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It’s been 20 years or so since I worked at Tom’s Automotive. It was a small independent shop and a great place to start an automotive career. Every day was a chance to get a few hard knocks and learn some valuable lessons from veteran auto pros.   

One of those lessons was the power of “Show and Tell.”

Showing customers worn parts and actual vehicle issues isn’t a new thing brought about by newfangled technology. It’s been around for as long as technicians have been trying to explain the value of the repair they’re suggesting, which probably goes back to the Ford Model T. Back at Tom’s, we had a bin for every RO we worked on, and any parts we replaced on a car would go into that bin. When the customer came to pick up their vehicle, we could bring out the bin and show the customer the worn parts. Simple, right? This was a good strategy because it was at times difficult to explain a service over the phone, or even in person unless you could show that part. It’s a visual thing and most people believe what they see, especially when they don’t understand something.  

People Buy with their Eyes – Not Their Ears

The same is true today. If anything, digital information overload has caused people to become more confused and less trusting. People’s general feeling of being overloaded, combined with busier lives, makes time-consuming explanations less than ideal and Show and Tell more important. Old Tom would be happy about that because he believed in visual selling – something today’s technology is extremely good at doing.

Think about how you use the approach today. Many repair shops have realized that as valuable as “Show and Tell” is at the end of the repair, you can increase sales upfront with a “Show and Sell” strategy. However, chances are, this technique is reserved for dirty cabin air filters, engine air filters, fluids exchange and more maintenance-oriented upsells. These are geared towards customers who are waiting in the dealership lounge. It’s effective, but it also has some limitations. For example, it’s hard to bring some parts out to the service drive: worn brake pads, leaking coolant components and worn wheel bearings. Today, some younger technicians are being inadvertently trained to only recommend items they can physically show, to only those customers who have decided to park it at the shop. As a result, customers who have gone back to work or anywhere that’s not the lounge are missing the valuable visual explanation and you’re missing an opportunity to easily increase the average $ per/RO.  

I can hear old Tom grumbling about that right now. Indeed, if I worked at his shop today, Tom would probably require the use of technology to drive Show and Tell. Here’s why:

  • Sending videos and photos expands the opportunity to connect and show the value of a service or repair no matter where the customer sits. Remember, it’s a customer service economy driven by right time/right place demands. So don’t assume that the guy or gal who came in for an inspection is sitting patiently and waiting. Chances are she or he is back at work or running errands. Yet getting in touch is as simple as if they were right there as long as you use the correct platform. In this case, a text message is most effective, it’s increasingly evident that voicemail is one of the least effective means of communication. In fact, eMarketing Sherpas found that the average voicemail call back takes over one hour but a response to a business text takes just 15 minutes.  If the customer is in the lounge, they are most likely looking at their phone while they are waiting. Use that opportunity to your advantage!

  • Using mobile technology to share the technician’s findings with the customer saves time and keeps the technician working on cars instead of running back and forth with worn parts. Wouldn’t we prefer to keep him at his workstation producing revenue and use the Digital “Show and Sell” method to present findings to the customers?

Using mobile technology is a transparent and friendly way to build customer relationships.

  • The advisors can spend a lot of time physically chasing down customers and may be shying away from presenting issues that they can’t physically show.  I am often in stores training advisors or technicians, and if I had a car at the shop, I might not be available for a phone call, but if I received a text or email with pictures and a clear recommendation, it would be easy to respond back and approve those repairs. I’m not alone: According to a recent study by MobileSQUARED, more than 90% of people read a text message within the first three minutes of receiving. It’s a strong indication that text or email gets through when voice communication gets blocked.

  • Showcasing all manner of issues is easier via digital images or videos. I recently watched a car wobble down the freeway; clearly, it had a worn rear wheel bearing. It was so bad that it made me want to capture video of the wheel and show it to the driver. If they could only see what I saw! Point is, noticing an issue and sending a video to drive home the urgency of the repair is a great way to turn “Show and Tell” into “Show and Sell”. Utilizing only the physical method limits our techs or advisors and may cause us to miss out on larger opportunities.

  • Using mobile technology to communicate needed service is a transparent and friendly way to build customer relationships. It gives the customers greater peace of mind. With digital images or video, they can show the part or issue to knowledgeable friends and quickly get a second opinion. One that will almost always agree with your assessment. It puts the power of knowledge into the customer’s hands. This leads to improved customer retention and stronger profitability.

  • Encourage your customers to download a service app, so they can save images and paperwork throughout the life of the vehicle. Most automakers offer an app for vehicle owners to use that will sync the vehicle’s VIN with its recommended service intervals and allow for added content such as receipts and images or videos. There are also third-party apps that offer many of the same features.

With all this technology, it seems as though digital Show and Tell is a guarantee to “yes.” But what happens if they say no? For most stores, that’s the last time the recommendation is brought up. Sometimes the next technician to inspect the car doesn’t even mention it again, a mistake that hurts sales and credibility. With electronic inspections, information is captured, and there are tools available that help you re-market back to that customer, reminding them of the services or repairs needed to keep their vehicle in top running condition. Also, when the customer comes in for the next visit, those deferred recommendations can be reviewed when making the appointment, during the check-in and again by the technician when performing the new inspection. That allows advisors or managers to take advantage of opportunities which helps to build credibility with the customer.

Digital Show and Tell is Really Show and Sell

Using digital images and video to show needed service is just the start of what technology can do in terms of showing a customer the true and urgent service needs of their vehicle. Today, software is available that accesses data from the VIN, dealership management system and automaker database. These all present the customer with a true picture of maintenance needs and status, from service history to recalls and maintenance intervals. In addition, many of today’s modern shops have tire scanners at the entrance of the drive or handheld units, which analyze tread and alignment before the customer even gets out of their vehicle. It may all seem like science fiction, but in fact, it’s what customers today demand: a complete picture, driven by data and delivered via mobile technology. It takes Show and Tell to a whole new level – one based on data.

Tom, my first service boss, might shake his head at the thought of such technology, but he’d surely have it installed once he saw the fundamental benefits of showing based on data, which increases credibility, trust…and increases the dollars per RO.

Ultimately, it’s all about leveraging the tools of the trade to create a better and more profitable experience. By showing the customer visual evidence of needed repair, no matter what the customer is doing, or where they are, you’re creating an accurate, credible and transparent story. That’s simply the best way to turn the old Show and Tell scenario into a more powerful “Show and Sell.”  

Ridge McCoy| Regional Performance Manager
Dealer-FX Group, Inc. More from Ridge

Read more from Ridge


Quick: What’s the top reason for customer dissatisfaction? Unmet expectations. And while failed expectations happen for many reasons, at the core of every disappointing service experience is a breakdown in trust.

Whether that happens due to a broken promise time or another example of miscommunication, it still means that an advisor or manager overpromised results or underdelivered on educating the customer – the very thing that builds trust. Indeed, most subpar customer experiences happen because they either don’t trust you, don’t understand, don’t see a need or don’t feel there is any benefit or value.

The simple fact is by explaining the need and educating the customer, service employees build trust and show value organically. Of course, doing that starts with the typical four “Cs” of repair order writing: complaint, cause, correction and confirmation. But to go above and beyond, remember to apply the following new four “Cs” to your routine. They just may help improve CSI scores and build more profitable orders:

#1. Courtesy

Customers come to your service drive looking for help. Often, they know little or nothing about the mechanical operation of their vehicle. As a result, they arrive distrustful and on the look-out for broken promises. Add to that the fact that vehicle service and repair isn’t usually the highlight of someone’s day, and it’s easy to see how a little courtesy can disarm the crankiest customer. Make it a point to develop a routine based on personalization and courtesy. From a cheery “hello” to a personal approach, courtesy goes far in establishing the right tone of the conversation.

#2. Caring

You’re not filling out one of 20 repair orders. You’re helping a fellow person get their vehicle serviced with the least amount of friction to their day. Caring means going above and beyond to overdeliver in those occasional moments when a customer needs a little more than the standard operating procedure. Caring is making the effort, even though you may not have to do so. When that happens – when you care about the experience you help to create – that’s when you deliver on the business objective of happy customers and profitable service. Buying into the service process, from the technology you use to the established advisor routine, is the first step toward creating an experience founded in empathy, caring, and respect.

#3. Comfort

Making your customers comfortable doesn’t mean buying overstuffed furniture for the service waiting room. Rather, it symbolized the comfort of expertise: when you explain the value of a service, and “sell the why,” you’re creating an environment of comfort from which the customer will base his or her decisions. Remember, chances are they have been taken advantage of at another repair shop. Showing your commitment (to them) and expertise (as a service professional) increases their comfort zone.

#4. Confidence

Having confidence in what you say makes people feel confident in you. That’s a simple truism we all know, and one that’s especially important when it comes to service. Think of it this way: as the source of information, you’re the expert – and the customer takes your lead. If you project a friendly, assured and confident persona, they’ll be far more likely to trust what you say and agree with your suggestions. Remember, however, that confidence without the steak is just a bunch of arrogance with a whole lot of sizzle. So, if you act confidently without being able to back up those promises, the trust you build will soon deteriorate.

The bottom line is what trust does: make people feel important and empowered. Or as Mary Kay Ash said: “Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, ‘Make me feel important.” Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life.”

By Ridge McCoy

Ridge McCoy is a regional performance manager for Dealer-FX. With 20 years’ experience in the automotive space as a technician, service advisor and shop manager, Ridge has participated in over 1,800 hours of sales, leadership and customer service training. He holds an Automotive Management degree from AMI, a business degree from Northwest University and has served as mechanical chair of the Automotive Service Association in King County, Washington.

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How Can Dealer-FX Help?

At Dealer-FX, our mission is to help automotive brands and dealerships transform the customer experience by providing leading-edge technology solutions that create an exceptional and efficient service experience. How can we help you?
Click here to learn more about Dealer-FX.

On August 2, Apple became the first U.S. company to reach a $1 trillion market valuation. In doing so, it crossed an interesting threshold once thought unattainable, at least for anything other than a global energy company.

But then again – was anyone really surprised?

Probably not. Apple is unique, after all, a public showcase of thinking differently. From iMacs to iPods and iPhones, the company has been on a journey defined by creativity and driven by innovation.

Here-are-a-Few-Customer-Experience-Lessons-from-Apple-Trillion Dollar Journey Dealer-FX

Apple is simply different.

But so is Amazon. And it’s no coincidence that Jeff Bezos’ company is in close pursuit of that trillion-dollar line. Their own valuation sits at around $424 billion. What’s interesting is that the two companies share similar customer experience keys instrumental to their remarkable achievements. Indeed, what’s most relevant about Apple’s $1 trillion valuation – and Amazon’s pursuit – are the things we can learn from their shared traits:

Culture starts with shared values

The memo sent by CEO Tim Cook after Apple reached the $1 trillion mark is a good example of a positive culture. You can read it here. The takeaway for service managers is how Apple and Amazon executives have aligned the company’s objectives with human values and hopes. This is critical because the digital transformation taking place in the automotive retail industry requires a culture shift inside the dealership. Technology only works if the team members see its value and are dedicated to making the change.

Technology that redefines the customer experience

For Apple, it’s been about design and the creation of devices that feel natural. For Amazon, it’s using data to anticipate behavior and supply the answer. Both companies blend amazing technology with an incredible human experience. This ideal has obvious application in the service drive: using technology to power human interaction is how relationships are made. It’s a vital component within the dealership sales and service cycle.

Create a need

No one told Apple that people would go crazy over the iPod. They noticed how the customer experience of the typical MP3 player was poor and designed an elegant user interface. Amazon didn’t wait for someone to tell them to create Alexa or apply Big Data to the shopping experience. With that in mind, how can service advisors use information and technology to introduce a need, and sell the ‘why’ to customers? It’s a good way to expand RO values and develop a stronger relationship with customers.

Creating a personalized experience

Your iPhone is personal to you. It doesn’t have to be a different colour (though that’s nice!) because the content is what makes it unique. Likewise, the personalization of the shopping experience is where Amazon gets its power. Innovations like recommendations, one-click ordering, anticipatory shipping, and price optimization make the experience unique – and uniquely valued. Creating a similar dealership service experience requires the timely application of knowledge about the customer’s needs. It also requires the building of a culture that seeks to make the experience more personal.

Someday, other companies will reach a $1 trillion valuation, and Apple won’t be alone. Yet what’s fascinating is that Apple’s success was accomplished in much the same way as it would be at the local dealership: through shared values, the application of leading technology and personalization for the customer.

How Can Dealer-FX Help?

At Dealer-FX, our mission is to help automotive brands and dealerships transform the customer experience by providing leading-edge technology solutions that create an exceptional and efficient service experience. How can we help you?

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What’s the fastest way to get a “no” from the customer? Ask them to buy a service they don’t understand.

It seems like a pretty simple mistake to avoid, right?
Yet often, service advisors fall into the trap, mostly because they’re busy or not armed with the latest vehicle information. And when it happens, they lose the opportunity to show customers the value and quality of the dealership service experience.

Service Advisors Tell the What Sell the Why - Dealer-FX

Common Assumptions

What’s not so simple is how to demonstrate the value of quality service. In fact, there are a few common misperceptions that service advisors and managers have when it comes to how well customers understand their vehicle’s maintenance needs:

  1. They won’t spend money on service.
  2. They get the work done somewhere else.
  3. They understand the value of the service.
  4. They already know what they want.

Most of the time, these assumptions aren’t true – and they lead advisors into a classic mistake by asking yes or no questions. Here’s an example: “do you want to flush the brake fluid?” Clearly, the easy answer is no. When that happens, many service advisors will shrug their shoulders, check the box, and move on. But here’s the problem: with every rejection, the service department loses sales and an opportunity to create a bond of trust with the customer. In fact, this situation does the customer a disservice.

Be Successful at Selling the Why

Don’t walk into an easy no – educate your customers by telling the what and selling the why. Instead of asking the customer if they want a service item they know nothing about, explain why they need the service and what makes it valuable. In this way, the conversation about a brake fluid change goes something like this:

Your car is overdue for a brake fluid flush. This is important because brake fluid absorbs moisture, and excessive moisture can cause steam. Because brakes work in a high heat and friction environment, that can lead to brake fade, which increases stopping distance. It can also cause the caliper piston to freeze, so the brakes won’t work properly. On average, brake fluid accumulates moisture at the rate of 1% per year, and anything over 2% (two years) is considered too high. Would you like to add this service?

When customers understand the importance and value of the service, they’re far more likely to opt-in because it saves them time and creates peace of mind.

How to Sell the Why

To better “sell the why,” start by preparing your service advisors with talk tracks and relevant knowledge. In turn, they will use that knowledge to educate customers and build trust. Your service department should strive for a consistent “why” performance from all advisors, a goal that’s achievable when your appointment and check-in technology includes detailed information and reminders about key service items.

Ultimately, advisors are most valuable when they do exactly that – advise customers. This way, they guide and provide customers with the necessary information to make wise decisions about their vehicle. By keeping the “why” in mind, they can better educate customers and build a reputation as a trusted advisor – something customers should expect when they come to a dealership for service.

By Ridge McCoy

Ridge McCoy is a regional performance manager for Dealer-FX. With 20 years experience in the automotive space as a technician, service advisor and shop manager, Ridge has participated in over 1,800 hours of sales, leadership and customer service training. He holds an Automotive Management degree from AMI, a business degree from Northwest University and has served as mechanical chair of the Automotive Service Association in King County, Washington.

Related Links

How Can Dealer-FX Help?

At Dealer-FX, our mission is to help automotive brands and dealerships transform the customer experience by providing leading-edge technology solutions that create an exceptional and efficient service experience. How can we help you?

Click here to learn more about Dealer-FX.