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Keep repeating: evaluate, communicate

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Successful service sales persons faithfully follow a format of evaluate and communicate.

Doing so helps them sell more maintenance and repairs more often—all of it legitimate.

Recently, Tire Business reader Zac Shuford reminded me of the “evaluate and communicate” regime by urging other readers to embrace nearly the same approach. Mr. Shuford is a technician at Curry Tire and Automotive Repair in Greensboro, N.C. His premise was that quality repair work is only one aspect of reducing comebacks.

The other element, he said, was the clarity and completeness with which service sales professionals explained to customers what was done to their vehicles. Customers should know what to expect from maintenance and/or repairs.

For example, your technicians may work diligently to solve something in one area of the car—perhaps a condition that illuminated the dreaded Check Engine light. However, another, less-obvious problem could be lurking elsewhere in the vehicle, Mr. Shuford explained.

The hard work exerted in one area of the vehicle won't solve or even diminish the trouble in the other part of the car, but we cannot and should not assume the customer understands this.

Kudos to Mr. Shuford. I believe that some service personnel—both at the service desk as well as out in the bays—may have become so jaded by years of automotive experience that they assume customers will automatically have accurate and reasonable expectations.

Therefore, some techs and service writers may be shocked and annoyed when customers expect more than they really received from a service or repair.

Now let's bring the discussion around to “evaluate and communicate” again. Try boosting legitimate service sales and increasing customer satisfaction, first, with a careful vehicle evaluation. Yes, that means inspecting the vehicle for problems and detailing them on an inspection report of some kind.

When you're checking service-age vehicles in an era of tight money, it's common to find multiple problems.

Doctors always prioritize health issues for their patients. You're a professional, too, so prioritize your findings like a professional. Your skill at prioritizing shows knowledge as well as empathy. What's more, it's better to capture a piece of the repairs at a time than to frighten away the prospect with a big, lump-sum estimate.

Furthermore, owners and managers must recognize that wholesome inspections reveal more legitimate repair opportunities than any cursory check does. However, experience shows that some kind of simplistic vehicle check format is much better than none at all.

The “evaluate and communicate” philosophy requires a top-down commitment to ongoing vehicle inspections.

This is a far cry from the common scenario of each tech checking what he prefers to check.

This philosophy also requires organizing and planning the service department's work flow to accommodate as many vehicle checkouts as realistically possible.

Lastly, all service sales personnel should know how to present to customers the results of vehicle checks directly, concisely and accurately.

Yes, indeed, the motorist probably came in for one or another specific symptom or condition. You aren't trying to ratchet up a bill or “pencil-whip” a repair bill.

Rather, you're concerned for the customer's safety first.

Second, ultimately you're concerned about his or her wallet—trying to prevent breakdowns and/or allowing smaller problems to become bigger ones.

You may discover that this second element—communicating the needs—may be the greater challenge. Many motorists have had their share of seemingly needless work hustled upon them.

In the long run, though, the people who win the auto service war are those who are able to communicate and convince more effectively than the competition does.

What service sales approach works for you? Let me know.

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Previous | Published December 6, 2018

What are you most thankful for?

The success of my business.
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