Going from Objections to Opportunities

June 21, 2024
Frank Leutz of Desert Car Cart says getting from deferred to 'Yes' may be easier than you think.

Stop thinking of deferred work as failing. It’s an opportunity. 

That’s the way Frank Leutz sees it. The owner of Desert Car Care of Cave Creek in Arizona knows that deferred work is inevitable. Not every person who comes through your shop doors will get all of the recommended work done on their vehicle. That’s unrealistic. Leutz estimates that the average amount of work that was declined throughout his career was roughly 30%. That may not be the same for your shop, depending largely on your customer base, but your number definitely isn’t zero.  

So, how do you handle this? Accept it and move on? Nope. Do what Leutz does—face the challenge head-on and figure out how to get that customer back into your shop.  



Leutz has over three decades of experience operating repair shops and is no stranger to the problems plaguing the industry, including deferred work. His experience has taught him a thing or two, one being that when it comes to a “no” from a customer, it’s not always black and white.  



Around 2003, Leutz realized that his team’s approach to presenting work to be done on a vehicle was too cut and dry. 

“We didn’t have bedside manner,” Leutz says. “It was, ‘Hey, this is the work on your car.’ The intent was there, but the delivery and identifying how to partner up wasn’t there.”  

Leutz examined how his team was approaching work that was being declined and he decided to pivot. 



Figure out how to connect with the customer and get them back in the door.  

“It’s deeper than telling them that they need A,B,C,D done. You need to connect with your audience,” Leutz says.  

When the work is being presented, there are levels. First, there are safety issues, which are at a different level and the easiest work to convey. Then, it's addressing some issues today that can cause bigger problems and more money down the road; and there’s maintenance—this is where a lot of deferred work comes in.  

For any work that is deferred, Leutz’s team is trained to say something along the lines of:  

“We realize today is not going to work. We’ll document it and let’s schedule a courtesy follow-up visit while you wait to reexamine to see how it’s going.”  

It’s a low-pressure approach that allows the customer time to digest and also know that the team is there for them and not out to get their money. Making it a courtesy check makes a huge difference.  

“It gets folks back into the garage,” Leutz says of his revamped approach. “They know that it needs money to be done but we guide them and hold their hand.”  

Getting them to come back is just one step. The other step is figuring out who the customer is and what they use their vehicle for.  



Leutz says offering courtesy follow-ups has given him a much better rate of return and that out of his estimated 30% of deferred work, he can get 75% of those customers back within three to nine months.  



Find a way to get your customer back into the shop, even if it’s for a courtesy check. For those who think he's throwing time and money out the door by doing this, Leutz says it’s definitely not the case.  

Everyone is nervous about taking their vehicles in and nobody is looking forward to spending money, so be prepared for “no.” You may get a lot of initial pushback on recommended work, but Leutz says if you make an effort to understand where they are in their life and the way they use their vehicle, you may have a better chance to earn their business again somewhere down the line. 


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