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Monday, 27 October 2008 14:23

Franklin — Upselling — Would You like Pie with That?

Written by Tom Franklin
Every waiter and waitress in the country is  instructed to ask every diner if they would like pie or a dessert menu at the end of the meal. Although nearly 80% say “no,” the 80/20 rule is working fine. The 20% who say “yes,” add nicely to the restaurant’s bottom line, and the waiters and waitresses enjoy enhanced tips.

    In the collision repair industry, most shop owners want jobs that are $2,000 at a minimum. From what I’ve seen, many of these owners have shown little interest in a 5% increase. With fewer jobs these days, it may be time to consider asking customers if they’d like the equivalent of pie with their repair. Not every shop provides a thorough detail with every repair job, so offering an external detail could substitute for the pie, and an internal detail could substitute for the ice cream.

Other goodies
“Not everyone likes pie,” you say. So what else could you offer? These days gas mileage is more important than ever. Even slight improvements in efficiency can increase mileage substantially. How about an offer to steam-clean the engine? Or check the air conditioning for leaks or inefficiencies that may be hurting mileage. Tire pressure has been proven to affect mileage, and if you have alignment equipment, you have an ideal “pie” offer.
    Next come more extreme offers—think banana splits instead of pie. Older cars without tinted glass use more air conditioning. Lighter structural materials also help increase mileage, but a pie offer can only take you so far.

Why limit yourself to current customers?

Once in the habit of offering extras, start thinking about prior customers. Mechanical shops remind customers about oil changes, tune-ups, timing belt changes and more. It may be time to get more focused on what you offer prior customers. Some parts of the country suffer from acid rain. Others have sandstorms. And still others have more drastic weather assaults like hailstones pummeling vehicle roofs.
    A quick search through a list of prior customer vehicles may suggest some very targeted offers to upgrade or repaint. If they do anything, most shops simply send out the same old greeting cards or coupons to prior customers. These will not do at a time like this. During these slow times when you have more time to search for sources of more business, a little mining expedition into your prior customer files may yield some real gold.
    One shop I’ve helped out had a practice I haven’t seen before. When they repaired a panel or two, they asked the customer to come back in a week so they could buff and polish those panels. They told me, quite a few customers would then ask for a complete detail.
    When business is slow, shop owner should consider how to maintain a continuous relationship with customers. Bad weather can be a shop owner’s friend. Have prior customers suffered water damage, wind damage or sun damage to their vehicle? How about minor dents and dings that could be handled with paintless dent repair? Do they have pets that have torn up or scratched their vehicle?
    The owners of recent model, high-end vehicles generally take pride in the appearance of their vehicle. There is always competition from professional detail shops, but a fully-equipped collision repair shop can offer far more.

Vehicle vanity—owner’s pie craving
For the serious food lover, an offer of  dessert is irresistible, making up the 20% who never say “no.” A vain car owner is a potential customer for hood or dash ornaments, extra running lights, or even flames and other graphics.
    When considering offering extras, there’s no limit to what can be substituted for pie and ice cream with autobody services.


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