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  OK, how about some back to basics stuff this month? Everybody needs a refresher from time to time — that is what keeps a superstar a superstar and what makes a superstar out of someone who is merely good.

  I am going to talk about some basic, tried and true techniques that will help anybody achieve a better level of success with their customers.

  If simply telling your customers what they need was all it took for them to agree to purchase everything we recommended to them, this kind of stuff would not be necessary, but unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.

 1. Let’s begin with product knowledge.

  If you are going to be perceived as a professional by your customers, then you better have an acceptable amount of knowledge about the products you are representing and recommending.

  If your customer asks you a question about something you offer in your shop, you either better know the correct answer or, at the very least, know where to get the correct information.

  In days gone by, whenever a customer would ask me a particular question about something in my shop I didn’t know the answer to, I made it a point to make sure I found out the information as soon as possible so I would not come up empty again if asked the same question.

  These days, the answer to almost any question you or any customer can think of is only as far away as the internet, which is typically only as far away as your phone. When stumped, get the answer as soon as it is reasonable to do so. Know your stuff!

  Go to the websites of the products you carry, read their posted information about their products and remember it. This is what the manufacturers feel you should know about the products, so it is probably what they feel your customers should know about, too.

 This one is simple; there is no reasonable reason to be the “I don’t know guy” if you are serious about your job.

2. Learn how to close properly.

    I can’t say it enough; learn how to close properly. This is actually two items, not just one: learn how to close and learn how to do it properly.

  It is so simple that many technicians fail to see the vital role it actually plays in whether they are viewed as a successful tech or a hack.

  In layman’s terms, the close is the point in your presentation when you ask the customer if they want to follow your advice and purchase the service you are recommending. It is not the same thing as telling them they need to get it done, which you may very well be doing incorrectly also, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

  First, the close is the very last thing you say to a customer in your presentation, every time, no exceptions. A close is a question; always a question; nothing other than a question; every time. A close is never a suggestion, a hint or a statement. It is a question.

   For example, a proper close may be something like, “Would you like us to go ahead and do that transmission service while you are here today?”

   That is a direct question, and in social terms, it demands an answer, right? The customer will either say, “Yes” or “No,” and with a no they might even tell you why they said “No.”

  But with a yes, they typically just say, “Yes.”

  The big secret is if you do not ask them a question, then they are under no social obligation to respond to you with a yes or a no or with anything else. Why not? Simple, you never asked them anything, so there was nothing to answer.

  Most technicians who have trouble closing find themselves in one of two failure modes: Either, they never actually do the close and just keep rambling on and on, hoping the customer will eventually offer to go ahead and get whatever you are hinting about, or they get distracted earlier in the presentation and never actually get to the close.

  Learn your presentations, learn to close properly and increase your customer satisfaction.  Make that happen.

3. Learn the difference between features and benefits.

      Many techs get these vastly different items confused with one another, thinking they are virtually the same thing. In reality, they are vastly different things, and each serves a different function within your presentation.

  The feature of any item or service you are promoting to your customer is best thought of as what it is. On simple items, the name of the product is all you need to say to describe its feature to your customer. For example, when you say wiper blades, you have also told the customer what the feature is. Same thing with an air filter or maybe an oil system cleaner. The names of these items fairly succinctly describes to the customer what they are.

  However, for the more complicated or not so well-known items or services you offer, the name does not sufficiently describe what it is adequately to your customer. In this circumstance, you need to know how to describe the item’s feature to your customer.

  To follow along with our previous example, simply telling a customer you are now recommending a transmission flush does not tell them what is involved with an actual transmission flush or enlighten them on the several different quality aspects of your offering over the similar service offered by your competition. The features of your transmission flush presentation may include these points:

·       The type of ATF used in this particular service: (Dexron VI, ATF+4, Mercon V, etc.)

·       How much ATF is used in the service

·       The different components involved in your flush (valve body, torque converter, etc.)

·       How long it will take you to complete the service

Those are all features, but none of them are benefits.

  Benefits confuse techs mightily, mostly because the tech frequently gets hung up on telling the customer what a service will do for the vehicle, which is really just another feature. A benefit is what the service will do for the customer; not what it does for the car.

  What would be some benefits to the customer that gets the above-mentioned transmission service performed?

  These points could be good benefits:

·       Helps prevent transmission from overheating

·       Promotes longer transmission life

·       Helps keep the transmission operating correctly

·       Could even help to maintain any warranty the car may still have

  The real problem with features and benefits is many techs think features are enough; they assume the customer naturally knows the benefits.

  This leads us into the last item on the list.

4. Your customer only knows what you tell them.

      Even though you may think it is simple, you cannot ever assume your customer knows anything if you have not explicitly told them so.

  Here is an example: We all know sludge buildup is one of the leading causes of engine failure, right? Long oil change intervals, dirty oil and neglected maintenance are the recipe for early-death to engines, right? We all see this every day in our shops. You do; I do; we all do. So while it may be safe to assume any customer should already know dirty oil and sludge is an engine killer and clean oil and frequent oil changes are what lead to long and well-running engines, you would be wrong to rely on that.

  When I perform an oil review for my customers, which is where we check the oil level before we begin a service and show the oil level to the car’s owner, I want the customer to explicitly know, beyond all doubt, and without assumption on my part, that sludge is the leading cause of engine failure.

  So, how do I make sure that the customer absolutely knows that? Very simple: I tell them. I do it like this: “…and I’m not sure if you are aware of this, but sludge is the leading cause of engine failure.”

  And so you see, now I have actually said those exact words to the customer, I have every reason to expect they heard me and now know it. If I want the customer to know I checked their tires, I say something like, “I checked all your tires and made sure they were set at the proper pressure. Now they know it, and I have every right to expect them to know it. If I want my customer to know they just got the best oil change service in the whole city, I will say something like, “Thank you very much for coming in today, and I am glad to tell you that we have just given you the best oil change in the city!” Now they know it.

  Don’t be afraid of your service. Tell your customers what you want them to know.

  These are simple, basic techniques, and they will work wonders for your customer satisfaction as well as your ticket average.

  Make it happen, by making the things above happen!

See ya’ next month!  

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