Phone skills that convert callers into high paying clients

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STOP WORKING ON CRAPPY VEHICLES

The wrong cars coming in are costly. Proper marketing brings in the right cars that are more profitable to work on.

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STOP SERVING CHEAP CUSTOMERS

Cheap customers are annoying and kill profits. Attract higher paying clients in your shop to increase your profits.

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STOP KILLING PROFITS

A high-profit margin is vital to success. Combine the right vehicles with the proper customer demographic to maximize sales & profits.

Phone skills that convert callers into high paying clients

Here are a few basic rules for getting the best impact on the phone

Get the customer’s contact information

If you got a quote on something and decided not to buy, would you give them your contact info if they asked? of course not. This is why you ask for the contact info right away, that way if they decline your offer, you can follow up. getting their info is this easy:
 
“In case our call get’s disconnected, may I get your name and number?”
 

Get the customer in the shop

If you can avoid it, don’t give quotes over the phone. If you have to, give them the lowest starting price. “_________ service starts at $_______, to give you an accurate quote I’d need to look at your vehicle in person. Can you drop if off today or tomorrow?”
 
When you tell them on the phone “it can be from $200 to $400, depending on…” you are making a huge mistake. You’ll distinguish yourself from other shops by giving an easy-to-remember dollar amount.
 

Always answer the phone as fast as you can.

Customers in the shop have more patience than customers on the phone. Customers who are already in the shop have already decided to use you to get work done.  The customer on the phone is trying to find someone.
 
You can ask the customer in the shop if they mind that you grab this call. If this only happens once or twice your customer will tolerate it.
 

Always be polite on the phone and ask for permission.

This is a huge pet peeve of mine that shops do all the time. I call a shop and they answer with “Johnny’s Auto Shop, please hold!”. They throw me on hold without bothering to hear me say yes. If this happens while I’m on the street leaking coolant everywhere, you bet I’m going to hang up and call the next shop. Ask if they can hold, then wait to get their permission. They will say yes and not be irritated if you’re polite about it.
 
Put your parts supplier on hold. Put other calls that are not customers on hold. Don’t put your customer on hold if at all possible.
 

Smile when you pick up the phone.

It actually works, as far fetched as it sounds. People can hear your smile through the phone and that will put them at ease.
 

Have a standard greeting.

Create a standard greeting that your entire team uses, for example “Welcome to Johnny’s Auto Shop, home of the three year – 25,000 mile warranty. How can I help you?” Make sure it’s repeatable and professional. It will make you stand apart. 
 
Remember, the whole goal when the customer is on the phone is to get them into the shop. You need to tell them that you have to see their car to give an accurate price.
When a potential customer calls, your main goal is to get them into the shop. Let’s discuss great tactics to get the customer into the shop.

Answering the phone with a standard greeting is a great tactic for this. Here’s a great one I like to use: 

“Thanks for calling Joe’s Garage, home of the lifetime warranty. My name is Mike and I can help you today.” 
Here are a few things to notice about that script. 
  1. I explained our shop’s name. I want to make sure they’re getting the right place they’re calling for. If your customer used Google or saw an ad, they will want to know if they got the right place.
  2. I told the customer my name to let them know who they’re talking to, establishing the relationship.
  3. I explained my unique selling proposition (USP). “Home of the lifetime warranty” differentiates my shop from the others. This nails down what makes us different right on the first call. Your shop doesn’t need to have a “lifetime warranty”, but say right away what makes you different from the rest.
    Some examples include:
    1. Home of the never oversold guarantee
    2. Home of the free diagnostic inspections
    3. Home of the free car wash with every service The majority of shops miss this one step that greatly improves your call in conversion rate.
  4. I didn’t say “how can I help you” but rather “I can help you.” What I am doing here is taking away doubt the customer has on if I can help them or not. I am reassuring them that I can help them. Even if for some reason you can’t serve them, you can still help them by pointing them in the right direction.

Get customers in the shop without giving a price

When most potential customers call they want to get some sort of price. Here’s a great way to get them into the shop without getting too much into the price.
“Many customers think they have a bigger problem than what they actually have. After we inspect the vehicle, we often find that it’s not that big of a problem.”
Then suggest “Would you like to come in today or tomorrow for us to look at it?”  
People in stressful situations, like a broken vehicle, want simple solutions. By saying “today or tomorrow” their brain thinks it’s either one or the other. There’s no ambiguity. There are no easy solutions outside of the options you’re giving them. It’s not a yes or no answer, it’s a today or tomorrow answer they need to consider.

Let’s talk about the importance of the phone call. 

A lot of shops are spending anywhere from $10 – $20 or more for a new phone call to come in. 
 
What’s your average work order (ARO) today? $400? $800? More? Multiply your ARO by the average amount of service visits your customers have. So if your ARO is $500 and your average customer visits 9 times, your lifetime customer value is $4500. Every phone call from a potential customer is worth $4500 to your shop! Don’t ever forget that.
 

Now we need to prioritize your attention and time on the phone. This is vital to your shop’s success.

1st Priority

At the top of your priorities is the customer who is in front of you now. They’re there, ready to spend money. You need to do whatever you can to make them feel like they’re number one, right now.
 

2nd Priority

Your second priority is the potential customer on the phone. It’s fine to ask the customer in front of you if it’s ok to grab the phone. But be careful with how you do this. You don’t want to do this too many times or else you’re being rude to the customer in the shop.
 

3rd Priority

Your third priority is the technicians. Your technicians are important. They’re the reason you make the money that you make. But, they’re not as important as the customers who bring the money through the door. So make them feel appreciated but let them know that the customers take priority.
 

4th Priority

The fourth priority is your vendors. Never put a customer on hold or stop them in the conversation if a vendor is calling. If you’re receiving a call and it’s from your vendor, you can ignore it if you’re dealing with a customer. Call them back when you have some time.
 

Last priority

At the bottom of the list are salespeople. People trying to sell to you are the least important on the list.
 
This sums up priorities.
 

What happens when you are being called by two customers at the same time?

 
Answer the phone with your standard greeting with a small alteration.
 
“Welcome to Johnny’s Auto Shop, home of the lifetime warranty. I have someone on the other line and I can’t give you both the attention you deserve. Can you give me your name and number so I can call you back?” 
 
The key here is to get the customer’s permission to do this. Asking them to be put on hold and then putting them on hold immediately without them say “yes” is very rude!
 
Don’t promise to get back to the customer in a specific amount of time. you don’t know how long it will take to get back to them. Remember to under-promise and over-deliver. Say that you’ll call back as soon as you can.
 
What happens if you’re talking to a customer at the front counter when the phone rings? Or you’re talking to a customer on the phone when the other line rings? 
 
Interrupt the customer you’re talking to but be very apologetic. “I’m very sorry, the other line is ringing. Do you mind holding for a few seconds so I can get their information and call them back?” By saying this, you are telling the current customer, they’re your #1 priority. 
 
Finally, check your tone. Your emotions come through phone calls easily. It can be heard in your voice. Before you answer the phone, take a moment to take a deep breath and smile. That smile translates through the call. The customers don’t know what you’re going through that day and what’s stressing you out. All they know is what they’re going through and how you are dealing with them. Their situation trumps yours.

Price shoppers, yuck! We all hate them.

The problem is that most shops can’t tell the difference between price and value shoppers. This is because often, both ask the same question.

How much is this repair going to cost?

They ask this because they don’t understand the value you offer yet. They don’t know how you offer more value over the competition. Price is only a concern in the absence of value. A customer only shops for price because he/she doesn’t understand the value yet.

Most people want great value, not the best price.

If this wasn’t true, we would all be buying $1 coffees from McDonald’s or gas stations. Instead, most people opt to pay over $5 from Starbucks because of the added value. I guess that’s OK if you like the taste of burnt coffee. (I’m not a fan, can you tell?)

When you answer the phone communicate the value you offer right away.

Your answering script might be something like this.

“Thanks for calling Joe’s Garage, home of the the three year, thirty-thousand mile warranty. My name is Mike, I can help you today.”

Even if your competition offers the same feature at the same price, they’re not saying it on the phone as you are. You’re immediately establishing that this is a value difference that you offer.

Ask for their contact information right away.

Say that you want their name and number in case you get disconnected. Always collect this customer’s contact info before getting any deeper into the conversation. This way you’re not asking for it after they decide to “call around”.

You can always follow up a day later, or even a month later. Why would you not follow up a month later? Ask if they got it taken care of, by who, and were they happy?

This simple follow up shows you care. I bet they didn’t even get a follow-up call from the shop that did the work. You’re building a case for them to choose you the next time.

Next, you ask what the issue is.

Ask why the customer is calling. They might say something like they need a new alternator. The next question you ask is why they think this. The customer will tell you their background and knowledge on the subject. Now you know how to have the conversation with him.

If he says that his car has trouble starting and that the same thing happened to his brother. That means he’s using personal experience to come to this conclusion.

If he says his cousin the mechanic told him on the phone that it’s most likely an alternator problem, it’s different.  This guy has another shop in his back pocket. This means you have to be careful about what you say. This customer is going to report back to his cousin for accuracy.

Or he might say

“I brought it to this other shop and they told me that the alternator was getting weak. They said I should get it fixed so I’m calling to get an idea for what this is going to cost.”

You can reply

“well, if they diagnosed the problem for you, why didn’t you go there?”

They might reply that the other shop was too expensive. So then you can ask what price they were quoted. Depending on their answer, you can determine how to present more value with your quote.

How to respond to a price shopper

If you think they’re a price shopper, you can tell the customer “We pride ourselves for doing quality work. As you heard on the phone we have a great warranty. To do that, we can’t do work at the cheapest price. You might want to go to the shop that can do it cheaper if the price is your biggest concern.”

A price shopper will thank you and move on. A value shopper will say something like “I’m happy to pay for good work, I just didn’t know around what this costs.”

Here’s another way you can present value to get them in the door.

“Sometimes our customers call us thinking they have a big problem. But when we look at their vehicle in the shop, it’s something simple like a corroded cable. This is much cheaper than replacing the alternator. It’s better if you brought your vehicle down here so we can give it a proper inspection. That way we have a more accurate idea of the cost.”

You’re now offering a more affordable option and removing the customer’s fear of price.

Now you need to get them into the shop. Here is your go-to script.

“I can get you in today or tomorrow, and we can get you a ride back home or to work so you can get along with your day.”

By offering today or tomorrow you’re removing the option of yes or no. Remember, your customers are looking to you for guidance and solutions. For them to get the best result, you’re the only option. The only option is when.

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