Written by Jason Unrau on 09/30/2016
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Like most of you that read this blog, I’ve spend years and years in the automotive industry. I’ve become immune to the sales techniques and upsells, just like most of you have. When I get my vehicle serviced or repaired, I am able to objectively make decisions about each item’s urgency.
But when it comes to our customers, we don’t usually think they’re on the same level as us. We think they should blindly trust what we tell them, because we are the experts after all. We’re surprised when they’re skeptical of the repairs we try to sell them. They decline repairs that are obviously safety related.
It’s our fault.
You see, we don’t give our customers enough credit. They’re intelligent about their cars and you can only expect their blind trust once you’ve built a relationship. To do so, you need to speak with them on your level as an expert and reach out in a way that is most convenient to them, your paying client. It’s a surefire way of delighting your customers.
Would you approve repairs without knowing the full story?
If your car is in for its $50 oil change and you’re approached about a $500 oil leak the technician just noticed, would you blindly approve the work? Probably not. You’d want to see it, wouldn’t you? Your customers are the same way. They aren’t inclined to place their trust in your dealership’s service department, especially not until you’ve given them a reason to do so.
Build that trust with your customers by providing proof of the required repairs and maintenance. Take photos or video of the problem areas, then send them off to your customer. When they can visualize the issue on their car, it’s undeniable. It’s trustworthy. And that’s when the wallet will open more freely.
Your DMS system may have something like this already built into it. Or maybe it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, find a way to make it happen. AutoVitals Inc. has a solution known as SmartFlow that is revolutionizing the service department from front to back, and it includes a slick way for technicians to take pictures and video of any issues, including a walkaround inspection. I can’t see how it WON’T improve your ability to close on sales.
Contact customers on their terms
Did you know that your customers aren’t inclined to answer a phone call? You knew that, yet you still expect them to answer when you call them throughout the day. 98 percent of text messages are opened within the first minute of receiving them, and most people respond to those messages right away. Businesspeople and those how can’t answer their cell phones at work can usually respond to a text message, making it a more reliable method of contact than the telephone.
Email is on a slight decline in popularity, although it’s still more effective than waiting for someone to call you back from a voicemail message. The additional benefit to both text message and email messages it the ability to send attachments. Have a photo or video you want your customer to see? Include it in your message! Have a quick repair quote they can authorize by text? It could save you several valuable minutes over a lengthy phone call, trying to explain what needs repair and why.
However, if you can’t implement text messaging or email communication as effective methods of customer contact, the phone is better than nothing! Be consistent, contacting customers regularly throughout the day so there’s no worry about how their vehicle is doing.
As a rule of thumb, be the one to reach out to your customer before they can contact you. If they have contacted you first, you can bet that they’ve already been stewing about the lack of contact for a while. It’s the kind of customer that is more likely to give you a bad survey response or decline repairs on the basis of principle.
When you’re timely in your communication and are able to back up your upsells and repair estimates with photo or video proof, rest assured, your customers will be exponentially more satisfied. There will be less complaints to management, higher conversion rates on estimates, and the bottom line is guaranteed to increase.