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I think I am finally done with phone shoppers


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I get all kinds of annoying phone calls all day long so maybe I am just a little bit extra agitated over this one particular phone call. Phone shopper calls up asks for our labor rate up front then asks about a particular repair (front window regulator 99 audi a4). Reluctantly I look up a price and give it to him. Of course next question is, "why so much" and "how much is the labor". I tell him the labor cost and he again asks, "whats your labor rate." I try to circumvent the question and explain to him that is the service price we charge. Phone shopper is relentless and keeps asking labor time labor time labor time. I finally cave because I am actually get fed up with the phone conversation and tell him its based off of 1.8 hours. Then his next question is, "Does it really take that long?". Asked about 3x even. Then he asks "how much to just close up the window and close the door." Told him we dont do that and we hung up.

 

Long story short there is no winning with these people. Some phone shoppers you can steer with asking questions like "May I ask where you got it diagnosed?" and go through the myriad of leading questions to get them to bring the car in for an inspection/diag HOWEVER there are just some (a lot) of people that only want one thing (PRICE AND ARE YOU THE CHEAPEST???). For my own sanity I think I will just have a no estimates over the phone policy. Regular menu price items such as oil changes and the like I will give out prices still.

 

Anyone else not give estimates over the phone? How do you handle a customer constantly asking labor rate and labor times?

 

If I had Service Advisors (and when I do!) I will probably have them take a more proactive approach to trying to convert phone shoppers but for my own sanity I think I am just going to tell them sorry no estimates. I think I do a decent job at SA however I have a low tolerance for BS.

 

 

Love to hear some thoughts and funny stories to pick my day up!

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We have gotten advice from other shops in the ATL area in our sector that says never to give a price over the phone but at the same time you miss out on some oppertuinities. From what weve found you have to have an 'elevator speech' for why they need to come to you vs anyone else when dealing with price shoppers.

When we have a situation when someone asks why so much on the phone we usually dont go into alot of detail on why that is other than the elevator speech. If theyre 'price shopping' that hard and interrogating you over every little thing its just a waste of your time and you dont want that type of customer anyway. End the conversation as soon as possible so you can get to the next call :P

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We encounter the same problem, I guess it is somewhat inevitable in this type of business. We simply ask the customer to bring the vehicle in and we can give the price when the vehicle is here. That way we have all the information at hand (motor size, VIN #, etc). That in itself will designate a worthwhile customer.

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Stopped giving estimates over the phone awhile back and haven't looked back since. Of course you will still give some basics like tire prices but for the most part, you are freed up. When customers call and ask for an estimate, just respond with "sure, when would you like to bring the car in?" If they wont bring the car in then you don't need them as a customer and they are just price shopping.

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Phone shoppers should be encouraged to give you a return phone number, vin number of car and a time when they cam bring the car in for a free spot check.

When you call them back give them your estimate and schedule time to take a look.

I may even call them back thanking them for the chance to service them and their referrals. Many of my referrals were from people that have not come in. .

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The Audi person you wrote about is probably driving a car way over his/her wallets ability to pay.I see this alot with 3rd and 4th owners of upscale cars.You were probably their 7th call and the first 6 woulndn't work on an Audi .

 

Personally I always give estimates over the phone.I question them on why they think they need this repair or service. I find alot of them are at a repair facility and they don't believe what they are being told. I had a person call us recently , they were at another repair facility and were being told that their alternator should be replaced for a cost of $700.00. The car was a 2003 toyota, the reason for replacing was the alternator was dirty. This was a 20 something year old female at the toyota dealership she normally went to and had gone to previously for other repairs. I gave her a price for an alternator and then told her to go anywhere else but there. She did come to us and she had a laundry list of recomendations, one of which was to replace an alternator because it was dirty.

 

My point in all this "these people" as you put it are looking for information because their car broke down and they have no idea the cost or the time involved and worst case scenarios are running through their heads, price is the only thing most know to ask but believe me they are listening to the tone and empathy or lack there of in your voice.

 

I'm not the cheapest or the most expensve in my market,but I get alot of these " price shoppers" because most shops wont give them the time of day. Some have even checked your shop out on yelp or google and just want to make sure they have enough money for the repair so they don't waste their time or yours.

 

We are in the service/relationship/repair buisness. None of that happens until "those people" make the decision to bring their vehicle in and start that relationship. You can spend hundreds on val-pac ads or money mailers giving away free stuff that costs you actual money or spend a little time and empathy and convince them they called the right place and have found someone who cares enough to listen to their problem and is willing to help .

 

If this sounds preachy or as a knock on you I apologize, it's not how it was meant,just offering a different perspective and the way I handle things here that works for me.

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Phone shoppers can be a time-suck, but I have to say that we sell a TON of work over the phone. We have the usual caveats about pricing not being 100% accurate without having seen the vehicle, etc, and it usually works out well for everyone involved. Some time and patience invested in a potential customer who probably doesn't know or understand much about the technical aspects of their car can really pay dividends to the honest salesperson. Some of these people are looking for a relationship, not a quick fix.

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The Audi person you wrote about is probably driving a car way over his/her wallets ability to pay.I see this alot with 3rd and 4th owners of upscale cars.You were probably their 7th call and the first 6 woulndn't work on an Audi .

 

Personally I always give estimates over the phone.I question them on why they think they need this repair or service. I find alot of them are at a repair facility and they don't believe what they are being told. I had a person call us recently , they were at another repair facility and were being told that their alternator should be replaced for a cost of $700.00. The car was a 2003 toyota, the reason for replacing was the alternator was dirty. This was a 20 something year old female at the toyota dealership she normally went to and had gone to previously for other repairs. I gave her a price for an alternator and then told her to go anywhere else but there. She did come to us and she had a laundry list of recomendations, one of which was to replace an alternator because it was dirty.

 

My point in all this "these people" as you put it are looking for information because their car broke down and they have no idea the cost or the time involved and worst case scenarios are running through their heads, price is the only thing most know to ask but believe me they are listening to the tone and empathy or lack there of in your voice.

 

I'm not the cheapest or the most expensve in my market,but I get alot of these " price shoppers" because most shops wont give them the time of day. Some have even checked your shop out on yelp or google and just want to make sure they have enough money for the repair so they don't waste their time or yours.

 

We are in the service/relationship/repair buisness. None of that happens until "those people" make the decision to bring their vehicle in and start that relationship. You can spend hundreds on val-pac ads or money mailers giving away free stuff that costs you actual money or spend a little time and empathy and convince them they called the right place and have found someone who cares enough to listen to their problem and is willing to help .

 

If this sounds preachy or as a knock on you I apologize, it's not how it was meant,just offering a different perspective and the way I handle things here that works for me.

 

I appreciate the reply. I normally have no problem speaking to potential customers on the phone about their car related issues. I normally go through the "may I ask, where or who diagnosed the issue for you?" and so on. The ones that insists on a price and question your method of doing business even before they have met us or any monetary transaction are the ones that irk me. I don't get them too often however I do get them. These are the price shoppers from hell, nothing you tell them will make them differentiate your service from the next guy.

 

Also putting a number next to our service does absolutely nothing to help our cause. We are significantly more expensive than most of the shops around us (not including the dealer of course). Most of the shops in our area are far from being a modern professional service center so without the customer understanding our process we will never be able to sell our services. My original post was geared to the bottom dollar customers that want nothing more than to pay the lowest price and DO NOT want to understand that service and workmanship between 2 shops is completely different.

 

 

Phone shoppers can be a time-suck, but I have to say that we sell a TON of work over the phone. We have the usual caveats about pricing not being 100% accurate without having seen the vehicle, etc, and it usually works out well for everyone involved. Some time and patience invested in a potential customer who probably doesn't know or understand much about the technical aspects of their car can really pay dividends to the honest salesperson. Some of these people are looking for a relationship, not a quick fix.

 

I do generally try to strike up a conversation with most people over the phone however yes it is extremely time consuming and frustrating with the bad ones. After I collect their name/number/year/make/model I will be developing a phone script to explain our process and get the appointment. If after all that stuff (which should take less than 5 minutes) and they still insist on advance pricing that'll be the end of it.

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