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Coach’s Corner: Know What to Say with Customer Price-Shopping Inquiries

Know What to Say with Customer Price-Shopping Inquiries

Get past the price shopper to a future customer

Making the phone ring at your shop takes tremendous effort. It’s called marketing, advertising and brand awareness. Your business depends on people to respond to these efforts and reach out to you for help with their vehicle maintenance and repair needs .

You already know from my last blog that people calling your store in response to your marketing is the primary reason for your phone to ring. Hopefully, you’re already implemented strategies to move the unnecessary inbound phone calls to outbound calls. When you’re answering the phone for the right reason, you have the time to do a better job serving the caller.

For all the effort put into making the phone ring, a similar level of effort is required when answering the phone to achieve the desired outcome. Our purpose in answering the phone is to make an appointment. That’s the measurement of the interaction with the caller. The owner is responsible to make the phone ring. The customer service staff is responsible for turning that phone call into a car in the service bay. As a service adviser, you’re expected to assure the caller that they found the right place – a place that’s a better choice when compared to all your competitors.

Frequently, when a service adviser fails to make the appointment they’ll suggest the caller was just another “price shopper.” In reality, many callers are incorrectly categorized as price shoppers. Just because the caller inquires about the price of a repair or service doesn’t mean they’re shopping. The label “price shopper” infers they’re looking for the least-expensive price. Service advisers often have the preconceived idea that the caller already has a price or is prepared to make additional calls until they find the lowest price.

The real reason they called is the result of a referral, your website, a social media post or your customer reviews. Any of which gave the caller an expectation that your store could help solve a problem. The caller asking, “How much is [a certain product or service]?” is often simply because they don’t know what else to ask. The caller’s price inquiry usually prompts a thought process of “how do I respond, should I give them a price or how do I avoid giving a price?”

I suggest you take the price inquiry as an invitation to have a discussion if they have a problem with something, and every sale starts with a conversation. A great way to respond to a query like that is to ask why they think they that product of service or ask if they have a problem that requires the product or service. The caller will usually describe the situation they need help with, and you can shift the focus of the conversation away from price.

Instead, discuss how you can help resolve their problem and assure them you are capable of seeing the car quickly, resolving the problem and having them back on the road in a minimal amount of time. Time is today’s currency.

The conversation with a true “price shopper” is different. The caller responds with the fact that they have their car with a certain shop and they’ve been told about a product or service and how much it will cost. They’ll want to know how much you’ll charge for it. The chances of the vehicle leaving that store to come to your store depend strictly on price.

Unless you’re desperate for work, this isn’t the customer you’re looking for. Unfortunately, these calls can become long and unproductive. A suggestion for avoiding these conversations is to ask why they’re uncomfortable with the other shop doing the work?

When you have a sincere desire to help, callers know it. Allow them to tell their story and you learn what’s really important. Focus on whatever that is. You aren’t able, or expected, to repair the car in the course of your conversation. Find a way to alleviate the pain caused by time without their transportation, and you win. Leave the repair or maintenance to the techs in the shop.

Remember, there was something that influenced the caller to contact you in the first place. Chances are, it was not price. Your job is to confirm they find competent and qualified help to resolve their problem.

3 Responses to Coach’s Corner: Know What to Say with Customer Price-Shopping Inquiries

  1. Jeff Balak February 18, 2017 at 5:25 pm #

    Good information. When I answer the phone I am always ready to talk, otherwise the answering machine picks up

  2. Car Computer Exchange June 13, 2017 at 6:41 pm #

    Good stuff! A lot of people employ an “If I build it, they will come” type of attitude when it comes to business. While this works for some markets and businesses, at least for a short time, it does not work for all of them. You must put yourself in front of the customer, and the service staff is the bright, shining face put out first!

  3. Russell Miller September 26, 2017 at 6:54 pm #

    Hey Bill, we agree with you on this point that shops need to sell on the value they provide, and not get into a chase to cheapest price.
    Our head of automotive certification wrote a guide for shops on mastering phone skills that your readers might enjoy:
    http://blog.repairpal-shops.com/informational/master-your-phone-skills/

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