Sales Letter Introducing to Our Company Auto Fleet Service by zen89369


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TECHNIQUES          Many repair shops report that business is unstable and
                      profit-generating sales levels are difficult to achieve
                       and, if they are reached, are even more difficult to
                      maintain. With every segment of the auto service and
                    repair industry competing aggressively for the business,
                       what can you do to get the market share you need?

                                    arlier this year, a shop own-   quire in his market, and that he needed to
                                    er contacted our company        take a different view of the situation. He
                                    complaining that the econ-      told us there were 11 repair businesses lo-
                                    omy in his market area was      cated in his immediate market area, in-
                                    poor and that his business      cluding other general repair shops, inde-
                                    was off by 30%. He said he      pendent niche repair shops, franchised
                    had almost exhausted his financial re-          niche repair shops, tire stores, lube shops,
                    sources in trying to keep the business alive    new car/truck dealerships, etc.
                    “until things got better.” He wanted to            We suggested he make a list of all those
                    know if there was anything we could do to       shops, then drive by and observe the ac-
BY BOB O’CONNOR     help him with his dilemma.                      tivity at those facilities. The goal was for      The first point we made with this soon-      him to make an approximate assessment
                    to-be-client was that he needed to recog-       of what he felt each was generating in an-
800-755-0988        nize that there really was business to ac-      nual sales and then establish an average.

                                                                                   May 2005                  57
We provided him with the methodol-          to monitor when they have cleared          sion and brakes, tires, axle alignment,
ogy to make this assessment.                the card and have available credit. No     etc. For example, our client base aver-
   Once the assessment was made, the        matter what methods your customers         ages a $300 ticket on boat trailers. This
average figure he came up with was          use for payment, if you have the tech-     business is available if you choose to
$500,000 per business. We multiplied        nology available, you can easily iden-     take advantage of it.
that figure by 11 (the number of busi-      tify those who financially can do busi-
nesses) and determined that, collec-        ness with you at any time of the year.     Fleet Business
tively, without his shop in the equation,                                              Often additional commercial fleet
they were generating approximately          Accessories                                work is available simply for the ask-
$5.5 million in sales. Assuming that        Many vehicles are equipped with ac-        ing. We recommend that shops devel-
they also were experiencing the same        cessories that could mean extra repair     op a “fleet packet” that contains:
30% decline in business, they would         or service work for your shop. A good         •A brief letter introducing your
still be collectively generating approxi-   example is a trailer hitch. This acces-    company.
mately $3.85 million in sales. Our re-                                                    •A line card of all products and
sponse to our client was that there was                                                services your company offers.
plenty of business available in his mar-                                                  •Some testimonials with photos of
ket; he just was not getting a large
enough share of it to be profitable.
                                                For a shop seeking                     individuals and/or company logos.
                                                                                          •The name of the person with
   He could increase his share of the        fleet work, a packet of                   whom initial contact should be made.
available business by using some non-                                                     •Business cards.
traditional marketing techniques that       information introducing                       •A compelling offer to motivate
would provide him with some com-              the company and the                      the prospect to give your company an
petitive advantages. And you can, too.                                                 opportunity to serve his needs.
                                             products and services                        •A detailed credit application.
Databases                                      it offers—plus other                       •A map showing where your shop
Few repair shops have systems in                                                       is located.
place to track methods of payment            pertinent data—can be                        •Photos or a video of your facility
and accumulate enough of the infor-                                                    and equipment.
mation on which to base good deci-              extremely valuable.                       •A copy of a detailed vehicle histo-
sions. Many computerized shop man-                                                     ry printout.
agement systems are limited when it                                                       •Credentials for your business and
comes to enabling users to customize                                                   tech staff.
the software fields to track unique         sory is probably the most overlooked          •A website address that also can
items. Therefore, we recommend              opportunity in the auto service/repair     provide some of the above, including
that your system have the capability        industry! Many vehicles equipped           a virtual tour of your facility.
to use the Notes fields to source key       with trailer hitches were never built         All of these should be placed in an
words. Then you can make note of            to tow a significant amount of weight.     attractive folder with your company
the type of credit card payment, such       This means they present opportuni-         name and logo on the front. By pre-
as Visa, MasterCard, American Ex-           ties such as more frequent preventive      senting this information package to a
press, as well as other methods of          maintenance due to accelerated wear,       prospective fleet customer, you’ll be
payment, such as personal check, 90         as well as opportunities to sell and in-   demonstrating a professional approach
days same-as-cash, etc.                     stall other accessories, such as sus-      rarely used as a marketing tool in the
   Customers who use American Ex-           pension upgrades, transmission cool-       auto repair industry.
press usually have no credit limit and      ers and a host of others. All of these        Another method of acquiring many
look for outstanding service instead        types of work usually generate large       new customers at one time would be
of merely a low price. In addition, if      tickets with great profit margins!         to look to nontraditional fleets—indi-
you’re fully utilizing your 90 days            Also, trailers eventually need main-    vidual employees, including employees
same-as-cash program, you’ll be able        tenance on exterior lighting, suspen-      of companies that already use you to

58               May 2005
service their commercial vehicles. We        well liked by customers, but lose thou-    profits. Without sales training for own-
recently had a client obtain a small         sands of dollars by not acquiring and      ers and others occupying the position
commercial fleet of 18 vehicles. This        practicing telephone and in-person         of service advisor, repair shops are go-
client also had 147 employees, and was       sales techniques and skills. They’re       ing to lose business to the talented
able to put together a benefit package       more like order takers.                    salespersons in their competitors’
offering automotive service to them in-         Selling is considered by most shop      shops. Sales training does pay off!
dividually at fleet rates. Not all of the    owners and management staff in the
employees took advantage of the op-          independent sector of the automotive       Sales Tools
portunity; however, they did perceive it     repair industry as talking customers       There are several tools that can make
as a benefit and 36 did become “cus-         into what they don’t want to do, push-     the service advisor’s job easier and the
tomers.” Not bad for just a few hours        ing products and services they have        shop more profitable. They include
of work setting up the program!              no need for or want or charging them       point-of-sale marketing materials such
   Additional types of nontraditional        too much for too little. This unfortu-     as menu boards, signage, fluid compar-
“fleets” include apartment and office                                                   ison trays, lube service stickers, inspec-
buildings, gated communities, senior                                                    tion and diagnostic forms and exam-
communities and shopping center em-                                                     ples of failed components and parts. In
ployees. See our Business Sense arti-
cle in the May 2002 issue of MOTOR
                                              Lack of professional                      addition, the service advisor must have
                                                                                        state-of-the-art computer and estimat-
for additional information regarding           training and a poor                      ing systems and well-thought-out ser-
the acquisition of fleet business.                                                      vice menus.
                                              understanding of the                         A fluid comparison tray provides a
Sales Staff                                    job description are                      visual comparison of fresh fluid vs. flu-
Experience in the auto repair indus-                                                    id extracted from one of the systems of
try indicates that there’s a significant     the two main reasons                       the vehicle in for service. Some trays
lack of professional sales ability with-                                                allow for the comparison of five or six
in the existing aftermarket service ad-
                                                why some service                        fluids at a time, effectively demonstrat-
visor sales force, including shop own-          advisors perform                        ing the need for fluid exchange, flush-
ers who occupy that position. Part of                                                   ing processes and/or the use of addi-
the reason for this is that the after-        their jobs so poorly.                     tives. Our experience is that the major-
market began identifying the position                                                   ity of the industry does not fully utilize
of service advisor as a separate job                                                    this tool. Comparison trays can be ob-
classification only a few years ago.                                                    tained from many parts, oil, chemical
   The lack of investment in profes-         nate image is far from reality. Actual-    and additive suppliers.
sional training for the position and         ly, selling is identifying and under-         At one of our training sessions, a
management’s lack of understanding of        standing customers’ wants and needs        technician commented that he did not
the service advisor job description are      and helping them feel secure in the        think much of the use of a fluid com-
the two main reasons persons occupy-         decisions they’re asked to make.           parison tray because at the shop
ing this position perform so poorly.            Our company just celebrated the         where he worked, by the time he ac-
One of the greatest obstacles the auto-      one-year anniversary of our LIVE On-       cumulated the fluid samples the cus-
motive repair industry has had to over-      line Service Advisor Guild program,        tomer was ready to pick up his car. He
come is the image of selling in the          which is an ongoing developmental          further stated that his shop had only
mind of the general public. Too often        process for service advisors. The re-      one tray, so he couldn’t leave the fluids
the salesperson—in this instance, the        sults are in. The majority of sub-         there until the customer came to pick
service advisor—is thought of as some-       scribers to the program who have been      up the vehicle, and even if he did, his
one with “a great gift of gab” or a          in it from the beginning have im-          shop was not likely to get the work in
“golden tongue”—someone with a nat-          proved over 300% in closing ratios and     the near future—if at all—because of
ural ability to talk people into anything.   customer satisfaction, and have signifi-   a poor or half-hearted sales approach.
Most have a nice demeanor and are            cantly improved gross sales and net           Our instructor’s response came in

                                                                                                    May 2005                   59
the form of a question. He asked if the    the vehicle. Waiver of the deductibles    ty of the participants indicated they
shop had a digital camera. It did not.     is a common approach, as well.            were going to implement what they
The instructor suggested that the shop        In recent years agreements sold by     had learned and not only accept this
purchase at least one digital camera,      repair shops who are involved in ban-     kind of business but embrace it and
which would enable technicians to take     ner programs offered by parts distribu-   seek more of it. Many have been very
color digital photos of trays containing   tion and other companies, such as the     successful in developing relationships
the fluid samples, which the service       insurance companies themselves, have      that work between the companies.
advisor could e-mail to customers at       also become available. Many con-             Success came with approaching the
home or at work, then follow up with a     sumers now receive daily e-mail solici-   business opportunity with a
telephone call explaining exactly what     tations to purchase these types of pro-   problem/solution mind-set, with the
the samples in the tray indicated. The     grams. The trend appears to indicate      use of digital cameras for expediting
technician was receptive and pleased       an increase in both the number of         the process, establishing a working re-
with the suggestion.                       companies providing these agreements      lationship and agreement with the
   In one of our recent LIVE Online        and the number of agreements being        companies in advance and asking for
Service Advisor Guild training ses-        purchased by vehicle owners and re-       the business! Many of the participants
sions, we explained this process to 20     pair/service providers.                   reported smoother and more prof-
participants. Many were not overly ex-        Repair shops have expressed a          itable work. So far, the most business
cited about the idea of using a fluid      myriad of concerns and reported nu-       derived from that training module, as
tray or digital camera. One of the         merous horror stories about dealing       reported by a participant, was $10,000
more progressive advisors challenged       with claims administrators, ad-           per month in additional business!
the suggestion and decided to use the      justers/mechanical claims inspec-
technique immediately following the        tors/adjusters, as well as customers.     Close the Deal
session on a customer who had              In another of our LIVE Online Ser-        Now is the time to utilize the market-
dropped off his vehicle earlier in the     vice Advisor Guild training sessions,     ing and sales techniques described in
day. At the beginning of the following     we explained how and why the ser-         this article. Implementing those suit-
day’s training session, this advisor       vice advisor and technicians should       able for your particular shop could have
shared his experience. Not only did        embrace this business opportunity.        immediate positive results in increased
he sell $800 worth of fluid and chemi-        Without exception, every service       sales and profits. It’s a good bet that
cal services directly as a result of e-    advisor who participated in our pro-      you’ll be able to stem the tide of the
mailing the photo, but also, to his        gram started off with a negative atti-    current business downturn.
amazement, the customer printed out        tude and resistance not only to the
the photo and shared it with all of her    idea of doing business with these         Robert “Bob” O’Connor is President of
coworkers. The result was three more       types of companies, but also to our       R. L. O’Connor & Associates, Inc., a
appointments for service from the          devoting valuable training time to the    Seattle-based automotive operations
customer’s coworkers that day! My          subject. We anticipated this when we      and management training and consult-
point is that the service advisor must     developed the module.                     ing firm. He is best known globally for
fully utilize all sales tools available       Most of the problems shops experi-     his highly effective automotive business
without prejudice.                         ence in doing business with extended      management and sales training work-
                                           warranty and service contract compa-      shops, continuous improvement Bot-
Extended Warranties &                      nies are a direct result of two busi-     tom-Line Impact Groups, as well as his
Service Contracts                          nesses coming together with their         new division, The Service Advisor
Dealerships have been selling extend-      own established methodologies, with       Academy. Bob is an Automotive Man-
ed warranties and service contracts for    neither one wanting to change to ac-      agement Institute (AMI) approved in-
years. Several aftermarket agreements      commodate the other.                      structor and AMI EXCEL “Guarantor.”
in addition to those issued by the vehi-      We identified all of the common and
cle manufacturers are available. These     unique problems and concerns, but we            Visit to
are designed to “capture” the cus-         also developed solutions. By the time      download a free copy of this article.
tomer for maintenance and repair of        the module was completed, the majori-

60              May 2005

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