Auto Service World
News   March 7, 2012   by Auto Service World

Ontario Forum: Increasing Sales Through Communication


At the Automotive Industries Association of Canada’s (AIA) Ontario Auto Service Providers Forum held in Toronto March 7, Mac McGovern from KYB delivered a two-hour session on Selling Skills— Salespeople are from Venus, Installers are From Mars.

With a mix of technicians, shop owners and parts dealers in the room, McGovern started off the session asking, “What keeps you up at night?”

Many responded with terms such as the “bottom line” or how they can keep a steady flow of advanced bookings.

If the shops are filling the bays, day in and day out, the parts salespeople will also be busy. But there seems to be an invincible wall between two and a large lack of communication.

McGovern says that both sides can blame the economy or lack of weather, for instance, but the reality is that the way business needs to be done today has changed.

Technicians have traditionally had about 95% of their focus under the hood and only 5% on sales. They don’t often offer additional repair options in fear of alienating loyal customers with repairs they might view as unnecessary.

“The concept of a technician selling is unfamiliar to them and not practiced,” says McGovern.

Times have changed and so must the way shops operate. Customer’s today are doing their research and think they know what they want and at what price they want it. And most customers visiting shops today are female, who are less likely to want to hear about your latest fishing trip and more about the facts.

Shops need to start marketing their business and, above all, become maintenance centred.

“You need to have a goal as to what the life of a vehicle is and what it will take to maintain it,” says McGovern. “Without measuring something, you can’t manage it.”

Create dialogue with the customer. The average age of a vehicle today is 11 years old. If your customer wants to keep that vehicle in its designed performance condition, communicate with your customer what can be done to maintain their vehicle in top working condition.

“Reported problems with vehicles are down, therefore sales are down,” says McGovern. “But bays are slow because vehicles today are made better.”

Have your technicians sell what needs to be done to your service counter. While repairing what the vehicle was brought in for, have your techs create a conditions report. This will help create dialogue with the customer and alert them to possible future repairs.

McGovern suggests doing three inspections:

1. Visual inspection
2. Inspect the performance
3. Inspect the customer—talk to the customer

To earn more sales it’s essential to shift from a repair culture to a maintenance culture. By clearly communicating the value of regular maintenance, customers will be more likely to go ahead with the repairs.

 “Customer’s want to determine what they need,” says McGovern. “But it all comes down to how you explain it to them.”


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