Preparation and practice are the keys to mastering the art of prioritizing automotive repairs for cost-conscious consumers.
Prioritizing the repairs and spreading the work over several appointments may spell the difference between closing a large sale and losing it.
I urge readers to prepare and practice because salespeople who try to prioritize repairs often realize — much to their great discomfort — that the task is much easier said than done.
Realistically, tire dealers or service shop operators do not face the challenge of multiple problems per vehicle every day. To the contrary, they may be focused on just one potential repair on a particular vehicle.
When the need arises, a capable service writer or manager should handle multiple repairs coolly and confidently. That means ranking the urgency of each potential repair for the car owner's benefit.
Let me put the topic into context. Experience has reinforced several important aspects of customer relations. For one thing, motorists fear monster repair bills.
Sticker shock is a phrase that usually describes an unexpectedly high price on a new car. Think of a large, lump-sum work estimate as sticker shock for auto repairs.
For another thing, experience suggests that prudently ranking the recommended repairs and scheduling the work accordingly dramatically increases the chances of closing that sale.
The difference is the sale in occurs in segments instead of a single transaction.
Ranking the repairs means sensibly prioritizing the work from the most-immediate need down to the least-immediate one. For instance, serious oil or coolant leaks require prompt attention.
But nuisances such as some rattles or squeaks rank much lower than leaks that threaten the life of an engine.
Experience also teaches us to recognize the impact of vehicle age. Presently, the average age of vehicles on the road is 11 to 12 years old. Now, suppose that you have groomed your technicians to inspect vehicles for legitimate needs.
If the techs are checking each vehicle diligently, what is their collective outlook on older ones? Are they more likely to find just one potential repair or a multitude of them?
The more-realistic outlook is that many older vehicles have several legitimate repair opportunities ranging from potentially catastrophic to mildly serous.
Therefore, service salespeople should not be surprised or shocked when techs find multiple problems on a vehicle. Rather, they should take the discovery in stride and confidently communicate the news to the car owner.
(I have been fortunate to work with and observe a lot of service salespeople. Some of them appeared stunned when techs found multiple mechanical problems on a car. This dumbfounded reaction may not engender customer confidence.)
Finally, suppose that you confirm appointments — perhaps over a period of several weeks — that address the required repairs.
Locking in those dates may not ensure success. But it has proven to be much more effective than simply hoping a motorist returns for those recommended repairs.