Auto Service World
Feature   November 1, 2006   by Auto Service World

Countertalk: Knowledge Building: Selling Chemicals and Additives

Additives and chemicals are an all-too-easily forgotten part of both the retail and trade sale landscape. Due to their largely preventative nature and the fact that they aren’t immediately visible to most consumers, the advantages of these fluids can be easily overlooked. For that reason, we have compiled a list of suggestions garnered from conversations with some leading suppliers to help boost your sales in this potentially lucrative market niche.

Retail Sales

Build Awareness

Simple over-the-counter sales of many additives are actually not quite so simple, usually because the average consumer is often unaware of their existence, let alone their benefits. Awareness of this product has to begin with the counterpeople. Train your employees to identify when to engage a customer in a conversation about additives, particularly highlighting the benefits, such as improved fuel efficiency.

Increase Visibility in Store

There is plenty of promotional material available to jobbers, ranging from counter toppers to full display racks. However, in typical automotive irony, even while jobbers clamber for display and promo gear (designed to help that aforementioned “awareness”), some manufacturers are getting away from this sort of display investment, claiming that they are misused. In short, if a manufacturer is willing to work with your store by providing a display rack, don’t stock it with the competition’s product.

Avoid Confusion

On the retail side, make note of the products you choose to sell. A dissatisfied retail customer is certainly not likely to return to your store if he buys an additive that does very little, or worse still, damages his car. With so much competition out there in the fluids market, an overly complex selection likely means that you have some lesser quality products on the shelf, that could be discontinued in favour of less quantity but more quality. You’ll save the customer, as well as your own counterpeople, a lot of aggravation in trying to find the right product the first time.

Trade Sales

In terms of chemicals and additives, jobbers will likely find most additives a tough sale. Many techs see fuel additives as akin to “mechanic in a can”–and to a certain degree, they are not far off in that assessment. However, there are products on the market today that, properly explained, will certainly help in the day-to-day operation of a shop.

Make it Topical

While it is important to make any retail sale topical–in other words, to highlight the advantages of a purchase–it can be even more vital in sales to shop owners. The sales pitch in this regard should have a different focus, in that you are not necessarily selling the automotive features of the product so much as selling the business advantages.

Remind Trade Customers

Shop owners rarely need reminding when it comes time to make their brake pad orders, but chemicals and additives are a little more difficult, in that they simply don’t appear on the shop radar as frequently. Therefore, it is your job, and the job of your counterpeople, to ensure that shop clients are routinely brought up to speed on the latest chemical products.

Evaluate Quality and Stick with the Best

Like it or not, shop owners look to jobbers as their first line in quality control. At present, the chemicals and additives market is literally flooded with products. Take it upon yourself to evaluate these products independently. If shop owners can be confident in the chemical products they buy from you, then they know they don’t have to worry about their own client coming back with a problem.

Special thanks to Richard Navin at Radiator Specialty Company and Roy Howarth at CRC for their contributions to this article.

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