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Price Shoppers and Under Cutters


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So how is everyone handling price shoppers.... Customer calls and wants a price on a "tune up". How are you handling that lead? I for one know I am one of the more expensive guys in town and I am kind of surrounded by just old filthy under cutter type of shops. The type of places that will buy a starter for 150 bucks and charge the customer 200. Seems like all price shopping situations I am going to lose on.

 

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I've stopped doing phone quotes and started asking for the appointment to see the vehicle. It either gets them in or saves wasted time writing an estimate for work you will never do. Either way you win.

 

do you just flat out tell them " i dont give estimates over the phone""

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What works for me... I answer the phone very friendly, energetic, upbeat and professional. I let them feel my positive energy through the phone. I quickly work to build rapport. After I build rapport and listen attentively, I then work to establish control of the conversation. (You will find Not all Phone shoppers are looking for the cheapest price . Some are trying to establish a price for their budget.) I then ask them how they came to the conclusion that they needed this repair. I then pre-qualify the phone shopper and ask what type of a price are they looking for? How long do they plan on keeping the vehicle. This is my information gathering technique. Based on the answer I formulate my response. If they say they are looking for the cheapest price, I then counter by saying "based on your answer You must not be concerned about Safety, quality or dependability. This usually flips the table over. I then let them know that we are not the cheapest in town nor the most expensive either. I let them know that we would like to take a look at the vehicle as so we can give them several price options. I let the price shopper know that we hire the best technicians available. We have a drug free workplace, we offer nationwide warranties. Same day service most repairs. How long we have been in business etc. All though this response is long. This all happens very quickly on the phone, based on the customers responses. 8 out of 10 times our professionalism and genuine care is felt through the phone in wanting to help them. This gets us the appointment to bring their car in. As a final note if forced in to a phone quote I give a range in price from low to high. We are often told they brought their car in to us because we were so nice on the phone !!! Not short and frustrated and making their call seem like an annoyance or interruption. This is how we win over people that call other shops before us. Remember people do business with people they like and can form a connection and mutual understanding !!! Respectfully Submitted, John. Hope this helps out fellow Shops !

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What works for me... I answer the phone very friendly, energetic, upbeat and professional. I let them feel my positive energy through the phone. I quickly work to build rapport. After I build rapport and listen attentively, I then work to establish control of the conversation. (You will find Not all Phone shoppers are looking for the cheapest price . Some are trying to establish a price for their budget.) I then ask them how they came to the conclusion that they needed this repair. I then pre-qualify the phone shopper and ask what type of a price are they looking for? How long do they plan on keeping the vehicle. This is my information gathering technique. Based on the answer I formulate my response. If they say they are looking for the cheapest price, I then counter by saying "based on your answer You must not be concerned about Safety, quality or dependability. This usually flips the table over. I then let them know that we are not the cheapest in town nor the most expensive either. I let them know that we would like to take a look at the vehicle as so we can give them several price options. I let the price shopper know that we hire the best technicians available. We have a drug free workplace, we offer nationwide warranties. Same day service most repairs. How long we have been in business etc. All though this response is long. This all happens very quickly on the phone, based on the customers responses. 8 out of 10 times our professionalism and genuine care is felt through the phone in wanting to help them. This gets us the appointment to bring their car in. As a final note if forced in to a phone quote I give a range in price from low to high. We are often told they brought their car in to us because we were so nice on the phone !!! Not short and frustrated and making their call seem like an annoyance or interruption. This is how we win over people that call other shops before us. Remember people do business with people they like and can form a connection and mutual understanding !!! Respectfully Submitted, John. Hope this helps out fellow Shops !

John- That was my style for 26 years until I had a stroke from doing 3 peoples jobs.
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For the most part, stopped giving over the phone estimates. If it's for maintenance type work ex. tune up, I'll just tell them it starts at $xxx depending on vehicle. If it seems like it's a high probability they will bring car in - I will price out for their vehicle and call them back with $ and get on schedule.

For the "how much to replace a thermostat" - type calls - I flat out refuse to give them a price. Need to see car - bring it in and we'll give an estimate. Most times I ask why they think they need the "thermostat" and their answer usually confirms for me that it isnt the repair that they need even though their father-brother-cousin-neighbor said it was what they needed.

I just got real tired of wasting my time pricing out jobs for people who wanted a price on an incorrect repair.

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For tune-ups, I ask if they have had their spark plugs done, if the diff fluid has been replaced, what about a fuel induction service? Oh, and your cabin filter? Oh and one more thing, what about brake fluid? And do you know if you have ever had your coolant or trans fluid replace?

 

By this point, they usually get the point that we can't really give a price for a tune up over the phone. We NEED/HAVE to see the car to give an accurate price. If they persist, we price an oil change and tire rotation with a complete vehicle inspection.

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I believe people call for a price because they do not know what else to ask. They want resolution to their problem. Its expensive to get the phone to ring, so EVERY call counts. Start be talking about their problem, and use open ended questions, which will cause them to tell you what is really going on. " why do you think you my need a tune up?". The answer to that will give you the ability to get them into your shop. They may say "well, my fuel economy has dropped, and my uncle said I need a tune up". You may answer that they might not need a tune up, it could be something simpler. If you show you want to help, and add some new information into the conversation, then you are controlling the conversation and the situation. Demonstrate you want to help, invite them down to your shop with some urgency, " i had an appointment cancell, so we have an opening at 2pm, or 2:30, which is better for you? Then give them directions and make a new fan. They just want to solve their problem, and price is probably all they know to ask. It a pretty easy to beat price hack type shops, price is the easiest, laziest thing to sell.

Edited by Shopcat
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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

         13 comments
      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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