There are several possible sources for this type of problem but the one we are going to discuss in this article is “Business is slow; it is ALWAYS the Service Writer”.
I can't tell you the number of times, I hear about shops having problems and suddenly they change the Service Writer and BOOM, the business takes off.
The key to one shop being busy and another not is, by in large NOT luck or accidental. Often times, the successful business has a Service Writer who is good at selling, while those shops not doing well try to figure out where did all the customers go. Let's look at some Service Writer basics which cause the shop to be busy or not.
Selling Is a Necessary Evil!
A Service Writer needs to like people. It is amazing how many people are Service Writers and really do not like to deal with, or talk to customers. A good Service Writer likes people and enjoys talking to them.
Often times, when we interview Services Writers from shops around the country, they will indicate that Selling Is a Necessary Evil! Which is a sure fire indicator the Service Writer does not like dealing with people.
I Don't Want To Make Them Mad!
A Service Writers has to be willing to handle customers, even the tough ones. A good Service Writer is not AFRAID of the customer!
A Service Writer has to have is the ability to tell customers things which the customer doesn't want to hear. Upsetting things, like it is going to cost more to get the car fixed. Unfortunately, some Service Writers are really afraid to handle customers and tell them the TRUTH. It costs MONEY to fix cars!
Some Service Writers are so afraid of upsetting the customer and not willing to make them mad they resort to not telling the customer the full story on his car. They try to sell only what they THINK the customer will pay for the job instead of asking for the money on the full job.
The suffer from the "Tricky Lower Jaw Disease." This is the disease that afflicts Service Writers when they go to tell the customer that the repairs are going to cost $750.00 and their lower jaw goes into stutter mode and $450.00 comes out of their mouth!
I Never Want To Rip a Customer OFF!
Some Service Writers have an exaggerated sense of their own personal integrity and are careful to make sure they are never going to rip-off the customer, especially by not OVERCHARGING for the work that NEEDS to be done.
Again, this decision leads to the Service Writer being a RIP-OFF ARTIST. They ends up Ripping Off the business, the employees and the employees' families, the owner and his or her family and even his or her own spouse & kids.
It is the responsibility of the Service Writer to sell needed work profitable, so that all the employees and the owners of the business make a enough money for them to live comfortable.
This comes from not knowing what a FAIR price is for both the customer and the business. Most shops set their prices based on the GRAND FAKEM METHOD. Their prices are not based on their costs but what their competition is charging. Of course their competition is going broke, but they have to be competitive.
Can't You Give Me A Ball Park!
Price Shoppers! This is the area which causes a lot of Service Writers to go nuts. A great many of Service Writers are NOT good at handling potential customers over the phone! Some shops quote prices for major work over the phone to new retail customers.
This comes from not knowing how to handle price shoppers and in some cases, the belief a shop MUST give prices over the phone for major work.
The truth is good Service Writers will normally be able to get 20% to 30% more business if they learn how to handle price shoppers and don't quote prices for major work over the phone. There is a technology to effectively selling. Most Service Writers have not had any professional training.
The result is a loss of income for the business and a lot of frustration.
I Need To Speak To A Technician!
A lot of women are involved in the automotive business and many let the lack of training stop them from becoming Service Writers. They are afraid that male customers will not be willing to listen to a woman because she is not a technician.
At Management Success we have found a lot of women have the ability to be very effective Service Writers. Some of the most effective Service Writers in the industry are women who have learned to handle customers. One of the main reasons is the less technical knowledge a person knows, the better, in terms of selling work.
I Want To Think It Over!
This is an indicator that the Service Writer is NOT communicating correctly with the customer. What the customers are saying with the famous "I want to think it over" statement is they are in confusion and are not sure what the Service Writer is telling them is true.
Customers, who are in confusion, will not buy! They will go somewhere else. A trained Service Writer should know whether or not the customer is tracking with them and what they are thinking BEFORE he or she gets to the end of the sale and finds out the customer wants to think it over. When the customer says:
1. I have to talk it over with my wife.
2. I want to think it over.
3. I will have to wait.
They are really saying that the Service Writer hasn't sold me YET! A lot of Service Writers spew out their sales procedure unaware of what the customer is REALLY thinking. The Service Writer is not in good communication with the customer, but is really just talking at the customer. The customer is wondering if it really needs the work and the Service Writer is telling him how much.
The customer is in confusion and the Service Writer doesn't know it. This is because the Service Writer has not been trained. Most Service Writers lack the selling techniques, and really are not in communication with the customer. When this happens, the shop loses sales and customers.
The Phones Are Not Ringing!
This is a favorite statement made by Service Writers when sales are down. While every shop has one or two weeks which are slow, overall if sales are down, and there is any shop in town that is doing well, the problem is the Service Writer.
It takes a person who is motivated, who likes people and doesn't have his or her attention on other things to be good at sales. One of the problems with the owner being the Service Writer is he or she is splitting their attention among lots of things which need to be handled. If they have something pressing which needs to be handled, sales will DROP. It doesn't take much for a shop to lose 2 or 3 jobs a week when the Service Writer is not focused.
This is why is it is best to have someone whose sole function is sales. The key point in terms of the sales of the shop when you have a Service Writer is the rule: It is always the Service Writer.
I can recall numerous occasions when a client indicated the sales were down and I gave them the rule. When they got into communication with their Service Writer, they found that he or she were having marital problems, or they had a sick child, or something going on in their personal life which they had their attention on and were not doing as good of a job as they normally would handling customers.
When a shop has been growing, and sales have been good then suddenly it starts to go down, the first thing you need to do is talk to your Service Writer and find out what is going on. They will say it is slow and the phones are not ringing. That is a sure fire indicator, the Service Writer has something going on which is preventing him or her from doing their best.
Being a Service Writer requires a person’s full attention. They must like people and must be willing to tell them things which the customer does not want to hear. They must know how to do it and need to have good communication skills to know what the customer is thinking.
The Solution to the Above Problems
Just as you would not put a new person with no training, and knowledge on a tough computer diagnostic problem on a car, the sharp business person will make sure the Service Writer in his or her shop is knowledgeable in the tech of sales and has all the tools necessary to do a good job.
I recommend to all of our clients who have started their training in managing a business to come to the 5 day Service Writer course and bring their Service Writers to learn the tech of selling, and good communication skills. This is a tough course! It will demand a lot out of the attendees and it will improve everyone's communication and sales skills. But it is only MONEY, YOURS!
MANAGEMENT SUCCESS!, is a company that specializes in training and consulting the independent automotive repair shop owner. For more information please contact Morgan Scott at Morgan.Scott@ManagementSuccess.com or call (818) 500-9631.
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