By: Tim Clay
While there are many different types of service repairs – warranty, recall, etc. –undoubtedly the king of them all, when it comes to profit, is customer pay repair orders.
Of course, getting a customer to pay for that oil change they came in for isn’t difficult at all. However, when that same customer is presented with unexpected service recommendations found during the multi-point inspection, the degree of acceptance all of a sudden declines with the increase in repair order costs.
Many service advisors are very knowledgeable about their trade. However, they still encounter resistance from customers. They tend to be one of, if not the busiest employees in the dealership. Wearing that sales hat to upsell any needed service recommendations can be tough, purely due to the pressures of time.
Here are five suggestions that can help get results and ease some of the pressure in the art of upselling. Yes, this might add a little time into the process for a very time-starved service advisor. But, once you get the hang of it, it will not be that much time. In fact, these processes tend to lead to a FASTER process as there should be fewer customer upsets due to any misunderstanding, happier customers and faster approval of recommendations.
- Be Transparent – Many service advisors fail to get work accepted purely because the customer doesn’t understand the recommendations. What does 2/32 on a brake pad mean to the customer? Or what the heck is a ball joint or timing belt? It can sometimes seem to the customer that the advisor is speaking a foreign language. Visual presentations tend to work much better. Consider showing the customer what is wrong, either in person or via photo or video. It’s much easier for a customer to comprehend the need for new brake pads when you can say “Mrs. Smith, here is your brake pad and here is a new brake pad. See the difference?”
- Give Detailed Explanations – Showing the customer what’s wrong is only part of the process. After showing the customer the brake pad, explain how the pads embrace each side of the disc and, when the customer pushes on the brake pedal, the two pads apply force to the disc which slows the vehicle down.
- Create Urgency – Continue by explaining why it is urgent to get the repair done. As those pads get worn the brakes get less effective and, if not replaced, can cause even more damage. Left as is, they will wear down completely and impact the disc, which would then also need replacement. This helps the customer recognize what the advisor recommends is a safety issue and that failure to repair the item could lead to more costly repairs in the future.
- Offer Pricing and Payment Options – The second major reason service recommendations get declined is a lack of available resources to pay. Whether the customer comes right out and says they cannot afford it or not, most people turn down work because they either can’t afford it at all or can’t afford it RIGHT NOW. By offering your customers every payment method possible, you increase the likelihood the customer will accept more work on the spot, rather than walking out the door shopping your prices, or procrastinating until their next visit.
- Follow up – Last, but certainly not least, follow up with all of your service customers after the visit, regardless of whether the service recommendations were completed or not. Why? The follow-up provides two opportunities: First, if the customer did accept the work and the repair were completed, you have the opportunity to check in with them on the status of their vehicle and thank them for their business. This continues the trust and rapport-building process and contributes to customer experience and loyalty. Second, if the customer declined the service, it gives you a second opportunity to check on the status of the customer’s vehicle and invite them back in for the declined service. This call will reinforce the need for and urgency of the repair, which could easily sway the customer and build trust.
Give these a try and see if your customer pay revenue increases while building trust and rapport with customers — ultimately leading to a better customer experience and well-earned loyalty.
Bio: Tim Clay has more than twenty years experience in the automotive retail space and is a graduate of NADA Dealer Candidate Academy. Previously, he was COO and Co-Founder of ClickMotive, an automotive technology company. He has instrumented one successful automotive startup exit and one successful medical company exit.