Some service sales people make selling diagnosis more difficult than it really needs to be.
The following tips may help them sell diagnosis more easily and successfully.
First, recognize the value of diagnosis. It follows the law of supply and demand: The more difficult it is to find the product or service, the greater its value.
Typically, the greater the value a product or service provides, the greater its cost is. It's extremely rare for valuable goods and services to be free — and that includes automotive diagnosis.
Some people I encounter would like the world to believe that stellar diagnostic skills are commonplace. Therefore, they argue, diagnosis should be free or dirt cheap.
Since I've been reporting on the auto repair industry since 1976, I've noticed that many folks in the general public don't hold the trade's troubleshooting skills in high regard.
Over the years, I've seen the industry bashed — and bashed hard — concerning misdiagnosis and apparent incompetence. Forgive me, then, if I don't agree with the assertion that competent diagnostic skills can be found in any service bay, on any street corner or back alley.
Competent diagnosis leads to a vehicle that's fixed right the first time. Focusing your personnel on fixing it right the first time is a common and ongoing theme at automotive business management classes. Ever wonder why that's so?
Experience shows there are two paths to fixing the car right the first time. One is pure luck; the other is diagnostic skill.
Luck or skill — choose your weapon.
Suppose you own or manage a successful auto service shop or tire dealership and suppose your team is fixing vehicles correctly the first time. If so, then don't apologize to motorists for the cost of doing so. As I explained a moment ago, quality and value have a cost — these traits command a price.
Some savvy bosses prefer to sell diagnosis from graduated scales they've created. This approach is a more refined, more focused version of menu pricing for common automotive repair jobs.
The higher on the scale or ladder the job seems to fit, the higher the price of the diagnosis.
Some service sales professionals prefer menu pricing because they believe it's faster, simpler and more authoritative than other sales approaches. Likewise, consulting a scale of diagnostic charges and choosing one may clinch more sales for your business. The approach may simplify the task of selling diagnosis so much that your sales personnel won't dread the task anymore.
But by all means, do your homework beforehand. For instance, review your records to see what kind of diagnostic fees you have charged in the past. Review the amounts of test time your technicians have been spending on various tasks. Note the range of symptoms and trouble codes involved in these jobs.
Next, look for opportunities to average out the diagnostic times — make reasonable generalizations. For example, validating the cause of a large group of common trouble codes may average less than 60 minutes. On the other hand, perhaps some complaints on which the vehicle's computers set no trouble codes are consistently consuming 90 to 120 minutes of test time.
These kinds of trends help you create — and then later, update — your charts of diagnostic fees.
Much of your diagnostic success hinges on access to various test points as well as the availability of accurate test information. Be sure to factor these elements into your assignments of a 60-, 90-, 120-minute, etc., test fees.
So, consider using these trends compiled from your service department as guidelines for typical diagnostic fees, arranged on an ascending chart.
Yes, it may be a challenging task to massage and manage these numbers into simpler but meaningful categories. Eventually, however, this effort to bring some order to the chaos may be just the simplification your service sales team needed.
Meantime, let me know about the ways you and your team prefer to sell test time.
Dan Marinucci is a free-lance automotive service writer and former editor of two automotive service magazines who writes a regular auto service column for Tire Business. He can be reached via email at [email protected]. His previous columns are available at www.tirebusiness.com.