Cut the Jargon

Sept. 1, 2015
How to turn insider industry lingo into meaningful customer conversations

Customers need to see value in the products that are presented to them. If what’s being presented is technical and talks exclusively about features, they may or may not be able to surmise the value out of that, says Dave Schedin, CEO and founder at CompuTrek Automotive Management Systems. As part of his work coaching shops, Schedin says putting the value of what a technician does into customer language is one of his core trainings.

“Here’s where most shops really miss the boat: They explain the ‘why’ of the repair but not the ‘reason’ for the repair,” he says. “There’s a distinction between those two. The why is, ‘This is why the part failed: It caused this system to do this so it needs to have that part replaced.’ The reason is so that the customer can have long-lasting, dependable transportation.”

Schedin explains how to turn insider industry lingo into meaningful customer conversations.

We deal with real-world value words and reasonings so the customer understands the reason why they’re buying. When a customer understands the why and the reason, they’ll buy way more than they ever do when all they get is the why. Customers don’t want to buy parts and labor with dollars attached to them, but that’s the language of the typical service advisor.

The number-one thing that takes away an advisor from having these meaningful customer conversations is the shop’s appointment system. They overloaded the morning with four or five appointments and they didn’t give time for the advisors to spend time with the customer. That, above all else, is crucial. To cut the jargon, the first thing you need to do is elevate your value words and reasoning. You need to know: What are the best value words and reasonings for this particular repair scenario with this particular customer?

Here’s an example with the PCV valve. Most customers don’t have a clue what it does. You could say, “Did you know if it goes bad on your car it can cost you $1,500 or more? It’s about $50 to $75 to have that periodically changed every 30,000 miles to prevent a $1,500 repair. Would that be worth it to you to do that every three years?’”

Here’s something most advisors say when explaining a PCV valve: “It helps relieve pressure in the crankcase so your gaskets and seals don’t leak.” That’s an elevated reasoning and it’s a pretty good explanation. But in reality, the customer still doesn’t know why. When I say that the PCV valve is the pressure regulator for every seal and gasket and some of those seals and gaskets can cost you $1,500, you can immediately see the importance. That is called price competitiveness. You put the cost of the repair today alongside the larger amount and, all of a sudden, the customer gets the reason for the repair. It also shows the customer that we’re after their best interest of reducing their vehicle ownership costs by doing primary repairs and not letting that go on and on and on.  

Many customers also want low cost and they don’t always understand why repairs are so expensive. A good advisor will lean on his or her experience when talking about this: “We see this day in and day out. When a customer chooses the cheaper repair method, it generally cost them 30–50 percent more in their overall vehicle ownership cost, when a low-cost solution today would help you keep your car dependable.”

Finally, you always want to utilize the DiSC method of characterizing behavioral styles when talking with customers. That customer is telling you everything about them, but only when you listen. Here’s a quick run-down:

• Dominant: They want the bottom line.

• Influencer: He’s the life of the party; it’s all about how he feels. The language to that customer is all about uplifting.

• Supporter: This is the person who is loving, faithful, and, typically, a slower talker. They’re coming in to buy a relationship.

• Certain: They are analytical. Those are the people that may come in and say, “I already researched this online.”

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