Nailing the Presentation

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The presentation — it’s one of the most essential and, in many ways, most difficult parts of working in the oil and lube business. In addition to actually servicing customers’ vehicles, one of the most important jobs of an oil and lube tech, and the primary job of any service advisor, is to make the most out of the short face time they get with each guest who walks in the door. Maximizing the effectiveness of the presentation each and every time can make the difference between a thriving and profitable oil and lube business and one that struggles to stay out of the red.

Most people come to a quick lube facility looking for a simple oil change and little else. Boosting ticket average by showing a customer how they can benefit from additional services can be the lifeblood of the oil and lube business. That makes the brief interaction between each customer and the employee serving them one of the business’s most valuable assets.

The Right Stuff For shop owners and managers, getting the most out the presentation starts with hiring the right employees. While it may be tempting to hire car enthusiasts or do-it-yourselfers who already know how to work on cars, it may be more beneficial to hire qualified individuals out of other service industries, such as restaurants or retail. To effectively read the customer and sell additional services that will meet their needs, it’s important for employees to be able to put themselves in that person’s shoes. This may be difficult for enthusiasts and DIY types who would never let someone else touch their car, let alone change its oil. By definition, most oil and lube customers are not DIYers, at least as far as their vehicles are concerned, so overly technical language and rushed explanations are not likely to yield the desired results.

Pre-Selling The first opportunity to make a sale may come as soon as the customer pulls into the parking lot, as there are a variety of products that can be added to the ticket before the oil change, such as an oil system cleaner. This product may be particularly attractive to customers who have exceeded whatever they consider to be an acceptable oil change interval. Saying something like, “would you like us to clean out your engine before putting in your fresh oil?” may provide the customer with a way to assuage any lingering guilt over having waited so long to change their oil.

Post-Oil Change and Inspection After the inspection has been completed and the oil change is in progress, the rubber really meets the road. This is a chance to really connect with the customer. However, it’s essential that technicians don’t treat this time exclusively as a sales opportunity. Here, building trust and rapport with the guest is just as important as padding the bottom line. After all, it’s always better to get a repeat customer than one solid ticket.

While most POS systems will provide printed service reviews, it’s still up to the employee to say the right things in the right way. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all method to making a solid presentation. Each lube shop, and each employee, will do things a bit differently.

However, there are a few best practices that are good to keep in mind. For instance, it should go without saying that approaching the customer in a warm and friendly manner is the first step to establishing a good relationship. Of course, be sure to only offer services that will really benefit the guest. Adding unnecessary work may help make a buck today, but it never works out in the long run.

What Not to Say During the presentation, what isn’t said is often as important as what is. The vast majority of oil and lube customers aren’t particularly knowledgeable about cars, therefore, detailed, technical explanations are not only a waste of time, but they also have the potential to put people off. In fact, one of the most common mistakes lube techs make when chatting with guests is talking too much. When telling someone how a particular product or service can help them, it’s usually not necessary, or beneficial, to explain the nuts and bolts of how it actually works. Likewise, many presenters make the mistake of talking too fast. Dave Prange, assistant to the chairman at Next Generation Mfg. and an expert in the field of making service presentations, offered this advice: “Make the customer feel comfortable at the start of the presentation, slow down and don’t take it for granted that the customer knows what you’re talking about.”

As the presentation is being made, the presenter should pay close attention to the facial expressions and body language of the customer and adjust accordingly. Interjecting things like, “if I’m going too fast, just stop me” can give guests the opportunity to ask questions and allow the presenter the chance to feel out how the customer is doing.

When recommending a service you believe would benefit the customer’s vehicle, be sure to concentrate on how it will help them. Whether it be a coolant flush or an AC recharge, Prange suggested to, “show them the minimum possible choices to help them make a positive decision, tell them what’s in it for them and don’t talk too much.”

3D Selling One simple and easy-to-remember presentation method was coined by Kevin Furrows. Furrows manages a chain of over 20 oil and lube shops, and he trains his staff to use a technique he calls 3D selling.

The first D is to tell the customer what you did. Give them an overview of the inspection process you went through and all of the systems it covered, as well as any services that have already been performed. Next, tell them what they don’t need. This helps build trust and assures the customer they’re not being taken advantage of. For example, “your tires are in great shape, your air filter looks good and your brake pads have plenty of life left.” The third, and final, D is to tell them what they do need.

Once the trust has been established, it’s time to offer the client the additional services that would benefit them. This is the time to bring up any problem areas discovered during the car’s inspection with statements like, “we did notice your tires are wearing unevenly; would you like us to go ahead and rotate those for you?”

In addition to the items that come up during the inspection, one great strategy is to pull up the OEM maintenance schedule for the specific make and model of the customer’s car. Matching up the manufacturers service schedule with the mileage on the vehicle opens up suggestions like, “Toyota recommends having a coolant flush at 50,000 miles. I see yours is almost there, would you like us to go ahead and take care of that for you?” Or, “the manufacturer recommends the air filter be replaced at 90,000 miles; yours is already a bit past that. I can take care of that for you today, if you’d like.” Using the OEM maintenance schedule for each guest’s car takes a bit of time, but it conveys to the customer they are being taken care of on an individual basis. It can also help assure them that their car is in the hands of professionals.

Results Employees who can consistently nail the presentation are one of the most valuable resources any oil and lube shop can have. The brief moments of conversation between the lube tech and the customer should be the most lucrative on the clock. They can turn a simple oil change, with its slim profit margin, into the kind of ticket that keeps a business profitable. Though it may seem counterintuitive, the higher a shop’s ticket average, the higher that shop’s customer satisfaction index should be. When a guest feels like they’re getting the maximum return on their time and money, they will keep coming back. And that’s a win for everyone.

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