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newport5

Is your business down 40 or 50% ? Some ideas ...

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Is your business down 40 or 50% like many on this forum?  If so, I have an idea to help a bit now, but especially in the future. And even help the impression of our industry.

 

You probably have more time available to spend with your customers. It’s the perfect time to build or cement a great relationship, to create that illusive trust with your customer, that’s mentioned in just about every trade magazine, but they never tell you how. May I suggest “The How” that I’ve been using for years? This will be handy now and in the future when this is over.

 

Learn more about your customers. Become “friends.”  Talk about everything: the lousy situation we’re in, ask about their job, their kids, their past vacation, their future vacations, their weekend jaunts. Exchange good news. Exchange not-so-good news. Listen. Talk about what comes up.

 

I treat our customers like friends, like former high school friends. And these friends know we have to make a profit (EVERYBODY knows that!)

 

For me, it’s a given that we’re going to take care of their car. If they tell me their dad just went into the hospital or nursing home, we’re done talking about their car.  I ask, “How’s dad?”

 

But still do your (digital) inspections. And write down everything, even the stuff that can wait six to nine months. This may affect the service writer or shop’s approval percentage, but so what! Your percentage will be lower, but you will do more work on the car this way. (Notice that I didn’t say you would sell more work. I don’t “sell.”) No decision now on the future stuff, it can wait.

 

If their car came in with a problem, this is what will fix it (there’s no selling: this is the solution). I point out the other thing that needs attention now. There will be some explanation, but no selling: it needs it. No decision for the customer, actually.  Their car needs it.

 

Next I say, “Here are the things that can wait six to nine months, but I want you to be aware so there are fewer surprises.” No selling, no decisions on their part. Plus, I’m the trustworthy guy who’s telling them they don’t need everything now.

 

“Now let’s come up with a plan for these other things I found about your car.” I’m explaining, not selling. “You can do these now or in two or three months.” NOBODY wants to come back in two or three months so they are leaning in that direction, but no pressure from you.  They will probably ask; “What would you do?” I say, “If you hate bringing your car in, do it now.” (this is where you would bring in a little value, benefits and safety) Again, not selling, suggesting; letting them make the decision.  Notice that the first two issues didn’t involve them making a dreaded decision:  It needs this, doesn’t need that.

 

If your inspection has 5 things, they will do 2 to 4. If the inspection has 8 things, they will do 3 to 5 – with no selling. You are their friend, you are advising. List everything!

 

Now think about that phone call. There is only a little selling value or benefits: maybe some safety. So there’s no pressure on you, no bad news. You are the car detective, reading the cars clues and helping your friend thru this.

 

When you take care of the customer in this fashion, you come from a place of trust, like taking care of a high school friend.

 

You will be happier because that call back won’t be stressful, you will have more work, and they are more likely to refer your trustworthy, easy-to-work-with shop, which means even more work.

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