The keys to up-selling

Oct. 19, 2011

What an amazing month it’s been! I have been out in the field with a whole array of independent tire dealers looking at their businesses, meeting and training their store staffs, calling on customers (wholesale to retail), visiting commercial and truck shops while talking to real technicians about their challenges and opportunities, and having executive meetings with leadership teams. It would take the whole magazine for me to share with you, the owner or manager, the wealth of experiences I’ve taken away from these trips.

So let’s shift a gear and do this in pieces. I believe that if we have a format to walk through a problem, focus on a solution to it, and then ground that solution in proven ‘SalesMind’ principles, you can take away nuggets that will immediately help your dealer team sell more, generate more productivity, and lead at a higher level. Here’s the approach for the column for the foreseeable future:

• In each article, I will take one specific problem/challenge (I’m going to call it a “challenge”), which may occur in any part of the channel (retail, wholesale, commercial, supplier) and define what I’m seeing and gleaning from real tire and service professionals in the field.

• We’ll then grind out some common sense, applicable solutions to those challenges.

• For each solution, I’ll offer some SalesMinded principles that you and your team can rely on to attack these similar circumstances so that the solution can apply to any part of your business. Here we go.

Challenge: Missing huge opportunities to up-sell tires and additional products and services.

I can’t believe how many retail tire and service dealers are leaving money on the table when they have control of a vehicle in the bay. The dealer is busy, customers are waiting, the phone is ringing, and the service techs want to move the vehicles in and out. In doing so, the needed brake job or set of tires is missed because the customer only came in for an oil change. Oil changed, out the door, money left on the table.

Solution: Creating and using a maintenance checklist for every vehicle.

Sit down with your tech team and develop a 21-point inspection list for every vehicle that comes in the door. Make it mandatory to complete and have the specific tech initial its completion for tracking.

Slow down a little. Your techs will find things; worn tires, bad shocks, misalignments, worn brake pads — money on the table.

Now, every customer has been hustled by oversells. They come in to spend $75, and now they are faced with spending $700. The best way I saw a dealer handle this was to list and present the needed repairs in order of priority (safety, security, urgency).

[PAGEBREAK]They completed the checklist, but here’s the key: When it was time to present it to the customer, here’s what the tech came out and pleasantly said: “Mrs. Johnson, we did a complete 21-point analysis of your car. What I’ve done is prioritize the top few conditions that are the most important to be aware of for now and listed the remaining things for you and your husband to keep an eye on over time. Our goal is to let our customers know what we see, when a repair or replacement should be considered, and what the cost is for budgeting those items in a practical way. There is no obligation to us for anything — this list is there for your awareness, and I will be happy to discuss any of these points — do you have any questions?” The tech then just went quiet, and the interaction with the customer then had a chance to get going.

SalesMind principles applied: The key learning points to put your dealership in a position to capture these dollars are:

Thoroughness: SalesMinds are focused. If you and your team don’t have the maintenance checklist (I saw that), have one somewhere but don’t use it (saw that), or are all just in a hurry, so you use it here or there with no system or structure (saw that, too), then you will leave dollars on the table! Why hurry sales dollars out the door?

Customer reaction: SalesMinds are not afraid to present pleasantly and carefully what they see that needs to be fixed or replaced in a car or truck. They believe (rightfully so) that they owe this ethically to a customer. I had a dealer tell me that “a customer called and told me his car was just in two weeks ago, the worn brake pad sensor is now on and was frustrated that we didn’t tell him about his worn pads when his car was in. Now he has to come back again and take the time to do so.” Don’t fear telling a customer the truth! Don’t push them to buy anything, either. Just let them know you don’t want any condition to exist they don’t know about — or that puts them at risk or on the side of the road.

More dollars per car: SalesMinds understand the sales and profit point: That vehicle is under your control in the bay and up on the rack for a certain period of time. That is the time for your team to take a hard look at what’s needed to get the vehicle right — if you do it enough, you’ll (to use a baseball metaphor) have a higher batting average by having both more “at bats” and more “clean hits.” That means you’ll use the checklist every time (at bats) and sell more tires and service (hits) at the end of the day — just by being consistent. Same amount of vehicles, more profitable dollars from each one on the average. The icing on the cake is that your customers will trust you at a whole new level.

Doug Trenary, president of Doug Trenary’s Fast-Track Inc., is an award-winning author, speaker and teacher who has helped companies of multiple sizes, including independent tire dealerships, increase sales and productivity since 1985.  His book, “The SalesMind,” focuses on how to establish strong positions with yourself, your buyers — and your time. For more information, email him at [email protected] or call (404) 262-3339.