The Key to Selling Initial Vehicle Inspections

Most service advisors fall into one of three traps with first-time customers: they’ll either avoid recommending a complete inspection, they’ll try to bundle the inspection into a service, or they’ll just inspect the vehicle without the owner’s permission. Let’s take a look at each of these approaches…

The service advisor who shies away from recommending a complete inspection to first-time customers is typically doing so for one of two reasons: either they’re afraid that they might find something and will have to sell that service, or they’re afraid the customer will think that they are on the hunt for additional dollars. These are the advisors who will typically tell their technicians, “He’s a first time customer and I don’t want to scare him away, so let’s just do the oil service he brought the vehicle in for. We can catch the other things the next time he comes back.” In either case this is a disservice to the customer, as well as to the business they represent. Regardless of why the service advisor is afraid to sell, the customer may very well leave and be completely unaware of the risk they are taking with their vehicle, and in some cases, with their lives. Everyone loses in this scenario.

The second trap service advisors fall into is trying to “bundle” the inspection. This is when the advisor tells the customer that the oil service, or whatever they brought their vehicle in for, “includes” a complimentary safety or vehicle inspection. What these advisors don’t understand is that telling a customer an inspection is “included”, is no different than telling them you are on the hunt for dollars. There’s no doubt about it: You lose with this approach as well.

The third trap advisors fall into is saying nothing at all about an inspection, then calling the customer and telling them that while doing the oil service they also inspected other things, and discovered that those other things need attention. Unfortunately, the customer is now under the impression that you have been doing things to their vehicle that they haven’t authorized.

What’s the secret to selling complete vehicle inspections to first-time customers? It’s really pretty simple. Since fear is the emotion that drives most first-time customers, the first thing you need to do is put the customer at ease. You can do this by smiling, and engaging them in a minor dialogue about their family, work, etc., when you first meet them. It’s called building rapport. Then, just like a doctor learning about the medical history of a first-time patient, you need to learn as much as you can about the service and repair history of their vehicle. This will typically raise questions about the vehicle’s service history, and that in itself will allow you to build value in your inspection.

You can further build value in your inspection by painting mental pictures, and putting their fears that you’re going to “try to sell them something” to rest. One way of accomplishing this goal is to close out your presentation by saying when they pick up their vehicle you’ll provide them with notes on anything that’s been discovered during the inspection.

At our Masters course for service advisors, we tell the students that they need to approach their customers in the same way a good doctor would recommend a complete physical to a first-time patient. Rather than raising the anxiety of the patient, the good doctors will actually put the patient at ease by building rapport. They’ll tell the patient that odds are there’s nothing they’re going to discover that will be of concern, that it’s a great way to take care of our bodies, and that the physical will help the patient remain healthy for a long time. Ironically, it’s no different with your patients. Just think of the vehicle as your “patient”, and the owner as a concerned parent. You have my promise: you’ll be thrilled with the results, because your sales, your customer satisfaction, and your profits will all go straight up.

For additional help increasing your sales and CSI scores, visit our Elite Masters service advisor training page.

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