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Thinking about not giving anymore phone quotes. Thoughts?

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I am contemplating on not giving out anymore phone quotes. My reason behind it is that most callers that ask for phone quotes are phone shoppers and bargain hunters. I am a specialist and they call around asking general repair shops their price on a certain job most of the time. I am usually not the cheapest around. I have tried everything in conveying that I am not the cheapest and that our shop provides a different level of service etc etc. Try to sell them on value. Most of the time it doesn't work. Of course a lot of these customers are not the type of customers that we want anyway however its frustrating try to sell them on something and then at the end of it all for them to huff and puff and ask for a price. Once they get the price and propositioned for an appt, they say "oh I am just shopping around" or the shy ones say, "oh I'll call you back." Usually these are calls spanning a few minutes that are incredibly frustrating and span over a few minutes.


Almost all of these phone shoppers ask immediately for a quote. To reduce wasted time I was thinking of just say, "I apologize we do not give over the phone quote. It is our policy to have vehicles properly diagnosed by our technicians before we present our customers with estimate." Or if they blatantly say they are shopping around for a price I'd like to add, "We do not give phone quotes because we feel a price doesn't properly convey the level of service and expertise we provide."


I am sure this will piss off some of the bottom feeders but I am worried it will turn off some borderline customers.



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BAIT AND SWITCH!!!! HAHAHA, I kid, I kid... kinda


Give them a 'best case scenario' quote. I feel I run an honest business, but if a customer is calling and price shopping, you know they are looking for the 'best' price. So I give them a 'best case' price.



'How much to replace an oxygen sensor?'

'$xxx.xx, but I might be able just to repair the wire to it and save you a bunch of money! Or it could be a fuse! Bring it in and I'll see if I can just solder the wires back together.'


'How much to replace my leaking steering rack?'

'$XXX.XX, but I might be able just to replace the boot for a lot less, and it would be a lot quicker too. Bring it by later today and we'll see what we can do.'


Once it's in your shop and on the rack, then sell your value. Walk them out under the car, show them the leak, the broken wire, the bent exhaust, coolant hose swelling, etc. Then show em your certifications on the wall, butter em up with how you only work on BMWs or whatever, your an expert, a professional, yes ma'am, no sir, please and thank you, and here is some free coffee, etc. After that, mention anything else you find on the car, because your a BMW expert and know what to look for on these cars. But, you can have it fixed in no time, because your a BMW expert and know these cars like the back of your hand. You might even have the parts in stock, because you specialize in BMW, and that's all you do.


I think you get the point. If nothing else, you get added traffic into your shop, customer information for future advertising, and it could all turn into a lot bigger job than you think. If nothing else, at least you're not having to tell a potential future customer 'no, we don't do that' right off the bat.

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Ask questions, steer them away from price. Find out what their concern is and try to solve it for them, it's not always a price concern. Most people just don't know what to ask, so they ask " how much". It's our job to educate:) Have a Fun Day!

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@D.Larson - You are right however a good portion (don't want to say most) of those calls are for price specific questions. I go through the whole process of asking the source of the issue, who diagnosed, etc etc. Mostly its "another mechanic" or "forums" or "my friend who is a tech/dealer tech" that affirmed what they need to get done. They are adamant about getting a price. Had a lady the other day (she is a serial shopper and probably called me about 5x in the past few weeks always promising to being the car) call while her car was at another shop asking for a price! Same lady went through liike 4-5 shops, one shop even swapped her engine LOL. She was definitely one to steer away from but it all could have been avoided if I would have said, "We would love the opportunity to properly diagnose and repair your vehicle correctly and professionally however we have a policy of not giving phone estimates."


Additional thoughts? The above posts are great BTW, thanks guys.

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1) You spend a lot of money to make the phone ring

2) Most people don't know what to ask except price

I give phone quotes all day. I used to not...gotta do the test, etc. Now I give a quick est and then tell them that it is subject to change. The key is to try to get them in. Some will, some wont. And some have become very good customers. It is all about getting them in and EDUCATING THEM.



Yes i know what you mean. I am just finding it a high frequency of callers that you just cant get in your doors. Time wasters essentially... I guess it goes with the territory. I'll try my best and see what happens. I wish I could just have all great customers all the time, wouldn't life be great ???

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Ignoring the outright price shoppers, price enquiries indicate a lack of information about your business. People ask price because they don't know what makes you different from your competitors. If people are phoning strictly for price it usually indicates a big problem with your marketing. They can't find the info they need so they ask for a price to base their decision on. However, refusing to give estimates and pricing just slams the door in their face.


Customers want four pieces of information about your business:

  1. service level or quality (how you treat them),
  2. workmanship (quality of work performed),
  3. guarantee (if they have a problem are you going to remedy it without a big hassle),
  4. and lastly price.

Customers use a combination of this info to decide if they want to do business with you. How you define those elements of your business dictates the “type” customers you attract. For the customer "type" you want, the first three are more important than price. As someone else said here, price is just the default question. They use it when they don't have any other information to judge you on.


If potential customers don't have any other information about you, price is the easiest (only) way for them to compare you with other shops. And people are sick of sales pitches that try to justify pricing. It just makes them more suspicious and untrusting. They want clear, understandable information to base their buying decision on. And that information must be available long BEFORE they phone you. Selling them at the point of them asking price is too late to be successful.


Your claims must be supported by other customers for it to have any worth. People that don't know you have NO reason to believe anything you say. That is why online public reviews are so important! Public reviews can't be manipulated by you (main reason reviews services like Demandforce are viewed with a high degree of scepticism by consumers). The typical quick phone pitch about how good you are and the “trust us” that everyone pitches just doesn't work. Right or wrong the average consumer perception of ALL businesses, not just auto repair, is that they can't be trusted. You need to be transparent and give people the info they want. Your website is the only way to do that effectively and economically. And then you need to support that information with independent customer reviews. If you do it right they will only phone to make an appointment.


I don't think there are any of you on this forum that don't have a website. But the question is how many of you can honestly say a person who doesn't know you could clearly find out: 1) the service level you provide; 2) the standard of workmanship they can expect to get; 3) your warranty policy (what will you do IF there is a problem); and 4) your general pricing level (not specific services, just where on the pricing spectrum you sit). Most auto repair shop websites have the same tired old claims that say nothing about you and have no support or evidence for your claims. When you don't have a Competitive Advantage (VALUE you provide over and above your competition), or don't communicate those customer benefits, they will resort to the price question.


People are fearful of being sold one thing and getting something different. Sometimes this happens on purpose, mostly it happens due to confusion between what is communicated by the shop and what the customer expects. I see too many shops that are afraid to state where on the service and price spectrum they stand. They are afraid of turning away a potential customer and end up not attracting anyone or making everyone dissatisfied. Trying to be everything to everyone will not work! You need to make it clear if you are a concours white glove service level shop, or a deep discount, dirty, ramshackle shop that survives on Groupon bottom feeders. There is a market for both... but you can't service the whole spectrum. Unmet customer expectations, both high and low, are the greatest cause of unhappy customers and poor reviews. And with online reviews giving consumers a powerful way to voice their displeasure there is a world of hurt awaiting you if you get it wrong...


Another common problem is the mismatch between what is advertised and what is provided. Everyday I see auto repair ads for discounted services and in the same ad they talk about their high end shop, certified technicians, and quality parts. Anyone with a brain will see the mismatch. No wonder ad response rates for most auto shop advertisements are so low. The price shopper comes for the deal, feels pressured with the inevitable up-sell, never returns, and the shop owner gets frustrated with the “cheap” customers they are attracting. And your "good" customers are turned off by the image created by loss leader pricing and feeling gouged when they get charged more than the advertised specials... Define the market you want, promote that to the right people, and they will respond.


Too many businesses expect customers to do things the way the business wants. This is the slippery slope to eventual business failure. Consumers have changed greatly, and quickly, in just a few years. Consumer access to information has exploded and fighting their wants and expectations is bad for your business. I am not saying this change is good. It just is. Resisting change is the road to failure. Communicate your position. If it isn't working then what you are offering is in the wrong marketplace.


No intent to offend. Just presenting how I see it. Hope this helps.


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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

      Most shop owners would agree that the independent auto repair industry has been too cheap for too long regarding its pricing and labor rates. However, can we keep raising our labor rates and prices until we achieve the profit we desire and need? Is it that simple?
      The first step in achieving your required gross and net profit is understanding your numbers and establishing the correct labor and part margins. The next step is to find your business's inefficiencies that impact high production levels.
      Here are a few things to consider. First, do you have the workflow processes in place that is conducive to high production? What about your shop layout? Do you have all the right tools and equipment? Do you have a continuous training program in place? Are technicians waiting to use a particular scanner or waiting to access information from the shop's workstation computer?
      And lastly, are all the estimates written correctly? Is the labor correct for each job? Are you allowing extra time for rust, older vehicles, labor jobs with no parts included, and the fact that many published labor times are wrong? Let's not forget that perhaps the most significant labor loss is not charging enough labor time for testing, electrical work, and other complicated repairs.  
      Once you have determined the correct labor rate and pricing, review your entire operation. Then, tighten up on all those labor leaks and inefficiencies. Improving production and paying close attention to the labor on each job will add much-needed dollars to your bottom line.
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