Upsell with care to keep customers happy


155601141-1John Genge explains the finer points of getting customers to spend more without them feeling like they’ve paid over the odds.

When it comes to up-selling extra work and parts, am I in danger of overdoing it and putting off my customer from returning?

Simple Answer: No, as long as you speak to your customers in the right way. As consumers we do not mind being upsold to as long as we don’t feel ripped off. And, if the work really needs doing you are surely doing your customer a favour in spotting it now rather than have the inconvenience and sometimes the danger of leaving it unnoticed until it fails.

Empathy is the key. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. To do this you need information and to be fair, much of this is information that you should already have picked up in your dealings with that customer. You will know the age and mileage of the car, perhaps the date of the next MOT, how long the customer has owned the car and possibly how much longer he or she is likely to continue to. You can also often tell a customer’s general attitude to his car and whether they are inclined to be frugal or not. All of this enables you to get a “feel” for the response that you might get when you advise the customer of additional work.
However, there is always a danger in making assumptions so don’t pre-qualify. Don’t assume that a customer with an old and dented car will resist spending money and vice versa. People have different views and priorities so your job is to try to find out how these apply to their car.

When it comes to additional work always explain and never apologise. There is nothing worse than hearing a patronising statement such as “I’m afraid this will cost you” or “I have some bad news for you”. It’s not bad news, especially if you are able to give the customer a swift and complete repair at a good price so, always state the positives. “We have identified a couple of issues with your car but the good news is that we can solve them for you today” would be a much better way to present the situation to your customer. Then, explain the work that needs to be done, give just a little detail to build value and then present a price and ask for the business. As an example, air conditioning re-gas is a common one. So, explain that the system has become inefficient, that this might affect fuel economy and if not fixed could lead to more expensive component failure as well as cabin discomfort and driver fatigue. Detail that with the specialist equipment that you have you can fully restore, condition and test the system and moreover (as an additional up sell) can recommend a de-fumigation and bacteria removal at the same time. Explain the price, what it includes, the warranty that you provide and simply ask if you can proceed.

Give the reasons to buy today. Some customers will prevaricate so you need to be prepared for this and explain why it is best done now. Cost, convenience, performance, in most cases there is little point in delaying a repair unless it is for tyres or brake linings where there might be a counter argument if a couple of months wear remains. In such situations, make a firm future booking and write a specific date on a compliments slip and give it to your customer. Put the date in your diary and call them a week before to reconfirm. You will be more likely to get the work than just leaving it as “call us in a month or two and we’ll get it done for you”.
If they sound unsure of the up sell, reassure them with statements like “Most of our customers have this done, we do this type of repair all the time, this is a common occurrence” (avoid the word “problem”). We all like to feel that we are in the hands of experts.

Build trust and treat with respect. If you give a price, stick to it or if possible, finalise the bill a few pounds lower. Explain to the customer the work carried out and emphasise why it was best to do so now. Leave them with a feeling that they made the right choice.

Finally, always give them a reason to return. This might be a free check, adjustment or if nothing else, give them a discount voucher such as £20 off their MOT or next service, a free aircon pressure test, free alignment check, the list goes on, but show them that you value their custom, are happy to reward them for their loyalty and above all give them a reason to come back to you.

Do these things and up-sell should never be a problem.

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