There’s this common belief In the auto repair industry that service advisors should never give price quotes over the phone when customers ask about repair costs.
The idea behind it is to encourage customers to bring their vehicles in for a proper inspection, which makes sense if you want the most accurate assessment.
But there are some downsides to this approach. It can make customers feel like you’re hiding something or that you’ll hit them with a hard sell once their car is up on the hoist.
That’s not to say you should give a price for every repair right off the bat. In some cases, it’s appropriate to encourage customers to come in for a closer look. However, there are also instances where it’s perfectly fine and even beneficial to provide a price estimate over the phone.
Here’s an example: You spot a house in your neighbourhood up for sale. You’re curious about the price, so you go online to find out. But guess what — you can’t see the price without giving away your contact information and risking unwanted calls from agents.
Frustrating, right? Well, imagine being a customer trying to get a price estimate for an auto repair but being told you have to come in first. It’s not the most customer-friendly experience.
Here’s a suggestion: Instead of outright refusing to provide a price, consider offering a range along with a disclaimer. For example, you could say something like, “Mrs. Jones, typically brakes on your Honda Civic would cost between $550 and $650, depending on the quality of the parts replaced. However, please understand that our technicians need to inspect your vehicle to ensure the accuracy of this quote.”
Now, I know some critics will argue, “But what if we get the vehicle on the hoist and discover additional problems? Won’t the price change?” I get it; it’s a valid concern. But as a professional salesperson, you can handle that situation with ease. Explain to the customer: “Mrs. Jones, we quoted you $550-$650 for brakes, but it turns out you also need calipers for a proper repair of your vehicle.” It’s not a difficult explanation. Customers generally appreciate the honesty.
All of this said, not every price inquiry should be quoted over the phone, especially for complex repairs. However, for many common services, providing a price estimate upfront is entirely reasonable and even helpful. Doing so can increase the likelihood of customers coming to your shop to get the services they need.
One more thing: Don’t forget to ask customers if they’d like to book an appointment to have the repairs completed after you’ve quoted the price over the phone. It’s a step that’s often overlooked but crucial to converting those phone interactions into actual business transactions.
By challenging the traditional belief of avoiding price quotes over the phone, you can foster transparency and customer satisfaction in the auto repair industry. By understanding different customer personality types, offering range prices, and addressing concerns openly, you can build stronger relationships with your customers.
So go ahead, embrace transparent communication and position your auto repair shop as a trusted partner in your community.
Alan Beech started Beech Consulting in 2010 and focuses on coaching, consulting and training with shop owners/advisors and corporations in the automotive service sector.