The Service Drive: Selling a job over the phone vs. in person

When breaking down the job of a service advisor in terms of selling work, a question that can get asked sometimes needs a bit more explanation. What is that question, you may ask?

Well, here it is:


To sell a job to a customer in the most effective manner possible… is it better in person or over the phone? A service department is a BUSY place. There’s always something going on and always work to be done. Waiters fill the schedule and make up the bulk of most shops’ daily routines. However, there are also the coveted drop-off appointments to fill the time. When scheduled appropriately, the average day has enough work to keep all of the techs busy with tasks ranging from simple oil change-type jobs to a few more task-oriented or diagnostic jobs to fill the hours. When this is done appropriately, the advisor should sell work to waiters and drop off appointments as the techs get to them.


While we would all prefer the perfect scenario when it comes to selling work, life is never perfect, and scenarios to sell work (or do our jobs, for that matter) are rarely perfect either. So, what does this mean? It means that selling work over the phone OR in person should be done the same way. The advisor needs to create a system where they present the jobs to be done in an organized and efficient manner, no matter where the customer is.  Now while each vehicle’s needs are different, we should still work to serve our CUSTOMERS’ needs to the best of our abilities. Each advisor is different regarding how they sell, and the best advisors are always learning new ways to do that. SELL. Checking in and updating your customer are the best way to get a feel for what you’re working with before going in to sell that full job. While that’s not always an option, a great service department communicates with each other to give heads up or tips to the advisor working the job based upon their write-up as well.


So, we should create a rapport with our customers to start the process if at all possible. After that it’s all about the 3 C’s. Complaint, Cause and Correction. We should explain the problem/ complaint efficiently, provide the cause -  or, if unknown, our best-educated guess - and then the correction with the cost. If done that way, the customer should know what is going on and how to fix it. Providing photographs or offering to show the customer is a great way to earn their trust AND always present multiple repair options if possible. We all know that aftermarket parts can be a great solution to cutting customer costs. However, we also know where we can do that and where to stick with factory parts as well. The advisor should present all of those options in an organized fashion without providing too little or too much detail.


At the end of the day, it’s about serving our customers to the best of our ability and ensuring that our communication is clear and concise. When we have given our best presentation, whether on the phone or in person and provided all viable options to the customer for repair, we have done everything we can. This should be done with confidence and authority. There is nothing worse than a mumbling and unsure advisor. It’s going to be up to the customer at that point to decide what works best for them. If the team operates in this fashion as a whole, the shop should experience growth and retention in their department and be closing more jobs than not, whether the customer is physically there or on the phone.


There will always be scenarios that don’t work in our favor; however, if we know that we have done everything in our power to be as helpful as possible, then our jobs are done. Serving the customer over serving our wallets at the moment will always bring the valuable customer back to service with us again.

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