Prospecting for maintenance and repairs should be standard operating procedure at tire dealerships and service shops.
A key element of prospecting is following up faithfully on unsold maintenance and repair estimates. Constantly chasing unsold work is nothing new?I have discussed the subject in previous columns. Nonetheless, I continually meet tire dealers and service shop operators who are struggling through severe, unexpected downturns in service sales.
They complain that service traffic is sparse this week?in spite of the fact, for instance, that the bays were hopping busy the week before.
The operative word here is ?constantly.?
I appreciate that it's difficult to focus on staying busy when bays are already full. Indeed, maintaining the flow of vehicles may be as challenging as getting prospects to your facility in the first place. The reason is that it usually requires constant follow-up. And for many service sales people, follow-up is pure drudgery.
Savvy owners and managers often establish a simple mandate for all service sales personnel. Whenever a salesperson is not performing other duties, he or she should be culling maintenance and repair estimates?job quotes?from the shop's records. (Naturally, computerized management systems have eased this task immensely.)
Then the salesperson uses the telephone, email and/or text messages to convert each unsold work estimate into an appointment.
Some bosses have questioned this method, telling me that it's unproductive. However, imagine if follow-ups on unsold work generate five additional jobs per week. Those are the very jobs that help keep the service department going, not to mention generate ?found? income. Like other selling situations, you don't know the potential until you actually ask for the sale.
Typically, the more successful approach to follow-ups is a low-key, polite reminder that legitimate needs were identified on the vehicle during the car owner's last visit. The required maintenance, for example, has to be done sooner or later?preferably sooner to protect their automotive investment.
What's more, pending failures or marginal problems should be addressed before they deteriorate into actual failures. Of course, the consequence of postponing the work could be a costly, catastrophic breakdown that strands the motorist somewhere at an inopportune time.
The goal is to lock down an appointment for this vehicle owner before one or more undesirable things happen.
The first could be that the vehicle breaks down. The second, which may add insult to injury, is a breakdown that ends up in a competitor's service bay. Even if the failure doesn't occur, you don't want unsold work ultimately landing in someone else's service department.
Solid sales professionals listen for opportunities to display both empathy as well as professionalism. When a service sales prospect hesitates, a pro offers the option of spreading the repairs over several appointments. He or she may even offer a financial incentive in order to confirm those dates.
Mind you, this option isn't always workable, but it may circumvent the familiar objection that the car owner can't handle a single, lump-sum repair bill.
Believe me, I never want to discount or disrespect Tire Business readers' challenges as they try to keep their service bays busy. That said, I'm dismayed when bosses admit they have no plans whatsoever for following up on unsold work.
By all means, let me know about successful techniques you're using to cull unsold maintenance and repair work.