Undoubtedly, technicians' opinions on many topics are vital to the success of businesses that perform automotive maintenance and repairs. However, voicing these opinions in front of customers and prospects may be counterproductive—perhaps even harmful to the business' reputation. Let me emphasize the premise that all employees in a service-related business must be discrete and respectful whenever they're within earshot of customers or sales prospects. What's more, owners and managers should coach employees to pause and think twice before opening their mouths to customers or prospects. The discipline of thinking twice beforehand may prevent workers from blurting out things that may embarrass themselves, the company and/or customers or prospects. The last thing you want is loose lips scaring off a service or tire sales prospect before you're able to close the sale. Experience suggests that the sales staff usually has pretty darn good people skills already. Otherwise, they wouldn't be selling for a living. On the other hand, technicians tend to have few people skills—possibly none at all. Most techs have no training whatsoever in dealing with people or potential “people” issues. The perception is that service sales personnel—not techs—work face-to-face with customers. Unfortunately, many owners and managers treat techs like trolls who inhabit the nether world of the service department. Therefore, there's usually no perceived need to improve or encourage people skills among technicians. What's more, many bosses recognize that terrific techs often are more comfortable working with machinery than with people, period. They don't dazzle or glad-hand—they turn wrenches and fix cars. Some service facilities discourage techs from entering the front end of the business. In fact, some owners and managers nearly ban techs from coming to the service desk or counter. But in other businesses, techs can and do wander in and out of the front areas or sales areas of the facility. The fact is that a thoughtful, articulate technician can be the best sales person in the building. A tech who can explain and validate car problems—one who communicates well with consumers—is a priceless asset to any service facility. So there's no hard, fast rule that the boss has to keep techs away from the service counter and away from customers. It's great when techs smile at customers and offer a good morning or similar greeting. That's common courtesy and solid customer relations. Unfortunately, some techs feel the need to comment on cars, conditions and costs without being asked to do so. There's the potential rub, readers. I've watched service sales personnel trying to close a sale on some sort of repair job when a tech wanders by, overhears the conversation and makes an unsolicited comment about the cost of parts and labor. (“Oh boy, that's expensive!”) Or the tech may comment on the perceived complexity of the repair. (“Wow, those are a real hassle to replace.”) Frankly, a tech shouldn't complain about any task as long as he or she is getting paid adequately to do a proper repair. The tech may not know it, but the prospect on the other side of the service counter likely values his or her vehicle and would rather invest in a known vehicle instead of gambling on another one. So the motorist may believe that a $2,000 quote isn't “expensive” but is a justifiable investment in a good car. An inappropriate comment here could cast needless doubt on the validity or practicality of a routine repair. What's more, a supposedly innocent remark about the job or the vehicle could insult the prospect's judgment, taste or values. Insults rarely help close sales. All service personnel—especially technicians—should faithfully engage the brain before operating the mouth. When in doubt, keep comments about cars, costs and conditions to oneself.
Hey techs—keep your opinions to yourself
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