Introduction: "Upselling" is the #1 Complaint about Repair Shops on Review Sites
A new ClearMechanic analysis of customer review sites such as Yelp.com proves what service centers have known for years: the single greatest source of negative customer reviews for auto repairs is "unnecessary upsells." Take a look at this example from a California repair shop.
Keep in mind, this is a well-regarded San Francisco service center with a 4.5-star rating over 62 reviews. And candidly, we will never know whether this customer is correct about what occurred. We only know that Shop A recommended a brake pad and rotor job and Shop B said it wasn't necessary. Without inspection photos, this is an unresolveable he said / she said dispute. But here is what we do know: 1) customers often assume a repair shop is honest if the shop suggests postponing work, rightly or wrongly; and 2) millions of Northern California car owners are reading this 1-star review.
So what should a repair shop do when expensive repairs are necessary? Taking the wrong approach can result in loss of the customer to a competitor and a widely-read negative review. This is particularly true for first- or second-time customers.
How RPM Autoworx Uses "Visual Selling" to Build Trust
This exact dilemma occurred at RPM Autoworx, a Savannah, GA service center which prides itself on integrity and thoroughness in its repair recommendations. A customer named Rodney dropped off his car and believed he understood exactly what was wrong with it. He simply wanted the shop to address a transmission seal leak. As RPM shop owner Moira Sheehan explains:
"The customer knew he had a leaking transmission seal. Since he works at the regional newspaper down the street, he couldn't stay and wait for us to show him his repair. We were able to record that, yes, the axle seal was leaking. But because three of his motor mounts were broken, it allowed excessive play in the drive train. This excessive movement damaged the seal as well as both CV axles."
Imagine explaining this to the average car owner over the phone. In these types of situations, even reasonable customers must make a split-second decision about how much they trust you. There is a significant difference between a customer liking a shop owner and trusting them with a $1,000 repair recommendation. A common response might be, "Moira, you know I trust you, but I can't afford to do serious work right now. I may come back in a few weeks." Often, the stated reason for rejecting a repair is, "I can't afford it" but the underlying reason is, "I can't rely solely on the word of a business owner who stands to gain financially from the job."
Moira and RPM Autoworx used a different approach to build trust. She used ClearMechanic's Visual Selling Solution to document the damage with inspection photos and videos. Moira says:
"We showed the customer this problem using ClearMechanic by uploading inspection photos to our website. We also found another transmission leak at the cooler and could show this on the video. The customer approved $1,200 of repair work although his expectation was $200 from just the transmission seal. This customer was on a tight budget so the ability to actually show him the damage caused by the broken motor mounts definitely helped him to make the decision to spend money on this repair."
To perform the necessary repairs and avoid the stigma of "upselling," it was critical for RPM Autoworx to show inspection photos and allow the customer to review hard evidence of the repair need (and likely show the evidence to a friend or family member who he considers a "car guy"). You can view the ClearMechanic inspection photos for this repair recommendation here. Several of the photos taken by RPM Autoworx are also shown below.
Turning "These Prices Seem High" Into a "Yes"
RPM AutoWorx and all service centers encounter this situation daily. A courtesy inspection shows needed work but customers become uncomfortable when they hear the dreaded "upsell." Moira cites another example of a customer, Chris, who came in for a timing belt replacement. Moira tells us:
"When we performed our courtesy check, we found a broken motor mount and cracked drive belts. This customer thought our prices were too high initially but when we provided the video of the motor mount and a picture of the belts, he agreed to pay an additional $520 for these repairs because we could SHOW him the broken parts."
Learning from RPM Autoworx: Building Trust is Critical to Closing Sales, Even with Loyal Customers
RPM Autoworx and all ClearMechanic clients are able to visually demonstrate daily to their customers why repair recommendations are necessary. In many cases as noted in the customer case study involving three loose motor mounts, the customer was prepared to spend $200, however, RPM Autoworx and ClearMechanic were able to visually demonstrate the loose motor mounts resulting in a total customer pay invoice of $1,200. How much lost opportunity are you leaving on the table daily because the customer didn't understand your verbal repair recommendation?
Customers have a very difficult time understanding automotive repair recommendations as it is. Even the best of service advisors and counter personnel have trouble verbally conveying repair recommendations, which is why customers approve less than 40% or repair recommendations.
Studies indicate car owners don't return to service centers for these primary reasons:
1) Customers are skeptical of automotive repairs in general.
2) Customers aren't mechanically inclined, thus they don't fully understand repair recommendations.
3) Customers have a very difficult time understanding a verbal repair recommendation over the phone. We are visual beasts and need to be treated as such.
4) The automotive repair industry continues to rank in the bottom 1% of all service industries. (Source: Better Business Bureau Inquiry and Complaint Data, 2012)
This news shouldn't be anything new to you. Automotive repairs have been a customer eye sore for decades. Today's repair recommendations must be presented visually or your service center will continue to lose customers due to skepticism and lack of trust.
For more information about RPM Autoworx, please visit their website here. For more information about ClearMechanic's Visual Selling Solution, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a demonstration. In the meantime, we encourage you to visit our Solutions page and download our iPhone and Android applications by searching for "clearmechanic" in the App Store and Play Store.