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Spiders give me the willies.  Affectionate old ladies with blue hair and red lipstick make me uncomfortable.  Jumping out of a plane scares the beejeebees out of me.  You probably have your own list, but one thing a service advisor shouldn’t fear is firmly recommending needed services and repairs.

Most automotive training consultants emphasize the importance of legitimately increasing your Average Repair Order (ARO), yet it remains one of the most difficult things to execute.  Reluctance, hesitation and outright fear on the part of the service advisor are key obstacles.  Why is that?

  1. Rejection  Undoubtedly unpleasant.  But sales professionals learn to embrace rejection because it’s a numbers game.  For every X-number of “No’s” you get Y-number of “Yeses”.  Customers reject products and services – not you personally.  Don’t let it get under your skin.  Remember what Wayne Gretzky’s coach taught him: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
  2. Reputation  You may say, “I don’t want to seem pushy.”  Well what kind of reputation do you want?  Customers thinking of you as incompetent is pretty bad – “I just had my car in.  Why didn’t he catch this?”  Leave them thinking of you as caring and thorough, regardless of whether they accept your recommendations or not.
  3. Responsibility  Mac McGovern, Director of Marketing & Training for KYB, said that he had a shop owner tell him that selling is “the Devil’s work.” Something tells me that if it’s within your professional influence to prevent an accident, head off a costly repair or save someone the heartache of a breakdown – you’re doing good to bring it up.  Recommend a coolant service and piss off the devil.

Customers have fears too: being taken advantage of; reporting that that a $35 oil change ended up costing $300.  With so much pent-up fear on both sides of the transaction, it’s no wonder that so many needed services aren’t recommended or accepted.

What’s the cost of hesitating to adequately promote needed services?  Well, it ultimately hurts your customer.  It also hurts your business.  What would a $5 increase in ARO mean to your bottom line?  $15?  $60?  Profits do a lot to alleviate fear for your financial future.  Balance that with reluctance to make a firm, thoughtful recommendation.

Here are three things that can help overcome these fears:

  1. Inspect  A solid, well-documented inspection process will give you confidence.  The service advisor and technicians are trained to find legitimate safety, performance and economic concerns.  Your recommendations are solid and you feel good about making them.
  2. Plan  Have a plan for educating your customer on each recommendation.  Do you know what you’ll say?  Do you have the necessary point-of-sale tools?  Are you prepared to help your customer prioritize your recommendations?  You and the customer both have personal budget realities in common: convey your concern by helping them with a plan to take care of things within their budget. 
  3. Report  Be an Advocate for your customers.  Look, when your physician recommends a treatment you feel he has your best interests at heart.  He’s advocating for your health and well being.  When your recommendations are delivered in a consultative, caring manner they’ll be received with far less skepticism.  You’ll be met with gratitude for helping your customer and their family.

When your customer leaves with work that has yet to be done, have a plan for following up.  Document the declined work and schedule a call or email to remind them about what needs to be done and why.  Attach relevant material to help educate and motivate your customer to take action.

In the words of Mark Twain, “Do the thing you fear most and the death of fear is certain.” 

Lance Boldt is V.P. and Co-Founder of AutoNetTV Media, Inc., creators of point-of-sale video tools that educate and motivate people to take better care of their vehicles.    AutoNetTV Web Tools