Calling the customer for a big job in the shop: The car is on the lift, tying up a bay, you know what’s wrong and they’re not a waiter, this IS the call…

We all get that pit in our stomach when a big job finally comes to a full diagnosis. The customer is either going to tell you to go ahead with the job, tell you that you’re crazy and they’ll take their car, or some vague grey area in between. The goal of course is always to work to get the job sold and the car fixed. But how do you present the issue without scaring the customer away?   

There are a variety of techniques advisors may use these days to get information to their customer. Some use an online MPI tool, others use good old fashioned work orders with their technicians’ notes. There is no wrong answer really, it’s just a matter of making sure you can get the job sold and the car on its way. If it’s something simple, sending the MPI with recommendations attached for new tires and the customer’s options is a great time saver for the customer. But what if we’re talking about a heater core or some sort of major electrical issue? A call will need to be made, the advisor will need to be educated and be able to educate the customer as well. 

From my experience, this takes a technician who is willing to show the advisor what’s wrong and how we are going to fix it. It is also going to take an advisor who can play whisper down the lane well enough to get the point across and make the job sound worth the customer’s while. This call will have to come from someone who is patient and compassionate, but willing to stand their ground. It’s important to put the bottom line out there and make sure that enough details are given so the customer is comfortable giving you’re their time, trust and hard-earned money. The advisor needs to be transparent and up front from parts to the time frame it will take to fix the car and the technician needs to be confident in what they are selling their advisor. 

Essentially what I am getting at is it takes a TEAM. The entire service department from the technician, to parts, to the advisor to the receptionist will play a role in making sure this job gets sold correctly. The customer needs to have the warm and fuzzies when they come in, even if nothing is going the way they had planned with their vehicle. We need to reassure them that we will do our best and continue to provide that top notch experience throughout the duration of their vehicle being in the shop. Then we need to be sure to deliver in the time we told them and if for some reason if we cannot, we need to be in communication with them every step of the way. 

We forget sometimes that a dealership experience isn’t always a quick oil change, and that not every person who walks through the door is a car person. It’s up to the service TEAM to make sure we make that customer feel welcome, educated and taken care of. That all stems from proper communication and a little compassion, they both go a long way when it comes to the business of people, which is what we’re really in.