Auto Service World
Feature   June 1, 2000   by Jim Anderton

To move up sell up

If there's one thing modern technicians have in abundance, it's choice. And by choice I'm thinking of replacement part brands. I'll bet there isn't a tech in the country who couldn't name at least fou...

If there’s one thing modern technicians have in abundance, it’s choice. And by choice I’m thinking of replacement part brands. I’ll bet there isn’t a tech in the country who couldn’t name at least four different brands of brake friction material alone. The consumer, of course, is more interested in cost and speed. Rarely does a consumer request a specific brand of replacement part, and yet, when faced with this golden opportunity to educate and possibly upsell, too many techs start at the bottom and install “white box” components to keep the price down and get the work. While there’s nothing wrong with that strategy, imagine this: Three different brake jobs at three different prices, say white box for the entry level product, name brand for the upsell, and application specific for the high end. “Good-better-best” works in every form of modern retailing, and if the cost of the upsell is modest, converting customers shouldn’t cripple a shop’s reputation for fair pricing.

The other upsell, and the one which is most often missed, is fluids, vision and lighting. A consumer shelling out $600 for brake or front end work just possibly might need a new set of wiper blades. Or an 1157 lamp. Or maybe even a carry-out bottle of fuel injector cleaner to keep a freshened fuel system spotless. We’re talking about perceived level of value here, and if a consumer feels that $60 is a lot to flush a fuel system, then a little fuel additive in every fourth or fifth tank may seem like a good way to protect that investment. To make that product move, however, someone has to suggest it to the customer. Is it worth it? Take a look at the margins on those SKU’s and decide for yourself. Additives, bulbs and wiper blades can be very profitable, and can be a great way to claw back some lost margin in a world of $60 brakes and $20 oil changes. And best of all, the consumer leaves feeling good about the whole experience.

There are literally hundreds of ways to enhance the consumer experience and deflect the sticker shock that affects most consumers when facing a repair. If service is perceived as “high value”, then customer loyalty will follow. On the other hand, if the experience is perceived as frustrating and expensive, the consumer will be conditioned to bottom-feed forever. The responsibilities surrounding vehicle maintenance and service don’t mean that service stations need to forget the retail aspect of the business. If a “pine tree” on the rear-view mirror makes them smile, it’s worth it. And that’s simply smart business.

Print this page


Have your say:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *