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Taking Parts and Service to the Next Level Part IV:

Answer the Phone!

Ok, I have said this at least a thousand times, but I am going to say it again, just in case some of you haven’t ever heard it before or you forgot. “You can increase your service traffic, service sales and service profits immediately and not spend another dime in advertising if you just answer the phone the right way and invite customers in when they call.” Please, please, please write that line down.  I swear it’s true…and if you don’t believe me yet…keep reading.

Everyday your service department gets hundreds of phone calls from potential customers that want to do business with you. Literally hundreds of dollars of opportunities ring in every single minute. In fact, 85% of all of the customers that come in your store for service – call first. The problem is that most of these valuable opportunities are totally wasted when service advisors either don’t answer the phone, put people on terminal hold until they hang up, or really blow the opportunity by not asking if they would like to set an appointment.

Start by calling your store, disguise your voice and your caller id number and pretend to be a customer. You will find out just how hard it is to do business with your service department and you will see what your potential customers go through when they try to do business with you. After you throw up, get your team together and let them know that 85% of customers call first and if you want to increase your service traffic you have to get your phone problem fixed and show them the right way to answer the phone – the way you want it done.

So what is the right way – well it is simple. First, make sure your advisors ask the customer’s name and carefully listen to the requests and the vehicle information. Make sure your advisors realize that if they don’t do a good job on the phone they won’t see customers in the drive – it’s that simple. They have to understand that every time the phone rings it is an awesome opportunity to make money – in fact, tell them what your average customer pay dollars per repair order totals out to be (parts and labor) and remind them that every time that phone rings, that is how much money the person on the other end of the line is trying to pay you.

And think about this – the customer just chose your store to call out of all of the places he could have called. I just think it is common sense to ask for the customers name to try to build some kind of relationship. I like to always say this – “I’m sorry, my name again is Randy, and you are?” How hard was that guys? And when they say their name, you say something just astounding like – “Nice to meet you Fred!” Imagine how the customer feels and all you had to do was be nice and show you care. This should be a requirement of every person that answers the phone in service. We are trying to start a relationship and it is impossible to do if you don’t know each other’s name.

Ok, back to my soapbox. Make sure you tell advisors to stop just blurting out prices without giving customers reasons to come in. Make sure they give potential customers the benefits and advantages of why they should do business with your store.  Make sure they tell customers about your certified techs, genuine (brand) parts, free multi-point inspections, warranties and the fact that you will check for any open recalls and complete them at no charge while they are in – and make sure they slow down enough so people can actually understand them. These are all hooks and value builders that help entice customers to do business with you – so remember, customers are shopping on the phone and when they call you they are giving you a chance to earn their business.

Now, after they have given the potential customer some good reasons to visit your store, you have to make sure they ask for the business by inviting the customer in for an appointment. Get them to say something like this, “Let’s see when I can get you in for Service, would today or tomorrow be better for you?”

I promise you, that little line will make you more money than you can ever imagine, guys – but most advisors just don’t say it – and I honestly don’t know why – I mean, it seems to me that it would just be automatic –you know if you are carrying on a conversation with someone that called you for a price on a service – doesn’t it seem stupid not to ask them if they want to bring the car in? I mean, isn’t that really the purpose of the call? Simply asking the customer when he would like to bring the car in will result in 1or 2 more repair orders per day per advisor. I know it sounds simple, but trust me on this one – it works, and do the math – that is huge!

And after the customer chooses either today or tomorrow, get your team to keep going. Ask if they would like “Morning or Afternoon?” Lead them right into a time and then do this – and I have to tell you this one is really cool. After a customer commits to a date and time to come in, have your advisors give them a confirmation number. The confirmation number is simply the advisor’s employee id number, but it commits customers to show up (like a hotel reservation) and it makes it easy to identify who the customer had the appointment with when they arrive. It makes you different, more professional and customers love it. Here is how it goes, “Ok, Mr. Jones, I have you down for tomorrow morning at 9am, if you give me your phone number I will lock this reservation in and give you a confirmation number.” The customer will show up – he has a confirmation number – he is committed and even half way wonders if he doesn’t show up if you will charge him like a doctor or a hotel – honest, they show up and if they have to cancel they actually call you to change the date and time – now that is cool right?

Come on guys, this isn’t rocket science. Answer the phone, talk about the benefits and advantages of doing business with your store and invite customers in with a simple multiple choice question like when did you want to bring it in, today or tomorrow – I mean really, how hard is that? Take advantage of the built in opportunities ringing right now in your service drive and you will take your service drive to the next level fast. Next issue is part 5 of our 10-part series and it’s called “Quicker Isn’t Always Better” so watch for it to see some simple ways to make your express service lane more profitable and still be convenient for your customers.


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