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I think we all know that diagnostics is the most costly service we provide in the automotive repair business today. In today's automotive repair environment, you need to be selling diagnostics, and getting paid for it. I'm looking for feedback on when things don't go exactly as planned.
Let's say a car comes in and you sell some diagnostics, by the hour, or from a menu. After you complete that work, and you still don't have an answer, do you go back to the customer and sell some more? Do you continue at your expense? If you do go back to the customer, and you have nothing conclusive after that, then what? Do you keep going back and selling more diagnostic work until you solve the problem? If you continue to go back and sell more, how many times can you do that? We've all had that car that we've worked on for weeks to find some strange problem. I doubt many customers are willing to pay for the 40 hours you spent on the car.
Now lets say after 5 hours of work that the customer agreed to, you are no closer to finding the issue than when the car came in. Do you charge them for the 5 hours and send them down the road even though you have not provided them with a diagnoses? Do you start spending your time trying to solve the issue because you have a hard time charging for 5 hours and are unable to provide any answers?
I'm asking these questions as I am rethinking my business strategy on diagnostics a little. Our shop is known for its abilities to diagnose problems. We have other shops bringing cars to us on a regular basis because of these abilities. I actually get several calls and emails weekly from across the county for help diagnosing problems. There are times, a lot of times, when I think this is more of a curse, than a blessing. I know we are in the business of fixing cars, and we need to be able to find problems if customers are going to keep coming back. But after my lead tech and I spent a considerable amount of time over the last 15 days diagnosing the strangest intermittent no start issue on an Audi, and watching his frustration grow everyday, not because of the difficulty of the issue as we both love the challenge, but because it held him back from addressing the other work that was coming in the shop.
So, as rewarding as it was to solve that mystery, I can't help but look back at what it cost me financially, and the frustration to the technician, and realize we have to come up with a way to try to avoid going down those rabbit holes. Right now my idea is to give it 1 hour. If after an hour, we are not relatively certain that we will find the issue, with another hour or two, then let the car go. Let the customer know that it's not that we can't fix the car, but that we cannot fix it efficiently. If I lose that customer, it would probably still be cheaper that working on his car for 2 weeks.
Love to hear your thoughts.
By Elite Worldwide Inc.
By Bob Cooper
If there is one thing our industry has done since the very beginning, it’s put technicians into the role of service advisors. The rationale is that they have a good understanding of automobiles, which will enable them to be competent advisors. Unfortunately, that’s the furthest from the truth. Although an in-depth understanding of automobiles can be an asset, there are a number of other things you should consider before offering a service advisor position to one of your techs.
First and foremost, you need to consider why they want the position, or why you are offering it to them. If they suggested they would like to become an advisor because it has become difficult to work on cars at their age, then they may very well be the wrong person, because they are looking to become an advisor out of necessity rather than interest. The same is true if you are looking to move a tech into an advisor position when that tech has shown little interest in becoming an advisor in the past. Two of the most common mistakes we see at Elite are shop owners making this hiring decision out of necessity rather than interest, or out of desperation rather than inspiration. In either case, there is a high probability of failure.
Another major mistake we see made by shop owners is they put far too much value on the technician’s technical skills, and far too little value on the tech’s natural people talents, and their passion for the position. Unfortunately, these owners don’t understand just how important the people skills component is to an advisor’s success. So here is what I am going to encourage you to consider before you offer one of your technicians a service advisor position.
First of all, when it comes to selling auto repairs and services, bear in mind that natural talent trumps technical skills every time. Talent can’t be taught, but skills can, so if your tech doesn’t naturally smile, doesn’t have a positive attitude, or is not quick-witted and articulate, then they may do a fair job for you, but they will never be the advisor that keeps you ahead of your competitors. You will find there are a number of companies that offer online behavioral assessment testing to evaluate the sales potential of candidates, and I would strongly encourage you to take advantage of this type of testing. You will more than likely be surprised with what you discover.
Secondly, you will need to evaluate how well he or she will be accepted in the advisor role by your other employees. If the candidate has a good relationship with your other employees, and if you feel your employees will be willing to take directions and orders from the candidate, then they may very well be a good fit for an advisor position.
The third thing you will need to do is avoid overselling the position to the candidate. In addition to knowing the benefits of the position, they’ll need to know all of the negatives as well. In essence, you want to make sure that there are no surprises. We also encourage all of our clients to get the significant other of the candidate involved in the decision making process. As we say at Elite, “When you hire Larry, you get Mary”, so you will need to ensure that their spouse is also onboard with the new position.
Lastly, I hope you do two other important things if you decide to have one of your technicians take on the role of service advisor. First of all, take them for a test drive by having them help you on the counter, and pay close attention to their people skills, how well they are able to manage their emotions, and how they deal with difficult situations. Secondly, if and when you put that tech on the service counter, remember, training trumps productivity. What that tech will need more than anything is professional sales training, encouragement from you, and the opportunity to become… a superstar.
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 online and in-class sales, marketing and shop management courses. You can learn more about Elite by visiting www.EliteWorldwide.com, or calling 800-204-3548.
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Happy New 2017!
I hope you have set your goals for 2017, if not, get working on them!
Every day take a step into achieving your goal, it is the simple positive habits that will make success show up at your door.
For example, if you wish more sales, choose to make 10 calls everyday, or send 10 letters or post cards. by the end of the week you will have achieved 50 calls or leads, your sells will soon show up.
Simple disciplines to success!
I begin by sharing with you a video of a presentation that has given me great happiness and success:
By Joe Marconi
By now you have a pretty good idea how 2016 will end up. Are you going to achieve your business goals? Your personal Goals? That’s not to say you can make up ground or work hard to do even better. But, as we close the third quarter for 2016, it’s time to review the year, revisit your goals and start planning for 2017.
It all starts with reviewing your financial situation. Set up a meeting with your accountant. Discuss your 2016 projected sales and profits. Don’t wait until 2017 to do this. There are many tax implications that need to be addressed before the end of the year. In addition, you need to review all your expenses and payroll in order to reestablish your breakeven sales number; and to also create your 2017 budget.
This is also the time to review your marketing plan and budget for 2017. Lastly, you need to perform an audit of your facility. Inspect your facility and equipment. Is it time to upgrade equipment? Are there any building or facilities repairs needed? Needed training?
Planning for the future is planning for success. And while there is no “perfect” plan, not planning is a path to eventual failure.