Broski: Don't Incentivize, Inspect

Sept. 14, 2022

Inspections are for the benefit of the customer, not the shop, says columnist Victor Broski. Learning to perform them with the customer in mind creates a win-win for all.

I read something by an auto shop coach about increasing the sales of additional work. It revolved around a cash incentive/reward for more alignment sales---$100 to the advisor who sold the most. Hmm, I don’t get it: The car either needs an alignment or it doesn’t. How do you sell more? And you aren’t “selling” it, it either needs it or it doesn’t.   

I presume the cars needed the alignments; the article didn’t say. If not, ugh! So much for building trust. If the car does need the alignment, why weren’t they recommending them before the contest? I see inspections as one of a shop’s top concerns. Heck, I learned that as an apprentice at the first shop I worked at. That’s our job: to take the best care of the customer and their car. That involves checking the car completely. If you neglected to recommend a wheel alignment and they wore out their tires prematurely, you not only didn’t take care of your customer, you cost them money! What happened? Or what didn’t happen? 

There are only two reasons I can think of for not doing a thorough inspection: 1) the tech doesn’t think the advisor will get the approvals, so why should they waste time writing them, or 2) the advisor will take too long to get the approvals and the tech is walking around waiting, or the car is already off his rack. I suppose it could be that the tech and the advisor haven’t been trained properly to take the DVI all the way to the end.  But how is that possible? That’s Auto Repair 101, the reason we exist. 

One solution to getting approvals: write as much as possible into the appointment beforehand so as to get approval ahead of time. That way the tech will have plenty of early approvals to work on while waiting for the additional approvals. 

Examples of preapprovals:  

  • When creating an appointment for brake pads and sensors, add a second line for rotors, if not known ahead of time. That way, if it needs rotors, they have already been preapproved. No time is lost with a phone call or text. 
  • Same for a service: add an air filter and cabin filter, just in case, to avoid the delay of a text or call. 
  • Quote an hour of testing time for a check engine light or other problem.   
  • Quote a recommendation from a previous visit. 
  • The mechanics and customers will love you for the easy approvals. 

Remember, most customers want to know the cost of the original work before they OK additional work, so the tech should do the inspection (DVI) soon so the advisor can put together the quote for the additional work while the tech is diagnosing what the car came in for originally. The advisor should go over the cost of the original issues before going over the additional concerns on the inspection; otherwise if feels as if you are just after money. 

The customers really do what to know what else their car will need now or in the future, even if they don’t approve everything. Nobody likes financial surprises. If they are really adamant about no inspection, they must have been burned at a previous shop---and your demeanor must have reminded them of that previous shop. The inspection is for the benefit of the customer, not the shop. If you demonstrate to the customer that you are checking the car for their benefit, you’ll get plenty of additional work, without selling or being pushy. 

About the Author

Victor Broski

Victor Broski has more than four decades of experience in the automotive repair industry. He worked at five different German car repair shops, learning something from each. As a service advisor with a degree in speech communication, he figured out how to easily get customers to say yes to the additional (DVI) work and be happy about it. Victor learned that great customer service brings great customer reviews, which brings inquiring phone calls that convert to new customers.

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