A Shop Owner’s Guide to Handling the Most Difficult Phone Shoppers

Today’s consumers have more choices than ever before. When it comes to choosing someone to take care of their automotive needs, they turn to their friends, family and co-workers for recommendations, they consider brands that they have heard of, and they search the web as well. Once they have a shop in mind, they may then either reach out over the web or stop by your shop, but the majority of your potential customers will pick up the phone and give you a call. Since you’ve spent a good amount of money to make the phone ring, and because most of today’s consumers are well-armed with information, you and your employees need to be far more than just good on the phone: You need to be extraordinary. I have created this particular guide to help you do one thing; Create an experience that will turn those difficult phone shoppers into lifelong customers.

1) Start with the end in mind. You need to ensure your advisors and support staff have clearly defined car count goals. Start each day with a predetermined number of vehicles you want to get into your service bays, and then have your team monitor that number throughout the day. For example, if based on your ARO you need 8 cars a day to reach your sales goal, then your advisors simply begin the day with the number 8 on a notepad, and once the first customer comes in, they strike a line through the 8, and write a 7 underneath it. This easy-to-use method of tracking your progress throughout the day will bring a whole new level of focus to your advisors, and time and time again I’ve been amazed at how effectively this focus helps advisors bring in more phone shoppers. Additionally, this approach will provide you with the opportunity to acknowledge the success of your staff when they reach the daily car count goal. I used this simple technique to grow some of the most successful shops in America, so I know it will work for you.

2) Meet with your entire crew and create a list of reasons why your shop is the best shop in town. Your list may include items like your commitment to ethics, world-class technicians, second-to-none warranties, etc. In order for your advisors to effectively sell anyone on anything, let alone sell those tough phone shoppers, they first have to believe in themselves and in your company.

3) Implement a phone procedure you feel comfortable with, and mandate that every employee follows that procedure. The top shops in America realize that phone procedures are critical to their success for many reasons. Well-developed procedures will provide you with consistency in how your callers are handled, it will allow you to know what is being said or not said to your callers, and that consistency will help you bring in more first-time callers. In all cases, well-designed procedures will put the caller at ease, will reflect your professionalism, and will build interest and value in the services you offer. Never forget, the first thing the caller has to buy, regardless of how tough the caller may be, is your advisor on the other end of the phone. The right procedures will help ensure that the caller likes your advisor, trusts your advisor, and views your advisor as a credible expert.

4) The top shop owners in America record their calls. Not only will this better ensure that your employees follow your phone procedures, but you can use the recordings as training tools when you are coaching your advisors on their phone skills. Recording calls gives you the opportunity to praise their successes and discuss the areas that need improvement.

5) Understand how the callers think. At Elite we have trained thousands of service advisors, and over the decades we have learned that understanding how callers think is critical to success in sales. There is a misconception about phone shoppers that they are only interested in the lowest price, yet in reality that’s the furthest from the truth. The reason most people ask for a price is that they don’t know what questions they should be asking. For example, if a call comes in from a lady that says she is calling around for prices on behalf of her husband, and if she states that her husband has the vehicle so she can’t bring it in for an inspection, your advisors should say something like this –

Well Mary, I know price is important to you, and if I were in your position, it would be important to me, too! But I have to tell you, if you call 10 shops today you’ll more than likely get 12 different prices. Mary, do you have a pen and piece of paper? Great! When you are calling around, I’m going to recommend that you consider asking some other questions as well. You may want to ask the shops you’re calling how long they have been in business (At this point the caller will typically thank your advisor for the tip). Another question you may want to ask them is whether or not they have ASE Certified Technicians (This is when your advisor can explain to the caller what the certification means, and how they will benefit). Some other questions I would encourage you to ask are how they go about diagnosing vehicles such as yours, what warranties they offer and whether they are in writing, and whether or not they provide options in their service recommendations. The last question I would ask, Mary, is if they are approved by AAA.”

I used this procedure in every shop that I owned, and found it to be so effective and powerful that Elite now teaches it in all of our sales courses. The reason this procedure works so well is pretty simple: Your advisors will be providing the caller with the kind of information they need to choose the right shop, and showing them that you care more about them than their credit card. You can also rest assured that the shops they call will stutter and stammer when asked these questions, and every time the caller asks the recommended questions they will be thinking of one thing – your advisor.

6) Never prejudge or prequalify. Many of those difficult phone shoppers are people just like you and me. Most just feel they have been taken advantage of in the past, so are legitimately overanxious. Win them over, and they can become your biggest songbirds.

7) Lastly, ensure that all of your employees realize that their responsibility is to help people, not just to fix cars. When they embrace this responsibility, when they follow well-crafted phone procedures, and when they live by the principle of never putting money ahead of people, you will be doing a lot more than just bringing in those tough phone shoppers; You will be setting a new standard for the industry, and building a more successful shop at the same time. This is a promise I can make to you.

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