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by Donnie Smith
We have been discussing how to write an auto repair estimate. We’ve reviewed how to treat the customer. Now let’s get down to what is going to make or break you as an auto estimator.
It’s All About Sales:
Many auto estimators understand that a big part of their job is to provide stellar customer service. I don’t think there is a question about that. However, it takes more than being a nice guy. An auto estimator must wear many different hats and one of them, or perhaps the most important is to be a good salesperson. Let’s face it, “nothing happens until the sale is made.” If there are no sales, there is no business! I know estimators may not like the thought of being a salesperson, but if you want to be a top performing auto estimator and bring a lot of jobs in for the shop, sales it is.
My Shop Sales Itself:
You may have the nicest shop in your area with all of the latest and greatest equipment, a comfortable waiting room with all of the extras, properly trained technicians, and provide excellent customer service. However, this may not be what the customer considers when he or she decides where to have their vehicle repaired. Sure, I agree that these things are important and it may help influence the customer to use your auto body shop, but don’t assume the sale has been made.
How Does This Benefit The Customer:
If you think about it, a nice facility does not really benefit the customer. What if they think, this business is doing so good, they don’t really need my business! Then they decide to help out the little guy…because they feel like they are making a difference or helping someone out. So if you are the big shop, you need to let the customer know and feel their business is needed and will be appreciated. You will also need to convey how doing business with your body shop is going to benefit them. If you are a smaller shop, the same principles hold true. For example, you may have the latest frame machine and measuring system; however, the customer may not understand what the benefits of that are. They don’t really care if you spent xxx amount of dollars on this equipment. They want to know that by using this equipment, their vehicle will be repaired back to the factory specs and back to the pre-accidental condition so they do not have to worry if it will drive correctly or not after repairs. They want to know that their vehicle will react the way it should if ever involved in another accident again to keep them and their family safe. Then perhaps, understanding that you have the equipment to assure this is done properly and you have trained technicians to perform the work is a benefit. So don’t sell customers on your business without conveying how it is going to benefit them.
Don’t Assume The Customer Automatically Knows The Benefits:
As an estimator, all of the insurance jargon, accident procedures, body shop repairs, etc. is an everyday thing to you. It is easy to start thinking everyone knows the procedures and what to expect from your business. However, this may be their first accident; or their first time at your shop. They may not have a clue of what to expect from your business. For example, you’re probably going to clean the vehicle after repairs. Most shops do wash the car before returning it to the customer. Why not make that a benefit? Tell the customer that after their car has been repaired, you are going to have it washed and cleaned, which will have it looking better than it did before the accident. That is a benefit, but they will not realize it until you tell them. I’m sure that all of the shops would have cleaned the car, but they chose your shop because you are the only one that told them. I am not saying that every customer is going to choose you because you mentioned a car wash, but let them know the things that will set your body shop apart from the other shops. Don’t assume they already know these things.
What Are Your Priorities?
To make things happen in this competitive business work on you sales skills. An auto estimator has a lot of responsibility on their shoulders and are caught in the middle of everyone (customer, insurance adjuster, shop manager, technicians, etc.) and are extremely busy. But don’t put the sales skills lower on the priority list, as nothing happens until the sale is made.