A thoughtful, professional repair estimate helps earn customers' trust and loyalty. This price quote should include a tactful reminder that some vehicles end up needing more work than anyone expected.
Skilled tradespeople recognize there's a big difference between a cautious estimate and a glib-sounding quote.
The cautious estimate telegraphs professional integrity and genuine concern for the customer.
The glib, simplistic quote, on the other hand, is the more comfortable way to close a sale and close it quickly. But that's all it is.
The job at hand may involve carpentry, plumbing or automotive repair, but regardless of the task, a savvy estimator clarifies that a quote does not — cannot — cover unexpected problems that must be addressed.
Communicating this point without intimidating the prospect requires tact, confidence and skill. It's an art unto itself.
On the one hand, you don't want to frighten a prospective customer. On the other hand, the overconfident, glib-sounding estimate may backfire on you and harm your business' reputation.
Namely, your technician finds many more issues under the vehicle than anyone — especially the car owner — ever expected.
Some folks say hope for the best but plan for the worst. Sadly, many service salespeople I meet believe in hoping for the best and nothing else.
They toss out generic price quotes before a tech has looked around and under the vehicle.
Later, the tech identifies additional, legitimate problems. Then the salesperson whines to me that car owners are ignorant of the realities of auto repair.
Yes, some customers can be downright cantankerous. But that said, I always have to ask if a service writer or manager cautiously communicated with the vehicle owner at the beginning of the transaction.
Furthermore, did someone update the car owner in a clear, timely manner when a tech found unexpected problems?
Prompt, accurate updates are vitally important to customer relations because extra repairs equal bad news.
Typically, bad news never becomes palatable when service personnel delay delivering that news. That's basic human nature rather than some automotive-specific emotion.
A moment ago, I said that giving a qualified job quote is an art and a skill.
You may not have the skill of a savvier service salesperson, but you can still "qualify" yourself by putting appropriate notices on job quotes, emails, etc., that you'll contact the car owner promptly if a tech discovers other problems on the vehicle.
Some service managers enhance their credibility by emailing customers digital photos and/or video clips of the extra work they found.
Watch out, because one hand of your business may not know what the other hand's doing.
Careless, lazy and/or poorly trained technicians may not be reporting their findings to service salespeople — let alone reporting them promptly.
Long-term success depends upon clear, constant communication between the bays and the service counter.
Some bosses seem to think ongoing contact between these two groups is a foregone conclusion, but experience suggests otherwise.
When in doubt, emphasize ongoing technician-service sales communication at your next team meeting.
Team members must recognize that informed motorists usually become the most loyal customers. Courtesy first, repairs second.
Finally, recognize that many bright, capable technicians simply lack customer relations skills. They're engrossed in identifying and solving problems — accomplishing these goals correctly and quickly.
The customer's feelings may be meaningless to your best technician.
So, where necessary, patiently coach techs to work more closely with their colleagues at the service counter.
Cooperating with them will make the entire operation run more smoothly; the result will be more satisfied customers more often.