Auto Service World
Feature   January 3, 2018   by Alysa Beech

The Cost of Saying “No”

How to effectively turn customer objections into opportunities.

Are you doing a disservice to your client by simply accepting “No” when you suggest needed work and maintenance?

The easiest thing would be to move on to other matters… but would you be doing them any favours?

A client came into our shop recently for an oil change and a complete vehicle inspection on their 2012 Lexus. The vehicle checked out clean, aside from a fairly significant coolant leak that had developed as a result of a failing water pump.

The client was made aware of the leak and was provided with an estimate for a new water pump, but she declined the work, citing a lack of time as her primary objection. I complied with her refusal, backed the vehicle out of the shop, and waved her on her way without a second thought.

Less than two weeks later, the vehicle was towed back into our lot, steam coming in equal parts from the front of the vehicle and the client’s ears.

But what had I done to warrant this level of frustration from my client? I had completed all of the necessary steps in the service process by making her aware of the problem and advising her of the importance of servicing the vehicle right away.

Looking back, however, I can see that when she hesitated I was too quick to accept that as a definitive “No.” I didn’t offer her a rental car, or a shuttle ride to work. In the interest of politeness, I let her drive away.

Providing expert guidance

I would have been better to realize that if this client didn’t have time to leave the vehicle in the shop for the better part of a morning, then she didn’t have time to be stranded on the side of the road for several hours waiting for a tow truck. And she certainly didn’t have time for a second visit to the shop!

Unfortunately, I had wasted both her time and money… and I had potentially lost a client.

The role of the service advisor is to provide expert guidance so clients can make informed decisions about their vehicles. When a client objects to a repair or questions our advice, it’s our responsibility to allay their concerns. We need to educate them about the work we’re suggesting, and meet all their objections with careful explanations.

While providing all the necessary information it’s to be expected that you will encounter some form of an objection. It may sound something like this:

“I need to think this over.”

“This repair costs too much money!”

“I don’t have time for that today.”

Sound familiar? You hear phrases like that all the time. But these objections are not a definitive “No” and they shouldn’t be treated as such.

Instead, these remarks offer us an opportunity to earn trust and business by respectfully offering a solution. In this way, we become partners in the care and maintenance of their vehicles.

Believe me, they will notice if we prove that we’re invested in finding a solution for them, allowing their problems to become our problems, and working closely with them to find a path that addresses all of their concerns.

Continue the Conversation

It’s important that this conversation is done with the utmost respect and with our client’s best interest at heart. It should not look like a hard sell or an exaggeration of small problems into major safety concerns. We must simply handle ourselves with honesty and integrity, striving only to help them make an informed decision.

Look at it this way: if your client was completely uninterested in any work they would simply say “No,” and then take their keys back and driven away. By offering an objection, they’re actually giving you the chance to continue the conversation. They’re not ready to walk away.

Treat objections as “buying signs.” Buying signs are the tell-tale signals that your client is ready to discuss authorizing the repairs. When they begin to dig deeper and ask questions, even if those questions come in the form of an objection, they’re demonstrating their interest in getting the work done.

Most objections stem from an inadequate or half-hearted sales presentation.

At some point in your sales pitch you missed the mark. Perhaps you didn’t clearly identify the need. Or perhaps the value of the service was not made evident. Maybe you just didn’t take enough time to build the proper rapport. The client wasn’t ready to place their trust (or money) in your hands.

By finely tuning your sales presentation, you will greatly reduce the amount of objections you face. And, in turn, when you face an objection, you will be better equipped to address it directly.

Your first step should be to simply stop talking and listen to the client. By opening up the channel for conversation, your client is telling you that while they are interested, there are a few roadblocks in their way.

The two most common roadblocks are time and money. At first glance, both can seem legitimate. But the consequences of delaying a repair or service can often result in a much greater expenditure of both of those valuable commodities.

Time is one of the simplest objections to address, as it largely boils down to the customer’s reluctance to be immobile during the course of the repairs. If you’re consistently able to provide alternate forms of transportation, this objection disappears.

Focus on Value

Money, on the other hand, might seem a more daunting obstacle. However, in reality this objection is rarely so linear. When the inevitable question regarding dollar figures is brought up, answer it by discussing the ‘cost’ of the problem rather than the ‘price’ of the repair. The cost refers to all of the potential hidden expenses that are incurred by refraining from the repairs, both in regards to the integrity of the vehicle and in time spent during future appointments.

The goal of your sales pitch should be to steer the conversation away from price as the sole determiner. Instead focusing on the value of the service you’re providing. This is especially important to remember as the estimates grow larger and the dollar signs get bigger.

With large estimates, it becomes easy for even the service advisor to begin believing that price is the biggest roadblock. In some cases, before you even get on the phone you are already questioning and second-guessing whether or not the customer will authorize the total because the amount is too high.

This sales malpractice is often referred to as “emotional selling.” It’s when you prejudge a client and begin to make decisions for them about the future of their vehicle. You should know that you doing this based on your assessment of them at the counter. Nothing will cause you to lose both a sale and a clients respect faster than doing this.

The truth is that you actually have no idea about a client’s financial situation or resourcefulness. Therefore, you should not make any assumptions regarding their interest in repairing the vehicle. If the client has an objection about the price, they will bring it to your attention.

One tactic to help avoid price objections is to ask if it would be all right if you discuss the price at the end of the presentation. This allows you to thoroughly identify the vehicle’s needs and paint an accurate picture of the value of the work you propose, without distracting the client with money worries.

One of the most difficult aspects of managing the conversation and handling objections with a client is to know when to quit, even when the client is still displaying buying signs. The moment you become frustrated or sense that your client is getting frustrated, it’s time to back down.

If you have answered all of their questions and you’re confident that they fully understand the value of the work you’re presenting, it may be time to concede. Even the best sales pitch will still be faced with rejection from time to time It is simply par for course for anyone in a sales position.

Facing objections with confidence and viewing them as opportunities to establish trust reaps many rewards, including customer satisfaction and profitability.

Our main motivator should always be our clients’ best interests. Let’s display that by providing solutions not only to their car problems but to their objections as well.



Alysa Beech is a service advisor at Beech Motorworks in Hamilton, Ont.


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