Auto Repair Estimates – 4 Tips To Help You Sell More Jobs To Customers

Tip 1: Don’t Judge Your Customers-
I think that we have all been guilty of this, but we need to work on it.  For instance, we may think a customer is getting an estimate for the insurance so they can pocket the money or go to a competitor.  We may take a look at the vehicle and determine they will not want to spend the money or don’t have the money to have the repairs performed.  For whatever reason, estimators may jump to conclusions at times and believe that this customer is a waste of their time.  Therefore, rushing the process and getting them out the door as soon as possible so they can try to make a sale with someone that is going to have repairs performed.  I am not saying that every job is right for your shop.  For instance, your body shop may not perform restoration.  The best thing to do in a situation like this is help them find a shop that will perform the work for them.

This reminds me of a story I heard from a guy named David Dykes.  One morning in 1956 a rough looking guy walked into a Cadillac dealership in Tennessee.  The guy was poorly dressed in dirty overalls, muddy boots and was wearing an old hunting cap with his hair sticking out of the sides.  He walked around the dealership for awhile, but no one came to help him.  In the meantime, the salesmen were standing over their watching him.  They were waiting for the man to leave.  However, the guy continued to look at the cars, so the manager finally told the newest salesman to go ask the bum to leave.  But instead, the salesman went over and asked the guy, can I help you.  The guy asked a few questions about the cars and the new salesman politely answered the questions.  Then the guy in the hunting cap asked, do you take cash or checks?  The salesman almost laughed, but instead, the salesman politely said, we accept cash or check.  The guy said fine, I will take a Cadillac in every color you have in stock.  The guy in the hunting cap was Elvis Presley and the new salesman sold 6 Cadillacs that day.  So the salesman’s kindness paid off.  And perhaps your kindness may pay off too.  You may not accidental sale a repair job to a celebrity as in this story, but you may make a sale.  Perhaps the customer was planning to take the car somewhere else to have the repairs made, but with your sales ability, the customer decided to trust you and leave their car with you.

Tip 2: Don’t Assume You Know What The Customer Wants-
I have mentioned you need to sale the customer on the benefits, but don’t assume every customer will see the same things as a benefit.  For example, we used the car wash.  That may be the sale for one customer, but perhaps another customer already knows  this service is provided at other body shops.  Therefore, they don’t really see that as a benefit that sets your shop apart from the others.  So how are you going to know what motivates your customer?  It is simple; you ask them…or sometimes just listen.  Many times the customer will want to explain their situation to you.  The absolute worse thing you can do is cut them off.  Sure you hear the same stories over and over, but if you will listen close, the customer may say little things, which are their hot spot.  For example, the customer may express a big concern of how they are going to get to work while their vehicle is being repaired.  If you have loaner cars; sale them on providing them with a car.  Or how you are going to contact the insurance company and rental company for them so they will not have to worry about it.  But don’t make this your one and only sales pitch for every customer.  Perhaps the customer has 4 other cars to drive.  In that case, a rental car is not going to be a hot spot.  So work on selling the benefit to your customers, but if you find a hot spot, make that your focus.

Tip 3: Don’t Be To Helpful-
I remember one time I wanted to purchase a new computer.  I had already done the research and knew exactly what I wanted.  I walked into the store with every intention to buy a new Mac computer.  I walked in and a salesman greeted me and asked if he could help me.  I told him I was interested in a Mac computer.  The guy was nice and tried to be helpful and explained how Mac’s were much more expensive than many of their other computers they had in stock. He explained everything wrong with a MAC and kept suggesting different computers.  However, what he didn’t know is that I was already sold on the MovieMaker program Mac offers and that was the main reason I wanted the computer.  He did not know because he did not ask.  He was trying hard to make a sale, but I had to politely tell him, I was still thinking about it.  I left the store a little confused…do I want a MAC or not?  I thought about it for several days and decided to go ahead and purchase what I had originally intended.  In fear of this salesman trying to sale me something economical, I went to another store to make the purchase.  I am sure the salesman sincerely believed every customer’s biggest concern was the price.  Which price is a concern of mine, but my biggest concern was something else….that only MAC offered.

Tip 4: Make The Sale Early and Often, But Know When To Stop-
We’ve already discussed a method to sale the customer.  If you remember from earlier articles, you can try to make the sale before the auto estimate has ever been written.  When the sale has been made….stop!  Do not think you have to continue to sale every benefit your company has to offer them.  They are sold and now they want service.  If the customer authorizes you to do the repairs, take your salesman cap off and put your customer service cap on.

It’s Like Going To The Grocery Store – A Little Bonus!
These are a few general tips for you to consider.  Every body shop business is going to have their own methods and ways of doing things.  Just keep in mind, if the body shop is going to make money, sales have to be made.  I once heard an analogy that I would like to pass on.  Advice is like going to the grocery store.  When people give you advice, including me, use what works.  If it does not work for your needs or your business, don’t use it.  But, ALWAYS listen to others and determine if it right for you or not.  When you go to the grocery store, you certainly don’t want to put every item in your basket do you?  No, you get the things you need and leave the things you don’t need on the shelves.  On the flip side, you don’t want to leave the store every time with nothing in the basket either.  So when someone is trying to give you advice, is your basket too full, just right or empty?


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    Hello, I am being trained in a body shop in Memphis, TN. Since new to the industry and not new to serving customers While training my trainer has warned me that certain walkin estimates just want to get paid and not to waste my time on them. Providing them with estimates with OE parts and lots of repair time. While being naive but at the same time aware that no matter what the circumstance I should treat every customer the same. You never know what that person is thinking.

    Just sayin,

    Malinda S.


  1. […] // // // ]]> Tip 1: Don’t Judge Your Customers- I think that we have all been guilty of this, but we need to work on it.  For instance, we may think a customer is getting an estimate for the insurance so they can pocket the money or go to a competitor.  We may take…Read More […]

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