Service advisors are an important part of our automotive businesses, especially when it comes to addressing the needs and concerns of each customer. But what is the customer's main concern? While their needs and vehicles may differ, in all my years of being involved in the automotive industry, I've found that most customers have a similar primary concern. They want to know what it's going to cost to repair their vehicle.
This concern is more than fair. People want to understand where all their hard earned money is going and why the repairs are necessary. So how do we (service advisors, owners, front counter workers, etc.) navigate this? I believe the most important tool for advisors is to instill VALUE into each and every repair. Specifically, what do you and your shop offer that sets you apart from the others and how will this help the customer see past the dollar sign?
First and foremost, let’s look at warranty. Do you have one and, if so, how are you sharing this information and its value to the customer?
The warranty you provide shows your customer the care and belief you have in the products you use and in the technicians you have installing them. Most of the major suppliers in the market today have a warranty program that your shop can sign up for - utilize this. Though these may come with some kickbacks, it also takes the burden off the shop for paying for the entire cost of the warranty. If your shop does not have a good warranty program in place, I would recommend looking into this. It will separate you from the other independent repair shops as well as put you ahead of the dealerships.
Another amazing way to instill value into a repair from the moment any vehicle enters your shop is a Digital Vehicle Inspection (DVI).
There are many options available and they are proven to help increase your average repair order, remove any of the guesswork, as well as decrease any doubt the customer may have on whether they need the repairs done. DVIs allow the technician to take pictures and videos of the recommended repairs and, in turn, allow the customer to see just what is being recommended and why. Customers may not know what an air filter is, let alone what an axle seal leak is; having the ability to show pictures of their vehicle, along with pictures of the leak or the dirty filter, allows you to not only educate the customer on what repair is needed but why the repair is crucial to the vehicle's operation. This allows you and the customer to become a team in the care of their vehicle and decreases any questions or concerns that they may have had.
Google is a tool that can quickly become friend or foe.
Positive reviews will support the value of your business while negative reviews can drive a customer away before you’ve even had a chance to reach them. Follow up calls or text programs allow you to take control of the situation early on if there are any issues needing to be addressed. When a customer has had an amazing experience, getting them to voice that on Google will garner trust from new customers before they even choose to call you and book an appointment.
New customers are hesitant to try new shops, but they have entered your shop for a reason. Whether that reason is your Google reviews or word of mouth, letting them know why choosing you and your shop early on in the intake process will give them a sense of ease and will make the sale easier when that time comes. Informing the customer of the DVI that is provided with each service, the top quality parts that are used, the training that your technicians are routinely doing, and the warranty that is provided with each and every repair creates trust. The key to each sale is removing doubt, which you do by valuing your customer in every interaction you have with them.
The final item that will instill value to the customer is a clean vehicle.
Whether that vehicle has come in for a simple oil service or a complete engine overhaul, a clean vehicle will always make a customer happy. Does your shop offer courtesy washes or even a quick interior detail? If not, customers will appreciate these additional services and this will help to gain their continued business. You’ll notice that 99% of dealerships offer this service, so you need to match what they offer. While most independent repair shops don't have the space for a complete detail bay, simply washing floor mats and vacuuming the dirt, rocks, and french fries out of a customer’s vehicle goes a long way in the perception of value to the customer.
If you don't believe you are the best at what you do, the customer won’t either.
Adding all the tools we’ve discussed to your tool belt will allow you to inform and educate your customers of the recommended repairs and it will ease their concerns as to whether or not the repairs are needed. The more value you instill in your shop and your repairs each and every time a customer visits your shop, the smoother the sales process will go.
Remember, you are in this industry to keep people safe on the roads but you also need to make sure your shop is successful. Show your customers the value that your shop offers, make them feel informed and like a part of the repair team, and you'll find those repair cost conversations become some of the easiest of your customer interactions.
If you have questions about this article or aren’t sure where to start, we can help! Email our team (firstname.lastname@example.org) or schedule a complimentary business assessment here. We’ll take a diagnostic approach of looking at where your shop currently is and what may be standing in your way. Then, we’ll help you create a plan to get your business where you want it to be. Because at The Institute, we believe a better business creates a better life and, ultimately, a better industry.