I have the opportunity to conduct several shop owner events across the country every month. When I ask,“How many of you have a sales representative on your staff?” almost none of them raise their hand. In fact, they all do! By definition, a sales representative is a person employed to represent a business and to sell its merchandise.
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Collision Repair Business Sales Representative
In a collision repair business, we use titles such as repair planner or estimator for the person who creates and presents the estimate to the vehicle owner. With the changes in estimating systems, management systems, vehicle construction materials and new vehicle technology such as adaptive cruise control and collision avoidance systems, this is a very challenging position that requires expertise in many different areas. In many shops, we tend to overlook that one of the estimator’s major responsibilities is to sell.
Typical Sales Process
Every day, vehicle owners come into a shop and need an estimate. So Bob hands them a form to fill out and disappears outside to look at the car. A little while later, Bob comes back in and enters the visible damage on the vehicle into the computer and then hands the estimate to the vehicle owner. Bob will commonly say “I have completed your estimate,” and then say “call your insurance company and find out what they want to do,” or “call me when you decide if you want to have your vehicle repaired.” Bob never even asked for the keys!
A typical process you would find in any sales environment would have several stages. For example:
- Overcome objections
A lead is any person or business that needs your services. Leads are generated through your marketing efforts. A lead could be generated by handing someone a business card, by contacts you made at a community event you participated in, by someone’s internet search or visit to your website and social media pages, or through a referral.
In collision repair, an opportunity is created anytime a vehicle owner calls or walks into the shop asking about a service that you offer.
The discovery phase is a time for the estimator to gather information. You should collect information on best contact phone number, insurance company, accident details, frequency and type of communication the customer would prefer (phone, email, text, etc.), and how they selected your shop. During this time, remember that most people that come into the shop do not understand the process. We do it every day and they only need our services every few years. Your staff needs to use this time to discover what their “pain” or needs are. For example, they may need the vehicle to take their children to hockey practice, or they are going on vacation in two weeks. In these examples, you would learn that a rental car is important, and when the vehicle would need to be completed by. Show empathy and build a relationship and trust with the vehicle owner. You can also begin to ask open-ended questions such as “When is the best time for you to have the vehicle repaired?” or “Are you able to bring the vehicle in on Thursday morning?” These types of questions will give you an insight into your potential for closing the sale.