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Dealer Panel: End Price Wars by Exchanging Commitments

Most of the time when customers call a repair shop to ask about price, they are really calling to solve a vehicle problem.

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“They are calling for help; they just don’t know how to ask, so they ask for price,” said Dan Molloy, inventor of The Language Of Commitment and Power Sales Training, who hosted a dealer panel webinar May 6 to help tire dealers’ service advisors change the narrative with price callers to one of trust and commitment.

About 90% of the time, service advisors are quoting prices over the phone, said Molloy, because it’s the easy answer with the path of least resistance—but he says that doesn’t help boost closing percentages.

For commerce to occur, the seller and the customer must exchange commitments, explained Molloy. “Price is never the lead issue. “They ask about it, but it is never the No. 1 issue if their car is not running.”

While the closing percentage on oil changes is around 90% because customers make a commitment to come in the same day, for tires, it’s significantly lower, Molloy says. “People don’t have to pull the trigger on tires the same day; they have a week or two, so it requires more work to close the deal,” added Molloy, who noted that when customers call about tires they make a commitment to come in to buy them the same day 25-27% of the time.

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Neal Maier, a former dealer in the Charlotte market and now a partner in 3VE Marketing, an advertising agency that specializes in digital marketing for tire dealers, said that one way to encourage more commerce with your business is to differentiate it.

“While the $14.95 oil change is the quick lever to pull to fill your bays, it sets your differentiator as a low-price option,” he explained. Knowing that will bring in price shoppers, he advised to instead focus on what makes your dealership special, and then tailor your marketing messages around those differentiators.

Jeff Tucker, owner of three Triple T Tire stores in Dyersburg, Tennessee, said “it’s not about price, but it could be about the money,” realizing that customers who lead a conversation with price typically need help with financing the repairs. After years of dealing with this scenario in his own business, Tucker said he invented the TAPPS-Pay program, a financing and payment plan app that simultaneously sends a customer’s financing application to multiple lenders, to help service advisors handle the money conversation with customers at the beginning of the call.

Danny Smith, owner of Same Day Automotive, who operates six stores in the Tulsa, Oklahoma, market, shared his philosophy on running his business.

“It’s about the person, not about the car… you focus on the problem and take care of the person,” Smith said. “That requires a passion and a piece of your heart to do the right thing. Not everyone is wired that way. Once I took the focus away from the money… my business exploded.”

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Smith said that in these trying times, he realizes that businesses everywhere are struggling. And, while other dealerships in his area are off to the tune of more than 40%, his dealership is down only 8%. He credits that to laying the foundation for a commitment to taking care of people.

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