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Estimates over the phone


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Hello all,

 

As a full service automotive repair shop, we constantly get calls for estimates/quotes. Some of which right when the price is said, we just get an "okay, bye." or "wow".

 

We are thinking of telling customers when they call and ask for estimates to refer to our website, fill our a brief form, and we will send the estimate or call them back. What are your thoughts and opinions?

 

Hopefully, if a customer is willing to take the time to do so, they are a customer we would actually want for our business.

 

Please let me know if you would happen to agree, or if you have an alternative way to handle this situation of price shoppers taking too much of our techs/workers time.

 

Thanks.

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I certainly like to know your opinions on this. Sometimes it takes a few minutes to build a concise estimate. After asking for an appointment the customer will turn around and say, "I'll call back I am shopping around for prices." There is either an opportunity to educate this customer on why it is important to factor in reputation, warranty, quality of workmanship when it comes down to selecting a auto service provider but most of the time this approach IMO falls on deaf ears and they end up being bottom feeders anyway.

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I usually use the line "There is a good chance you don't even need that. We've seen a ton of customers who were told they need that part or repair, and turns out when we get the car in our shop, it's a quick simple cheap fix." I usually tell em if they will bring it by, we'll take a look at it for free to make sure that's what the car really needs. After all, there isn't much diagnosing in most of these cases. In xrac's example - "Nope! Raidator gasket isn't leaking!"

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Our Advisors are not allowed to give prices over the phone. The goal is to get folks to bring their car in and allow us to make them a customer. We will do a basic diagnosis for free.. You are wasting your time competing against other shops when you don't even know what they are offering for the price they give. For instance - "how much for front brakes?" I use the on-car lathe and premium pads on every one I do. Why should I bother to quote that price to somebody who just got a price for a pad slap with some economy parts? We sell value. Best parts, trained techs, great nationwide warranty, and super advisors who are going to help keep your car going for the long haul.

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Our Advisors are not allowed to give prices over the phone. The goal is to get folks to bring their car in and allow us to make them a customer. We will do a basic diagnosis for free.. You are wasting your time competing against other shops when you don't even know what they are offering for the price they give. For instance - "how much for front brakes?" I use the on-car lathe and premium pads on every one I do. Why should I bother to quote that price to somebody who just got a price for a pad slap with some economy parts? We sell value. Best parts, trained techs, great nationwide warranty, and super advisors who are going to help keep your car going for the long haul.

 

 

How do you approach a situation where a customer says, "I just want an estimate i know exactly what I need (front brake pads) why can't you just give me a price????"

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We tell them that we would be happy to get it in and do a free brake inspection. At that point we can quote an accurate price on what is needed for us to do and warranty the repair. Until we can inspect it we do not know what is needed and can only guess at a price.

 

We really try to not get caught up in the game of giving prices over the phone, it generally does not end well. If your high they go somewhere else, if you give them a low price and tell them it could be more - they member the low price only. Many people are asking price because that is all they know to ask, those are the ones you need to work on to sell the value of your service. The ones that are truly looking for the lowest price are not my customers.

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I guess I have to accept that I can't please everyone. I have tried every which way not to give out prices over the phone, they are usually always met with resistance where people are baffled as to why I can't give them some sort of pricing. I hear everything from, "I know exactly what I need" "It was diagnosed at another shop/brother/cousin/dealer/friend" "I just need a ball park" "If I tow my car to you I will most likely be stuck having to use you for the job" and the list goes on and on. I don't know if I could fill a phone script with the right answers for these people.

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

         3 comments
      Got your attention? Good. The truth is, there is no such thing as the perfect technician pay plan. There are countless ways to create any pay plan. I’ve heard all the claims and opinions, and to be honest, it’s getting a little frustrating. Claims that an hourly paid pay plan cannot motivate. That flat rate is the only way to truly get the most production from your technicians. And then there’s the hybrid performance-based pay plan that many claim is the best.
      At a recent industry event, a shop owner from the Midwest boasted about his flat-rate techs and insisted that this pay plan should be adopted by all shops across the country. When I informed him that in states like New York, you cannot pay flat-rate, he was shocked. “Then how do you motivate your techs” he asked me.
      I remember the day in 1986 when I hired the best technician who ever worked for me in my 41 years as an automotive shop owner. We’ll call him Hal. When Hal reviewed my pay plan for him, and the incentive bonus document, he stared at it for a minute, looked up, and said, “Joe, this looks good, but here’s what I want.” He then wrote on top of the document the weekly salary he wanted. It was a BIG number. He went on to say, “Joe, I need to take home a certain amount of money. I have a home, a wife, two kids, and my Harly Davidson. I will work hard and produce for you. I don’t need an incentive bonus to do my work.” And he did, for the next 30 years, until the day he retired.
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      With all this said, I do believe that an incentive-based pay plan can work. However, I also believe that a technician must be paid a very good base wage that is commensurate with their ability, experience, and certifications. I also believe that in addition to money, there needs to be a great benefits package. But the icing on the cake in any pay plan is the culture, mission, and vision of the company, which takes strong leadership. And let’s not forget that motivation also comes from praise, recognition, respect, and when technicians know that their work matters.
      Rather than looking for that elusive perfect pay plan, sit down with your technician. Find out what motivates them. What their goals are. Why do they get out of bed in the morning? When you tie their goals with your goals, you will have one powerful pay plan.
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