“Ok Doc, here’s the scoop. The vehicle requires rear shocks now. The driver’s side is leaking and they didn’t pass the bounce test. In addition …”
“Ed, stop right there, whatever it needs, just do it.”
“Doc, I found several important issues and the bill will be close to $900.”
“No problem Ed, I know you will treat me right.”
This is a typical conversation I had with my customers every day at my shop. I made sure I earned this respect beginning with the first meeting. How easy and quickly that job got purchased – no fuss no muss. Wouldn’t life be less stressful and far more profitable for you and your staff if most of your service customers responded this way? Is it reasonable to expect these kinds of daily transactions? Wouldn’t the customers and parts win too? Would the next vehicle likely be purchased at your place due this bonded relationship?
“Trust originates with the effective dissemination of applied product knowledge.”
During my fixed ops consulting / training visits I often talk to assistant service managers about developing their individual “Book Of Business”, essentially taking complete ownership of a portion of their available customer base. My definition of ownership relates to firm customer loyalty, where no other service entity or individual is even considered now or later. When anything automotive related arises, the first, second, and if necessary third call is made to that one trusted ASM only.
Recently, I was visiting a new client and monitoring the conversations between the three ASMs and their patrons. Yes, the staff stuck to the facts but gave little depth explanations, took “no” as the only answer immediately, and during their marginal “Active Delivery” process, no mention whatsoever of a future relationship was executed. The entire reception / delivery transaction contained the information and passion of ordering a burger at McDonalds without the cha-ching.
We then had a lively work session that evening which exposed, that in fact, this experienced ASM staff had more than adequate product knowledge, which they were not expending. Nor were they demonstrating any passion whatsoever towards developing a continuing relationship. Look, I explained, if you don’t get around to saying “I love you”, there ain’t gonna be a marriage so to speak.
The next morning, three altered and motivated ASMs made their appearances and the love and information fest began. When a quick “no” was the immediate response to a purchase request they simply said, “Before you finalize that decision, let me provide you with more information about this requirement.” Dang Bosco, it worked!
And at delivery, the next visit was established so that everyone knew their future services were pre-planned and expected – no attitude-consuming surprises. Of course, a phone call of thanks the next day or two didn’t hurt, and when the next servicing interval approaches, a call to firm up the appointment is part of the “proactive” approach to this ownership package. No rocket science here, but primarily common sense, which doesn’t seem too common regarding servicing relationships.
I emphasize the many benefits of customer ownership such as developing a trust which eliminates having to “sell” folks to create the purchase. When you are trusted, they purchase what you ask them to, plain and simple. And the critical part, with no buyer’s remorse. Have you ever wondered how many past regulars quit utilizing your operation after suffering buyer’s remorse over a purchase? I speculate the number would scare the pants off of you.
While conducting focus groups for a major manufacturer some years ago, I was amazed at the amount of participants who changed service providers after paying for, but not understanding or trusting a service bill – traditional buyer’s remorse – no complaint bro, just moving on. The critical trust factor was never established, even after multiple visits!
Trust originates with the effective dissemination of applied product knowledge. Capturing and sharing intimate product information from what, why, the consequences of no, and the benefits of purchasing a particular service, to pricing, time expectations, and even explanations of how controls and adjustments work (e.g. phone paring), all designate you as the trustworthy expert who can be depended on for the absolute facts. Most sane vehicle owners are seeking a helpful and honest guru, and most end up an independent shop because no one else demonstrated they were particularly interested in them or knowledgeable concerning their vehicle.
It’s so pathetic at too many dealerships; indifferent ASMs don’t even go to a vehicle to examine a customer’s concerns, and to sometimes fix the customer! No caring, no demonstration of any knowledge whatsoever, just an overpaid menial typist clicking away – “NEXT.”
The “Bottom Line”
In case you haven’t taken time to calculate it, one lousy tenth added to your customer RO count creates an amazing amount of additional labor and parts gross profit over a month. So, to motivate yourself to get your love-fest started, send a note to Ed@Dealer-Communications.com and I will send you an easy-to-use (dummy-proof) Excel spreadsheet, which will likely get your juices flowing after a little data entry. Put on the subject line: “Ed, Help Me Get My Love Fest Started” and before you know it, your starter kit will be in your already crammed email box. On the other hand, you can ask for the spreadsheet for the hell of it just to impress your GM. Either way you can’t lose Bosco.
Author: Ed Kovalchick
Ed Kovalchick is the CEO and founder of Net Profit Inc., Alabaster, AL, an international fixed operation consulting and training firm located in Alabaster AL. Mr. Kovalchick and his firm have assisted hundreds of dealers and manufacturers, and conducted workshops throughout the world for thousands of students since 1979. He has written columns for Dealer Magazine since its inception.