Selling Inspections to Customers
While an inspection is just one step of the repair process that occurs in every shop, a lot can get lost in translation when selling the importance of inspections to customers. Evan Frank says it is crucial to improve quality before the final sale reaches the customer. If this isn’t done well, mistakes can occur. But, it’s how you handle the mistake that can make the difference between one more angry phone call and a satisfied customer.
After working as a service advisor at Dubwerx in Cincinnati for four and a half years, Frank has developed a system to build trust between the service advisor and the customer—a common concern for customers when quality falls through. Dubwerx has increased its ARO to $600 and closing ratio to 40 percent by emphasizing quality of inspections during the conversation with the customer.
While some shops, including Dubwerx, which is owned by industry consultant and past Ratchet+Wrench feature subject Ryan Clo, have or are in the process of transitioning to digital inspections, customer service is still of utmost importance, regardless of the method. Frank outlines the five steps to success in tailoring the repairs to the customer’s needs through conversation and use of visual aids.
1. Before you start, make sure technicians understand the importance of inspections.
It’s important to have the technician understand why they are inspecting the vehicle. Depending on their pay rate, the more work they do during the repair job, the more money they can make. Technicians might not realize a drop in the amount of money made on an inspection could result in less money for them.
The inspection may get “pencil whipped” in which the technician is filling out the correct form but not with the correct information. A slew of issues could arise from that, including work going missing on a car and then the customer needing to come back to the shop. The service advisor should be responsible for double checking inspection forms.
2. Use language the customer understands.
First, we present information about the customer’s initial concerns. If you don’t address customer concerns, it puts them in the wrong place to hear about any other needed repairs. We try to stress the inspection was thorough, but don’t go into technical details unless asked. Don’t tell the customer about each individual item that was repaired—just get to the overall, good outcome.
Around once per week, we get a car in the shop with the customer saying they took it to another place and their concerns were never addressed. By acknowledging the issues brought forth, but also explaining why tackling larger repairs at this time could save money and time, the service advisor establishes trust with the customer.
3. Prioritize repairs to save time and money.
Despite the technician’s tendency to fix what they deem more important, the repairs should start with the customer’s concerns. Whether or not the customer’s concerned about a wheel falling off or a headlight being out, that’s the first thing we discuss after the inspection. Then we discuss anything safety related and move on to future money-saving preventative repairs.
Initially, we include a brief walk around the car with the customer to address their concerns before we get into the rest of the inspection and repairs. What’s important about this step is tailoring the repairs on the car to what the customer wants out of their car. Is this just a car they want one more year out of? Or are they trying to get five more years out of it?
4. Determine the way the customer wants to communicate.
Depending on the job, we communicate differently with each customer. Make it a point to find out how the customer wants to stay in touch. A lot of people, I communicate well with over email and others I make a phone call. We call them up, talk over their concerns and then go on with the overall inspection. Typically, we minimize the number of phone calls to eliminate any technical jargon about which the customer doesn’t care.
Some people drop it off and say, “Get to it when you can and call me when it’s ready.” But others drop off the car and need it back as soon as possible.
5. Use tools to show and not just tell.
A majority of the interaction with the customer and service advisor can take place outside of the shop through phone calls, emails and photos. I’ve always found it really helpful if you can show the customer what is wrong with their car by taking them back to the shop.
Other tools are photos. Digital inspections offer photos that can be sent to the customer to show what repairs need to be done. Even if only one or two photos sway the customer, it makes a difference.