Communicating what’s wrong with the vehicle
Your technician completed the inspection and found something wrong with the vehicle. Now you need to get a hold of your customer to discuss this with them. There’s a couple of ways you can communicate this.
You can use an inspection tablet process. You can get images of the problem and email them a report. That is a great complement to the conversation you are going to have with them on the phone. It does not replace the conversation.
Or you can text your client with a link to your inspection report. Again, this does not replace the phone call to talk about work that was not expected.
The only time I suggest texting for work approval.
If the problem was known before the inspection and discussed in great detail ahead of time. You have given a price estimate and tell the customer that what you need to do is run a few tests to confirm. You confirm the problem, and then you send a text message to go ahead with the estimated price. This is a great way to go ahead because you’ve already had the conversation.
Calling to discuss unexpected repairs
If something is unexpected, the phone call is the best way to talk about that. When you get on the phone you want to be very clear in the introduction about who you are.
“Hi this is Joe from Joe’s Garage. Do you have a minute to talk about your vehicle and what we’ve found?”
Asking if you have a minute is very polite. Your customer wants his vehicle back as soon as possible. They’re going to make time for you. But it’s polite to ask instead of diving into something, in case they don’t actually have a minute.
Once you have permission to continue, explain the findings:
“Our technician Jack had found _______ issue.”
Always use names to build a relationship. This isn’t a random technician. This is Jack, a vital member of our team. Use the names of your team whenever you can.
Now moving into this, we want to structure this conversation so that we are the messenger of the news. It’s their car, it’s their problem.
“My technician Jack took a look at YOUR car and saw that x service or x part on YOUR car needs to be replaced.”
We are letting them know that this is THEIR car and that it has something that needs to be fixed.
Let’s say you find something that failing, but not yet failed. You estimate it might last a bit longer, but you cannot be sure and it could be a safety issue if it fails. To me, that’s a “it needs to be replaced” item. Don’t say “we recommend,” rather say “it needs.”
If they ask why it needs to be replaced, you can explain it’s failing. The reason why “it needs” to be replaced is because of the safety risk when it fails. If it were your vehicle, you would not wait for that risk to present itself.
When discussing the repair, say “______ needs to be replaced before we can inspect the rest of the vehicle”. Sometimes a part needs be replaced before the rest of the system can be tested. This also keeps the customer prepared for extra repairs that may be found. We are communicating with them openly about what’s going on.
Once you fix that part and have the approval on the work, you call the customer and tell them the car is fixed. The customer’s gone from wondering how much more is going to be found, to being surprised there was nothing else. You now look like a hero for not discovering more.
Why did it break?
Have you ever been around young kids? When you’ve been trying to tell them to do something, they keep asking just one question over and over?
“WHY?” “WHY?” “WHY?”
This can be pretty annoying, but it goes to show that from a young age people want to know why. We want to know why we need to do certain things. So when we are explaining what went wrong with the vehicle, we need to explain why if at all possible.
If you don’t know why don’t BS, just say you don’t know.
If you do know why explain it as simple as possible without all the tech talk.
“Your battery has failed because your alternator is not charging as it should. Your battery is no longer holding a charge because of the stress. It needs to be replaced aswell as your alternator.”
Word of mouth has started while the vehicle is in the shop
Your customers are talking about their experiences with their friends, family, and coworkers. They’re letting them know that their car is in the shop. These people are asking about the situation. They’ll tell them about how the battery was stressed because the alternator wasn’t charging it properly. One of them might say “I had a similar problem. It turned out to be my alternator, not the battery. So I just replaced the alternator and I was good to go”
They learned from their friends things they didn’t know and are now second-guessing.
“Was I just taken advantage of? Should I have just replaced the alternator and not the batter?”
If you can clearly and simply explain why things need to be replaced, then they have a clear answer. They’ll be confident that you’re not taking advantage of them.
For every upset customer, there are 20 more that have left without telling you.
If the customer feels like they’re being taken advantage of, most will pay the bill and leave. They’ll be unhappy with their experience, and they will say they are never going back to that shop. Most people are not confrontational. They don’t want to have a confrontation. If they’ve already paid for the work, they’ll feel like a jerk if they question you at that point.
Studies have shown that for one bad review, there are twenty more customers who are unhappy. If you have had five bad reviews in the past year, multiply that by twenty. That’s how many potentially unhappy customers you actually have.
By giving a clear explanation upfront you reduce the number of customers who are silently upset.
When the work will be finished?
I’m going to share with you my script for this. Then I’m going to break it down to explain why it’s so effective and why it works.
“Good news! I have the parts in stock and it’ll be ready by five, provided we don’t have a parts issue.”
Let’s break this down.
“I have good news for you!”
You say this because the customer has started with bad news. There is a problem that they didn’t expect, and now it needs to be fixed. It’s going to cost them more than they expected. They’re kind of down. So you need to bring them up. You need great body language and tone to bring them up, you want to be positive, you want to be chipper. The great news is that you’re solving the problem.
“I have the parts in stock.”
You know you don’t have the parts in stock, you’ve got them at the parts distributor. You know that you can order them and they’ll be in shortly. You don’t need to explain the whole process to the customer.
You can’t say: “Well if you go ahead and order this, I can get the part, it’s gonna take an hour to get here, then we can fit your car in and get to work on it, and then it’ll be done by five.” It’s too much complicated. You bring a lot of room for objections.
When you say you have the part in stock, they think you already have the part in the shop. It’s sitting on your desk next to you and you’re simply waiting for them to give the green light.
“And it’ll be ready by five”
Be very specific in how you’re saying this. You’re not saying that if they approve it, it’ll be done by five. You’re suggesting that you’re doing the work and assuming that you’re just going to take care of this for them. You’re taking the question of yes or no out of it. You’re telling them what you’re going to do.
Also, I picked five because it’s the end of the day. Maybe you close at six then you say six. The reasoning behind this is to always underpromise and overdeliver. Give them more value than what they’ve paid for. If you say it’s going to be done at five but you call them at three, imagine how happy they’re going to be. They thought they had a whole day without their car, but now you over-delivered by being done early. Now they have time to do that activity they thought they couldn’t do. Even if you think that tomorrow you’ll be done by eleven in the morning, tell them five. You’ll look like you’ve knocked it out of the ballpark when you’re done earlier in the day.
“Unless we have a parts issue.”
Most of the issues that can set you behind are a parts issue. You could have a problem getting a part off. You could have a problem with getting a part on. You could have a problem where you got the wrong part. There’s a lot of variables that are usually caused by the part. Any delays are because of the part.
Clearly explain how the part caused the issue.
“The vehicle’s old, we had a heck of a time getting that part off.”
“Sometimes the vehicle manufacturer changes the part halfway through the production line of that year’s vehicle. While we ordered this part, it didn’t fit right and we had to order the other one.”
Use the part as your scapegoat because often, it really is the cause of delay.
How much is this going to cost?
You want to communicate this in a very authoritative way. This will get your customers to move on and do the job. You don’t want the customer questioning the price too much. To do this I have a template for you to use. I’m going to give you the template, and then I’m going to break down why it works.
“The total cost of the repair–parts, labor, and tax included–is $752.36. Do you have any coupons or are you a member of our VIP program?”
So, let me break that down for why that works so well.
“The total cost of the repair–parts, labor, and tax included–is $752.36…”
First off, I’m giving them a total fixed cost, specific to the cent. I’m not saying it’s somewhere between four or five hundred dollars. That leaves some uncertainty in the air. You want to let them know you’ve done your research, specific to the penny. It’s got everything wrapped in that number.
“…Do you have any coupons or are you a member of our VIP program?”
And then I ask if they have any coupons, discounts, or are they a member of our VIP program. I’m not a big fan of giving coupons or discounts, but sometimes we have them. This is giving that opportunity to see if they have any. If they don’t at least you gave the opportunity for them to save.
If you have a coupon out there and it fits in what they’re doing, you should offer that to show you’re looking out for them. Or if you have a VIP program, it’s time for an upsell. It might be worth it for them to join the VIP program so they can get a kickback or a deal.
If you don’t have a coupon or an offer, you can always throw something in if the price seems to be a sore spot with them.
The main thing is that when you say this script, you need to stop. Don’t say anything else. Don’t offer anything else. When it comes to price negotiation, the person who is quiet longest wins.
Some customers who are upset about the cost might start talking and rambling about the price. They’re not yet asking you for a deal, they’re verbally complaining. You just sit there quietly and let them express their frustrations. Sooner or later most will say “well it’s got to be done.”
Don’t offer a deal or discount unless the customer asks for it. If they ask for it, then you can help them out. If you don’t have a deal and go down on price, it immediately tells them you’re charging too much. If you can add value to the price they’re paying, that’s a more effective way to make them happy. Customers don’t always want the best price, they want great value. If they’re trying to negotiate the price with you, they haven’t seen the value yet.
Depends on the work order amount, you can throw in a set of windshield wipers as added value. Depending on where you are, that’s ten or fifteen dollars. The retail value is thirty to fifty dollars. That’s giving a lot of value that costs you very little.
To avoid discounting you could say:
“I could give you a discount but that wouldn’t be fair to everyone else. But what I can do is replace those windshield wipers are a little worn out at no extra cost. Why don’t I take care of this now and throw in a pair of windshield wipers?”
Again, you’re offering more value and upping the stakes. You’re letting them know that you are throwing a fifty dollar value at no charge. I prefer saying “no charge” instead of “free.” “No charge” implies that there’s a fee for that but I’m not charging you. Free reduces the value, free doesn’t contain much value.
If you don’t want to even touch talking about discounts or coupons, you can wrap it up a different way.
“The total cost of the repair–parts, labor, and tax included–is $752.36. Do you need a ride somewhere?”
Whatever the question you’re asking at the end, you’re not asking if they want to proceed with the work. You’re trying to distract the customer from the decision of the price to the decision of the ride.
For some customers, they’ll say “yeah I need a ride.” Others will say they want to talk about the price. But assume that the customer is going to approve the work. Be assertive when you ask if they need a ride while you’re doing the work.
All right. Let’s conclude everything we’ve learned in the past few videos on that conversation after the inspection. We’ve covered “what is wrong,” “why it happened,” “when it can be finished,” and “how much it’s going to cost.”
We want to wrap this up really tightly. I’m going to have a template in this lesson that has it all put together for you when you make that call. Feel free to adapt it to your liking for your shop.
“My technician Jim looked at your car and discovered your X is broken and needs to be replaced. I’m not sure why it broke, sometimes that just happens. The good news is that I have the parts in stock and it should be ready by five. The total cost of the repair–parts, labor, and tax included–is $752.36. Do you have any coupons or are you a member of our VIP program?”
Once you’ve got it mastered and totally ingrained in your head, it will come out naturally. It will be very effective. You are not asking for approval, you are just stating the facts of what will happen next. From there they will make their decision. That concludes the conversation after the inspection.