An adequately detailed repair estimate may be the key to earning more customers' trust and loyalty.
However, effectively "qualifying" a job quote is challenging work that is as much art as it is science. Please keep these points in mind.
For openers, I have discussed this theme many times in previous columns. But that said, I still get an earful from tire dealers and service shop operators concerning it.
There's a delicate balance, they say, between giving a service sales prospect too much information and offering insufficient details. Indeed, if achieving this balance was so easy, everyone would do it well — but they don't.
In previous columns, I repeatedly have emphasized that the service provider's goal is meeting motorists' expectations.
In turn, the key to meeting expectations is fixing the vehicle correctly the first time.
Experience has shown — time and again — that features such as speed, convenience and low price are easily forgotten when the car hasn't been fixed correctly the first time.
I performed service transactions at traditional, full-service service stations during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Since that time, I also have observed countless transactions at all kinds of automotive service facilities.
My field experience has convinced me that neither people nor vehicles have really changed since my high school days.
First and foremost, motorists overwhelmingly want their vehicles fixed right the first time.
Second — and equally important — is the fact that some repair jobs devour more time and effort than expected.
In these cases, the additional parts and/or labor the job required truly was essential to a reliable, satisfactory repair.
Third, service managers at tire dealerships and service shops still face the same dilemma they faced years ago — that is, absorb those unexpected costs and log a smaller profit on the job. (Sometimes, handling these additional costs means barely breaking even on a repair job.)
Or, they can startle a customer with a bigger repair bill — then suffer his or her wrath over the unexpected, additional costs.
Fourth, some service managers and service sales associates persist in trying to make the issue more complicated and/or unusual than it really is.
To the contrary, my earliest auto repair experiences — during the late 1960s — showed me that the motoring public seemed to be in one giant, collective hurry.
In fact, the motorists I met at the service station may not have had cows to milk and fields to plow, but they sure wanted you to believe they did.
I theorize that "busy" denoted "important."
Fifth, at any given time, a tire dealer or service shop operator can only cull a certain percentage of business from the universe of motorists out there.
Likewise, some motorists react warmly to your extra care "qualifying" job estimates; others may respond only to the lowest price and/or work completed yesterday.
The service managers and service sales personnel I respect have emphasized a noteworthy trend.
That is, the motorists who become loyal, long-term customers overwhelmingly are the same ones who value those cautious, candid job quotes.
They would rather be prepared to pay for the costliest repair situation than simply hope for the lowest-cost scenario.
They also told me that this caliber of motorist appreciates and responds to validation in the form of digital pictures and/or digital videos collected during a careful vehicle inspection. (There's an old saying that seeing is believing.)
When all's said and done, I would lean toward offering more job detail instead of less.
After all, it's not a service provider's fault that a vehicle needs more work than anyone initially realized. But it's still grounds for a gripe when that needed work is overlooked or flat-out ignored.