Fundamentals Of Effective Sales

Prioritize Customer Needs & Address Original Concerns

Listening carefully, and asking open ended questions that help lead the customer to explain as much as they can about their concerns, you will be able to identify what needs to be done on the vehicle and the customer’s priority for the repairs. It is very important for customer satisfaction that you identify what is the most important item(s) the customer wants addressed. If the vehicle is repaired, but any of the items that were a priority for the customer are not fixed, you will not have a happy customer. After the primary concerns are addressed, any other repairs or maintenance can be done. It is important to carefully write down all of the customer’s concerns and requests on the RO, to help the technician do the repairs correctly. In some cases due to time or financial constraints the consultant will be called upon to prioritize the needs of the customers. It is important to keep in mind that safety related items are at the top of the list, followed by items likely to fail or cause other damage and preventive items last. In the real world it may not always go that way but the consultant must make every effort to keep the safety items first.

Explain Related Services & Additional Services

Once you have identified what the customer would like done to their vehicle, it is time to evaluate whether there are any related or additional services you should suggest. Customers will be thankful if you identify additional services that will help keep their vehicle in good shape and prevent future problems. You must be able to explain why these additions are a good idea. For instance, you could offer additional services if the vehicle has a leaky muffler. It stands to reason, if the muffler is falling apart, there may be other problems with the exhaust. An offer to check the rest of the exhaust system may clarification before you discuss the information with your customer. In the end it will save you time and prevent an angry customer due to wrong repairs, and/or work not completed.

Check Parts Availability

It is impossible for parts departments to maintain an inventory of every part of every car or truck. They do keep an inventory of the most commonly used parts, bur the service consultant should check to make sure all of his or her customer’s parts are available. If they are not, the parts department has to know the time line promised to the customer so the parts can be ordered. If this is not done right after the required parts have been identified, it could delay the repair. This will not help to make the customer’s experience positive.

Finalize Sale

Sales are easier to make if you address the customer’s concerns and objections as they come up. If you ignore them there is less chance the customer will learn to trust you and feel you are there to help them. An example is a customer that complains about a squeal coming from the front tire area when braking. The customer is concerned that there is going to be a problem with the brakes. The customer should be reassured that the noise will be addressed and a full report made on what is found. Here is another example; a customer may want an oil change, but doesn’t want a new filter. It is important to take the time to explain why a new filter is a good idea. That is, it is needed to keep the engine as clean as possible, plus, the lack of a new filter could void the warranty and cause engine damage. If you have been informative, and explained each item and charge with a positive attitude, finalizing the sale is usually easy. Some people must be asked to commit to large, expensive purchases. When closing a sale, you may have to ask for it. After you have explained your services and the benefits of each, ask what they want, but never be pushy or insistent. After the conversation, remember to thank them, even if they decide to wait on the repairs. A customer that is treated well will return again and again.

Completion Expectations

In order for a customer to be satisfied with a repair, it is important that they be given a reality based completion time. The only way for a service consultant to properly establish a completion time is to contact and consult with everyone involved in the repair process. The people involved are usually the technician and parts department. The discussion should include the customer’s request of a completion time, the technician’s workload and the availability of the required parts. An evaluation of all of this information should allow the service consultant to come up with appropriate completion expectations for all involved. This completion time should be communicated to all involved, including the customer.

Monitoring Repair Progress

Even though completion times are agreed upon, situations do occur that can affect them. These include emergency repairs of other vehicles, an employee getting sick and leaving, other repairs taking longer than expected, the technician finding additional problems in the vehicle and just plain poorly managed time. To avoid surprises, the service consultant has to maintain communication with all involved in the customer’s repair in order to monitor the progress of the repair and the expected completion time.

Documentation Of All Services & Recommendations

When the repairs are completed on a vehicle, the service consultant must make sure all of the repairs, billing information and parts are listed on the RO. This is the only way for the business to keep track of billing on the vehicle, additional recommended repairs and the vehicle history. In order for the service consultant to be able to complete the repair procedure with the customer, and have the opportunity to sell additional recommended repairs, he or she must be able to show the customer what was done to their vehicle. A properly completed RO provides that information.

This post was written by: Martin Hand


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Martin Hand

About Martin Hand

ASE Certified L1 Advanced Mastertech. Martin Hand has over 15 years experience in Asian and European Import Auto Repair. Specializing in electrical diagnosis, engine performance, AT/MT transmission repair/rebuild. Martin is also pursuing a degree in Computers Science & Information Systems starting at Portland Community College while he plans to transfer to OIT. Certified in Java application level programming, experienced with other languages such as PHP, Ruby, JavaScript and Swift. Martin has future plans of automotive diagnostic software development.

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