Changing How You Upsell Automotive Maintenance Service

Changing How You Upsell Maintenance Service

We talked with three shop owners about how their shops maximize sales by educating the consumer and refining their in-house processes.

We’ve written at length in this publication about the importance of selling your customers on necessary maintenance items that can help their vehicles perform at their peak. The problem is that some shops don’t have a uniform way of inspecting vehicles and promoting these beneficial “add-on” items like filters, wipers, headlights and related maintenance that can make a big difference in a shop’s profitability.

We talked with three shop owners across the country about how their shops maximize their sales by educating the consumer and refining their in-house processes.

Know the Customer’s End Goal

Christopher Cloutier, Golden Rule Auto Care, Rowlett, TX: I think you really have to go back to the initial conversation with the customer. Did you qualify their needs and are you providing a solution for their needs? This is the basis of all sales.You have to find out what a customer’s wants and needs are before fulfilling them, and only then can you sell a benefit to the customer. If a customer wants to keep their vehicle until the wheels fall off or until the vehicle is paid for, or they simply tell you that they like their car, selling them something they need becomes much easier whether that be maintenance or repair work.

Christopher Cloutier (right), Golden Rule Auto Care, Rowlett, TX. Shown with brother and co-owner, Patrick Cloutier.

Earn Trust By Asking For Approval

Andy Massoll, The Hamburg Garage, Whitmore Lake, MI: In our shops, the “add-ons” or “upsells” are a critical part of the business, but also a critical part of the consumers’ maintenance. The most important aspect of selling these items is letting the customer know that you are going to be performing a check of these items and getting their approval to do so ahead of time. That way, when you present them with their vehicle’s service needs, they are not surprised — they already gave you their blessing to check them.

Andy Massoll, The Hamburg Garage, Whitmore Lake, MI.

Do a Little Show and Tell

Dwayne Myers, Dynamic Automotive, Frederick, MD: There are proven techniques that help technicians sell a product. An effective one is to show the customer a sample of their transmission fluid, for instance, and compare it to new fluid. Getting them to agree that their fluid (or whatever other service item you’re checking)needs replacement is a good start in getting the sale.

Dwayne Myers, Dynamic Automotive, Frederick, MD.

Sell Them Before They Get Impatient

Andy: Most of these upsells are made when performing routine services — mostly during oil or maintenance service. About half of those people wait for their service. It is our goal to go over these upsell needs with the customer inside of 10 minutes of them walking in the door, or within 7 minutes from the point that their car is pulled in the shop. Customers get impatient. They do not want to be at a service center any longer than they absolutely need to be. Therefore, if you present any additional service items that are needed very quickly, you have a much higher percentage of closing (roughly 80%+). If you ask for the sale of these same items after the 10-minute mark, the consumer just assumes it is going to take longer when they are already looking to leave, and they will most likely defer the service. After 10 minutes, the approval rate for the same items drops to about 30%.

You Can’t Sell What You Don’t Have

Dwayne: Another tip to selling small item upsells like light bulbs and filters is that they need to be in stock to be sold effectively. You can have the customer’s trust, but if the product is not in stock, you cannot sell it. The shop I manage has a quick lube, repair center and car wash. What I’ve found when trying to sell these add-on items is that you have to be able to install them right away. Everyone is busy and there’s no time to wait a half hour for a parts delivery.

Practice Makes Perfect

Andy: For a shop’s sales process to be successful, the employees cannot have the choice of what to check and when. It needs to be second nature — a habit. Also, if a shop’s technicians present the same type of sale over and over in the same professional fashion, it will get increasingly easier for the technician to make the sale since they will have the chance to perfect their sales pitch.

The Bottom Line

Dwayne: The best way I know to get a customer to purchase a needed service is to spend time with them. Trust is built over time, and it requires some effort. If you have the customer’s best intention at heart, they will realize it. Then, when you recommend something, the customers are no longer asking themselves, “Do I need the service?” but rather, “Can I afford it and does it bring me value in terms of what I’m hoping to get out of my car?” Once a relationship is built, selling becomes much easier.

You May Also Like

The April Digital Edition Is Available Today

Each issue includes technical content from Underhood Service and other ShopOwner channels.

The interactive and easy-to-use digital edition of ShopOwner’s April issue, featuring articles from Underhood Service, is available now.

Click Here to read the April issue

In addition to management topics and opinion pieces, this issue includes articles on how to think through a misfire complaint when diagnostic codes are absent; understanding when to flush an A/C condenser and when to replace it; the importance of lifters and their role in the variable valvetrain system; and more.

Read Your Copy of March’s ShopOwner Now

The new issue of ShopOwner magazine, featuring Underhood Service content, is now available to read online.

The February Digital Edition Is Free To Download, Read

Every issue includes technical and marketing information from multiple ShopOwner channels.

The January Digital Edition Is Available To Download, Read

Each issue includes technical content from Underhood Service and other ShopOwner channels.

Read Your Copy of December’s ShopOwner Now

The new issue of ShopOwner magazine is now available to read online or download at no charge to you!

Other Posts

Hybrid Vehicle Fluid Maintenance

There are opportunities your shop can’t pass up just because the car or SUV has a hybrid badge on the back.

Throttle-By-Wire Diagnostics

Throttle-by-wire systems proactively manage the air and fuel going into the combustion chamber.

Solving Intermittent Overheating

New cooling systems anticipate and influence changes in coolant temperature.

Lifter Deactivation

The area of contact between the lifters and cam lobes is the highest loaded surface inside an engine.