reached the customer on an emotional level and the price of the job became less important. Does this work with everyone? Of course not. But, if you want to make more sales and build the right clientele, sell value, sell relationships and sell a positive emotional feeling. 
      Later that day, Nick told me what happened. I could tell that he was proud of how he handled the situation. And he should be. I just listened as he told me the entire story and relived the moment. After he had finished, I calmly asked him, “So Nick, is it really all about price?” Nick just smiled. 
      This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on May 5th, 2020


      View full article
    • By Joe Marconi
      Nick is on the front lines of customer service each day. He is a talented service advisor, with a passion for helping others. Nick and I often debate what’s more important to the customer: price or value? He’ll often tell me, “I know you preach value, Joe, but people care about price, too. In the end, price is a major concern.” I always respond, “Nick, it’s not all about price, it’s really about value. Build a strong relationship, reach the customer emotionally, have them believe in you and they will trust you. And when that happens, price will not be the focus.”  
      Here’s the reality. I would be lying to you if I told you that price has absolutely no bearing on a person’s decision to buy from you or not. However, are consumers only interested in price? I know that sometimes it may appear that way, but the bottom line is this: being competitive and profitable is a fine line we walk each day. When the perception of value diminishes, price then becomes the focal point.  Nick, who debates me on the philosophy of value, learned a valuable lesson recently, which made him a believer that there is most definitely a difference between value and price.  
      About a month ago, a first-time customer called us to ask if we could take a look at her son’s tire, which was losing air pressure. Nick took the call and said, “Sure, we would be happy to help you.” He took down all the needed information and let her know that he would follow up with a phone call as soon as her son arrived.  
      When the son arrived, Nick wrote up the car and dispatched it to a technician and then called the mother to let her know that her son had arrived. He also let her know that he would call her as soon as he knew something about the tire. 
      About ten minutes later, the tech informed Nick that the tire was damaged from riding with too little air pressure and that the tire would have to be replaced. He also said that the other three tires looked new and that it would not be a problem replacing the one tire.         
      Nick prepared an estimate for the tire and called the customer. Nick explained why the tire needed to be replaced and let her know that we could have the tire installed and have him on his way in about an hour or so. Nick then gave her the price for the job. The mother replied with, “Ok, give me five minutes and I will call you right back.” 
      Fifteen minutes later the mother called, and said, “Nick, I found another shop that will install that same tire for $50.00 less than you can do it for.  So, can you put air in the tire so I can have my son drive it to the other shop?” Nick thought for a second and responded, “putting air in the tire and having your son drive his car to the other shop is not safe. Here’s what I will do. I will have my technician put the spare on the car. He’ll also check the tire pressure in the other three tires. Afterall, we want to make sure that your son is safe.” The mother thanked Nick and hung up the phone.  
      A few minutes later, the mother called again, asked for Nick and said this, “You know Nick, you were so nice to me from the very beginning when I first spoke to you and right up to now, and you put my son’s safety first. You also didn’t try to force me into buying your tire. Please install the tire at your price.” Nick, now on cloud nine, hung up the phone and told the tech to finish up the job.  
      Nick learned a valuable lesson that day. He learned that he didn’t sell a tire—he sold something much greater. He sold an emotional feeling. He reached the customer on an emotional level and the price of the job became less important. Does this work with everyone? Of course not. But, if you want to make more sales and build the right clientele, sell value, sell relationships and sell a positive emotional feeling. 
      Later that day, Nick told me what happened. I could tell that he was proud of how he handled the situation. And he should be. I just listened as he told me the entire story and relived the moment. After he had finished, I calmly asked him, “So Nick, is it really all about price?” Nick just smiled. 
      This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on May 5th, 2020

    • By Joe Marconi
      It was a busy Friday morning when Tom called me for an update on his vehicle. I let Tom know that his car would be ready at the end of the day. There was a pause, and then he blindsided me with this, “You know, Joe, I did a little research on that water pump you’re replacing on my car. I can get that same part for $30 less. Why does your part cost so much?” I fired back at him by saying, “That’s impossible; it can’t be.” I went on and on attempting to defend myself, but I could tell I wasn’t getting through to him. After a few more words back and forth, Tom finally said, “Look, you started the job, so you might as well just finish it.”
      You’re probably thinking Tom went online to check the part. Well, this happened in 1980, my first year in business, and years before the Internet, as we know it today, even existed. Tom simply called a local part store. The parts store gave him a discounted price and then figured he would challenge me.
      Consumers checking your prices is nothing new—it just got a whole lot easier these days with the world wide web. Now, let’s clarify one thing: I am not going to tell in this article that there is a foolproof way to train consumers not to go online to check your prices. However, what I can tell you with certainty is that if you continue to feature products and not the customer experience, you are telling people to please check your prices.
      Consider this: You’re out to dinner and you ask the waiter for the wine list. As you scan the list, you recognize a brand and then look to the right at the price. Do you Google the bottle of wine to check what you could buy it in the store? We all know that a $10 bottle of wine in the store can cost well over $40 at the restaurant.
      Here’s the bottom line: The restaurant is selling more than wine and food—it’s selling the customer experience. And if all goes the way it should, we pay for the meal and the bottle of wine, even when we know the wine is priced higher than we could purchase it at the store. And, we are OK with it.
      Our business is no different. We need to focus on the experience, not the products. Yes, we install water pumps, control arms and radiators. But, that’s not our main focus. Our focus is on the value and the benefits of doing business with us. Now, with that said, there’s a delicate balance between being competitive and being profitable. But, as value goes up, price becomes less of an issue.
      Here’s the difference between our business and a product-driven business. When you buy a product—let’s say a watch or a cell phone—the experience lives on long after the sale. Every time you put on the watch, or use your cell phone, you are continuing the experience. And if the product is high quality, the experience gets reinforced over and over every time you use it. With auto repair, in most cases, what we do, does not live on after the sale. Once a customer leaves with a new timing belt and water pump, there’s not much about that repair that lives on in the eyes of the consumer, except the customer experience. Your entire sales process—your marketing, the look of your shop, the people you employee and every aspect of your business that the customer sees—must tell the customer that what you sell is worth the price.
      Let’s remember one thing: Your prices will be challenged from time to time. So, here are a few more tips. Get the right training for your service advisors, especially in the area of customer service. Make sure your marketing and advertising communicates your brand and your culture, and please be careful with discounting. Claims that you have the best price on tires or brakes only results in consumers checking online to see if that’s true. Highlight your warranty, which has a lasting impression on the customer. Above all, communicate the benefits of doing business with your company.
      Let’s get back to Tom. After 39 years, Tom and his family are still customers. I have to believe it’s because Tom appreciates the level of service we have given him throughout the years and the relationship we’ve built. Tom has learned what Warren Buffet has often said, “Price is what you pay; value is what you get.”
      This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on May 1st, 2019

    • By [email protected]
      OK. Not to start another parts markup thread but I would like to look at this from another angle. What percentages do you aim when marking up parts when you look at the part categories? 
      Just an example below:
      Brakes 70%
      Struts 30%
      Shocks 50%
      Tires 15-30%
      Maintenance, etc ,etc
       
      The reason I ask is because even a standard parts pricing matrix can blow certain items out of reasonable sale price. I am aware that less expensive items can net larger profits, which also makes up for more expensive items but I am trying to see a base line of what parts markup looks like with these categories.
      Thanks
    • By jfuhrmad
      There are quite a few threads about pricing but I think it might be better to shift that discussion to value.  How do you add value for your customers?  For example, we have a very clean waiting room with coffee, wifi, nice music etc...  We also, answer the phone in the happiest way possible, we use tablets for inspections, we vacuum the front footwells for all oil changes, we have demo parts to help educate customers and we have a 3yr 36k warranty.  Recently I've been trying to dream up ways to add even more value so I can compete hard on what I deliver.  For example, I just added a 20 year master tech, I thought I could vacuum every car and leave a thank you note on the dash.
      What are you doing to add value?  What additional value are you adding that I'm not doing?  I would love to borrow some ideas if you are willing to share.
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