Posted to Shop Management Forum on 10/19/2013
What do consumers want? Isn't it a reasonable assumption to
say that they all want the best quality at the lowest
possible price, and they want convenience to boot? Well, I
happen to think that that's a pretty reasonable assumption.
Now most of us here are probably familiar with this
principle: "Good, fast, and cheap… Pick any two, but
you can't have all three." I suspect that many (if not most)
consumers understand this. They understand (deep down) that
there's a correlation between quality, price, and
convenience. They 'get' that the lowest price or the fastest
service isn't necessarily the best deal. At the same time,
however, quality and convenience at 'any price' may not be a
So what do people want? In a word -- VALUE! And what is
value? Quite simply it's the right balance of quality,
price, and convenience.
Will everyone define that balance the same way? No. Social
and economic differences (and perhaps other factors) will
cause people to value products and services differently.
What does this mean to you as a business? What is your
approach? How do you engage (or choose not to engage) with
different people? Do you treat all people the same? If not,
in what ways do you treat some differently, and how do you
determine who's who?
Here's what I'm driving toward… When it comes to
automotive maintenance and repair I believe that value is
INITIALLY a function of trust. After the sale - after people
see the result of the work, pay the bill, and experience the
service, they'll decide how well their before-the-sale trust
in you compares to the after-the-sale reality, BUT before
the sale, trust in your value proposition is what converts a
prospect to an actual customer.
So, as it relates to prospective customers, what's your best
opportunity to convince someone of your value proposition?
Many think about the opportunity in terms of advertising.
However, advertising in and of itself does not build value.
What advertising does is provide you an opportunity for
personal interaction, and it's through personal interaction
where the real opportunity for establishing trust resides.
Let's look at this from another angle. Generally, what is
your point of "first contact?" Isn't it the phone? In my
experience most people call first as opposed to just showing
Now how many businesses spend money on ads designed to make
the phone ring? Lot's right? Maybe you're one of them. And
how many end up frustrated at the lack of calls that are
converted to cars in the bay? Again, lots (maybe you're one
What are the reasons for this? Many will say things like:
The ad attracted the wrong people. These callers were
nothing but a bunch of bottom feeding price shoppers, and
they were never going to buy from us, no matter what.
Really, are you sure?
I've been around this a pretty long time. I spent several
years in various positions where I was the one on the phone
with these people. Since then, working as a trainer and
consultant, I've observed many of these phone conversations
up close and personal and have listened to a lot of recorded
calls. One thing in particular is missing in those instances
where the result of converting prospects to customers is
less than stellar. In a word it's compassion.
Now there's a word that's sure to make some people
uncomfortable, and some will no doubt say that compassion is
irrelevant. Before you dismiss this, at least take a moment
to understand what I'm saying.
Compassion doesn't mean that you're a bleeding heart. It
doesn't mean that you're driven by emotion. It doesn't mean
thinking that you owe anyone anything. It does mean, though,
that you have a sincere desire to alleviate another's
suffering. It means that you care.
Here's an example… Many in this business get hung up
on the question of, "How much is it?" Rather than consider
that on the other end of the phone is a human being -
someone's husband or son, wife or daughter - that is
suffering with a problem and has a need, and has called YOU
to help relieve that suffering -- instead they think, "Oh
great, another price shopping bottom feeder."
What about the person who calls and asks, "What's wrong with
my car, it _____?" How many of you respond along the lines
of, "I have no way of knowing until we get it in and check
it out." Seriously! What kind of response is that? Maybe
you're thinking, "It's a true response." Yes, it's true, but
if you think this is a good answer, you're missing the
With perhaps a few exceptions such as the true DIY or the
whacko cheapskate who's willing to drive 50 miles to save
$1.50, most folks are looking for someone to do business
with. They're looking for the right balance of quality,
price, and convenience -- VALUE -- and if you're on the
phone with them, they've COME TO YOU seeking that value.
Each phone call, by virtue of being a personal interaction,
is a precious opportunity for you to establish trust, build
value, and gain a competitive advantage.
Are you the right value proposition for every caller? No,
not likely. Does that change the way you handle each call?
What will be your attitude the next time you pick up the
phone and someone asks, "How much is ____?" How will you go
about answering that question?
MDH Automotive Services
Richville, Michigan, USA