Don’t Struggle, Influence!

Oct. 1, 2019

Drivers are the customers, but shop employees are in the driver's seat when it comes to the customer experience. Get it?

Are you struggling to maintain a respectable ticket average in your shop? Are your techs telling you that they are asking every customer about everything they need, but they just don’t want to buy anything?

Do you share in the frustration with your techs or advisors, knowing that they are asking, but just getting a lot of “no’s” lately? 

If this sounds like what may be going on in your shop, then you are definitely suffering from missed opportunities, lack of preparation and misguided goals.

Hone your Influence over your Customers 

The most important thing to remember here (and at all times, actually) is that the customer really has very little to do with how successful your presentations are. You may think that the customers are making their “yes or no” decisions based entirely on outside influences— influences that you or your techs have no control over, but that could not be any farther from the truth.

Customers will base their “yes or no” buying decisions almost entirely on the totality of all the things they have experienced while in and around your shop today.

You and your techs and advisors have near-total influence on the  buying actions of your customers, and if you allow yourself to believe otherwise, then you are never going to enjoy the consistently high ticket averages along with happy, repeat customers that many other shops get day in and day out.

That cuts both ways, like the proverbial double-edged sword. Your influence can and will influence them to follow your recommendations and purchase extra parts and services, as long as you have influenced them in a positive, honest and respectable manner.

However, if your influence does not move them towards the goal of maintaining their vehicle as you recommend, then by nature it can only move them in the other direction: to not follow your recommendations.

The manner in which you influence your customers is totally up to you. You can do all the things that influence them to feel confidence and trust in you, your shop and your recommendations, or you can influence them to feel uncomfortable, have a lack of confidence in you and your recommendations and to be distrustful of your shop in general.

The Cold Truth

Before I go any further, I need to be clear about something. If you truly want to be successful, and attain consistently high ticket averages, grow your car count and bask in the aura of happy customers referring others to your location, then you must absolutely accept one thing as rock-solid truth. You, not the customer, are totally in control of how and what the customer feels and decides about you, your shops and your techs.

You, not the customer, are the no. 1 most important aspect of what makes the customer decide if they want to go ahead and do the extra services you have recommended to them today.

Recognize Excuses for What They Really Are 

Here are some of the common rejection statements I have heard over the years, as I am sure you have all heard them too.

  • My mechanic will do that for me 

  • It’s under warranty, so it’s not necessary 

  • That was done last time (or somewhere else)

  • I’ll do it next time

  • I’ll do that myself

  • No thanks, it’ll be fine the way it is

There are many more, but I’m sure you get the point. These are all nothing more than excuses.

The customer is making an excuse to you because they do not like confrontation. Who does? They feel that if they told you the truth about how they feel, there might be some discomfort involved.

And what is the truth and discomfort I’m talking about? The truth is that they don’t have enough confidence that whatever it is you are trying to convince them to do is going to be in their best financial interests.

Look at it this way: They don’t trust you. Harsh words maybe, but if you really want to be consistently successful, then you must accept that.

Only when they trust you will they follow your recommendations. The situation that many fail to grasp is that everything that the customer sees, feels, hears, smells, touches and experiences will influence them in only one of two directions. They will either be positively influenced to trust and have confidence in you and your shop, or they will be negatively influenced to distrust you and have no confidence in the shop.

Unfortunately, the totality of your influence on your customer is not limited to the things you are consciously and deliberately doing or not doing. Even when you are making no effort to exert any influence on anything at all, you are still doing it. Everything, every action and every person on this planet exerts influence on everything around them all the time, whether we want to admit it or not.

Accept and believe that truth and you will be on your way. No matter what they may say to you, your customers do not come to your shop because they are flat broke. If they are in your shop, then they have money, that makes sense, right? Why would they come in with no money?

Furthermore, if they are as broke as they sometimes tell you, why did they pick your shop instead of some bargain discount shop to get an oil change?

If your quick-lube shop is like most others in this country, then you are probably not the absolute bottom-dollar shop in your area to get an oil change. Almost all quick-lube shops will have a tire or muffler shop somewhere in their vicinity offering $20-$25 oil changes. I know I certainly do.If your prices are significantly higher than that (mine sure are), then what makes your customer come to you over them?

They pick you over the cheap muffler shop for a couple reasons. One: Your service offers some perceived value beyond just oil and a filter that the muffler shop doesn’t, whatever that may be. Two: They have money to spend

Once the customer has made the decision to come to your lube shop over all the other places in your area that they could have chosen, it is now up to you to do all the things necessary to encourage them to them to continue to feel all positive influential things that brought them to you in the first place.

Clearly, it is very important to realize that everything you do and say, your appearance, mannerisms and actions make an impact. Realize however, that it is also the things that you don’t do, the words that you don’t say, and the mannerisms that you don’t display that can have even a stronger influence on the customer.

Do you want to influence your customers to be friendly and cooperative? I’ll bet you do, for those are the customers we like the most, and happily…the ones who spend money in our shops!

How can we influence the customer to be friendly and happy? I hate that I actually have to write this down, but I will.

If you want happy and friendly customers, then you must be happy and friendly to them, to influence them in that direction. Sure sounds simple, but I can’t count how many times I have been to shops around the country and witnessed customer after customer being treated with indifference, no enthusiasm and not a spec of friendliness, only to have the shop owner show his exasperation at how cheap and negative his customers are “around here” and moan and groan about his low ticket averages.

That mistake is common and is a killer. The opposite of rudeness is not friendliness. To tell your people to never be rude to a customer is not even remotely near enough. They must be outwardly friendly, very friendly. Pretty easy stuff, but many miss it.

  • Smile when talking to customers (and everyone else for that matter!) 

  • Tell the customer your name, and then ask for their name. Then, use their name when talking to them. They like that.

  • Thank them when they do things you ask them to (like releasing the hood, turning on/ off lights, etc.)

  • Listen to them. If they are telling you something, don’t cut them off with your answer because you think you know what they are going to say. Many people do this unknowingly and it annoys the other person. Don’t do it.

Your Presentation

A final word about your presentation. No matter how well thought-out and accurate your presentation may be, it cannot work to your best advantage if the customer is not fully prepared to be receptive of that presentation.

If your presentation is ignored or falls on deaf ears, then it has a zero percent chance of being successful. Zero. All of your actions, and all of the experiences that your customer receives before you do your presentation, from the very moment they arrived at your shop today are what prepares the customer to properly receive your presentation.

Only if the customer can effectively receive your presentation can it be expected to work. Your goal with each and every customer should be to make the sale. That may sound contrary to what you believe and what seems to make sense, but that goal will only make you work harder and with less success than you want.

Your single and only goal with each and every customer should be to use whatever influence you can to prepare your customer to receive your best presentation. If your customer was properly prepared, then your presentation has the highest chance of succeeding.

Remember, once the presentation, its words, thoughts and meaning is in the customers mind, it does all the work. And a good presentation will work a very high percentage of the time. Your only goal should be to get that presentation into the prepared customer’s mind.

Be friendly, influence your customers in the direction you want them to go, and make it happen!

See ya’ next month!

Photo 136179642 © Wedninth |
Photo 19121309 © Konstantin Sutyagin |
Photo 115254743 © Belish |
Photo 57342377 © Rawpixelimages |