A Shop Owner's Checklist for Discovering Lost Sales

By Bob Cooper

If your shop’s not generating the sales you need, you may very well need more customers, but before you start pumping more of your hard-earned money into your advertising campaigns, you may want to take advantage of this easy-to-use Elite checklist to see where you may be losing valuable sales. 

- The Proper Goals in Place – As a shop owner you need to ensure you set daily sales and car count goals. These can be easily created by simply breaking down your monthly goals. In addition to car count and sales goals, you need to ensure you have a closing ratio goal in place for bringing in those first-time callers.

- A Competent Team that Believes – You’ll need to have a team of superstars who are gifted at what they do. Beyond that, they’ll need to believe in proper, professional and ethical inspections of every vehicle. Your advisors will need to believe in your technicians and their recommendations, in the services you offer, and that the prices you charge are a good value for your customers.

- The Right Customers – You’ll need to ensure you have the right customers on the other side of your service counter. With the wrong customers you will inevitably lose sales at the point of sale, your ARO (and efficiencies) will drop, the sales process with each customer will take more time (and subsequently cost you more), your comeback rate will increase, and you will get less favorable reviews. If that’s not all damaging enough, when the wrong customers decide to decline all the services you’ve recommended, your techs (and advisors) will become frustrated, which leads to poor morale, a decline in productivity and higher employee turnover. 

- The Right Telephone Procedures - Putting first things first, you need to make sure that everyone who picks up your phone is properly trained. Also bear in mind that what you hear when you are at your shop may not be what the callers are hearing when you’re not around. Accordingly, you may want to records all calls, or have mystery calls made to your shop on a random basis.  It’s senseless to keep pumping money into advertising campaigns if the leads are being lost when they call your shop.

- The Right Procedures for Handing Web Leads – When someone reaches out to you over the web, time is of the essence. In addition, you need to have a clear policy in place for how those leads are going to be followed up with, by whom, and when. Remember, the primary objective with every web lead is to get them on the phone as soon as possible so you can start building the relationship you need for the ensuing sales.  

- Proper Vehicle Inspections – You need to ensure that every vehicle is properly inspected every time, and that all discoveries are properly documented. Ideally the inspections will be performed digitally so that your techs can be more efficient with their time, and your advisors can communicate with your customers more effectively. In today’s age of technology, there is no longer any valid reason for a shop to still be performing handwritten inspections. In addition to all the efficiencies, digital inspections will build customer confidence that is so desperately needed in today’s competitive environment.

- The Right Pricing Structure – In all cases you need to ensure your prices are competitive for the value delivered. By no means does this mean you need to be the cheapest shop in town. What I am suggesting is that your prices need to be competitive with other top shops in your community that offer similar value. The right pricing structure also mandates that you have a clear policy in place for when you will begin charging for your time and services. In essence, to what extent will you help, or provide service to a customer, before they will be required to pay? Lastly, in order to maximize your sales you need to ensure your advisors are charging the appropriate prices for all of your diagnostic services. 

- Proper Estimating – There is no question that your sales will be dependent on every job being properly estimated. At any given time you should be able to review reports that reflect what we at Elite refer to as the “Total Discovered Services”. In essence, this is a report that shows the true sales potential of your shop, not only for the past year, but for the past month, week and any given day as well. Remember, your advisors can’t sell it if it’s not on the estimate. 

- Complete & Proper Disclosure – In order to provide exceptional service to your customers, and maximize your sales, your advisors need to ensure they never pre-judge or pre-qualify any customer. To pre-judge simply means the advisor feels the customer won’t authorize the repairs, and to pre-qualify means the advisor feels the customer does not have the financial wherewithal to pay for the necessary services. We have also found over the years that there are many advisors who hold back on their disclosures to their first-time customers because they’re afraid to scare the customer away. Unfortunately, this practice not only leads to a decline in sales, but when the customer later discovers that there is something your advisor did not disclose to them, your reputation with that customer will be irreparably damaged.   

- Utilizing the Proper Sales Procedures – In all cases, your advisors need to be properly trained how to sell. Beyond having the necessary knowledge of automobiles, your products, and your services, they need to know how to help your customers make the right decisions. If you find your advisors are closing less than 50% of the total discovered services, you need to look for the failures, and you need to do so immediately. 

- Advisors Monitoring & Measuring Their Own Performance – Each morning your advisors need to create a daily goal sheet that reflects both their daily sales and car count goals at the top. When a repair order is written, they should then strike a line through the current car count goal, and write the revised goal beneath. They’ll need to use this same procedure in tracking their sales performance. By taking this approach, at any given moment they will know exactly how many cars they still need to bring in that day in order to reach their daily car count goal, and they’ll know what they have left to sell that day as well. By reaching either of these daily goals by the end of their day, they’ll be able to go home feeling great about what they were able to achieve. In addition to the goal sheet, your advisors need to have a call log by their phone to keep track of their lost calls.  For those of you who feel having daily sales goals in place may cause your advisors to sell services that don’t need to be sold, consider that if this occurs, the problem isn’t with the  system, but with the advisor. When you have the right people with the right principles, they understand that reaching their sales goals doesn’t include selling services that don’t need to be sold. They can reach their goals by being more efficient with the vehicles they have in the shop, and when necessary, bringing in more customers. As an added note, I used this daily goal setting strategy at the shops that I owned, and it enabled me to generate outstanding sales. I have also noticed that as soon as our clients start using this procedure, it is not uncommon for their sales to increase 10-15%, with no other changes.

- The Shop Owner Doing Their Job – It is the responsibility of the shop owner to not only ensure all the above policies and procedures are in place, but to ensure they have the right people, that their techs and advisors are properly trained by the best trainers, and that they’re monitoring, measuring and praising the positive performance of all their employees. This responsibility also includes performing mystery calls (or recording all calls), spot checking vehicle inspections, watching for trends, doing repair order reviews with their advisors, and performing role-plays.

- Company-wide Commitment to Principles – To maximize your sales and build a really great business at the same time, you need to create a list of Guiding Principles, you need to share them with your entire team on a consistent basis, and you need to ensure everyone on your team lives by them each and every day. If you do, and apply the procedures listed above, then not only will you reach your sales goals, but you’ll do so in a way that makes you and your entire team proud. 

For additional help increasing your shop's sales and generating happier customers, learn more about the industry acclaimed Masters Service Advisor Training Program

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