Auto Service World
Feature   November 1, 2010   by Laurie Izgerean, Curriculum Developer, Durham College

Maximizing Your Service Provider Business

Knowledge Building:

Automotive service providers want to maximize their business by ensuring their customers choose them over a competitor down the street. And, similarly, jobbers want to maximize their business by ensuring owners of these automotive service facilities choose their organization over another supplier.

When you understand the mindset of the new global consumer and combine it with preparation, planning, a solid sales process, and the smarts to outwit the competition, you’ll be well on your way to solidifying the sales you need to become and remain successful.

According to several expert authors, as globalization and rapid innovation become more and more mainstream in our society, sustained innovation centred on customer value is the only approach that will work. Anyone can raise or lower a price, and anyone can add or subtract a brand to their product line-up. Additionally, any salesperson can rhyme off a feature, function, and benefit.

The value you provide to your customer is the one thing a competitor can’t copy, because it’s intangible and can only be measured through unique, long-term customer relationships. What would your service provider have to lose if you weren’t available? Would he be just as well served from another supplier or the one-stop superstore down the street? Here are a few things to keep in mind if you want to be the go-to jobber.

First and foremost, you need to define who your customer is, and be sure all sales and marketing initiatives match up to his identity. David B. Wolfe, author of Ageless Marketing, agrees. “Misunderstanding your customers’ core beliefs and underlying values will result in stereotypical marketing communications based on the company’s [jobber’s] personal beliefs and values–not the ones [service providers] you are trying to reach.”

To maximize your service provider business is to ultimately get the sale, right? Well, before a sale occurs, there is a required amount of preparation and planning that has to go first. Whether you’re out trying to gather new business leads or attempting to revitalize and grow historical accounts, the process is the same. Do your research: acquire data from your industry; from government statistics; from the Internet; and from visiting the shops you want to do business with–face to face.

Getting the appointment is the first step in the sales process. If you’ve done the research about your customer’s business first, determined there is a probable fit between what he does and what you sell, have put him at ease by asking relevant questions about his business, and offered a solution based on what you’ve learned, then there is no reason why he won’t meet with you. If you fail to nail down an appointment, chances are you’ve missed a step along the way, and you need to go back to figure out where the disconnect is.

At your initial meeting with a service provider, have some clear goals in mind. You may want to consider the following:

Engage the customer. Don’t do all the talking; make sure the service provider gets a turn. You want a two-way, engaged conversation, not a one-way sell and tell.

Establish an emotional connection. The bottom line is, you want him to like you. Notice and comment on something in the office, about the shop, about an award on the wall, and mean it.

Consult, don’t sell. Selling is the mere exchange of goods for money. Consulting is about sharing advice, guidance, and relevant information. Anyone can sell parts, but discussing how your parts will benefit his business is another story.

Establish needs versus wants. Both are important, but you need to understand the difference between the two and get him to prioritize them.

Tie the service provider’s success to your success. Speak in terms of team efforts and partnerships.

You aren’t the only one who has automotive parts to sell, so how do you differentiate yourself from your competition?

Michael Vickers, author of Becoming Preferred: How to Outsell Your Competition, says, “In order to succeed in today’s highly competitive marketplace, you must become the preferred provider of what you sell.”

You can do that in two ways: become distinctive through your customer service, and/or become distinctive by the knowledge and product expertise you can bring to your service providers. Although not impossible, it is difficult to become distinctive by product in the new instant, global economy, where the hottest new invention can be duplicated and distributed by another company within 30 days or less. And price distinction? Well, there is no such thing when you’re in the commodities business.

You want your service provider to feel that doing business with you is valuable to him.

If there is not enough perceived value in what you offer, then the inconvenience of changing from his current supplier or increasing his order amounts with you won’t be worth it for him. However, if you deliver high value as your customer defines it, then the inconvenience of changing over to you for the bulk of his supplies will be more than worth the trouble.

For more information on parts sales training, visit CARS OnDemand training at: or contact CARS at 1-888-224-3834.

If you have completed any of the Inside/Outside Sales CARS OnDemand courses, CARS would appreciate you taking the time to complete a short three-minute survey. To access the survey please go to the CARS website, log in, and under “Account Details” choose “Participants Surveys” -“Student Survey for the Inside/ Outside Sales Training Curricula Evaluation.” Your feedback is important to us.