Service sales personnel should concentrate on selling the business' capabilities and collecting vehicle history rather than trying to diagnose vehicles.
The people who work the front counter and service desk must recognize that their job is sales, sales and more sales. The art of selling involves effective communication and persuasion. Often, the most successful initial transaction is selling a motorist peace of mind and earning his or her trust.
Unfortunately, many service sales people seem to think that the only way to earn trust is to have all the answers ready. Considering the sophistication of the vehicles we're servicing today, it's difficult — if not impossible — to have the answers some of your prospects expect. All too often, the only thing that generates accurate answers is a thorough, professional diagnosis. Typically, service sales personnel aren't capable of providing such a diagnosis.
Today, marketers of all kinds of products promise instant gratification. They want the general public to believe that they can, for instance, lose weight instantly and speak foreign languages fluently in no time flat.
But auto service sales pros should proceed cautiously because diagnosis and repair can be challenging for even the most talented technicians. Challenging means the results may not be instantaneous. Rather, accurate diagnoses require a certain amount of time.
On the one hand, requiring diagnostic time may sound like a cheap hustle to the uninformed and/or skeptical motorist. On the other hand, many of those same skeptics would get the same response from a competent doctor or comparable professional. For example, trustworthy physicians diagnose before they prescribe drugs or recommend surgery — regardless of how fervently the patient believes he or she can do self diagnosis.
Therefore, a belief in the value of an accurate diagnosis is hardly unique to automotive repair.
To be fair, it doesn't really matter if we're discussing auto repair or healthcare. That is, folks hate being misled or misdiagnosed. Worse yet, a doctor's or auto tech's mistake may be the only thing someone remembers about the medical practice or your tire dealership.
Years of experience have taught me two things about this topic. First, one of the most challenging parts of selling auto service has been persuading doubtful prospects that accurate diagnoses save money instead of wasting it. At first glance, a diagnostic charge may seem extravagant, but it's the foundation of a proper, cost-effective repair. In fact, it's not unrealistic today for the diagnosis to cost more than the actual repair procedure.
For example, a competent technician may spend 45 minutes tracing a circuit in order to pinpoint the loose connection that's causing the customer's complaints. But it takes less than a minute to repair that wobbly connection.
The other thing experience suggests is that this mistake is an ongoing issue. Regular readers know that I encounter and interact with technicians frequently — at my tech training classes as well as during shop visits when I do research. Thoughtful and capable techs I meet often discuss situations in which repair jobs were bungled. The root cause of these cases, they tell me, is non-technicians attempting to diagnose vehicles themselves. A service manager or service writer, for instance, draws his or her own conclusions and sells a seemingly appropriate service or repair.
Salespersons who try to usurp a tech's responsibilities do far more than anger customers. Eventually, they also chase away capable, conscientious techs who want to fix a job correctly the first time.